A Model of Compatibility for Predictive Processing and Embodied Cognition

The next meeting of the seminar is planned for October, 27th, at 10:30 (AM Warsaw, CET). This time we will meet in person (and on-line), seminar will take place in the Staszic Place (IFiS, PAN)room: 161 and at  GoogleMeet.

Our guest will be Luke Kersten (Ruhr University Bochum). We will discuss a draft of the paper: A Model of Compatibility for Predictive Processing and Embodied Cognition.

From Introduction: Predictive processing (PP) has emerged in recent years as a leading approach within the computational and cognitive neurosciences. In broad strokes, it maintains that a given system, such as a brain, creates and maintains a model of the causes of its sensory input. A system does not have direct access to the world but must infer hidden causes on the basis of sensory input and prior knowledge. PP is thought to deliver a simple yet compelling story for explaining a wide range of perceptual and cognitive processes and abilities, everything from vision and attention to consciousness and imagination (see, e.g., Clark 2013, 2016; Hohwy 2013, 2016; Williams 2019).

In a related vein, embodied cognition (EC) has experienced a similar steady rise to prominence within the cognate sciences, albeit for different reasons. For this broad church, cognitive and perceptual processes are the result of the on-going and dynamic contributions of the body and world. Emphasising the action-oriented character of cognition, EC has proven a haven for those seeking an alternative to the reconstructionist and neuro-centric visions of cognition (see, e.g., Varela et al. 1991; Chemero 2009; Shapiro 2011; Wilson and Foglia 2017).


The task of sussing out PP-EC compatibility is an important one. Not only have PP and EC been heralded as “revolutions” and “paradigm shifts” in cognitive science, but they have also motivated a number of new and interesting areas of research, including work on vision (Noë 2004, 2009), interoception (Seth, Suzuki and Critchley2012), semantic representations (Meteyard et al. 2012), conceptual knowledge (Gallese and Lakoff 2005), and religious experience (van Elk and Aleman 2017), to name only a few.2 The outcome of the compatibility issue could have significant impacts on how we think about and study the mind. As Kirchhoff (2018a) has recently put the point: “making progress on this [compatibility] issue will no doubt yield substantial insights into the nature of mind” (p. 2342).

Given its importance, the current paper looks to weigh in on the issue of PP-EC compatibility. I argue that further clarity can be achieved by harnessing the resources of Larry Laudan’s “problem solving model”. In particular, I suggest that the PSM provides an useful tool for addressing a number of outstanding challenges that face existing accounts of PP-EC compatibility.

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