Postgraduates work in progress
Speaker: Luke Kersten
Title: Crashing Waves: Predictive Processing and Extended Cognition
Abstract: Recently, two proposals have been offered connecting predictive processing (PP), the view that mind/brain is a hierarchical prediction machine, with extended cognition, the view that cognitive systems and processes sometimes extend beyond the boundary of the individual. The first, articulated by Clark (2016a, 2017a), says that cognitive systems are extended insofar as the brain creates assemblies of neural, bodily and environmental elements in the service of minimising prediction error. The second, offered by Ramstead et al. (2019a), says that cognitive systems are extended in virtue of the fact that the boundaries of cognitive systems are delineated by Markov blankets. The goal of this paper is to sound a cautionary note about these proposals. I argue that neither successfully moves the needle forward in debates about extended cognition, as both proposals, in their current state, rely on problematic externalist assumptions that the anti-extensionist might reasonably reject. This, I suggest, leads to a dilemma, either the two proposals: (i) fail to advance discussion of extended cognition or (ii) they function as demonstrations of a broader compatibility between PP and extended cognition, in which case they do not to offer novel insights into extended cognition. Finally, I conclude by suggesting what it would take for PP to advance the dialectic on extended cognition.