Predictive brains and embodied, enactive cognition: an introduction to the special issue

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Kirchhoff, M. Predictive brains and embodied, enactive cognition: an introduction to the special issue. Synthese 195, 2355–2366 (2018).


All the papers in this special issue sit at the intersection between work on predictive processing models in the neurosciences and embodied, enactive perspectives on mind. It is arguably one of the most cutting-edge and fast-moving intersections of research in the contemporary sciences of mind and brain. All contributions deal with questions of whether and how key assumptions of the predictive brain hypothesis can be reconciled with approaches to cognition that take embodiment and enaction as playing a central and constitutive role in our cognitive lives. While there is broad consensus that bodily and worldly aspects matter to cognition, predictive processing is often understood in epistemic, inferential and representational terms. Prima facie this makes is hard to see how it would be possible to square embodied and enactive views, many of which are in direct opposition to inferential and representational accounts of mind, with predictive processing models. Rather than stressing how these accounts differ, others such as Clark (2016) emphasize what they have in common, focusing on how predictive processing models provide “the perfect neuro-computational partner for work on the embodied mind.” (Clark 2016, p. 1; see also Bruineberg and Rietveld 2014; Kirchhoff 2015a, b, c, 2016, 2017) In this sense, the aim of this special issue is to nudge this particular area of research forward by examining how, if possible at all, to combine the best of these frameworks in a joint pursuit of the following question: how is the mind and its enabling conditions, respectively, characterized, and how are their relations to one another best understood?

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