Entangled predictive brain: emotion, prediction and embodied cognition
Miller, Mark Daniel
How does the living body impact, and perhaps even help constitute, the thinking, reasoning, feeling agent? This is the guiding question that the following work seeks to answer. The subtitle of this project is emotion, prediction and embodied cognition for good reason: these are the three closely related themes that tie together the various chapters of the following thesis. The central claim is that a better understanding of the nature of emotion offers valuable insight for understanding the nature of the so called ‘predictive mind’, including a powerful new way to think about the mind as embodied Recently a new perspective has arguably taken the pole position in both philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences when it comes to discussing the nature of mind. This framework takes the brain to be a probabilistic prediction engine. Such engines, so the framework proposes, are dedicated to the task of minimizing the disparity between how they expect the world to be and how the world actually is. Part of the power of the framework is the elegant suggestion that much of what we take to be central to human intelligence - perception, action, emotion, learning and language - can be understood within the framework of prediction and error reduction. In what follows I will refer to this general approach to understanding the mind and brain as 'predictive processing'. While the predictive processing framework is in many ways revolutionary, there is a tendency for researchers interested in this topic to assume a very traditional ‘neurocentric’ stance concerning the mind. I argue that this neurocentric stance is completely optional, and that a focus on emotional processing provides good reasons to think that the predictive mind is also a deeply embodied mind. The result is a way of understanding the predictive brain that allows the body and the surrounding environment to make a robust constitutive contribution to the predictive process. While it’s true that predictive models can get us a long way in making sense of what drives the neural-economy, I will argue that a complete picture of human intelligence requires us to also explore the many ways that a predictive brain is embodied in a living body and embedded in the social-cultural world in which it was born and lives.