Pragmatism and the predictive mind

08 Mar 2018

Predictive processing and its apparent commitment to explaining cognition in terms of Bayesian inference over hierarchical generative models seems to flatly contradict the pragmatist conception of mind and experience. Against this, I argue that this appearance results from philosophical overlays at odd with the science itself, and that the two frameworks are in fact well-positioned for mutually beneficial theoretical exchange. Specifically, I argue: first, that predictive processing illuminates pragmatism’s commitment to both the primacy of pragmatic coping in accounts of the mind and the profound organism-relativity of experience; second, that this pragmatic, “narcissistic” character of prediction error minimization undermines its ability to explain the distinctive normativity of intentionality; and third, that predictive processing therefore mandates an extra-neural account of intentional content of exactly the sort that pragmatism’s communitarian vision of human thought can provide.