Modularity and the predictive mind

T. Metzinger and W. Weise, (Eds), Philosophy and Predictive Processing (2017)
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Abstract

Modular approaches to the architecture of the mind claim that some mental mechanisms, such as sensory input processes, operate in special-purpose subsystems that are functionally independent from the rest of the mind. This assumption of modularity seems to be in tension with recent claims that the mind has a predictive architecture. Predictive approaches propose that both sensory processing and higher-level processing are part of the same Bayesian information-processing hierarchy, with no clear boundary between perception and cognition. Furthermore, it is not clear how any part of the predictive architecture could be functionally independent, given that each level of the hierarchy is influenced by the level above. Both the assumption of continuity across the predictive architecture and the seeming non-isolability of parts of the predictive architecture seem to be at odds with the modular approach. I explore and ultimately reject the predictive approach’s apparent commitments to continuity and non-isolation. I argue that predictive architectures can be modular architectures, and that we should in fact expect predictive architectures to exhibit some form of modularity.

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Zoe Drayson
University of California, Davis

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