Consciousness as generative entanglement

Clark, Andy (2019) Consciousness as generative entanglement. The Journal of Philosophy, 116 (12). pp. 645-662. ISSN 1939-8549

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Recent work in cognitive and computational neuroscience depicts the human brain as a complex, multi-layer prediction engine. Such a device is constantly striving to generate the sensory signal ‘from the top-down’ using stored probabilistic knowledge about the world. This family of models, which I’ll refer to as ‘Predictive Processing Models’ (henceforth PP), has had great success in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena involving perception, action, and attention. It has also found suggestive applications in computational psychiatry. There, these models have suggested new and powerful ways to think about both neurotypical and altered forms of human experiences – for example, in schizophrenia and autism. But despite their clear promise as accounts of the neurocomputational origins of typical and atypical forms of human experience, they have not yet been leveraged so as to shed light on the so-called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness – the problem of explaining why and how the world is subjectively experienced at all, and why those experiences seem just the way they do. To address this issue, I motivate and defend a picture of conscious experience as flowing from ‘generative entanglements’ that mix predictions about the world, the body, and (crucially) our own reactive dispositions. It is this process, I argue, that reveals a structured world apparently populated by all manner of puzzling ‘qualia’.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Research Centres and Groups: Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems Research Group
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Depositing User: Lucy Arnold
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2019 09:45
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 16:30

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