Chapter 8 - Surprise and Misrepresentation
Presented by Alex Kiefer
Chapter 8 of The Predictive Mind explores longstanding and unresolved debates about the nature of mental representation and representational content from the point of view of the Prediction Error Minimization framework. The chapter is concerned primarily with perceptual representation, in keeping with the emphasis on perception throughout the book.
Jakob offers novel perspectives on a wide range of topics in the theory of content and the philosophy of mind more generally. In this post I'll focus on the two topics that I take to be most crucial for characterizing the account of representational content that best fits with the PEM framework: misrepresentation and causal VS descriptive theories of content. The positions sketched in the chapter with respect to these topics can be summarized in the following two claims:
Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation is perceptual inference that minimizes short-term prediction error while undermining long-term prediction error minimization.
Causal VS descriptive theories: Cognitive systems that minimize prediction error represent the world by maintaining causally guided descriptions (modes of presentation) of states of affairs in the world.
In what follows I'll discuss these claims and Jakob's arguments for them in more detail, then consider challenges for each position as well as connections between the two topics.