This paper presents a version of neurophenomenology based on generative modelling techniques developed in computational neuroscience and biology. Our approach can be described as _computational phenomenology_ because it applies methods originally developed in computational modelling to provide a formal model of the descriptions of lived experience in the phenomenological tradition of philosophy (e.g., the work of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, etc.). The first section presents a brief review of the overall project to naturalize phenomenology. The second section presents and evaluates (...) philosophical objections to that project and situates our version of computational phenomenology with respect to these projects. The third section reviews the generative modelling framework. The final section presents our approach in detail. We conclude by discussing how our approach differs from previous attempts to use generative modelling to help understand consciousness. In summary, we describe a version of computational phenomenology which uses generative modelling to construct a computational model of the inferential or interpretive processes that best explain this or that kind of lived experience. (shrink)
Active inference offers a unified theory of perception, learning, and decision-making at computational and neural levels of description. In this article, we address the worry that active inference may be in tension with the belief–desire–intention model within folk psychology because it does not include terms for desires at the mathematical level of description. To resolve this concern, we first provide a brief review of the historical progression from predictive coding to active inference, enabling us to distinguish between active inference formulations (...) of motor control and active inference formulations of decision processes. We then show that, despite a superficial tension when viewed at the mathematical level of description, the active inference formalism contains terms that are readily identifiable as encoding both the objects of desire and the strength of desire at the psychological level of description. We demonstrate this with simple simulations of an active inference agent motivated to leave a dark room for different reasons. Despite their consistency, we further show how active inference may increase the granularity of folk-psychological descriptions by highlighting distinctions between drives to seek information versus reward—and how it may also offer more precise, quantitative folk-psychological predictions. Finally, we consider how the implicitly conative components of active inference may have partial analogues in other systems describable by the broader free energy principle to which it conforms. (shrink)
There is a recent interest within both philosophy of science as well as within epistemology to provide a defensible account of understanding. In the present article I build on insights from previous work in attempt to provide an account of two related forms of understanding in terms of the ability to form rational intentions when using specific types of mental representations. I propose first that “understanding that X” requires that one form a representation of X and, further, that one must (...) be capable of forming rational intentions using this representation across a range of conceivable conditions. I then propose that “understanding why X” requires that one possess a representation of a successful explanation for why X, and that one must be similarly capable of forming rational intentions using this representation across a range of conceivable conditions. I conclude the manuscript by reviewing objections and considering the way this account relates to other literature on explanation and understanding. (shrink)
Perceptual completion fills the gap for discrete perception to become continuous. Similarly, dynamic perceptual completion provides an experience of dynamic continuity. Our recent discovery of the ‘happening’ element of DPC completes the total experience for dynamism in the flow of time. However, a phenomenological explanation for these experiences is essential. The Snapshot Hypotheses especially the Dynamic Snapshot View provides the most comprehensive explanation. From that understanding the ‘two times’ problem can be addressed. The static time of spacetime cosmologies has been (...) irreconcilable with the dynamic FOT. Dismissing the FOT as an illusion is unsatisfactory. Therefore, we provide four hypotheses for the TTP.1) Since cosmological static time demands that all events are discrete, DPC elements for dynamism should likewise be expected to be discrete and accounted for by a snapshot phenomenology such as the DSV. 2) If temporality can be demonstrated to be similar to apparent motion by being a snapshot phenomenon and not demanding temporal extension it would confirm the DSV and permit reconciliation with static time. 3) If the ‘present moment’ is subjective as static time theories suggest, it should be possible experimentally for an observer to choose his own ‘present’ by moving to various points in the past with the aid of virtual reality. 4) If dynamism e.g. motion can be precluded without significant information loss or violating physics principles it is a cognitive add-on, thereby contradicting non-static time theories which suggest that time is ‘real.’ We confirm those hypotheses. (shrink)
There is a persisting tension that exists between the block universe conception of time in modern physics and philosophy and the conception of time that stems naturally from experience, and entropic asymmetries have been proposed to explain this tension. This article argues that as biochemical processes in the brain depend upon spontaneous entropy increases in the forward-time direction, this should provide an entropic basis for the unidirectionality of psychological processes. As this view does not depend on considerations of abstract information (...) processing or a past hypothesis, it provides advantages over previous entropy-based proposals attempting to explain asymmetries in temporal experience. (shrink)
The active inference framework offers an attractive starting point for understanding cultural cognition. Here, we argue that affective dynamics are essential to include when constructing this type of theory. We highlight ways in which interactions between emotional responses and the perception of those responses, both within and between individuals, can play central roles in both motivating and constraining sociocultural practices.
The purpose of the present article is to explore the relationship between consciousness and understanding. To do so, I first briefly review recent work on the nature of both understanding and consciousness within philosophy and psychology. Building off of this work, I then defend the thesis that if one is conscious of a given content then one also understands that content. I argue that this conclusion can be drawn from the fact that understanding is associated with rational intention formation and (...) the fact that conscious access appears to involve the selective routing/broadcasting of representational content to neural systems that integrate information in order to select cognitive/behavioral intentions in conjunction with goals. Based on these premises I illustrate how a disruption to the rationality of a representation’s influence on intention formation would also remove any evidence that a person was conscious of the content of that representation... (shrink)