Predictive Processing, Imagery and Imagination

Practical information
20 November 2023

ENS, Pavillon Jardin, conference room, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


Several of the most prominent proponents (Hohwy 2013, Clark 2016) of predictive processing claim that predictive processing is particularly well placed to explain imagination : it involves generating the predictive hypothesis in a decoupled manner by turning down the gain on prediction error. As we proposed in Jones and Wilkinson (2020), this conflates imagery and imagination. While predictive processing might be good at explaining imagery, imagery is not sufficient for imagination, nor, arguably, is it even necessary. In this seminar I present the many things that a predictive processing account would need to accommodate in order to properly give an account of imagination. What emerges is a view of imagination that is both adverbialist (an organism is imagining if and only if they are doing something imaginatively) and enculturated (extended creative practices give rise to imagination and not vice versa).

The ICARUS seminar (Imagination, Creativity, Affect, Reverie, Utopia, Senses) will focus on the interdisciplinary study of the boundary line that separates, for our minds, reality from everything that transcends it. By bringing together philosophy and the cognitive sciences, we will explore the capacities and states (notably imagination and dreaming) that enable us to re-elaborate sensory and affective data and to apprehend the world from new perpectives, even from other worlds or utopias. Drawn into its wanderings and reveries, the mind is capable of producing ideas or objects deemed novel and valuable, in other words, of pispaying creativity. But how far can we take this power that we have received as a species (and perhaps not just us, human beings) ? It is advisable not to fly too close to the sun.