In a recent paper, Jakob Hohwy argues that the emerging predictive processing (PP) perspective on cognition requires us to explain cognitive functioning in purely internalistic and neurocentric terms. The purpose of the present paper is to challenge the view that PP entails a wholesale rejection of positions that are interested in the embodied, embedded, extended, or enactive dimensions of cognitive processes. I will argue that Hohwy’s argument from analogy, which forces an evidentiary boundary into the picture, lacks the argumentative resources to make a convincing case for the conceptual necessity to interpret PP in solely internalistic terms. For this reason, I will reconsider the postulation and explanatory role of the evidentiary boundary. I will arrive at an account of prediction error minimization and its foundation on the free energy principle that is fully consistent with approaches to cognition that emphasize the embodied and interactive properties of cognitive processes. This gives rise to the suggestion that explanatory pluralism about the application of PP is to be preferred over Hohwy’s explanatory monism that follows from his internalistic and neurocentric view of predictive cognitive systems.
Many of our cognitive capacities are the result of enculturation. Enculturation is the temporally extended transformative acquisition of cognitive practices in the cognitive niche. Cognitive practices are embodied and normatively constrained ways to interact with epistemic resources in the cognitive niche in order to complete a cognitive task. The emerging predictive processing perspective offers new functional principles and conceptual tools to account for the cerebral and extra-cerebral bodily components that give rise to cognitive practices. According to this emerging perspective, many cases of perception, action, and cognition are realized by the on-going minimization of prediction error. Predictive processing provides us with a mechanistic perspective that helps investigate the functional details of the acquisition of cognitive practices. The argument of this paper is that research on enculturation and recent work on predictive processing are complementary. The main reason is that predictive processing operates at a sub-personal level and on a physiological time scale of explanation only. A complete account of enculturated cognition needs to take additional levels and temporal scales of explanation into account. This complementarity assumption leads to a new framework – enculturated predictive processing – that operates on multiple levels and temporal scales for the explanation of the enculturated predictive acquisition of cognitive practices. Enculturated predictive processing is committed to explanatory pluralism. That is, it subscribes to the idea that we need multiple perspectives and explanatory strategies to account for the complexity of enculturation. The upshot is that predictive processing needs to be complemented by additional considerations and conceptual tools to realize its full explanatory potential.