The Problem of Mental Action

Philosophy and Predicitive Processing (2017)
Authors
Thomas Metzinger
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Abstract
In mental action there is no motor output to be controlled and no sensory input vector that could be manipulated by bodily movement. It is therefore unclear whether this specific target phenomenon can be accommodated under the predictive processing framework at all, or if the concept of “active inference” can be adapted to this highly relevant explanatory domain. This contribution puts the phenomenon of mental action into explicit focus by introducing a set of novel conceptual instruments and developing a first positive model, concentrating on epistemic mental actions and epistemic self-control. Action initiation is a functionally adequate form of self-deception; mental actions are a specific form of predictive control of effective connectivity, accompanied and possibly even functionally mediated by a conscious “epistemic agent model”. The overall process is aimed at increasing the epistemic value of pre-existing states in the conscious self-model, without causally looping through sensory sheets or using the non-neural body as an instrument for active inference.
Keywords Attentional agency  Cognitive affordance hypothesis  Cognitive agency   Epistemic agency  Epistemic agent model  Phenomenal self-model  M-autonomous  M-autonomy  Epistemic value  Mind wandering
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