Cognitive Penetrability of Perception in the Age of Prediction: Predictive Systems are Penetrable Systems

The goal of perceptual systems is to allow organisms to adaptively respond to ecologically relevant stimuli. Because all perceptual inputs are ambiguous, perception needs to rely on prior knowledge accumulated over evolutionary and developmental time to turn sensory energy into information useful for guiding behavior. It remains controversial whether the guidance of perception extends to cognitive states or is locked up in a “cognitively impenetrable” part of perception. I argue that expectations, knowledge, and task demands can shape perception at multiple levels, leaving no part untouched. The position advocated here is broadly consistent with the notion that perceptual systems strive to minimize prediction error en route to globally optimal solutions :181–204, 2013). On this view, penetrability should be expected whenever constraining lower-level processes by higher level knowledge is minimizes global prediction error. Just as Fodor feared cognitive penetration of perception threatens theory-neutral observation and the distinction between observation and inference. However, because theories themselves are constrained by the task of minimizing prediction error, theory-laden observation turns out to be superior to theory-free observation in turning sensory energy into useful information
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s13164-015-0253-4
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 48,926
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Vison.David Marr - 1982 - W. H. Freeman.
The Weirdest People in the World?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.

View all 36 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Seeing and Conceptualizing: Modularity and the Shallow Contents of Perception.Eric Mandelbaum - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):267-283.

View all 37 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Cognitive Penetration and the Tribunal of Experience.Jona Vance - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (4):641-663.
Perception of Absence and Penetration From Expectation.Anna Farennikova - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (4):621-640.
Skill, Nonpropositional Thought, and the Cognitive Penetrability of Perception.Ellen R. Fridland - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (1):105-120.
The Case for Cognitive Penetrability.Philippe G. Schyns - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (3):394-395.
Observation Reconsidered.Jerry Fodor - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (March):23-43.
Levels of Perceptual Content.Elisabeth Pacherie - 2000 - Philsophical Studies 100 (3):237-54.


Added to PP index

Total views
82 ( #110,126 of 2,310,104 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #264,972 of 2,310,104 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature