For as long as we've studied human cognition, we've believed that our senses give us direct access to the world. But new discoveries in neuroscience and psychology have turned this assumption on its head. What if rather than perceiving reality passively, your mind actively predicts it? Andy Clark unpacks the new theory that the brain is a powerful, dynamic prediction engine, mediating our experience of both body and world.
Clark... offers some ideas on how consciousness itself arises, suggesting that a kind of recursion – in which a system is constantly predicting things about its own predictions, as well as about the outside world – could be key. This will satisfy some readers more than others, and it’s notable that his descriptions of how our minds work tend to ascribe agency to the brain itself. But a brain doesn’t have agency; a person does ... It’s difficult to believe, meanwhile, that prediction is, deep down, all brains or people do.
Clark offers engaging and insightful commentary on tangential matters such as how ceremonial practices can contribute to feelings of well-being and how digital technologies have boosted our predictive capacities and effectively become extensions of our minds. The author defines and explains complex ideas with admirable clarity.