Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 3, pp 751–767 | Cite as

Predictive processing, perceiving and imagining: Is to perceive to imagine, or something close to it?

  • Michael D. KirchhoffEmail author


This paper examines the relationship between perceiving and imagining on the basis of predictive processing models in neuroscience. Contrary to the received view in philosophy of mind, which holds that perceiving and imagining are essentially distinct, these models depict perceiving and imagining as deeply unified and overlapping. It is argued that there are two mutually exclusive implications of taking perception and imagination to be fundamentally unified. The view defended is what I dub the ecological–enactive view given that it does not succumb to internalism about the mind-world relation, and allows one to keep a version of the received view in play.


Predictive processing Imagination Perception Internalism Embodiment Enactivism Realization 



This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project “Minds in Skilled Performance” (DP170102987), a John Templeton Foundation Grant “Probabilitizing Consciousness: Implications and New Directions”, by a Mind, Brain and Cognitive Evolution fellowship at Ruhr University Bochum, and by a John Templeton Foundation Academic Cross-Training Fellowship (ID #60708). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. Thanks to Julian Kiverstein, Jelle Bruineberg, Erik Rietveld, Micah Allen and Jon Opie for comments on a previous version of this paper. Thanks also to the audience members of the Acting Ahead of Actuality conference at the University of Dubrovnik, Croatia, 17-18 June 2016, and to the audience members of the Imagination and Representation workshop at Flinders University, Adelaide, 28 September 2015, for valuable suggestions for improvement. And finally thanks to an anonymous reviewer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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