In this dissertation, I address theories in cognitive science which have recently challenged traditional understandings of our perceptual and cognitive systems. In my first chapter, I address Cognitive Penetration, which challenges traditional understandings of perception. It holds that mental states (such as beliefs, goals or concepts) may sometimes penetrate, and directly influence perceptions, often affecting their phenomenal features. In my second chapter, I address Embodied Cognition, which challenges traditional understandings of cognition. It maintains that bodily states and processes (like those involved in perceptions, motor feedback, and simulations of these experiences), sometimes directly, or constitutively participate in carrying out various cognitive functions (such as reasoning, decision-making, and concept construction and application). In my third chapter, I address Predictive Processing, which challenges traditional understandings of our overall cognitive-perceptual architecture according to which our perceptual and cognitive systems operate largely independently and sequentially, and give us a largely passive, receptive, and reconstructive relationship to the world. In contrast, Predictive Processing holds that our perceptual and cognitive systems are much more integrated, often operate simultaneously, and give us a primarily predictive, active, and generative relationship to the world. In my fourth chapter, I sketch a system which locates Cognitive Penetration and Embodied Cognition mechanisms within the ‘framework’ provided by Predictive Processing. We can better understand all three component theories by viewing them as a part of this system, and gain a more unified picture of our perceptual and cognitive systems, and how they affect our engagement with the world.
All four of these theories (the three component theories, and the overall theory) propose promising expansions to widely-assumed, traditional accounts of perception and cognition. They preserve important insights from these accounts, while supplementing and reorienting them. In each chapter, I sketch a specific version of the theories listed above and the traditional view(s) it challenges, present empirical support for the theory, and address key objections against it. In addressing objections I also highlight unacknowledged assumptions based on traditional understandings of perception and cognition which limit our ability to objectively evaluate these theories.