Monash University
20170411SatoThesis.pdf (6.37 MB)

Perceptual phenomenology and predictive processing

Download (6.37 MB)
Version 2 2019-11-29, 03:50
Version 1 2017-04-19, 00:25
posted on 2019-11-29, 03:50 authored by Ryoji Sato
This thesis is about five aspects of our perceptual phenomenology that all coincidentally start with P: presence, poverty, present, particularity, and persons.

All of these are much discussed in contemporary philosophical debates but they are also notoriously difficult to explain. The thesis is an attempt to give new conceptual and phenomenological analyses of the five aspects and identify common core features among all of them. It turns out that they naturally invite a contemporary neurocomputational explanatory framework: predictive processing. In this way, the thesis provides a novel, unified explanatory approach to distinctive aspects of human perceptual world.

Despite its diversity of topics, a common theme emerges after conceptual clarification. The topics are, at their core, all related to the topic of how representastions of deep aspects of the world and those of more shallow, palpable aspects of the world interact and how they form coherent percepts. This calls for a hierarchical structure equipped with precision expectations in predictive processing. By appealing to predictive processing, it is shown that higher level models “create” contents at lower levels, where relevant sensory stimulation were not available at the time of experience.

The approach of the thesis is interdisciplinary—I use both philosophy and cognitive neuroscience to elucidate the phenomena, All the chapters for the five Ps begin with
philosophical analysis of the subject matter, which then sets the scene for, and is facilitated by, the predictive processing framework. In turn, science can benefit from philosophical analysis and I formulated empirical predictions in each chapter.


Principal supervisor

Jakob Hohwy

Additional supervisor 1

Jennifer Windt

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

Usage metrics

    Faculty of Arts Theses


    Ref. manager