Foresight or forethought is, arguably, the ultimate general-purpose
cognitive tool that embodied agents may acquire through continued
evolutionary pressure of being situated in an environment that is
often enough partially predictable. For forethought to be fully
effective, it is not enough that the agent be able to predict various
developments in the environment: it must also care about them,
desiring certain types of outcomes and shunning others. The capacity
for forethought thus seems to be entangled with the capacity for
emotions (which can be seen as computational tags and shortcuts that
subserve and facilitate cognition, and in particular decision
making). Moreover, when extended to encompass the agent's own
representational activity, forethought becomes the basis for
consciousness, construed as an experiential (emotional) attitude
towards the state of affairs in the universe, which is centered on,
and includes, the agent itself. By this account, the brain continuously
and unconsciously learns to redescribe its own activity to itself,
thus developing systems of predictive metarepresentations that characterize
and qualify their target representations.
Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology will host a
special Research Topic, focusing on the above ideas and structured as
commentaries on a target paper by Andy Clark, "Whatever Next?
Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive
Science" (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in press). A preprint of
Clark's paper may be downloaded from
Submissions to this special Research Topic, which should be limited to
1,000 words, will be reviewed and selected by the Frontiers
editors. The accepted commentaries will be exempt from the usual
Frontiers publication fee and will appear, together with an
introductory editorial and with Clark's rejoinder, in a future issue
of Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.
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