Yes—didn't see this comment. Basically, researchers have found ways to build robots that move like people, and ecological psychology is the framework that best helps us understand how to make sense of this in terms of what the brain does. Here's an example.
There's quite a lot to say about this, of course. I'd be willing to write some posts about it, but I don't have a lot of time I'm able to commit to doing so, and I think it would take a lot of work. But it'd be interesting, so we'll see.
Yeah—as far as I know, ecological psychology is less about messing with undergrads in the lab and more about understanding how the constraints of the body and environment inform and enable what were historically thought to be "purely mental" activities. The empirical usefulness of ecological psychology is evident in how ideas from it helps us build robots that walk and grasp and so on.
I also think ecological psychology is very interesting—I found out about it when I kept trying to talk to psychologists about applications of active inference, the degrees-of-freedom problem, etc., and they kept saying, "Yeah, that's ecological psychology." I'm not an expert on the field, but I think it's a very useful perspective for stepping outside some of the limitations of more conventional ways of understanding the mind.
Thank you for replying—and for the interesting post.
Your mention of homeostasis suggests an important conceptual distinction indicated by your discussion of feedback control systems. Basically, much of the interest in FEP among neuroscientists is due to the failure of concepts like homeostasis and feedback control to explain complex, dynamic, "goal-oriented" behavior. These concepts aren't false; they just don't work very well for some classes of interesting phenomena. It's like pushing a car instead of driving it. You can get where you're going eventually, you just wish you had some other way of doing it.
Perhaps an original post on the empirical situation leading up to interest in FEP and active inference would be useful, although I am not a historian and would undoubtedly give a summary more relevant to my background than to the modal neuroscientist.
Can you explain what you mean by "the problem of intrinsic contextuality" for those of us who aren't conversant with quantum physics?
I know more about the brain than I do about physics, but I would hope that quite a lot is gained from taking the laws of physics as a starting point.
The fact that the FEP applies to both humans and bacteria (and non-living things like rocks, as Roman Leventov pointed out elsewhere), is valuable because, empirically, we observe common structure across those things. What is gained by the FEP is, accordingly, an abstract and general understanding of that structure. (Whether that is useful as a "starting point" depends on how one solves problems, I suppose.)
I don't understand. Consider the analogous statement: "The laws of physics are applicable to both X and Y, where X and Y are literally any two things in our universe. So the laws of physics are probably a bad starting point for understanding how Y works."