The Significance of Attention

Dissertation, Columbia University (2010)
Abstract
This dissertation investigates the nature, the phenomenal character and the philosophical significance of attention. According to its central thesis, attention is the ongoing mental activity of structuring the stream of consciousness or phenomenal field. The dissertation connects the scientific study of attention in psychology and the neurosciences with central discussions in the philosophy of mind. Once we get clear on the nature and the phenomenal character of attention, we can make progress toward understanding foundational issues concerning the nature and the structure of conscious mentality itself. We understand better how consciousness is connected to self-awareness and to agency, and we get a better grip on the nature of perceptual experience, the unity of consciousness, and its subjective character. The dissertation also aims at showing that the current empirical investigation of attention should be complemented with work at the level of generality that a philosophical analysis can provide; it shows how such an analysis is relevant for the scientific study of attention by providing a new conceptual framework and suggesting several new areas of research.
Keywords Attention  Consciousness  Unity of Consciousness  Activity  Salience  Phenomenal Relation  Structure of Consciousness  Self-awareness  Subjective Character  Phenomenal Intentionality
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Citations of this work BETA
Sebastian Watzl (2011). The Nature of Attention. Philosophy Compass 6 (11):842-853.
Similar books and articles
Sebastian Watzl (2011). Attention as Structuring of the Stream of Consciousness. In Christopher Mole, Declan Smithies & Wayne Wu (eds.), Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays. Oxford University Press. 145.
Uriah Kriegel (2006). Theories of Consciousness. Philosophy Compass 1 (1):58-64.
Greg Janzen (2006). Phenomenal Character as Implicit Self-Awareness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (12):44-73.
Tim Bayne (2010). The Unity of Consciousness. Oxford ;Oxford University Press.
Christopher Mole (2008). Attention and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (4):86-104.
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