This paper defends and develops the structuring account of conscious attention: attention is the conscious mental process of structuring one’s stream of consciousness so that some parts of it are more central than others. In the first part of the paper, I motivate the structuring account. Drawing on a variety of resources I argue that the phenomenology of attention cannot be fully captured in terms of how the world appears to the subject, as well as against an (...) atomistic conception of attention. In the second part of the paper, I show how the structuring account can be made precise: attention causes and causally sustains phenomenal relations to hold between the parts of the stream of consciousness; most importantly the relation of one part being peripheral to another. I end by pointing out consequences for both the scientific study of attention as well as for several areas of central philosophical interest. (shrink)
This chapter argues that attention is a distinctive mode of consciousness, which plays an essential functional role in making information accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action. The main line of argument can be stated quite simply. Attention is what makes information fully accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action. But what makes information fully accessible for use in the rational control of thought and action is a distinctive mode of (...) consciousness. Therefore, attention is a distinctive mode of consciousness. In a slogan: attention is rational-access consciousness. (shrink)
In this Introduction, I identify seven discrete aspects of attention brought to the fore by by considering the phenomenon of effortless attention: effort, decision-making, action syntax, agency, automaticity, expertise, and mental training. For each, I provide an overview of recent research, identify challenges to or gaps in current attention theory with respect to it, consider how attention theory can be advanced by including current research, and explain how relevant chapters of this volume offer such advances.
Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the (...) one’s attention cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
The openness of joint awareness between two or more subjects is a perceptual phenomenon. It involves a certain mutual awareness between the subjects, an awareness that makes reference to that very awareness itself. Properly characterized, such awareness can generate iterated awareness ‘x is aware that y is aware that x is aware...’ to whatever level the subjects can sustain. The openness should not be characterized in terms of Lewis–Schiffer common knowledge, the conditions for which are not met in many basic (...) cases of joint attention. A range of phenomena, including linguistic communication and other interpersonal relations, that have previously been described in terms of common knowledge should rather be seen as involving open joint awareness. An Appendix to this chapter discusses the relations of this approach to Barwise's discussions, and disputes the claim that these mental phenomena require the postulation of self-involving situations. (shrink)
This chapter argues that a central division among accounts of joint attention, both in philosophy and developmental psychology, turns on how they address two questions: What, if any, is the connection between the capacity to engage in joint attention triangles and the capacity to grasp the idea of objective truth? How do we explain the kind of openness or sharing of minds that occurs in joint attention? The chapter explores the connections between answers to both questions, and (...) argues that theories can be divided into two distinct types according to how these connections are developed. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be aware of others as subjects of mental states is often construed as the question of how we are epistemically justified in attributing mental states to others. The dominant answer to this latter question is that we are so justified in virtue of grasping the role of mental states in explaining observed behaviour. This chapter challenges this picture and formulates an alternative by reflecting on the interpretation of early joint attention interactions. It (...) argues that the standard picture is committed to an implausible account of children's awareness of the co-attender's focus of attention. On a more natural interpretation, children engaged in joint attention perceptually recognize the co-attender's attitude to some object, as something like the (correct) answer to the question of what the object is like. The developmentally basic case is not that of attributing mental states as the causes of observed behaviour but of understanding perceived attitudes and actions as appropriate responses to the shared world. The chapter concludes by exploring how this developmental claim bears on mature adult knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
This chapter makes the case for a relational version of an experientialist view of joint attention. On an experientialist view of joint attention, shifting from solitary attention to joint attention involves a shift in the nature of your perceptual experience of the object attended to. A relational analysis of such a view explains the latter shift in terms of the idea that, in joint attention, it is a constituent of your experience that the other person (...) is, with you, jointly attending to the object. We need such an analysis of joint attention to explain the possibility of success in tasks such as coordinated attack. (shrink)
It is plausible to think, as many developmental psychologists do, that joint attention is important in the development of getting a full grasp on psychological notions. This chapter argues that this role of joint attention is best understood in the context of the simulation theory about the nature of psychological understanding rather than in the context of the theory. Episodes of joint attention can then be seen not as good occasions for learning a theory of mind but (...) rather as good occasions for developing skills of expressing and sharing thoughts. This approach suggests seeing language acquisition as learning how to focus and fine-tune joint attention already present in the normal basic relation of carer and infant. Philosophers in thinking about other minds have concentrated too much on the contrast of first and third person, I vs he/she, and forgotten the centrality of the contrast of first and second person, I vs you, and the related centrality of we. (shrink)
Because psychological studies of attention and cognition are most commonly performed within the strict confines of the laboratory or take cognitively impaired patients as subjects, it is difficult to be sure that resultant models of attention adequately account for the phenomenon of effortless attention. The problem is not only that effortless attention is resistant to laboratory study. A further issue is that because the laboratory is the most common way to approach attention, models resulting from (...) such studies are naturally the most widely propagated, these models naturally tend to be biased toward features of attention most amenable to laboratory study, and these models by their implications set the agenda for future study that leads back to the laboratory. In this self-reinforcing system, features of attention not amenable to laboratory study are naturally neglected by researchers. In this chapter, I suggest an alternative model of attention as a heuristic for opening paths to further profitable research. The features of attention emphasized in this model are not new, but the synthesis is novel and sheds some light on issues relevant to the topic of effortless attention. I begin with the five following observations: -/- 1. One naturally pays attention to a task of current interest. 2. There are (at least) two distinct modes of attention—selective and diffuse. 3. Attention is a constantly shifting avenue for the assimilation of information. 4. Information is not forced in from outside but is captured through internal sensitization. 5. Human information processing is fundamentally syntactic. -/- Combining these five observations yields an explanatory model of attention that is not only consistent with the data from the many studies on attention in recent decades but also allows us to investigate the neglected phenomenon of effortless attention. The model relies on the notions of apertures, draw, and syntax and is explicated by addressing each of the above observations in turn. In the final part of the chapter, I explore how the model expands our understanding of effortless attention. (shrink)
Perceptual attention is essential to both thought and agency, for there is arguably no demonstrative thought or bodily action without it. Psychologists and philosophers since William James have taken attention to be a ubiquitous and distinctive form of consciousness, one that leaves a characteristic mark on perceptual experience. As a process of selecting specific perceptual inputs, attention influences the way things perceptually appear. It may then seem that it is a specific feature of perceptual representation that constitutes (...) what it is like to consciously attend to an object. In fact conscious attention is more complicated. In what follows, I argue that the phenomenology of conscious attention to what is perceived involves not just a way of perceptually locking on to a specific object. It necessarily involves a way of cognitively locking on to it as well. (shrink)
According to commonsense psychology, one is conscious of everything that one pays attention to, but one does not pay attention to all the things that one is conscious of. Recent lines of research purport to show that commonsense is mistaken on both of these points: Mack and Rock (1998) tell us that attention is necessary for consciousness, while Kentridge and Heywood (2001) claim that consciousness is not necessary for attention. If these lines of research were successful (...) they would have important implications regarding the prospects of using attention research to inform us about consciousness. The present essay shows that these lines of research are not successful, and that the commonsense picture of the relationship between attention and consciousness can be. (shrink)
Much of recent philosophy of perception is oriented towards accounting for the phenomenal character of perception—what it is like to perceive—in a non-mentalistic way—that is, without appealing to mental objects or mental qualities. In opposition to such views, I claim that the phenomenal character of perception of a red round object cannot be explained by or reduced to direct awareness of the object, its redness and roundness—or representation of such objects and qualities. Qualities of perception that are not captured by (...) what one is directly aware of or by representational content are instances of what Gilbert Harman has called “mental paint” (Block, 1990; Harman, 1990). The claim of this paper is that empirical facts about attention point in the direction of mental paint. The argument starts with the claim (later modified) that when one moves one's attention around a scene while keeping one's eyes fixed, the phenomenology of perception can change in ways that do not reflect which qualities of objects one is directly aware of or the way the world is represented to be. These changes in the phenomenology of perception cannot be accounted for in terms of awareness of or representation of the focus of attention because they manifest themselves in experience as differences in apparent contrast, apparent color saturation, apparent size, apparent speed, apparent time of occurrence and other appearances. There is a way of coping with these phenomena in terms of vague contents, but vague contents cannot save direct realism or representationism because the kind of vagueness required clashes wth the phenomenology itself. (shrink)
Attention has been studied in cognitive psychology for more than half a century, but until recently it was largely neglected in philosophy. Now, however, attention has been recognized by philosophers of mind as having an important role to play in our theories of consciousness and of cognition. At the same time, several recent developments in psychology have led psychologists to foundational questions about the nature of attention and its implementation in the brain. As a result there has (...) been a convergence of interest in fundamental questions about attention. This volume presents the latest thinking from the philosophers and psychologists who are working at the interface between these two disciplines. Its fourteen chapters contain detailed philosophical and scientific arguments about the nature and mechanisms of attention; the relationship between attention and consciousness; the role of attention in explaining reference, rational thought, and the control of action; the fundamental metaphysical status of attention, and the details of its implementation in the brain. These contributions combine ideas from phenomenology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind to further our understanding of this centrally important mental phenomenon, and to bring to light the foundational questions that any satisfactory theory of attention will need to address. (from OUP website). (shrink)
I argue that when perception plays a guiding role in intentional bodily action, it is a necessary part of that action. The argument begins with a challenge that necessarily arises for embodied agents, what I call the Many-Many Problem. The Problem is named after its most common case where agents face too many perceptual inputs and too many possible behavioral outputs. Action requires a solution to the Many-Many Problem by selection of a specific linkage between input and output. In bodily (...) action the agent perceptually selects, and in this way perceptually attends to, relevant information so as to guide the execution of specific movements. Since perceptual attention is a necessary part of solving the Many-Many Problem, it is a necessary part of bodily action. Indeed, the process of implementing a solution to the Many-Many Problem, as constrained by the agent's motivational state, just is the agent's performing an intentional bodily action in the relevant way. (shrink)
What is the philosophical significance of attention? The present article provides an overview of recent debates surrounding the connections between attention and other topics of philosophical interest. In particular, it discusses the interplay between attention and consciousness, attention and agency, and attention and reference. The article outlines the questions and contemporary positions concerning how attention shapes the phenomenal character of experience, whether it is necessary or sufficient for consciousness, and whether it plays a special (...) role in the best philosophical theories of action or conceptual reference. Various interdependencies between the answers to these questions are indicated, as well as how these answers might depend on the metaphysics of attention. Together with its companion piece (“The Nature of Attention”) this article serves as an introduction to the philosophy of attention. (shrink)
What is involved in the consciousness of a conscious, "occurrent" propositional attitude, such as a thought, a sudden conjecture or a conscious decision? And what is the relation of such consciousness to attention? I hope the intrinsic interest of these questions provides sufficient motivation to allow me to start by addressing them. We will not have a full understanding either of consciousness in general, nor of attention in general, until we have answers to these questions. I think there (...) are constitutive features of these states which can be identified by broadly philosophical investigation, and in the early part of this paper I will try to do some of that identification. -/- Beyond the intrinsic interest of the topic, the nature of such conscious attitudes is highly pertinent to a philosophical account of psychological self-knowledge. So I will also say something about the significance of the constitutive features of these conscious attitudes for a philosophical account of how it can be that a thinker has a distinctive kind of knowledge of some of his mental states. The general challenge in this area is to find anything intermediate between the unexceptionable but uninformative, on the one hand, and the absolutely unbelievable on the other. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual content is always affected by the allocation of one’s attention. Perception attributes determinable and determinate properties to the perceived scene. Attention makes (or tries to make) our perceptual attribution of properties more determinate. Hence, a change in our attention changes the determinacy of the properties attributed to the perceived scene.
What is attention? Attention is often seen as a subject matter for the hard sciences of cognitive and brain processes, and is understood in terms of sub-personal mechanisms and processes. Correspondingly, there still is a stark contrast between the central role attention plays for the empirical investigation of the mind in psychology and the neurosciences, and its relative neglect in philosophy. Yet, over the past years, several philosophers have challenged the standard conception. A number of interesting philosophical (...) questions concerning the nature of attention arise. This article provides an introduction to contemporary debates concerning these questions. In particular, it discusses the question of how the pre-theoretic conception of attention might be reconciled with a scientific conception, arguments that provide support for an anti-reductivist theory of attention, and sketches several recent anti-reductivist theories and their inter-relations. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitive science concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely (...) amended from the work of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
I am very much in sympathy with the overall approach of John Campbell’s paper, “Reference as Attention”. My sympathy extends to a variety of its features. I think he is right to suppose, for instance, that neuropsychological cases provide important clues about how we should treat some traditional philosophical problems concerning perception and reference. I also think he is right to suppose that there are subtle but important relations between the phenomena of perception, action, consciousness, attention, and reference. (...) I even think that there is probably something importantly right about the main claim of the paper. I take this to be the claim that there is a tight connection – of some sort at any rate – between our capacity to refer demonstratively to perceptually presented objects and our capacity to attend to those objects in our conscious awareness of them. What precisely this connection consists in, however, remains a mystery to me. My goal in these comments is to clarify this result. I will begin, in section 2, with a fairly general statement of the problem I take Campbell to have set himself. Following this, in section 3, I will focus more particularly on what kind of relation Campbell takes to exist, or does exist, or perhaps could exist between attention and demonstrative reference. I examine four options, the first three of which seem to admit of clear counterexamples, and the fourth of which is too weak to be of any real interest. (shrink)
Many alleged counter-examples to intentionalism, the thesis that the phenomenology of perceptual experiences of a given sense modality supervenes on the contents of experiences of that modality, can be avoided by adopting a liberal view of the sorts of properties that can be represented in perceptual experience. I argue that there is a class of counter-examples to intentionalism, based on shifts in attention, which avoids this response. A necessary connection between the contents and phenomenal characters of perceptual experiences can (...) be preserved by distinguishing perceptual phenomenology from the phenomenology of attention; but even if this distinction is viable, these cases put pressure on the thesis that phenomenal character can, in general, be explained in terms of mental representation. (shrink)
I propose a new argument showing that conscious vision sometimes depends constitutively on conscious attention. I criticise traditional arguments for this constitutive connection, on the basis that they fail adequately to dissociate evidence about visual consciousness from evidence about attention. On the same basis, I criticise Ned Block's recent counterargument that conscious vision is independent of one sort of attention (‘cognitive access'). Block appears to achieve the dissociation only because he underestimates the indeterminacy of visual consciousness. I (...) then appeal to empirical work on the interaction between visual indeterminacy and attention, to argue for the constitutive connection. (shrink)
Scientiﬁc concepts are deﬁned by metaphors. These metaphors determine what atten- tion is and what count as adequate explanations of the phenomenon. The authors analyze these metaphors within 3 types of attention theories: (a) --cause-- theories, in which attention is presumed to modulate information processing (e.g., attention as a spotlight; attention as a limited resource); (b) --effect-- theories, in which attention is considered to be a by-product of information processing (e.g., the competition meta- phor); and (...) (c) hybrid theories that combine cause and effect aspects (e.g., biased- competition models). The present analysis reveals the crucial role of metaphors in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and the efforts of scientists to ﬁnd a resolution to the classic problem of cause versus effect interpretations. (shrink)
What are the states of consciousness in themselves, those pulses of mentality that follow one upon another in tight succession and constitute the stream of consciousness? William James conceives of each of them as being, typically, a complex unitary awareness that instantiates many features and takes a multiplicity of objects. In contrast, Brian O?Shaughnessy claims that the basic durational component of the stream of consciousness is the attention, which he understands to be something like a psychic space that is (...) simultaneously occupied by several experiences. Whereas, according to the first conception, emotion is a feature of a temporal segment of the stream of consciousness and colors through and through each consciousness state that instantiates it, the second conception considers an emotion to be a distinct one of a system of simultaneous experiences that interact with each other, for example, limiting each other?s number and intensity. Among other matters discussed is the two theorists? mutually contrasting conception of how the non-inferential awareness which we have of our states of consciousness is accomplished. (shrink)
Often when there is no attention to an object, there is no conscious perception of it either, leading some to conclude that conscious perception is an attentional phenomenon. There is a well-known perceptual phenomenon—visuo-spatial crowding, in which objects are too closely packed for attention to single out one of them. This article argues that there is a variant of crowding—what I call ‘‘identity-crowding’’—in which one can consciously see a thing despite failure of attention to it. This conclusion, (...) together with new evidence that attention to an object occurs in unconscious perception, suggests there may be a double dissociation between conscious perception of an object and attention to that object, constraining the extent to which consciousness can be constitutively attentional. The argument appeals to a comparison between the minimal resolution (or ‘‘grain’’) of object-attention and object-seeing. (shrink)
We assemble here in this time and place to discuss the thesis that conscious attention can provide knowledge of reference of perceptual demonstratives. I shall focus my commentary on what this claim means, and on the main argument for it found in the first five chapters of Reference and Consciousness. The middle term of that argument is an account of what attention does: what its job or function is. There is much that is admirable in this account, and (...) I am confident that it will be the foundation, the launching-pad, for much future work on the subject. But in the end I will argue that Campbell’s picture makes the mechanisms of attention too smart: smarter than they are, smarter than they could be. If we come to a more realistic appraisal of the skills and capacities of our sub-personal minions, the “knowledge of reference” which they yield will have to be taken down a notch or two. (shrink)
The selection of wanted from unwanted messages requires discriminatory mechanisms of as great a complexity as those in normal perception, as is indicated by behavioral evidence. The results of neurophysiology experiments on selective attention are compatible with this supposition. This presents a difficulty for Filter theory. Another mechanism is proposed, which assumes the existence of a shifting reference standard, which takes up the level of the most important arriving signal. The way such importance is determined in the system is (...) further described. Neurophysiological evidence relative to this postulation is discussed. (shrink)
Philosophers have not been very preoccupied by the link between emotions and attention. The few that did (de Sousa, 1987) never really specified the relation between the two phenomena. Using empirical data from the study of the emotion of fear, we provide a description (and an explanation) of the links between emotion and attention. We also discuss the nature (empirical or conceptual) of these links.
The absence of a common understanding of attention plagues current research on the topic. Combining the findings from three domains of research on attention, this paper presents a univocal account that fits normal use of the term as well as its many associated phenomena: attention is a process of mental selection that is within the control of the subject. The role of the subject is often excluded from naturalized accounts, but this paper will be an exception to (...) that rule. The paper aims to show how we might reinstate the subject into the act of attention, endorsing the ordinary notion that attention is a direction of the mind by the subject, rather than a mere occurrence or happening. To do so, it lays out the best work of phenomenology, psychology, and neuroscience on specifying the nature of attention and, in finding them individually wanting, combines them into a unified view that avoids the problems of each. (shrink)
I argued in Nanay 2010 that we cannot characterize perceptual content without reference to attention. Here, I defend this account from three objections raised by Jagnow 2011. This mainly takes the form of clarifying some details not sufficiently elaborated in the original article and dispelling some potential misunderstandings.
I have two goals in this paper. First, I want to show by example that inferences about theoretical entities are relatively contingent affairs. Previously accepted conceptual metaphors in science set both the general form of new theories and our acceptance of the theories as plausible. In addition, they determine how we define the relevant parameters in investigating phenomena in the first place. These items then determine how we conceptualize things in the world. Second, and maybe more importantly, I want to (...) solve a puzzle that falls out of our current explication of attention, namely why we have it. Given the now widely accepted view that our brains are massively parallel, it is difficult to see why we should have evolved attentional mechanisms at all. Why gate when we can already process what we transduce in parallel? Here I answer that puzzle and suggest a perspective on attention that makes it a bit easier to understand, although this perspective also entails that we have to revise how we individuate experimental protocols and relevant data. (shrink)
Highlights of a difficult history -- The preliminary identification of our topic -- Approaches -- Bradley's protest -- James's disjunctive theory -- The source of Bradley's dissatisfaction -- Behaviourism and after -- Heirs of Bradley in the twentieth century -- The underlying metaphysical issue -- Explanatory tactics -- The basic distinction -- Metaphysical categories and taxonomies -- Adverbialism, multiple realizability, and natural kinds -- Adverbialism and levels of explanation -- Taxonomies and supervenience relations -- Rejecting the process : first view (...) -- Supervenience-failure -- The modal commitments of the process : first view -- The interference argument : a putative problem for adverbialist accounts -- Cognitive unison -- The problem with attitude based adverbialism -- Gilbert Ryle and Alan White -- White's argument against disposition-based adverbialism -- The cognitive unison theory -- Tasks -- Cognitive processes -- Potential service of a task -- Superordinate tasks -- Some features of the theory -- Divided attention -- Degrees of attention and merely partial attention -- The causal life of attention -- Mental causation -- How to respond to mental causation objections -- The causal role of attention -- Attention as an enabling condition -- Counterfactuals -- The causal relevance of attention per se -- Counterfactuals and causally relevant properties -- Objections to counterfactual analysis of causation and of causal relevance -- The extrinsicness of unison -- The privative character of unison and the problem of absence causation -- Causal exclusion -- Consequences for cognitive psychology -- Psychology and metaphysics -- The metaphysical commitments of the process-identifying project -- The diverse explanatory construals of current psychological results -- Reasons for deflation -- Inductively unreliable properties -- Questions without answers -- The positive payoff -- Philosophical work for the theory of attention -- Putting attention to philosophical work -- Attention and reference -- Attention and consciousness -- Prospects for optimism. (shrink)
This study investigated attention to a spatial location using a new spatial preparation task. Participants responded to a target dot presented in the center of a display and ignored a distractor dot presented to the right or left of the center. In an attempt to vary the level of preparatory attention directed to the target, the distractor dot was presented prior to the onset time of the target and the relative frequency of distractor dots to target dots within (...) a block of trials was varied. The results from the first three experiments showed that when instructions induce weak preparatory attention to the target location, response times to a target on target-only trials increase substantially as the percentage of trials containing a distractor increases from 0 to 75%. In Experiments 2 and 3, instructions and display saliency were used to induce strong preparatory attention to the target location, resulting in almost constant response times across distractor percentages. Experiment 4 varied percentage of target trials in the absence of distractors, with the result that response times decreased as target trial percentage increased. Accounts of these data by early ''activity-based'' and late ''criterion-based'' attention theories are compared, and the early theory is given a more detailed description within the context of a cognitive neuroscience theory of attention. (shrink)
The contemporary discussion of modesty has focused on whether or not modest people are accurate about their own good qualities. This essay argues that this way of framing the debate is unhelpful and offers examples to show that neither ignorance nor accuracy about the good qualities related to oneself is necessary for modesty. It then offers an attention-based account, claiming that what is necessary for modesty is to direct one’s attention in certain ways. By analyzing modesty in this (...) way, we can best explain the distinct features of modesty, keep much of what is intuitive in contemporary accounts, and better understand why modesty is a virtue at all. (shrink)
It has been argued that attention and awareness might oppose each other given that attending to an adapting stimulus weakens its afterimage. We argue instead that the type of attention guided by the spread of attention and the level of processing is critical and might result in differences in awareness using afterimages. Participants performed a central task with small, large, local or global letters and a blue square as an adapting stimulus in two experiments and indicated the (...) onset and offset of the afterimage. We found that increases in the spatial spread of attention (modulated by the central task) resulted in the decrease of afterimage duration. In terms of levels of processing, global processing produced larger afterimage durations with stimuli controlled for spatial extent. The results suggest that focused or distributed attention produce different effects on awareness, possibly through their differential interactions with polarity dependent and independent processes involved in the formation of color afterimages. (shrink)
A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is Cognitive Unison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument (...) for why no personal level adverbialism can provide a complete and unified theory of attention. Despite my disagreements, I have learned a lot from engaging with Mole's book. It's a central contribution to the new philosophical literature on attention. (shrink)
We identify a particular type of causal reasoning ability that we believe is required for the possession of episodic memories, as it is needed to give substance to the distinction between the past and the present. We also argue that the same causal reasoning ability is required for grasping the point that another person's appeal to particular past events can have in conversation. We connect this to claims in developmental psychology that participation in joint reminiscing plays a key role in (...) memory development. (shrink)
Iris Murdoch held that states of mind and character are of the first moral importance, and that attention to one's states of mind and character are a widespread source of moral failure. Maintaining both of these claims can lead to problems in the account of how one could become good. This paper explains the way in which Murdoch negotiated those problems, focusing, in particular on /The Sovereignty of Good/ and /The Nice and The Good/.
A fundamental question in reading research concerns whether attention is allocated strictly serially, supporting lexical processing of one word at a time, or in parallel, supporting concurrent lexical processing of two or more words (Reichle, Liversedge, Pollatsek, & Rayner, 2009). The origins of this debate are reviewed. We then report three simulations to address this question using artificial reading agents (Liu & Reichle, 2010; Reichle & Laurent, 2006) that learn to dynamically allocate attention to 1–4 words to “read” (...) as efficiently as possible. These simulation results indicate that the agents strongly preferred serial word processing, although they occasionally attended to more than one word concurrently. The reason for this preference is discussed, along with implications for the debate about how humans allocate attention during reading. (shrink)
The problem of the richness of visual experience is that of finding principled grounds for claims about how much of the world a person actually sees at any given moment. It is argued that there are suggestive parallels between the two-component analysis of experience defended by Wilfrid Sellars, and certain recently advanced information processing accounts of visual perception. Sellars' later account of experience is examined in detail, and it is argued that there are good reasons in support of the claim (...) that the sensory nonconceptual content of experience can vary independently of conceptual awareness. It is argued that the Sellarsian analysis is not undermined by recent work on change blindness and related phenomena; a model of visual experience developed by Ronald Rensink is shown to be in essential harmony with the framework provided by Sellars, and provides a satisfactory answer to the problem of the richness of visual experience. (shrink)
_The Sub ject of Con scious ness_ is a rich, strik ingly orig i nal and ambi tious work. It makes an impor tant and timely con tri bu tion to cur rent debates on a num ber of issues which over the last few years have been tak ing cen tre stage in the phi los o phy of mind: for exam ple, self-consciousness, selec tive atten tion and the nature of bodily aware ness. What makes this achieve ment (...) some what unusual, and all the more remark able, is that _The Sub ject of Con scious ness_ was pub lished thirty years ago (Evans, 1970). The reviews it received at the time ranged from the hos tile to the deri sory. (shrink)
Orthodox interpretations of Sperling‘s partial report paradigm support the idea that there is substantially more in our streams of consciousness than we can attend to or recall. I propose an alternative, postdictive interpretation which fails to support any such conclusion. This account is defended at greater length in my ‗Perception and iconic memory‘. Here I focus on the role ascribed to attention by the rival interpretations. I argue that orthodox accounts fail to assign a plausible role to attention. (...) In contrast, I suggest a novel way in which heterodox, postdictive account can assign attention a plausible role. We should therefore prefer such accounts over their orthodox rivals. Consequently, Sperling‘s paradigm fails to probe the true extent of conscious awareness unfettered by limitations on attention or memory. (shrink)
This chapter proposes that the cognitive mechanisms of joint attention (defined as a combination of attention following skills with attention contact skills) are not metarepresentational in nature, but based upon the coordination of two different types of intentional understanding — third-person and second-person intentions — that are represented at the level of a sensorimotor notion of others as subjects. This proposal is developed and analyzed from a comparative perspective through a review of findings concerning apes, typically developing (...) children, and children with autism. It is argued that each of these populations illustrates a different type of joint attention system based upon different notions of the other as a subject. (shrink)
This chapter argues that joint attention needs to be understood in terms of one person's engagement with another person's engagement with the world. It is pivotal from a developmental perspective that we have an appropriate view of what is involved when we share experiences, or when we perceive and align with another person's ‘attention’ as a bodily-expressed and affectively toned relation with the environment. The chapter explores these theoretical issues through studies involving children with autism, who have limited (...) ability to engage with others emotionally. It concludes that intersubjective engagement, and more specifically the propensity to identify with the attitudes of others, is critical for the early development of joint attention. (shrink)
The thesis of this bk is that the brain is innately constructed to initiate behaviors likely to promote the survival of the species & to sensitize sensory systems to stimuli required for those behaviors. Intended for behavioral & brain scientists.