The subject of attention

Synthese 189 (3):535-554 (2012)
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Abstract

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.

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Carolyn Dicey Jennings
University of California, Merced

Citations of this work

Attention Is Amplification, Not Selection.Peter Fazekas & Bence Nanay - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):299-324.
Consciousness Without Attention.Carolyn Dicey Jennings - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (2):276--295.
Epistemic Emotions and the Value of Truth.Laura Candiotto - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (4):563-577.
Unity in the Scientific Study of Intellectual Attention.Mark Fortney - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):444-459.

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References found in this work

The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
Attention and Effort.Daniel Kahneman - 1973 - Prentice-Hall.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 11 (3):506-507.
Perceptual consciousness overflows cognitive access.Ned Block - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.
Experience and Judgment.Edmund Husserl, L. Landgrebe, J. S. Churchill & K. Ameriks - 1973 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 39 (4):712-713.

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