Dissertation, Macquarie University (2019)

Authors
Antonios Kaldas
Sydney College of Divinity
Abstract
Is attention both necessary and sufficient for consciousness? Call this central question of this treatise, “Q.” We commonly have the experience of consciously paying attention to something, but is it possible to be conscious of something you are not attending to, or to attend to something of which you are not conscious? Where might we find examples of these? This treatise is a quest to find an answer to Q in two parts. Part I reviews the foundations upon which the discourse on Q is built. Different inputs to Q produce different answers. After consideration of the many ways “attention” and “consciousness” have been defined, I settle upon phenomenal consciousness and Executive Attention (defined as a suite of strategies for structuring cognition for further processing implemented by the executive of working memory) as the most interesting inputs to Q, and the ones on which Part II focuses. Attention without consciousness seems relatively easy to establish empirically, but consciousness without attention is much harder. The putative candidates all seem to have major problems, but I build a strong abductive case for the hitherto ignored case of foveal phenomenal overflow. We consciously see far more detail in our foveal fields than we can Executively Attend, although there is a serious obstacle to our ever confirming that empirically—identifying conscious content relies on Executive Attentional report. Triangulating the capacity limitations of attention, consciousness, and working memory strengthens this case for consciousness without attention, and suggests that cognition must work something like my “Witches’ Hat Model,” on which content can become conscious outside of Executive Attention or working memory. I conclude with some reflections on the implications of my arguments for the discourse on Q, and for other discourses such as the ontologies of attention and consciousness, theories of consciousness, some other cognitive concepts, and ethical considerations in humans, animals, and machines. A conclusive answer to Q continues to elude us. It may perhaps be an ultimately insoluble conundrum. But it is the very essence of humanity to seek an answer, and in so doing, to improve our understanding of our own nature: “The proper study of mankind is man.”1
Keywords attention  consciousness  phenomenal  phenomenal overflow  taxonomy  set theoretical framework  executive attention
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.

View all 341 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Paying Attention to Consciousness.R. Hine - 2015 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (5-6):52-69.
Shades of Consciousness.Roderic A. Girle - 1996 - Minds and Machines 6 (2):143-57.
The Philosophical Significance of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (10):722-733.
Is Attention Necessary and Sufficient for Phenomenal Consciousness?John Taylor - 2013 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (11-12):173-194.
Consciousness, Attention, and Conscious Attention. [REVIEW]Jack Shardlow - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (7):1068-1070.
Consciousness Without Attention.Carolyn Dicey Jennings - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (2):276--295.
Attention and Consciousness.Christopher Mole - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (4):86-104.
Is Attention Necessary and Sufficient for Consciousness?Jesse Prinz - 2011 - In Christopher Mole, Declan Smithies & Wayne Wu (eds.), Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 174--204.
Consciousness, Attention and Commonsense.F. de Brigard - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (9-10):189-201.
What is Attended in Spatial Attention?R. W. Kentridge, L. H. de-Wit & C. A. Heywood - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (4):105-111.
On the Evolution of Conscious Attention.Harry Haroutioun Haladjian & Carlos Montemayor - 2015 - Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 22 (3):595-613.
Consciousness Engineered.Michael Graziano - 2016 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (11-12):98-115.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-03-11

Total views
92 ( #118,394 of 2,454,834 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
61 ( #12,179 of 2,454,834 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes