Decentering and attention

Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Clinical psychologists describe decentering as the mental operation in which a subject “moves out” of immersion in a mental state. Such decentering is philosophically puzzling. It involves that a subject attends to her mental state to distance herself from it. That is, she attends to the state to make it less determining of her processing. This paper provides a philosophical explanation of the nature of decentering. It analyses decentering as a complex mental operation composed of two sub-operations: introspection and detachment. Drawing on this analysis, the paper argues that decentering involves certain dynamics of attention and attention control that pose an important challenge to a selection for action theory of attention. This challenge concerns adequately describing the workings of detachment in decentering. The paper discusses how a selection for action theory might reply, yet it argues that all the available replies involve unattractive aspects. The paper closes with broader perspectives, suggesting that decentering might also pose a puzzle for other theories of attention.

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References found in this work

Controlling attitudes.Pamela Hieronymi - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (1):45-74.
The unreliability of naive introspection.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2006 - Philosophical Review 117 (2):245-273.
Experts and Deviants: The Story of Agentive Control.Wayne Wu - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (1):101-26.
Attention as Selection for Action.Wayne Wu - 2011 - In Christopher Mole, Declan Smithies & Wayne Wu (eds.), Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 97--116.

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