Structuring Mind. The Nature of Attention and How it Shapes Consciousness

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (2017)
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Abstract

What is attention? How does attention shape consciousness? In an approach that engages with foundational topics in the philosophy of mind, the theory of action, psychology, and the neurosciences this book provides a unified and comprehensive answer to both questions. Sebastian Watzl shows that attention is a central structural feature of the mind. The first half of the book provides an account of the nature of attention. Attention is prioritizing, it consists in regulating priority structures. Attention is not another element of the mind, but constituted by structures that organize, integrate, and coordinate the parts of our mind. Attention thus integrates the perceptual and intellectual, the cognitive and motivational, and the epistemic and practical. The second half of the book concerns the relationship between attention and consciousness. Watzl argues that attentional structure shapes consciousness into what is central and what is peripheral. The center-periphery structure of consciousness cannot be reduced to the structure of how the world appears to the subject. What it is like for us thus goes beyond the way the world appears to us. On this basis, a new view of consciousness is offered. In each conscious experience we actively take a stance on the world we appear to encounter. It is in this sense that our conscious experience is our subjective perspective.

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Author's Profile

Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo

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References found in this work

Renewed Acquaintance.Brie Gertler - 2012 - In Declan Smithies & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford University Press. pp. 89-123.
Introspecting phenomenal states.Brie Gertler - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):305-28.
The Myth of Phenomenological Overflow.Richard Brown - 2012 - Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):599-604.
The subject of attention.Carolyn Dicey Jennings - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):535-554.

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