Imagination, Endogenous Attention, and Mental Agency

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1:1-21 (2023)
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This paper develops a mechanistic account of basic mental agency by identifying similarities between two of its major exemplars: endogenous attention and imagination. Five key similarities are identified: i) that both capacities are driven by currently prioritised goals that are either person-level or apt to become person-level. ii) that both deliver their outputs to the working memory iii) that both range across all and only conceptual contents; iv) that both proceed under the guidance of norms and/or habits; and v) that both directly activate rather than inhibit content. These five features are consolidated by proposing that basic mental agency is essentially the power to call for conceptual content and hold it within our working memories.

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Tom Cochrane
Flinders University

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References found in this work

An Integrative Theory of Prefrontal Cortex Function.Earl K. Miller & Jonathan D. Cohen - 2001 - Annual Review of Neuroscience 24 (1):167-202.
Minds: extended or scaffolded?Kim Sterelny - 2010 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4):465-481.
Concepts and Cognitive Science.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press. pp. 3-81.
The Blue and Brown Books.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1958 - Philosophy 34 (131):367-368.
The Heterogeneity of the Imagination.Amy Kind - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):141-159.

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