The Significance of Attention

Dissertation, Columbia University (2010)
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Abstract

This dissertation investigates the nature, the phenomenal character and the philosophical significance of attention. According to its central thesis, attention is the ongoing mental activity of structuring the stream of consciousness or phenomenal field. The dissertation connects the scientific study of attention in psychology and the neurosciences with central discussions in the philosophy of mind. Once we get clear on the nature and the phenomenal character of attention, we can make progress toward understanding foundational issues concerning the nature and the structure of conscious mentality itself. We understand better how consciousness is connected to self-awareness and to agency, and we get a better grip on the nature of perceptual experience, the unity of consciousness, and its subjective character. The dissertation also aims at showing that the current empirical investigation of attention should be complemented with work at the level of generality that a philosophical analysis can provide; it shows how such an analysis is relevant for the scientific study of attention by providing a new conceptual framework and suggesting several new areas of research.

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Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo

Citations of this work

The Nature of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):842-853.
Explicating Agency: The Case of Visual Attention.Denis Buehler - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):379-413.
The Philosophical Significance of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (10):722-733.
The centre and periphery of conscious thought.Mark Fortney - 2018 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 25 (3-4):112-136.

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