Chapter

Philosophical Work for the Theory of Attention

Christopher Mole

in Attention Is Cognitive Unison

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384529
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199872817 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384529.003.0007

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Philosophical Work for the Theory of Attention

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Many psychologists think that a theory of attention should cast light on the mysteries of consciousness. Some philosophers think that a theory of attention should cast light on the mysteries associated with the contentfulness of thought. According to the cognitive unison theory both thoughts are mistaken. An argument suggested by some passages in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations shows that attention must be understood as a content-involving phenomenon, and so that it cannot be used to explain content without that explanation lapsing into circularity. The argument against attention-based explanations of consciousness draws on some passages from William James’s Principles suggesting that there are conscious states that attention cannot possibly explain, since the subject may conscious while not paying any attention.

Keywords: attention; consciousness; content; Wittgenstein; circular explanation

Chapter.  17152 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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