Consciousness is something you do

Many parents who look into the eyes of their newborn baby encounter something wonderful, and awe inspiring. There in those eyes they get a glimpse of a new perspective, a new point of view on the world. A new consciousness. The idea that consciousness is the subjective perspective we each …

Earthworms, Google servers, and an important kind of freedom

Yesterday, I sketched the priority structure framework: attention consists in the activity of regulating priority structures, which order the parts of the subject’s on-going mental life by their relative priority. Why would we organize our mind in this way? In other words, what is the function of attention?  The answer, …

Structures of the Mind

Yesterday, I suggested that we need a theory of attention that gives attention a central place in the mind and serves as a unified framework that integrates different approaches to attention, both in philosophy and in the empirical sciences. Today, I will sketch the priority structure framework and give some …

Who needs a theory of attention?

Let me tell you about my friend Jayden: these days, Jayden gives a lot of her attention to community work. Jayden has always paid attention to what matters morally over anything else. Her attention somehow just tends to be drawn to the suffering of others. Her own achievements, by contrast, …

Understanding Compositional Explanations in the Sciences

Understanding the nature of “vertical” relations whether in science, nature, mathematics, logic, or anywhere else, is a hot topic in philosophy. What is unfortunate is that, as yet, too little attention is paid to focused issues about what frameworks work best for the “vertical” relations in particular areas. However, it …

#MindsOnline2016: Skill, Expertise, and Attention

The opening session of the 2016 Minds Online Conference, on Skill Expertise, and Attention, has begun! The talks in this session are: Keynote: “Longer, Smaller, Faster Stronger: on skills and intelligence“, by Ellen Fridland (King’s College London) “Do we reflect when performing skilful actions?”, by Juan Pablo Bermudez (Universidad Externado de Colombia) Commentators: Lieke Asma, Michael …

#MindsOnline2016: Contributed papers on Skill, Expertise, and Attention are now available!

The contributed papers and commentaries for the opening session of the 2016 Minds Online Conference, on Skill Expertise, and Attention, are now available to preview. They are: Juan Pablo Bermudez (Universidad Externado de Colombia), Do we reflect while performing skillful actions? Automaticity, control, and the perils of distraction Denis Buehler (Universidad Nacional Autónoma …

Attention, conscious experience, and working memory

One argument for the view that all access-consciousness depends upon sensory representations is an inference to the best explanation (or rather, a series of them) that brings together recent work on consciousness with recent work on working memory. The argument builds on the findings of Bernard Baars, Stanislas Dehaene, and …

#MindsOnline2015 Session 4: Philosophy of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

The fourth and final session of the Minds Online conference has begun! It is focused on the Philosophy of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, and includes the following papers: Karen Neander (Duke) “Why I’m Not A Content Pragmatist” (Keynote) Marcelo Fischborn (Federal University of Santa Maria): “Libet-Style Experiments, Neuroscience, and Libertarian Free Will” …

Is Consciousness a “Stream”?

In 1890 William James introduced the metaphor of the “stream of consciousness” into Western psychology: “Consciousness… is nothing jointed; it flows. A ‘river’ or ‘stream’ are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, …

Introduction

Thanks to John Schwenkler and The Brains Blog for giving me this opportunity to tell you about my work. In this first post I’d like to describe the themes and ideas of my most recent book, Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy. In later posts …

Primates Who Are Calm Enough to Pay Attention, or How Touch Allows Human and Non-Human Infants to Engage in Social Interactions

When orphans who have had to overcome difficult upbringings are portrayed in movies or books, they are usually described as smart, sensible children who are capable of facing any challenge and are able to intuitively excel in anything they attempt (even quidditch). The reality of a harsh upbringing, especially for …