The Phenomenology of Attention?

Here’s William James:

[Attention] is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others…

How extensive is the phenomenology of attention?

Might it be less extensive than we normally think?

Well, I wonder if the answer is: yes, it is less extensive than one thinks. For example, is a certain attentional phenomenology what is really identified in Marisa Carrasco’s important experiments, beginning with a 2004 Nature paper?

And what precisely is James getting at? I’m not a James scholar, but I wonder if his observation on the perception side is driven by the phenomenon of foveation, where we fixate on objects as we shift our eyes (i.e. overt attention). Moreover, I wonder if the sense of a distinctive phenomenology of attention really is driven by specific cases where we are invited to reflect on attention.

But for further issues and nuances (hopefully!) see posts here on the attention blog:

Back to Top