Starting from a suggestion found in the work of Alan White, this chapter presents an adverbialist theory of attention. According to this theory attention is instantiated if and only if the cognitive resources that an agent can bring to bear in the service of her task operate in such a way that none of those processes are taken up with the processing of distractions. In the course of making this theory precise the notions of ‘tasks’ and of ‘bringing to bear cognitive resources’ are related to the notion of an agent’s exercise of understanding. Several features of the theory are explained, including the various ways in which this theory can allow for attention to be divided, while also accounting for the fact that it is in the nature of attention that divided attention is difficult, and in some cases impossible.
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