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Attention Is Cognitive UnisonAn Essay in Philosophical Psychology$
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Christopher Mole

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384529

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384529.001.0001

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Philosophical Work for the Theory of Attention

Philosophical Work for the Theory of Attention

(p.136) 7 Philosophical Work for the Theory of Attention
Attention Is Cognitive Unison

Christopher Mole (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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