Conscious attention performs two distinct roles in experience, a role of placing and a role of focusing, roles which match a distinction between selection and access endorsed in recent theories of attention. The intentionality of conscious experience consists in two sorts of attentional action, a focusing at and a placing on, the first lending to experience a perspectival categorical content and the second structuring its phenomenal character. Placing should be thought of more like opening a window for consciousness than as shining a spotlight, and focusing has to do with accessing the properties of whatever the window opens onto. A window is an aperture whose boundaries are defined by what is excluded—in this case, distractors.
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