Attention and the limits of conscious experience

Francisco Pereira


The phenomenological conception of common sense inspired by James (1890) claims that attending is essentially a conscious mental phenomenon. The modal philosophical implications of this thesis regarding the nature of attention are clear. It is not possible to attend something without being conscious of that thing. On the basis of classical studies on visual pathologies such as blindsight and recent experiments with non-pathological subjects, this paper argues that the Jamesian philosophical conclusion regarding the metaphysics of attention is false. Evidence suggests that in fact it is possible to attend to objects without consciously experiencing them.

Keywords: attention, consciousness, blindsight, common sense, phenomenology.

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ISSN: 1984-8234 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License [Updated on September 23, 2016].

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