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Comments jennings 042012_1

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Watzl "What is Attention?"
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Comments jennings 042012_1

  1. 1. + Comments on Carolyn Dicey Jennings “Conscious Immersion” Sebastian Watzl
  2. 2. The Question + Is there consciousness without attention (“beyond the reach of attention”, p. 1)?
  3. 3. Carolyn’s Answer + YES (not in the usual ways, though)
  4. 4. + More detail ...  Previous attempts to identify conscious experiences outside attention have failed  gist experience: best candidates without attention probably not conscious  imagistic experience: there is more to attention than the focus: attention prioritizes some and suppresses other information  phenomenal experience: no clear argument to show why representation of, say, the full Sperling display are conscious. Why not preconscious?  New candidate: conscious immersion  clearly conscious  in no way is “within the reach of attention”
  5. 5. + What is consciousness?  “that which separates dreamless sleep from dreaming” (p. 4) Aside Why not: a state or activity is conscious iff there is something it is like to be in that state or engage in that activity?
  6. 6. + What is attention?  “[Attention] is a voluntary act of prioritization by the subject, where “voluntary” is taken to include everything from volitional direction of attention to voluntary acceptance of attention to a stimulus [...] This prioritization is best understood through the concept of resource distribution” (p. 3)
  7. 7. + What is attention?  “[Attention] is a voluntary act of prioritization by the subject, where “voluntary” is taken to include everything from volitional direction of attention to voluntary acceptance of attention to a stimulus [...] This prioritization is best understood through the concept of resource distribution” (p. 3) For Carolyn attention is always voluntary!
  8. 8. + Some excellent points that could be expanded
  9. 9. + Against conscious gist perception  Excellent points!  But maybe some (medium fast) gist perception is both conscious and outside attention? (What do the subjects report?)
  10. 10. + Broadening attention beyond the focus  Carolyn: outside the focus of attention ≠ outside the reach of attention  What would show (in perception) that information is not suppressed by attention but outside its reach?
  11. 11. + Is attention always voluntary?
  12. 12. + It doesn’t seem to!  Sometimes attention is automatically drawn to something against our will.  Sometimes attention drifts aimlessly.
  13. 13. + But maybe that’s too fast!  The intentionality criterion for automaticity Attempts by a subject to prevent an automatic process from proceeding are not successful (Yantis and Jonides 1990)
  14. 14. + But maybe that’s too fast!  The intentionality criterion for automaticity Attempts by a subject to prevent an automatic process from proceeding are not successful (Yantis and Jonides 1990)
  15. 15. + But maybe that’s too fast! Result 1: RT btw. onset and no-onset target does not differ Result 2: onset distractor does not seem to capture attention against the subject’s prior intentions Yantis and Jonides 1990, Figure 3
  16. 16. + But maybe that’s too fast!  Tentative conclusions from these and other experiments:  Attention capture is not automatic according to the intentionality criterion  What captures attention and how is contingent on the subject’s goals, intentions and task: contingent capture See also: Folk, Remington and Yet against see: Theeuwes 1991, Johnston 1992; Yantis 1993; Bacon and Theeuwes 1994;Theeuwes 2004; for a Egeth 1994; Yantis and Egeth 1999; (opinionated) review: Theeuwes 2010 Serences et al. 2005; Folk and Remington 2006; Chen and Mordkoff 2007; Ansorge and Horstmann 2007; Kiss et al. 2008; etc.
  17. 17. + Distinctions 1. Attention is always directly controlled by the subject. ✖ 2. Attention is always an act that is sensitive to a subject’s goals, intentions, tasks, etc. ✔ 3. Attention is always an act that is under the subject’s voluntary control (p. 3) ✔  ? i.e. the subject can voluntarily control attention (in a sense in which she cannot control, say, what she sees).
  18. 18. + Does conscious immersion involve no attention?
  19. 19. + Carolyn’s claim  Conscious immersion is a kind of conscious experience that lies beyond the reach of attention.
  20. 20. + What is conscious immersion?  "I understand “conscious immersion” to be conscious engrossment in a task, activity, or process that proceeds via unconscious, involuntary control" (p. 20/21)  close to flow consciousness (Csikszentmihalyi)
  21. 21. + Flow without attention? The opposite seems true!
  22. 22. + A Dancer  "Your concentration is very complete. Your mind isn't wandering, you are not thinking of something else; you are totally involved in what you are doing ....” Csikszentmihaly, Flow, p. 53
  23. 23. + A chess player  "... the concentration is like breathing - you never think of it. The roof could fall and, if it missed you, you would be unaware of it” Csikszentmihaly, Flow, p. 53/54
  24. 24. + Flow without attention? “The first symptom of flow is a narrowing of attention on a clearly defined goal. We feel involved, concentrated, absorbed.” (Csikszentmihaly, Evolving Self, p. xiii)
  25. 25. + Not only Csikszentmihaly!  When absorbed in intellectual attention we may become so inattentive to outer things as to be 'absent-minded,’ [...].” W. James, Principles, p. 418/419
  26. 26. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. ✔ 2. Immersion experience is involuntary. 3. Attention is always voluntary. Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  27. 27. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. 2. Immersion experience is involuntary. Ambiguity! 3. Attention is always voluntary. Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  28. 28. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. 2. Immersion experience is not directly controlled ✔ voluntarily. 3. Attention is always directly controlled voluntarily. ✖ Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  29. 29. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. 2. Immersion experience is not directly controlled ✔ voluntarily. 3. Attention is always directly controlled voluntarily. ✖ Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  30. 30. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. 2. Immersion experience is not sensitive to the ✖ subject’s goals, intentions, and tasks. 3. Attention is always sensitive to the subject’s goals, ✔ intentions, and tasks. Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  31. 31. + Csikszentmihaly again ...  “The first symptom of flow is a narrowing of attention on a clearly defined goal. We feel involved, concentrated, absorbed.” (Csikszentmihaly, Evolving Self, p. xiii)  “When goals are clear, feedback relevant, and challenges and skills are in balance, attention becomes ordered and fully invested [...] There is no space in consciousness for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings” (Csikszentmihaly, Finding Flow, p. 31)
  32. 32. + But Carolyn has an argument! 1. Immersion experience is conscious. 2. Immersion experience is not sensitive to the ✖ subject’s goals, intentions, and tasks. 3. Attention is always sensitive to the subject’s goals, ✔ intentions, and tasks. Hence 4. Immersion is outside the reach of attention.
  33. 33. + Another kind of attention
  34. 34. + So what is going on?  When immersed or in flow there is a sense in which we do not focus our attention on what we are doing.
  35. 35. + So what is going on?  Yet there is also a sense in which our attention is completely focused on what we are doing!
  36. 36. + Distinction (from A. White)  Spectator attention  paying attention to what you are doing third-personally  Agent attention  paying attention to what you are doing first-personally  Rough synonyms for agent attention to your own φ-ing:  φ-ing attentively.  concentrating (attention) on φ-ing.
  37. 37. + Agent Attention  involves prioritizing some things (what you are doing right now) while suppressing others (your environment, distracting thoughts etc.  is sensitive to the subject’s goals, intention, and plans.  because it is not an activity distinct from the activity you are performing attentively (the activity is a way your attention may be engaged)  is something the subject is doing (in the same way the attentively performed activities are things she is doing)
  38. 38. + Claim  In conscious immersion there is  no spectator attention to what what we are doing!  a lot of agent attention to what we are doing!
  39. 39. Conclusion + Agent attention might be voluntary and essential for the conscious immersion
  40. 40. + The End

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