Watzl "Introduction to My Research"


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An introduction intended for beginning philosophy students.

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  • Watzl "Introduction to My Research"

    1. 1. +Organizing Mind.How Attention Structures Mental LifeSebastian Watzl
    2. 2. ++
    3. 3. 3How does attention shapeconscious experience?What isattention?Connections to other themes? What is conscious experience? What makes conscious experiencephilosophically interesting? Conscious experience and theappearance/reality distinction. Does attention affect appearances? What is the structure of consciousexperience? How (if at all) canscience and thesubjectiveperspective bereconciled? Consciousness and time. How do we organize our lives? Attention in the social world.
    4. 4. +How does attention shapeconscious experience?
    5. 5. +Conscious Experience When you are listening to music, when you are looking at the scenein front of you, when you are smelling the scent of a rose, when youare tasting a a bitter chocolate, when you feel a cramp in your thigh... There is something it is like for you. Experience has a first person quality conscious subjects have an “inside” conscious subjects have a subjective perspective
    6. 6. +Conscious ExperienceRhinolophusschnitzleri
    7. 7. +Conscious Experience“What is it like to be abat?”???Thomas Nagel
    8. 8. +Conscious Experience Conscious experience has a first person quality. conscious subjects have an “inside”. conscious subjects have a subjective perspective. The phenomenologyof an experience = what it is like forthe subject of that experience.
    9. 9. +Conscious Experience Questions one may ask about conscious experience: Do you have some special knowledge about your own experience? Couldyou ever be mistaken about the character of your own experience? Is knowledge of your ownexperience the foundation of knowing about the world? Epistemology (most prominently associated with the philosopher Descartes) What is the relationship the picture of ourselves from this subjectiveperspective and the picture of ourselves delivered by the sciences?How is conscious experience related to the brain? Could science find out that we actuallyhave no conscious experiences (if not, why not)? E.g. Mind-Body-Problem (also prominently associated with Descartes) What are conscious experiences?What is to think of ourselves as conscious agents with a perspective on the world? What is itthat we might compare to the scientific image of ourselves? My focus today (and prominently discussed by the philosophers Hume and Kant)
    10. 10. +Conscious Experience Is the phenomenology ofconscious experience an un-analyzable “feel”?
    11. 11. +Conscious Experience andAppearancesAppearanceReality
    12. 12. +Conscious Experience andAppearances By having conscious experiences,you appear to inhabit a certainworld. This world is the world of appearance,it is characterized by how thingsappear to the subject of theexperience. Because conscious experiencepresents appearances, we can ask:is the world how it appears to me inmy experience or is it different?
    13. 13. +Conscious Experience andAppearancesYouThe world as itappears to youConsciousexperience
    14. 14. +Does attention affect appearances? Gustav Fechner“The pendulum-beat of a clock [appears to us] nolouder, no matter how much we increase thestrain of our attention upon [it]”* William James“[I]n listening for certain notes in a chord, the onewe attend to sounds probably a little more loud .. .”*** Fechner 1889, p. 452-453(quoted in James, 1890, p. 425); ** James 1890, p.425
    15. 15. +Yes, attention does affectappearances!Unattended higher contrastAttended lower contrastFrom Carrasco, Ling and Read 2004Look to have the same contrast!Marisa Carrasco
    16. 16. +Yes, attention does affectappearances!“[These] changes in the phenomenology ofperception manifest themselves in experience asdifferences in apparent contrast, apparent colorsaturation, apparent size, apparentspeed, apparent time of occurrence and otherappearances.” (Block 2010, p. 23).Ned Block
    17. 17. +Conscious Experience andAppearancesTwo questions: What are appearances?How is, for example, the appearance of a world in experience connected to thinking thatthis is how the world is? Is experience exhausted by appearances?Is every difference in the phenomenology of your experience a difference in how theworld appears to you?
    18. 18. +The Appearance View Experience is exhausted by appearances.Every difference in the phenomenology of your experience is a difference inhow the world appears to you. Why hold the appearance view? The natural connection between having a certain subjective perspective and appearingto inhabit a certain world. The idea that experience is “transparent”, like a window to an apparent world: When we reflect on our experiences, we tend to find appearances: what did Isee, hear, smell, taste, and how did it look like, sound like, feel like, …
    19. 19. +Does attention shape consciousexperience only by affectingappearances? The appearance view would say: yes. Since the only way anything could make a difference to consciousness is byaffecting appearances.But…
    20. 20. +Does attention shape consciousexperience only by affectingappearances? Any effect of attention onappearances, can be replicatedwithout attention. Instead of focusing attention on thepiano, someone could simply turn upthe volume of the piano a little bit! But the phenomenology of thereplica experience is different fromthe phenomenology of the attentionexperience!
    21. 21. +Why the appearance view is falseAppearance ReplicaAttention Experience
    22. 22. +Why the appearance view is false
    23. 23. +Why the appearance view is false An Argument Attention experiences have appearance replicas that presentexactly the same appearances without attention. The phenomenology of attention experiences is different fromtheir appearance replicas. So, the phenomenology of attention experiences is not exhaustedby appearances.
    24. 24. +What is missing? “[T]he moment one thinks of thematter, one sees how false a notionof experience that is which wouldmake it tantamount to the merepresence to the senses of anoutward order. […]Without selective interest, experienceis utter chaos. Interest alone givesaccent and emphasis, light andshade, background and foreground –intelligible perspective, in a word.James 1890/1981, p.402William James
    25. 25. +Phenomenal Structure Start with the role attention plays for us: it prioritizes someaspects of our mental lives over others. Think of focusing your attention on some project like training for a marathon,bringing up your children, learning how to play the guitar.Attention structures conscious experienceso that some of its parts are more centralthan others. In doing so, it affects the subject’s subjective perspective(and nothow things appear through that perspective)
    26. 26. +Phenomenal StructureConscious experiencesare complex. They havemany parts.Theexperienceof thesaxophoneThe experience ofthe pianoTheexperienceof the bass
    27. 27. +Phenomenal StructureComplexexperiencesare just thesum of theirparts.+++
    28. 28. +Phenomenal StructureComplexexperienceshave structure:some of theirparts are morecentral thanothersHigher attentionalpriority
    29. 29. +Phenomenal Structure… is peripheral to …The experience ofthe pianoTheexperienceof thesaxophone
    30. 30. +PhenomenalQualitiescovered bytheappearanceviewPhenomenal Structure
    31. 31. +Phenomenal StructurePhenomenalStructureMissing fromtheappearanceview
    32. 32. +Phenomenal StructurePhenomenalQualitiesCoveredby theappearanceviewPhenomenalStructureMissing fromtheappearanceviewA holistic feature ofconscious experience.Characterizing youcomplete perspective
    33. 33. +What is Attention?
    34. 34. +Science knows what attention is!Number of scientific publicationson “Attention” 2000-2010: 10 833 1990-2000: 5 649 1980-1990: 2 496 ...
    35. 35. +Everyone knows what attention is!“Every one knows what attention is. It is ….”James 1890/1981, p. 403-404 Conscious Experience “I mean this [ ]” Conscious Engagement with Others Infants probably acquire the concept of attention throughacts of joint attention at around one year. Ordinary Conversation “You will get a better sense for the rhythm, if you focuson the piano and drums instead of the saxophone.”
    36. 36. +How to react to this? What is the relationship the picture of ourselves from thissubjective perspective and the picture of ourselves delivered bythe sciences? Reductivism Science helps to identify some element of our pre-scientificsubjective perspective with a scientific conception. Eliminativism Science shows that something that appeared to exist from thepre-scientific subjective perspective actually doesn’t exist. Anti-Reductivism Some element of the pre-scientific subjective perspective hassome degree of independence from the scientific perspective.
    37. 37. +Connections to other themes
    38. 38. +Consciousness and Time Two questions about consciousness and time: What is the temporal structure of consciousexperience?What, if anything, is there to the metaphor of “the stream ofconsciousness”, its “forward flowing” character? What is the connection between the temporalstructure of conscious experience, and the temporalstructure of the appearances?Do they always match up, so that you experience a fast (or slow)change just if your experience is changing fast (or slow)?timeJordan Suchow Silencing Illusion
    39. 39. +Organizing a Mental Life Executive attentionRoughly, the capacity to keep focused on long(er) term goalsand projects in the face of distraction What is the connectionbetween the capacity tostructure consciousexperience and thecapacity to focus on longterm projects? What is the significance ofattention for strength of will,and similar phenomena?Image taken from a repetition of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment (Mischel et al. 1972)
    40. 40. +Joint Attention and the Social Mind Attention often is not a solitaryphenomenon. We often experience someone else’sattention being focused on us (or on what we door say). Can we, after all, experience the consciousexperience of others? (though maybe not bats!) We often engage in acts of joint attention. What is the importance of joint attention forunderstanding that different people have differentperspectives?
    41. 41. +