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Consciousness, Attention, and Conscious Attention$
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Carlos Montemayor and Harry Haroutioun Haladjian

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028974

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028974.001.0001

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Consciousness–Attention Dissociation and the Evolution of Conscious Attention

Consciousness–Attention Dissociation and the Evolution of Conscious Attention

(p.177) 5 Consciousness–Attention Dissociation and the Evolution of Conscious Attention
Consciousness, Attention, and Conscious Attention

Carlos Montemayor

Harry Haroutioun Haladjian

The MIT Press

This chapter argues that the scientific findings about attention and the basic considerations about the evolution of different forms of attention demonstrate that consciousness and attention must be dissociated regardless of which definition of these terms one uses. No extant view on the relationship between consciousness and attention has this advantage. Because of this characteristic, a principled and neutral way to settle disputes concerning this relationship can be presented, without falling into debates about the meaning of consciousness or attention. A decisive conclusion of this approach is that consciousness cannot be identical to attention. The evolution of conscious attention is described, as well as the possible functional roles it may serve. Such roles include the facilitation of empathetic interactions, the formation of language capacities, cross-modal sensory integration, and limiting the contents of awareness.

Keywords:   animal cognition, attention as an evolutionary adaptation, consciousness as illusion, conceptual contents, cross-modal integration, evolution of attention, global workspace, language, mindreading, spandrel of consciousness

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