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Consciousness and the World$
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Brian O'Shaughnessy

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199256721.001.0001

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Active Attending or a Theory of Mental Action

Active Attending or a Theory of Mental Action

Chapter:
(p.379) 14 Active Attending or a Theory of Mental Action
Source:
Consciousness and the World
Author(s):

Brian O'Shaughnessy (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199256721.003.0015

Typically our perceptions occur in the setting of an active perceptual process. This chapter attempts to analyse active attending, and in particular, active perceptual attending. The exemplar phenomenon discussed is listening, which is a mental activity. Now mental actions fall into three different structural kinds, exemplified in soliloquy/recollecting/active attending, and the aim is the structural analysis of the latter. Theories as to the relation between listening and hearing are examined, and the conclusion reached is that listening encompasses that part of the co‐present hearing that owes its existence to the will, a sector that inevitably has no more than a probabilistic measure. But how could hearing (of realities) immediately derive from willing? This puzzle finds its resolution in the character of the special causal situation realized in listening. While will and sound are distinct existents with non‐identical causal powers, they are token‐identical causal agencies in the generation of the hearing sector of listening. This strange analysis vindicates the concept of active attending.

Keywords:   attending, hearing, listening, mental action, the will, willing

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