Attention, according to William James, is "the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what may seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought." Any model of attention must account for its selectivity, for the fact that, after an animal learns a skill, it becomes automatic (or unconscious), for the ability to interrupt automatic acts by attention to novelty, and for the ability to direct attention specifically by conscious means. (Edelman) 

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For Henri Bergson, duration is not an objective mathematical unit, but the subjective perception of space-time. Bergson believed that the conventions of scientific practice were incompatible with lived experience. In his "Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness" (1889), Bergson argued that experience viewed as a succession of separate, thinglike states is no less an abstraction from lived consciousness than time as measured by the hands of a clock. Both are fundamentally spatial. Lived consciousness, on the other hand, is a spatiotemporal continuum, "like a mutual penetration, a solidarity, an intimate organization of elements, each of which is representative of the others and neither distinguished from nor isolated by abstracting thought." (see also memory)

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Embodiment is the line between psychology and biology. One important feature of embodiment is that the interaction between the body and cognition is circular. Thus posture, facial expressions, or breathing rhythm are in a feedback loop with motor movement, mood, and cognition. I am bouncing along the street because I am happy but I am also happy because I am walking with a spring in my step.

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eye movement

One form of visual attention is eye movement (often assisted by head movement). Because we see more clearly close to the center of our gaze, we get more information about an object if we direct our eyes in that direction. We get coarser information (at least about shape) from objects we are not looking at directly. 

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imaginary / symbolic

In the sense given to these terms by Jacques Lacan, the three essential orders of the psycho-analytic field are the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real. The concept of the "imaginary" can be grasped through initially through Lacan's theme of the " mirror stage." Lacan proposed that the ego of the infant -- as a result of its biological prematurity -- is constituted on the basis of the image of the counterpart (specular ego). Following from this primordial experience, the Imaginary defines the basically narcissistic relations of the subject to his ego, the intersubjective relations of a counterpart -- an other who is me, a type of apprehension characterized by resemblance and homeomorphism -- a sort of coalescence of the signifier and signified. (from Laplanche and Pontalis) While Lacan's use of the term "Imaginary" is highly idiosyncratic, he insists that all imaginary behavior and relationships are fundamentally deceptive, and that the intersubjective realm of the symbolic must be separated out from the Imaginary in analytic treatment. 

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Franz Brentano called intentionality the property of awareness that is an awareness of something. For Brentano consciousness always has an object. For Heidegger, time is intentional insofar as it is always directed; it is time for___.

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For Nietzche, "pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics." "Man could never do without blood, torture, and sacrifices when he felt the need to create a memory for himself." "If something is to stay in the memory, it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory." (Genealogy of Morals, Ecce Homo)

On the other hand, ritual may be seen as a way to keep memory alive without the experience of pain. Bataille echoes Nietzche's description of the role of religious sacrifice. He describes sacredness as the revelation of continuity through the death of a discontinuous being to those who watch it as a solemn rite. (p.22)

"Those who do not feel pain seldom think that it is felt." Samuel Johnson. "To have pain is to have certainty , to hear about pain is to have doubt." (Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, p. 13)

Like consciousness, pain as a philosophical issue raises the questions of subjectivity and of other minds. Wittgenstein rejected the classical status of pain as the paradigm of direct intuition. When one is in pain, he said in the Philosophical Investigations, one cannot say, except perhaps as a joke, that one knows one is in pain. Say that one cannot doubt it and leave it at that, he suggested.

According to Scarry, physical pain is language destroying. It is monolithically consistent in its assault on language. The body provides a point of mediation between what is perceived as purely internal and accessible only to the subject and what is external and publicly observable. (see qualia )

One of Bill Clinton's greatest political assets was his convincing claim "I feel your pain." Republicans punished him by drawing public attention to his pleasures. But even if Clinton's expressions of sympathy could not really be true, they did seem to make people feel better.

"The sense of pain is a consequence of brain mechansims that establish awareness of the existence of the body; the body, not a sense of absolute space, is the brain's absolute frame of reference." (Rosenfeld, The Strange, Familiar and Forgotten, p.45) See also body image.

Henri Bergson describes affective states, more or less vaguely localized, as intermediate states between images and ideas. According to Bergson, there is hardly any perception which may not, by the increase of the action of its object upon our body, become an affection, and more particularly, pain. (p.53) Every pain is a local effort.

The pain of phantom limbs is a particularly perplexing phenomenon. The pain is as real as pain can be, yet the presumed source of the pain is absent.


For Freud, "...the essence of repression lies simply in the turning something away, and keeping it at a distance, from the conscious." (Sigmund Freud, "Repression" 1915) Freud's early writings described repression as the intentional rejection of distressing thoughts and memories from consious awareness. But his idea changed gradually over time, and Freud began to use the term repression in a much more general sense, to refer to a variety of defense mechanisms that operate outside a person's awareness and automatically exclude threatening material from consciousness. While repression is often equated with defense, repression is more a mode or moment in defense. ( Abwehr ) When Freud referred to repression as "the foundation stone on which the whole structure of psychoanalysis rests," he was referring to a multiplicity of specific techniques, of mechanisms that include Denial, Repression, Reaction Formation, Rationalization, Humor, and Projection. In Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety (1926) Freud sought to clarify the confusion between the narrow meanings of repression and the broader concept of defense. 

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At issue within the philosophical tradition is the relation of the subject to thought. (see also consciousness ) Ever since Aristotle the nous had been separate from the psyche. "At the moment of its manifest emergence in the Cartesian formulation, the subject is not in fact a psychic reality, but a pure Archimedean point." (Giorgio Agamben, Infancy and History) 

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Any theory of vision must describe some relation between the eye and the brain. Humberto Maturana studied the visual cortex of the frog and summarized his research in an article entitled, "what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain." Maturana and his co-authors demonstrated that the frog's sensory receptors speak to the brain in a language that is highly processed and species specific. If every species constructs for itself a different world, which is the world? Thus Maturana's credo: There is no observation without an observer.(K. Hayles, "Simulated Nature and Natural Simulations," in Uncommon Ground.) Further research led Maturana to conclude that perception is not fundamentally representational, that the perceiver encounters the world through his own self-organizing processes, through autopoesis.

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