Cognitive Processing

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 163–194 | Cite as

A presentation of Attentional Semantics

Review

Abstract

The paper presents the two main assumptions of Attentional Semantics—(A) and (B), and its main aim (C). (A) Conscious experience is determined by attention: there cannot be consciousness without attention. Consciousness is explained as the product of attentional activity. Attentional activity can be performed thanks to a special kind of energy: nervous energy. This energy is supplied by the organ of attention. When we perform attentional activity, we use our nervous energy. This activity directly affects the organ of attention, causing a variation in the state of the nervous energy. This variation constitutes the phenomenal aspect of consciousness. (B) Words are tools to pilot attention. The meanings of words isolate, de-contextualize, “freeze” and classify in an articulated system the ever-changing and multiform stream of our conscious experiences. Each meaning is composed of the sequence of invariable elements that, independently of any individual occurrence of a given conscious experience, are responsible for the production of any instance of that conscious experience. The elements composing the meanings of words are attentional operations: each word conveys the condensed instructions on the attentional operations one has to perform if one wants to consciously experience what is expressed through and by it. (C) Attentional Semantics aims at finding the attentional instruction conveyed by the meanings of words. To achieve this goal, it tries: (1) to identify the sequence of the elementary conscious experiences that invariably accompany, and are prompted by, the use of the word being analyzed; (2) to describe these conscious experiences in terms of the attentional operations that are responsible for their production; and (3) to identify the unconscious and non-conscious operations that, directly or indirectly, serve either as the support that makes it possible for the attentional operations to take place, be completed, and occur in a certain way, or as the necessary complement that makes it possible to execute and implement the activities determined and triggered by the conscious experiences. The origins of Attentional Semantics are also presented, and the methodological problems researchers encounter when analyzing meanings in attentional terms are discussed. Finally, a brief comparison with the other kinds of semantics is made.

Keywords

Attentional Semantics Attention Consciousness Mind Unconscious operations Time Methodology 

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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of UrbinoUrbinoItaly

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