Attention in Context

  • P. Sven Arvidson


Many figures in phenomenology, including founder Edmund Husserl, have uniquely addressed what cognitive scientists call attention. For example, Husserl (1991) discussed dynamic temporal attention, attentional shifting (1970), attentional capture (1982), and serial attention (2001). Jean-Paul Sartre (1956), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1962), and Aron Gurwitsch (1964, 1966) discussed attention in terms of gestalt principles, including the nature of visual search, illusions, salience, and context effects, often criticizing various psychological concepts of attention. But for each of these phenomenologists the context or margin in attending was the main interest not the focus of attention. In contrast, experimental attention research emphasizes the focus of attention. Things are changing. Phenomenologists still emphasize context and margin, but now cognitive scientists are starting to as well. This means that the theoretical trends in contemporary attention experiments and a century of phenomenology of the structures of consciousness and perception, can both be used to put attention in context. This chapter shows that current cognitive science of attention substantially intersects with a gestalt-phenomenology of attention, even if this intersection is not yet effectively articulated by phenomenologists or utilized by experimenters in formulating hypotheses, models, and theories. It also suggests that phenomenology and cognitive science of attention can be co-revelatory in theory and practice.


Cognitive Science Attentional Blink Negative Priming Attentional Capture Semantic Priming 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Sven Arvidson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySeattle UniversitySeattleUSA

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