New York Teachers' Monographs, Volume 3
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text, images, or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1900. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... The Process of Attention. By Robert Macdougall, Professor of Psychology, New York University. I. IN any discussion of attention one labors under the initial difficulty that it has to do, not with a special group of facts, but with one whole aspect of the conscious life. To attend to a thing is to be aware of it, and the more vividly one is aware of that particular thing the more it is attended to. One may dislike or reprobate the object, and desire with all one's heart to flee from its presence; but so long as it cannot be escaped from, outwardly or inwardly, by absence of body or absence of mind, the domination of consciousness by the hateful object must be called a state of attention to that thing. The derivation and practical connections of the state matter not, nor the ease or difficulty with which it is maintained, nor even the emotional attitude which accompanies it; wherever there is conscious awareness of an object, there is what we mean by attention. The term is an expression for the relation of consciousness at any given moment to the actual and possible objects of experience. Out of the whole range of impressions and ideas which have been received in the past, only those which are in consciousness at the moment in question are objects of attention; those which are not present or remembered are unattended to. One cannot be said to attend to an idea which has been forgotten or to a sensory stimulus which at the moment is non-existent. Any one of these may be revived a moment later and absorb the mind to the exclusion of all else, but in the description of the preceding moment of consciousness we have no concern with the subsequent mental content, even though the activity of that moment were directly involved in its arousal. We can thus speak of...
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