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Article Title: Consciousness is something you do


Article Summary

This article explains the relationship between attention and consciousness. The idea that consciousness is the subjective perspective we each have on the world is, as simple as it is, what inspires fascination, awe and wonder about consciousness. The author explains the point that attention may teach us about the nature of consciousness and about this very mysterious subjective perspective.

To understand the nature of consciousness there are mainly two broad ideas discussed: One idea thinks of consciousness as something inner, like perhaps a headache. This view implies that conscious experience is our private inner life. The other influential idea – in extreme opposition to the first idea –  is to think of consciousness not as something inner but as a way the outside world is given to the subject. Consciousness is simply an encounter with a specific part of the environment

The author makes this central point to explain the nature of consciousness:

We should think of consciousness as specific kind of activity. It is a way of engaging with the world around us – by taking a subjective perspective.  Consciousness is the stance we take on the world by focusing our attention on some things rather than on others. ‘Attention is thus necessary for consciousness’. This is the idea that is explained well in the second part of the passage by mentioning and explaining three necessary features of consciousness in relation to attention.

The final conclusion is that consciousness is something we do. It consists in actively taking a unified, intelligible perspective on the world. Taking a radically new perspective might transform us, and it is awe inspiring that with each baby another way of engaging with the world has begun.


Article Link: Click here to read the full article


Words to learn from this article:

Glimpse:  A quick look

Occupy: Keep busy with

Consciousness: An alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation

Paradigm: The generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time

Curled: Of hair having curls

Complexities: The quality of being intricate and compounded

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