ATTENTION (attendo, to stretch towards), concentrated observation, the voluntary
directing of the energy of the mind towards an object. "The phrase direction of
consciousness might often be advantageously substituted for it" (Holand's
Physiology, p. 14).
It implies Will, as distinct from Intelligence and Sensibility, being the
voluntary direction of intelligence.
According to Dr Reid, "Attention is a voluntary act; it requires an active
exertion to begin and to continue it; and it may be continued as long as we
will; but consciousness is involuntary, and of no continuance, changing with
every thought" (Intellectual Powers, essay I. ch. V.). According to Reid,
Attention to external things is observation. Attention to the subjects of our
own consciousness is reflection. Attention and abstraction are the same process,
viewed in different relations (Hamilton's Metaphysics, lect. XIII. I. 236).