What is "seeing?"

One way to think about seeing is that it is an activity of the eyes. A sense organ. We can also use the word perceive to include other senses. I am just wondering what is attention? Can we inattentively see something and not actually see?


An example of seeing inattentively yet not actually seeing might perhaps be when we are deeply lost in some thought and can see things around us in the physical sense of them (the things or objects ) being there in front of us, yet we don’t actually see them or maybe not even experience them.


Yes!! A phenomenon like inattentively seeing something does happen. It can happen as a part of our reflex towards a object. It is something like we do not actually see/notice it, but at the back of our mind we know that something is coming towards us or even something is happening/going to happen.


I believe, seeing or perceiving is an activity of a perceiving entity that connects the perceiver and the existence of the object in question.

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I believe that the distinction here boils down to gazing at something (which is more at a sensory level) vs. processing the stimulus that is being gazed at (noticing and interpreting the information). I recently came across a paper that may be of relevance to this conversation -
"Noticing is defined as the process of actively selecting and interpreting relevant information in the environment, assuming that any given situation contains an infinite amount of information to be perceived…Noticing is a higher level phenomenon than attention, which often involves being alerted to or orienting toward a low‐level stimulus, such as gazing toward a moving object… "
(Chase, C. C., Malkiewich, L., & S Kumar, A. (2019). Learning to notice science concepts in engineering activities and transfer situations. Science Education , 103 (2), 440-471.)


Thanks for bringing this up @dasguptachandan.

In fact in our live discussions, last week when we were looking for alternate terms of seeing, this notion of ‘noticing’ occurred to me too.

We also touched upon the role of conceptual structures in shaping this.

This comment as well as the ones above by @drishtantmkawale @isnam77 appear to allude to an aspect attending to some features etc. Are we touching the slippery surfaces of consciousness and awareness?

And extending the comment on conceptual structures, are conceptual structures related to the attention? These are very interesting things to ponder on!


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It’s nice to see that there are perhaps gradations to this such as noticing and attention where the former is assigned a higher status.
And as @dasguptachandan mentions, we are then approaching the domain of consciousness since if noticing is a higher phenomenon than attention, it is for we (the subject) is doing or engaging in that consciously.