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We can see that the mind is at every stage a theatre of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of others, of the rest, by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention . The highest and most celebrated mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty below that - which mass was in turn sifted from a still larger amount of simpler material, and so on.
~ William James (January 11, 1842 - August 26, 1910)