In setting up his discussion of selective operations and their corresponding selective symbols, Boole writes the following.
The operation which we really perform is one of selection according to a prescribed principle or idea. To what faculties of the mind such an operation would be referred, according to the received classification of its powers, it is not important to inquire, but I suppose that it would be considered as dependent upon the two faculties of Conception or Imagination, and Attention. To the one of these faculties might be referred the formation of the general conception; to the other the fixing of the mental regard upon those individuals within the prescribed universe of discourse which answer to the conception. If, however, as seems not improbable, the power of Attention is nothing more than the power of continuing the exercise of any other faculty of the mind, we might properly regard the whole of the mental process above described as referrible to the mental faculty of Imagination or Conception, the first step of the process being the conception of the Universe itself, and each succeeding step limiting in a definite manner the conception thus formed. Adopting this view, I shall describe each such step, or any definite combination of such steps, as a definite act of conception.
(Boole, Laws of Thought, 43)