Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Philosophy of Attention: A Recent Book and Some Thoughts



I was really excited to see this and read this work, as much of my pragmatic phenomenology is also a theory of attention.  I have discovered, unsurprisingly, that my work is far afield from what is being discussed in this work, as the review makes me doubt that the author is writing from the perspective of process metaphysics, especially since such a background could not reasonable lead to cognitivism of any sort (because we then would take a later phase of the prior as if it were a prior phase, which is an implication of James' psychologist's or Dewey's philosopher's fallacy).

  I would welcome discussion from anyone who is more familiar with the work and its line of scholarship.  For myself....


Attention arises from tension, a disequilibrium in the dynamic equilibrium of ongoing organismic-environmental transactions.  We feel tension before we a-ttend (cf Peirce and Dewey on feeling).  Likewise, to sound like Merleau-Ponty, the bodily has an in-tensionality that directs its ongoing body-environment interactions and thereby is a major factor in the dynamic equilibrium by which an event is felt as a disequilibrium, or tension, sufficient to draw a-tension and possibly cognitive function.  Each of these are indistinct phases of the ongoing process that may or may not lead to either consciousness or consciousness-of.  One of the primary functions of a-tension is to lead to perception, by which sensation becomes meaningful through the association of quality and memory, and perhaps apperception by which we become aware of this meaning.  Note that "meaning" is not foremost a cognitive or linguistic affair, as most any Peircean third is also a "meaning," and thus with Heidegger I can say that this thing here means "good for sitting" long before I think "chair."

Much of my dissertation was on how attention arises from "desire" (~conatus) for Dewey and how our particular desirious makeup, or "character" or body of habits that lead to valuation, influences our perception of meaning....  Hence, part of its subtitle was "the Immanent Transcendence of Desire."

Ah.  Continued thought is foiled by office hours!

1 comment:

  1. Attention! Yes! I'm also seeing attention as a supercenter, nexus of insightful understanding. More than that, but the implications of control that we can have. Free-will a dichotomy that can be avoided simply by the FACT that we can develop ways to directly shift our attention, intentionally, and produce measurable changes in our abilities, attitude, experiences, etc. With this mechanism, the argument of free-will is not so important. Not everybody wants to change themselves, but those who do should get to hear about these kinds of understandings. Furthermore, I believe all teaching is accomplished after a shift in attention. This implies that our understanding of facts should be paralleled with our understanding of 'The attention that holds those facts'.

    There's a chance that philosophy of attention could evolve the way we teach, the way we express ourselves, and the way we feel, as a human culture. These insights on attention provide a home base for the way we interpret reality, and from which can move more freely between different interpretations. I believe this holds our species' evolution of mind.

    Forgive my shouting, but it's in spirit of the ideas found in this book.

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