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The Art of Attention: Intersubjectivity in the Philosophy of Perception

The Art of Attention: Intersubjectivity in the Philosophy of Perception

Time:

1.1.2016–31.12.2018

Funded by:

  • Åbo Akademi University Foundation

Other partners:

  • The Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge at Södertörn University
  • The Center for Subjectivity Research University of Copenhagen

Building on the thriving discussion on the role of attention within the phenomenological tradition, the proposed research project investigates the enigmatic role of attention as a faculty that enables change within subjective and intersubjective experience. The aim of the project is to articulate the dynamics that are involved when we as subjects stand before existential situations. Thus, it boldly scrutinizes foundational questions concerning our human psychology.

Building on the thriving discussion on the role of attention within the phenomenological tradition, from Merleau-Ponty to Bernhard Waldenfels, the proposed research project investigates the enigmatic role of attention as a faculty that enables change within subjective and intersubjective experience. One can feel more or less present in a certain situation. The same environment can feel alien and foreign, as well as familiar and habitual. These differences in the character of experience cannot be reduced to differences in perceptual content, i.e. they cannot be explained within a strong representational theory-frame. On the other hand, the changes in experience are not unrelated to the perceptual: what is there to be perceived will have an impact on one’s experience. This study investigates the role of attention in order to articulate the dynamics at play here. The aim of the research is to reveal some characteristics of the processes in which subjects are unmade and remade, and highlight how we are able to change our relation to an empirical world that nevertheless has unity and constancy in our perception. Building on work within the phenomenological tradition, and specifically on the later writings of Merleau-Ponty, the aim of the proposed research-project is to articulate discrepancies between phenomenal character of perception and perceptual content. The research focuses on everyday existential events, and the role that the faculty of attention plays regarding changes in the subjects understanding of the world. Given that the same, or a similar, perceptual content can amount to vastly different experiences it is crucial for the philosophy of consciousness to explain what this discrepancy entails. This pivotal question is currently being addressed by the likes of Dan Zahavi, Matthew Ratcliffe, Bernhard Waldenfels and Thomas Fuchs. The proposed project will follow up, and develop further, these current discourses. The project aims to connect the emerging discussion on attention within philosophy to questions concerning the psychological makeup of the subject. The starting point is to assess the role of attention in ordinary life experience, but in extension, this research will also connect with the ongoing philosophical research concerning affectivity.

Contact person: Antony Fredriksson

 

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