Attention, Not Self
Jonardon Ganeri presents an account of mind in which attention, not self, explains the experiential and normative situatedness of human beings in the world. Attention consists in an organisation of awareness and action at the centre of which there is neither a practical will nor a phenomenological witness. Attention performs two roles in experience, a selective role of placing and a focal role of access. Attention improves our epistemic standing, because it is in the nature of attention to settle on what is real and to shun what is not real. When attention is informed by expertise, it is sufficient for knowledge. That gives attention a reach beyond the perceptual: for attention is a determinable whose determinates include the episodic memory from which our narrative identities are made, the empathy for others that situates us in a social world, and the introspection that makes us self-aware. Empathy is other-directed attention, placed on you and focused on your states of mind; it is akin to listening. Empathetic attention is central to a range of experiences that constitutively require a contrast between oneself and others, all of which involve an awareness of oneself as the object of another's attention. An analysis of attention as mental action gainsays authorial conceptions of self, because it is the nature of intending itself, effortful attention in action, to settle on what to do and to shun what not to do. In ethics, a conception of persons as beings with a characteristic capacity for attention offers hope for resolution in the conflict between individualism and impersonalism. Attention, Not Self is a contribution to a growing body of work that studies the nature of mind from a place at the crossroads of three disciplines: philosophy in the analytical and phenomenological traditions, contemporary cognitive science and empirical work in cognitive psychology, and Buddhist theoretical literature.
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Abhidhamma Abhinavagupta analysis another’s argue aspect attentional capture autonoetic avajjana awareness Bhikkhu bodily Buddhaghosa Buddhist theory capacity centre Chapter citta claim cognitive access cognitive modules cognitive penetration concept concomitants conscious experience consciousness consists constructing activities described Dignaga Dispeller distinction Dreyfus ekaggata empathy episodic memory epistemic experiencing feel felt evaluation first-personal focal attention focusing Fount function Ganeri gate-keeping idea identify inattentional blindness intentionality involved javana kinds of attention label manasikara mental action mental time travel mind-door mindedness modality Ņanamoli notion Nyaya object object file one’s oneself orienting pain Pāli Pali Buddhist past Path perceived perceptual experience perceptual processing person phassa phenomenal character phenomenology philosophy of mind pleasure present primary visual acknowledgement psychological refers representation retrieval rupa sanna selective attention sense sensory simile solicitation sort stimulus subliminal task term Theravada things thought tion Treisman Vasubandhu Vatsyayana vedana vicara vinnana vitakka Yogacara Zahavi