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The Alien World, Attention and the Habitual

Zurück zum Heft: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2018-2
DOI: https://doi.org/10.28937/1000108205
EUR 16,90

This article examines the role of attention in encounters with the unknown. By examining this process of the unknown becoming known through a reading of some seminal works, notably by Merleau-Ponty, Wittgenstein, and Waldenfels, the article focuses on the existentially significant characteristics of the function of attention that are disclosed by the encounter with an alien environment. Thereby, attention is considered as being neither fully under the control of the subject, nor completely the result of the external conditioning of our sense perception. Rather, attention will be seen to reside within a reciprocal field of tension between the familiar and the alien. This is related to Merleau-Ponty’s concept of ‘intentional arch’, describing the process of transition from the indeterminate to the determinate. Endorsing this account of attention will allow us to understand the limits of approaches to enacted and embodied cognition that still understand the process of getting to know something new, and even something alien, as a form of ‘domestication’.