Erik Lind

In this paper, I wish to bring to light the underlying meaning of Merleau-Ponty’s description of attention in the Phenomenology of Perception as a “creative act”. I begin by outlining his critique of classical attempts to explain the functioning of attention as being tributary to a problematic concept of sensation, one that postulates a constant relation between worldly and mental events and that remains fundamentally unaltered in attention. Next, I argue that the creativity of attention must be understood as a constituting transformation whereby a new relation to the object is established. This transformation can be understood as a Gestalt shift whereby the perceived meaning of the object changes, forcing a restructuring of the figure-ground relation in the phenomenal field. Finally, drawing on the Husserlian concept of motivation, I show that attention implies a fundamental and originary passivity. In this perspective, attention can be seen as an affective response to an object or an event in the world, a motivated phenomenon describing an internal connection between the awakening of attention and its subsequent unfolding. In conclusion, I suggest that the creativity of attention lies in the motivational effectuation of a constitutive transformation. Conversely, motivation can be described as that which simultaneously solicits attention and allows for its realization in a unitary experiential form.

Attention et motivation chez Merleau-Ponty
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