THE PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE PRACTICE OF ATTENTION
Some historical periods might seem poor of epochal events. It is, of course, an illusion – a prospective error. History always marks its epochs, even when it expresses itself in the form of calmness. But many critics have shared a similar illusion while evaluating the last few decades of the past century. The beginning of the new millennium and then, more brutally, the last couple of years have brought back the awareness of the jolts and shocks of history – intended in both a natural, civil, and political sense. Among the profound changes we have been going through, some have concerned the life of the mind. We have found ourselves abruptly exposed to an increasing amount of information and happenings to consider and assess. We have found ourselves overwhelmed by continuous waves of news to make sense of and meaningfully integrate into our understanding of the world. Our attention has been seized and swamped by such a mounting mass of information – information that often proves impossible to ignore, notwithstanding its complexity, since it tangibly determines our own daily existence. News report anxiety conveys a sense of dizziness and puts us in a state of bewilderment. We feel as if we were prey to events we cannot overlook but, at the same time, we cannot even fully grasp.
Forgive this digression into current events. We embarked on it with the intention of highlighting the timely importance of the main philosophical theme under discussion in the Philosophical Question of this issue 13 of InCircolo, i.e., the phenomenology and practice of attention. The section, edited by Diego D’Angelo, invites to reflect on a psychic phenomenon that is central to the life of the mind while, however, constantly eluding our understanding. Attention situates itself on the threshold between activity and passivity. Worldly objects attract our attention, stimulate it, but it is on us to give attention to them. Indeed, attention is a precious and scarce good, to be handled with prudence and to be conceded only in exchange of something equally valuable. The economy of paying attention represents in this sense a most pivotal element of contemporary societies. The contributions collected and presented by Diego D’Angelo discuss the phenomenon of attention from various viewpoints – not just building on the works of thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, but also exploring more recent intersections between phenomenology and neuroscience.
Before the Philosophical Question, Franco Sarcinelli dedicates some lines to Emilio Renzi, brilliant philosopher and beloved friend of the InCircolo community who recently passed away. We all miss him very much.
Let us now take a look at the remainder of the present issue. In Laboratory, Laura Musso moves from Hannah Arendt’s report of the Eichmann trial and focuses on the philosopher’s notions of imagination, memory, judgment, and nativity to shed light on ambition as a civil and political virtue. Furthermore, Federico Italo Gatti examines
the link between authority, family, and political power in Kojeve’s thought.
Controversies hosts a debate organized by Gioacchino Orsenigo and participated also by Claudio D’Aurizio, Gianluca De Fazio, and Giovanni Fava on the anthropological and philosophical work of Eduardo Viveiros De Castro, with a specific focus on his concept of “world”. Moreover, in Intersections Marco de Paoli goes back once again to Spinoza, offering a rich and most fascinating reading of his figure by weaving together political, social, cultural, religious, scientific, technological considerations. In Correspondence, Irène Thirouin-Jung presents some thoughts on her philosophical studies in South Korea, while in Philosophical Practices Alessandra Modugno reports on activities organized by the Lombardy section of the Italian Society of Philosophy in the past year in the field of Civic Education.
Finally, Reviews and Events collects contributions by Vincenzo Maria Di Mino on Massimo Cacciari’s Il lavoro dello spirito and Realino Marra’s L’eredità di Max Weber. Cultura, diritto e realtà; by Federico Squillacioti on Gilberto Pierazzuoli’s Il soggetto collaborativo: per una critica del capitalismo digitale; by Sara Fumagalli on Roberta De Francesco’s Mieluson; and by Franco Sarcinelli on Marco Manzoni’s Salvare il futuro. Dall’Homo hybris all’Homo pathos.