Riccardo Nardo

This paper has two main objectives. The first is to see how the discourse concerning the concept of attention develops within Husserl’s phenomenology according to certain philosophies typical of the metaphysical tradition: certain aporias that can be traced back to Western dualisms (between subject and object, theoretical and practical realm) give way in the phenomenological discourse to a new approach to attention as a dynamic alternation between cognitive and evaluative attitudes already within Husserl’s philosophy. As we shall see, through Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy the modalities of attention will be particularly investigated within intersubjective relations, according to the modality of silence as a condition of possibility of dialogue. The second aim of this paper is to show how these considerations regarding attention in phenomenology find their counterpart in certain ethical practices of attention within the thought of Simone Weil and in Zen Buddhism. In Weil attention is taken in its existential factuality as a mode of ethical existence in relation to the other; likewise in Zen it is one of the key factors in intersubjective relations. By exploring the concept of attention from its epistemological to its ethical implications, we will therefore attempt to highlight the term’s happy ambiguity, trying to show how, even before the conceptual resources of contemporary phenomenology, we can decentralise the discourse regarding attention to the description of ethos inscribed within the philosophical discourse itself and beyond its practice, focusing on cultural experiences and practices that mark the limits and cracks in the phenomenological framework.

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