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The Choosing Mind and the Judging Will

An Analysis of Attention


Clotilde Calabi

Are cognitions and perceptions primary over desires and actions? Are actions a mere outcome of judgements and beliefs? The primacy of theoretical attitudes over practical attitudes has been a «myth» which has inspired western philosophy of mind and epistemology, despite important criticisms of it, and the concept of attention as a mental gaze has been one of the building blocks of such a view. In fact, the concept of attention has a major role in any attempt to understand the nature of mental activity in its various aspects. This book shows that a theory of attention alternative to the traditional theory entails a radical revision of the view that theoretical attitudes are more fundamental than practical attitudes in all respects. In presenting this alternative account of attention, the author takes a double approach, both historical and theoretical, in which some major episodes in the history of ideas are analysed and evaluated with an eye to the results achieved by linguistic-conceptual analysis and descriptive psychology. Among these episodes are Leibniz's account of pleasure and his conception of insanity; Descartes' and Aquinas' theories of judgement, Husserl, Stein and Scheler on mental activity and emotions; Wittgenstein and Gestalt psychology on perception and imagination.
Contents: Leibniz's account of pleasure - Descartes' and Aquinas' theories of judgement - James' theory of the will - Sartre on daydreaming - Husserl, Stein and Scheler on mental activity and emotions - Wittgenstein on perception.