Aristotle on Attention

Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 103 (4):602-633 (2021)
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I argue that a study of the Nicomachean Ethics and of the Parva Naturalia shows that Aristotle had a notion of attention. This notion captures the common aspects of apparently different phenomena like perceiving something vividly, being distracted by a loud sound or by a musical piece, focusing on a geometrical problem. For Aristotle, these phenomena involve a specific selectivity that is the outcome of the competition between different cognitive stimuli. This selectivity is attention. I argue that Aristotle studied the common aspects of the physiological processes at the basis of attention and its connection with pleasure. His notion can explain perceptual attention and intellectual attention as voluntary or involuntary phenomena. In addition, it sheds light on how attention and enjoyment can enhance our cognitive activities.



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Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi
University College London

Citations of this work

Non-standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding.Irene Martínez Marín - 2020 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 2 (57):135–49.
Introduction.Máté Veres & David Machek (eds.) - 2021 - De Gruyter.

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