Subjectivity and the sphere of attention
Human subjectivity is attending activity. This way of speaking may sound dramatic and even strange, but I think it is a clear way of saying what we are and what we do, and I believe it captures the spirit of Gurwitsch's phenomenology of consciousness, except that it all becomes oriented around a phenomenology of attention. Noting Husserl's Ideas I (1982), Gurwitsch (1964, 419) writes "Considered as to its specific nature, consciousness is a domain closed in itself, a domain into which nothing can enter and from which nothing can escape." Such a "domain" is all that is meaningful in human life. I have called this the sphere of attention. Being "closed in itself" means fully inclusive, enclosing, not closed-off. The fact that the sphere of attention is "a domain into which nothing can enter and nothing can escape" indicates that the attending process is the fundamental and essential way we give meaning to the world and to ourselves in it. If, as Sartre (1956, 25) claims, existence precedes essence for human beings (and with some qualifications I think it does) then we are not primarily a thing, an ego, a self, a personality, etc. We are a process, an attending process.
Arvidson, (2006). Subjectivity and the sphere of attention, in The sphere of attention, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 115-148.
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