Thursday, January 25, 2018

Attention Deviance Disorder

This is something I've long believed, mainly because it's impossible not to believe it, at least if you're paying close attention -- that "the act of attention itself is an act of abstraction," being that it exists within an "infinite web of relations." As we attend to the abstraction, the web "recedes into the background, if not into complete invisibility" (Hanby).

I tried to capture this principle in pp. 55-60 of the book, the main idea being that if you remove the subject from the cosmos, there are no things all, just everything-all-at-once. The point is that subject and object co-arise, and that an object is an abstraction by the subject from its web of relations.

No, this is not to be confused with a philosophical idealism that places the subject before the object. We begin with the world, in that sense experiences are prior to our abstractions from them.

Conversely, to what would a consciousness without attention amount? A coma, I suppose. A person who cannot pay attention is -- no offense -- but somewhat beside the point in human terms. Come to think of it, paying proper attention must be the first act of self-discipline, upon which all subsequent acts will depend.

And now that I'm thinking about it, what we call Attention Deficit Disorder must be much more widespread and generalized than we realize. It's a real problem.

Consider the liberal media, which are nothing if not a giant blob of inattention to That Which Matters. They focus like a laser on the trivial, the sentimental, on ideological fakery, while systematically missing the point. Indeed, they exist to Miss the Point, which is equally true of liberal academia: attention, but in the service of inattention; direction for the sake of misdirection; knowledge in support of the Lie.

Look! Russian collision! Look! Trump said a naughty word! However, every look is a look-away. Which is fine, so long as one is looking from appearances to reality. But the vector of the media-academic complex is in precisely the opposite direction: from reality to appearances. Not so much attention deficit as attention deviance.

Let's review: subject and attention seem to co-arise. Certainly objects do not pay attention, while a subject that doesn't pay attention is asleep, in a coma, or Jim Acosta. And attention is abstraction. And abstraction has the proper structure of surface --> depth, or existence --> essence, or appearance --> reality.

Where am I going with this? I don't yet know, so let's keep going there.

For Hanby, this means that any form of empiricism or naturalism is just a non-starter. Every form of thought begins with an abstraction, but it is as if these defective approaches attempt to cover their tracks and pretend the abstraction never took place -- they dig themselves into a metaphysical hole and attempt the pull the hole in after.

But you can't get rid of the subject that easily. Yes, you can kill yourself, but that doesn't make the world disappear. Only an infant thinks that way (and they do think that way, which is why for some people suicide is the ultimate attack or revenge upon the world).

So, we can all agree that "ontological naturalism is, at bottom, a bad theology that does not know itself." It is hardly "an alternative to theology," but rather, "an alternative theology that determines in advance both what sort of God can appear to thought and what sort of 'nature' may manifest itself" (Hanby).

But guess what? Just as one cannot rid the world of subjects, one cannot rid nature of the supernatural. For reasons we will further illuminate tomorrow, because we are out of time.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, if one has trouble paying attention, God will help you.

The human being comes pre-loaded with programming to ensure you pay attention to the important stuff.

Cells need food? You'll get hungry.

Need water? You'll get thirsty.

Need to procreate? You'll get horny.

Need other people? You'll get lonely.

And so forth.

So, the Boss is supremely aware regarding attention. It is vital to the operations of life.

Controlled, intentional, and prolonged attention, focused on a single subject, yields expertise, deep meditation, revelations, etc.

A person's destiny depends on their powers of paying attention.

Glad you brought it up. It's one of those things that are so "obvious" nobody talks about them.

Van Harvey said...

"For Hanby, this means that any form of empiricism or naturalism is just a non-starter. Every form of thought begins with an abstraction, but it is as if these defective approaches attempt to cover their tracks and pretend the abstraction never took place -- they dig themselves into a metaphysical hole and attempt the pull the hole in after."


Aka: "I think, therefore I am."

Dr kold_kadavr_ flatliner MD said...

'the more you shall honor Me,
the more I shall bless you'
-the Infant Jesus of Prague