Embodied Perspectives, Affective Bias,and Some Norms of Attention

presented by THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT COLLOQUIUM SERIES

2:30 p.m. (HST) November 5, 2021

Presented by Dr. Sean M. Smith
Assistant Professor
University of Hawaiʻi


In this talk I present an argument that the pervasiveness of affective bias on our conscious attention makes our attention normatively accessible in various ways. My view is inspired by Buddhaghosa (5th-6th CE), a South-Asian Buddhist scholar monk whose commentarial works in Pāli form the backbone of Theravāda Buddhism. This paper addresses how attention is dealt with normatively in Buddhaghosa’s thinking; specifically, I will analyze how wholesome forms of empathetic attention can go wrong. The thesis of this paper is that our embodied first-person perspective on our environment is massively affectively biased and our attention is normatively assessable in various ways in light of this bias.

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