Intention and Attention. A Joint Venture between Phenomenology and History of Philosophy

July 25, 2016 - July 29, 2016
Institute of Philosophy, Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg

Residenzplatz 2
Würzburg 97070

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Keynote speakers:

Therese Cory
University of Notre Dame
Roberta De Monticelli
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milano
José Filipe Pereira da Silva
University of Helsinki
Jan Slaby
Freie Universität Berlin
Gianfranco Soldati
University of Fribourg, Switzerland

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Intention and attention.

A joint venture between phenomenology and history of philosophy

Summer school, 25-29 July 2016

Institute of Philosophy, University of Würzburg

In the phenomenological tradition, intentionality is usually understood as the essential feature of conscious acts, i.e., as what generally defines their relation to external or internal objects. Within the field of consciousness, attention is a specific modalization of awareness. More precisely, as pointed out by Blumenberg and Waldenfels, attention is a double event, crossing the threshold between ‘being struck by’ (Auffallen) and ‘taking notice of’ (Aufmerken). Recent work on intentionality and attention has notably concentrated on the relevance of phenomenological investigations within the debate with cognitive sciences. Phenomenological analyses of intentionality and attention, however, are not only meaningful within such a debate. Their potential can be brought to the fore in such different philosophical domains as epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, social and political philosophy.

It is well known that Brentano, in his famous characterization of consciousness via the concept of intentionality, significantly drew on the Aristotelian and Medieval tradition, which had already developed an account of intentio in the context of psychology and of action theory. For example, Thomas Aquinas explains weak-willed actions against one’s judgment by pointing to the somatic changes inherent in emotions which narrow down the attention to certain salient features of the desired object and detract from others, thus massively influencing the content of one’s intention.

Although some insights into the relevance of the historical roots of intentionality and attention are present in the work of early phenomenologists, a systematic and up-to-date reassessment of the historical sources is not in the foreground of current research. Such a reassessment may shed new light on several issues discussed in the contemporary debate. Conversely, in the context of historical investigations of intentionality, the phenomenological perspective is usually neglected. Counterbalancing both tendencies, the aim of this summer school is to establish an intellectual joint venture between phenomenological and historical research into intention and attention as well as their interdependence.

Confirmed Speakers:

Therese Cory, Notre Dame

Roberta De Monticelli, Milan

José Filipe Pereira da Silva, Helsinki

Jan Slaby, Berlin

Gianfranco Soldati, Fribourg


Dag Nikolaus Hasse, Karl-Heinz Lembeck, Karl Mertens, Jörn Müller, Michela Summa

Course description

The course will consist of a mixture of keynote lectures, text-reading seminars, and students’ presentations. The summer school is aimed at advanced MA students and PhD students. Post Docs are also invited to apply.

We welcome the submission of proposals particularly, but not exclusively, related to the following topics:

-          history of the concepts of intention and attention

-          attention as a specific mode of intentional experience

-          intentionality and attention between activity and passivity

-          epistemic, social, ethical, and political relevance of attention

How to apply

Please send the following to [email protected]

-          short CV (no more than 2 pages)

-          statement of intent (no more than 1 page)

-          abstract (ca. 500 words) if you wish to give a talk

Deadline for submission: January, 31st, 2016

Notification of admission: February, 29th, 2016

The course will be open to a maximum of 25 participants.

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February 29, 2016, 6:00pm CET

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