Open Focus, as a Convincing Alternative

There is a wonderful article I’ve stumbled upon: An Essay about Attentional Style and Philosophy – Open Focus, by Kurt Keefner. It is highly enlightening, and clearly presents an overview of the basic styles of attentions, thought and the reinforcing cycle these styles create when it comes to developing belief, philosophy, and personal and world views.

In this article, using the studies of Princeton neuroscientist Les Fehmi as his groundwork, Mr. Keefner discusses the concepts of:

  • Cartesian Dualism
  • Spiritualism
  • Animalism
  • The Big Picture-ists
  • Holism and the Open-Focus Brain

Do read the entire article here!

And in the meantime, enjoy these select quotes below, from Mr. Keefner’s insightful article:

In my view philosophy and psychology exist in a system of reciprocal relations. By way of an analogy: if you get a good education you are more likely to make money and if you (or your parents) have money you are more likely to get a good education. There is a connection here, but it is not one of strict necessity, only an ongoing positive tendency. Just so, certain philosophical positions make certain psychological states more likely and vice versa by a process of predisposition, the same way in which the dry wood does not cause the fire but is a ground for it. I believe that by seeing these connections more clearly, we can gain insight into why we cling to a position, often against reason, and we might be able to feel our way, through reason and introspection, to better beliefs.
….I would place the human organism in a natural context: we are evolved beings living in a material world, but I would not go for a reductionistic account of human faculties: we are not driven by instinct but by reason…a robust reason where one develops one’s intuitions and where one is part of one’s environment rather than removed from it.
…one can be objective and immersed at the same time by realizing that reality, including you, has an objective nature, but that you are immersed in it.
….As far as achieving both narrow and diffuse focus goes, what Fehmi proposes sounds like a having a structured field of awareness with a center and a periphery known at the same time. Transcending narrow vs. diffuse and objective vs. immersed would allow one to form a more individuated and autonomous version of the self than spiritualism and animalism, but one that did not cut off either feelings, the body or principles, like dualism and the détente theory. This would allow for the perception of the self as a whole in its entirety and its environment. And this could represent the escape from all the vicious circles of the cardinal attentional styles and theories into a virtuous circle of wholeness.

I think the subtext of the theory of Open Focus is that reality cannot be fully known by any of the cardinal styles of attention alone. They’re all too partial. They fragment reality just as the four cardinal theories of mind fragment the self. But wholeness is possible both in theory and in practice. To achieve it one must be not only philosophically but also psychologically self-conscious.

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