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Attention is one of the higher-order cognitive processes. In the brain, it enables the selection of privileged neural signals by enhancing their intensity through neural feedback, thereby decreasing the relative intensity of competing neural signals. For example, attention allows a writer to focus on the topic at hand while neighbors are loudly arguing; their thoughts are highlighted (akin to the metaphor of a spotlight, albeit controversial today), at the expense of the neighbors' conversations.
Bernard Stiegler's philosophical reflection on attention (2010; 2014) illustrates how attention is more than just concentration or vigilance. Attention also concerns desire, waiting, active participation, interest.
In this series of articles we discuss some of the key reflections of Bernard Stiegler's analysis on the link between digital technologies and the destruction of attention; on its consequences for individual and collective life.
Amy Cohen Varela is Chair of the Board of Directors of Mind & Life Europe and has been involved in Mind and Life since its inception.
The question we try to address here is: do we really understand what Buddhism is?