Free attention

The Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto, Japan commemorates the Japanese Jamesian Kitaro Nishida.

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And so does San Francisco’s Philosopher’s Way, in McLaren Park.

A virtual walk engages the imagination but not the senses, and not that vital sense of the ever-fleeting “nick of time” that Thoreau toed. So, it’s no substitute for the real thing. But this is still terrific. I’m going to SF, as soon as I can. It’s been too many years since my last Giants game anyway.

Meanwhile, I’m adding Nishida and his philosophy of attention to my stable of pedestrian philosophers. His “musing” plaque in the park, if you missed it:

Thinking has its own laws. It functions of its own accord and does not follow our will. To merge with the act of thought – that is, to direct one’s attention to it – is voluntary, but I think perception is the same in this respect: we are able to see what we want to see by freely turning our attention towards it.

Increasingly I am persuaded that controlled attention may be as close to the secret of life as we’ll ever come.

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