Volume 8 · Number 3 · Pages 280-287
An Experiential Phenomenology of Novelty: The Dynamic Antinomy of Attention and Surprise

Natalie Depraz

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Context: In earlier joint work with Varela and Vermersch, we began the elaboration of a methodological and epistemological framework for a practical experiential phenomenology. Problem: I here wish to update and further develop that earlier work. Method: I present the framework of a practical, as distinct from a conceptual-theoretical, phenomenology. I update that framework, arguing for a shift in emphasis from consciousness to vigilant attention. I offer a still preliminary investigation of the important phenomenon of surprise. I link these results with ongoing scientific research conducted by myself and others. Results: Attention-as-vigilance is a key operator of experience. Attention has an antinomic dynamic with surprise. Implications: Attention and surprise are key participants in the generative process of the experience of novelty. Elaboration of this thesis enables the further development of practical, first-person methodologies. Constructivist content: This paper outlines certain key features of first-person, lived experience, and elaborates a method for linking these results directly to ongoing scientific research.

Key words: Practical phenomenology, attention, vigilance, surprise, experience, novelty


Depraz N. (2013) An experiential phenomenology of novelty: The dynamic antinomy of attention and surprise. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 280-287. http://constructivist.info/8/3/280

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