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In Defence of Bare Attention: A Phenomenological Interpretation of Mindfulness

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'Mindfulness' is arguably the most important concept to have transplanted from Buddhist thought to contemporary Western psychology. However, whilst mindfulness was already an ambiguous term in the original context, specified more by a set of practices than by a clear definition, its cross-cultural transmission has blurred its content even further. In this paper, I assess the recent criticism of the widespread definition of mindfulness as non-elaborative, purely receptive 'bare attention'. According to the critics of bare attention, what can be characterized as purely receptive is the automatic turning of attention toward an object. But should mindfulness be a quality of consciousness that is to be established and developed by the reflexive practice of meditation, it must be something more than this automatic turning of attention. This paper shows how the definition of mindfulness as bare attention can be defended by explicating it in terms of the phenomenological model of attention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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