About the project

In a time of public divisiveness and individual distraction, the Virtues of Attention project at New York University aims to nurture a cross-cultural, cosmopolitan conversation about the nature of attention and its role in the pursuit of wisdom. William James characterized attention as “the very root of judgment, character, and will”, and the research of our group demonstrates the importance of attention in Chinese, Buddhist, Indian, Jewish, Islamic, African, Polynesian, and Native American traditions, as well as in European traditions of philosophy and in recent cognitive science.

Our methodology is based in the emerging field of cosmopolitan philosophy. Our research program will demonstrate by example why rigorous investigation into the nature of ethics, agency, and mind should not be limited to any one community of thinkers, but rather should strive to learn from diverse cultures of investigation. Rather than simply noting areas of convergence between different philosophical traditions, our aim is to foster respectful and yet critical dialogue between a plurality of cultural perspectives. These conversations aim to challenge and refine existing views on all sides, and to open new avenues for rigorous philosophical and empirical research as well as for practical experiments in living together.

The Virtues of Attention project successfully competed for initial funding, through 2018, from a Global Seed Grant from New York University. The project will bring together research expertise from the three campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai that collectively constitute NYU’s Global Network University, unified under a common research theme. The emphasis will be on the creation of a nucleated network, drawing regional talent into a broader structure of collaboration.

Please get in touch using the Contact page if you would like to be involved!