The Direction of Our Gaze: Attention in Wolff’s Psychology and Aesthetics

  • Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero
Keywords: Wollf, Psychology


Notwithstanding the general agreement about the significance of Christian Wolff’s psychological account of attention, the details of this account as well as its connection to his analysis of aesthetic experience are still largely unexplored. This paper shows that Wolff had clear insight not only into the complex interaction between attention and the faculties of sensation and imagination (sections 1–3) but also into the effects of training (section 4), the relation between attentional and physiological processes (sections 5–6), and the mechanisms of bottom-up attentional control (section 7). Moreover, the paper delves into the fact that, long before developing his psychology, Wolff considered the relation between attention, beauty, and visual perception in the context of his treatises on architecture, which contain some key ideas of Wolffian aesthetics (sections 8–9).