Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention

Attention is a necessary capacity of our mind; we need it in our everyday life to focus on certain things and withdraw from others in order to effectively navigate our environment. However, as studies have shown, we seem less and less able to concentrate on something and not get distracted. On average, a person checks their email 74 times a day, and each time they check it, they spend about 32 seconds on average to do so. Especially in western societies, attention has become an indispensable resource or currency. Various socio-psychological phenomena such as the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Burn-Outs or the influence of social media networks such as Instagram or Facebook are just some examples of a general feature of today’s accelerated and condensed life wherein attention becomes a difficult issue. How do we attend to our environment, to art, to nature, to other people? And why should we attend? What kinds of attention are there? Apart from focused attention, we can identify distributed attention and full attention, but also attentiveness, mindfulness, and immersion. At the Department of Philosophy at the University of Fribourg a team of advanced researchers investigates these issues from various perspectives. The leading project behind this is the SNSF-PRIMA Project Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention comprised by Susanne Schmetkamp (PI) and her team. The project collaborates, among others, with the Chair of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art of the University of Fribourg, the EXRE research group, and the research workshop Aesthetics and Critique.


December 2022 “Attention and Action in Aesthetic Experiences”, with Bence Nanay, Susanne Schmetkamp, Emmauel Alloa & Judith Siegmund, Talk and Workshop hosted by the Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention SNSF Research Project, University of Fribourg.

May 2022 “R.C. Collingwood in the Twenty-First Century”, with Christopher Mole, Talk hosted by the Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention SNSF Research Project, University of Fribourg.

May 2022 “Feeling into it”, Lecture-Concert with talks by Susanne Schmetkamp, Fabian Göppelsröder and Christoph Haffter and concert by the improvisation-formation “Das Ende der Liebe”.

New Article “Warum wir helfen. Eine Philosophin über die Folgen des Ukrainekriegs”, for Spiegel Online, 03.04.2022.
New Publication At the beginning of 2022 a comprehensive anthology by Wehrle, D’Angelo and Solomonova on the topic of attention has been published, to which Susanne Schmetkamp has contributed a chapter on “aesthetic attention”:
Schmetkamp, Susanne, 2022: “Aesthetic Attention and Change of Perspectives” in: Wehrle, M / D’Angelo, D. / Solomonova, E. (eds.), Access and and Mediation – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Attention | Berlin, Boston: de Gruyter.

March 2022 Philosophy of Psychedelics with Chris Letheby,” Talk hosted by the Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention SNSF Research Project, University of Fribourg, 03.03.2022.

July 2021 “Gelenkt und frei – Aufmerksamkeit, Improvisation und musikalische Zeitlichkeit”, Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Ästhetik, Zürich (online). Panel mit drei Talks (mit Fabian Goppelsröder und Christoph Haffter) und Konzert der Improvisations-Formation “Das Ende der Liebe”, 14.07.2021.
June 2021 Politics of Attention“, Third Workshop of the Aesthetics & Ethics of Attention SNSF Research Project, University of Fribourg (CH), 30.06-01.07.2021.

March 2021Hermeneutic Attention“, EXRE Colloquium, University of Fribourg, 03.03.2021
Feb 2021Wie frei sind Sie in Ihrer Aufmerksamkeit?“, interview for Das Philosophische Radio (Westdeutscher Rundfunk WDR5), 15.02. 2021.
Dec 2020 „Functions of Attention”, Second Workshop of the Aesthetics & Ethics of Attention Research Project SNSF, University of Fribourg, 03.12.2020.
Jan 2020Naturgegeben? – Empathie“, interview for Das Philosophische Radio (Westdeutscher Rundfunk WDR5), 10.01.2020.