Grief as attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Grief seems difficult to locate within familiar emotion taxonomies, as it not a basic emotion nor a hybrid thereof. Here I propose that grief is better conceptualized as an emotionally rich attentional phenomenon rather than an emotion or sequence of emotions. In grieving, that another person has died, the loss incurred by the grieving, etc., occupy the forefront of the grieving subject’s consciousness while other candidate facts for their attention recede into the background. The former set of facts thus sits near the top of their mental “priority structures” throughout a grief event. The hypothesis that grief is attentional helps to explain several common phenomenological features of grief experience, underpins a credible ‘metaphysics’ of grief, accounts for the extent to which grief is susceptible to choice and agency, and addresses a recent puzzle regarding our reasons to grieve and our apparent proclivity toward ‘resilience’ in the face of grief.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of consciousness studies
Issue number9-10
Early online date1 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


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