The following is a short list of functional definitions revolving around a developing economics of attention.
I am no expert on economics (although I do have a few friends who are), but despite the usefulness of the economic paradigm for understanding certain phenomenon, there are many fields to which economics is not applied very seriously, or is not applied at all. The sphere in which I think economics might be especially useful in our time is in the realm of attention, and is an outgrowth from the excellent work done by Matthew Crawford, Tristan Harris, and even Edward Snowden. The problems described by these thinkers are, I think, understood, but lack a coherent and morally forceful vernacular by which the complaints can be expressed and taken seriously against the current moral hegemony of “individual autonomy.” Although the purpose of this framework is to understand and answer modern problems of attention, I think that the necessary path also goes through — of all things — religion.
(Some of these explanations may require some further explanation, but that explanation will have to come at another date.)
Here are the definitions:
- Individual Autonomy: The belief that individuals are capable of making decisions completely removed from their environments.
- Attention: Space in consciousness.
- Worship: Attention utilized on the basis of worthiness.
- __________: Individual attention utilized against the wishes of the individual
- __________: Individual attention used against the gods the individual values
- God: Something that is worshiped.
- Religion: A culture of worship of certain God(s)
- Spirit: Character; personality; likeness to some archetype.
- Spiritual: Development of character on the basis of the worship of God.
As can be seen, the list hardly looks economic in nature. But when value is explicitly ascribed to attention — is it is tacitly when someone says something “isn’t worth my time” — then we now have the possibility of: (1) a new and powerful unifying definition of “religion” (a hitherto notoriously difficult-to-define umbrella term); (2) an economic explanation of religion; (3) the language necessary to combat the forces of The Spider at the center of the web.
More on that particular metaphor at some future date.