Many aerodynamics textbooks, as well as many answers on here and similar websites claim that the downwash downstream of a wing induces a net angle of attack that is lower than just looking at flow direction and chord orientation would have you believe. They then often go on to say that lift is perpendicular to this "induced flow direction", explaining that the component parallel to the originally perceived flow direction is induced drag. I struggle with this idea, because my current understanding of lift dictates that downwash itself is a product of lift generation and therefore a product of angle of attack.
Also, when looking at visualisations of flow fields around a wing, we can see both upwash ahead of the wing and downwash behind it. Intuitively, I'm inclined to think that the downwash, being downstream of the wing, can't really affect the flow dynamics around the wing anymore. Conversely, the upwash, being upstream of the wing, should affect the flow around it, increasing angle of attack and therefore lift produced.
The only explanation I've come up with is this, though I'm not sure if it's correct:
Since any wing producing lift must introduce a net downwash on the surrounding air, the average air movement over the whole wing must also be negative. I guess my problem with this explanation is that I've always thought of angle of attack as a function of just chord orientation and flow direction. Is it correct to assume that, looking at the flow field closely around a wing, "traditional angle of attack" doesn't matter as much since the large induced flow velocities in front of the wing will make actual "aerodynamical" angle of attack, i.e. the angle at which the oncoming air actually hits the wing (as opposed to the angle between freestream flow direction and chordline) differ significantly?
I apologise if my question isn't very comprehensible, I had quite a hard time formulating it. In any case, I'd be glad for an answer, and I'll try my best to clarify what's unclear.