We in me or me in we. Collective intentionality and the plural subject.

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7 thoughts on “We in me or me in we. Collective intentionality and the plural subject.

  1. Strasser, Anna says:

    Hi Dan, just to be sure, you claim that pre-reflective self-consciousness is primary because it does not need any preconditions (by definition?). I am still wondering what the argument is why pre-reflective WE consciousness requires pre-reflective self-consciousness as a precondition. Is that another form of pre-reflectiveness?

    1. Zahavi, Dan says:

      Hi Anna,
      no the argument is a bit different. I am not necessarily saying that (individual) pre-reflective self-consciousness doesn’t have any preconditions, I am just arguing that it doesn’t have we-consciousness or awareness of we-membership as its precondition. As for why pre-reflective we-consciousness requires (individual) pre-reflective self-consciousness as its precondition, the short answer is that pre-reflective we-consciousness is a form of consciousness, and consciousness entails pre-reflective self-consciousness per se (it doesn’t entail pre-reflective we-consciousness per se).

    2. Strasser, Anna says:

      Hi Dan, thanks for the clarification! I think I do share your claim that (individual) pre-reflective self-consciousness doesn’t have we-consciousness or awareness of we-membership as its precondition. But I am still having a hard time to account for necessities regarding preconditions of pre-reflective we-consciousness. Maybe this is due to the fact that I do not yet understand what pre-reflective we-consciousness is meant to be. So far it seems to me as if it does not entail awareness of oneself as belonging to the we, but maybe I am misled here?

  2. Williams, Robert says:

    Thanks for the talk! One analogy that crops up in the literature in various places is between a plurality of individual persons and a single individual over time (a collection of person-stages). That got me wondering: once we are clear we’re asking about the minimal/primitive/pre-reflective self, do you think that the same considerations you raised in the talk would speak also for the primacy/priority of a “current-stage-self” rather than a “persisting-individual-self”? It seems one could at least formulate theses about the temporal case analogous to the ones you use in the talk (e.g. that the very notion of a whole-individual-over-time presupposes a differentiation into distinct temporal stages with different properties, just as “we” presupposed a differentiation into individuals). If you don’t see the cases as analogous, I’d be interested in where you think the disanalogy comes in.

    1. Zahavi, Dan says:

      This is interesting. Here is one consideration against the analogy. I think the relation between different person stages metaphysically speaking is very different from the relation between members of a we. I take the interpersonal differences to be very different in character from the intrapersonal differences. For one, I don’t have first-personal access to the other members of the we, whereas I do have it to former person stages of myself. About the other point: I wonder whether the temporality of consciousness is not such that the current (non-extended) stage must be considered an abstraction rather than the natural starting point.

  3. Schmid, Hans Bernhard says:

    Concerning the last point in the discussion: why not say that we’re plurally pre-reflectively self-aware even without encountering “them”, but the encounter makes us aware of ourselves as a group at the reflective level?

    1. Zahavi, Dan says:

      I guess one question is whether the only way to obtain awareness of ourselves as a group on the reflective level would be through the encounter with them. I think it is likely to be the most common way, but I am not sure it is the only. Imagine a case of a group where things are working well. At some point things are starting to work less well. Perhaps this might trigger a kind of self-reflection that makes the (past) existence of the group more salient.

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