The Primacy of We
Dan Zahavi in conversation with Luna Dolezal
The capacity to engage in different types of collective intentionality is a key feature of human sociality. We can enjoy a symphony, solve a task, reach a decision and make plans for the future together, just as we can share responsibilities, traditions and customs. After winning a match with a group of teammates, I might share feelings of joy at our victory, just as I might report to my superior that we finished moving all the furniture. But who or what is this we, to whom intentions, beliefs, emotions, and actions are attributed, and how does it come about? Is a we-perspective independent of, and perhaps even prior to, individual subjectivity, or does it rather have a stable first-person singular perspective as its necessary precondition? Does the we presuppose a plurality of pre-existing selves or is individual subjectivity something that necessarily requires a communal grounding?
This event is part of a week-long special series to coincide with the publication of our autumn issue that asks the question, "What is We?" The issue will feature contributions from an exciting range of philosophers, classicists, historians, and English scholars, including Dan Zahavi, Brooke Holmes, Todd McGowan, Serene Khader, Fay Bound Alberti, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Thomas Szanto, and Donovan Irven. It will be published in mid-October.
Dan Zahavi is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford and director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author and editor of more than 25 books including Self-Awareness and Alterity and Husserl’s Phenomenology. @DanZahavi
Luna Dolezal is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter. Her research is primarily in the areas of applied phenomenology, philosophy of embodiment, philosophy of medicine and medical humanities (esp. through literature and philosophy). Her books include The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped Body (2015), while her current book project, The Politics of Shame, explores the social and political dimensions of shame. @lunadolezal