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The Primacy of We

Dan Zahavi 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?

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. Twitter: @DanZahavi

Luna Dolezal is a lecturer in Medical Humanities and Philosophy 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. Twitter: @lunadolezal

Image by Simran Sood

13 November 2020 at 19:00:00

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7.00 p.m. (UK time)/2.00 p.m. (EST)

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