Publication 5976

Brinck I., Reddy V. & Zahavi D. (2017) The primacy of the “we”? In: Durt C., Fuchs T. & Tewes C. (eds.) Embodiment, enaction, and culture: Investigating the constitution of the shared world. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 131–147. Fulltext at
Excerpt: The capacity to engage in collective intentionality is a key aspect of human sociality. Social coordination might not be distinctive of humans – various nonhuman animals engage in forms of cooperative behavior (e.g., hunting together) – but humans seem to possess a specific capacity for intentionality that enables them to constitute forms of social reality far exceeding anything that can be achieved even by nonhuman primates. During the past few decades, collective intentionality has been discussed under various labels in a number of empirical disciplines including social, cognitive, and developmental psychology, economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, ethology, and the social neurosciences. Despite all this work, however, many foundational issues remain controversial and unresolved. In particular, it is by no means clear exactly how to characterize the nature, structure, and diversity of the we to which intentions, beliefs, emotions, and actions are often attributed. Is the we or we-perspective independent of, and perhaps even prior to, individual subjectivity, or is it a developmental achievement that has a firstand second-person-singular perspective as its necessary precondition? Is it something that should be ascribed to a single owner, or does it perhaps have plural ownership? Is the we a single thing, or is there a plurality of types of we?

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