You, Me, and We: The Sharing of Emotional Experiences

Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (1-2):84-101 (2015)
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Abstract

When surveying recent philosophical work on the nature and status of collective intentionality and we-intentions, it is striking how much effort is spent on analysing the structure of joint action and on establishing whether or not the intention to, say, go for a walk or paint a house together is reducible to some form of I-intentionality. Much less work has been devoted to an analysis of shared affects and emotions. This is regrettable, not only because emotional sharing in all likelihood is developmentally prior to and logically more basic than joint action, but also because it might constitute a way of being together with others, which we need to study if we wish to better understand the nature of the we. In the present contribution, my primary aim will be to offer an answer to the following question: does the we-experience, the experience of being part of a we, presuppose, precede, preserve, or abolish the difference between self- and other-experience? In pursuing this task, I will take a closer look at emotional sharing and draw on resources that are too frequently ignored in current social ontology, namely insights found in classical phenomenology and in contemporary research on social cognition.

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Dan Zahavi
University of Copenhagen

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