We-Intentionality: an investigation of its structure and experiential preconditions – University of Copenhagen

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Home > Research activities > Research projects > The disrupted "we" > About the project > We-Intentionality

Shared experiences and other minds

In spite of the widespread consensus among researchers that the capacity to share intentions and act jointly plays a pivotal role in the establishment and sustaining of human forms of sociality, it is still an open question, both conceptually and empirically, what this sharing or “we-ness” (Tomasello 2014, 152) amounts to. Drawing on resources offered by classical phenomenology, analytic philosophy of mind, and partly by other disciplines, like developmental psychology and psychopathology, I am investigating the experiential and cognitive structures involved in the sharing of experiences with other people, focusing on shared perceptual experiences of joint attention and affective sharing. 

I defend a relational approach to prototypical cases of experiential sharing, according to which the latter involves the capacity of entertaining constitutive relations of interdependence with other subjects’ psychological lives. Furthermore, I argue that some aspects of perceptual and affective sharing are illuminating for understanding other, arguably more complex varieties of shared mentality. Part of the work that I undertake in my research is how to deal with two conflicting intuitions about the sharing of mental phenomena. On the one hand, the idea that there could literally be shared experiences seems to run against the intuition that a subject’s mental life is intrinsically private, only accessible to that subject. On the other hand, the sharing of mental phenomena seems to be not only possible, but also developmentally crucial for minds like ours. I approach these conflicting intuitions by conducting a systematic exploration of the role that other minds play in experiential sharing, and conversely, of how the latter can inform and shape certain forms of understanding of other minds. 

The account of experiential sharing that I develop aims to be sensitive to some cases in which the capacity to share experiences with others is disrupted or anomalous, by taking a look at some aspects of intersubjective experience in infantile autism and, in particular, schizophrenia. These complex pathological conditions can be a source of insight for theorizing about the structure of sharing, insofar as some of the constituents of the latter can be interpreted as coming apart or being altered in those conditions. At the same time, of course, conceptual work on sharing can help us to enrich our interpretations of these conditions, and better understand them.  


If you want to know more about the project please contact PhD Fellow Felipe León.