The We and its Many Forms: Kurt Stavenhagen's Contribution to Social Phenomenology

CFS Lecture by Alessandro Salice, Lecturer, University College Cork, Ireland

“We” is said in many ways. This talk investigates Kurt Stavenhagen’s undeservedly neglected account of different kinds of “we,” which is maintained to be one of the most sophisticated within classical phenomenology. I begin my talk by elaborating on the phenomenological distinction between mass, society and community, where I claim that individuals partake in episodes of experiential sharing only within communities. Stavenhagen conceptualises experiential sharing as a meshing of conscious experiences infused by a feeling of us-ness. I then focus on Stavenhagen’s distinction between various kinds of sense of us: depending on whether individuals share preferences with each other, have mutual respect, or emotionally respond to the world according to a cultural tradition, they elicit a specific sense of us and, therefore, form a community of a specific kind. Against this background, it can be legitimately claimed that, within phenomenology, Stavenhagen should be credited with the merit of having unearthed the aggregative, we-generating force of preferences, of respect, and of (certain) emotions.

The lecture is free and open to all. Welcome!