The phenomenology and structure of the second-person plural

CFS lecture by Sarah Pawlett Jackson, University of London

In this paper I will outline my account of the phenomenology and structure of the second-person plural perspective, namely the perspective from which I am able to jointly address another second-personally with (another) other, or from which I find myself addressed by multiple others together, as the recipient of a joint address. I will then outline a possible worry to my account. This objection, which I call second-person singularism, argues that the second-person standpoint is definitionally exclusively singular and to posit a second-person plural perspective is therefore to make a category mistake. Versions of second-person singularism are, I argue, to be found in Sartre and Levinas. I will defend my account from this objection, outlining how this worry is founded on a disembodied and disembedded notion of the other’s subjectivity. I argue that we have reason to accept a substantive account of the second-person plural because of and not in spite of the structure of subjectivity.