Singularity and the We

In this interdisciplinary workshop, co-organized with Rasmus Dyring (AU), anthropologists and philosophers deliberate the relationship(s) between sociality and singularity.


Phenomenological perspectives on sociality can be said to evince a kind of tension between the singular and the ‘we.’ The classical phenomenologists (incl. Husserl, Heidegger, Stein, Gurwitsch, Walther) conceptualized forms of ‘we-relations’ as essential relational structures instantiated around particular conditions of common feeling or will, historical inheritance, or sedimented and intersubjectively shared typifications or practical capacities. These foci stand in contrast with later thinkers like Levinas and Nancy whose contributions foreground singularity in a skeptical and critical effort to foreground aspects and possibilities of togetherness which elude substantive forms of sharedness and similarity. Between these perspectives, there is space for a further turn in the conversation. The papers given in this workshop will consider concrete and particular relationships and communal experiences to engage the following questions: What are the entanglements of the singular and various we-relations and we-experiences? What can be gained theoretically by focusing attention on circumstances (e.g. cultural, historical, biographical) that draw/bind persons together in distinct and non-substitutable connections? How might the relational junctures of singular beings — in various relations of community or sharedness — themselves constitute quasi-transcendental conditions? Can there be a relational singular that is discernible from something other than a typical or abstractable feature of a dyad or group?

Confirmed speakers

  • Anne O’Byrne (Stonybrook University)
  • Jason Throop (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Jarrett Zigon (University of Virginia)
  • Marieka Borren (Open University, Netherlands)
  • Rasmus Dyring (Aarhus University)
  • Line Ingerslev (University of Copenhagen)

Further list of speakers to follow.