Who Are We?

Self-identity, Social Cognition, and Collective Intentionality

The project will investigate what it means to feel, think, and act as part of a we. Its guiding hypothesis is that a systematic account of the we must be embedded in a more comprehensive investigation of selfhood and social cognition.

The project will systematically develop this hypothesis by combining cross-disciplinary theorizing with historical scholarship. In particular, it will draw on seminal contributions from classical phenomenology. In addition to philosophers, the project will also involve social scientists (from social anthropology, sociology, social psychology, political theory etc.).













The project will be supported by an international expert panel composed of: 




Szanto, T.: Epistemically Exploitative Bullshit. A Sartrean Account. European Journal of Philosophy, 1–20. (Online First). DOI: 10.1111/ejop.12810. 

Meindl, P., Zahavi, D.: From Communication to Communalization: A Husserlian account. Continental Philosophy Review, in press.

Osler, L., Zahavi, D.: Sociality and embodiment: Online communication during and after Covid-19. Foundations of Science, in press.

Zahavi, D.: Individuality and community: The limits of social constructivism. ETHOS: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, in press.

Zahavi, D.: I, You, and We: Beyond Individualism and Collectivism. Australasian Philosophical Review, in press.


Szanto, T., Montes Sánchez, A.: Imaginary Communities, Normativity and Recognition: A New Look at Social Imaginaries. Phänomenologische Forschungen, Beihefte 5, 2023, 197-218.


Szanto, T. "Sacralizing Hostility: Fanaticism as a Group-Based Affective Mechanism." In M. Staudigl, H. B. Schmid, L. Townsend, and R. R. Tietjen (Eds.): Confronting Fanaticism. Theoretical and Applied Perspectives (pp. 184–212). London, New York: Routledge 2002.

León, F., Zandersen, M., Meindl, P., Zahavi, D.: "The distinction between second-person and third-person relations and its relevance for the psychiatric diagnostic interview"  In M. Biondi, A. Picardi, M. Pallagrosi, L. Fonzi (eds.): The Clinician in the Psychiatric Diagnostic Process (pp. 51-69). Springer: Cham.

León, F.: "Attention in Joint Attention: From Selection to Prioritization". In M. Wehrle, D. D'Angelo, & E. Solomonova (Eds.), Access and Mediation. Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Attention. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2022, pp. 65-90.  


Meindl, P.: "From the Thou to the We: Rediscovering Martin Buber’s Account of Communal Experiences". Human Studies 44 (3), 2021, 413-431.
Nguyen, C., Salmela, M., & von Scheve, C.: From specific worries to generalized anger: the emotional dynamics of right-wing political populism. In M.T. Oswald (Ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Populism (pp. 145-160). Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

Salmela, M., & Capelos, T.: "Ressentiment: A Complex Emotion or an Emotional Mechanism of Psychic Defences?" Politics and Governance, 9(3), 2021, 191-203.
León, F.: "Collective Intentionality, We-identity, and the Role of Narratives in the Constitution of Friendship". In J. Noller (ed.), The Unity of a Person: Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2021, 185-206.
Szanto, T.: "Can it Be or Feel Right to Hate? On the Appropriateness and Fittingness of Hatred". Philosophy and Society 32(3), 2021, 341–368.
Osler, L., Szanto, T.: "Political Emotions and Political Atmospheres”. In D. Trigg (Ed.). Shared Emotions and Atmospheres. London, New York: Routledge, 2021, 162–188.
Salmela, M. & Capelos, T.: "Ressentiment: A Complex Emotion or an Emotional Mechanism of Psychic Defences?" Politics and Governance 9(3), 2021, 191-203.
Zahavi, D.: "We in me or me in we? Collective intentionality and selfhood". Journal of Social Ontology 7/1, 2021, 1-20.
Szanto, T.: "Hass und die negative Dialektik affektiver Herabsetzung." Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 69/3, 2021, 422–437.
León, F.: "Joint Attention Without Recursive Mindreading: On the Role of Second-Person Engagement". Philosophical Psychology, 34(4), 2021, 550-580.
Overgaard, S. and Salice, A.: “Consciousness, Belief, and the Group Mind Hypothesis”. Synthese 198, 2021, 1597-1621.
Salice, A., Henriksen, M.G.: "Disturbances of Shared Intentionality in Schizophrenia and Autism." Frontiers in Psychiatry 11, 2021, 570597.
Gallagher, S., Zahavi, D.: The Phenomenological Mind. 3rd edition. London: Routledge, 2021. (p. 294).


Szanto, T.: "Phenomenology and Social Theory". In P. Kivisto (ed.): The Cambridge Handbook of Social Theory. Volume I: A Contested Canon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 292–316.

Szanto, T.: "Why should we give a damn?" The Philosopher 108/4, 2020, 32-37.

Zahavi, D.: "We and I". The Philosopher 108/4, 2020, 19-24.

León, F.: "For-me-ness, For-us-ness, and the We-relationship". Topoi, 39/3, 2020, 547-558.

Szanto, T.: "Imaginative Resistance and Empathic Resistance". Topoi 39/4, 2020, 791–802.

Szanto, T.: "In Hate We Trust: On the Habitualization and Collectivization of Hatred". Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 2020, 19/3, 453–480.

Szanto, T. & Landweer, H. (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotions. London, New York: Routledge, 2020.

Szanto, T. & Slaby, J.: "Political Emotions". In Szanto, T. & Landweer, H. (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotions. London, New York: Routledge, 2020, 478-492.

Szanto, T. & Landweer, H.: "Introduction: The Phenomenology of Emotions - Beyond ‘What it is like to Feel’". In Szanto, T. & Landweer, H. (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotions. London, New York: Routledge, 2020, 1-37.

Zahavi, D.: "Shame". In T. Szanto & H. Landweer (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotions. London: Routledge, 2020, 349-357.
Szanto, T. & Moran, D.: "Edith Stein". In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2020 Edition), (pp. 1-73), 2020.





19.01.2023 – Julia Zaenker
“Understanding Others. Some Challenges for the Phenomenology of Sociality” Joint Center Research Seminar, SDU, Odense, Denmark.

08.01.2023 – Dan Zahavi
"I, You, and We: Beyond individualism and collectivism." Phenomenological Anthropology: Epistemic Bridges, Dilemmas & Methodologies. University of Haifa, Israel.

11.01.2023 – Dan Zahavi
"Observation, Interaction, Communication: The Role of the Second Person." Tel Aviv University, Israel.


09.12.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Beyond individualism and collectivism" Archives Husserl, CNRS-ENS, Paris, France.

05.12.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Beyond individualism and collectivism". Science, Agency, Responsibility. Linköping University, Sweden.

22.11.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Observation, interaction, communication: The role of the second person." St. Hilda's College, University of Oxford, UK.

29.10.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Beyond individualism and Collectivism." Keynote talk. Relational autonomy and collective intentionality. 40th Annual Spindel Conference. The University of Memphis, USA.

26.10.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Communication, social acts and second-personal engagement: A Husserlian account." Loyola University, Chicago, USA.

24.10.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Observation, interaction, communication: The role of the second person." University of Chicago, USA.

06.10.2022 - Mette Vesterager
"How Social Groups Shape the Mind of the Individual – Introducing a Higher-Order Concept of Habitus", The Second Nordic Graduate Conference on the Philosophy of Mind, Sønderjylland, Denmark

28.09.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Observation, participation, communication: The role of the second person." Zurück zu den Sachen selbst. Internationale Tagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für phänomenologische Forschung. Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany.

08.2022 – Thomas Szanto & Linas Tranas
"Affective Resonance and Shared Emotions" International Society of Social Ontology, Vienna, Austria.

31.08.2022 – Julia Zaenker
“Embodied, Situated, Entangled. Iris Marion Young and 4E-cognition” British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference, Exeter, UK.

06.2022 – Thomas Szanto & Ruth Tietjen
"The Fittingness and Appropriateness of Political Emotions" Annual Conference the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions, Graz, Austria.

26.06.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"We and I: Collective and individual selves." Keynote talk. 13th International Process Symposium. Rhodes, Greece.

18.05.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"The werewolf and the puma: Collective identity and fusional love". Phenomenology and Poetry. Helsinki, Finland.

07.05.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Being at home: Embodied selfhood and communal experience." Is the self embodied? Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

21.04.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Who are we?". Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

06.04.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Observation, participation, communication: The role of the second person." Phenomenological approaches to social perception. Université de Montréal, Canada.

03.2022 – Thomas Szanto
"Epistemically Exploitative Bullshit" (webinar) Center for Ethics and Critical Thought, Edinburgh, UK.

03.2022 – Thomas Szanto
"What are Political Emotions?" (webinar) Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Oslo, Norway.

25.03.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"Who are we?" Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina.

02.2022 – Thomas Szanto
"Corporate Distrust and Dehumanization" (webinar) California State University, East Bay, USA.

29.01.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"We and I." Haverford College, USA.

27.01.2022 – Dan Zahavi
"We, you, and I." Penn State University, State College, USA.


08.12.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"Shared emotions and extended minds." Zhejiang University, China.

18.11.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"Who are we?" Body, self, and community. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

17.11.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"The socially distributed self: Perspectives from anthropology, cultural psychology, and philosophy." University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

12.11.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"The socially distributed self." Self Symposium. Aalto University & University of Helsinki, Finland.

10.2021 – Thomas Szanto
"Corporate Distrust and Dehumanization” (Zoom) Dehumanization: New Philosophical Perspectives, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

10.2021 – Thomas Szanto
"Recognizing the Imagined Community: A Critical Reappraisal of Husserl and Stein on the State" Husserl and Community, CFS, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

08.10.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"I and We". Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, China.

02.09.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"Sociality and embodiment. Online communication during and after COVID-19". Phenomenology and digital knowledge. University of Udine, Italy.

03.06.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"The distributed self: Perspectives from anthropology, cultural psychology, and philosophy". Self, other, and community. University of Jyväskylä. Finland.

05.2021– Thomas Szanto
"Recognizing the Imagined Community: A Critical Reappraisal of Husserl and Stein on the State" (Zoom), Social Ontology and Objective Spirit: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives, University of Cologne, Germany & Marquette University, USA.

05.2021– Thomas Szanto
"Collective Emotions: A Phenomenological Account." (online) Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

31.05.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"We and I." Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

04.05.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"Intersubjectivity, sociality, community." Lancaster University Philosophy Society. Lancaster University, UK.

14.04.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"You, me and we." Sharif University, Teheran. Iran.

26.03.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"The distributed self: Between I and We." Boston College Philosophy Gradudate Conference. Boston. USA.

01.2021 – Thomas Szanto
"Kollektive Emotionen" (webinar), University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

13.01.2021 – Dan Zahavi
"We and I". The Open University. UK.


11.2020 – Thomas Szanto
"What are Political Emotions?" Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

21.10.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"We and I." Keynote. Slovak Philosophy Congress. Bratislava. Slovakia.

25.09.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"Intersubjectivity, sociality, community." Keynote. Experiencing Commons and Communalism. 4th Dauphine Phenomenology Workshop. Université Paris-Dauphine, France.

15.09.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"Sociality and embodiment. Online communication during the pandemic." Covid-19 and beyond, culturally speaking. Online International Symposium on Humanities Research for Public Crises. Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong.

13.07.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"We in me or me in we? Collective intentionality and the plural subject". Keynote. Social Ontology 2020. The 12th Biennal Collective Intentionality Conference. Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

03.2020 – Thomas Szanto
"Feeling of Belonging and Feeling Solidarity: Two Forms of Social Cohesion?" Social Cohesion, CFS, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

03.2020 – Thomas Szanto
"Political Atmospheres and Political Emotions" Public Feelings: Affects and Political Participation. University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland [Cancelled, due to COVID-19 Pandemic].

09.03.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"You, Me and We." Stony Brook University, USA.

12.02.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"I, You, We." Fiction and Other Minds. University of Oxford, UK.

28.01.2020 – Dan Zahavi
"Subjectivity, Intersubjectivity, Objectivity." University of Graz, Austria.



Dan Zahavi, Professor Dan Zahavi
Mikko Salmela, Associate Professor Mikko Salmela
Thomas Szanto, Associate Professor Thomas Szanto
Christopher Stephan, Postdoc Christopher Stephan
Patrizio Lo Presti, Postdoc Patrizio Lo Presti
Mette Vesterager, Phd Fellow Mette Vesterager
Tristan Hedges, PhD Fellow
Julia Zaenker, PhD Fellow Julia Zaenker
Sara Heinämaa, Recurrent Visiting Professor Sara Heinämaa
Sophie Loidolt, Recurrent Visiting Professor Sophie Loidolt
Alessandro Salice, Research Associate Alessandro Salice







European Research Council

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 832940).

Carlsberg Foundation

This project has received funding from the Carlsberg Foundation.

Project period: 01 January 2020 – 31 December 2025.


Head of Project, Professor Dan Zahavi