Husserl on Collective Intentionality

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Unlike Husserl’s theory of empathy and intersubjectivity, his theory of collective intentionality has hardly been studied. In this paper, I shall address this neglected but important aspect of his phenomenology. I will argue that Husserl’s contribution, on closer scrutiny, not only stands on an equal footing with contemporary analytic accounts but, indeed, helps to alleviate some of their shortcomings. In particular, I will elaborate on the differences in the social integration of individuals and collectives in terms of intersubjective, social, communal and collective intentionality, respectively. On this background, I will concentrate on Husserl’s alternative construal and demonstrate how it entails a robust anti-individualism regarding both the form and the subject of we-intentions. I will suggest that, contrary to appearances, Husserl does not fall prey to committing a content/vehicle type of fallacy, by inferring from the jointness of the contents of collective intentionality that there is one joint vehicle or, worse, some collectively conscious bearer of such. Rather, the Husserlian alternative yields a robust formal-cum-subject anti-individualism and undercuts the need for deciding between tying in collectivity with either the subject, the mode, or the content of collective intentionality. Ultimately, I wish to show that Husserlian phenomenology allows for a multi-layered and distinctively intentionalist description of communalization, a program often pointed to but, in fact, little expounded upon in contemporary social ontology
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Phenomenological Approach to Social Reality : History, Concepts, Problems
EditorsAlessandro Salice, Hans Bernhard Schmid
Number of pages28
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-27691-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-27692-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
SeriesStudies in the Philosophy of Sociality

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Collective intentionality, Edmund Husserl, Phenomenology, Intersubjectivity, Social ontology

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