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Who are we?

Carlsbergfondets ”Semper Ardens” forskningsprojekter

What

We can enjoy a symphony, solve a task, reach a decision and make plans for the future together, just as we can share beliefs, emotions, traditions and even a collective identity together. But what does it mean to feel, think, and act as part of a we? Who or what is this we, to whom intentions, beliefs, emotions, and actions are attributed, and how does it come about? Is the we prior to individual subjectivity or does the we presuppose a plurality of pre-existing selves? How is collective intentionality related to social cognition? And what is the relation between a short-lived dyadic we and a more enduring communal we?

Why

The we is a key feature of human sociality and an integral part of everyday life. By developing a systematically convincing and phenomenologically valid account of the complex interrelation between the we, the you, and the I, the project will contribute to a clarification of foundational issues in the humanities and social sciences and offer insights of relevance for ongoing debates in developmental psychology, social neuroscience, social psychology, sociology, and political science.

How

The project is theoretical rather than empirical in nature. One of its guiding hypothesis is that a adequate account of the we must be embedded in a more comprehensive investigation of self-identity and social cognition. In addition, the project will combine systematic theorizing with historical scholarship. Philosophers such as Scheler, Stein, Husserl, Walther, Heidegger, Löwith, Gurwitsch and Schutz all engaged in extensive discussions of collective intentionality, affective sharing, and communal experience in the interwar period, and the project will explore ideas from this fertile period and assess their validity and contemporary relevance.

SSR

Given the upsurge of ethno-nationalism and identity politics in the contemporary socio-political landscape, given the repeated insistence on the importance of social cohesion and the increasing focus on the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’, renewed critical reflections on the status of group-identities are a matter of urgency.