We and us: The power of the Third for the first-person plural

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Phenomenological discussions of sociality have long been concerned with the relations between the I, the You, and the We. Recently, dialogue between phenomenology and analytic philosophical work on collective intentionality has given rise to a corpus of literature oriented around the first-person plural 'we'. In this paper, I demonstrate how these dominant accounts of the 'we' are not exhaustive of first-person plural experiences as such. I achieve these aims by arguing for a phenomenological distinction between an experience of being part of a 'we' compared to an experience of being part of an 'us'. To have a 'we-experience' there must be a plurality of (unified) subjects sharing in an experience together such that the experience has the phenomenal character of being ours. An 'us-experience', on the other hand, requires the experiential salience of an external 'Third' in a way which is constitutively significant. Drawing on Sartrean social ontology, I argue that the 'us' is distinct from the 'we' on three levels, all of which pertain to the constitutive and unifying role of the Third. I then outline two forms of us-experiences: (1) the experience of being grouped and (2) the experience of apprehending one's seriality.
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Antal sider14
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

ID: 373471383