Henning Nörenberg / Project Description

The embodied affective dimension of collective intentionality

Henning Nörenberg

In recent philosophical debates, the peculiar aspects of collective intentionality or we-consciousness are regarded as foundations of human society.

These discussions of collective intentionality, however, have been largely dominated by accounts of planning and acting, of explicitly intending to do something together. According to such accounts, we-consciousness is mainly a matter of the cognitive and conative structures of the mind.

Only more recently, the interest in the structures of collective affective intentionality has grown. But is affective sharing only a special case of a more general form of we-consciousness or is it, as one of the central hypotheses underlying my project would suggest, something original in its own right?

The core idea of the project is to conceive collective affective intentionality in terms of embodiment. The hypothesis is that the significance of collective affectivity cannot be adequately understood unless the central role of embodiment is considered. Therefore, the aim is to get over the shortcomings of current approaches in the field which have their focus on the structures of mental states only and thus tend to reduce collective affectivity to the sharing of goals, projects or concerns, i.e. to the conative dimension of collective intentionality.

The investigation will draw upon the phenomenological tradition in order to specify the significant role of embodied affective intentionality in social coordination. As a result, the project will contribute to a more adequate conceptualization of social phenomena.

In order to characterize the specific domain of collective affectivity, the following questions need to be answered:

How does embodied affectivity relate to various modes of pre-reflective consciousness such as background or tacit knowledge?

How can two or more individuals share a feeling?

In which sense is collective affectivity constitutive of we-consciousness?

How can a theory of embodied affectivity improve our understanding of collective intentionality in particular and social phenomena in general?

The project is funded by a research grant by the German Research Community (DFG) and runs 2015-2017.

Henning Nörenberg/09-05-2016

Leave a Comment