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?

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Lars Siersbæk Nilsson / A New Look at Schizophrenia and Intersubjectivity


A certain estrangement from the communal world has always been considered an integral part of disorders belonging to the schizophrenia spectrum. Bleuler who coined the very term “schizophrenia” famously listed autism as one of its fundamental features and described how these patients tended to withdraw from intersubjectivity and encase themselves with their inner life. Such difficulties maneuvering the social realm have transpired through the various descriptions given by the canonical authors of psychopathology since then. It is an integral part of key clinical concepts ranging from Minkowski’s “loss of vital contact with reality” over Blankenburg’s “loss of natural self evidence” to Rümke’s “Praecox Gefühl” and today it is reflected in the diagnostic manuals. Thus the DSM 5 lists impoverished personal relations as a possible criterion B for making the schizophrenia diagnosis and it includes a lack of close friends or confidants and excessive social anxiety as diagnostic criteria for schizotypal personality disorder.

Read moreLars Siersbæk Nilsson / A New Look at Schizophrenia and Intersubjectivity

Alba Montes Sanchez / New Paper Out!

Pride, Shame and Group Identification

CFS Blog - Alba and AlessandroWhat perfect timing for Alessandro Salice (University College Cork) to come back to the Center as a visiting researcher! It is with great pride and joy that both of us announce the publication of our most recent article on “Pride, Shame and Group Identification” in Frontiers in Psychology. This article is part of an exciting Research Topic on “Affectivity Beyond the Skin,” edited by Joel Krueger, Giovanna Colombetti and Tom Roberts. As a teaser, you can find the abstract below. You can read and download the full paper at the Frontiers website here.

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Hayden Kee / Pointing the Way to Speech: The Sources of Linguistic Intentionality

Hayden KeeFor the past three months, it has been my great pleasure and honor to be a visiting researcher at the Center for Subjectivity Research. During my time in Copenhagen, I have advanced work on my dissertation, Pointing the Way to Speech: The Sources of Linguistic Intentionality.

There is a puzzle concerning the intentionality of language. The statement “it’s a warm, clear day in Copenhagen” is in some sense directed towards the sunny state of affairs it conveys. Yet the graphic or acoustic string of linguistic symbols is by no means intrinsically intentional. It would not count as being directed towards its state of affairs if it weren’t for the social conventions that sustain its use and some underlying, intrinsic intentionality or intentionalities through which language users direct themselves to the correlated state of affairs. The puzzle, then, is to understand how the secondary intentionality of a linguistic utterance can be derived from the primary intentionality that underwrites it.

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Felipe León / Shared experiences and other minds

Felipe_pictureA great deal of a human life normally happens in contact with other people, and as part of living together we often talk about ‘sharing’ a variety of experiences and attitudes with others. For example, we talk about ‘sharing’ emotions, beliefs, and intentions with other people. On occasions, sharing an intention to do something together, say to go to the movies, is a basis for going to the movies together. If two friends end up going accidentally to the movies at the same place and time, we wouldn’t normally say that they went to the movies together – at least not in the same sense in which we would say that if they had shared an intention to do so, and coordinated their actions in such a way that meeting at the movies results from a mutual agreement. While perhaps intuitively plausible, the idea that (some) mental phenomena could be shared in a robust (non metaphorical) way is likely to raise some eyebrows. What could sharing possibly mean in the context of mentality?

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Adrian Alsmith / Does looking at something huge make you feel tiny?

Nearly everyone has experienced the awe of standing at the edge of a massive environment, like a mountain-scape – the experience is strikingly different when stuck in a cramped space, like an aeroplane seat, in which the spatial limits are all too apparent. But do you actually feel smaller when you are looking at something huge? And, conversely, do you actually feel bigger than you really are when you can see you don’t have much personal space?

Read moreAdrian Alsmith / Does looking at something huge make you feel tiny?

Center for Subjectivity Research

Since 2002 the Center for Subjectivity Research (CFS) has carried out research on the self and its relations to others and the world from an interdisciplinary perspective. Its exploration of subjectivity has explicitly sought to further the integration of different philosophical traditions, in particular phenomenology, hermeneutics, analytic philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion. At the same time, however, much time has been invested in promoting the dialogue between philosophy and empirical science, in particular psychiatry and psychopathology, but also clinical psychology, cognitive science and developmental psychology.

Over the years, the center staff has worked systematically on topics such as intentionality, imagination, empathy, action, perception, embodiment, naturalism, self-consciousness, self-disorders, schizophrenia, autism, normativity, anxiety and trust. It has also done scholarly work on classical thinkers such as Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Schleiermacher, Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Ricoeur. Throughout, the research has been driven by the conviction that a variety of different philosophical and empirical perspectives on subjectivity can lead to mutual enlightenment and that such methodological and conceptual pluralism is what is acutely needed in the contemporary debate.