The socially distributed self: Perspectives from anthropology, cultural psychology, and philosophy

12 May 2023 03.00 PM - 05.00 PM SHHK Meeting Room 1 Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Anu Selva-Thomson

This is a hybrid seminar.

Register for in-person (SHHK Meeting Room 1): here

Register for virtual (Zoom): here

Is selfhood socially constituted and distributed? Although the view has recently been defended by some cognitive scientists, it has long been popular within anthropology and cultural psychology. Whereas older texts by Marcel Mauss, Clifford Geertz, Hazel Rose Markus, and Shinobu Kitayama often contrast a Western conception of a discrete, bounded, and individual self with a non-Western sociocentric conception, it has more recently become common to argue that subjectivity is a fluid intersectional construction fundamentally relational and conditioned by discursive power structures. I assess the plausibility of these claims and argue that many of these discussions of self and subjectivity remain too crude. By failing to distinguish different dimension of selfhood, many authors unwittingly advocate a form of radical social constructivism that is not only incapable of doing justice to first-person experience but which also fails to capture the heterogeneity of real communal life

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. Zahavi’s primary research area is phenomenology and philosophy of mind, and their intersection with empirical disciplines such as psychiatry and psychology. In addition to a number of scholarly works on the phenomenology of Husserl, Zahavi has mainly written on the nature of selfhood, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, empathy, and most recently on topics in social ontology. His most important publications include Self-awareness and Alterity (1999/2020), Husserl’s Phenomenology (2003), Subjectivity and Selfhood (2005), The Phenomenological Mind (together with Shaun Gallagher) (2008/2012/2021), Self and Other (2014), Husserl’s Legacy (2017), and Phenomenology: The Basics (2019). Since 2020, Zahavi has been the principal investigator on a 5-year research project entitled Who are We? which is supported by the European Research Council and the Carlsberg Foundation. Zahavi’s work has been translated into more than 30 languages.