Plural bodily subjects: a radical account of thinking and acting together

Weir, Richard Andrew (2016) Plural bodily subjects: a radical account of thinking and acting together. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The primary aim of this thesis is to defend the idea that there are ontologically collective forms of thought and action. This is to say, that there are at least some instances in which a thought or action is appropriately ascribed not to the individual members of a group, but only to the group as a whole. In chapters 2 and 4 existing attempts, primarily in analytic philosophy, to defend such phenomena by appealing to either the content, mode, or subject of intentional states are criticised. These criticisms in turn motivate an alternative understanding of subjectivity, outlined in chapters 3 and 5. This alternative draws on the phenomenological work of Dan Zahavi and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, to argue that subjectivity must be understood, firstly, as constituted by the pre-reflective self-awareness that is central to all intentional experience and, secondly, as intrinsically bodily. Finally, in chapter 6, and by drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s thoughts on habituation and intersubjectivity, it is argued that it is possible to understand groups as continually in the process of developing such a form of plural bodily subjectivity through processes of group-level habituation. Overall, therefore, a radical position will be defended, which holds that not only can groups think and act in an ontologically collective sense, but that they can do so in virtue of the fact that they can achieve a certain level of phenomenal self-consciousness. However, this position will be tempered by the thought that unified self-awareness and subjectivity is a matter of degree; where to have a unified pre-reflective sense of self is to be an individual subject, groups must be understood as always in the process of developing a form of unity that is, ultimately, out of their grasp.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0711 Groups and organisations > HM0786 Organisational sociology. Organisational theory
J Political Science > JA Political science (General) > JA0071 Theory. Relation to other subjects
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 14:25
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2016 14:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60421

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