How is The 'Self' Related to 'Others'?

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How is The 'Self' Related to 'Others'?

<p>The issue of how the self is related to other people remains a point of contention amongst philosophers. It raises such questions as: Is a person a self-contained, independent entity or is one’s

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The issue of how the self is related to other people remains a point of contention amongst philosophers. It raises such questions as: Is a person a self-contained, independent entity or is one’s development inherently mediated by others? What implications does this have for how we come to know others? Do we have access to this knowledge through their minds, bodies or both? To address such questions, this course will explore various approaches to the philosophy of intersubjectivity, focussing on the phenomenological perspective. It will examine seminal works from philosophers such as Descartes, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Schutz and Merleau-Ponty.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Descartes, René – Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Heidegger, Martin – Being and Time
  • Husserl, Edmund – Cartesian Meditations
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice - Phenomenology of Perception, The Visible and The Invisible, "The child’s relations with others" (in The Primacy of Perception)
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul – Being and Nothingness
  • Schutz, Alfred - On Phenomenology and Social Relations, "Making Music Together: A Study in Social Relationship" (in Collected Papers II: Studies in Social Theory)


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Introduction to the philosophy of intersubjectivity – This lesson introduces such questions as: Is a person a self-contained, independent entity or is one’s development inherently mediated by others? How do we come to know and/or understand others? Are self and other intertwined? It also introduces key phenomenological perspectives of intersubjectivity to provide the groundwork for the rest of the course.
  • Descartes and Husserl – This lesson explores the “problem of other minds” within the context of Descartes' external world scepticism. It then explores Husserl’s phenomenological response to Descartes in the account of intersubjectivity he develops in Cartesian Meditations.
  • Heidegger – Drawing on excerpts from Being and Time, this lesson explores the close relationship between self, other and world in Heidegger’s account of intersubjectivity through such concepts as Mitsein (“Being-with”), das Man (“the they”) and Sorge (“care” or “concern”).
  • Sartre – Drawing on excerpts from Being and Nothingness, this lesson explores Sartre’s existentialist and conflictual notion of the self-other relation through his account of the “look” and related concepts of “bad faith”, “absolute freedom” and the subject/object divide.
  • Schutz – This lesson examines Schutz’s responses to both Husserl and Sartre’s accounts of intersubjectivity. It also examines Schutz’s account of the “mutual tuning-in relationship” between self and other, using the experience of “making music together” as an illustrative example.
  • Merleau-Ponty – This lesson explores the intertwining of self and other in Merleau-Ponty’s account of intersubjectivity through his notions of embodiment, “reversibility” and “flesh”.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Recognise the various views of intersubjectivity that philosophers have posited.
  2. Explain the key assumptions, arguments and claims that underlie these views.
  3. Critically evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of these views.
  4. Construct one’s own perspectives and arguments pertaining to various philosophical accounts of intersubjectivity based on the course material.
  5. Engage actively in, and make constructive contributions to, discussions about the philosophy of intersubjectivity.