Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 143–160 | Cite as

Self and other: from pure ego to co-constituted we

  • Dan ZahaviEmail author


In recent years, the social dimensions of selfhood have been discussed widely. Can you be a self on your own or only together with others? Is selfhood a built-in feature of experience or rather socially constructed? Does a strong emphasis on the first-personal character of consciousness prohibit a satisfactory account of intersubjectivity or is the former rather a necessary requirement for the latter? These questions are explored in the following contribution.


Selfhood First-person perspective Empathy Intersubjectivity Second-person perspective taking We-identity 


  1. Carr, D. 1986. Time, narrative, and history. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cassirer, E. 1957. The philosophy of symbolic forms III. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Cialdini, R.B., S.L. Brown, B.P. Lewis, C. Luce, and S.L. Neuberg. 1997. Reinterpreting the empathy–altruism relationship: When one into one equals oneness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73(3): 481–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dennett, D. 1987. The intentional stance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dretske, F. 1995. Naturalizing the mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dretske, F. 2003. How do you know you are not a zombie? In Privileged access: Philosophical accounts of self-knowledge, ed. B. Gertler, 1–13. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. Fink, C.K. 2012. The ‘scent’ of a self: Buddhism and the first-person perspective. Asian Philosophy 22(3): 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frith, C. 2007. Making up the mind: How the brain creates our mental worlds. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Gurwitsch, A. 1979. Human encounters in the social world. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Heidegger, M. 2001. Einleitung in die Philosophie. Gesamtausgabe Band 27, vol. 27. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.Google Scholar
  11. Henry, M. 1963. L’essence de la manifestation. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  12. Hobson, R.P. 2002. The cradle of thought. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Hobson, R.P. 2007. Communicative depth: Soundings from developmental psychopathology. Infant Behavior and Development 30: 267–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hobson, R.P. 2008. Interpersonally situated cognition. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16(3): 377–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hobson, J.A., and R.P. Hobson. 2007. Identification: The missing link between joint attention and imitation? Development and Psychopathology 19: 411–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Husserl, E. 1950. Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. In Husserliana 1, ed. S. Strasser. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  17. Husserl, E. 1952. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Zweites Buch. Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution. In Husserliana 4, ed. E.M. Biemel. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  18. Husserl, E. 1959. Erste Philosophie (1923/24). Zweiter Teil. Theorie der phänomenologischen Reduktion. In Husserliana 8, ed. R. Boehm. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  19. Husserl, E. 1973a. Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität II. Texte aus dem Nachlass. Zweiter Teil. 1921–28. In Husserliana 14, ed. I. Kern. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  20. Husserl, E. 1973b. Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität III. Texte aus dem Nachlass. Dritter Teil. 1929–35. In Husserliana 15, ed. I. Kern. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  21. Husserl, E. 1976. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie. In Husserliana, ed. K. Schuhmann, 1–2. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  22. Korsgaard, C.M. 2009. Self-constitution: Agency, identity, and integrity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Maclaren, K. 2008. Embodied perceptions of others as a condition of selfhood: Empirical and phenomenological considerations. Journal of Consciousness Studies 15(8): 63–93.Google Scholar
  24. Mead, G.H. 1962. Mind, self and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Meltzoff, A.N., and M.K. Moore. 1995. A theory of the role of imitation in the emergence of self. In The self in infancy: Theory and research, ed. P. Rochat, 73–93. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Merleau-Ponty, M. 2012. Phenomenology of perception (trans: Landes, D. A.) London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Metzinger, T. 2003. Being no one. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Metzinger, T. 2011. The no-self alternative. In The Oxford handbook of the self, ed. S. Gallagher, 279–296. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Neisser, U. 1991. Two perceptually given aspects of the self and their development. Developmental Review 11(3): 197–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Prinz, W. 2003. Emerging selves: representational foundations of subjectivity. Consciousness and Cognition 12(4): 515–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Prinz, W. 2012. Open minds: The social making of agency and intentionality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Reddy, V. 2008. How infants know minds. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Rudd, A. 2012. Self, value, and narrative: A Kierkegaardian approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sartre, J.-P. 2003. Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology (trans: Barnes, H. E.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Schechtman, M. 2011. The narrative self. In The Oxford handbook of the self, ed. S. Gallagher, 394–418. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Scheler, M. 2008. The nature of sympathy. London: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Schmid, H.B. 2005. Wir-Intentionalität: Kritik des ontologischen Individualismus und Rekonstruktion der Gemeinschaft. Freiburg: Karl Alber.Google Scholar
  38. Schutz, A. 1967. Phenomenology of the social world. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Stein, E. 1989. On the problem of empathy (trans: Stein, W.). Washington, DC: ICS.Google Scholar
  40. Taylor, C. 1989. Sources of the self. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Tomasello, M. 2001. The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Zahavi, D. 2001. Beyond empathy. Phenomenological approaches to intersubjectivity. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8(5–7): 151–167.Google Scholar
  43. Zahavi, D. 2005. Subjectivity and selfhood: Investigating the first-person perspective. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  44. Zahavi, D. 2009. Is the self a social construct? Inquiry 52(6): 551–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zahavi, D. 2010. Empathy, embodiment and interpersonal understanding: From Lipps to Schutz. Inquiry 53(3): 285–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zahavi, D. 2011. Empathy and direct social perception: A phenomenological proposal. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2(3): 541–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zahavi, D. 2012. Empathy and mirroring: Husserl and Gallese. In Life, subjectivity and art: Essays in honor of Rudolf Bernet, ed. R. Breeur, and U. Melle, 217–254. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zahavi, D. 2014. Self and other: Exploring subjectivity, empathy, and shame. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zahavi, D. 2015. You, me and we: The sharing of emotional experiences. Journal of Consciousness Studies 22(1–2): 84–101.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Subjectivity ResearchUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark

Personalised recommendations