Concrete inter-subjectivity

Ontological, ethical, political and linguistic inquiries regarding interaction

29-30 September 2021 - LanCog, Centre of Philosophy, University of Lisbon.

Organization: Hili Razinsky

Interactions, relationships, interpersonal communication:

This is the conceptual triad of concrete inter-subjectivity. Interaction in this sense pertains to people and other creatures with a first-person perspective, and depicts its participants as standing in contact. It might be an intimate conversation between strangers, a commercial encounter at the pharmacy, or soldiers running after immigrants who are seeking to evade them; or, to extend the human framework a bit, a dog growling at a too-friendly child. Again, the parties may share a long-standing love relationship, be working on a project together, or theirs may be an employee‒employer relationship, with a celebratory first day followed by an uneasy saga with little direct contact, closing in an unceremonious meeting in which the employee is dismissed due to cutbacks.

Concrete inter-subjectivity pervades the lives of individuals, but its relations with subjectivity or personhood are far from simple. Not only does a long, and otherwise diverse, philosophical tradition focus on the individual subject as if her interactions were a secondary matter, or as if she were not an interactive creature at all, but even if overly individualistic conceptions of persons are discarded, both subjectivity and interaction may yet imply a certain logically prior individual subjectivity. At the same time, focussing on interactions and relationships suggests that concrete inter-subjectivity constitutes, or is interdependent with, personhood and persons. One aim of this workshop is to make progress in elucidating the relations of subjectivity and interaction.

Recently, the nature (or existence) of concrete inter-subjectivity (under the guise of modes such as shared intentionality) has been hotly debated, yet the debate posits a central contrast between, on the one hand, isolated persons each with their separate actions, words, and attitudes, and on the other, groups that bind individuals together as members. Yet understanding concrete inter-subjectivity is not the same as understanding groups. For one thing, we must understand how groups and interactions are related: collective supra-individual social entities, from global institutions to states and to communities, are often background to interactions, and they go beyond aggregates of interactions, e.g. constraining them by a joint commitment. All the same, collectives also require concrete inter-subjectivity in ways that call for our attention.

Recent decades have also seen rising concern with concrete inter-subjectivity in feminist scholarship (esp. care ethics, intersectional studies, and epistemology) as well as in post-Hegelian work on mutual recognition. In both cases, relational contributions to psychoanalysis are often an inspiration. In both cases also, relationships and interactions raise ethical and political questions, and such questions may well be inseparable from ontological ones. In this workshop we will also be concerned with the onto-ethical investigation of interaction, and with political forms and possibilities of concrete inter-subjectivity from Big-tech reification to coalitional activism.

Whether we talk or write or are silent – and in whatever ways and contexts – interpersonal communication is central to concrete intersubjectivity. Communication is central to language as well, just like the public character of language – its background intersubjectivity – or its referential functions; and yet concrete interactive communication remains underexplored by philosophers of language. How is language concretely intersubjective? What does a linguistic lens suggest for the ontology, ethics, and politics of interaction? These questions form another angle for us to take up in this workshop.

Invited speakers:

online participant


online participant


online participant


online participant​

Westlund ​

Abstract-selected speakers:











online access and room attendance

University of Lisbon, Humanities building (Faculdade de Letras, FLUL)
29-30/09 11h-20h, Sala B1 (rooms near the ‘biblioteca da FLUL’ library)
Alameda da Universidade, 1600-214 Lisboa



This work is funded by Portuguese national funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P
within the project IF/00493/2015/CP1283/CT003