BSP Podcast: Eric Chelstrom – A Sartrean Contribution to Collective Intentionality

podcast update

Our podcasts return after a break with the first of our panel presentations from the BSP Annual Conference in 2016.

Season 1 episode 3: 2 December 2016

This recording is of Eric Chelstrom’s presentation ‘Seriality and We-Intentions: A Sartrean Contribution to Collective Intentionality’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “The collective intentionality literature focuses on we-intentions. Group actions and institutional practices are seen as being founded on we-intentions. That literature assumes of groups that they are intentional formations in which the participants are willfully participating. By contrast, groupings like gender, race, and class are better understood as on the model of seriality, as argued by Iris Marion Young. Young adopts the concept of seriality from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason. Sartre’s notion of seriality is useful in understanding other block identity markers whose constituent members have not self-asserted their grouping. Sartre further had some influence on the development of the idea of false consciousness, developed in more detail by Simone de Beauvoir in relation to sexual identity and Frantz Fanon in relation to racial identity. While serial grouping and false consciousness may at first blush seem unconnected, both develop within Sartre’s thinking about how being-for-others affects one’s experience of the world. In this paper, I develop the Sartrean distinction of kinds of groups, voluntary and serial, and attempt to model the kinds of intentionality associated therewith in relation to the mode of intentionality of beingfor-others. In contrast to mainstream collective intentionality theory, it is argued that the two distinctive kinds of ‘we’ and their distinctive forms of we-intention need to be treated distinctly. Voluntaristic we intentions are predicated from “within,” where the agents in question form their own plans and actions together. Serial we-intentions are formed from “without,” they are imposed on individuals by others. What’s more serial we-intentions inform voluntaristic we-intentions insofar as one’s self-understanding of one’s identity – in which serial categories are often principal – establishes horizons of possibility associated with how one understands one’s projects vis-à-vis voluntary actions.  If accurate, that represents a serious problem for mainstream (non-phenomenologically informed) approaches to collective intentionality.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.