Collective Consciousness

Kay Mathiesen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter proposes an account of collective consciousness based on individuals' capacity to (together) form a collective subject. Three essential features of collective subjectivity are delineated: plurality, awareness, and collectivity. Edmund Husserl's account of social subjectivities and Alfred Schutz's criticisms of Husserl's view are discussed. The author agrees with Schutz that Husserl fails to explain how such subjectivities are constituted by the conscious acts of individuals. By focusing on our recognized capacities for social intentionality - empathy, inter-subjectivity, and cosubjectivity - we have some of the tools to provide such an explanation. A further tool is needed, and the idea that we have a capacity to take the 'first-person plural' perspective is introduced. By internally simulating the consciousness of the collective that they form, individuals may form a collective subject that has the three essential features delineated above.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhenomenology and Philosophy of Mind
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191709951
ISBN (Print)9780199272457
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Co-subjectivity
  • Collective subject
  • Collectivity
  • Empathy
  • First-person plural
  • Group mind
  • Inter-subjectivity
  • Plurality
  • Social subjectivity
  • collective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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