I have never seen a clear explanation of the concept of intersubjectivity, and I will have no use for the notion.
John Searle, ‘Social Ontology: Some Basic Principles’ (2006)
In ethics, in epistemology, in philosophy of mind and even (Searlean protestations notwithstanding) in ontology interest has steadily been growing in the idea that intersubjectivity is a central concept for understanding various aspects of our world. Similarly, the concept of interpretation has come to attention in a new light as a key means by which the interactions between subjectivities is mediated. This line of research raises a number of philosophical questions:
- What is intersubjectivity? Can it be given ‘a clear explanation’? In what relation does it stand to objectivity? In what relation does it stand to the first-person and second-person perspectives?
- What is interpretation? What is it to interpret another person’s behaviour as that of a genuine subject of experience? Is this notion of interpretation the same as that which we employ when speaking of interpreting language, rules, art, or data?
- Does intersubjectivity require interpretation? Must we rely on interpretive practices in order to make sense of others as subjects? If so, what implications might this have for the concept of intersubjectivity, and those practices and entities that might depend upon it?
- Does interpretation require intersubjectivity? Is there a sense of interpretation for which one cannot genuinely interpret something without taking it to be the result of intentional action on the part of a subject, produced for other subjects? And if so, what implications might that have for our understanding of interpretive practices?
- How do these questions connect with issues in areas of philosophy such as epistemology, aesthetics, phenomenology, philosophy of mind, social philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, political theory?