What is Intersubjectivity

From Phenomenology to Psychoanalysis 1

Authored by: Lewis Kirshner

The Routledge International Handbook of Psychoanalysis and Philosophy

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367276454
eBook ISBN: 9780429297076
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter introduces the concept of intersubjectivity through a discussion of its development in phenomenologic philosophy, infant research, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. It argues for the necessity of a phenomenologic understanding of human behavior, especially in clinical work, as a counter to reductionistic or objectifying approaches. While incorporating diverse models, intersubjective theory sees the origins and continuity of personal consciousness in the shared social world of language and relational codes and emphasizes the entanglement of individual personality in relationships from which it cannot be separated. The work of Heidegger, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, Sartre, and the contemporary scholars Gallagher and Zahavi illustrates this perspective. Lacan’s reading of phenomenology and semiotics provided a bridge to psychoanalysis which remains relevant. The author advocates the further integration of phenomenologic concepts of intersubjectivity into psychoanalytic training and practice.

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