Exploring the Relation between the Sense of the Other and the Sense of Us

Exploring the Relation between the Sense the of Other and the Sense of Us: Core Agency Cognition, Emergent Coordination, and the Sense of Agency.[i]


It has been claimed that a sense of us is presupposed for shared intentions to be possible. Searle introduced this notion together with the notion of the sense of the other. This article distinguishes between the “sense of the other” and the “sense of us” and elaborates on their role in joint action. It argues that the sense of the other is a necessary condition for a sense of us. Whereas the sense of the other is immediate and automatic, the sense of us can (but need not) arise between people and can (a) develop over time, (b) depend on the situation, and (c) involves several sufficient but not necessary processes. The article relies on research on core knowledge to better understand the sense of the other. It elaborates the sense of us using insights from cognitive science and social psychology. The article shows that the sense of the other and the sense of us can contribute to our understanding of the perception of possibilities for joint action and how individuals can come to experience actions and intentions as shared, even if the participants lack common knowledge. This leads to the conclusion that people are ordinarily socially oriented rather than individually.

[i] I would like to thank the organizers of the workshop and editors of the special edition, Hans Bernhard Schmid and Michael Schmitz, and Bas Leijssenaar, Wil Martens, Tobias Schlicht, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticism of the manuscript.

The work on this paper was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation for the project Situated Cognition. Perceiving the world and understanding other minds.

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