The 'We' in 'Me': An Account of Minimal Relational Selfhood


Higgins J (2020) The 'We' in 'Me': An Account of Minimal Relational Selfhood. Topoi, 39 (3), p. 535–546.

Many philosophers contend that selfhood involves a uniquely first-personal experiential dimension, which precedes any form of socially dependent selfhood. In this paper, I do not wish to deny the notion of such a “minimal” experiential dimension as encapsulating the very givenness of experience as for a certain subject, such that experiences are accessible to this subject in a way that they are not for others. However, I do wish to deny any temptation to view minimal experiential selfhood as ontogenetically more primitive than socially constituted selfhood. That is, the ‘thinnest’ construal of minimal experiential selfhood fails to properly account for characteristics that are essential to human selfhood; namely, the intimate, embodied interactions that unfold at the incipient moments of human life. I argue that taking the ontogenesis of embodied human existence seriously involves accepting the de facto equiprimordiality of minimal experientialiasm with a ‘minimal’ form of relational selfhood, i.e. the co-constitution of experience through engagements with others.

Minimal selfhood; Social constitution; Embodiment; Shared experience; Mother–infant interaction

Topoi: Volume 39, Issue 3

Publication date31/07/2020
Publication date online31/05/2018
Date accepted by journal14/05/2018