I introduced the concept of intersubjectivity in 2010 in Can we reach our consciousness. After the next two posts in 2011, Why Tolerance is not so Easy and Responsibility, I was somehow sure that the concept is so self-explanatory, that it needs no further clarification. As a concept of how our memetic reality is constructed, it seemed to me so evident that I was surprised each time it was not accepted. For that reason, I went further, and in 2018 I prepared a paper No Fake no trust, for Bledcom conference where most prominent public relations scholars meet regularly for 28 years. As professionals of communication and relations, if they would not grasp intersubjectivity as a key concept of how truth emerges, who would?
And they did not.
Let me confess that I’m more than bewildered by general reluctance to consider the role of intersubjectivity in human culture. So I kept asking myself what could be the cause of the absolute silence about intersubjectivity. And here is a personal story that might have some validity, why these days only a few take in account intersubjectivity. But I am writing this story also to underline once again why intersubjectivity is such a crucial concept.
When I introduced intersubjectivity, I’ve not considered Edmund Husserl and his phenomenology to go directly to the point. Intersubjectivity was conceptualised for the first time by Edmund Husserl as one of the phenomenology’s key concepts.
At times of my studies, I was never much inclined to subjectivism. Although Husserl phenomenology is not strictly speaking subjectivistic, most of us skipped Husserl and jumped to Heidegger and Lacan directly, that was much more famous in the late ’70 and early ’80. As intersubjectivity ceased to play any role in philosophy and even in psychology, I did not pay any attention that nevertheless, the memetic relics of Husserl’s conception of intersubjectivity still play a role in our culture. And since my memes could never achieve comparable fertility and fecundity as Husserl’s do, I can not win with my conception of intersubjectivity against his.
Intersubjectivity is not a bridge
As I conceptualise it, intersubjectivity has nothing to do with the bridge between subjects and even not as a bridge between subjects and objects. Intersubjectivity has less to do with epistemology, nature and validity of knowledge than ontology and metaphysics as an explanation of reality and existence. Intersubjectivity does not create a bridge but creates reality itself. Reality emerges from intersubjectivity. Reality is intersubjective.
While Husserl even managed to stay away from the metaphor of intersubjectivity as a bridge as in Cartesian Meditations he positions it in the transcendental domain as real, his followers and especially psychologists softened intersubjectivity towards empathy, the theory of mind and language as a communication tool.
As I clearly proved in No Fake no trust, intersubjectivity creates 100% of specific human reality. Intersubjectivity does not deny objective reality as much as humans live in an objective world. There is nothing intersubjective in the water while drinking it or lacking it. But when we come to the meaning of water, it is 100% intersubjective. As an entity resulting from thousands of years of human sensemaking about water, the water as the memetic entity is 100% intersubjective.
I did not take seriously my own theory
My carelessness about the sense about intersubjectivity created by Husserl proved my inability to consider the intersubjective nature of intersubjectivity. Intersubjectivity itself is namely construed intersubjectively as any other memetic artefact. Intersubjectivity’s present reality is still closer to the one that Husserl’s followers co-constructed than to mine.
Nevertheless, I stay at my conception of intersubjectivity now even more than before I wrote this post, for there are so many proofs around us that I am even more bewildered by the blindness of my fellow humans than I was in 2018.
Democracy and elections as a proof of intersubjectivity
Take, for instance, democracy. Elections are one of the institutions of intersubjectivity. We as voters co-create new political reality with each election. We co-create the future truth, at least political and state governance truth. Truth co-created by-elections cannot go against physical reality. Still, on the other side, physical reality and scientific truth cannot go against political/memetic co-creation of human reality.
If scientific reality explains physical reality, then it has no word in memetic reality. But science (and physical reality) resulting from sensemaking activity, thus memetic activity, has no advantage to any other memetic agency. As in elections so in memetic co-construction of reality each agent has an equal voice.
Ontology of intersubjectivity
This explains why science cannot have any primacy in memetic reality (in principle) and why democracy and elections perfectly explain human civilisation’s intersubjective reality. Intersubjectivity is at the core of memetic ontology.
Such an explanation of memetic ontology also gives a perfect possibility to explain and understand the co-evolution of physical and memetic reality. As Immanuel Kant perfectly explained the dual nature of reality and proved inaccessibility of »thing per se«, he could not grasp a peculiar co-relation between »thing per se« and »thing for us«, physical and memetic reality. One cannot make sense of another, but that does not mean that they do not co-relate.
Co-evolution of genes and memes is contemporary metaphysics and intersubjectivity stays as a core concept of human reality.