Collected Papers V. Phenomenology and the Social Sciences: 205 (Phaenomenologica)

Jacques Derrida
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The very assumption of the existence of the Other, however, introduces the dimension of intersub- jectivity. The world is experienced by the Self as being inhabited by other Selves, as being a world for others and of others. As we had occasion to point out, intersubjective reality is by no means homogeneous. The social world in which man finds himself exhibits a complex structure; fellow-men appear to the Self under different aspects, to which correspond different cognitive styles by which the Self perceives and apprehends the Other's thoughts, motives, and actions.

In the present investigation it will be our main task to describe the origin of the differentiated structures of social reality as well as to reveal the principles underlying its unity and coherence. It must be stressed that careful description of the processes which enable one man to understand another's thoughts and actions is a prerequisite for the methodology of the empirical social sciences. The question how a scientific interpretation of human action is possible can be resolved only if an adequate. It is evident that in the routine of everyday life one does not interpret the actions of one's fellow-man in accordance with scientific rules of procedure and scholarly canons of objectivity.

Such naive and pre-scientific interpretations, however, consti- tute the subject matter of the social sciences. In contrast to the physical scientist, the social scientist confronts a reality whose structure originates in subjective common-sense constructs and typifications. Hence, an account of the way in which these constructs and typifications are constituted is a step which must precede the discussion of the nature of scientific constructs proper and of the procedures by which the social sciences inter- pret social reality.

The construction of the categories and models of the social sciences is founded on the pre-scientific common- sense experience of social reality. To the social scientist the conscious processes of other men are cognitive constructs arrived at through processes of typification and selected by the criteria of relevance inherent in the scientific problem at hand. On the other hand, in everyday life, as I share experiences with my fellow-men and pursue the ordinary pragmatic motives in acting upon them, I find the constructs ready-made and I take it for granted that I can grasp the motives of my fellow-men and understand their actions adequately for all practical purposes.

In order to explicate the structure of the social world, however, it is neces- sary to direct attention to those experiences in which another man's consciousness becomes accessible, for they are the foun- dation of the constructs by which his motives and actions are interpreted. It is precisely these experiences which, for different. It is common to me and my fellow-men. Other men whom I experience in this world do not appear to me in identical perspectives.

They present themselves to me under different aspects and my relations with them have different degrees of intimacy and anonymity. The modifications which determine my relations to others and my experiences of them are a central factor in the constitution of the several domains within the social world. The social world con- tains a domain characterized by the immediacy of my experience of others. Human beings in this domain are my fellow-men; they share with me a common sector of space and time; the world which surrounds us is the same and my conscious processes are an element of this world for him just as much as his conscious processes are an element of this world for me.

But my social world contains more than experiences of fellow-men given directly in a common vivid present. It contains a domain of social reality which is not experienced by me directly, here and now, but which is contemporaneous with my life and which I can therefore bring within reach of my direct experience. This domain is thus not at the moment part of the world within my reach, in consequence of my present situation. The social world not within the reach of my present direct experience contains, however, a domain which I directly experienced before and which I can, at least in principle, restore to direct experience.

The immediate world of my fellow-men thus shades into the larger world of my contemporaries. While I do not experience my contemporaries in the vivid present of a face-to-face relation, they are potentially my future fellow-men. Their conscious processes are not given to me in direct evidence; yet I have some knowledge of them, since I can impute to contemporaries typical motives with a high degree of likelihood. I can act upon them as I can act upon fellow-men, and I stand to them in typical social relations.

Beyond this region of Others with whom I coexist in time and who. They transcend not only my present situation but also my life. There is the world of my predecessors, i. There is the world of my successors, i. Obviously, just as other men are fellow-men, contemporaries, predecessors and successors to me, I am a fellow-man, con- temporary, predecessor and successor to other men.

In the sequel we shall undertake a detailed description of these structures of social reality and analyze their originary constitution. We will devote much attention to the key domain, that is, the social world which coexists with me in time, the world of my con- temporaries. Within it those sectors in which contemporaries become accessible to me in direct experience will be of special interest, since, as we will attempt to show, all other domains of social reality receive their originary legitimation in the direct experience of fellow-men.

I The face-to-face situation and the "pure" we-relation I experience a fellow-man directly if and when he shares with me a common sector of time and space. The sharing of a common sector of time implies a genuine simultaneity of our two streams of consciousness: my fellow-man and I grow older together. The sharing of a common sector of space implies that my fellow-man appears to me in person as he himself and none other. His body appears to me as a unified field of expressions, that is, of concrete symptoms through which his conscious life manifests itself to me vividly.

This temporal and spatial immediacy are essential characteristics of the face-to-face situation. We shall first consider the way in which a face-to-face situation becomes constituted. In order to become aware of such a situ- ation, I must consciously pay attention to a fellow-man, to a human being confronting me in person. We shall term this awareness Thou-orientation. Since a face-to-face situation pre- supposes this orientation, we shall now describe the features of the latter.

The Thou-orientation is the general form in which any par- ticular fellow-man is experienced in person. The very fact that I recognize something within the reach of my direct experience as a living, conscious human being constitutes the Thou-orientation. In order to preclude misunderstandings, it must be emphasized that the Thou-orientation is not a judgement by analogy. Be- coming aware of a human being confronting me does not depend upon an imputation of life and consciousness to an object in my surroundings by an act of reflective thought.

The Thou-orienta- tion is a prepredicative experience of a fellow being. In this experience I grasp the existence of a fellow-man in the actuality of a particular person who must be present here and now. The Thou-orientation presupposes the presence of the fellow-man in temporal and spatial immediacy. The essential feature of the Thou-orientation is the recognition that a fellow-man is before me; the orientation does not presuppose that I know what are precisely the particular characteristics of that fellow-man.

The formal concept of the Thou-orientation refers to the "pure" ex- perience of another Self as a human being, alive and conscious, while the specific content of that consciousness remains un- defined. Of course, I never have such a "pure" experience of another Self. I always confront a particular fellow-man, living his particular life and having his own particular thoughts. The Thou-orientation is therefore not "pure" in fact but is always actualized in different degrees of concreteness and specificity. The Thou-orientation is either one-sided or reciprocal. It is onesided if I turn to you, but you ignore my presence.

It is reciprocal if I am oriented to you, and you, in turn, take my ex- istence into account. In that case a social relation becomes constituted. An illustration may help to clarify this point. If you and I observe a bird in flight my "bird-flight observations" are a sequence of experiences in my own mind just as your "bird-flight observations" are experiences in your mind.

Neither you nor I, nor any other person, can say whether my experiences are identical with yours since no one can have direct access to another man's mind. Nevertheless, while I cannot know the specific and exact content of your consciousness, I do know that you are a living human being, endowed with consciousness. I do know that, whatever your experiences during the flight of the bird, they were contemporaneous with mine. Furthermore, I may have observed movements of your body and expressions of your face during these moments, interpreting them as indications of your attentiveness to the bird's flight.

Therefore, I may coordinate the event "bird-flight" not only with phases of my own consciousness but also with "corresponding" phases of your consciousness. Since we are growing older together during the flight of the bird, and since I have evidence, in my own observations, that you were paying attention to the same event, I may say that we saw a bird in flight. I am born into a world which is inhabited by others who will confront me in face-to-face situations. My experiences of par- ticular fellow-men as well as my knowledge that there are other human beings - only some of whom I have experienced directly as fellow-men - originate in this a priori given by my birth.

Scheler 4 rightly maintains that the We-experience forms the basis of the individual's experience of the world in general. The difficult question of the transcendenta;l constitution of this ex- perience and of the experience of the alter ego cannot be pursued here. By assuming the mundane existence of other Selves we may turn to the description of the origin of experiences of fellow-men in the We-relation. If you speak to me, for example, I understand the objective sign-meaning of the words. But, since I "participate" in the step-by-step constitution of your speaking experiences in the contemporaneity of the We-relation, I may also apprehend the subjective configuration of meaning in which the words stand for you.

But the process by which I apprehend the subjective configuration of meaning in which my fellow-man's experiences stand for him must not be confused with the We-relation proper. The words of my fellow-man are primarily signs in an objective context of meaning. They are also indications for the subjective context in which any experience, including speaking, stands for him. But the process by which I apprehend his conscious life is necessarily a process in my own conscious life.

It is I who inter- pret the words as signs in an objective meaning context and as indications of his subjective intentions. The very fact that I can do so, however, presupposes my experience of the other Self as a fellow-man who shares experiences with me in the ongoing community of space and time; it presupposes the "pure" We- relation.

The stream of concrete experiences which fills the We-relation with "content" bears a strong similarity to the manifold and continuous stream of my own consciousness. There is one funda- mental difference. My own stream of consciousness is interior, it is "pure" duration. The We-relation, however, consists not only in the community of time, that is, in the synchronization of two interior streams of duration; it consists also in the community of space, that is, the bodily and thus exterior presence of a fellow- man face to face with me.

Hence, the experience of a fellow-man in a We-relation is, strictly speaking, also "mediate": I apprehend his conscious life by interpreting his bodily expressions as indi- cations of subjectively meaningful processes. Yet, among all self- transcending experiences the We-relation most closely resembles the inward temporality of my stream of consciousness. In that sense we may say that I experience my fellow-man "directly" in a We-relation. My experience of the fellow-man is direct as long as I am straightforwardly engaged in the We-relation, that is, as long as I participate in the common stream of our experiences.

If I think. In a manner of speaking, I must step outside the face-to-face situation. While I was engaged in the We-relation, I was busy attending to you; in order to think about it, I must break off the immediate rapport between us. Before I can reflect about our common experience its vivid phases, in which we were jointly engaged, must have come to a stop. Straightforward engagement in the We-relation is possible only in the ongoing experiences of a face-to-face situation, while reflection is ex post facto. It begins after the concrete We-relation has come to an end.

The retrospective grasp of past common experiences may be clear and distinct or confused and unsharp. The more I am in- volved in reflecting upon the common experience, the less directly do I live it and the remoter is the living, concrete human being who is my partner in the We-relation. The fellow-man whom I experience directly while I am busily engaged in our common experience becomes a mere object of my thought as I begin to reflect about us.

The foregoing description of the pure We-relation will provide a useful basis for the analysis of the We-relation as a concrete social relation in face-to-face situations. We found that the pure We- relation is constituted in the reciprocal Thou-orientation; that the latter, in its pure form, consists in the mere awareness of the existence of a fellow-man before me; and that it consequently does not necessarily involve a grasp of the specific traits of that fellow-man. In a concrete social relation, however, this is precisely what is involved.

Obviously, the extent of my knowledge of the traits which characterize my partners in different social relations varies considerably. In the pure We-relation I apprehend only the existence of a fellow-man and the fact that he is confronting me. For a concrete social relation to become established, however, I must also know how he is oriented to me. In face-to-face situ- ations I gain knowledge of this specific aspect of my partner's conscious life by observing the concrete manifestations of his subjective experiences in the common stream of the We-relation.

Hence, we may say that concrete social relations in face-to-face situations are founded upon the pure We-relation. Not only is the latter logically prior to the former in the sense that it contains the essential features of any such social relation; the grasp of the specific traits of the partner which is an element of concrete social relations presupposes the community of space and time which characterizes the pure We-relation.

The pure We-relation may be thus also considered as a formal concept designating the structure of concrete social relations in the face-to-face situation. This point becomes clear if one considers the fact that no specific "pure" experiences correspond to the pure We-relation. The participant in an ongoing We-relation apprehends this relation only in the shared experiences which refer, by necessity, to the specific partner confronting him. The essential features of the pure We-relation can be seen in reflection, after the concrete We-relation has come to an end; they are experienced only in the variety of its actualizations.

Having discussed the connection between the pure We-relation and the concrete We-relation, we must now describe the various actualizations of the latter and show how it differs from all other social relations. The experiences which go on concretely in the We-relation are differentiated in several ways. I do not ex- perience partners in all We-relations with equal intensity, nor am I equally intimate with them. Furthermore, my partners appear to me in different perspectives which exercise a certain amount of constraint upon my experiences of the partner.

Finally, in the We-relation I may be turned attentively to my partner's ex- periences, Le. The concrete actualizations of the We-relation are determined by these factors; within the temporal and spatial immediacy given by the face-to- face situation these factors bestow a higher or lower degree of "directness" upon the experiences in the We-relation. An ex- ample may illustrate this point. Both sexual intercourse and a casual conversation are in- stances of the We-relation in which the partners are face-to-face.

Yet what a difference in the degree of directness which character- izes the experiences in these relations! Intensity and degree of intimacy vary radically. But not only my experiences in these relations differ in all the aforementioned aspects. We may say that differences in the "degree of directness" are character- istics of the We-relation proper. With the discussion of the relative directness of social relations we touch upon a problem of basic significance for the under- standing of the constitution of social reality and subjective ex- perience.

We shall be obliged to take up this problem again when describing the transition from the direct experience of fellow-men in face-to-face situations to the experience of social reality transcending this situation. At present we must hold to the analy- sis of the characteristics peculiar to social relations in the face-to- face situatioh. We found earlier that in the face-to-face situation the conscious life of my fellow-man becomes accessible to me by a maximum of vivid indications.

Since he is confronting me in person, the range of symptoms by which I apprehend his consciousness includes much more than what he is communicating to me purposefully. I observe his movements, gestures and facial expressions, I hear the intonation and the rhythm of his utterances. Each phase of my consciousness is co-ordinated with a phase of my partner's. Since I perceive the continuous manifestations of my partner's conscious life I am continuously attuned to it.

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One highly im- portant consequence of this state of affairs is the fact that my partner is given to me more vividly and, in a sense, more "direct- ly" than I apprehend myself. Since I "know" my past, I "know" myself in infinitely greater detail than anyone else. Yet this is knowledge in retrospect, in reflection; it is not direct and vivid experience. Hence, while I am straightforwardly engaged in the business of life, my own self is not present to me in an equally wide range of symptoms as is a fellow-man whom I confront in the Here and Now of a concrete We-relation.

In the face-to-face situation I have immediate experience of my fellow-man. But as I confront my fellow-man, I bring into each concrete situation a stock of preconstituted knowledge which includes a network of typifications of human individuals in general, of typical human motivations, goals, and action patterns. In addition to such general knowledge I have more specific information about particular kinds and groups of men, of their motivations and actions.

If I formerly had direct experience of this particular fellow-man now confronting me, I may, of course, fall back upon the highly specialized information sed- imented in these experiences. In the ongoing experiences of the We-relation I check and revise my previous knowledge about my partner and accumulate new knowledge about him. Thereby my general stock of knowledge also undergoes a continuous modi- fication. My experience of a fellow-man in the We-relations thus stands in a multiple context of meaning: it is experience of a human being, it is experience of a typical actor on the social scene, it is experience of this particular fellow-man, and it is ex- perience of this particular fellow-man in this particular situation, Here and Now.

As I look at you in the community of space and time I have direct evidence that you are oriented to me, that is, that you ex- perience what I say and do, not only in an objective context of meaning but also as manifestations of my conscious life. I know that the same goes for you, and that you refer your experiences of me back to what you grasp of my experiences of you.

In the community of space and time our experiences of each other are not only coordinated but also reciprocally determined by continuous cross-reference. I experience myself through you, and you experience yourself through me. The reciprocal mirroring of Selves in the partners' experience is a constitutive feature of the We-relation in face-to-face situations.

Since, however, the We- relation and the partner in it are not grasped reflectively but directly experienced, the multifaceted reflexions of the Self in the mirror of the other Self are not separately brought to con- sciousness. My experience of the ongoing phases of my own conscious life and my experience of the coordinated phases of your conscious life is unitary: experience in the We-relation is genuinely shared.

This is a significant fact for the structure not only of social relations but also of social interaction in face-to-face situations. I am in a position to witness your projects and to observe their fulfillment or frustration in the course of your actions.

But only in the ongoing We-relation may I directly apprehend the outcome of my partner's plans by witnessing the course of his action. I am inclined, in general, to assign to fellow human beings a world which corresponds to the world as I experience it myself. In the We-relation I do so with infinitely greater confidence because, as we saw, the world within the reach of my fellow-man coincides with mine.

I may assume not only that the table in front of me is the same table which is in front of you but also that your experiences of this table correspond to mine. Therefore, I am always able to check the adequacy of the schemata by which I interpret your utterances and expressions by pointing to an object in the world within our common reach. This is an eminently important circumstance in the building up of my stock of knowledge and for my practical adjustment to social reality.

Having verified the assumption that you interpret your ex- perience in a way which for all practical purposes is roughly identical with mine, at least with respect to objects in our coin- mon environment, I have some justification for generally cor- relating my interpretive schemes with your expressive schemes. The community of environment and the sharing of experiences in the We-relation bestows upon the world within the reach of our experience its intersubjective, social character.

It is not my environment nor your environment nor even the two added; it is an intersubjective world within reach of our common experience. In this common experience the intersubjective character of the world in general both originates and is continuously confirmed.

The community of the world within reach of our experiences in the We-relation enables me to verify constantly the results of my interpretation of other men's experiences. The fellow-man face to face with me can be always interrogated. Hence I apprehend not only how he interprets his own experiences, that is, what meaning his experiences have for him. We may say that the realization of the correspondence and divergence of the meaning of our experiences originates in the We-relation.

Neither he nor I attend to our respective experiences without awareness of the Other. I realize that my experiences interlock with his and necessarily refer to them. The cross-reference of the partners' experiences in a We-relation has especially important conse- quences for the structure of social interaction in face-to-face situations. I generally impute a set of genuine 'because" and "in-order-to" motives to anybody to whom my actions are directed. While a provisional im- putation of such motives to others characterizes all social action, interaction in face-to-face situations is privileged in that the motives of a partner in a We-relation are more directly accessible to the actor than the motives of others.

It must be noted, how- ever, that the general structure of motivational reciprocity remains the same.

Collected Papers V. Phenomenology and the Social Sciences

In projecting my own action I take account of my fellow-man by fancying - that is to say, rehearsing - likely courses of his future conduct in terms of the invariant motives which I impute to him. My partner's actual conduct then either confirms, approximates, or frustrates my expectations. The project of my action is thus always oriented to my partner by anticipations of his future conduct. But in face-to-face situations, in consequence of the continuous reciprocal modification of ex- perience by the partner in the We-relation, I may "participate" in the constitution of the motives in my partner's conscious life.

I am in a position to place your present experiences into an "in- order-to" context by interpreting them as antecedents of your future conduct. At the same time, I may place you! My grasp of another man's motives generally orients my action addressed to him; in a We-relation I grasp my fellow-man's motives in the particular fashion just described. I witness the constitution of motivational configurations in my partner's conscious life, then I witness his 5 See supra, p. I always grow older between the rehearsing of the conduct of another man to whom my action is addressed and his actual conduct.

But if I have addressed an action to a fellow-man, to a partner in a We-relation, I have not grown older alone; we have grown older together. Since we are jointly engaged in our common experiences, I "participate" in the projection and realization of his plans. Social interaction, characterized in all its forms by an interlocking of the actors' motives, gains an outstanding feature if it occurs in face-to-face situations.

The motivational configuration of the actions of my fellow-man, as well as his overt conduct, is integrated into the common experience of the We- relation. We shall now consider a modification of this situation in which I confront a fellow-man, but the fellow-man does not take my presence into account or is not aware of my presence at all. For the social sciences the most important version of this situation is that in which I am the observer of the conduct of a fellow-man. The analysis of observation and of the observer is indispensable for an understanding of the procedures by which the social sciences gather knowledge about social reality.

If I am merely observing, my Thou-orientation is, of course, one- sided. My observation is conduct oriented to him, but his conduct need not be oriented to me. In order to answer this question, we may begin by recapitu- lating those features of the We-relation which also apply to a mere observer. For the observer, too, the body of the Other is a field of direct expression. He, too, may take his observations as expressions that indicate the Other's conscious processes.

Words, 6 Cf. The observer may apprehend in a unitary and integrated manner both the mani- festations of the Other's conscious processes and the step-by-step constitution of the processes thus manifested. This is possible because he witnesses the Other's ongoing experiences in synchrony with his own interpretations of the Other's overt conduct in an objective context of meaning.

The bodily presence of the Other offers to the partner in the We-relation as well as to the observer a maximum of vivid symptoms. The world which is within reach of the observer is congruent with the world within reach of the observed person. There is thus a certain chance that the ex- periences of the world within reach on the part of the observed person roughly coincide with the corresponding experiences of the observer. But the observer cannot be certain that this is really the case. As long as he remains a mere observer, he is not in a position to verify his interpretation of the Other's experiences by checking them against the Other's own subjective inter- pretations.

And yet, the facility with which the observer can transform himself into a partner in a face-to-face social relation places him in a privileged position relative to the collection of knowledge about social reality. The observed individual can be- come a fellow-man who may be questioned, while a mere con- temporary is not within my reach Here and Now, and a pre- decessor is, of course, forever beyond interrogation.

In consequence of the fact that as an observer I am one-sidedly oriented to the individual observed, the subjective context in which his experiences are meaningful to me is I. Hence there is not the multifaceted reflexiQn of mirror-images, characteristic of the We-relation, which enables me to identify my experiences with his. The observer is oriented to the Other but does not act upon him.

Therefore, his motives do not interlock with the observed person's; the observer cannot project his "in-order-to" motives on the assumption that they will become "because" motives of the Other. Perhaps the observer cannot even say whether the observed fragments of overt conduct constitute an action in the pursuit of a projected goal or whether they are mere behavior. Since the observer who is interested in the observed individual's motives cannot apprehend these motives as directly as could a partner in a We-relation, he must proceed by one of the following three ways: First, he may remember from his own past experience a course of action similar to the one observed and recall its motive.

By matching a given course of action with a given pattern of "because" and "in-order-to" motives, he will ascribe to the individual the motives which he, the observer, might have if only he were performing this action himself. The identification of one's own hypothetical motives with the Other's real motives may be immediate, i. Second, if the observer does not find some rule of thumb for the interpretation of the observed course of action in his own experience, he may yet find in his general stock of knowledge typifications of the observed indi- vidual from which he may derive a typification of the observed individual's typical motives.

A complete stranger to our society, let us say, who walked through a lecture hall, a courtroom, and a place of worship would observe in all three places situations that seem roughly alike. Yet, he would be unable to say much, if anything, about the motives of the overt conduct that he ob- served. If, however, the observer knew from previous experience that here a teacher, there a judge, and there a priest is performing his official duties, he would be able to deduce their typical "because" and "in-order-to" motives from that segment of his stock of knowledge which referred to typical teachers, judges, and priests, Third, if the observer possesses no knowledge at all about the observed individual, or insufficient knowledge about the type of individual involved, he must fall back upon an inference from "effect to cause.

These different ways of understanding the motives of individ- uals under observation do not have the same likelihood of being correct. Aside from the adequacy of one's stock of knowledge concerning typical motivations of typical individuals, the inter- pretation of other men's "in-order-to" motives will be the more dubious the farther it stands from the vivid context of a We- relation. The information, for example, that the individual one sees speaking to an assembly is a priest does not allow with certainty the conclusion that he is preaching a sermon.

To im- pute to someone an "in-order-to" motive on the basis of an ob- served accomplished act is even more uncertain. That act may indeed have completely failed to achieve the goal projected by the actor. One's grasp of genuine "because" motives, on the other hand, does not suffer much by the fact that one is merely an observer rather than a partner in a We-relation. Both the ob- server and the partner in a face-to-face social relation must try to reconstruct, ex post facto, the experiences which motivated the Other before he embarked on a given course of action.

With respect to this task which depends on one's "objective" know- ledge, the partner's position in a We-relation is not privileged. The observer must again draw upon his stock of knowledge about social relations in general, this particular social relation, and the partners involved in it. The observer's scheme of interpretation cannot be identical, of course, with the interpretive scheme of either partner in the social relation observed. The modifications of attention which characterize the attitude of the observer cannot coincide with those of a participant in an ongoing social relation. For one thing, what he finds relevant is not identical with what they find relevant in the situation.

Furthermore, the observer stands in a privileged position in one respect: he has the ongoing experiences of both partners under observation. On the other hand, the ob- server cannot legitimately interpret the "in-order-to" motives of one participant as the "because" motives of the other, as do the partners themselves, unless the interlocking of motives becomes expliCitly manifested in the observable situation. I The transition from direct to indirect experience of social reality. In the analysis of the We-relation we found that in face-to-face situations fellow-men are experienced on different levels of intimacy and in different degrees of directness.

Within the tem- poral and spatial immediacy given by the face-to-face situation itself we found differences in the degree of directness which characterize the experience of another Self to be constitutive traits of the concrete We-relation proper. We saw that no matter how indifferent and uninvolved we may be in relation to a particular concrete fellow-man e.

The stratification of attitudes by degrees of intimacy and intensity extends into the world of mere contemporaries, i. The gradations of experiential directness out- side the face-to-face situation are characterized by a decrease in the wealth of symptoms by which I apprehend the Other and by the fact that the perspectives in which I experience the Other are progressively narrower.

We may illustrate this point by consider- ing the stages by which a fellow-man confronting me becomes a mere contemporary. Now we are still face-to-face, saying good- bye, shaking hands; now he is walking away. Now he calls back to me; now I can still see him waving to me; now he has dis- appeared around a corner.

It is impossible to say at which precise moment the face-to-face situation ended and my partner became a mere contemporary of whom I have knowledge he has, prob- ably, arrived at home but no direct experience. The gradations of directness can be also illustrated by the series ranging from a conversation face-to-face, to a conversation by phone, to an ex- change of letters, to a message transmitted by a third party.

Both examples show a progressive decrease in the wealth of symptoms by which I experience my partner and a progressive narrowing of the perspectives in which my partner appears to me. In the routine of everyday life the problem underlying the transition from face-to-face situations to the world of mere contemporaries do not, as a rule become visible. In the routine of everyday life we fit both our own conduct and the conduct of our fellow-man into a matrix of meaning which transcends the Here and Now of present experience.

Hence, the attribute of present directness or indirectness of a social relation seems irrel- evant to us. The deeper reason for this circumstance lies in the fact that a face-to-face experience of a fellow-man retains its constitutive traits even after I cease to see my fellow-man in person. The ongoing direct experience becomes a past direct experience. As a rule we see no reason why a fellow-man who was a partner in a concrete We-relation, with whom we interacted, whom we have loved or hated, should turn into something "different" merely because he happens to be absent at the mo- ment.

We still love him or hate him, as the case may be, and nothing in the routine of everyday life compels us to notice that our experience of him underwent a significant structural modi- fication. Careful description reveals, however, that such a modifiCation does occur. The recollection of a fellow-man in a face-to-face situation indeed contains the constitutive traits of that situation, and these are structurally different from those which characterize an attitude, or an act of consciousness generally, which is oriented to a mere contemporary.

In the face-to-face situation the fellow- man and I were partners in a concrete We-relation. He was present in person, with a maximum of symptoms by which I could apprehend his conscious life. In the community of space and time we were attuned to one another; his Self reflected mine; his experiences and my experiences formed a common stream, our experience; we grew older together. As soon as my fellow- man leaves, however, my experience of him undergoes a transfor- mation. I know that he is in some Here and Now of his own, and I know that his Now is contemporaneous with mine, but I do not participate in it, nor do I share his Here.

But all this I fail to take into account in the routine of everyday life. I hold on to the familiar image I have of you. I take it for granted that you are as I have known you before. Until further notice I hold invariant that segment of my stock of knowledge which concerns you and which I have built up in face-to-face situations, that is, until I receive information to the contrary. But then this is information about a contemporary to whom I am oriented as a mere con- temporary and not as a fellow-man.

It is a contemporary, of course, whom I experienced directly before, about whom I have more specific knowledge, gained in the shared experiences of past We-relations, than about others who are and always were mere contemporaries. In this connection we must discuss the nature of those social relations which, according to Weber 8 are characterized by the "probability of the repeated recurrence of the behavior which corresponds to its subjective meaning, behavior which is an understandable consequence of the meaning and hence expected. Closer scrutiny resolves the pretended unity of a marriage or a friendship into a manifold sequence of situations.

In some of these situations, "marriage" or "friendship" was a face-to-face social relation, in others it was a social relation among mere contemporaries. Taking the terms in their precise sense, these social relations are indeed not continuous - but they are recurrent. Let us investigate then what the participants in a social relation of this type, e. Second, above and beyond concrete We-relations involving B, A may mean that his conduct or some aspect of his conduct is oriented by the fact that there is such a man, B, or, more speci- fically, that it is oriented by some aspects of B's expected future conduct.

Thus, A has an attitude involving B as a mere con- temporary, and he stands with B in a social relation which is a social relation among mere contemporaries. A's actions in this relation are oriented by B as he imagines B's reactions to his conduct. Whereas actions interlock in a concrete We-relation, they are just oriented reciprocally in a social relation that in- volves mere contemporaries. Thus, we find that social relations between the two friends as mere contemporaries are interposed in a discontinuous series of concrete We-relations between them.

Third, A may refer to the fact that a face-to-face social relation with B is always restorable - technical hindrances being left out of account - and that he s confident that B will participate as a friend in future We-relations in a manner congruent with the We-relations that A and B experienced in the past. In the foregoing we concerned ourselves with transitions from face-to-face situations to situations involving mere contempo- raries.

Thereby we investigated a border province lying between the domain of directly experienced social reality and the indirect- ly experienced world of contemporaries. The closer we approach the latter, the lower the degree of directness and the higher the degree of anonymity which characterizes my experience of others.

Accordingly, the broader world of contemporaries itself contains various strata: My partners in former We-relations who are now mere contemporaries but. All these strata of the large domain of indirectly experienced social reality are characterized, in a graduated series, by different degrees of anonymity and by transitions from relative nearness to direct experience to absolute detachment from it. Contemporaries are not present in person, but I do know ot their co-existence with me in time: I know that the flux of their experiences is simul- taneous with mine.

This knowledge, however, is necessarily indirect. Hence, the contemporary is not a Thou in the pregnant sense that this term has in a We-relation. These terms describe the social topography of my Here and Now, whose contents are, of course, continuously changing. The reference point is always my present experiences. A mere contemporary may be a former fellow-man, and I may be counting on meeting him again face-to- face in a recurrent pattern. Yet the structure of the experiences involved differs radically. The Other who is a mere contemporary is not given to me directly as a unique particular Self.

I do not apprehend his Selfhood in straightforward prepredicative ex- perience. I do not even have an immediate experience of the Other's existence. Whereas I experience the individual Thou directly in the concrete We- relation, I apprehend the contemporary only mediately, by means of typifications. In order to clarify this point we shall investigate various kinds of such mediating typifications by which I appre- hend a contemporary. One way by which my experience of contemporaries can be- come constituted is by derivation from previous immediate ex- periences of contemporaries in face-to-face situations.

We have already investigated this mode of constitution and found that the knowledge gained directly of a fellow-man in a We-relation is maintained as valid - until further notice - even after the fellow- man moved out of the face-to-face situation. The act by which I apprehend the former fellow-man as a contemporary is thus a typification in the sense that I hold invariant my pre- viously gained knowledge::, although my former fellow-man has grown older in the meantime and must have necessarily gained new experiences.

Of these experiences I have either no knowledge or only knowledge by inference or knowledge gained through fellow-men or other indirect sources. Another mode by which experiences of contemporaries are constituted turns out to be merely a variant of the one previously mentioned. Contemporaries whom I apprehend as former fellow- men of my present partner in a We-relation are also experienced mediately, by following the example of my partner in holding invariant his former direct experiences of a particular person. Hence, I cannot even fall back upon my own direct experiences of that person but must first interpret the communications of my partner about his former direct experiences and then join him in holding invariant his knowledge about that particular con- temporary.

These modes of constitution refer to everything we know of contemporaries through the mediation of our own past, direct as well as indirect experiences of Others and to everything we know through the mediation of the past experiences of Others, com- municated to us directly as well as anonymously. It is abundantly clear that all such knowledge of contemporaries points back to, and is legitimized by, an originary direct experience of a fellow- man. My experiences of things and events in physical reality, of objects manufactured by men, of tools and artifacts, of cultural objects, institutions and action patterns, too, refer to the world of my contemporaries or point back to the world of my predecessors, a circumstance which we shaH discuss later.

This is so because I can always interpret them as testimony to the conscious life of human beings who produced and used these tools and artifacts, who adhered to these institutions, performed these actions. Such interpretations are by their very nature derivative. They consist of inferences based on and mediated by my experiences of fellow-men, either of particular fellow-men or of fellow-human beings in general. Face-to-face with a fellow-man I witnessed in simultaneity with my oWn ongoing conscious life the step-by-step constitution of his conduct, of experiences meaningful to him, that resulted in an accomplished act, artifact, tool, etc.

Now I interpret an ac- complished act, artifact, tool, etc. Without original experiences of this kind, objects and events in the outer world would be nothing but material things and physical processes without any reference to a human world.

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My experiences of contemporaries are thus necessarily de- rivative and indirect. Nevertheless, it is obvious that I can be oriented to mere contemporaries as I can be oriented to fellow- men. These orientations, too,'may range from mere attitudes to social action and social interaction. In analogy to the concept of Thou-orientation we shall subsume all conscious acts oriented to contemporaries under the concept, They-orientation.

In contrast to the way I experience the conscious life of fellow- men in face-to-face situations, the experiences of contemporaries appear to me more or less anonymous processes. The object of the They-orientation is my knowledge of social reality in general, of the conscious life of other human beings in general, regardless of whether the latter is imputed to a single individual or not.

The object of the They-orientation is not the existence of a concrete man, not the ongoing conscious life of a fellow-man which is directly experienced in the We-relation, not the subjective con- figuration of meaning which I apprehend if experiences of a fellow-man constitute themselves before my eyes.

Only post hoc may I append interpretations which refer back to a subjective meaning configuration, a point to which we shall return later when describing the constitution of personal ideal types. My knowledge of the world of contemporaries is typical knowledge of typical processes. Fundamentally, I leave it undecided in whose consciousness such typical processes are occurring. Detached as they are from a sUbjective configuration of meaning, such processes - typical experiences of "someone" - exhibit the idealization: "again and again", i.

The unity of the mere contemporary is originally built up in the unity of my experience, more precisely, in a synthesis of my interpretations of the Other's experiences. It is not constituted in my direct experience of the unity of his ongoing conscious life in the Here and Now of a concrete Thou.

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Through this synthesis of my interpretations of the typical experiences of a more or less anonymous contemporary I apprehend him as a personal ideal type. It should be clearly recognized that the more complete the substitution of a series of complex, interlocking, and inter- dependent objective meaning cOhtexts for a subjective configu- ration of meaning, the more anonymous will be the object of my They-orientation. Our analysis has shown that the synthesis of the interpretations by which I know my contemporaries as ideal types does not apprehend the unique Self of a human being in his vivid present.

It is an act of thought that holds invariant some typical attribute of fellow-human beings and disregards the modifications and variations of that attribute "in real life," i. Hence, the personal ideal type merely refers to, but is never identical with, a concrete Other or a plurality of Others. This point will be illustrated by a few examples. If I drop a letter into the mailbox, I act in the expectation that certain contemporaries of mine post office employees will adequately interpret the wish I signified by writing out an address, attaching a stamp, etc.

The expectation which oriented my action was not directed to specific concrete indi- viduals but to the genus "post office employees. This, too, is an example of a They-orientation referring to the typical conduct of typical contemporaries. If I perform or refrain from performing some determinate act in order to avoid the inter- vention of certain people with badges and uniforms - to adduce another of Weber's examples - that is to say, if I orient my con- duct to the law and its enforcement agencies, I stand in a social relation with my contemporaries, personified according to ideal types, i.

In these examples I have acted with the expectation that cer- tain determinate kinds of conduct are likely on the part of others: postal clerks, individuals involved in monetary trans- actions, policemen. I have a certain attitude toward them: I reckon with them when I plan my actions, in short, I am in a social relation with them. But my partners in these relations do not appear as concrete and specific individuals.

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