The Curious Case of Collective Experience: Edith Stein’s Phenomenology of Communal Experience and a Spanish Fire-Walking Ritual

The Humanistic Psychologist 44 (4):366-380 (2016)
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In everyday language, we readily attribute experiences to groups. For example, 1 might say, “Spain celebrated winning the European Cup” or “The uncovering of corruption caused the union to think long and hard about its internal structure.” In each case, the attribution makes sense. However, it is quite difficult to give a nonreductive account of precisely what these statements mean because in each case a mental state is ascribed to a group, and it is not obvious that groups can have mental states. In this article, I do not offer an explicit theory of collective experience. Instead, I draw on phenomenological analyses and empirical data in order to provide general conditions that a more specific theory of collective experience must meet in order to be coherent.

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Timothy Burns
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota


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