Socializing the Self: The Mechanisms of Social Self-Constitution
Anja Berninger & Tobias Störzinger (University of Göttingen)
The general idea that individuals have to be understood as shaped and at least partly constituted by societal relations and structures can be found in various traditions of thought. From Aristotelian theories of habituation to Confucian theories of ritual cultivation to modern theories of mindshaping or practice theories, in all these approaches the self is seen as essentially socially formed. These different traditions have generally been developed independently from another and from a backdrop of different fundamental assumptions about both the self and its role in society. This separation continues: all of these approaches are generally discussed in isolation from one another. Within current social theory, the description of the various mechanisms involved in the social shaping of the human mind remains relatively vague. For example, in philosophical theories of socialization there is frequent talk of habituation, skill or virtue acquisition without spelling out how these mechanisms relate to each other and without engaging with alternative theories of these processes. This is a potentially costly lacuna, because it settles us with a relatively shallow understanding of the different ways the human mind is socially constituted and shaped. Grasping what different mechanisms are involved in the shaping of the self would be important in its own right, but it is also crucial for gaining a better understanding of the role individuals play in these processes. Thus, in current practice theories it is common understanding that individual agents “internalize” the rules of social practices by being “socialized into” them. This, however, brings up the question of how individuals can also be conceptualized as active agents who can question practices and put them up for critical debate. A convincing theory of social selfconstitution, it seems, would need to thus allow that agents play such an active role. Such a theory would, in turn, rely on an in-depth understanding of the self-shaping mechanisms in play. The topic therefore seems central to gaining a better understanding of fundamental notions such as “social critique” and “social change”. In the course of the sworkshop, we aim to shine new light on these issues. Our key assumption is that various philosophical traditions have important insights to offer with respect to gaining a better understanding of social self-shaping mechanisms. Therefore, we invite contributions from various different disciplines and schools of thought. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- Different mechanisms of the social constitution of the self
- Interaction between these different mechanisms and their relevance for different mental
dispositions (such as e.g. emotions, desires etc.)
- The roles of symbols and artifacts in shaping the self
- Activity and passivity of the self in these processes
- Theories of habituation and interactive mindshaping theories
- Relationship of cultivation and self-cultivation of the self
- The role of the self in theories of practice
- Normative questions in self-shaping processes
The deadline for submissions is June 1st 2022.
The panel is set to take place in person on September 7th and 8th. For those unable to come to Manchester due to travel restrictions there will be an option to present your paper online.
Please note: Registration for the conference is mandatory for all participants. The fees for speakers are set as follows:
Academics: £ 45.00
Postgraduate: £ 20.00
Academics: £ 230.00
PG: £ 135.00
Dinner: £ 30
MANCEPT offers a small number of fee waiver bursaries. The deadline for bursary applications (for graduate students exclusively) will be June 27th. We will inform applicants of their acceptance to the workshop ahead of this deadline so that those interested can apply.
For further information visit:
+44 (0) 161 306 6000