The Intercorporeal Intersubjectivity and the Role of Individual Behaviors in Social Capital
The Intercorporeal Intersubjectivity and the Role of Individual Behaviors in Social Capital
  • Cha Joo-hak (
  • 승인 2014.07.28 21:53
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The 14th article of the concrete methodology for building social capital

Human can represent one’s own as well as other’s perceptions, emotions, intentions, desires, and beliefs is necessary for human social behavior.

While general cognitive processes of perception, attention, memory, and language are important in our social competence, there is enough available evidence to suggest the existence of specific processes unique to social interaction. Originally discovered in macaque monkeys, “mirror neurons” in ventral premotor area possess the intriguing property of being activated by both the performance as well as the observation of specific motor actions. Such perceptions give the infant, by the end of the first year of life, a non-mentalistic, perceptually-based embodied understanding of the intentions and dispositions of other persons, which suggests that before we are in a position to theorize, simulate, explain, or predict mental states in others, we are already in a position to interact with and to understand others in terms of their expressions, gestures, and purposive movements, reflecting their intentions and emotions. By way of the capabilities involved in primary intersubjectivity we already have specific perception-based understandings about what others feel, whether they are attending to us or not, how they are acting toward ourselves and others, whether their intentions are friendly or not, and so forth; and we have this without the need to simulate what the other person believes or desires.

In particular, “mirror neurons” enable an understanding of the ways that such interaction grounds intersubjective relation and the bringing into communication, through intercorporeal-intersubjectivity, of the fantasmal, and the rationalized, dynamics of ego and alter ego (self and other). These interactions, and psycho-soma-dynamics themselves, enable interpersonal constitution (the constitution of persons), while providing resources for learning practices and organizational practices, as well as the possibility of dis-organization or dis-articulation. They also provide the grounds for creative individuation, or non-coincidental intersubjectivity, the creation of a self as distinct, and intercorporeality, arising through socialization. Becoming socialized is not (necessarily) a process of conforming. Equally, intercorporeal interaction provides a means for understanding environments, depending on which way your understanding is oriented.

Above all, ‘Intercorporeality’ foregrounds the social nature of the body and the bodily nature of social relationships. As a concept, it emphasizes the role of social interactions in the construction and behaviors of the body: ‘the experience of being embodied is never a private affair, but is always mediated by our continual interactions with other human and nonhuman bodies’. In addition, it suggests that our existence in relation to others - our intersubjectivity - is something tangible and bodily. In other words, the concept of the intercorporeal, in the senses of spacing, environing, contextualizing, relating and embodying, is vital for establishing that intersubjectivity is a concrete relationship, not an abstract one. And Intercorporeality is a relevant concept for understanding embodied experiences in digital environments because digital-catallactic environments open up new opportunities for intercorporeal practices. Through bodies, we can share and extend our ‘bodily experiences’. Furthermore, “intercorporeal intersubjectivity” takes place in the material and the real, and not just the imaginary and the fantasmal, or indeed the rational.

Consider the following examples: Through a webcam, I can see into locations that go beyond those that immediately surround me in physical space; through social media, I can extend my grip on others and touch the lives of others though they are not physically close to me; through my phone, I can audio record others’ voices and hear again the past and the interactions it comprised. The words ‘see’, ‘touch’ and ‘hear’ demonstrate the extent to which social interactions are bodily. The examples above suggest that digital environments can impact on the body’s perceptions and sensations and this will, in turn, affect the way we interact with others - our intercorporeal practices.

The dynamics of digital-catallactic systems are primarily influenced by individual behaviors, by which living entities express, rationally or irrationally, a certain strategy for achieving their own well-being. These systems are often complex: the dynamics of a few entities do not directly lead to those of the entire system, because the latter manifest themselves only upon scaling up the effects of individual interactions at a collective level.

At large scales, collective behaviors appear, which are apparently coordinated but are actually self-organized. That is, collective behaviors emerge spontaneously without the action of any external organizing principle. Individuals are typically not even aware of the group behavior to which they are contributing with their autonomous strategies. Self-organized trends can be extremely difficult to control. Individual behaviors can be partly modified by external actions, but the resulting collective effects can be hard to predict heuristically. Sudden deviations from the usual standards may occur, leading to even highly unpredictable events with dramatic collective consequences, as is well-demonstrated nowadays by recent events in our societies. An occurrence of this type, which is of paramount interest in social sciences in general, and in catallaxy in particular, is a so-called black swan, which is an extreme and largely unpredictable event at a collective level, originating from apparently rational and controlled individual behaviors.


The behavioral strategy inspiring the interactions can be rational or irrational and focused on a well-defined goal. Furthermore, when the strategy is rational, it may not be the best possible one; in particular it can be influenced by contingencies possibly leading to a behavior in contrast with the primary goal. And it is indeed well known that practical conditions may constrain the best optimal solution, leading to a second-best option different from the theoretically optimal one, which is often not realizable. In addition, human beings are not perfectly rational. They exhibit “bounded rational” behaviors, which can give rise to emergent collective irrational behaviors. In some extreme cases, mostly ruled by irrational behaviors, interactions may generate outcomes rather distant from any best solution, as in the case of panic. Another example is the so-called “information asymmetry. In transactions, different parties often do not possess the same information. This may imply imperfect solutions and unexpected outcomes.

The concepts of individual strategy and interactions on “intercorporeal intersubjectivity are at the core of the complexity of the psycho-soma-dynamic systems and the digital-catallactic systems.

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