From Intersubjectivity to Group Cognition
The question of how it is possible for people to understand each other has been a controversial theme throughout the recent history of philosophy. It is a foundational issue for the social sciences, in which researchers try to understand the behaviors and statements of other people. It is of particular relevance to CSCW and CSCL, where participants have to understand, work with and learn with each other. Philosophers have posed the issue of how an individual can understand another and how a small group or community can have a joint understanding, shared intentionality or we-awareness. Studies of CSCW not only adopt insights from the philosophy of intersubjectivity to ground their methodology, they also contribute to the analysis of how intersubjectivity is established in concrete settings, including in virtual environments. Similarly, CSCL research can investigate how groups of people learn to construct intersubjective understandings in both traditional and technologically enhanced interactions. While classical phenomenology of intersubjectivity started from the cognitions of a solitary mind, the notion of intersubjectivity has subsequently shifted to a more social view. Recent studies of intersubjectivity suggest a structure of group cognition, which can provide a foundation for collaboration in work and learning that incorporates but transcends individual cognition.