Subject and subjectivity: V. Descombes VS S. Laugier

Analytics of subjectivity and intersubjectivity




subject, actor, subjective privilege, reflexive paradigm, grammatical analysis, practical subjectivity, skeptical subjectivity, internal, external, expression, language, knowledge


Despite the general applicability of philosophical concepts of the subject and subjectivity among philosophers, there is no unanimity in their understanding, even if we are talking about representatives of one philosophical trend. The subject of this article is the different understandings of subjectivity by two well-known French authors of analytical inspiration, V. Descombes and S. Laugier, which are united by the critique of the reflexive subject of the philosophy of mind, defending the idea of social mental nature, as well as appeal to the methodological resources of later Wittgenstein’s philosophy to develop the idea of a social subject. Despite their common attitudes, Descombes and Laugier are inspired by different traditions — Descombes, in general, develops the ideas of the French School of Sociology, while Laugier works in line of linguistic phenomenology, defined by the ordinary language philosophy and skeptical interpretations of Wittgenstein’s thought. Descombes builds the conception of the subject as an actor, formed not by his inside world, but by his action, the model of which is the institution of social life.

Descombes’s practical subjectivity grows out of his critique of the reflexive paradigm of the philosophy of mind (consciousness) and is the actor’s ability to take the responsi- bility for his own actions. Instead, Laugier’s concept of «depsychologized subjectivity » focuses on the other side of the actor’s ability to act following some rule within the insti- tutional paradigm of practice, namely the fragility and vulnerability of any human action, its defeats and difficulties, and the subject’s reluctance to be an actor and take the respon- sibility for his actions. Laugier defends the skeptical understanding of subjectivity as a property of the action of the delocalized subject of language and knowledge, his ability even by his inability to express the social naturalness of the human way of life.

Author Biography

Oxana Yosypenko

Doctor of Sciences in Philosophy, Senior Research Fellow at the Departement of History of Philosophy, H.S. Skovoroda Institue of Philosophy, NAS of Ukraine, 4, Triokhsviatytelska St., Kyiv, 01001



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How to Cite

Yosypenko, O. (2021). Subject and subjectivity: V. Descombes VS S. Laugier: Analytics of subjectivity and intersubjectivity. Filosofska Dumka, (6), 42–57.