Primacy of I–you connectedness revisited: some implications for AI and robotics

AI and Society 34 (1):3-8 (2019)
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In this essay, I challenge the egocentric tradition which privileges the standpoint of an isolated individual, and propose a speech-based dialogical approach as an alternative. Considering that the egocentric tradition can be deciphered in part by analyzing the distortions undergone by pronominal discourse in the language of classical philosophy, I reexamine the pragmatics of ordinary language featuring the pronoun I in an effort to recover a more relational understanding of persons. I develop such an analysis of the deep grammar of pronominal discourse under the heading of ‘I–you connectedness’. I–you connectedness emphasizes the communicative structure of experience, in particular the phenomenological importance of the addressee, the inseparability of ‘I’ and ‘You’, and the nature of the alternation between them. I–you connectedness is the best thematized within living speech, which is invariably oriented towards an interlocutor, and animated by mutual address. Yet, I–you connectedness extends beyond living speech to other modalities of meaning, notably thinking and writing, where one notes a similar orientation to a living, imagined, or virtual addressee. I–you connectedness extends, therefore, beyond discursive experience, and captures the deep dialogic dimension of meaning in pre-linguistic and extra-linguistic life. I briefly consider its implications for theoretical and practical issues within robotics and AI.



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Beata Stawarska
University of Oregon

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I and Thou.Martin Buber - 1958 - New York: Scribner.
I and thou.Martin Buber - 1970 - New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 57.
The Child's Relation with Others.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1964 - In James M. Edie (ed.), The Primacy of Perception. Evanston, USA: Northwestern University Press. pp. 96-155.

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