What is it like to be a discursive being?

Perspektivität und Ich-du-Sozialität bei Robert Brandom

  • Anne Reichold Europa-Universität Flensburg
Keywords: pragmatism, Brandom, I-thou-sociality, practice, discourse, communication


In this article it is argued that Brandom’s conception of linguistic practice in terms of an I-thou-sociality not only articulates a normative and social, but also an embodied conception of persons. Though Brandom focuses on the normative and social character of linguistic practice and its agents, in the article it is shown that linguistic practice in Brandom’s normative terms of commitment and entitlement involves a spatiotemporal distinction between agents or persons that is not made explicit by Brandom. Spatio-temporal individuation of persons thus is not conceptualized as prior, or independent to linguistic practice and ascription of normative status, but it is a genuine feature of linguistic activity. The conception of I-thou-sociality that articulates a symmetrical pattern of communicative action, as well as Brandom’s inferential account of objectivity in terms of de dicto and de re contexts, involve reference to spatio-temporal categories to distinguish persons and contexts from one another. Thus Brandom’s account of I-thou-sociality articulates not only the concept of linguistic persons as genuinely social and normative beings but, within this normative practice, also as embodied beings located, and locating themselves, in a spatio-temporal environment.