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Other eyes: an essay on the power of the human gaze

Laing, James Anthony; (2020) Other eyes: an essay on the power of the human gaze. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis, I provide an account of a certain form of interpersonal self-consciousness and its role in human social life. In Part One, I argue that (i) the feeling of self-consciousness before another’s gaze, (ii) the special form of interpersonal connection constitutive of eye contact and (iii) the form of mutual openness involved in joint attention cannot be understood either as being reducible to the ontologically antecedent psychological states of each individual (as suggested by ‘The Reductive Approach’), nor in terms of an irreducible second person relation (as suggested by ‘The Second Person Approach’). Instead, I outline and defend a ‘Transactional Approach’ according to which, when I feel self-conscious before another’s gaze I am conscious of myself as being acted upon by the other through their gaze (Chapter One). This provides the basis for an account of eye contact as a ‘mutual transaction’ (Chapter Two) and an account of joint attention (Chapter Three). This account of joint attention, in turn, provides a basis for understanding the Aristotelian idea that human social life is distinctive in the way it is characterised by a special form of co-consciousness. In Part Two, this approach is developed to provide an account of humiliation (Chapter Four) and shame (Chapter Five). These emotions tend to be understood in terms of The Reductive Approach. However, in each instance I argue that The Reductive Approach faces serious difficulties in making sense of them and their proper place in human social life. The Transactional Approach, on the other hand, is shown to have the resources to provide a more plausible account of these emotions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Other eyes: an essay on the power of the human gaze
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114299
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