Internal conversation: interiority and individuality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that to apprehend processes of social interaction, their course and content call conceptually for an appreciation of individual interiority: the stream of consciousness and internal conversation—the worldviews and life-projects—of the individual actors concerned. ‘The secrecy of subjectivity’, according to Emmanuel Levinas, was the foundational precept not only of a moral philosophy but also of any vision of ethical social relations; a liberal or free society must ‘render justice to that secrecy which for each human being is his life’. Recognising human interiority, a subjectivity that is individual and personal is fundamental to an authentic human science, however, secret that subjectivity may substantively remain. Human internal conversation originates within the individual self and remains individual in character; it is idiosyncratic in the meanings it allocates to specific symbolic, social and cultural forms, and it is self-directed, imbued with ‘selfish’ purpose. In dialogue with himself or herself, the individual expresses a stream of private meaning and value, of private style and intent, which transcend sociocultural anchoring. While it may be impossible to access the substance of individual interiority, it is important to recognise its capacities; also its consequentiality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge international handbook of existential human science
EditorsHuon Wardle, Nigel Rapport, Albert Piette
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781003156697
ISBN (Print)9780367742317, 9780367742348
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge international handbooks


Dive into the research topics of 'Internal conversation: interiority and individuality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this