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Mind, Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist (Works of George Herbert Mead, Vol. 1)
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is an essential reading for whosoever wants to understand sociology and also the departure of Anglo-American sociology from 'society as a system' approaches. And above all it is a timeless classic that you can enjoy reading for the sheer insights it throws into social behavior.
Mead, however, though it was not his stated intention, dispels mind/body dualism quite easily. He does so by first giving priority to the organism, something that his contemporary followers, known as symbolic interactionists, seem not to understand.
Mead then acknowledges that human beings have a central nervous system possessed of the neurological equipment needed for symbolic functioning, something not shared by other organisms, except in rare instances and in rudimentary form.
Beyond that, human beings are actively sensate organisms who participate in social settings where mutually interpretable symbols -- especially in the form of language -- are in routine use. It is in such social settings that we acquire the symbolic wherewithal needed for communication with others and for thinking, an internal conversation that we have with ourselves. It is in such social settings that we acquire an individuated self.
When speaking of acquiring language or any other capability, Mead is clearly referring to reorganization of the central nervous system. For Mead, inevitably, that is what learning is, and again we see that he has good reason to give priority to the organism.
Mead's take on the concept attitude is especially interesting. He defines an attitude as a repertoire of start-to-finish behaviors which gives value to the environment. A car is a valuable means of transportation if we know how to drive it. Otherwise it's worthless. We need a socially learned repertoire of behaviors to give it value.Read more ›