Re: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please

From: Ed Wall <ewall who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 17:41:56 PDT

This may or may not be of interest, but here is a piece of an
interchange between two participants on another list about the
connection between Mead and Dilthey:

Ed Wall

>Dear ,

Perhaps you missed my earlier communication of September 30 with its
footnote regarding the false association of Mead with Dilthey. Your
comment below that "we know that Dewey understood Dilthey through his
friend Mead (who studied under Dilthey in Berlin)..." repeats and
expands this falsity. It is not even an apocryphal story but entirely
traceable to one false, unsubstantiated statement, totally unsupported by
a single shred of "evidence."

George Herbert Mead was enrolled at Berlin for five semester from Summer
1889 to Summer 1891. He took a lecture course in Ethics from Dilthey in
his third semester in 1890 and another in the History of Philosophy in his
fifth semester in 1891 (among four courses). This contrasts with six
courses, including two seminars with Paulsen in his first, fourth and
fifth semesters. He took three courses from Ebbinghaus in his first and
second semesters including spending the entire second semester working in
Ebbinghaus' laboratory in connection with his courses. I have a letter
in which Mead speaks of going to Berlin to find work in Ebbinghaus'
laboratory, apparently on James's advice. Mead's education in Berlin was
largely in physiological psychology and he took work in anatomy and
psychophysics. Further, his work with Paulsen was in good part devoted
to the relations between psychology and anthropology. I have been at work
on a biography of Mead for some time in addition to editing his writings.

I both corresponded with the Director of the Humboldt University Archives
and visited there examining Mead's records as well as the records of
the Dekan (Dean) from 1888 through the end of the 1890s with the aid of
the Director. I have copies of all of Mead's records at Berlin (as well
as those of his friend and brother-in-law Henry N. Castle and James H.

I repeat: there is absolutely no mention of Dilthey in anything Mead wrote
or in any lecture notes. And I find no mention of Dilthey in Dewey
either. On the other hand, descriptions of some of Mead's courses in the
University of Chicago catalog which he wrote (and in lectures I have
discovered) refer many times to Paulsen, particularly with regard to Kant
and post-Kantians and his book Kant is referred to and quoted.

Finally, you also wrote that "William James came to Germany and stayed
with Dilthey for a while." What is your source for this claim? Apart
from Axel Schlotzhauer's rambling and incoherent atempts to link James to
Dilthey during James early visits in Germany I find no other claims of
such an event or any direct or indirect connection of James with Dilthey.

Among the hundreds of names of philosophers and psychologists mentioned by
James in his _Psychology_, the Harvard critical edition of his collected
_Essays in Psychology_, or any other book James published -- or in his
correspondence -- I fail to find Dilthey's name mentioned once. Nor is he
mentioned in the two volumes of Ralph Barton Perry's _The Thought and
Character of William James_ which quotes extensively from James's
correspondence with German psychologists and philosophers. And when
James, writes about a rest trip to Berlin in 1880, he speaks of wanting
to hear Helmholtz's lectures, observe Munk's vivisections in the
veterinary school and of doing laboratory work with G.Stanley Hall, then
in Germany. (Perry, Vol. II, p.22).

Indeed, the only place the word "Dilthey" appears in a work presenting
James's writing is on p.109 of Vol I, of _The Letters of William James_
edited by his son Henry James, where a footnote to an unnamed "Herr
Professor" says: "The Herr Professor was later identified as W. Dilthey."
This refers to a printed letter of James to his sister Alice, dated in
Berlin, Oct. 17, 1867. It gives an account of an evening at the home of
Herman Grimm, son of the younger of the Grimm brothers of Fairy Tales
fame, and a Profesor of the History of Art as well an essayist and
novelist. James had written an account of a novel of Grimm's which he
had described in an earlier letter in 1867 and sent to his sister with the
idea of publishing it; and there is a footnote indicating that this
"notice" of the novel was published in the _Nation_ in 1867. James had
become friendly with the Grimms and he tells of arriving at their home
for a dinner and "... in a moment the other guest arrived. Herr Professor
------, whose name I could not catch, ..." The footnote identifying this
Herr Professor as Dilthey follows the word "catch." James describes this
man, not entirely in flattering terms physically, and says he "was
overflowing with information with regard to everything knowable and
unknowable... the first man I have ever met of a class, which must be
common here, of men to whom learning has become as natural as breathing."

>Thanks everyone. I knew I could count on xmca to come to the rescue.
>That should keep me out of trouble for a little while I think!
>At 11:21 AM 31/10/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>> Engestrom discusses Mead at some length in "Learning by
>>Expanding" which is available in the XMCA/MCA archives. I believe
>>it's in the second chapter.
>> Paul
>>Mike Cole <> wrote:
>> The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky has a good article by Anne Edwards on
>>topic. Also work by Dottie Holland I believe and Valsiner among others.
>>NOTE:; Mead got his phd with Dilthey, a fact I take to be highly relevant.
>>See also philosophy of the present which is full of interesting overlapping
>>Go to it Andy!!
>>On 10/31/07, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>> Please understand Michael that my knowledge of Mead is very thin; I only
>>> know what have read in terms of a couple of hundred pages of his writings,
>>> a couple of biographical articles and of course I am familiar with the
>>> Progressive Movement, Dewey, Peirce and everyone, of which he was a part.
>>> But I get the impression that he worked out these ideas, as you say, in
>>> dialogue especially with Dewey and in the midst of that milieu, but I
>>> don't
>>> imagine that there was a lot of laboratory work involved, controlled
>>> experiments and observation, and so on, by Mead, during his own lifetime.
>>> The Vygotsky school on the other and incorporates today many decades of
>>> empirical and practical experimental work and observation by scores of
>>> psychologists. Yes? How many research groups or psychological
>>> practitioners
>>> use Symbolic Interactionism specifically today, as their comprehensive
>>> theoretical paradigm?
>>> Andy
>>> At 08:58 AM 31/10/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>>> >Andy,
>>> >
>>> >Mead's work was not just one man - he was surrounded by an entire group
>>> at
>>> >the University of Chicago that had come together under the umbrella of
>>> >this type of Pragmatic thought. John Dewey recruited him to the
>>> >University of Chicago from the Univfersity of Michigan, and they were
>>> best
>>> >friends - both intellectually and socially. There was also a large, more
>>> >application oriented group centered around Jane Addams and Hull House,
>>> and
>>> >the nascent labor movement. When Dewey went to Columbia, there was a
>>> >great deal of cross-pollination between the group he started at Columbia
>>> >and Mead who stayed at the University of Chicago and the remains of that
>>> >group. Mead's ideas are not the ideas of one man but a brilliant
>>> >philosophical movement that helped to create what we now call psychology,
>>> >and sociology, and qualitative methodology, and even to a certain extent
>>> >much of modern anthropology (Boas was also a marginal member of this
>>> whole
>>> >group).
>>> >
>>> >I'm interested, why would you think the ideas are so much more
>>> speculative
>>> >than say CHAT?
>>> >
>>> >Michael
>>> >
>>> >________________________________
>>> >
>>> >From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>> >Sent: Wed 10/31/2007 8:21 AM
>>> >To:
>>> >Subject: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >I'm currently reading a collection of George Herbert Mead, which confirms
>> > >my view that his ideas on social psychology were very close to our own,
>>> >though inevitably, as the work of just one man, relatively speculative.
>>> >Can anyone recommend to me a critique of Mead by a CHAT person, perhaps a
>>> >message in the XCMA archive or a paper available in HTML or PDF? I know
>>> >that you guys cover him in your courses at UCSD.
>>> >
>>> >Andy
>>> >
>>> > Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>> >mobile 0409 358 651
>>> >
>>> >_______________________________________________
>>> >xmca mailing list
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >_______________________________________________
>>> >xmca mailing list
>>> >
>>> >
>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>> mobile 0409 358 651
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
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Received on Wed Oct 31 17:49 PDT 2007

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