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[xmca] Mead, Vygotsky and Hegel

I feel a bit like Lucille Ball working on the line at the
candy factory as I watch the incredible rate at which XMCA
posts are flying by. "Ooh, there is an interesting one to
respond to-- oops, I missed it -- oh look, this seems
fascinating, well maybe I'll catch the next -- uh, missed it"
and so on. It's wonderful to watch, but difficult to keep up
with the rate of production... So I stand in awe.

Anyway, I was just teaching a bit of Hegel's Phenomenology
last week and Mike's post on Mead was striking in its
parallels to Hegel's approach. Of this parallel, Patchen
Markell writes:

In a 1925 letter to his daughter-in-law Irene, Mead wrote that
his social psychology could be understood as “an attempt to do
from my own standpoint what Hegel undertook in his
“I hope,” he added, “it won’t be as inscrutable.”  George
Herbert Mead to Irene Tufts Mead, September 10, 1925, The
George Herbert Mead Papers, University of Chicago, Regenstein
Library, Special Collections, Box 1a, Folder 13 (italicized
“Phenomenology” and apostrophe in “won’t” added).

Taken from a paper by Patchen Markell entitled "The Potential
and the Actual: Mead, Honneth and the I" and can be found in
the book: For Recognition and Power, ed. David Owen and Bert
van den Brink (and I have a .doc copy of the final document
that does not give any instructions against sharing...).

Any thoughts on limitations of the parallel between the two?
As I recall from a conversation on this list serve, there
seemed to be something of a consensus that Vygotsky had
Hegelian influences (certainly via Marx, but also as a direct
influence). This seems to be to be what ties Mead and Vygotsky
together so strongly. I suppose that Mead would have read Marx
too, but Marx doesn't have much in the way of an explicit
theory of the development of the Self in the way that Hegel
does, so it would seem that Hegel provides a much tighter link
than Marx. Anyone care to provide a different account? Or
maybe to argue that Mead and Vygotsky are quite different? 

p.s. RE: keeping up with the intensification of posts on the
conveyor belt that is XMCA, I have a couple lingering posts
that still have to be "wrapped up" (like candies?) somewhere
down the line, that is if I don't eat them before then!. 

Message: 2
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 2009 16:40:00 -0800
From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] guess who
To: ablunden@mira.net, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

Nick V can answer for himself. Reading Mead now in the context
of a
communication course is very thought provoking. A good deal i
am struggling
with. The following may be of use to the discussion.

These quotes and the entire essay on the self are to be found at.


The selection is meant only to index the complexity of
ascribing to Mead any
sort of Watsonian style behaviorism and to note places where
he provides an
interesting point of translation between LSV and others of
interest on this
discussion group.

It is the characteristic of the self as an object to itself
that I want to
bring out. This characteristic is represented in the word
"self," which is a
reflexive, and indicates that which can be both subject and
object. This
type of object is essentially different from other objects,
and in the past
it has been distinguished as conscious, a term which Indicates
an experience
with, an experience of, one's self. It was assumed that
consciousness in
some way carried this capacity of being an object to itself.
In giving a
behavioristic statement of consciousness we have to look for
some sort of
experience in which the physical organism can become an object
to itself.
(p. 21 of my edition).
The individual experiences himself as such, not directly, but only
indirectly, from the particular standpoints of other
individual members of
the same social group, or from the generalized standpoint of
the social
group as a whole to which he belongs. For he enters his own
experience as a
self or individual, not directly or immediately, not by
becoming a subject
to himself, but only in so far as he first becomes an object
to himself just
as other individuals are objects to him or in his experience;
and he becomes
an object to himself only by taking the attitudes of other
toward himself within a social environment or context of
experience and
behavior in which both he and they are involved.

We are finding out what we are going to say, what we are going
to do, by
saying and doing, and in the process we are continually
controlling the
process itself. In the conversation of gestures what we say
calls out a
certain response in another and that in turn changes our own
action, so that
we shift from what we started to do because of the reply the
other makes.

The conversation of gestures is the beginning of
communication. The
individual comes to carry on a conversation of gestures with
himself. He
says something, and that calls out a certain reply in himself
which makes
him change what he was going to say
Greg Thompson
Ph.D. Candidate
The Department of Comparative Human Development
The University of Chicago
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