RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at>
Date: Thu Nov 01 2007 - 07:57:15 PDT

Here is a great quote from Dewey:

Experience and Nature (1958 Doever editon) page 161-2, "Thus conceived,
knowledge existis in engineering, medicine and the social arts more
adequately than it does in mathematics, and physics. Thus conceived,
history and anthropology are scientific in a sense in which bodies of
information that stop short with general formulae are not. 'Application'
is a hard word for many to accept. It suggests some extraneous tool
ready-made and complete, which is then put to uses that are external to its

Prior to this quote he dispells both idealism and realism as both
neglecting true science because of the assumption they place upon nature
being ordered merely because it is "thought" about. Yes Mira I believe
that Dewey was a reductionist because of a necessity to assert that from
reduction comes construction.

what do you think?

                      Slavova" To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
                      <B.Slavova@leeds cc:
            > Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
                      Sent by:
                      11/01/2007 08:03
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Mind, Culture,


I was trying to understand the differences among these philosophies some
time ago. So I'll pitch in my 2 cents. I was led to believe that the main
difference between the American pragmatist philosophers and the Russians is
based on their different stances on the Feuerbach's critique of Hegel. My
sense was that the pragmatists had more of a reductionist view, while the
Russians were anti-reductionist which allowed them to consider more
sophisticated basic units of analysis. Is that a fair thing to say?


Dr Mira Slavova
Research Fellow in Information Management
Maurice Keyworth Building
The University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel: 0113 343 7818

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Michael Glassman
Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 13:24
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please


I think the response is a kind of complicated and it relates back I think
to an earlier comment you made about unity or whether you consider
communication as products of labor. There was a difference between
Peirce/James and Dewey/Mead when it comes to Pragmatism - which involves
whether activity builds upon itself, making life better and adaptation
easier, or whether all activity is situation specific and doesn't really
have a larger social meaning beyond solving a problem. James (and I assume
Peirce) believed that Dewey (and by extension Mead) saw social progress in
activity because of a Hegelian deposit that remained in Dewey's thinking
even after he left Johns Hopkins. It has been a continuous argument about
whether Dewey has a Hegelian deposit for about a century now. But James
was much more interested in the individual while Dewey/Mead because of
their interest in progress were necessarily more socially or societally
oriented - Is that what you mean by the difference between narrow and broad
Pragmatism? Pepper separated them by calling one contextualism and one
organicism (though the differentiation seem to be to be a short at Dewey).

But the idea that there are materials that can somehow be thought of
separate from practical activity and problem solving - now I think they all
pretty much would have argued against that by the mid 1890s. The big issue
I think is their thinking was a fear of dualism. Once you assume that
there are materials that are separate from actions in any way, including
any types of universals, then you are somehow separating the human
condition from nature itself. What you run in to is control of these
things, or attempts to control these things, outside of the problem based
interaction/transaction itself. For instance if you posit that discourse
is somehow a product, are you making the assumption or claim that you can
somehow control discourse and they way it is manipulated outside of the
process itself? I think this is the reason that, at least to my reading,
even though Dewey believed there was mediation he questioned the worth of
studying and understanding it, because that assumed that you could transfer
this meaning to the next situation - because you can't separate language or
anything else from the actual activity.

I'm not sure I understand your point about one group of theorists in Russia
and one group of theorists in the United States. What is true is that
there were a number of forces in the United States that were pushing
thinking about human condition towards more practical aspects of human
problem solving.



From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 8:49 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please

Mmm, that's an answer, Micharl.
Engstrom seems to be saying, amongst other things, that Mead was much
better than his interpreters of the 1980s/90s. The question arose for me in
connection with a paper I am writing about Axel Honneth, including his
appropriation of Mead in the 90s. I had the same view, i.e., that what Mead
said was OK, but Honneth just missed it, and transformed his theory into
typical postmodern "intersubjectivity" (social rather than societal some
would say). When I was challenged and asked to say why I thought Vygotsky
and Leontiev should be used as a foundation in social psychology, instead
of Mead, it was confusing to answer. I actually think that the main
differences between Vygotsky/Leontyev/Luria and Mead/Peirce/Dewey is that
the first group were Russians living in the USSR and the second lot were
Americans living in the USA. - not so much in the actually theoretical
differences between these early figures.
One of the ideas I use in my paper is the contrast between pragmatism in
the "narrow" sense an pragmatism in the "broad" sense. People said, you
mean Mead was pragmatic in the narrow sense and Vygotsky in the broad. No!
Mead is pragmatic in the broad sense, but the "spirit" of American
pragmatism is narrow, and the ideas of great thinkers cannot survive the
spirit of their times and the spirit of their people. (By narrow pragmatism
I mean pragmatism that reduces everything to interactions between
individuals deemed to be the bearers of needs, knowledge etc., and denies
the real existence of universals. By pragmatism in the broad sense, I mean
pragmatism which understands that interactions between individuals happen
by means of universals, which are material artefacts, culture - public
property, so to speak, and this material culture constitutes the
objectivity of universals. The ordinary American pragmatist of the kind I
think you are talking about Michael, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't believe
in theories and ideas, it all comes down just to whether its useful or not.
But Mead and Dewey and Perice were better than that.


(PS Engstrom answer my question about communicative and instrumental action
a few paragraphs later. Sorry for the stupid question in that other thread
I started, and apologies for forgetting to set "Send text only")

At 08:02 AM 1/11/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>It's difficult to describe, but even though the theorists don't get so
>much play, much of the theory of Mead and the others is integrated in to
>everyday activity in United States society (why the
>disconnect? Hmmmm.) Every time somebody does Case Management they are
>testing this theory. Many drug programs and housing programs are testing
>this theory. Most street level social work is working within and testing
>this theory. Many teachers, inside the classroom, are continuously
>testing this theory (Standardized Curriculums can be seen as a frontal
>political attack on these ideas). The results need to be empirical but
>they are not positivist, and they are not generalizable - which in itself
>is part of Pragmatic thought. It is not so much these ideas aren't
>constantly used and tested, but perhaps more the way we view testing and
>From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>Sent: Wed 10/31/2007 9:14 AM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>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
>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
>use Symbolic Interactionism specifically today, as their comprehensive
>theoretical paradigm?
>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
> >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
> >friends - both intellectually and socially. There was also a large,
> >application oriented group centered around Jane Addams and Hull House,
> >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
> >and sociology, and qualitative methodology, and even to a certain extent
> >much of modern anthropology (Boas was also a marginal member of this
> >group).
> >
> >I'm interested, why would you think the ideas are so much more
> >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
> >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
> >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
>xmca mailing list

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Received on Thu Nov 1 08:01 PDT 2007

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