RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please

From: Michael Glassman <MGlassman who-is-at>
Date: Thu Nov 01 2007 - 17:01:11 PDT

I'm going to try and find the reference, but there is this great article that I think eloquently argues that Peirce made a turn from concentrating on language per se, where he was more interested in semiotics, to being more interested in relations. I can't remember if he said this is when Peirce started referring to semiosis. Once he started talking about relations the issue of mediation became far less important in his work - again not in terms of existing, but in terms of study.
So Engestrom is right, but depending on which Peirce you are reading at the moment. Of course Peirce is terribly opaque, and any discussion I have ever had about him eventually winds up going down the rabbit hole. But I think you can make the argument that as James and Peirce were becoming invested in the Peircian named Pragmatism his thinking did change - and actually become more challenging - if that was possible.


From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 6:30 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please

Thank you Michael, and Eric and Mira and others too. My questions have all
been wonderfully answered (unless, Michael, you tell me that you are really
Mikhail Glashchmanovich writing under an assumed name, in which case I'll
have to go back to the drawing board).

Another question for you all. Recently I criticised Sasha because I thought
he had misunderstood Peirce. Reading Engstrom's book, I find what I take to
be the same misunderstanding.

He says: "For the sake of clarity, Peirce's excessive and often opaque work
is here discussed only through the concise but balanced interpretation of
Parmentier" - something we can all sympathise with I am sure, but then goes
on to claim "The mediating sign is here [with Peirce], in the context of
human action, treated as something purely mental and intentional. It thus
loses its potentially anti-Cartesian, cultural quality and reverts to
individualism and rationalism."

This was never my view of Peirce. Do you Americans have a view on this?


At 02:44 PM 1/11/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>I know Dewey studied Hegel with George Morris, but James and Peirce
>hated Hegel - and criticized Dewey for holding on to him. I don't think
>it had much to do with Feuerbach's critique though. I think it was more
>a reaction against idealism, which Eric talks about. Pragmatic
>philosophy is not as abstract as other philosophical traditions, and it
>emerges out of a number of issues that would in many ways be alien to
>continental philosophy (for instance I would argue that the exploration
>of the frontier, the settling of the mid-western and western states, and
>the need for communal problem solving that accompanied it had an
>important impact (even though Pragmatism started in Boston, it really
>reached fruition in Chicago just as it was emerging as the type of
>metropolis that grows from a frontier town). I also think Lincoln had a
>tremendous influence on the development of at least instrumental
>Pragmatism. All this and more combined with the emergence of Darwin's
>ideas of adaptation probably had far more to do with the development of
>Pragmatic thought than continental philosophy in general. It was a
>different idea and by trying to bring the two together I'm not sure if
>we are trying to fit a square peg in to a round hole.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: []
>On Behalf Of Branimira Slavova
>Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 9:03 AM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>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
>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
>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
>and Leontiev should be used as a foundation in social psychology,
>of Mead, it was confusing to answer. I actually think that the main
>differences between Vygotsky/Leontyev/Luria and Mead/Peirce/Dewey is
>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.
>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
>I mean pragmatism that reduces everything to interactions between
>individuals deemed to be the bearers of needs, knowledge etc., and
>the real existence of universals. By pragmatism in the broad sense, I
>pragmatism which understands that interactions between individuals
>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
>think you are talking about Michael, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't
>in theories and ideas, it all comes down just to whether its useful or
>But Mead and Dewey and Perice were better than that.
>(PS Engstrom answer my question about communicative and instrumental
>a few paragraphs later. Sorry for the stupid question in that other
>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
> >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
> >this theory. Most street level social work is working within and
> >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
> >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
> >evidence.
> >
> >Michael
> >
> >________________________________
> >
> >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
> >know what have read in terms of a couple of hundred pages of his
> >a couple of biographical articles and of course I am familiar with the
> >Progressive Movement, Dewey, Peirce and everyone, of which he was a
> >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
> >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?
> >
> >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
> > >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, and
> > >the nascent labor movement. When Dewey went to Columbia, there was a
> > >great deal of cross-pollination between the group he started at
> > >and Mead who stayed at the University of Chicago and the remains of
> > >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
> > >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
> > >though inevitably, as the work of just one man, relatively
> > >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
> > >that you guys cover him in your courses at UCSD.
> > >
> > >Andy
> > >
> > > Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380
> > >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
> >
> >
> 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 17:10 PDT 2007

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