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The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead$
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Hans Joas and Daniel R. Huebner

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226376943

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226377131.001.0001

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Mead, the Theory of Mind, and the Problem of Others

Mead, the Theory of Mind, and the Problem of Others

(p.209) Chapter Ten Mead, the Theory of Mind, and the Problem of Others
The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead

Ryan Mcveigh

University of Chicago Press

Ryan McVeigh lays out some of the fundamental philosophical issues at stake with his evaluation of the so-called problem of other minds. In the contemporary cognitive sciences, the dominant views emphasize cognition as a phenomenon internal to the individual organism, and this ontological priority of the individual—hegemonic in theorizing this problem from Descartes to the present day—makes it difficult to explain the reality and necessity of our understanding of others. Even perspectives that draw on research on mirror neurons and other possible neurological mechanisms by which the individual may simulate the behaviors of others ultimately fail to resolve this problem. McVeigh argues that Mead’s perspective, in contrast, dissolves the very problem itself by showing how the self only emerges as the result of the individual developing in a pre-existing world of social others. Instead of taking the individual’s sense of self as a starting premise and asking how we can be logically sure others exist, we can take up the charge from Mead and reorient research to investigate how we personally come to exist as selves among others.

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, cognitive science, problem of other minds, cognition, self, other, philosophy of mind, roletaking

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