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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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Imitation and Taking the Attitude of the Other

Imitation and Taking the Attitude of the Other

(p.231) Chapter Eleven Imitation and Taking the Attitude of the Other
The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead

Kelvin Jay Booth

University of Chicago Press

Kelvin Booth carefully dissects the findings of research that claims to show the extent to which apes understand the intentions and experiences of others, and he argues that there is no clear evidence of definite imitation or “mind-reading” abilities in these cases. Research on human infants demonstrates the range of behavioral mimicries they exhibit early in development, but Booth argues that these behaviors develop from a tendency of infants to synchronize activities with others, not to intuitively take the role of others and truly imitate their intentions. In this chapter Booth reaffirms the importance of Mead’s efforts to distinguish the role-taking abilities that humans develop from seemingly analogous behavior of other animals and human infants. And by building on the notion of synchronizing behaviors, Booth contributes an explanation of why humans are the only animals that imitate in a strict sense, which both lends further support for Mead’s overall theory of mind and makes a novel contribution to the literature on comparative behavior.

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, comparative psychology, develpmental psychology, imitation, roletaking, philosophy of mind

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