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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 Meets Tomasello: Pragmatism, the Cognitive Sciences, and the Origins of Human Communication and Sociality

Mead Meets Tomasello: Pragmatism, the Cognitive Sciences, and the Origins of Human Communication and Sociality

Chapter:
(p.252) Chapter Twelve Mead Meets Tomasello: Pragmatism, the Cognitive Sciences, and the Origins of Human Communication and Sociality
Source:
The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead
Author(s):

Frithjof Nungesser

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226377131.003.0013

Frithjof Nungesser takes up a systematic comparison of Tomasello, a key figure working to reorient comparative and developmental research in cognitive science around social and cultural issues, and Mead, focusing especially on the evolutionary development of human-specific features of communication. Both authors agree that the key transition between animal and human communication is in gestural interaction and that humans have developed unique role-taking abilities that transform cognition into internal dialogue. Their differences of emphasis, however, are instructive. They choose different reference species with differing types of social skills to compare with humans, and they place different emphases on verbal and manual communication in evolutionary development. Although Tomasello provides a more up-to-date analysis of the evolutionary development of human communication, Nungesser argues that he ultimately fails to fully incorporate Mead’s pragmatist principles, which both recognize the evolutionary continuity of human and animal sociality and at the same time stress the change of existence as a whole—the emergence of a qualitatively new intersubjective space affecting all human motivations and behaviors—that results from biologically evolved human specific capacities.

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, Michael Tomasello, cognitive science, communication, gesture, comparative psychology

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