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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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Conscience as Ecological Participation and the Maintenance of Moral Perplexity

Conscience as Ecological Participation and the Maintenance of Moral Perplexity

Chapter:
(p.276) Chapter Thirteen Conscience as Ecological Participation and the Maintenance of Moral Perplexity
Source:
The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead
Author(s):

Joshua Daniel

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226377131.003.0014

Joshua Daniel takes up the moral implications of Mead’s anthropology in order to investigate the nature of conscience. Modern conceptions of conscience, Daniel shows, emphasize its function as either the voice of society’s moral conventions or of personal moral discernment, which results in a fundamental tension between the individual and social aspects of conscience. Daniel derives from Mead’s notion of the self, especially the distinction between the I and the me, an ecological view in which the embodied self engages in interactions with various social environments, both performing social roles and responding individually to social demands. The real advance of Mead’s view over current moral philosophy is showing that moral conflicts are not fundamentally between the individual and society but between competing socially funded consciences and that the work of the individual’s conscience is not in punctuated moments of judgment but rather in continually negotiating between multiple ecologies of social roles. On the basis of this formulation Daniel proposes that conscience does not serve simply to resolve moral perplexity once and for all but to allow individuals to rationally maintain perplexity and to participate successfully in a variety of morally ambiguous roles.

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, conscience, moral conflict, self, social ecology, ethics, moral philosophy

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