The self in interpersonal communication


The paper develops the thesis that interpersonal relations and communication relationships are of key importance in constituting the self. The author interprets the thesis that the self is not only who we are and what we feel and believe to be, but is also an object that is developed, formed, presented and modified in interpersonal communication. Currently, due to our involvement in an ever growing number of communication situations and relationsthe self is growing increasingly complex. The paper opens with a presentation of the radical conceptual shift from the conception of self in that part of the western philosophical tradition which understood the self as a superior, idealised and abstract platform to the \u27social\u27 self, integrated in the everyday world of communication and relationships. This shift was first made successfully only by the early pragmatists William James, Charles Horton Cooley, and especially George Herbert Mead, so their contributions to the conceptualisation of self, Mead\u27s in particular, are treated in more detail. Given that some authors of the Russian cultural-historical school (M. Bakhtin, L. Vygotsky) also contributed importantly to the turnabout from the premise of the self as the centre of the social world to the premise of relationships and relations being the basic realities of which the self is merely one of the constituting parts, the paper also relies on their key emphases in developing the thesis of the \u27communication\u27 self. The conclusionsof early theoreticians are updated with recent findings from the fields of brain research and developmental psychology to make them more topical. The consideration of early social-communication conceptions of the self as well as the recent findings of neurosciences and developmental psychology leads to the conclusion that the self is on the one hand embodied -one aspect of the self is the current emotional-affective perception of oneself or the temporary experiential state - whereas on the other hand, that other, more permanent and essential aspect of the self is formed under the influence of social and communication processes. Conceptually, the author thus distinguishes between two aspects of the self. The first aspect is embodied, interactionalit is about the will to act or the perception of the power of action. It comprises the creative, spontaneous part of the self, but also the point of view from which the individual perceives the world. Even this aspect of the self is to a certain degree a social formation, as it is shaped even in the earliest phase through communication/interaction. The other aspect is reflexive. It is entirely dependent on historical time, modes of communication, relationships, discourse practices and other social activities. Reflexiveness in this sense means that the self can make itself into an object and is thus object and subject at the same time. The individual cognitive-affective perception of oneself cannot be achieved through direct observation, rather always indirectly, through the communication with generalised, concrete and imaginary other

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