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Meadian reflections on the existential ambivalence of human selfhood

By Simon Susen


This paper examines the existential ambivalence of human selfhood by drawing upon George Herbert Mead’s distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’. In order to make a case for the centrality of this conceptual distinction, the paper offers a comprehensive account of a variety of different meanings which the notions of the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ are given in Mead’s analysis of the self. The distinction between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ has been extensively discussed in the literature, but neither supporters nor detractors of Mead’s symbolic interactionism have provided a detailed study of its multifaceted significance for the constitution of selfhood. The paper seeks to demonstrate that Mead’s analytical separation between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ allows us to shed light on the multilayered ambivalence of the human self, that is, on the existential significance of various opposing forces which pervade every ordinary subject’s relation to the world

Topics: polsoc
Publisher: Centre for Social and Political Thought School of History, Art History and Philosophy University of Sussex
Year: 2010
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  1. (1998). The Enigma of Everyday Life: Symbolic Interactionism, the Dramaturgical Approach and Ethnomethodology” in Social Theory in the Twentieth Century Cambridge: Polity (66-91) Crossley, Nick

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