Meadian Reflections on the Existential Ambivalence of Human Selfhood

Studies in Social and Political Thought, Vol. 17, pp. 62-81, 2010

20 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2010 Last revised: 17 Nov 2010

See all articles by Simon Susen

Simon Susen

City, University of London

Date Written: October 30, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: agency, I, me, Mead, self, selfhood, structure, subjectivity, symbolic interactionism

JEL Classification: B30

Suggested Citation

Susen, Simon, Meadian Reflections on the Existential Ambivalence of Human Selfhood (October 30, 2010). Studies in Social and Political Thought, Vol. 17, pp. 62-81, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1700179

Simon Susen (Contact Author)

City, University of London ( email )

Department of Sociology
Northampton Square
London, England EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.city.ac.uk/people/academics/simon-susen

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