Consciousness as Rationality as Internalized Dramatism
sábado, 9 de julio de 2016
CONSCIOUSNESS AS RATIONALITY AS INTERNALIZED DRAMATISM
From George Herbert Mead's 'Mind, Self, and Society' (§42, 'Summary and Conclusion'), pp. 334-36.
In the closing sections of his book, Mead summarizes his view of human consciousness as disctinct from the wider "ecological" conception of consciousness. A general ecological-interactional approach to consciousness gives us a generalized and emergent conception on consciousness (also espoused by Mead), according to which an organism reacts in a more or less complex way to its environment, and in so reacting creates novel and emergent aspects of the world. Consciousness, then, is not contained "in" the mind, but is inherently relational, a function of the organism's relation to its environment. But (within this general framework) there is a specific mode of consciousness which requires human selves and rationality, and involves the peculiarly human structure of internalized social dramatism, involving taking the role of the other, or putting oneself imaginatively in the other's stance. Which in turn gives rise to a generalized social consciousness, in which we take the attitude of a "generalized other". Such rationality involves a distribution of social parts, and a generalized understanding of what these parts are, and of the choreography and collective stage management of the whole social play, under the virtual direction of the "generalized other." These are the last paragraphs of Mead's section on "Society", before the Supplementary Essays:
"The other conception that I have brought out concerns the particular sort of intelligence that we acscribe to the human animal, so-called 'rational intelligence', or consciousness in another sense of the term. If consciousness is a substance, it can be said that this consciousness is rational perse; and jut by definition the problem of the appearance of what we call rationality is avoided. What I have attempted to do is to bring rationality back to a certain type of conduct, the type of conduct in which the individual puts himself in the attitude of the whole group to which he belongs. This implies that the whole group is involved in some organized activity and that in this organized activity the action of one calls for the action of all the others. What we term 'reason' arises when one of the organisms take into its own response the attitude of the other organisms involved. It is possible for the organism so to assume the attitudes of the group that are involved in its own act within this whole co-operative process. When it does so, it is what we term 'a rational being'. If its conduct has such universality, it has also necessity, that is, the sort of necessity involved in the whole act—if one acts in one way the others must act in another way. Now, if the individual can take the attitude of the others and control his action by these attitudes, and control their action through his own, then we have what we can term "rationality." Rationality is as large as the group which is involved; and that group could be, of course, functionally, potentially, as large as you like. It may include all beings speaking the same language.
Language as such is simply a process by means of which the individual who is engaged in co-operative activity can get the attitude of others involved in the same activity. Through gestures, that is, through the part of his act which calls out the response of others, he can arouse in himself the attitude of the others. Language as a set of significant symbols is simply the set of gestures which the organism employs in calling out the response of others. Those gestures primarily are nothing but parts of the act which do naturally stimulate others engaged in the co-operative process to carry out their parts. Rationality then can be stated in terms of such behavior if we recognize that the gesture can affect the individual as it affects others so as to call out the response which belongs to the other. Mind or reason presupposes social organization and co-operative activity in this social organization. Thinking is simply the reasoning of the individual, the carrying-on of a conversation between what I have termed the 'I' and the 'me'.
In taking the attitude of the group, one has stimulated himself to respond in a certain fashion. His response, the 'I', is the way in which he acts. If he acts in that way he is, so to speak, putting something up to the group, and changing the group. His gesture calls out then a gesture which will be slightly different. The self thus arises in the development of the behavior of the social form that is capable of taking the attitude of others involved in the same co-operative actvity. The pre-condition of such behavior is the development of the nervous system which enables the individual to take the attitude of the others. He could not, of course, take the indefinite number of attitudes of others, even if all the nerve paths were present, if there were not an organized social activity groing on such that the action of one may reproduce the action of an indefinite number of others doing the same thing. Given, however, such an organized activity, one can take the attitude of anyone in the group.
Such are the two conceptions of consciousness that I wanted to bring out, since they seem to me to make possible a development of behaviorism beyond the limits to which it has been carried, and to make it a very suitable approach to the objects of social psychology. With those key concepts one does not have to come back to certain conscious fields lodged inside the individual; one is dealing throughout with the relation of the conduct of the individual to the environment." (334-36)
Thus far Mead. I would only want to add that this description of universal and complete communicability, or of the universal exchangeability of positions, is the description of an ideal model. Actual social behavior, and the concomitant phenomena of consciousness, are just as much dependent on partial, approximative or plainly mistaken moves in the internalized dramatism, as they are on the partial success of an ideally frictionless social conduct.