Mind and consciousness are products of socialization among biological
organisms. Language provides the
medium for their emergence. The mind is therefore socially constructed.
Society constitutes an individual as much as the individual constitutes
The mind emerges through a process of internalization of the social process of communication: reflecting to oneself the reaction of other individuals to one's gestures. The minded organism is capable of being an object of communication to itself. Mead focuses on the role of gestures, which signal the existence of a symbol (and a meaning) that is being communicated (i.e., recalled in the other individual), and therefore constitute the building blocks of language. "A symbol is the stimulus whose response is given in advance". Meaning is defined by the relation between the gesture and the subsequent behavior of an organism as indicated to another organism by that gesture. The mechanism of meaning is therefore present in the social act before the consciousness of it emerges.
Consciousness is not in the brain, but in the world. It refers to both the organism and the environment, and cannot be located simply in either. What is in the brain is the process by which the self gains and loses consciousness (analogous to pulling down and raising a window shade).
Mead draws a distinction between the "me" (the self of which we are mostly aware) and the "I" (the self that is unpredictable).
TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi