Self - Cooley and Mead


  • Meaningful reality requires
  • people to convey meanings to themselves
  • people to convey meanings to others
  • conveying meanings occurs symbolically
  • one must act towards oneself as if one was someone else

Self is : to be both object and subject of one's own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

The Self as Sentiment and Reflection, by Charles Horton Cooley

  • immediately excludes philosophers' discussions of self (Uuggghh!!! Why?)
  • establishes that he will be discussing the empirical self as apprehended by ordinary observation
  • "I" includes reference to other persons simply by the fact that language itself is social not private
  • "Where there is no communication there can be no nomenclature and no developed thought." p 152
  • looking glass self; we imagine how others see us; has three principles
  • "the imagination of our appearance to the other person"
  • "the imagination of his judgment of that appearance"
  • "some sort of self-feeling, such as pride or mortification" p 153

The Self as Social Structure, by George Herbert Mead

  • self is an object to itself
  • self is "a social structure, and it arises in social experience" p 157
  • we experience ourselves from the perspective of other individuals in our social group or from the general view of the group as a whole
  • gesture are the beginning of communication; we first gesture with ourselves
  • "I" is one's reaction to one's experience of the attitude of his group
  • "I" appears in memory
  • "me" is our adjustment to the world present in our nature
  • language is more than gesture; language is significant symbol
  • because social stimuli affect us in similar way as it affects others
  • by this we understand the meaning of what we say to others
  • Play - to take the role of another and how he/she sees you
  • Game - to take the role of the group and how it as a whole sees you
  • "in the game then, there is a set of responses of such others so organized that the attitude of the one calls out the attitude of the others" p 159
  • this organization is thought of as the "rules of the game" p 159

2011, Inside social life, 6th ed. Cahill, S., & Sandstrom, K.L. eds. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.


I study philosophy and social theory at the University of South Florida. I am also a photographer, map lover and sometimes poet.