George Herbert Mead is a foundational figure in sociology, best known for his book Mind, Self, and Society, which was put together after his death from course notes taken by stenographers and students and from unpublished manuscripts. Mead, however, never taught a course primarily housed in a sociology department, and he wrote about a wide variety of topics far outside of the concerns for which he is predominantly remembered—including experimental and comparative psychology, the history of science, and relativity theory. In short, he is known in a discipline in which he did not teach for a book he did not write.
In Becoming Mead, Daniel R. Huebner traces the ways in which knowledge has been produced by and about the famed American philosopher. Instead of treating Mead’s problematic reputation as a separate topic of study from his intellectual biography, Huebner considers both biography and reputation as social processes of knowledge production. He uses Mead as a case study and provides fresh new answers to critical questions in the social sciences, such as how authors come to be considered canonical in particular disciplines, how academics understand and use others’ works in their research, and how claims to authority and knowledge are made in scholarship. Becoming Mead provides a novel take on the history of sociology, placing it in critical dialogue with cultural sociology and the sociology of knowledge and intellectuals.
George Herbert Mead, one of America’s most important and influential philosophers, a founder of pragmatism, social psychology, and symbolic interactionism, was also a keen observer of American culture and early modernism. In the period from the 1870s to 1895, Henry Northrup Castle maintained a correspondence with family members and with Mead—his best friend at Oberlin College and brother-in-law—that reveals many of the intellectual, economic, and cultural forces that shaped American thought in that complex era. Close friends of John Dewey, Jane Addams, and other leading Chicago Progressives, the author of these often intimate letters comments frankly on pivotal events affecting higher education, developments at Oberlin College, Hawaii (where the Castles lived), progressivism, and the general angst that many young intellectuals were experiencing in early modern America.
The letters, drawn from the Mead-Castle collection at the University of Chicago, were collected and edited by Mead after the tragic death of Henry Castle in a shipping accident in the North Sea. Working with his wife Helen Castle (one of Henry’s sisters), he privately published fifty copies of the letters to record an important relationship and as an intellectual history of two progressive thinkers at the end of the nineteenth century. American historians, such as Robert Crunden and Gary Cook, have noted the importance of the letters to historians of the late nineteenth century.
The letters are made available here using the basic Mead text of 1902. Additional insights into the connection between Mead, John Dewey, Henry and Harriet Castle, and Hawaii’s progressive kindergarten system are provided by the foundation’s executive director Alfred L. Castle. Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College, has added additional comments on the importance of the letters to understanding the intellectual relationship that flourished at Oberlin College.
Published with the support of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation.
This groundbreaking study details the intellectual development of George Herbert Mead as a thinker of great originality and as a practitioner of social reform. Gary Cook traces the genesis of Mead's social psychological and philosophical ideas by analyzing his journal articles and posthumously published writings.
George Herbert Mead is widely considered one of the most influential American philosophers of the twentieth century, and his work remains vibrant and relevant to many areas of scholarly inquiry today. The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead brings together a range of scholars who provide detailed analyses of Mead’s importance to innovative fields of scholarship, including cognitive science, environmental studies, democratic epistemology, and social ethics, non-teleological historiography, and the history of the natural and social sciences.
Edited by well-respected Mead scholars Hans Joas and Daniel R. Huebner, the volume as a whole makes a coherent statement that places Mead in dialogue with current research, pushing these domains of scholarship forward while also revitalizing the growing literature on an author who has an ongoing and major influence on sociology, psychology, and philosophy.