Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Mind [for Mead] is not a substance located in some transcendent realm, nor is it merely a series of events that takes place within the human physiological structure.
The essence of Mead's so-called “social behaviorism” is his view that mind is an emergent out of the interaction of organic individuals in a social matrix.
Mead agrees with the behaviorists that we can explain mind behaviorally if we deny its existence as a substantial entity and view it instead as a natural function of human organisms. But it is neither possible nor desirable to deny the existence of mind altogether.
It is, moreover, this reflexivity of the self that distinguishes human from animal consciousness (Mind, Self and Society, fn., 137). Mead points out two uses of the term “consciousness”: (1) “consciousness” may denote “a certain feeling consciousness” which is the outcome of an organism’s sensitivity to its environment (in this sense, animals, in so far as they act with reference to events in their environments, are conscious); and (2) “consciousness” may refer to a form of awareness “which always has, implicitly at least, the reference to an ‘I’ in it” (that is, the term “consciousness” may mean self- consciousness) (Mind, Self and Society 165). It is the second use of the term “consciousness” that is appropriate to the discussion of human consciousness.
The question is clear: Do you choose empirical responsibility or a priori philosophical assumptions? Most of what you believe about philosophy and much of what you believe about life will depend on your answer.
Aside from a few conservatives in Chairs of Philosophy, the world now realizes that the Greek search for Pure Truth failed; and the subsequent history of philosophy seems like a long detective story – the gradual discovery, century after century, of the numerous “lies” (unconscious prejudices) that crept into the Pure Reasoning of those bold Hellenic pioneers.