Chomsky versus mead

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Abstract

G. H. Mead's model of language and mind, while perhaps understandable at the time it was written, now seems inadequate. First, the research evidence strongly suggests that mental operations exist prior to language onset, conversation of gestures, or social interaction. Second, language is not just significant symbols; it requires syntax. Third, syntax seems to be part of our bioinheritance, that is, part of our presocial mind/brain-what Noam Chomsky has called our language faculty. Fourth, this means syntax probably is not learned nor a social construction that is internalized as a cultural template. Fifth, this suggests a basic reversal of the prevailing model of symbolic interaction, mind, language, and perhaps the self as well, although there has not been the time or space to engage that topic here. Therefore, symbolic interaction may turn out to be a more Chomskyan than Meadian process. Given the bioinheritance of our mind/brain we are able to engage in symbolic interaction; it does not appear that symbolic interaction creates our mind or the basic computational algorithms of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalSociological Theory
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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