Some Background on the Origins of Posthumous Works

Most readers have been exposed to Mead's work through one or another of the posthumously published collections. These works have varied origins, with the most popular — Mind, Self and Society from the perspective of a social behaviorist — being most contentious. This note provides some background notes on the origins of the various works.

Philosophy of the Present

In the Preface to Philosophy of the Present, the editor -- Arthur E. Murphy -- wrote (p vii):

"This volume contains the material from which Mr. Mead's Philosophy of the Present was to have been developed. No part of it, except the last two Supplemental Essays, was intended for publication in the form in which it now appears. Chapters One to Four are the Carus Lectures as read at the Meeting of the American Philosophical Association at Berkeley in December, 1930. They had not been planned as more than a partial statement of a more extensive project. Unfortunately, Mr. Mead, in his capacity as chairman of the department of philosophy at the University of Chicago, was forced to surrender the time he had set aside for the completion of the lectures to administrative concerns of an unexpected and disturbing character. As a consequence, the lectures were written hurriedly, in large part on the journey from Chicago to Berkeley; and he had no opportunity in the weeks immediately following their delivery to begin the revisions he already had in mind. By the end of January he was seriously ill and he dies within a few weeks. As here printed, the lectures are in substance precisely as they were presented at Berkeley; but the whole has undergone verbal revision, and the second lecture has been divided to form Chapters Two and Three. All footnotes are additions to the original manuscript."

Murphy added three essay fragments found among Mead's papers that are believed to be preliminary drafts for the Carus Lectures. Murphy has given these the titles "Empirical Realism", "The Physical Thing", and "Scientific Objects and Experience."

The last two essays "The Objective Reality of Perspectives" and "The Genesis of the Self and Social Control" were previously published in the Proceeding of the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy and the International Journal of Ethics, respectively. The index to this work was prepared by Mr. F.K. Ballaine.

Movements of Thought in the 19th Century

Prepared under the editorship of Merritt Hayden Moore, Movements of Thought is based almost entirely on stenographic notes prepared for Alvin Carus. The exception is the second half of the chapter on Henri Bergson in the Appendix, which was derived from student notes prepared by George A. Pappas. These student notes required extensive editing.

Mind, Self and Society from the Perspective of a Social Behaviorist

The best known of Mead's works, Mind Self and Society, also has the most contentious history. In his Preface, the editor -- Charles W. Morris, wrote:

The following pages present the larger outlines of George H. Mead's system of social psychology. His views were developed from 1900 on at the University of Chicago in the widely known and highly influential course, "Social Psychology."

None of the material here used has been previously published. The volume is in the main composed of two sets of excellent student notes on the course, together with excerpts from other such notes and selections from unpublished manuscripts left by Mr. Mead. A stenographic copy of the 1927 course in social psychology has been taken as basic. This set, together with a number of similar sets for other courses, owes its existence to the devotion and foresight of Mr. George Anagnos. Sensing, as a student, the importance of the material of Mr. Mead's lectures (always delivered without notes), he found in Mr. Alvin Carus a sympathetic fellow-worker who was able to provide the means necessary to employ persons to take down verbatim the various courses. The completeness of the material varies considerably, but the set basic to this volume was very full. The whole is by no means a court record, but it is certainly as adequate and as faithful a record as has been left of a great thinkers last years.

The basic manuscript has been greatly enriched by the faithful and full notes of another devoted student, Mr. Robert Paige, notes especially valuable since they are for 1930, the last year in which the course was given in its complete form at Chicago. Into the 1927 material (when rearranged, pruned of superfluous repetitions, and stylistically corrected) were inserted portions of the 1930 material, both into the text and as footnotes. The same was done to a much lesser degree with material from other courses, and selections from other sets that 1927 and 1930 are indicated by giving the year after the selection. All titles have been given by the editor. Other editorial additions are enclosed in brackets.

The Mead bibliography published in Mind, Self and Society was prepared by Arthur C. Berholz. The Index reflects the work of Charles Morris and his wife.

There are four "Supplementary Essays" included, "The Function of Imagery in Conduct", "The Biologic Individual", "The Self and the Process of Reflection", and "Fragments on Ethics." These are reconstructions by Morris from essay fragments. The first is constructed from three separate pieces. The second and third appear to be excerpted from a single fragments. The fourth is a set of excerpts from another set of transcripts from his course on "Ethics".

In 1982, David L. Miller published The Individual and the Social Self, four sets of documents student notes from Mead's lectures ( see below). Two of the documents are student notes of unknown authorship from Mead's 1914 and 1927 lectures provided to Miller in 1968 by Dr. Irene Tufts Mead, Mead's daughter-in-law. The 1914 lectures were prefaced with the note "Philosophy 321, Social Psychology, a course taught by Mead in the Winter Quarter.

Miller comments that the 1927 notes document a course in social psychology taught in the spring quarter. The Lewis and Smith catalog of courses taught by Mead indicates that Advanced Social Psychology was taught in the Winter Quarter. This is the same set of Lectures that Morris states he relied on in creating Mind Self and Society. Miller observed that ...

"Although many problems treated in the notes are identical with those in Mind, Self and Society, they are approached from a different point of view. Also, two topics in that work, the generalized other and the "I" and the "me," are practically overlooked in these notes. But special attention is paid to some topics that are practically overlooked in Mind, Self and Society.

The origins of Mind Self and Society become murkier when the Cook's work on Mead is taken into consideration. In his notes on Chapter 4, Cook writes,

"Charles W. Morris, the editor of Mead's Mind Self and Society, claims in his preface that stenographic student notes of Mead's 1927 course in social psychology were used as the basis for this volume (vi). But the date Morris mentions here appears to be inaccurate. An examination of the materials from which Morris constructed the book reveals that the basic set of notes was taken by W.T. Lillie in Mead's course philosophy 321, advanced social psychology, during the winter quarter of 1928. See Mead Papers, box 11, folders 4 -13."

More and detailed scholarship is needed to resolve this issue. Mind Self and Society is the single most relied upon source for Mead's work on social psychology. The discrepancies between it and Miller's lecture notes should be minimal. Cook argues that the book is based on lectures given in a different year. While this would account for differences between the two sets of notes, the notion that they are not based on lecture transcripts but student notes should concern most scholars.

"The Philosophy of John Dewey"

This document was prepared from notes that were developed for the article "The Philosophies of Royce, James, and Dewey in Their American Setting."

Philosophy of the Act

This book is a collection of unpublished papers left by Mead, refined for publication by Charles Morris. The index was prepared by Milton Singer and John Parshall.

"Two Unpublished Papers"

These two papers, "Metaphysics" and "Relative Space-Time and Simultaneity", were prepared for publication by David L. Miller.

"Mead on the Child and the School"

Darnell Rucker, author of The Chicago Pragmatists (1969), uncovered this paper by Mead and edited it for publication. According to Cook, he did not realize that Mead had already published the document under the title " The child and his environment "

The Individual and the Social Self

As mentioned earlier, the materials in this publication include a set of student notes from Mead's 1914 lectures in social psychology, a set of student notes from Mead's 1927 lectures in social psychology, an unpublished essay by Mead entitled "Consciousness, Mind, the Self and Scientific Objects" and two student essays of unknown authorship provided to Miller in 1963 by Dr. John M Brewster. Brewster and his wife had assisted Charles Morris in the preparation of Mind Self and Society and the Philosophy of the Act. These essays are of no small import, however their pedigree is unknown (despite Miller's best efforts at identification).

The existence of alternative sets of student notes on Mead's perennial course on social psychology is both great utility to the scholar. Although such notes do not have the same stamp of authenticity as the lecture transcripts preserved in Movement of Thought, they do provide touchstones for estimating the ways in which Mead's thought changed over the years.

Play, School and Society

Mary Jo Deegan brought together this collection from previously published papers and excerpts from Mead's lectures.

Essays in Social Psychology

In 2001, Mary Jo Deegan brought into print the only book Mead had prepared for publication himself. Mead had originally given it the title Essays in Psychology and included several previously unpublished essays, as well as a few pieces (primarily on education) that had appeared elsewhere. The galleys remain on file among the Mead Papers in the Special Collections in the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago.


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