Sociology Index


The term "I" was introduced by George Herbert Mead to refer to the aspect of identity, or self, that reacts in social interaction to the expectations of others. In social interaction individuals are aware of the expectations of others, but they do not necessarily conform to these expectations in their reactions. This spontaneous, never entirely predictable, element of individual personality makes each individual a unique social actor. George Herbert Mead. "The Social Self", Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10, (1913): 374- 380.

RECOGNIZING that the self can not appear in consciousness as an "I," that it is always an object, i.e., a "me," I wish to suggest an answer to the question, What is involved in the self being an object? The first answer may be that an object involves a subject. Stated in other words, that a "me" is inconceivable without an "I."

And to this reply must be made that such an "I" is a presupposition, but never a presentation of conscious experience, for the moment it is presented it has passed into the objective case, presuming, if you like, an "I" that observes, but an "I" that can disclose himself only by ceasing to be the subject for whom the object "me" exists. It is, of course, not the Hegelism of a self that becomes another to himself in which I am interested, but the nature of the self as revealed by introspection and subject to our factual analysis.

The differences in our memory presentations of the "I" and the "me" are those of the memory images of the initiated social conduct and those of the sensory responses thereto.