Mead and Dilthey: Similarities and Differences

Jean-Francois Cote, University of Quebec in Montreal

The relations between Mead and Dilthey still appear ambiguous today ; on the one hand, as the presumed eventual adviser of a doctoral dissertation that Mead never completed at the University of Berlin, Dilthey could appear as Mead’s own choice of a major guiding figure for his own intellectual development ; on the other hand, there is no significant reference to any of Dilthey’s works in Mead’s entire range of articles and (posthumous) books. While there has been some attention devoted to these ambiguous relations (Joas, 1985 ; Cook, 1993 ; Shalin, 2011), and while an in-depth examination has even argued for the recognition of the strong continuity between Dilthey and Mead (Jung, 1995), there are still some unresolved questions about that: to what extent did Mead follow Dilthey’s ideas about the radical distinction between natural and human sciences ? How did the later orientation towards an hermeneutics in Dilthey’s works can match Mead’s interest in ‘‘significant symbols’’ as a core theoretical view on social life ? How are individual subjects related to the hermeneutic/scientific interpretations given to their expressions ? How is the interest in the historical movement of thought that is both common to Mead and Dilthey develops in each of these works ? Those and the likes are the questions that will be raised in evaluating the similarities and differences between Mead and Dilthey.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 176. Data and Interpretation: Pragmatism and/or/vs Hermeneutics.