The Origin of the Human Mind in Infant Dramatism

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Abstract
George Herbert Mead's symbolic interactionalism provides a social behaviorist theory of the origin of role-playing. Being a perspective which stresses the inherent theatricality of human interaction and of the human mind, it is therefore, in an indirect way, a theory of the psychosocial roots of drama. Where we find the origin of language, and the origin of the human self, there we find, as well, the origin of drama. Besides, Mead's concept of self-interaction resulting from internalized interaction is crucial for an adequate understanding of the generative process which gives rise to the complexity of the human mind. Keywords: George Herbert Mead, Dramatism, Social Psychology, Mind, Role-Playing, Internalization, Interactionism, Social Behaviorism, Drama, Self
2/12/2017
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The origin of drama in babies´ minds, and
The Origin of the Human Mind in Infant Dramatism
Symbolic interactionalism provides a theory of the origin of role-playing.
Being a theory which stresses the inherent theatricality of human interaction
and of the human mind, it is therefore, in an indirect way, a theory of the
psychosocial roots of drama. Where we find the origin of language, and the
origin of the human self, there we find, as well, the origin of drama.
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Surely a theory of the inherent theatricality of the human mind deserves
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THE ORIGIN OF THE HUMAN MIND IN INFANT DRAMATISM
—And the origin of drama in the infant human mind.
Symbolic interactionalism provides a theory of the origin of role-playing. Being a
theory which stresses the inherent theatricality of human interaction and of the
human mind, it is therefore, in an indirect way, a theory of the psychosocial roots
of drama. Where we find the origin of language, and the origin of the human self,
there we find, as well, the origin of drama.
I want to quote a crucial passage from George Herbert Mead's 'Mind, Self, and
Society', developing G. H. Mead's central concept of self-interaction resulting from
internalized interaction, as a generative process which gives rise to the
complexity of the human mind —a mind which is inherently social, as its very
structure is the result of an inner dramatization of sociality. The passage is equally
important as a contribution to an interactional theory of the origin of language. I
dealt with some aspects of Mead's theory of the self as it bears on the self and
language in previous papers, for instance here:
_____. "Una pequeña teoría sobre el origen y desarrollo del lenguaje." In García
Landa, Vanity Fea March 2015.*
http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/…/una-pequena-teoria-sobre…
2015
_____. "Bucles en la mente: Autointeracción, retroalimentación cerebral, y la
realidad como expectativa autocumplida." Social Science Research Network 10
May 2015.*
http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2604277
2015
—but now I want to emphasize another dimension in Mead's conception: it is a
theory of the origin of role-playing, and therefore, in an indirect way, a theory
which stresses the inherent theatricality of human interaction and of the human
mind. Where we find the origin of language, and the origin of the human self,
there we find, as well, the origin of drama. Protodrama is inscribed in the very
structure of the human mind, and in our earliest social interactions, those that
take place between the newborn child and its parents.
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Protodrama is to be found in play, and the complex role-play of the child goes
beyond the playful or make-believe attitudes of young animals. This complexity is
no doubt associated to the greater flexibility of the human brain (due to the human
altricity and to the infant maturation in the 'social brain'—processes which feed
back on each other). Human cognitive complexity, and cogntive flexibility, are
inherently linked to the inner dramatism of the self, to the role-playing capacity of
the human mind, and to the theatricality of human social structure. Theatre and
role-playing build up our mind right from the origin of the species and of the
individual.
Mead's text—from George Herbert Mead's 'Mind, Self, and Society'
(Supplementary Essay III, 'The Self and the Process of Reflection'), pp. 364-66:
"There are two interesting human types of conduct that seemingly arise out of this
relationship of child and parent. On the one hand we find what has been called
the imitation of the child, and on the other the sympathetic response of the parent.
The basis of each of these types of conduct is to be found in the individual
stimulating himself to respond in the same fashion as that in which the other
responds to him. As we have seen, this is possible if two conditions are fulfilled.
The individual must be affected by the stimulus which affects the other, and
affected through the same channel. This is the case with the vocal gesture. The
sound which is uttered strikes on the ear of the individual uttering it in the same
physiological fashion as that in which it strikes on the ear of the person
addressed. The other condition is that there should be an impulse seeking
expression in the individual who utters the sound, which is functionally of the
same sort as that to which the stimulus answers in the other individual who hears
the sound. The illustration most familiar to us is that of a child crying and then
uttering the soothing sound which belongs to the parental attitude of protection.
This childish type of conduct runs out later into the countless forms of play in
which the child assumes the rôles of the adults about him. The very universal
habit of playing with dolls indicates how ready for expression, in the child, is the
parental attitude, or perhaps one should say, certain of the parental attitudes. The
long period of dependence of the human infant during which his interest centers
in his relations to those who care for him gives a remarkable opportunity for the
play back and forth of this sort of taking of the rôles of others. Where the young
animal of lower forms very quickly finds itself resonding directly to the appropriate
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stimuli for the conduct of the adult of its species, with instinctive activities that are
early matured, the child for a considerable period directs his attention toward the
social environment provided by the primitive family, seeking support and
nourishment and warmth and protection through his gestures—especially his
vocal gestures. These gestures inevitably must call out in himself the parental
response which is so markedly ready for expression very early in the child's
nature, and this response will include the parent's corresponding vocal gesture.
The child will stimulate himself to make the sounds which he stimulates the parent
to make. In so far as the social situation within which the child reacts is
determined by his social environment, that environment will determine what
sounds he makes and therefore what responses he stimulates both in others and
himself. The life about him will indirectly determine what parental responses he
produces in his conduct, but the direct stimulation to adult response will be
inevitably found in his own childish appeal. To the adult stimulation he responds
as a child. There is nothing in these stimulations to call out an adult response. But
in so far as he gives attention to his own childish appeals it will be the adult
response that will appear—but will appear only in case that some phases of these
adult impulses are ready in him for expression. It is, of course, the
incompleteness and relative immaturity of these adult responses that gives to the
child's conduct one of the peculiar characters which attach to play. The other is
that the child can stimulate himself to this activity. In the play of young children,
even when they play together, there is abundant evidence of the child's taking
different rôles in the process; and a solitary child will keep up the process of
stimulating himself by his vocal gestures to act in different rôles almost
indefinitely. The play of the young animal of other species lacks this self-
stimulating character and exhibits far more maturity of instinctive response than is
found in the early play of children. It is evident that out of just such conduct as
this, out of addressing one's self and responding with the appropriate response of
another, 'self-consciousness' arises. The child during this period of infany creates
a forum within which he assumes various rôles, and the child's self is gradually
integrated out of these socially different attitudes, always retaining the capacity of
addressing itself and responding to that address with a reaction that belongs in a
certain sense to another. He comes into the adult period with the mechanism of a
mind."
Thus far G.H. Mead in "The Self and the Process of Reflection". It is a passage
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which surely deserves to be reread and reassessed in the light of contemporary
developments in neurology and in neuropsychology, which cannot but shed light
on two aspects of Mead's theory:
1) the reflexive dimension inherent for instance in the mechanism of mirror
neurons, and
2) the extraordinary plasticity of the human brain, which may shed further light on
the ability to manage role-playing (as well as on the early internalization of the
self-image reflected in others, —e.g. in the development of the moral conscience,
as well as of gendered identity.
For further discussion of internalized dramatism in Mead and other symbolic
interactionists, see the following:
García Landa, José Angel. "Interacción internalizada: el desarrollo especular del
lenguaje y el orden simbólico." Online PDF at ResearchGate 23 April 2012.*
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/33419873
2012
_____. "Goffman: Reality as Self-Fulfilling Expectation and the Theatre of
Interiority / Goffman: La realidad como expectativa autocumplida y el teatro de la
interioridad." Online PDF at Social Science Research Network (April 2008):
http://ssrn.com/abstract=1124990
2008
______. "'Inner Dramatization': The Theatre of Interiority in George Herbert
Mead." El Gran Teatro del Mundo 3 July 2016.*
https://www.facebook.com/elgranteatrodelmundo/posts/1328682690493961
2017
In García Landa, Vanity Fea 3 July 2016.*
http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2016/07/inner-dramatization-theatre-of.html
2016
_____. "Mead on Topsight." In García Landa, Vanity Fea 8 July 2016.*
http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2016/07/mead-on-topsight.html
2016
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_____. "The Ideal of Universal Communication." In García Landa, Vanity Fea 9
July 2016.*
http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2016/07/the-ideal-of-universal-
communication.html
2016
_____. "Consciousness as Rationality as Internalized Dramatism." In García
Landa, Vanity Fea 9 July 2016.* (G. H. Mead).
http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2016/07/consciousness-as-rationality-
as.html
2016
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    Este artículo expone una teoría simbólico-interaccional de la consciencia entendida como fenómeno emergente. Relaciona la teoría de Michael Arbib sobre el origen del lenguaje y el análisis de marcos de Erving Goffman, especialmente en lo referente a sus consecuencias para una teoría del sujeto y de la experiencia personal. Se muestra cómo la mímesis ficcional y la reflexividad son inherentes al origen del lenguaje y a la permanente creatividad emergente de la acción comunicativa humana. El aspecto emergente de la consciencia también se trata desde la perspectiva de una teoría narrativa de la experiencia subjetiva y de la experiencia humana del tiempo, teoría que resulta un complemento útil de las teorías de Arbib y Goffman y facilita su integración. ___________________________________________________________________________ This paper expounds a symbolic interactionist theory of consciousness as an emergent phenomenon. It relates Michael Arbib's theory of the origin of language and Erving Goffman's frame analysis, especially as it bears on our understanding of the subject and of personal experience. Reflexivity and fictional mimesis are shown to be inherent to the origin of language and to the continuing emergent creativity of human communicative action. The emergent aspect of consciousness is also dealt with from the perspective of a narrative theory of subjective experience and of human temporality which can usefully complement and relate Arbib's and Goffman's views.