A theory of the emotional self from the standpoint of a neo-Meadian
Abstract: In this dissertation, two fundamental questions are posed: (1) what is emotion, and (2) what part does it play in the social processes of self-formation and self-realization? How do we as behaving beings, who experience sensations, become interacting beings, who experience emotions? And, how are our emotional experiences related to who we are and our ability to acquire a positive relation to ourselves? By attempting to answer these questions I point out the social conditions that are necessary to enable emotional experiences, and in turn self-formation and self-realization. The focus is on the form, rather than on the content of the emotional self. From the developed neo-Meadian perspective on the emotional self, emotion is understood as a phenomenon linked to both mind and body, without being explained as a mind-body combination. It is argued that emotional experiences are (1) corporal evaluations of our interchanges with the outer world, especially, the other, and (2) crucial to who we are or want to be. An introduction to the neo-Meadian theory of the emotional self is presented in a general manner by including notions of the social self and emotion as social. In the first part of the dissertation, I suggest that diverse phenomena in the social process of self-formation and self-realization is explained by a view that has its roots in the classic social psychology of Adam Smith, Charles Horton Cooley, and, especially, George Herbert Mead. The view consists of three salient ideas: (1) the self does not emerge without the other or society, (2) it is from the point of view of the other or society that the self develops, and (3) self-realization involves a need for recognition. In the second part of the dissertation, I expand the view on emotion as social that is incorporated in the classic social psychology by investigating the recently established field of the sociology of emotions. Once the general structure of the notion of the social self and emotion as social is shown and provided with a preliminary defense, different modifications are considered. In the third part of the dissertation, both the classic social psychology and the sociology of emotions are modified to become more accurate. I elaborate on Mead’s distinction between social behavior, in the form of (1) functional identification, and social interaction, in form of (2) attitude taking of the thing from which he means that self-feeling arises, and (3) attitude taking of the other from which he means that self-reflexion arises.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)