George Herbert Mead

  Male      American      Philosopher

About Author

George Herbert Mead (1863–1931) was an American philosopher, sociologist and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded as one of the founders of social psychology and the American sociological tradition in general.

Mead was born February 27, 1863 in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He was raised in a Protestant, middle-class family comprising his father, Hiram Mead, his mother, Elizabeth Storrs (Billings) Mead, and his sister Alice. His father was a former Congregationalist pastor from a lineage of farmers and clergymen and who later held the chair in Sacred Rhetoric and Pastoral Theology at Oberlin College’s theological seminary. Elizabeth Storrs Mead taught for two years at Oberlin College and subsequently, from 1890 to 1900, served as president of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. In 1879, George Mead enrolled at Oberlin College, graduating in 1883 with a BA degree. After graduation, Mead taught grade school for about four months. For the following three years, he worked as a surveyor for the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company.

In autumn 1887, Mead enrolled at Harvard University, where his main interests were philosophy and psychology. At Harvard, Mead studied with Josiah Royce, a major influence upon his thought, and William James, whose children he tutored. In 1888, Mead left Harvard after receiving only a B.A. and moved to Leipzig, Germany to study with psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, from whom he learned the concept of "the gesture," a concept central to his later work...

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