Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Interesting Precedent for Social Behaviorism

Having recently written about my interest in George Herbert Mead and the concept of "social behaviorism," I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting precedent for his approach to social theory. Here is the text that was the source of my surprise:

The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

The second sentence provides the punch line that interested me, but the first sentence provides the better clue to the source. The author is Karl Marx. The text comes from A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, which was written in 1859. That is an honorable ancestry for a turn-of-the-century American social theorist, not to mention reinforcement for my recent argument that our own political economy is in need of some serious rethinking!

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