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Human-animal studies, G.H. Mead, and the question of animal minds

By T. J. Gallagher

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Abstract

In the field of human-animal studies (HAS), also known as anthrozoology, the question of nonhuman animal minds is central. During the first three decades of the 20th century, the social psychological G.H. Mead was among the first to take an explicitly contemporary approach to the question of mind in nature. Mead's approach to the question of the nature of mind is consistent with contemporary science. His approach was characterized by empiricism, interdisciplinarity, comparative behavior and anatomy, and evolutionary theory. For Mead, symbolic language was required for mind as he defined it. This stipulation has been called into question by scholars today. The evidence for the nature of animal minds today suggests that a symbolic language is not required for conscious awareness, deliberation, and decision making. Nonetheless, Mead has an historical relevance to the field of HAS for both the breadth of his work on the nature of consciousness, his contemporary approach, and the fact that some of his insights could be useful to contemporary scholars who are exploring the nature of mind, both human and nonhuman.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 153-171
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341396
Language English
Author Address Department of Sociology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA.tgallagh@kent.edu
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Behavioral research
  4. Domestic animals
  5. Humans
  6. Learning
  7. Livestock
  8. Mammals
  9. Men
  10. Mental ability
  11. Primates
  12. Psychiatry and psychology
  13. Relationships
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  15. vertebrates