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One of the most famous quotes in the works of George Herbert Mead is, “Man lives in a world of meaning”. This quote features in the works of Herbert where he tries to ascertain the validity of man in the natural environment.
This paper explores the quote. Of greater importance in the paper is expounding the quote as it relates to man and nature. The paper begins by giving an overview of the quote, followed by a discussion about the validity and applicability of the theory to the socialization aspects of human beings in the environment in which they dwell.
Understanding the quote
According to Mead, human beings live in a world of perpetual reality where they can see, sense, touch, and respond to changes in the environment. The reaction to what people see and hear is more important than just the aspect of hearing, sensing, testing, and seeing.
What makes man a real being is the fact that he can mediate between his senses and make some decisions concerning that which prevails in his environment. This means that man goes far behind the physical sense of existence. Unlike other beings, man responds to the stimuli and can project the possible future changes in the physical stimuli through a thoughtful analysis of the prevailing physical conditions in the environment.
Moreover, the actions of man are critical to the exploration of the physical environment to their advantage (enjoyment) or to their disadvantage (disappointment). Man has to balance between the physical realities that are brought out in science and the inner intellect to build a world that is favorable for human existence and survival (Cain 7).
The socialization of human beings
It is important to begin with an observation that human beings are the most rational creatures. Moreover, human beings are endowed with the capacity and ability to shape the environment around them. The attribute of socialization within the human species can be traced far back in the theories of evolution.
This means that the modern man is more social. Therefore, the interaction of man to man and man with the physical environment is an important aspect of socialization. One of the most important things in the socialization of man is the issue of developing capabilities for other people and enabling them to control the physical environment for their well being. In this sense, the cognitive ability of man is put to test when he comes across other people who are incapacitated.
The issue of philanthropy, thus, comes into the picture. Based on Mead’s observation, it means that the world does not have to make meaning to man, but man has to make a meaning in the world by inventing solutions to the gaps of living between different people in the society.
According to Coon (43), humanism is one of the key attributes of developing a world that is habitable for all human beings. Therefore, a lot of ethical principles have been developed by human beings as a basis on which the characters of human beings are molded to promote the well being of the environment. Cooperation at the global level is something that is given a lot of emphasis by man in the contemporary times, in spite of the prevalence of conflicts within the modern society.
The ability of human beings to influence and shape the future state of the world comes from the fact that human beings are reasoning creatures and can learn from the past and present experiences. For instance, the effects of the Second World War have created a concern in the minds of human beings to an extent that peace is often given priority in most of the aspects of development and interaction (Coon 44).
However, it is also critical to note that there are negative antecedents of socialization within human societies. Most of the vices that prevail in the society today, like conflicts, war, terrorism, corruption, and environmental degradation, emanate from the minds of men who seem to align their thoughts in a manner that is non-human.
According to Henning, Renauer and Holdford (352), such tendencies depict heterogeneity in the cultural systems that have been developed in the world. The high level of variation in the characters of people comes from the fact that people keep exercising things differently. This may result in the adoption of certain characters that are not synonymous with the people. An example is the women who engage in hard violence. Situational variability within different cultural groupings in the world is the cause of vices.
This, in turn, denies man the chance to derive and sustain joyful experiences from the environment. Value systems in the society are an important ingredient in the embrace of humanity. Humanity is an important virtue upon which the ethics and codes of standards that govern the interaction of human beings with other human beings and the interaction of human beings with the physical world are founded (Coon 44).
The other perspective from which the nature of aesthetics can be looked at in the contemporary world is the direct interaction between human beings and the environment and how it depicts man as social beings. One of the discoveries that have been made by the social scientists who study human socialization with a focus on the natural environment and its value to the well being of all people is that most people act consciously with respect to the natural environment.
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This raises the question of how human consciousness plays out in the development of an open, supportive, and a sustainable environment for all beings. Based on the ethical theories and concepts, it can be argued that human beings have the responsibility to shepherd the natural environment so that the environment can be supportive to the present generation, as well as the future generations.
However, the freedom that has been developed from human socialization and human civilization is the main cause for the prevalence of thoughts and actions that are not consistent with the stewardship aspect when it comes to the relations between human beings and the natural environment.
The industrial and post-industrial societies have embraced what can be referred to as selective value, where human beings choose actions that satisfy their needs without caring for the needs of other human beings. It can be argued that the selective value deprives of human beings the quality of socialization. Pro-environmental behaviors depict a higher sensitivity to nature and sensitivity to human life. However, the opposite of this is also true (Dolnicar and Grün 694).
Human beings are rational beings. This puts them in a position to develop interactions in their environment. This position can either work for their well being or against. From the discussion presented in this paper, it can be concluded that the statement by Mead reflects how human beings develop and shape their behaviors and actions as they interact with the world.
Cain, Rudolph Alexander Kofi. Alain Leroy Locke: Race, Culture, and the Education of African American Adults. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003. Print.
Coon, Carl. “The Architecture of Ethics.” Humanist 65.1 (2005): 43-44. Print.
Dolnicar, Sara, and Bettina Grün. “Environmentally Friendly Behavior: Can Heterogeneity Among Individuals And Contexts/Environments Be Harvested For Improved Sustainable Management?” Environment & Behavior 41.5 (2009): 693-714. Print.
Henning, Kris, Brian Renauer, and Robert Holdford. “Victim or Offender? Heterogeneity Among Women Arrested for Intimate Partner Violence.” Journal of Family Violence 21.6 (2006): 351-368. Print.