Volume 1   Number 1      Spring 2006 

Pragmatism and the Dialogical Self
Norbert Wiley
University of Illinois, Urbana
pp. 5-21 [pdf     doc] 
ABSTRACT. This paper argues that American pragmatism, usually viewed as an action-based or practical theory of meaning, should also be regarded as a theory of inner speech or the dialogical self. James invented background concepts in the I-me duality of the self and the stream of consciousness. Peirce introduced inner speech itself, showing how this process is central to the human moral and deliberative capacities. Mead showed how we solve everyday problems with inner speech. And Dewey pointed out how we run mental experiments with the inner conversation. Taken jointly these thinkers constructed a complex and far reaching theory of the dialogical self. A second issue I consider is pragmatism's theory of meaning and how it relates to the dialogical self. I argue that the theory of meaning is best understood as including a socio-cultural component. And further this public theory of meaning should be distinguished from a second kind, the personal or private variety. I conclude by showing the advantages of orienting pragmatism toward both meaning and inner speech.  
Keywords: Pragmatism, meaning, inner speech, James, Peirce, Dewey, Mead, dialogical self