Connectionism and self: James, mead, and the stream of enculturated consciousness

Yoshihisa Kashima, Aparna Kanakatte Gurumurthy, Lucette Ouschan, Trevor Chong, Jason Mattingley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


William James conceptualized I, the self as subject as a stream of consciousness. When this conception is augmented with George Herbert Mead's view of self as a radically socialized and enculturated process, a result is the James-Mead model of dynamic self as a stream of enculturated consciousness. In this paper, we argue that connectionism is best suited to theorize this challenging notion. Based on the view that a connectionist model should describe psychological processes that carry out psychological functions grounded in a biological living system, we propose the I-SELF (Imitative and Sequence Learning Functional) model, which is designed to capture the temporal dynamics of a stream of consciousness whose content can be acquired via symbolically mediated social interaction with others in society. We identify four implications of the James-Mead model of dynamic self (embodiment, narrative and self, individual and collective self, and culture and self), and report computer simulations to show the utility of I-SELF in conceptualizing the dynamic self-processes in the contemporary social psychological literature. Theoretical and metatheoretical implications of the connectionist approach to self are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-96
Number of pages24
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Connectionism
  • Consciousness
  • Cultural dynamics
  • Culture
  • Embodiment
  • Imitation
  • Self

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