Self and Other in an Age of Uncertain Meaning explores the nature and origins of widespread problems of self in modern societies. It examines the paradoxical interplay between the modern world's many benefits and freedoms, and its mounting social challenges and psycho-emotional impacts.
Over time the character of consciousness has shifted in concert with societal trends. The experienced world has become more nuanced, fragmented, and uncertain, as well as increasingly personal and intimate, reshaping social relationships. Chapters analyze the interdependence of language, mind, intimacy, the self, and culture, arguing that as the coevolution of these five factors produced the modern world, many features of contemporary culture have become disruptive to security of being. The book explores the importance to the vital sense of self in constructing relationships based in mutual recognition of moral and intellectual equality between partners.
Rich with examples from everyday experience, this text offers profound insights for those interested in sociology, psychoanalysis, psychology, communication, history, and culture.
Table of Contents
1. Interpersonal Climate Change
LANGUAGE, MIND, AND INTIMACY
2. A Change of Mind
3. Signals to Symbols: The Awakening of Intimate Experience
THE ORIGINS OF UNCERTAINTY
4. Through the Rear-View Mirror
5. Recipe for Existential Crisis: Step 1. Undermine Certainty and Truth
6. Recipe for Existential Crisis: Step 2. Weaken Neighbourhood Ties
7. Recipe for Existential Crisis: Step 3. Foster Isolation
THE SHAPE OF THE MODERN SELF
8. Selfie Nation
9. Self from the Inside Out: Language, Mind, and the Sense of Self
10. From the Basement Up: Modernity, the Self, and the Unconscious Mind
11. And from the Outside In: Influences of Work, Technology, and Societal Institutions
12. We Are Each Other: The Dawn of the Interpersonal Self
13. Multi-Me: Self, Intimacy, and Loss
14. Mini-Me: Wrong Ideas about Communication, Self, and Intimacy
Timothy Stephen, PhD, is professor of communication at University at Albany (SUNY) specializing in the interrelationships of language, mind, culture, the self-concept, and intimacy, and, particularly, in the way in which communication in intimacy produces shared mind.
"In this engaging, provocative book, Timothy Stephen argues that our current difficulties with sustaining meaningful personal identities and intimate relationships are specific to conditions of modern society that have been developing gradually, and largely unnoticed, like climate change, for several hundred years. In this process, interpersonal communication has become ever more important but also more challenging. Based on many years of research and reflection, Self and Other in an Age of Uncertain Meaning offers an interpretation of our current predicament that can help us to meet those challenges." — Robert T. Craig, University of Colorado Boulder, founding editor of Communication Theory and former president of the International Communication Association.
"Timothy Stephen offers valuable insights on daily life that will resonate with any living person. He constructs thought provoking arguments for why things are as they are. The historical analysis and cultural commentaries are interesting and persuasive. The work is readable and compelling and will appeal to scholars and educated non-specialists alike. I feel confident that even those who disagree with Stephen's conclusions will find value in this book." —Matthew Clemente, PhD, Boston College
"The ‘self’ has become a very enigmatic category: who exactly is the ‘I’ and how is our identity shaped by our social environment? Even more perplexingly: who and what is the modern self? Lucidly and consistently well-argued, Self and Other in an Age of Uncertain Meaning addresses these questions in the context of intimacy and marriage. You will understand far better than you ever did what makes an intimate talk so supremely modern." — Eva Illouz, author of The End of Love and professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris