George Herbert Mead focuses on three essential themes in “Mind”. The first theme is Mind, the second is Symbols and Language, and third is the Essence of Meaning. Mead defines the first theme “Mind”, as a process or behavior that allows the conscious to control their actions. This means that the mind of the conscious plays out different scenarios in order to choose which choices it will make.
Symbols are objects or depictions that hold meaning to someone. Mead believes that through Symbols and Language, people adjust their behaviors. Mead makes an interesting point about how we interpret symbols and govern our actions and behaviors based on them. “To hold within our minds the meanings of things-that allows us to mentally rehearse lines of action without actually performing them.” We think and conjure different situations based on our own symbolic meanings of objects.
The Essence of Meaning according to Mead is a threefold relationship between: Individual’s gesture, response to the gesture by another person, and competition of the social act between the person who initiated the gesture and the person receiving the gesture. The Essence of Meaning refers to the gesture and it’s response that is socially meaningful, or significant, but only if it produces the desired response for the person who initiated the gesture.
In order for these gestures and responses to successfully occur and complete, there must be a common ground for interpretation or understanding of symbols. Mead defines this as Significant Symbols, which are words and gestures that have the same meaning for everyone involved in the social act. Without a common ground for understanding, it would be very difficult for people to interact involving gestures, for people will not know what is required.