Spiritual Self

By Shahla Mehrgany

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #83
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 3–6, 2008
(see list of papers from #83)

    George Herbert Mead (1934) is known as an eminent social psychologist who has made presentations and has written extensively about the concept of 'social self'. Through reviewing Mead's (1934) notion of self, this article endeavours to provide an insight and a deeper understanding of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's (1908) concept of 'self' as explained in depth in "Some Answered Questions".

    The main point of this presentation may be summarized in the following statement: "We can have a spiritual self which grows in a spiritual community through two types of reactions; with God as the source of spirituality, and the `all-unifying agency' for the society, and also with the faithful people inside the community or society, as the `generalized other'" The first section of this presentation focuses on the terms and concepts of Mead's (1934) famous work: "Mind, Self, and Society". The second section attempts to identify to what extent these terms and concepts could have symmetry in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's (1908) concept of self highlighted in "Some Answered Questions".

    An attempt will be made to answer at least four key questions based on 'Abdu'l-Bahá's explanation in "Some Answered Questions" (1908) and Mead's article (1934):
    1. What is self?
    2. What are the most significant factors which shape the self?
    3. What are the main types of self?
    4. What is spiritual self? Does it make any sense? Does it matter?

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