[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: [xmca] Affect Is Not (all of) Emotion
David, thanks for a very clear presentation of your interpretation of
Vygotsky's "moments". I found myself agreeing with many moments of your
analysis. I want to engage with your perspective on the formation of a
mental function. The first moment is a phylogenetic process [vocalization in
iself, practical activity in itself]
The second moment is a sociocultural PROCESS FOR OTHERS. INVOLUNTARY
SOLUTIONS which are only made volitional by afterthought. This second
moment seems to be of central importance in the development of volition and
also how one views the relationship of the 3rd moment [deliberate,
intentional,conscious, mental activity] It is only in the 3rd moment as
volitional activity, that thinking and speech are at last unified in VERBAL
I also appreciated how you caution us not to see these "Moments" as POINTS
OF VIEW as the construct "points" points to a linear, abstract, distinct and
separate process with clear boundaries and structure. I think this
perspective on "moments" and "points" is critical as it engages the
contrasting notions of development as "stages" or "layers"
You also mention that humans tend to define thinking in a way that privleges
the ability to think in a manner DETACHED from the visual field by the
IDEATIONAL functions of language AS OPPOSED TO THE INTERPERSONAL ONES.
For Vygotsky, this ideational manner of thinking is NOT SIMPLY RATIONAL but
includes emotions. Supra-individual emotion [artworks, literature]
distanciates emotion from face to face interaction and goes beyond the
visual field. These feelings are shared through language and literature and
have all the qualities of social forms of cognition and cease to be PURE
This is a persuasive account of the centrality and foregrounding of
volitional CONTROL and MASTERY in the development of SELF-REGULATION. It
also acknowledges the centrality of the 2nd moment in furthering the
sociogenesis of volitional intentional agency.
Now for my question which adds to the conversation on the relationship of
the 2nd and 3rd moment within the development of "agentic capacity"
[volitional free will]. Is this model of development that teleologically is
moving towards greater self-regulation, self-mastery, and self-control an
historical artifact of modern technological society which requires us to
adapt to decontextualized institutional settings where we must flexibly be
able to occupy multiple roles [ie my skills as a teacher are portable and
can allow me to flexibly adapt to school systems throughout North America]?
David I strongly support the need to develop [within our current social
structures] the capacity for self-regulation and volitional free will. I
also agree that acquiring this capacity to recognize that my volitional
self-control "counts" [matters] and has an impact on the world is central
for a sense of well being in modern technological systems of organization.
However, I wonder if ideally there could be alternative models of "agency"
that are envisioning a more "communal sense of agency" that COORDINATES the
2nd moment and third moment in development in a more inclusive social space
that opens up the possibility for the emergence and recognition of the
continuing need for the vital interplay of the second and 3rd moment in the
development of agency and volition. This form of agency would manifest as
the capacity to coordinate the experience of the sociocultural process FOR
OTHERS [2nd moment] with the experience of verbal thinking. I agree this
level of fluidity requires the emergence of the 3rd moment as a
pre-requisite for re-integrating the 2nd moment but I wonder if we should
privilege both the 2nd [concrete] and 3rd moments in development as
central to the formation of the "higher emotions, aesthetics, morals,
ethics, and ideologies. The person develops the capacity to act
volitionally [and differentiates self from other] as the 3rd moment but that
may not be the end point in my teleological narrative. As Martin Packer
mentioned in the metaphor of the globe we should develop the flexibility to
move North, South, East, and West on the coordinates [and move dynamically
between the abstract and concrete in either direction]. Within dynamic
SOCIAL SPACES of EMERGENCE WE can open space for a "dialogue" between the
involuntary and voluntary acts of communication. [this model assumes
involuntary sociogenetic affective responses to OTHERS is a form of
David, if we are privileging "self-regulative" models of volitional control
which are DETACHED from the visual field as our models of thinking, then I
wonder if this is our Western bias which has emerged within a
particular HISTORICAL context. Is the endpoint of development increasing
volitional self-regulation or is this only one particuative lar perspective
which accentuates control and mastery but at the expense of more communal
formations of agentic capacity. Until our sociocultural contexts change, in
order to survive and function within modern institutional arrangements,
self-regulation will be the dominant model of selfhood.
However we may be able to envision more communal models of volition where
being able to move others and be moved by them is an alternative ideal. I
want to emphasize that my alternative model may require first developing
"self-regulation and control of "affect" in order to distanciate from affect
[and not be overwhelmed] but there may be a further development beyond
self-regulation. I'm not sure at this point if self-mastery is required or
if it requires a change of sociocultural ideals to scaffold an alternative
model of agency.
On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 10:our 24 PM, David Kellogg <
> First of all, I want to straighten out a confusion in my last post. Then I
> want to make a case for Vygotsky's strong anti-Freudian position and his
> apparently strident championship of volition and free will in Thinking and
> Speech (especially Chapter Six ). Finally, I want to claim that the key
> difference between affect and emotion more generally is the possibility of
> achieving volitional control of affect through the social sharing of a
> feeling: emotion includes affect, but it's not limited to affect.
> Disconfusion first. Mike points out that my last post was confusing because
> it wasn’t clear what I was rabbiting on about in the first sentence when I
> talked about how Vygotsky uses the word "moment" for "things" or "aspects"
> or "facets" (Seve's translation) or "factors" (Minick) or "elements"
> When Vygotsky sums up, he uses "moment" the way you or I would use
> "points", when you say something like "I want to make three points". When we
> talk using a powerpoint, there's this very strong tendency to treat the
> points as separate, as bullet points. And when we hear Vygotsky summing up
> these points at the end of the first section of Chapter Four, he really
> sounds redundant and long winded--the points are not distinct or separate,
> but linked and more or less overlapping. He made all these points at the
> beginning of the section anyway. Reader, be patient!
> But above all let the translator have patience. Hanfmann and Vakar cut the
> book in half (the first Korean translation, in 1985, was just over a hundred
> pages!). They thought they were eliminating redundancy. Translators also
> changed Vygotsky’s use of “moment” to “aspect” (Seve) or “element” (Meccaci)
> or “factors” (Minick). But Vygotsky's use of "moment" instead of "point" has
> a point, and it's the same point as his apparent redundancy.
> Vygotsky's "point" is, always and everywhere, that the emergence of a
> function is process, and a process has moments, moments which appear to
> overlap (but this is mostly because of the vague, imprecise, and slippery
> meaning of the word moment), moments which are not always clearly distinct
> (because we tend to treat crises as abnormal moments instead of intrinsic to
> develop), and moments which need to be described in slightly different ways
> as they develop (functionally, structurally, genetically).
> And MY second point or moment is a resolute defense of Vygotsky's views on
> volition (against Freud and even against Luria's view that "a mind cannot
> control behavior any more than a shadow can carry stones"). Vygotsky is
> really writing in a period when, as Volosinov remarks in his critical sketch
> of "Freudianism", people have (correctly) lost all faith in (bourgeois)
> culture, society, and ideology, and there is a very strong reaction against
> the Enlightenment, against logic and against rationalism. This expresses
> itself, in Freud, Levy-Bruhl, and Blondel, in the belief that at bottom man
> is just an animal like any other.
> Vygotsky disagrees; for him, verbal thinking and volitional behavior go
> together like love and marriage and horse and carriage (i.e. not
> phylogenetically but sociogenetically and psychologically). In Section One
> of Chapter Four of Thinking and Speech, Vygotsky lays out two distinct lines
> of development for thinking on the one hand and speech on the other by using
> phylogenetic evidence.
> He also critically discusses the work being done on the “speech” of
> anthropoid apes. He does not bother to show how they are linked; that is for
> the chapters to come; for Vygotsky the two processes cannot be linked in
> phylogenesis but only in sociogenesis, just as the "vocal tract" as an organ
> distinct from the component organs for breathing on the one hand and eating
> on the other is completed in sociogenesis and not phylogenesis.
> As usual, Vygotsky lays out two contrasting positions. On the one hand,
> Kohler and others believe that apes have the peripheral “speech” skills for
> speech (vocalization and gesture) but not the thinking intelligence. On the
> other, Yerkes and Learned hold that apes have the “ideational” intelligence
> but not the peripheral skills. And as usual, Vygotsky uses each position to
> demolish the other and then suggests an experimentum crucis, just as he does
> with Piaget/Bleuler and child egocentrism and again with learning and
> Yet in many ways the most important outcome of this section lies neither in
> these discussions of pre-human development of vocalization and problem
> solving, nor in the critical discussion of Yerkes and the somewhat less
> critical appropriation of Kohler, nor in the strikingly prescient preview of
> the 1960s experiments with ape language. Here we see one of the clearest
> applications of the general METHOD that Vygotsky will apply in Chapter Five,
> Chapter Six, and Chapter Seven.
> Vygotsky looks for a unit of analysis, which is a process or a line of
> development rather than a thing (in this case, it is the formation of a
> mental function). Then he discovers three different moments in its
> development: a phylogenetic process in itself (vocalization in itself, and
> practical activity in itself), a sociocultural process for others
> (vocalization treated as a warning by others, involuntary solutions which
> are only made volitional by afterthought), and only in the final moment a
> psychological process of deliberate, intentional, conscious mental activity:
> thinking, on the one hand, and on the other hand speech. It is as volitional
> activity, and only as volitional activity, that thinking and speech are at
> last unified in verbal thinking.
> But now for my third point, which is (finally) that affect is not (all of)
> emotion. We now know that chimpanzees do learn to passively and
> intelligently respond to speech, and learn it well (say, up to a five year
> old's level). They do not simply learn vocabulary; they also understand
> grammar, and the great complexity of commands to which they can respond
> ("Take the orange and give it an injection with a syringe and then take it
> outside and place it in a potty") shows that there is in principle no
> obstacle at all to learning hypotaxis (which is, after all, only an
> intra-sentential form of the kind of subordination we often find in
> However, chimps only do this in a human cultural environment. They won't do
> it without us, and they won't even do it with formal instruction (as the
> experiments of Yerkes and then the Gardners showed). I think this is
> completely consistent with Mike's work, much of which centres on the crucial
> observation (made by Kohler in this section) that every test of intelligence
> is also a test of the intelligence (and the culture) of the test designer.
> We test designers tend to fail the most basic empathy tests and design tests
> which privilege our own particular and often peculiar form of intelligence
> at the expense of others.
> So as we might expect, humans tend to define thinking in a way that
> privileges the ability to think in a manner detached from the visual field
> of action that is made easy by the ideational functions (the experiential
> and logical functions) of language (as opposed to the interpersonal ones).
> But wait. This ideational manner of thinking is not simply a matter of
> rational, logical operations favored by Piaget. For Vygotsky, the
> ideational includes emotion too. The social expression of supra-individual
> emotion (the kind of emotion we find in artworks, but also the sort we find
> in mass movements) is no longer dependent on face-to-face, one-on-one
> interaction and iconic or indexical representation. It cannot therefore be
> reduced to affective reactions to the visual field.
> It consists of feelings which can be and which frequently are fully shared
> on a very wide scale through language and literature. As such it has all the
> qualities of social forms of cognition. And as such it must cease to be pure
> affect; instead it forms the basis of higher emotions, aesthetics,
> morals, ethics, and eventually class ideology. Unfortunately, the last of
> these is still the highest form of feeling that our benighted species has
> yet achieved.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list