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Re: [xmca] How can we reply to this...

Never having heard of Gendlin I consulted WIkipedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Gendlin and on this slender basis I could venture a few comments.

That concepts are ways of understanding the world, rather than things existing in the world is hardly news. You would have to go back 500 years to find a "philosopher" to argue against this. The question is where you go with this.

The example Wikipedia gives is gravity. Gendlin takes the observation "things fall" to be the basis of all concepts of "gravity" and says that this is the basis for gravity and the various historically arising theories of gravity, which modify the concept of gravity. Thus "Gendlin insists that 'gravity' is a concept and that concepts can't make anything fall. Instead of saying that gravity causes things to fall, it would be more accurate to say that things falling cause [the different concepts of] gravity. Interaction with the world is prior to concepts about the world."

The thing is that more recent theories of gravity do not arise from the observation that things fall, but rather from much more developed systems of activity which have become possible only in recent times. Such theories co-exist with mundane concepts of gravity, just as developed scientific forms of activity co-exist with mundane forms of activity. So we would say it is not the _passive observation_ that things fall which underlies all concepts of gravity, but rather the historically and culturally developing _forms of activity_ which continuously cause the idea of gravity to be recast in new theories. "Interaction with the world is prior to concepts about the world" means "culture is prior to concepts about the world." People interact with the world through culture, and there were no human beings before culture, and no children born into a culture-free world.

Vygotsky showed in his study of ontogenesis that the nature-given mental functions are recast and recombined in new Gestalten under the influence of participation in the social activity around them. Their minds are restructured, but still made up from the same nature-given functional units at base. If I have this wrong, others will correct me. I am not a child psychologist or even a psychologist of childhood. But I think this gives an opening to see how Gendlin's interesting innovations into therapy work. Another example, according to Vygotsky, "the subconscious" exists, but it is a construct which arises only in the course of later development. It does not - as it seems - preexist conscious awareness. It's a bit analogous to inner speech, which onotgenetically arises on the basis of speaking aloud. Even though everyone was quiet and nonetheless intelligent before they ever spoke, both onto- and phylo-genetically. It seems to me that Gendlin may well have a good technique for therapy, but that doesn't mean that the ontology and epistemology and theory of mind by means of which he systematises his understanding of it stands up to criticism.

Does that make any sense to you Ivo?

Ivo Banaco wrote:
Hi Michael and all,

Thank you for your interest and quick reply. I am studying in Lisbon,
Portugal in ISPA (Higher *Institute of Applied Psychology). I have a
background in Economics (my undergraduate studies and master degree is in
Economics) but I did not quite fit in the mainstream way of looking for
economic issues. My long time interest in Psychology drove me to study on my
own all that kept my attention in a rather random way. Discovering Vygotsky
was like discovering a golden mine that could start to structure my thoughts
about some issues, namely the relationship between mind, behaviour,
artifacts, economic and cultural structures, and how can all fit in some
dynamic Whole. *
*This quote about Gendlin came under a certain psychological tradition
related to the humanistic wave of Carl Rogers. Eugene Gendlin was a close
collaborator of Rogers and then carried forward his own original thought,
what can be called a existential humanistic and experiential psychology. His
first book was "Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning"  *
he talks about constructs like felt sense, or edge of awareness, where
language emerges from nonlanguage, from the intricacy of the bodily felt
felt meaning.

So in a sense he gives emphasis to experience and interaction first and
before culture. It's a living thing that is formed first, which is pre
cultural, cultural and more complex than culture. He says that the body, the
human body is always more than any define form, from the start. He tries to
find a 1st person science, that cannot be reducible to neuroscience,
economics, culture. He points directly to experience, the bodily felt
experience which allows human to act in the first place. So here the unit of
analysis is the continuous experiencing.

I don't know if this helps to put Gendlin in context. My question is how can
we avoid to be reductionist approaching the cultural dimension of the human
being, that is not reducing humans to culture and vice-versa.


On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:53 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:


Where are you studying? gmail is such a general address!!

If you have no existential doubts or gordian knots, start to get concerned
about your state of mind. Perfectly normal and healthy. Existential
uncertainty seems the lot of human kind.

Without knowing a lot more, I can offer no interpretation, let alone a
reply, to Gendlin's statement about big things and little things. Is
reference being made to neuroscientific 50 millisecond little things and
100 millisecond big things?

In light of issues discussed here (feel free to buzz the past decade or so
in the archives for context) where do this fit?


On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 4:21 AM, Ivo Banaco <ibanaco@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear xmcaonaughts,

As a new kid on the block, recently researching in Cultural Psychology and
wanting to do my Phd thesis in this area, I still have "existential doubts"
and big gordian knots. Having read different kinds of literature in
different traditions in Psychology I still have troubles in replying to
sentences like this by the existential philosopher and psychologist Eugene

"Any little thing, any big thing is precultural, because it is tissues and
it is animal life, and it's culture and it's also after culture, more
complicated than culture. The body is this much more complex, much more
intricate system from the start."

Any thoughts?

Best regards,

Ivo Banaco

PS: I wish you all a merry Christmas and a great 2011.

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 5:03 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

Several of the articles on show below appear of interest to various

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Teachers College Record <no-reply@tcrecord.org>
Date: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Transitioning From an Innovative Elementary to a Conventional
To: Recipient <mcole@ucsd.edu>

   [image: Title]
 [image: Subscribe Today] <http://www.tcrecord.org/Subscriptions.asp>
  [image: transparent 13]
   Freely-Available This Week
 Smuggling Authentic Learning Into the School Context: Transitioning From
Innovative Elementary to a Conventional High
by Renée DePalma, Eugene Matusov & Mark Smith
 Analyzing the discourse of eighth-grade graduates from an innovative
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distinct response patterns characterizing concurrent projects of
self-actualization and institutional achievement. Our analysis suggests
a certain critical ambivalence toward credentialism and competition can
part of a healthy strategy for school success, particularly for those
marginalized groups who do not wholly buy into the (predominantly White
middle-class) historically rooted traditions of conventional schooling.

 Designing Transparent Teacher Evaluation: The Role of Oversight Panels
Professional Accountability<
by Jennifer Goldstein
 This article explores a policy intended to improve the quality of
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program-its oversight panel-asking how an oversight panel alters the
practice of teacher evaluation. The core argument of the article is that
oversight panels have the potential to fundamentally alter the
of the teacher evaluation process and, in turn, the nature of

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 Multiliteracies in Motion: Current Theory and
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reviewed by William Kist
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reviewed by Monisha Bajaj
 Persuading Fred: An essay review of recent books by Stanley Fish, Louis
Menand, and Martha
reviewed by James Donald
 Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public
 by David F. Labaree
reviewed by Floyd M. Hammack

 Henry Braun discusses his paper, co-authored with Irwin Kirsch and
Yamamoto, "An Experimental Study of the Effects of Monetary Incentives on
Performance on the 12th-Grade NAEP Reading
 In Praise of Slow Reading<
by Thomas Newkirk
This commentary argues against the high valuation schools place on
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 2010 NSSE Yearbooks and Call for Proposals for Future
The editors of the Teachers College Record announce the yearbook topics
2010 and issue a call for new proposals.

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