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Re: [xmca] Fyodor Vasilyuk "The Psychology of Experiencing"

Dear Peter, Andy Larry  and Greg,

 Jaan  has said that he never understood Leontiev nor finds him interesting
minute 22minutes 30 sec.
And later where he sets out 'empirical study as  guiding introspection
'limiting persons ( i.e.subject of experiment) introspective activity
narrowly to bring out 'phenomena of study'' around 1 hr 33 onwards.
 I asked a question in this meeting around the 'freedom of subject to
become 'experimenter'  - mode of  participative action-research - and from
that perspective I found Jaan's stance 'not social'. So here I see Jaan's
work as quite different , not bearing upon questions here.
 It's difficult to begin with so many possibilities  : I also have a
terrible cough/cold and have no stamina - and so there's no 'getting to the
'middle'' at once:). I'd like to go back to  two expressions ( between
sneezes) ; One in the Foreword by Zinchenko ( who is writing from a
different position to Vasilyuk, from a place that is emphasising
theoretical contribution within a bigger picture. Vasilyuk himself writes
from his relating within his practice of psychotherapy.)
"Of very great importance and value to the psychological theory of activity
as a whole ( not only to the theory of experiencing) is the transition
effected in this work from schema of a single activity to a schema of the
life-world...... Within this ontology of the life-world the idea of
experiencing is built up as of a person's 'working-over' of himself within
the world, and of the world within the self, when crises occur. The concept
of the life-world is important for the purpose of doing away with the
lingering remains - very tenacious of life in psychology circles - of the
classical gnoseological approach which saw subject and object as
existentially separate and opposed to one another and as meeting only on
the perceptual plane. The concept of life-world establishes the fact that
nowhere, except in our own theoretical constructs, do we find a person
before or outside of the world in which he lives, and that to consider him
in abstraction from that world is a fallacy,......"
 Foreword to English edition:
 "'facing' and 'working through' are imprecise colloquial terms for this
vital function of experiencing in psychotherapeutic change."
Here the orientation is to functions of experiencing which is contrasted
with 'Gendlin's concept of experiencing (which I'm not familiar with, but
the contrast is around whether a functional or phenomenological 'angle' is
"The process of direct feeling, regardless of what functions it may be
performing, can, according to Gendlin, be called 'experiencing' it is its
function in coping, in achieving control, which is of primary importance,
while its ontological status is secondary. We shall be denoting as
'experiencing' any process which brings about resolution of a critical
life-situation, irrespective of how that process is directly felt by the
individual. Not that we consider this process of direct feeling to be
unimportant, it is simply that we are commencing our investigation of
'experiencing' not from that phenomenological angle, but from the point of
view of function, seeing experiencing as, first and foremost, a special
kind of inner working towards the solution of a critical situation, only
later on shall we be posing the question of the phenomenological forms in
which the process takes place. from this standpoint even some external act,
one single instance of behaviour, can be 'experiencing' or a fragment of
experiencing, if it performs the function of enabling a person to cope
psychologically with a crisis."

There follows the 'Introduction' in the 1984 paperback. It includes
exploration of comparisons of the place of a psychologist who 'cannot with
the best will in the world, improve a patient's material or social
circumstances',  to understand what it is that psychology might 'do' - and
compares this with teaching - which is interesting for me.  ' only the
person concerned can *experience* the events, circumstances and changes in
life which have produced a crisis. No one else can do it for him just as
even the most skilful teacher cannot *understand* *for* a pupil the
material presented."
Then discussion goes on to a perspective of 'control, stimulation,
organisation , direction and ensuring favourable conditions - towards
strengthening and improvement of the patient's personality, or at least not
to worsen matters...

It seems to me there is are contradictions still in these expressions: That
'patient' or 'pupil' are encountering in relation with teacher or
psychotherapist in actuality - and are not ( in a phenomenological primary
stance) 'alone' or 'doing by themselves' either -.
  Quoting Zinchenko "nowhere, except in our own theoretical constructs, do
we find a person before or outside of the world in which he lives, and that
to consider him in abstraction from that world is a fallacy,......" Is
relevant because 'the lived world here is  actuality of learning
relationships in both scenarios.
 Just as 'resolution' as a finite closure is a construction from a
psychologist or teacher's side as 'created goal', in a life-world
'working-through' continues and so perhaps these terms are not quite the
best to use. Pupil/patient a 'created goal' of passing responsibility to a
'professional to resolve' is discussed too in this introduction - and
'advice' as in professional intervention to advise -  presented as also
'quite useless' and related to 'unrealistic hopes' - both of these aspects
make sense in either psychotherapy ( I imagine) or in teaching. So in
phenomenological 'actuality' realising  orientation ( of a more
useful/helpful form) is where the move with functional theoretical thinking
of Vasilyuk 'helps' him in  his practice - from his experiential reflection
and theoretical working through.

Though he presents that theoretical 'artifact' actualizising  and realising
in relation to it are 'not here' in the book. Nor is there an image of the
phenomenological order of experiencing that is worked with.. I understand
this through the distinction made on p84/85 of Andy's pdf. 'Life' being
understood in two ways, two concepts of activity.  Where the second is
biography and so 'cannot' appear in phenomenological order - My 'cannot'
here comes from my view of there being no 'static parts' - but rather a
transformational reconstitution, a  self-producing in an on-going life as
biography. [ And  I see Larry's points bearing  to deepen and coming
through here in this.]
 Although Vasilyuk says ' We are  no longer speaking of activity in 'the
general,  collective meaningof the concept' , this seems like 'thinking
activity' - which Davydov ( and some in the Moscow Methodological Circle
too) consider not as 'activity'. Theory of 'experiencing' , which has
transformative influence upon relations through 'motive' as he seems to go
on to discuss.
 [ But too much for one day with a cold!!]


On Sat, Jan 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:

> Try Valsiner's The Guided Mind:
> http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674367579
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
> Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2012 3:52 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Fyodor Vasilyuk "The Psychology of Experiencing"
> It has always seemed to me that character was somewhat of a blindspot in
> AN Leontyev's work, Larry, and Vygotsky does not do much better. It was one
> of the attractions of Vasilyuk, that he seemed to be offering an approach
> to personality within Activity Theory. There are lots of theory of
> personality of course, and the most developed date back to antiquity:
> astrology, and Jung's theory is indeed closer to astrology than to
> science. It may well be that a measure of eclecticism is needed to grasp
> personality.
> Andy
> Larry Purss wrote:
> > Andy, I am not arguing for Kenichi's approach as being more coherent
> > or "true". I merely wanted to point out that we can all refute the
> > ontology of the isolated individual and agree on the ontology of the
> > "living world" BUT there is still room to explore notions such as
> > Kimura's notion of "betweeness" which may contrast with Leontiev's
> > Activity theory.  The question I would propose is,  What KIND of
> > personality or disposition or character is formed within these
> > contrasting perspectives when viewed as a sequence of activities forming
> personality and dispositions?
> >
> > Larry--
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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