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[xmca] Searching for essence
Further reflections on Wittgenstein and Vygotsky
Christine, I have been reading the article by Wittgenstein and reflecting
on the precision with which he DESCRIBES the functioning of aesthetic terms
such as the term *beautiful*. Wittgenstein questions if it is possible
to locate the *essence* of adjectival terms such as beautiful within any
generalized notion of the universal.
My understanding of Vygotsky is that he posits there is an
essence within aesthetic experience that can be located through analysis.
The aesthetic expression experienced when engaging with a work of art IS
the *aesthetic reaction* to a work of art. This generation of
the *aesthetic reaction* is the essence. The question then becomes how,
within particular cultures and particular historical epochs individuals
*aesthetically REACT* to works of art. How they react is the *essence*
of coming to understand aesthetic xperience.
Margaret Gredler, in exploring Vygotsky's understanding of aesthetic
reaction as the universal essence suggests Vygotsky's understanding leads
to the question,
How does history *show* WHICH feelings, in WHICH eras, via WHICH forms
have been expressed via art.
By analyzing a classical art form [ie Hamlet] the aesthetic reaction [in
general] can be studied. Observing the changes to the aesthetic reaction in
different epochs develops our understanding of this general aesthetic
Turning to cognitive development, Vygotsky asks if one can locate the
*essence* of cognitive activity through a process of analysis? [locate the
characteristics or properties displayed in all cognitive activity]
Margaret Gredler summarizes Vygotsky's answer to this question,
What is the general essence of the human activity of generating cognitive
processes? She summarizes Vygotsky's answer as follows,
* humans actively intervene in situations in which natural processes are
* humans create or appropriate symbols to gain control and MASTER a
* the symbols do not change or influence the object of the task but the
symbols redirect or reconstruct the individual's cognitive behavior in
approaching the task.
Gadamer's notion of *fusion* implies there are distinct horizons prior to a
conversation between horizons and the possible expansion of BOTH horizons.
Therefore, I am clarifying Vygotsky's notion of *essence* [as a particular
horizon] before asking
How would Wittgenstein respond to this notion of *essence*
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