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[Xmca-l] Re: LSV on language as a model of development

Thank you, Alfredo, I think you have made a lot of progress in clarifying these problems and these formulations I do find much more satisfactory. Thank you, because in taking my apparently petty and nit-picking criticism seriously, some real steps towards clarity have been made. But there is still some more to do. :)

Here's Dewey's "Having An Experience" by the way:

A unit is always *also a unity*. "An experience" is a unity in the sense which Dewey so graphically describes, in that it marks itself off from the general background of experience and has an inherent completeness about it: "complete in itself, standing out because marked out from what went before and what came after."

And it is invariably is also a unity of disparate elements, such as sound and meaning, recognition and self-consciousness, doing and suffering,defect andf compensation, use and exchange-value, etc.. Generally, I think people recognise this aspect of units. What is I think widely not understood is the relation of the unit to the whole process.

Unit is always a relative term, i.e., it is a unit of some complex process whose analysis is at issue: the process at issue is seen to be made up of a large number of said units. Your claim is that an experience is "a unit of analysis for the relation between doing and undergoing." But I find this "relation between doing and undergoing" an entirely unclear concept. It sounds more like a readymade answer than a question or problem to be solved. Usually, if there is a concept, there is a word for it already at hand. Who asked for an analysis of the relation-between-doing-and-undergoing? When Vygotsky posed the problem of the relation of thinking and speaking this question already had a long and well-known history in Western philosophy and psychology, and I believe it was already understood to be related to the problem of the intellect. I think Dewey was prompted to write this article by a consideration of *art*: "Every work of art follows the plan of, and pattern of, a complete experience, rendering it more intensely and concentratedly felt."

But Dewey's article has lately been picked up out of interest in perezhivanie, hasn't it? For me, it was because Dewey reminded us that "an experience" can have a meaning and power much like the Russian perezhivanie, and that it is very different from "experience." So I question this supposed definition of the problem - "the relation of doing and undergoing." The unit of analysis is a singular concept of the process as a whole, and if we do not have a provisional concept of the process as a whole, then I think we are on very uncertain ground.

Also, in the article you cited, I was at pains to point out that a "unit" is *not* a "microcosm." Marx selected a commodity as the unit of bourgeois society; if he had wanted a *microcosm* he would have selected a capitalist firm (= a unit of capital), the *highest* product, a whole "world" in which the entire process (bourgeois society = the world market) is contained complete in miniature form - the most developed relation of the whole process. The commodity only contains all the phenomena of bourgeois society *in embryo* (=cell form). But did you mean that "the relation of doing and undergoing" is the microcosm? Not clear on that.

You refer to "joint development". Is this the subject matter of interest? What *is* the problem in fact? Until we are clear on that units of analysis are not in the frame.


*Andy Blunden*

Alfredo Gil Jornet wrote:
Initially, I meant unity of doing and undergoing in the sense that, in /an/ experience, the one aspect cannot be reduced to the other. So, doing and undergoing, as I read them in Dewey, and as you agree, constitute a unity. It is precisely in the difference/distance between the doing and the undergoing that an experience extends in time and action as a real, dynamic, but unitary phenomenon. I guess we all agree on this. I acknowledge my loose use of the term "unit" in the previous description, and understand your concern about it. So far, I have been using the notion "unit" to mean "unit of analysis." As unit, /an/ experience may be thought as "a product of analysis which, unlike elements, retains all the basic properties of the whole and which cannot be further divided without losing them." That is how we attempt to articulate it here in the context of science education: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/sce.21085/ I have further expanded those ideas in other works under review.

However, after Andy raised concern about the difference between "unit" and "unity," I realized that I had not a clear-enough answer as to the differences between the two. So I quickly went to the literature to make my mind clearer before answering. Following an initial reading, here is my attempt to be more specific about it: One could argue that "an experience", rather than "experience" as general conception (and this difference may not be clear enough in any of my previous writings), could be thought of as a unit of analysis for the relation between doing and undergoing, which is a "microcosm" of human experience during episodes of joint development. Obviously, here I am trying to roughly follow a scheme you provide in "Outlines" (2009). Does this line of thought make sense?

Thanks to this discussion, I realize that I need to make clearer statements about how the connections that I entertain between Dewey and Vygotsky in my dissertation constitute a "unit", a "substance", or neither of them. Thank you very much for opening this dimension of inquiry to me!


From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent: 04 July 2014 07:25:45
To: lchcmike@gmail.com
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; Alfredo Gil Jornet
Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: LSV on language as a model of development

Maybe, but Alfredo has been working with W-M Roth, and in a recent paper
Roth claims to quote Vygotsky saying that experience is "the dynamic
unit of affective and intellectual processes" (Roth's translation) and
goes on to make it clear that this was not a slip of the pen, but he
means "unit".
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/ <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>

mike cole wrote:
> That is how I interpreted Alfredo, Andy.
> (signed)
> an /in/-experienced oldtimer
> mike
> On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>     I am familiar with Dewey's work on this, Alfredo, and I too have
>     found it
>     very useful. That was not my problem. But thinking about it, I
>     suspect it
>     was just an English expression problem.
>     You said "experience is a unit of doing and undergoing". But I
>     think you
> meant to say "experience is a unity of doing and undergoing," which is
>     certainly true. Just as activity is a unity of consciousness and
>     behaviour, or identity is a unity of recognition and
>     self-consciousness,
>     etc.
> But a *unit* is something different from *unity*. "Experience" in this
>     sense is not a unit at all; "an experience" can be a unit, but not
>     a unit
>     of doing and undergoing.
>     Is that right, Alfredo?
>     Andy
> > Dewey, most extensively in chapter 3 of "Art as experience", makes a
>     > distinction between the general stream of experience, and an
>     experience,
>     > which, according to him, is the experience that "is a whole and
>     carries
>     > with it its own individualizing quality and self-sufficiency".
>     After the
>     > fact, an experience "has a unity that gives it its name, that
>     meal, that
>     > storm, that rupture of friendship", Dewey writes. He further
>     says that,
>     > within that unity, there is both an aspect of doing, of
>     initiation, and
> > another of undergoing, "of suffering in its large sense". He further
>     > articulates the relation between the doing and the undergoing in
>     terms of
>     > "anticipation" and "consummation" "Anticipation" he writes "is the
>     > connecting link between the next doing and its outcome for
>     sense. What is
> > done and what is undergone are thus reciprocally, cumulatively, and
>     > continuously instrumental to each other"
>     >
>     > Although in most passages these notes have a rather
>     individualistic taste,
> > he goes on to clarify that there is a prominent public character in
>     > experience: "without external embodiment, an experience remains
>     > incomplete" he says. In the same chapter, he also argues that
>     "it is not
>     > possible to divide in a vital experience the practical,
>     emotional, and
>     > intellectual from one another." Both these conditions may make
>     it possible
>     > to draw connections between Dewey's notion of experience and
>     Vygotsky's
>     > perezivanie.
>     >
>     > In any case, I find interesting the dialectic Dewey proposes
>     between doing
> > and undergoing as aspects of a minimal unit of sense-full experience > > because it allows for thinking of being immersed in a developmental
>     > situation in which the final form already exists before the
>     intellect
>     > grasps it, so that we do not need to put individual knowledge
>     > constructions as who puts the cart before the horse.
>     >
>     > But this is my reading, which may have obviated other aspects
>     that would
>     > preclude this reading?
>     > Hope this was of help.
>     > Best,
>     >
>     > Alfredo
>     > ________________________________________
>     > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>     <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>     <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>     <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>> on
>     > behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>     <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>
>     > Sent: 03 July 2014 17:17
>     > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>     > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: LSV on language as a model of development
>     >
>     > Alfredo, what did you mean by:
>     >> ... as he argued, experience is a unit of doing and undergoing,
>     >
>     > Andy
>     >
>     >
>     >