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[Xmca-l] Re: In Defense of Fuzzy Things

Very interesting, David. Thanks.

Serendipitously, a coujple of hours ago I heard for the first time the
Russian word, созерцать (contemplate) which came up in a discussion of,
yes, perezhivanie. I did not know the word, but guessed it correctly from
examples that were given. And then you come up with the same idea in
Wordsworth. Like wow.  2.33 degrees of separation?

In the discussion of the development of perezhivanie, I think this line of
thinking is the way to go:

"It seems to me that ontogenetically, a "переживание" must needs be at
first mostly a "felt experience", because the child doesn't have much
experience to recollect in tranquility [or even with lots of emotion!-mc].
It seems that a developmental account is important. Do you know of one we
could draw upon? Do you think LSV provides one?\


On Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:06 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Andy has written a number of posts in which he has implied clarity is a
> paramount goal in philosophical discussions, or, conversely, people are
> "confused" by having read key texts in an order which obscures their
> genetic relationship to each other.
> What I want to suggest  is that these two things are actually in
> contradiction: if we want to understand how texts are genetically related
> to each other, we have understand how the word meanings they contain can be
> "fuzzy" rather than clear.
> Fuzzy boundaries are, if you will pardon the expression, central to human
> languages, including philosophical language (which is, as Halliday points
> out, merely a tidied up version of naturally fuzzy language, an upstart
> which has come back to berate its slovenly parents). Let me take the very
> first sentence of "Thinking and Speech" as an example.
> "This work is a psychological study of one of the most difficult, complex,
> and intricately tangled questions of experimental psychology, the problem
> of thinking and speech."
> Vygotsky is very fond of triplets like these, and when we first read him,
> we often take it as redundancy, and we are comforted, because if we don't
> understand what he means by "complex" we can catch him on the rebound with
> "difficult" and if that doesn't work, we get a nice concrete image with
> "tangled".
> But as the text unfolds, it transpires that something can be difficult
> without being complex. For example, Vygotsky's interpretation of egocentric
> speech is actually less complex than Piaget's, because it has fewer parts,
> but it is quite a bit more difficult, precisely because it puts things that
> are apparently quite different together.
> Similarly, it transpires that something can be complex without being
> difficult, e.g. the different senses of "consciousness" used by Freud and
> Piaget, which Vygotsky sorts out with the simple example of tying his
> shoes. The question of learning and development is "tangled" and
> "difficult" but it has only two parts to it. So we have to say that there
> is a certain fuzziness here, not unrelated to the fuzziness of "unit" and
> "unity" that we've been discussing.
> Let me take one more example: the idea of  a "переживание".  Should it be
> "felt experience" or "thought over experience" or just "lived experience"?
> The difference seems extremely important; as Andy points out, the concept
> is undoubtedly related--genetically--to the emergence of "notion" or
> "concept" through contemplation. Andy is doubly right to relate it to the
> German Romantic idea of "Urphanomenon". We even find it in English in
> Wordsworth's famous preface to the Lyrical Ballads, where he defines poetry
> as "emotion recollected in tranquility":
> "(T)he emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the
> tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which
> was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does
> itself actually exist in the mind."
> But of course in order to see these quite distinct ideas as being linked,
> we can't just see them as clearly distinct--it's sometimes more useful to
> see them as being fuzzy. It seems to me that ontogenetically, a
> "переживание"
> must needs be at first mostly a "felt experience", because the child
> doesn't have much experience to recollect in tranquility. Only then can it
> become mostly a "thought over experience", and it is only in the minds of
> dinosaurs like me and Andy that we can say it is a thoroughly lived out
> experience. (I have sometimes felt a little like a
> placid, ruminant brontosaur set upon by a ferocious tyrannosaur, but I
> console myself with the thought that where Andy says I am confused, I am
> usually just plain wrong.)
> Still, I think this fuzziness of my language doesn't preclude setting up
> the kinds of distinctions that Andy finds so important in philosophical
> language; on the contrary, understanding how things move seems to
> necessitate a kind of "moving picture" approach where we can make many fine
> distinctions and then try to link them fluidly, simply because that is the
> way our language and our minds works. But there are two intellectual
> operations to this: the ability to separate things out into separate
> frames, and then the ability to join the frames in a single fluid motion.
> Once we clarify, we have to fuzz out.
> Take a look at this. It's actually a Flash Mob at Tesco's in Holland Park,
> London, carried out as a sort of publicity stunt by a local opera troop
> trying to publicize their rendition of Puccini's "La Rondine" (a kind of
> verismo version of "Traviata", except that nobody dies). Like any Flash
> Mob, the categories of experiencers are kind of fuzzy--at the beginning
> it's a little unclear whether the cashier's assistant is in on the joke or
> not: is she doing the Flash Mob or merely undergoing it? By the end it's a
> party to which everybody is invited, even the Chinese tourists with their
> cell phone cameras.
>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsLivg6byjM
> I think categories of experience are similarly porous, which is another way
> of saying that they are warm and fuzzy: we all begin as outsiders, but
> understanding is a process of becoming an insider. The question is: is
> becomign an insider a process of transforming undergoing into doing, or is
> it a process of transforming undergoing into doing? It's kind of fuzzy.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies