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



Davis -- Right!  And it is unclear who contributed, this is key.  We who
are watching are part of the formation of the intersubjectivity? THanks,
Beth


On Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 5:36 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Many thanks to all of you who managed to make any sense at all of my last
> post. Of course, the penultimate line was not supposed to be that clever.
> What I meant to say was not, actually,  "The question is: is becomign an
> insider a process of transforming undergoing into doing, or is it a process
> of transforming undergoing into doing?"  I meant to say:
>
> "The question is, is becoming an insider a process of transforming
> undergoing into doing (e.g. passively taking part in a flash mob) or a
> process of tranforming doing into undergoing (e.g. reflecting upon it in
> tranquility)?"
>
> Let me try to twist some of the strands you all unravelled from the fuzz (I
> won't promise to twist them into a thread, though).
>
> Mike asks if LSV ever presents an ontogenetic account of how "felt
> experience" becomes "lived experience". One of the reasons we are
> busy translating this material into Korean a country where the regime has
> just expelled the working class opposition from parliament, sentenced its
> leaders to twelve years in prison and banned the main teachers' union, is
> that we need what Helen needs--some material that will appeal to militant
> teachers in a pretty direct, understandable, and above all concrete way.
> And the lectures on pedagogy are just that.
>
> So in addition to the extra-textual comparison (the comparison with the
> previous lecture on the environment) Vygotsky's presentation in "The
> Problem of the Environment" contains a very important cross-sectional
> comparison between three children who have an alcoholic, violence-prone,
> and mentally disturbed mother who end up in Vygotsky's clinic. The
> first has what I've called "felt experience": he responds to the drunken
> mother as a mother, and not as a drunk--the experiences are funny or
> terrifying, they are overwhelming and not operational, they are paralyzing
> and not processable (that is, they have sense, or sensibility, but they do
> not yet have significance). The second has  what I've called "thought"
> experience: he responds to the drunken mother with what Vygotsky calls
> the  Mutter-Hexkomplex,
> ('т.е. "комплекс матери-ведьмы"'), or the "mother-demoness" syndrome. I
> haven't actually found ANY reference to this "syndrome" anywhere, but it's
> pretty clear what Vygotsky means: the child cannot decide if the person
> raging in the house is a mother or a drunk. At the moment, she is inclined
> to respond as to her as a drunk and only upon reflection as a mother.The
> third has what we can call "lived" experience. He has seen through the
> mother and is resigned to seeing the mother through. The acts are those of
> a drunk and not a mother, and so he must sacrifice his promising career as
> a school child and look after the family.
>
> It seems to me that it is pretty easy to see this cross-sectional
> comparison as an ontogenetic sequence. What is a little LESS clear to me is
> this. Vygotsky writes: "Пьяная мать или психически больная мать--это то же
> самое, что психически больная няня, не то, что пьяный отец или пьяный
> сосед." Is he really saying that having an alcoholic, mentally disturbed
> mother is more like having a mentally disturbed nanny than like having an
> alcoholic father? Is that because the mother but not the father is a
> caretaker? (See 4-20 below, in case you are as confused as I am!)
>
> Lubomir argues that what is "fuzzy" to us was actually very clear to
> Vygotsky. But we know that Vygotsky, as far as nomenclature is concerned,
> is "la gazza ladra", a thieving magpie who will steal your silver spoon to
> build his nest. The terms he uses (egocentric speech, pseudoconcept,
> learning, development, and even the word "pedology") are all words used by
> someone else that he has co-opted and filled with his own, special content.
> My point was that his special content is necessarily not fixed--it must
> needs change with development. After all, the whole point of "Thinking and
> Speech" is that word meanings develop ontogenetically, and microgenetically
> the word "and" means one thing when I think and then speak, and it means
> something quite different when you speak and then I think.  I agree,
> though, that translating jokes is a very good test case (for example, when
> Vygotsky leaves out English letters in the lecture on heredity,
> in paragraph 3-35 below, is it a joke? That is, is Vygotsky leaving out E,
> F, and G deliberately, to show us that there must be a gap?)
>
> Many thanks to Mike on clarifying that verb--we learned it in Russian
> class, but my Russian classes are conducted in Korean, and sometimes these
> exta meanings escape me.
>
> Andy--Halliday has a really good explanation of the rise of scientific
> language in the seventeenth century--how we began to take processes
> and nominalize them (e.g. "I grow fast" becomes "rapid growth"). He also
> points out how this new language of science was co-opted for non-scientific
> purposes--because of the need for a language of prestige that was not
> obviously connected to religious discourse. This allowed, for example,
> Newton to write sentences that looked something like mathematical equations
> ("Crack growth rate is proportional to pressure"), and it also allowed us
> to create the kinds of hierarchies of concepts which you are quoted as
> listing as a key property of academic concepts on p. 25 of Helen's new
> book. (Note that the Tea Partiers are also hostile to scientific discourse,
> and prefer good old religious discourse; they are essentially a neo-fascist
> party very similar to the National Front in France or the UK Independence
> Party or Pauline Whatzername in Queensland, and like many crypto-fascistic
> phenomena, they are ideologically and even linguistically atavistic).
>
> Fiinally, Beth. Did you notice that the video was made from clips shot from
> cell phones? I wonder if any of the Chinese tourists contributed....
>
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>
>
> Mike:
>
> 4-20] Так вот, выделить те особенности, которые сыграли роль при
> определении отношения к данной ситуации, и помогает нам переживание.
> Представьте, что я по конституции обладаю одними особенностями, ясно, что я
> буду переживать это иначе. Я обладаю другими особенностями ясно, что я буду
> переживать это иначе. Поэтому говорят о конституциональных особенностях
> людей, различая возбудимых, общительных, живых, подвижных и людей более
> эмоционально вялых, заторможенных, тупых. Ясно, что если мы будем иметь
> двух людей с противоположными конституциональными свойствами, то одно и то
> же событие вызовет у каждого из этих людей разное переживание.
> Следовательно, конституциональные особенности человека, вообще личные
> особенности ребенка, как бы мобилизуются данным переживанием,
> откладываются, кристаллизуются в данном переживании, но одновременно с этим
> переживание представляет собой не только совокупность этих личностных
> особенностей ребенка, которые определяют, как ребенок пережил это событие,
> но и разные события по-разному переживаются ребенком. Пьяная мать или
> психически больная мать--это то же самое, что психически больная няня, не
> то, что пьяный отец или пьяный сосед. Значит, среда, которая в данном
> случае выступала в виде какой-то конкретной ситуации, тоже всегда является
> представленной в данном переживании. Поэтому мы вправе рассматривать
> переживание как единство средовых и личностных моментов. И именно поэтому
> переживание является понятием, которое позволяет нам в анализе законов
> развития характера изучать роль и влияние среды на психологическое развитие
> ребенка.
>
> Lubomir:
>
>  3-35] Допустим, что здесь начинаем с максимального расхождения.
> Максимальное расхождение оказывается равным 0,60. Если возьмем ряд функций,
> никогда не окажется равномерного падения этого расхождения: функция А-0,60,
> В-0,55, С-0,50, D-0,45, Н-0,40, К-0,35, L - 0,30 и т. д. Долгое время
> исследователи искали такую ступенеобразную лестницу, у которой бы на самом
> верху были максимально наследственно обусловленные функции, на самом низу
> минимально наследственно обусловленные, а между ними регулярно
> располагались бы функции в убывающем порядке их наследственной
> обусловленности. Полагали, что это можно найти. Но оказывается, что никогда
> такой ряд получить нельзя. И если возьмем ряд функций, более или менее
> полно охватывающих человеческие проявления в развитии ребенка, то всегда
> окажутся какие-то резкие переломы, которые разделяют одну группу функций от
> другой. Так что между одной и другой группой функций существует уже не
> столь равномерный переход, как внутри одной группы функций, а существует
> уже как бы скачок. Если в одной группе расхождение выражается десятками,
> как 60 и 45, то в другой группе оно уже будет выражаться единицами в
> пределах только до *\г>. *Не существует, следовательно, такого
> равномерного, постоянного ступенчатого снижения наследственной
> обусловленности во всем ряду функций. А когда мы изучаем все эти функции
> вместе, мы находим перелом, который делит весь ряд функций резко на две
> части.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 8 July 2014 14:09, Beth Ferholt <bferholt@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I have two notes above my desk: "What does perezhivanie have to do with
> > magic?" (serendipity) and "What does perezhivanie have to do with
> > flashmobs?", so the above chain of emails is very exciting for me just
> > because it contains all three.
> >
> > (Mike just wrote on facebook about 'almost whimsical Vygotskian chaining'
> > -- this is not exactly what he meant but I am having a moment of
> snatching
> > at another connection -- any help snatching is welcome, although I am
> here
> > responding more to the facebook discussion than the above.)
> >
> >
> > On Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 9:11 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> >
> > >    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone,
> > >    "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
> > >  "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so
> > >    many different things."    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty,
> > > "which is to be master -
> > >    that's all."    /(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6
> > >    <http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/books/2chpt6.html>)/
> > >    //
> > >
> > > /
> > > Thank you David for your (as ever) deep and amusing post. Thank you in
> > > particular for Wordsworth!
> > >
> > > I think that our legislative and judicial systems prove something about
> > > the relation between abstract simplicity and arcane complexity.
> Everyone
> > > knows that X is a serious crime, but when our lawmakers set out to
> define
> > > it so our judges can make judgments on it, they are still dotting i's
> and
> > > crossing t's 500 years later. And along come our Tea Party types with
> > their
> > > mandatory sentencing and their firm conviction that it all really is
> > quite
> > > simple.
> > >
> > > Everything Lubomir said is true as well. We have a specific problem at
> > > hand: failure of mutual understanding and failure to understand key
> > > concepts at the root of the scientific current of which we are all a
> > part.
> > > I particularly appreciate Lubomir's words about the need to
> reconstruct,
> > > from the beginning, terms and concepts which have been imported from
> one
> > > context to another, rather than attempt to simply life up a word and
> drop
> > > it into a different culture (though on occasion the use of a foreign
> word
> > > may be appropriate, n'est-ce pas?) For that we need a simple starting
> > point
> > > upon which to build layers of complexity.
> > >
> > > If I love my meal at a French restaurant and ask the waiter for "un
> > autre"
> > > and he is forcing me out the door amidst a torrent of abuse, until a
> kind
> > > fellow diner tells me that I should have asked for "un deuxieme" - the
> > > waiter thinks that I am pretending to complain that the quality was
> > > unsatisfactory and demanding a replacement after I have eaten the whole
> > > meal - then I have to face the difference between the ineffable
> > differences
> > > between French and Anglo cultures and the question of simple
> > > misunderstanding. N'est-ce pas?
> > >
> > > The problems with perezhivanie and the problems with unit are
> essentially
> > > problems of a different kind. What predominates in the case of
> > perezhivanie
> > > is the cultural context and linguistic history; what predominates in
> the
> > > case of unit is the analytical and dialectical logic. In both cases
> both
> > > factors are at play and mutually complicating each other. I think that
> > the
> > > appearance of the general idea of perezhivanie in multiple cultural and
> > > disciplinary contexts is an *aid* to mutual understanding and clarity.
> > But
> > > in the case of unit, I really think that an ability to recover the
> > original
> > > Goethean/Hegelian idea is essential.
> > >
> > > Andy
> > >
> > > /
> > >
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > *Andy Blunden*
> > > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > David Kellogg 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
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Beth Ferholt
> > Assistant Professor
> > Department of Early Childhood and Art Education
> > Brooklyn College, City University of New York
> > 2900 Bedford Avenue
> > Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889
> >
> > Email: bferholt@brooklyn.cuny.edu
> > Phone: (718) 951-5205
> > Fax: (718) 951-4816
> >
>



-- 
Beth Ferholt
Assistant Professor
Department of Early Childhood and Art Education
Brooklyn College, City University of New York
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889

Email: bferholt@brooklyn.cuny.edu
Phone: (718) 951-5205
Fax: (718) 951-4816