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



SOrry to respond out of order in the chain -- that was to David making a
comment about the flash mod video, Beth


On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 6:55 PM, Beth Ferholt <bferholt@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
>



-- 
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