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[Xmca-l] Re: LSV & ANL on the problem of the environment

Mike, LSV *nowhere* says that perezhivanie is "a unit of analysis for the thought and emotion". I think what Julian said is quite precise: perezhivanie expresses a relation between, or a unity of, the person and their environment.

LSV remarks in "Thinking and Speech" that word-meaning is a unity of speaking and thinking, but *also* a "unity of generalization and social interaction, a unity of thinking and communication." A good unit is specifically a unit of this and that, but it will almost always turn out to be a unity of a lot of other abstractions as well.

I think it is important to stick to Julian's point: a unity - that is, a very specific relationship, between the person and their surroundings, one that involves characteristics of the person and characteristics of the environment, not the whole of both. To interpret "unity" as "union" or "sum" and take it to mean adding the whole person to the entire world crisis is an absurdity.

LSV expresses the specificity of this relationship by (among several formulations) talking of the *significance* of the environment (or features of it) for the child or how the child *understands* the constellation of relations surrounding them. When we reflect on the relationship, we see that certain characteristics of the child and of the environment were active in the given perezhivanie.

I think phrases like "unity of cognition and emotion" have arisen in Anglophone discussion in attempts to convey the content of perezhivanie in Russian culture. I think the point is that a perezhivanie (i.e., an event) is a whole, that is, like Dewey explains, it has its own unity, by which it stands out from the background of experience, it has a beginning and an end. In that sense, it involves the entire psyche - attention, will, intellect, affect - and it is misleading really to emphasise any or all of these psychological functions because it is only thanks to reflection and analysis that they are distinguished from what is whole and integral in a perezhivanie. A perezhivanie is as much about attention and will as it is about emotion and cognition. The point is that it arises from the relation between the person and their surroundings.

Unfortunately, there are meanings implicit in the Russian word perezhivanie which are not spelt out by Vygotsky because they are obvious to his listeners. The translators have tried to help us out here by translating it as "emotional experience." It is "an experience" in the sense, as Dewey said, of an experience which stands out from the general background of experience; it is memorable/unforgettable; it is meaningful and significant. Etc. But Vygotysky doesn't discuss any of this.

*Andy Blunden*

Huw Lloyd wrote:
I've formulated some thoughts on first readings but need to do some cross
checking.  I've some other commitments too, so probably won't be posting
these impressions till Tuesday.

I suggest folk who would very much like to read these interesting (and
challenging) papers (but for whatever reason can't do so straightaway) push
out some dates in the near so that we hold off for you.

In the mean-time, we can simply post up our impressions etc, and then do a
second stage exchange once everyone has had an opportunity to participate
in their initial sense-making / rumination / critiques.

You can access the papers from Andy's earlier email here:


On 12 October 2014 20:40, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Glad the summary cuts and pastes were helpful, Rod. My idea was that they
might serve as a kind of "cliff notes" intro, which in your case was a
reminder. I have done the same for the Shotter article on "withness" that
you sent around, but have not had time to recover that part of the
discussion and introduce it in a productive way.

I can't at present go on to the ANL article, but will briefly comment on
the Nicaraguan sign language example. I agree with your analysis. But I
wanted to address my concern with the way the notion of the "ideal form" as
the "end in the beginning" is that it seems to preclude any form of change
that is not in the thrall of that ideal form to count as anything but
deviation from the ideal, no room for transformation. I say "seems" because
I know and value LSV's work on imagination and creativity at lot. Still, as
formulated here, in the land where Comrade Stalin shaped what counted as
the ideal form, it arose for me as an issue when I was re-reading it.

I also want to inquire into the relationship between word meaning as a unit
of analysis for the relation between thought and language, and perezhivanie
as a unit of analysis for the thought and emotion. The pairing links
language, thought, and emotion as constituents of experience

I look forward to re-reading the ANL critique of LSV... later.

On Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM, Rod Parker-Rees <
R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:

Many thanks for your digest of the LSV article, Mike. It is a while since
I last read it so this was a valuable refresher and meant I felt I could
straight to the ANL article which I have not seen before.

Reading the ANL article I was acutely aware of the gulf between my
environment and that in which ANL was writing. Perhaps the fact that I
this rather less when reading LSV is evidence of a closer fit between my
bourgeois environmenn and his. As I understand it, and I am far from
confident in this, ANL's main issue is with LSV's suggestion that
'experiencing' or perezhivanie should be used as a unit of activity,
representing the indissoluble relationship between the environment and
individual. ANL appears to object to this because he sees experiencing as
an abstraction from activity which should be recognised as the true core
what makes us human. The argument that an environment is only an
environment FOR an active subject reminded me of Uetzkull's 'umwelt' the
unique world of experience constructed by an organism in the course of
activity (including its sensing activity) but I am not sure that ANL
justifies his insistence on not acknowleding experiencING as a form of
activity ('experience is a secondary and derivative fact' - p.22).

ANL appears to be driven by a preference for 'putting the question in its
completely clear and bare form' (p.17) but this involves a series of
assertions and rhetorical strong-arm tactics which I find difficult to
accept. For example, he chooses to 'set aside the complicated idea of the
different course of development of the "spontaneous" and "scientific"
concepts' (p.18) - an idea which I have always found particularly helpful
and he insists that 'meaning always takes the form of the meaning of a
word' (p.18) - denying the possibility that a smile, a raised eyebrow,
rolled eyes or a raised fist could carry meaning.

I am not sure that the creation of a sign language among Nicaraguan deaf
children can be taken as a counter example to LSV's argument that
are able to benefit from an environment which includes the 'ideal form'
abilities they are just beginning to develop. The children who were
together from isolated families and then co-constructed a sophisticated
sign language may not have been surrounded by an 'ideal form' of language
which they could fully experience (I believe most were children of
parents and so experienced only a rudimentary, home-made form of
but they WERE surrounded by people who showed them that people
with each other so they were exposed to the 'ideal form' of
communication-mediated cooperative activity even if they were not able to
pick out the finer details of how it was achieved. As in other situations
where children grow up among people who use a simplified ('pidgin') form
communication, their sensitivity to patterns, rules and regularities
allowed them to refine it into a coherent, flexible language (a
I am uncomfortable with the use of 'final form' as an alternative to
form' because every generation does similar things with the language it
inherits - adjusting and refining it to achieve a better fit with
social practices. Indeed this (as well as the socio-political distance
between us) may explain some of the difficulties I have with ANL's way of
asserting his arguments.

LSV acknowledged the important role of 'spontaneous concepts' - the often
unacknowledged intuitions which arise out of our unique patterns of
experience and which give 'body and vitality' to the more abstract,
and bare' concepts which allow us to communicate with others - while ANL
would appear to prefer a tidier view of things.

I look forward to hearing what others make of the comparison between the
two papers.

 All the best,


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu]
on behalf of mike cole [mcole@ucsd.edu]
Sent: 12 October 2014 17:55
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: XMCA discourse

Diane- (I neglected to turn off my computer!). There are now more that
people signed up for XMCA. If every started typing at once, we might
the ucsd server it sits on. And if it is just brownian motion in
characters, what's the point? It WOULD be good to hear from more people.
earlier times, i have tried to work out an arrangements where a dozen
partricipants each volunteered to organize a discussion on a topic of
potential interest for a month as a means of increasing breadth of
participation and points of view. It has never worked.

Perhaps it could be tried again..... if someone other than me would like
organize it!

Like henry, I use wikipedia a lot as a starting point. For the disucssion
of the LSV article on the environment I would recommend that people
google *senghas
nicaraguan sign language. *My conjecture is the the evidence of what
happens if a lot of deaf kids are brought together without access to an
appropriate "ideal form" (see the LSV paper for significance of that
contradicts LSV's argument and has implications for general aspects of
theory. But first there has to be that co-reading so we are not simply
 tangling each other up in a new way.

On Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM, Diane Potts <djpotts7@hotmail.com>
>From one of the many lurkers...

As a new academic and one who shares David Kellogg's interests in SFL,
language education and socio-historical theory, I benefit tremendously
this listserv.  I recommend it regularly to PhD students and hold it up
a model of an online community that has managed to continue to engage
lively discussions about current research with the participation of
scholars. Centering those discussions on readings, at least to me,
be an effective means of carrying out the community's boundary work -
always pleasant work, I'll admit, but one that gives coherence to who

Diane Potts
Lancaster University

From: leifstrandberg.ab@telia.com
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2014 18:23:52 +0200
To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: XMCA discourse

continue :-)


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