[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Fwd: Peirce's Approach to Pluralism and System

Mike, I have not followed this thread or focussed on your earlier posts on this topic, but I do use both these words, so I guess this is an opportune moment to see if I know what I'm talking about.

According to the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, the verb 'to constitute' comes first, dating from 1477. Constitute: Originally to set in a specified place or situation or appoint, then to set in an office or position of authority but in more recent times (e.g. Grottius) to found or establish, give legal or official shape to, to frame, make (by combining elements) or to make some existing thing what it is, and then to make up, compose etc. So it seems to have begun much like 'institute'.

When I use it I think I mean that specific elements or relations which independently come to exist and voila! we have this new thing which is constituted by this conjuncture. Maybe the thing already existed, but you have analytically pulled them apart to find what was essential to the thing. So it's about the relation of a complex thing to its "constituent" parts. But it's nothing particular to do with a wider situation.

Again, the verb 'to institute' came first, in 1475.
Institute: To set up, establish, found, ordain; to introduce, bring into use or practice. To set in operation, set on foot, initiate, ‘start’ (a search, inquiry, comparison, etc.).

As you suggest, Mike, "institute" has this connotation of "launching" something, so to me it's more a relation of a thing to the larger whole. So something may exist, but as you say it is just "in the flow" of things, but then it is "instituted" so it becomes something solid, part of the whole. It remains what it is, but it is now official, so to speak.


Andy Blunden
On 2/09/2016 10:25 AM, mike cole wrote:
That is a very difficult meshwork of ideas to think about, Larry. In so far
as I follow the bidirectional path you are on, the overall idea seems
plausible enough.  Its parsing the parts that is bothering me. In
particular, i am trying to parse the use of constitution and institution in
the system of human experience you describe.

Institution is at the crystalized end of bits of structure in the flow of
experience. It would seem reasonable to think about constitution as its
heglian other, the fluid, "becoming" part.

It seems, however, that constitution gets a bad rap in the conversation
because it is linked to agency and agency to individual agency. Is that the
rap on M-P's uses of the term? There were some 260+ uses of the term in
Phenomenology of Perception, and I am reading it in English, so the task of
disambiguating is a tad beyond my reach.

Constitution also has an interesting linkage to events. If you go to a
central square of Athens you discover that it is called Syntagma Square.
Constitution Square. But syntagma is also the root of the word syntagmatic
which contrasts with paradigmatic in descriptions of language. As the
google dictionary puts it, syntagmatic means "the relationship between two
or more linguistic units used sequentially to make well-formed structures."
Which leads people like Catherine Nelson to talk about "event schemas"
which in turn she relates to acquistion of culture.

Anyway, I am still finding the distinction of constitution and institution
difficult to work with. I lean strongly to the both/and line of reasoning
in such matters, but one still has to be able to specify various objects
that can be both/and!


On Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 9:07 AM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

Mike, Alfredo,

I also am dipping my toe into this topic or theme so will explore with you
what this means and where this meaning leads us as we walk along the path
that Kym Maclaren opens before us.

Vygotsky said, the word is the direct manifestation of the historical
nature of consciousness.

What if Vygotsky had said,

Human consciousness is the direct manifestation of the historical nature
of the word.

There seems to be 3 parts or elements here in the way or arrangement or
combination that are determining the actual existing order.

1)      The word

2)      Human consciousness'

3)      The in-between

We can post that human consciousness is the direct manifestation of the
nature of the word


We can post that the word is the direct manifestation of the nature of
human consciousness


We can post that both the word and human consciousness manifest (arise)
simultaneously within the **in-between**

Each of these frameworks shifts what is primary and where we focus

The next question: thinking life defines **itself** through consciousness.

Is **thinking life** itself -life itself?

OR is thinking life itself emerging from somewhere that is subterranean.
Life itself may **exceed** thinking life itself.

The thinking life **defines** itself, gives definition to itself through
frameworks that are instituted ( a word used I think to go beyond thinking
life defining **itself**). Events must also be considered and events
occur in happenings not of our own choosing.

The actual existing order and the way in which anything is **made up**
determine the things nature and character. Merleau Ponty and Kym Maclaren
are inviting us to use the model of institution to become clearer on the
distinctions with other Models of **made up**.  Now the tension between **made
up** and **making up** (the coming to be and the overcoming of the limits
of the currently available **made up** are also central to Merleau
Ponty’s model.

The actual existing order (of meaning) is in tension with meaning *
*potential** that is over the horizon but coming to be. It is only
retrospectively that we come to see the newly instituted order and we
arrive at this new order **through** the old order.

This is a language of frame/works and trans/form/ation of meanings in
which we dwell.

The emotional institutions that are being realized (coming to
consciousness) are becoming realized/instituted  within a subterranean
process which come to fruition within events beyond the purview of the  **I
think**. To have this transformation come to consciousness occurs after
the happening of the event.

However, the arising of the new institution arises **through** the older
crystallized institution that is overcome.

The dialectic that these emotional institutions **undergo** is driven not
by self-reflection (which is retrospective) but by events (contingency,
back and forth repetion, the living indeterminate ambiguous relations of
being in the world with actual others within the older frame/work of
habituated meaning AND this **movement** occurs in a subterranean way
(beyond) I think -itself. This movement beyond the I think -itself is a
back and forth movement of regression to older frameworks and anticipation
of newer frameworks which arise/arrive when events happen that crystallize
a new emotional institution on it's way to becoming overcome.

Mike, Alfredo,

Within M-P’s model meaning **cores** and meaning **potential** shift
within **events**.

Meaning is also central to perezhivanie and therefore  the paths of
institution and perezhivanie may possibly interweave as occurring in the
realm of the **in-between** where both objectiv/ity and subjectiv/ity
arise simultaneously.

Through dialogue both the meaning of  institution and perezhivanie  (
meanings which we come to inhabit) may become clearer


Sent from my Windows 10 phone

*From: *mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
*Sent: *August 25, 2016 4:38 PM
*To: *Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
*Cc: *eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
*Subject: *Re: [Xmca-l] Fwd: Peirce's Approach to Pluralism and System

Thanks very much for that extended discussion of constitution and
institution, Larry. Unfortunately, I am not as versed as you or Alfredo in
phenomenology so I can only keep asking my xmca101-style questions.

I have the *Phenomenology of Perception*, but not those lectures you
refer to which I gather are titled *Institution and Passivity.  *I also
downloaded the Maclaren article which I have read through, but remain stuck
back near the starting gate.

I can see several ideas that I recognize and perhaps appreciate to a small
extent. The idea of entre-deux is strongly reminiscent of Vygotsky's
comment at the end of the *Thinking and Speech:*

“In consciousness, the word is what *–– *in Feuerbach’s words *–– *is
absolutely impossible for one person but possible for two. The word is the
most direct manifestation of the historical nature of human consciousness”
(Coll. Works, Vol. 1, p. 285).

I still have not put my mind around connecting this thought with the
thought quoted by Alfredo:

"Consciousness arises out of life and forms only one of its features. But
once awakened, thought itself defines life. Or more accurately, a thinking
life defines itself through consciousness" (Vygotsky, 1993, p. 237).

In trying to understand your, M-P's, and Maclearen's ideas I struggle with
the definition (theory) of constitution which it seems I have to understand
well in order to understand how the term institution is being used.

You and Maclearen spend more time talking about institution and I am
getting hung up on what is mean there.  I gather what is being critiqued is
a notion of constitution that has an individual agent making something up.
This is what I take away from

A focus for M-P in all his work is a critique of the philosophy of
consciousness with it's central theme of a constituting subject and the
language of constitution to express **coming to be**. In his earlier work
he is still using the same term **constituting** to express these two
distinct meanings. The intellectualist notion of coming to be AND also
using **constitution** when  speaking of a new way of coming to perceive
a perceptual object.

My own history of experience of the word constitution does not have the
strong "intellectualist bias" of assuming a constituting subject. Rather,
it seems closer to this definition cadged from the OED:

The way in which anything is constituted or made up; the arrangement or
combination of its parts or elements, as determining its nature and
character; make, frame, composition. *constitution of nature*, *constitution
of the world*, *constitution of the universe*, *constitution of things* (the
actual existing order); so *constitution of society*, etc.

In this sort of definition, there is no claim about a constituting
subject. Rather, it seems compatible, at least, with Maclearen's account
when she writes:

This account of emotion proposes itself as a refutation of a philosophy of
consciousness and the idea of a constituting subject.  *For the emotional
institutions that are realized in our lives constitute us as much as or
more than we constitute them;*

I have not been able to figure out what it means when Maclearen writes
that *the dialectic that these institutions undergo *is a process driven
not by self-reflection and the subject’s unilateral constitution of
meaning, but by contingency, repetition, and the indeterminate but
fundamental question that our being in the world with others both poses and
secretly, implicitly, ambiguously strives to work out.

I'll try to resolve these questions so that I can link up more effectively
with a lot in your message and the discussion of the centrality of events
along with Alfredo's invocation of

Politzer that I have long thought important. Any help you can offer with
respect to constituting gratefully accepted.


On Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 2:14 PM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:


The question:

What is Merleau-Panty's notion of institution versus constitution?

My answer will go through Kym Maclaren and how she developed an answer to
this question.

Kym Maclaren wrote a paper *The Entre-Deux of Emotions: Emotions As
Institutions (available at academia.edu) that explores the way M-P in his
book (The Phenomenology of Perception) used the term **constitution** to
mean two different things ( two different meanings or relational notions).
As his philosophy developed he came to distinguish the meaning of *
*constitution** from the meaning of **institution**. He elaborated this
distinction in his lecture course on **institution**. (referred to as the
**Institution Lectures**.

Kym takes the meaning of institution developed in these lectures and turns
back to the Phenomenology to show how M-P was at this earlier period using
the same term  **constitution** with two distinct meanings. He had not
yet found the vocabulary to make a clear distinction between constitution
and institution.

I believe this distinction may be relevant in the coming conversation on
the meaning of perezhevanie.

Kym and M-P are moving away  from a focus on either consciousness as
primary or of the objective world as primary to refocus on the *
*entre-deux** (the in-between) as primary. This shift of focus where NOT
a subject, but events, endow experience with **durable** or *
*crystallized** or **instituted** forms of meaning in relation to which
(as themes) a whole series of other experiences will make sense (will form
a thinkable sequel (a history).

This institution is the creative endowment of meaningful dimensions that
provide frameworks for further sense-making and this  movement allows new
perceptual objects to emerge/arise within experience. It is this creative
movement M-P comes to call institution in his later Institution Lectures.

The question then becomes:

How do events do this work of instituting? Kym says M-P’s lectures on
institution explicitly and clearly express the subterranean logic of
institution at work in events. This logic is subterranean because it
operates outside the knowledge & intentions of the subject.

When institution occurs -when a new dimension of meaning (that sets the
terms) for future development occurs – we can then and only then see *
*retrospectively** how the past anticipated the future, anticipated this
development, and answered the question posed by the past. When the question
is posed the answer’s meaning is only potential, in the realm of the
not-yet but could-be.

What is central is that this perspective is **accessible** only from the
standpoint of the new institution. – only retrospectively.. The past did
not contain it's own answer. The answer **exceeds** the past, transforms
the very terms with which the past functioned and this answer could never
have been predicted or forseen – from THAT past. (even though it answers to
THAT past).

In other words, it is only retrospectively that it is even clear what we
were asking (what question was being posed).

In exchange for what we had imagined, life gives us something else (that
M-P says was secretly wanted and subterranean). REALIZATION is not what was
forseen, but all the same, was wanted or desired.

MIKE’S QUESTION. Institution goes through events, not subjects or objects.
To read  on is my attempt to summarize Kym’s way of developing the notion
of emotion as institution. I believe her approach has merit but I may be
saying more than was asked.

In Kym’s paper she 1st turns to two other forms of institution (artistic
expression) and (perception) in order to show concretely  how the logic of
institution is distinct from the logic of constitution. I will not get to
these concrete examples but will introduce the topic.

Kym  shows how this logic is already at work in the Phenomenology as a
central theme. However, at this earlier point he referred to both logics as
  constituting logic. It is his quest to clarify these two distinct meanings
of constitution  that are worked out in the Institution lectures and
institution is given its own vocabulary as distinct from the vocabulary of

I will give an outline of the points Kym Maclaren develops in her
reflections on emotion as institution that critiques  emotion as

The notion of institution is the way in which M-P seeks to criticize
intellectualism with it's idea of a constituting subject and offer an
alternative account of subjectiv/ity that may be a resource for
understanding perezhivanie and **ity**.

Kym is asking us to think about emotion as institution. Emotional
transformation on this institutional account needs to be understood as
coming from **beyond** the subject, rather than being the result of the
subject’s own autonomous powers..

For the constituting subject the meaning of its object comes into being on
the basis of the subject’s own powers. The object is only a reflection of
the powers and acts of that autonomous consciousness.

In the place of this notion of  a constituting subject M-P argues for a
conception of a subject who animates him/her self with another meaning and
this other meaning coming into form as transcendent meaning transforms the
person who  comes to dwell within this meaning.

To dwell within the person’s **I think** and in his/her body is analogous
to the way  meaning dwells in a book or dwells in a cultural object.

M-P is positing **meaningful cores** (themes?)  that transcend and
transfigure the persons natural powers and becoming powers of institution.
These meaningful cores outstrip or overflow or **exceed** the subject and
the subject is (caught up in) (dispossessed) or (exposed) by these
transcendent meanings (beyond the self itself)

However what is central, is that as this is occurring, the person is also
taking up or resuming those transcendent meanings that help **realize**
new ways of making sense of the world and others.

A focus for M-P in all his work is a crtique of the philosophy of
consciousness with it's central theme of a constituting subject and the
language of constitution to express **coming to be**. In his earlier work
he is still using the same term **constituting** to express these two
distinct meanings. The intellectualist notion of coming to be AND also
using **constitution** when  speaking of a new way of coming to perceive
a perceptual object.

In the Institutional Lectures M-P develops a new language to speak of the
coming to be of the institution of new meanings.

Institutions occur within both public history & personal/intersubjective
history as two sides of the same coin. Kym stays within the
personal/intersubjective side in her paper and limits her reflections to
the personal/intersubjective.

There is a similar logic of institution at work in aesthetic expression,
in perception, and in emotion as ways of creative expression.

Institutions are those transformative moments in our lives when a new
configuration of meaning and a new form of agency is developing. M-P is
exploring  the **subterranean** movement of this logic of institution.

Key terms for M-P are **expression** and **perception** which involve not
the constitution of a meaning by a subject but rather the institution of a *
*form** in the **in-between** of embodied being and environment.

The institution of a form simultaneously transforms the situation and the
embodied being rather than the form being simply constituted by that being.

Kym Maclaren shows that the commonly held belief that an emotional subject
is constituting others and situations in terms of the subjects own
conscious emotions is suspect.

In contrast Kym argues the emotional situation comes to be in the *
*in-between** (entre-deux) and is not the result of the subject’s own

An inherent feature of institution of forms is there own overcoming.  So
emotional institution of new emotions are transformations forming new
emotions in response to the older crystallized emotions.

Therefore the development of one’s emotional life is not primarily the
result of an autonomous subject’s reflections and constitutions. Emotional
institution rather emerges out of the subterranean logic worked out in the
repetition and reiteration of the tension experienced within **old**
institutions. The back and forth to earlier forms and emerging
forms..Emotional transformation comes largely from beyond the subject, the
situation of the event facilitating the subject to develop her
subjectiv/ITY rather than being the result of her own autonomous
constituting powers.

M-P speaks of a subject investing and animating subjectiv/ity with another
meaning that transforms the subject and which is transcendent to this
person’s  current subjectivi/ity. (i.e. Succeeds in making a meaning which
dwells in her **I Think** and in her body as a meaning dwells in a book
and a meaning dwells in a cultural object.

In the Institution Lectures M-P develops a language that better emphasizes
and clarifies the **passivity** of the subject and the ways in which the
meaning that the subject realizes always **exceeds** the embodied subject.

M-P is contrasting the inseparability of the instituting and instituted
subject and contrasts this subject with the constituting subject. M-P by
the time of the institution lectures has developed a systematic language
for making the distinction between constitution and institution. The
institution of the subject is the **coming to be** of a new form of
subjectivity in the way we can talk of new forms **coming to be** such
as  (new perception, new emotion, new aesthetic expression, new object)
that are becoming crystallized.

In M-P’s earlier work (the Phenomenology of Perception) he is still
conceiving the two ways of understanding the **emergence of meaning** as
constitution. Institution remains more an operative concept as institution
has not yet acquired  a central core  univocal voice (not yet a thematic
voice in terms of which other concepts are measured).  With the benefit of
the Institution Lectures in hand, Kym Maclaren is able to go back to the
Phenomenology of Perception book to show the logic of institution at work
in this earlier book.

To repeat: The constituting subject is the subject of (and conceived by)
intellectualism who constitutes objects.

In the Phenomenology book M-P is arguing for a different kind of *
*constitution** which in later works he refers to as **institution**
because the sense of meaning achieved is not given by consciousness. The
meaning **comes to be** in the embodied exchange between a
self-in-the-making & an object-in-the-making. The coming-to-be of the
subject is inseparable from the coming-to-be of the object.

We are moving away from a focus on consciousness as primary or of the
objective world as primary to a focus on the **in-between** (the
entre-deux) as primary.

Not a subject but **events** endow experience with durable dimensions in
relation to which a whole series of other experiences will make sense.

To repeat institution is:

This endowment of a meaningful dimension that provides a framework for
further sense-making and this allows new perceptual objects to emerge **within
experience** is what in M-P’s later works he come to call **institution**

The logic of institution is subterranean as events do this work of
instituting meanings  unforseen (repeat unforseen) by the subject involved
because this logic operates outside the knowledge and intentions of that

When institution occurs – when a new dimension of meaning that sets the
terms for future developments occurs – we can see **retrospectively** how
the past **anticipated** this development, how this development responded
to the past and **answered a question** posed by this past.

An interesting note is where M-P places **errors** and **failures**. In
exchange for what we imagined life gives us something else that was
secretly wanted. Such realization (or epiphany) comes about through errors
and failures. By means of a kind of blind groping on the part of a living
subject, the subject is diverted through various impasses arrived at
through various investigations. And it is only retrospectively (once again)
that these inquiries REVEAL their common **theme**

Somehow, and this is the marvel of institution – all these errors and
failures open up a space for a new realization, a new meaning. Errors open
up a new space for a new realization can be put another way:

Caught up in old crystallized institutions, we respond to the problems
that present themselves by **repeating** in varios ways, those old ways
of making sense. These repetitions disclose their own inadequacies, thereby
opening up a space where something else, something new, something
unknowingly awaited can announce itself.

The event is that moment in which the openess that constitutes seeking
without ever really knowing what the question is, something contingent
arises as an occurence or an event ushering in a new way of life, a new way
of seeing, a new configuration of meaning, a new institution.

Thus, any particular institution tends or inclines (with the help of
contingent happenings) towards the institutions own overcoming. Though an
expression of the past, institution is inherently anticipating the future,
which cannot be grasped except retrospectively.

I will STOP here. Kym in her paper turns to concrete examples of human
experiences to elaborate the notion of institution within artistic
expression and perception. This in preparation for an understanding of
emotion that follows this same logic of institution.

I will just add that a logic of Eros can be explored through a logic of

To explore the somethings we love that becomes instituted in our deepest

This proceeding  extended think aloud also can be intertwined with Dewey’s
(having an experience). What I have left unsaid is the relation of
institution to perezhivanie. M-P may have something to contribute to that
notion that is now coming into form

To be continued ....

The question of constitution versus institution is a topic for conversation

Sent from my Windows 10 phone

*From: *mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
*Sent: *August 24, 2016 5:29 PM
*To: *eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
*Subject: *[Xmca-l] Fwd: Peirce's Approach to Pluralism and System

What is MP's idea of institution versus constitution, Larry?


---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: <lpscholar2@gmail.com>

Date: Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Subject: [Xmca-l] Peirce's Approach to Pluralism and System

To: eXtended Activity <xmca@potpourri.ucsd.edu>

This is an extension to the engagement with Rein Raud and the mention of

various ways to approach identity, subjectivity, selfhood, and personhood.

>From that conversation, one of the sources to consider (but not the

preferred choice) was Vincent Colapietro’s book *Peirce’s Theory of the

self: A Semiotic Perspective on Human Subjectivity*

Vincent Colapietro draws attention to the *ambiguity* and tension in

Peirce’s desire to be BOTH scientific and systematic. Dispositions that are

out of step with many current ways of philosophizing.

Peirce in correspondence with James confessed:

Pluralism does not satisfy either my head or my heart.

Yet in another letter to James he acknowledged his debt to Schelling

One thing I admire about him (Schelling) is his freedom from the trammels

of system, and his holding himself UNCOMMITTED to any previous utterance.

In that, he is like a scientific man.

Vincent notices it is all too easy for those who have studied intensively

the writings of Peirce to get so  caught up in his *system* that they come

to see it as a PLACE TO DWELL rather than a point from which to proceed.

I share this as an expression (a creative expression) of the way the places

where we dwell *institute* us. These ambiguous places from which we move

back and forth (repetition) in order to DEVELOP our self, subjectivity,

identity, personhood.

This circles back to perizhevanie, ity, and I will add Merleau Ponty’s

notion of *institution* (in contrast to constituting).

The relation of subjectivity and objectivity and the (in between)

This is the limit for a single post. I send this in anticipation of the

next theme emerging - perezhivanie

Sent from my Windows 10 phone


It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object

that creates history. Ernst Boesch


It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with
an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch