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[Xmca-l] Re: Thirdness and its various versions
In the spirit of your caution and acknowledging its truth value, I want to
say I was hesitant to use the term "surrender" for how it would be
misunderstood. In a similar way to the misunderstandings of the term
I will mention that Jessica is consciously using the word "surrender" as
NOT "submission" as she tries to articulate a nypothesis that sees through
"domination" and the struggle to the death of complimentary "recognition"
I fully expect Jessica's work to instigate passionate responses.
Her work does develop from Habermas, Adorno, Horkheimer, Fromm and the
Jessica says we have conflated "surrender" with "submission" and Jessica's
use of the term "surrender" must be seen as being engaged in exploring [and
putting in play] notions of instrumental internalized "self-regulation" AND
notions of the "third space" as coming into being through "surrender" to a
place of potentiality and possibility that is moving "beyond"
self-assertion as a complimentary struggle to the death.
Rod, the play of "active" and "receptive" thirds [in contrast to active and
passive twoness] is the place which Jessica is inviting us to occupy.
Notions of "surrender" carry huge baggage and and will invite palpable
rejection as concepts. This is a fact. It is challenging particular notions
of "subjective" and "intersubjective"
However, if we begin within a dialogical awareness and acknowledge that
using a term such as "surrender" will be read by most and rejected as
implying "submission" and "domination" and "passivity" and "loosing the
self", then the process that you and I are engaged in at this moment is the
hermeneutical enactment of differentiating and "marking" the distinctions
the distinctions between "surrender" and "submission" Jessica is asking us
to pause and be reflective and consider this distinction.
Rod, Jessica is working within a "tradition" [the Frankfurt School where
she is in dialogue with Hegel, Habermas, Adorno, Horkheimer. Her project is
to "see through" the patterns of complimentary "twoness" [doer and done to
giver and given to]. The term "surrender" is being used within this
This term "surrender" [as exemplified in Stephen Mitchell's story
of letting go of his "idea" of "a walk" to enter his daughter's enactment
of "a walk" is central to Jessica's notion of living-in-truth. Yes, it
invites further dialogue and will be misunderstood. It requires further
I could have tried to write an essay fully outlining the term "surrender"
This word has sparked considerable response within the tradition of
feminism. I could also she it being challenged as Eurocentric or too
psychological [emphasizing both accommodation and differentiation].
Posting to the listserve and inviting commentary and further questions on
the term "surrender" is another approach.
I also hoped to find a "bridge" to Kris' understanding of "third space" and
her exploration of intersubjective testimonio as hybrid co-creative
mutual rhythmic patterns forming within third spaces. I see a quality of
"surrender" [as Jessica uses the term] in Kris' exploration of third
Vygotsky explores internalized "self-regulation" as a developmental task.
Jessica suggests the development of self regulation moves through
asymmetrical accommodation AND differentiation. For Jessica
this psychological development [if it is to form third spaces] requires
asymmetrical agentic active "surrender" as a way beyond a struggle to the
death of complimentary twoness.
In summary, I understand Jessica's work as an aspect of cultural
historical understanding, that includes social theory of emotions and
cognition and culture that is historical.
The term "surrender" is a discursive and dialogical form of enactment.
It was offered in the spirit of open ended dialogue but I was aware and
took a chance in using the word "surrender" Another word would have been
less controversial but I do question if being misunderstood and then
requiring further clarification is an approach with some value.
I do not intend the use of "surrender" as an alternative approach to
cultural historical theory.
The use of this term is meant in a spirit of dialogue and the "piety" of
questions inviting answers.
Rod, in the way I presented the term "surrender", I may have elaborated
further, and clarified more, but I was not sure if there were others
who shared an interest in this topic of complimentary twoness and
co-creative thirdness. I was interested in going deeper into understanding
"third spaces" and by posting was feeling my way in by probing the level of
On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 11:09 PM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> As I said, I like Benjamin's distinction between surrender and submission
> but I also think that it is not so simple to introduce new shadings of
> meaning to a word/concept which is already part of people's vocabulary. For
> most people, outside the group of those who know about Benjamin's work,
> surrender WILL still carry felt associations with unwillingly giving up
> ownership or control of something prized/valued. This is bound to result
> in miscommunication unless those who use surrender in its new sense signal
> and explain this use. I think an awareness of how we can expect others to
> react (body, mind and soul) is a core aspect of communication and ethical
> behaviour. We can't just occupy that third space and expect others to
> surrender to the meanings we want to introduce!
> Sent from my Windows Phone
> From: Larry Purss
> Sent: 19/01/2015 01:29
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Thirdness and its various versions
> The article I have been referencing is from Jessica Benjamin's article
> "Beyond Doer and Done To: An Intersubjective View of Thirdness" There is
> an extensive bibliography . Interestingly Jessica's dissertation was
> written in 1978 with the title, "Internalization and Instrumental Culture:
> A Reinterpretation of Psychoanalysis and Social Theory"
> Jessica references Colwyn Trevarthen as a source of her notion of
> "surrender". Yes, this word will make some uncomfortable, but this term
> must be seen as clearly differentiated from the notion of "submission"
> which Jessica believes are often conflated. I view "surrender" as Jessica
> uses the term as an "agentic" act that is ethical. It is an act [or
> enactment] which is felt as expansive, not as restrictive of "self"
> I am going to share a quote from Jessica's paper that she offered to
> differentiate the palpable difference between "surrender" and "submission".
> She is quoting Stephen Mitchell who is a key person in developing
> relational and hermeneutical psychoanalysis.
> Mitchell wrote:
> When my older daughter was about two or so, I remember my excitement at the
> prospect [LP-imaginal] of taking walks with her, given her new ambulatory
> skills and her intense interest in being outdoors. However, I soon found
> these walks agonizingly slow. My idea of a walk entailed brisk movement
> along a road or path. Her idea was quite different. The implication of
> this difference hit me one day when we encountered a fallen tree on the
> side of the road....
> The rest of the "walk" was spent exploring the fungal and insect life on,
> under, and around the tree. I remember my sudden realization that these
> walks would be no fun for me, merely a parental duty, if I held onto my
> idea of walks. As I was able to give that up and SURRENDER to my
> daughter's rhythm and focus, a different type of experience opened up to
> me..... If I had simply RESTRAINED myself out of duty, I would have
> experienced the walk as a compliance. But I was able to become my
> daughter's version of a good companion and to find in THAT another way for
> me to be that took on great personal meaning" [Benjamin, page 26]
> For Benjamin and Mitchell this quote expresses the principle of necessary
> asymmetry, by accommodating to the other as a way of "generating"
> thirdness. and within the "surrendering" the person is transformed, through
> opening up to mutual pleasure.
> Jessica is asking how we distinguish between the compliance of "twoness"
> from the transformational learning of thirdness. For Jessica the answer is
> ethical, in the form of reflections on what will create intersubjective
> connection in our relationship, and through this reflection, opening up to
> surrender and transformation. This creative enactment expresses agency and
> is not coerced. It is an ethical response. This "intention" to connect and
> the resulting self-observation create what Jessical calls "moral
> thirdness", the connection to a larger expansive connection beyond giver
> and given to that is felt as palpably "right".
> In all Jessica's work she is distinguishing "surrender" from "submission"
> [including submitting to an "ideal" of "pure" empathy. which is a denial of
> self and leads to complimentary doer and done to.
> For Jessica this moral third space is the space where "self-regulation" and
> "co-regulation" meet. But that would require further elaboration.
> On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 8:54 AM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
> > Larry,
> > Many thanks for your very clear account of Jessica Benjamin's distinction
> > between 'submitting' and 'surrendering' (though I suspect that both terms
> > might trigger associations for many which might make them uncomfortable
> > about using them in these ways). Your observations about possibility
> > (doableness) make me wonder about how a shared history and common
> > experience might contribute to the building of richer and more extensive
> > possibilities among a community or a group of people who spend time
> > together (especially 'down' time, when they are more relaxed and their
> > social guards are down). It is easier and more agreeable to 'surrender'
> > into this sort of group, to 'go with the flow' of social conversation
> > no real concern about where it might lead and, in so doing, to contribute
> > to the co-construction of a third space which is shaped not so much by
> > thingness or iddity of participants as by the movement of interactions
> > between them. This sort of surrendering into a group feels very different
> > from submitting to the ordered, planned procedures of a 'getting things
> > done' sort of meeting (though there is room for overlap).
> > >From a baby watcher's perspective, this surrender sounds very much like
> > what Colwyn Trevarthen called primary intersubjectivity - when baby and
> > caregiver 'lose themselves' in interaction purely for the sake of
> > with each other (or rather, perhaps, of engaging with the 'great we').
> > I think there is a lot to be said about the way our sense of our own and
> > other selves moves in and out of this sort of third space. Vera captured
> > some lovely aspects of this in her book 'Creative Collaboration' - how
> > 'dailiness' of being with other members of a group lubricates the
> > possibilities, allowing idea sharing to blossom.
> > All the best,
> > Rod
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
> > email@example.com] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
> > Sent: 18 January 2015 16:26
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Thirdness and its various versions
> > Rod, I concur with your interpretations.
> > I would add to your comment:
> > In terms of signification, the choice of a staff is likely to prompt
> > others into a slight lurch of expectations which might help to remind
> > that things are not simple, categorised and predictable - what looks at
> > first like a frail old woman may turn out to be a person!
> > The "choice" emerged from within a symbolic imagining of others
> > expectations. This interpretation is within the subject's internalized
> > "scripts".
> > This is exploring "my" act and your return act.
> > Third space notions ask or question if there are "intersubjective" ways
> > enact "shared imaginal places which are first symbolic imaginal
> > places. Shared mutual metaphorical spaces/places that do not yet exist
> > but are "possible" The focus on the morpho-genesis of "posse" [meaning
> > can] with the suffix ibilas "causing" a "transformation" through
> > [enactments, performances from WITHIN this "middle shared realm".
> > This way of understanding is playing with notions of metaphorical and
> > imaginal and symbolic "places" as "existing" WITHIN shared potential
> > spaces. This posits shared mutually imagined third spaces of
> > within "as if" realms of becoming that open up spaces in which things are
> > not yet "things" and "facts" that are simple, categorized, predictable,
> > with a yearning to be known as "real" and "actual".
> > What both Kris and Jessica share is an exploration of "intersubjective"
> > mediated metaphorical third spaces "as if" real and actual.
> > Jessica Benjamin also makes a distinction between "surrendering" to
> > in third spaces in contrast to "submitting" to the other. [other as
> > or persons]. Sumitting to objects or persons is experienced being reduced
> > by the other. It abstracts us from "third spaces" and collapses into
> > complimentary "twoness" of "giver and given" or "doer and done to"
> > Third spaces are palpably "liberating" through "surrendering" and
> > "becoming within the "potential" or the "possible" symbolic "third" that
> > which does not yet exist in actuality or "facts"
> > The third space must be enacted performed or take action but moving out
> > from within this imaginal shared space.
> > This notion is playing with the not yet but shared "existence" becoming
> > actual simple categorized concept-y. There is no absolute freedom
> > fundamentally nor is there absolute constraint fundamentally.
> > However for transformative liberation there must be imaginal symbolic
> > shared and mutual ways within which we "surrender" This in no way means
> > "submit"
> > On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 2:55 AM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> > R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
> > > I am feeling my way into the talk around thirdness - dimly conscious
> > > of a variety of contexts in which thirdspace has been explored.
> > >
> > > In your example, Mike, your friends choice of a staff has a
> > > significance because it plays off the cultural expectation that it
> > > should be a cane. In this sense it is a particularly striking example
> > > of what we all do every day when we make choices about how we will
> > > represent ourselves to the world. Our choice of clothes, how we do our
> > > hair, what we smell like, how we stand and walk, how we greet people
> > > etc. all play off our knowledge of what different choices are likely
> > > to be taken to mean (by different groups of people). I think this
> > > links to what Larry (I think) was saying about the concept-y-ness of
> > > the context-y environment in which babies play their way into meanings.
> > >
> > > In terms of signification, the choice of a staff is likely to prompt
> > > others into a slight lurch of expectations which might help to remind
> > > them that things are not simple, categorised and predictable - what
> > > looks at first like a frail old woman may turn out to be a person!
> > >
> > > I wonder how much we need to be aware of the internalised cultural
> > > knowledge which informs our choices about how we will present
> > > ourselves? I suspect this contributes to the (palpable) feeling of
> > > ease or unease which comes from knowing or not knowing how we are
> > > 'meant' to behave in a familiar or unfamiliar context. When the
> > > rhythms are part of our embodied experience it is easy to join in but
> > > when we encounter different, exotic rhythms we need to watch from the
> > > periphery for a while before we presume to know what we are doing.
> > >
> > > All the best,
> > >
> > > Rod
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > > [mailto:email@example.com
> > > ]
> > > On Behalf Of Larry Purss
> > > Sent: 18 January 2015 07:56
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Thirdness and its various versions
> > >
> > > Mike,
> > > You mentioned multi-modality and I agree. Yes cognition and social
> > > emotions are intimately involved along with other "musical" rhythmic
> > > modalities.
> > > Thought and language and the figural within enactments [performances]
> > >
> > > You asked if the staff is a sign? or a tool? I would have to say it is
> > > a "sign" but the word "prop" also comes to mind. I want to explore
> > > what I see as the "imaginal" at play in the "symbolic" and cognitive
> > > enactment of using the staff rather than a cane in setting the "scene"
> > > The notion of a "middle way" within "third spaces" is exploring
> > > enacting [or performing] within imaginal symbolic play. Is the
> > > "image" of a cane being replaced by a staff a "fact" or is it a more
> > metaphorical enactment.
> > > Do the staff or cane exist as "facts" having objective truth? Or is
> > > the cane and staff imaginal symbolic ways of imagining being in the
> > > world as "possibility".
> > > In Winnicott's language is this middle way or third space a
> > > "potential space" or a "transitional" space which when enacted brings
> > into "actuality"
> > > the rhythmic pattern or dance of relating to an old lady [as a
> > > possible "scene"] or a pattern of relating to an eccentric person and
> > > enacting this alternative possible "scene".
> > > The "scene" when enacted or performed always expresses palpable felt
> > > experience. In the enactment the possible becomes "actual" and becomes
> > > "factual" Mike your friend in choosing a staff over a cane was acting
> > > from within an imaginal symbolic "place" Is this "place" internal or
> > external?
> > > or is it a "potential place" of possibility which does not yet exist?
> > > Within this imaginal symbolic presenting [not representing] presence
> > > [both internal imagining and external performances] there are always
> > > palpable felt experiences and every "interpretation" is guided by
> > > these multi-modal ways of understanding.
> > >
> > > Third spaces as ways of understanding explore "self-regulation" and
> > > "dis-regulation" within intersubjective enactments and palpable felt
> > > experience. I am also emphasizing their imaginal symbolic dimension as
> > > "potential" or "transitional" spaces
> > >
> > > The aspect that is being highlighted by the notion of third spaces is
> > > there embodied presence and there witnessing quality which is often
> > > marginalized or disowned when we privilege a particular "type" of
> > > rationality and thinking.
> > >
> > > What seems to be shared in common across multiple notions of "third
> > spaces"
> > > is privileging ethical or moral aspects of enactments. Who is included
> > > and who is excluded.
> > >
> > > On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 1:49 PM, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > >
> > > > I am working backwards here, but I have been thinking a lot about
> > > > what I was conceiving in my own way as a form of thirdness that I
> > > > think links to what is being said here. Straighten me out if I am
> > > > wrong. (I promised to get out of here shortly, but its interesting!).
> > > >
> > > > We have a friend, now in her 60's, who is a college classmate of my
> > > > wife and a life long friend of our family. She has been in ill
> > > > health for sometime and looks a good deal older than her years.
> > > > Balance is an issue for her.
> > > >
> > > > When I first saw her the other day after many years I noticed that
> > > > she was carrying a large staff.
> > > > I laughted, and my first words were "You look just like Gandalf!
> > > > and gave her a big hug."
> > > >
> > > > Over tea she discussed that by carrying the staff instead of a cane,
> > > > she lost the invisibility created by old age and she became a perons
> > > > to others. People constantly started up conversations with her and,
> > > > being a skilled conversationalist interested in people, it made her
> > > > feel like a whole person.
> > > >
> > > > Seems interesting to me. Is it a kind of thirdness? A sign or (?) a
> > tool?
> > > > Seems like cognition and social emotions are somehow involved as
> > > >
> > > > mike
> > > >
> > > > mike
> > > >
> > > > On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 1:03 PM, Larry Purss <email@example.com>
> > > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Miguel, Rod,
> > > > >
> > > > > I am moving our conversation to a new thread to honour the other
> > > > > thread exploring "laws" of history and writing systems. I see
> > > > > these topics as overlapping but notions of "thirdness" that
> > > > > contrast with
> > > "twoness"
> > > > > [Jessica's doer and done to, or giver and given two, or knower and
> > > > learner,
> > > > > etc.]
> > > > > Rod I must acknowledge when I read Jessica using the term "baby
> > > > watcher's I
> > > > > was thinking of your work and posts. Jessica's work is one stream
> > > > > in intersubjective notions of thirdness. Lacan privileges language
> > > > > in his notion of thirdness. There is also the work of Stolorow
> > > > > Atwood, and Donna Orange, [intersubjective psychodynamics] who do
> > > > > not imagine "intersubjectivity" as a developmental achievement as
> > > > > bothDaniel Stern
> > > > and
> > > > > Jessica Benjamine understand thirdness.
> > > > > In Jessica's words:
> > > > > "I see such engagement in reciprocal recognition of the other as
> > > > > growing naturally out of the experience of being recognized by the
> > > > > other, as a crucial component of attachment responses that require
> > > > > mutual regulation and attunement, and therefore, as ultimately a
> > > pleasure and not a chore"
> > > > >
> > > > > Miguel you mentioned our Western bias to privilege "seeing" and
> > > > > other cultures may privilege hearing and sound and rhythmicity.
> > > > > My bias is to suggest when these various modes [seeing and
> > > > > rhythmicity] are felt to be
> > > > in
> > > > > sync then they mutually constitute thirdness. However, when there
> > > > > are inevitable (mis)understandings and ruptures on the way to
> > > > > understanding
> > > > we
> > > > > may have a tendency to fall back on seeing and reasoning as our
> > > > > primary mode and to discount the rhymicity of the ear and felt
> > > experience.
> > > > > Jessica's work engages with Hegel and the notion of the "struggle
> > > > > for recognition" as an aspect of creating "twoness" and "thirdness"
> > > > > Her
> > > > project
> > > > > is to critique notions of complimentarity "twoness" as a model for
> > > > > expressing this struggle for recognition.
> > > > > She would suggest the way through this complimentary struggle for
> > > > > recognition is through a developmental trajectory of
> > > > > intersubjective development of thirdness.
> > > > >
> > > > > Miguel, I would like to follow your lead that through privileging
> > > > > sight [seeing and reasoning] that we are biased to come to "know"
> > > > > the other as "object" As you say "the subject-object relation as
> > > > > this analytic kernel
> > > > is
> > > > > one "type" of knowing the other. You are asking if there are
> > > > > alternative subject-subject relations that are not mediated by
> > > > > objects? This may be another "mode" and a distinct kind of "seeing"
> > > [with the mind's eye?].
> > > > >
> > > > > Miguel when you say you speak from personal experience as a
> > > > > father, and this is a spiritual space of connection, it gestures
> > > > > to another
> > > > dimension,
> > > > > another quality of thirdness as embodied enactments/performances.
> > > > > I
> > > > would
> > > > > like to offer that Enrique Dussel's "ethical hermeneutics" can
> > > > > offer validation for Jessica and Daniel Stern's embodied hearing
> > > > > the other [rhythmically] into voice. I would emphasize your
> > > > > notion of
> > > > "intersecting"
> > > > > multiple truths. I would also offer the term "transversal" [across
> > > > verses]
> > > > > truths as multiple and plural and "palpable"
> > > > >
> > > > > Rod, I concur with your reflections that there are other forms of
> > > > learning
> > > > > [especially social learning] which do not emphasize concept-y ways
> > > > > of thinking. I want to also acknowledge the centrality of
> > > > > concept-y ways of seeing and reasoning but as you emphasize the
> > > > > children were able to join
> > > > in
> > > > > WELL before they were able to understand conceptually or be able
> > > > > to
> > > > explain
> > > > > what was being enacted. This does not refute that the "world" or
> > > > "context"
> > > > > in which the children are joining in is symbolically formed and
> > > > > historically situated.
> > > > > What Daniel Stern, Jessica Benjamin, V. Reddy, Winnicott,
> > > > > Trevarten, Fonagy, Gergely and other "baby watchers" are
> > > > > indicating is the
> > > > centrality
> > > > > of "gestures" [meaningful performances or enactments as also
> > > > > profoundly implicated in the formation of our contexts and worlds.
> > > > > Worlds of experience are "palpable lived experiences" and this
> > > > > does have a phenomenological quality, a hermeneutical quality, and
> > > > > a cultural historical quality. Worlds are also deeply concept-y
> > > > > and
> > > > institutionalized
> > > > > and places of doer and done to. The question is how do we
> > > > > ethically and morally respond to these palpable conditions?
> > > > >
> > > > > "Thirdness" in its multiple versions may offer possible new
> > > > > understandings to guide us symbolically AND rhythmically
> > > > > co-creatively inventing AND discovering [both/and] "third spaces"
> > > > > AS potentially liberating contexts.
> > > > >
> > > > > Sanders understands palpable rhythmic resonance as one of two
> > > > > basic "principles" of all human interaction. Jessica's project is
> > > > > to underline this aspect of rhythmic resonance as primal in
> > > > > understanding the notion
> > > > of
> > > > > "recognition".
> > > > > As the way through and beyond complimentary "twoness" of doer and
> > > > > done
> > > > to
> > > > > or giver and given toperson must experience a palpable "witnessing"
> > > > within
> > > > > thirdness.
> > > > > THIS is an intersubjective way of understanding thirdness
> > > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > --
> > > > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an
> > > > object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
> > > >
> > > ________________________________
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