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

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

Larry, I always am amazed by the depth and width of your knowledgeability when it comes to phenomenological literature, and how you bring it to bear into CHAT related questions. Thanks so much for sharing it!

I do totally agree that what you describe concerning institution and the primacy of the event is very relevant to the discussion on perezhivanie. Thanks for sharing Maclaren's reference, I will look at it with enthusiasm. Two associations immediately come to mind, however. The first one is Souriau's notion of *instauration*, which he discusses in the context of the artistic creation. Instead of a construction, which immediately presupposes a subject constructing and an object being constructed, instauration points to what I read you referring to as "entre-deux". Instauration in Souriua may be (I have not yet tested this hypothesis) akin to institution in the way you (Kym, M-P) describe it. In instauration, there is not something internal to the person that then becomes externalized in the situation; rather the "dramatic event" is primary over person and situation, it provides for both, so that "What made Michelangelo or Beethoven great, what made them geniuses, was not their own genius, but their attention to the qualities of genius residing in the work"  (Souriau, 2015, p 211).

The second notion that comes to mind (again, before I have properly dwelled into the issues you bring up), and one that is totally relevant to the question of perezhivanie, is Politzer's idea of drama as a fundamental category in the establishment of a scientific psychology. According to Politzer (1928), who had an important influence in Vygotsky (see, for example, Vygotsky's 1989 Concrete Human Psychology), the "psychological fact" cannot be something that is accounted for by a first person ("je") in the abstract (neither the empiricist "I," nor the trascendental "I"). Instead, it has to be with regard to the dramatic event that the *particular individual* [segments de la vie de l'individu particulier], the unity of which cannot be broken without loosing the psychological signification of any psychological fact. The reminiscences to Dewey's notion of *an* experience are obvious. If perezhivanie has anything to do with the unity of person and environment, I think the idea of attending to the primacy of the [instauration/institution] of events should be productive. For all that matters to advancing Vygotsky's legacy, I would like to explore how all these ideas relate to Vygotsky's concern with the problem of consciousness, and particularly with his remarks that: 
"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). If there is something like a thinking life, must not be that of dramatic events? And if so, does not that give us a very concrete set of research questions that (in my humble view) are not addressed when the focus seems more often to be on artifacts, objects, etc? Like, for example, how do events begin? how do they end? I think all those questions relate to perezhivanie and belong to a  psychology a la Vygotsky that, I think, is quite unexplored. 


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of lpscholar2@gmail.com <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Sent: 25 August 2016 23:14
To: mike cole; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fwd:  Peirce's Approach to Pluralism and System

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.
The “Entre-Deux” of Emotions: Emotions as Institutions.THIS IS THE PLACE TO PAUSE AND STOP READING AS THE OPENING ANSWER TO 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 constitution

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

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 subject.
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 institution.
To explore the somethings we love that becomes instituted in our deepest meanings.

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
Sent: August 24, 2016 5:29 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
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 noting:
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