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[Xmca-l] Re: Happy New Year and Perezhivanie!

Hi, all, and thank you so much, Alfredo, for your kind invitation to
participate in this discussion. My paper in the MCA special issue focuses
on a distinction between a type of activity, which I argue that is what
Vasilyuk called *perezhivanie* (experiencing) and a type of semiotic
mediator, which I argue that is what Vygotsky, in The Problem of the
Environment, called *perezhivanie.* I argue, following Vasilyuk, that in
experiencing activities (Vasilyuk's perezhivanie), this type of mediator is
profoundly transformed – in fact, that experiencing activities consist of
the semiotic transformation of this type of mediator.

As Veresov and Fleer argue in their commentary, perezhivanie (as a type of
mediator) is for me a psychological phenomenon, one which is of course
conceptualized from a specific theoretical framework. But the phenomenon is
also visible from other theoretical frameworks as well, as I mention in the
paper. This phenomenon is my main interest, and it is from this interest
that I arrived at the concept of perezhivanie (not the other way around).
Now, the phenomenon is that at least emotion, reasoning, and volition
(formation of conscious purposes) seem to be decisively mediated by
holistic situational meaning. My current research concern is trying to find
ways to study and understand how this mediation occurs and how these
semiotic mediators are transformed and distributed. From this view, I think
that experiencing activities (Vasilyuk's perezhivanie) may provide a good
terrain to study these issues (especially regarding the mediation of
emotion), as I tried to exemplify in the paper.

Studying semiotic mediation, however, is of course not easy. Following
Vygotsky, I assume that extended discourse is the manifestation of thinking
within certain psychological conditions (Vygotsky's Thinking and Speech,
chapter 7), and I also assume the Vygotsky's law of the unity of the
structure and function of thinking (Vygotsky's Thinking and Speech, chapter
6). From these two assumptions, I propose that meaning (and its functions
in human activity) can be scientifically studied by structurally analyzing
the narratives generated by subjects, considering that the discourse
produced in the narrative is the point of departure of this study, but that
considerable analytical work must be done to move from this discourse to
the full characterization of meaning. It is in that point where I find
useful the work developed by Greimas, the usefulness of which I only
suggest in the paper.

>From this background, I found many interesting ideas and questions in the
other papers of the special issue. In this first post I will propose two of
them for possible discussion. The first one was raised by González-Rey,
when he introduces, in connection with perezhivanie, the concepts of
personality, and especially, of sense. So, which is the conceptual (and-or
phenomenal) relation between perezhivanie and sense? González-Rey suggests
that both concepts are somewhat similar (and overcome by the concept of
“subjective sense”); my opinion, partly expressed in my commentary, is that
perezhivanie is a type of meaning, which includes different levels of
depth, and that sense corresponds to the deepest level of meaning (which
can be characterized as a system of semic oppositions). Therefore, sense
wouldn't be in opposition to meaning (as “a microcosm of human
consciousness”, as Kozulin remembers in his commentary), although it would
be in opposition to manifested meaning (the surface level of meaning).

The second issue was raised by Roth and Jornet, and I think it goes beyond
the issue of perezhivanie itself. If I understand them well, they argue
that Vygotsky's core proposal of cultural mediation is influenced by the
Cartesian dualism (mind-matter), and that a promising approach to Cultural
Psychology would be a Spinozist monism. I am actually very interested on
the issue of which epistemological position can best substantiate the
construction of a cultural psychology, and that's why I feel inclined to
take the opportunity to ask for your opinions about that. About the
proposal of Roth and Jornet, I have some doubts. First, I don't see why
Vygotsky's proposals can be seen as dualist (in the Cartesian sense) -I
suspect that it is because of the analytical distinctions?. Anyway, in my
understanding, Vygotsky explicitly assumes a materialist monism (for
example in The Crisis), and in fact he constructs his proposal on mediation
upon reflexology, which also explicitly assumed a materialist monism (e.g.
Sechenov). Would a Spinozist monism be a better point of departure? I don't
know, in my understanding it is a more idealist monism, and I don't clearly
see what could be gained. In my opinion, a scientific psychology which
includes the study of mind is only possible if any type of monism is
assumed. However, in my view, for a scientific psychology, the ontological
nature of the world is perhaps less important (it is an issue for
metaphysics?), and I am inclined to assume a neutral monism (e.g. Russell).
So from this view, a materialist monism and a Spinozist monism wouldn't be
so different, so from both views it could be assumed that all is of the
same nature and all is similarly knowable (including mind) [which is the
ontological nature of the world and to what degree it is knowable are
issues that can be left to philosophy]. However, in my opinion, this does
not mean that, while assuming a monism, analytical distinctions cannot be
done when studying the world. In that sense, I had the impression that Roth
and Jornet tended to dilute analytical distinctions in the name of monism;
I repeat that I don't know if I understood them well, but if this was the
case, in my opinion, analysis would be impossible within the new psychology
suggested by Roth and Jornet, and, regarding perezhivanie, there would be
the danger, noted by Vygotsky in The Crisis and cautioned by Kozulin in his
commentary, that by meaning everything, perezhivanie ends by meaning

Best regards and happy new year,


2017-01-02 9:12 GMT+01:00 Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>:

> Dear all,
> I would like to join David, Luisa, Ana, Henry and the others to wish you
> all a Happy New Year! May it be full of joy, peace, and opportunity.
> I also would like to begin the year announcing our first ?MCA article
> discussion, ?although in fact corresponds to the last issue of the year we
> just passed, Issue 4 on Perezhivanie. This is a very special *special*
> issue, not only because its topic has raised lots of interest lately in the
> CHAT community but also because, greatly coordinated by Andy Blunden and
> the rest of the editorial team, the issue takes the form of a symposium
> where authors get the chance to present and respond to each others' ideas
> on the subject. In my view, this allows having a rich and multidimensional
> approach to a subject as important as perezhivanie.
> Following with the dialogical spirit in which the special issue was
> assembled, we will focus on one lead article, but hoping to also engage
> ideas and insights present in or relevant to other contributions in the
> issue. ?Marc Clarà's "Vygotsky and Vasilyuk on Perezhivanie: Two Notions
> and One Word" will be our focus. The article very nicely engages the lead
> work of Vygotsky, but also the less known ??(?in educational literature)
> but totally relevant works of psychologist ?F. Vasilyuk and semiotician A.
> J. Greimas, mobilising a number of key concepts including those of semiotic
> mediation and transformation.
> ?In addition to Marc, who will soon join us, I have encouraged some of the
> other authors in the special issue to also join as "relevant others," if
> time and circumstances allow them. Let's hope that this will help keeping
> the symposium spirit up.
> Marc's article is attached to this e-mail and will be made open access at
> the T&F pages as soon as people is back from the holidays. The T&F link is
> this: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10749039.2016.1186194
> The link to the MCA Forum pages, where we announce our discussions and
> other xmca things, is here: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/
> I wish us all a very productive and interesting discussion.
> Alfredo