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

How to understand the personality? ... i.e., the *development* of the personality?

The subject's inheritance, and The subject's experiences (/perezhivaniya/)

... just think of how you'd go about writing a good biography or Bildungsroman.


Andy Blunden
On 11/01/2017 10:24 AM, David Kellogg wrote:

A good paradox! Word meaning is a unit, but the spoken word itself is just an element--a thing. We can see that this is, on the face of it, impossible: within a single holistic analysis, an element can be a part of a unit, but a unit can never be a part of an element. So what you are referring to when you say that the word is a thing is the "sonic" or "phasal" quality of the word: its "acoustic" properties, its "phonetics".

But not its phonology. The word that Vygotsky uses for "phoneme" refers to the 1929 work of the Prague Circle, originally the Moscow Circle. He is a LITTLE coy about this, because the founders, Jakobson and Trubetskoy, were not very popular with the authorities and Vygotsky already had plenty of heterodox acquaintances to worry about. Nevertheless, whenever Vygotsky says "phoneme", we know he really means what Jakobson and Trubetskoy called "morphophonemes". We know this because the examples he actually gives--Russian case endings--are morpho-phonemes and not simply phonemes: so for example in English the sound /s/ is a simple phoneme when I say the word "self" but if I say "Andy's" the sound /s/ is a morpho-phoneme: a difference in sounding that makes a difference in meaning. The system (that is, the paradigmatic menu) of these differences in soundings are what the Moscow and Prague Circles called "phonology" (as OPPOSED to phonetics), and this is the kind of "phoneme" that Vygotsky is really talking about.

Still, you can see that it is not what he is talking about when he says word meaning, because these units are still nowhere near big enough to describe the kinds of changes which must occur when verbal thinking develops. I feel the same way about a lot of the examples offered of "perezhivanie", including Marc's. If MacDuff's grief or Carla's epiphany about the misbehavior of her kids being due to "outside influences" really is the unit of personality and experience that Vygotsky wants us to use when we analyse the ontogenesis of personality, then it is no more appropriate than using the morpho-phoneme to analyse the whole of verbal thinking. Just as evolution (of species) requires very different units from history (of classes), development, whether we are talking about verbal thinking or the personality as a whole, is going to require very different units from learning, whether we are talking about MacDuff or Carla. The units must be able to develop; that is, the relationship of the elements within them must be susceptible to many changes over time.

Let me give three examples of how this happens in different "perezhivanie". They are not mine; they are Vygotsky's, and they are all from the Pedological Lectures.

First, the Crisis at One. Neither the biological nor the social endowment of the child greatly changes in the acquisition of speech; nevertheless, the relationship between the personality and the environment, of which both personality moments and environmental ones are constituent elements, is entirely transformed. Here we are not talking about phonemes, or even morpho-phonemes: we are talking about "wordings"--whole utterances. In Melbourne I presented some data that demonstrated this beautifully--a child's first word is actually an attempt to imitate a whole conversation.

Second, the Crisis at Three. Vygotsky spends a lot of time discussing the "Seven Stars"--the symptoms of the "Terrible Twos" and "Threenagehood" noted by harried parents everywhere. But by the end of his analysis it's clear that what really happens is a new relationship between wish and will: in extreme cases, the child actually wishes for one thing (e.g. compromise) and wills the opposite (the everlasting "No!"). Again, neither the personality moments as such nor the environmental ones change, but there is a separation and a sorting which allows the subordination of wish to will that we see in play. This isn't the kind of "aha" moment that Marc is offering us at all: Vygotsky actually calls it the "antipode" of future will, because instead of enabling will it actually paralyzes it. But it is indubitably a key moment in the development of the relation of personality to environmental moments that we see in "perizhivanie".

Thirdly, the Crisis at Seven. I think Gonzalez Rey makes a total hash of this, and I get very cross when I read his article. It is not true that the essence of perizhivanie remained a mystery to Vygotsky simply because he no longer subscribes to "the aesthetic reaction" and "catharsis" and other notions that he toyed with in Psych of Art (he's no longer doing experiments on changes in breathing rate when people read the works of Bunin either!). It might be true that he never offered a system of facts and methodological procedures for perezivanie, but that was only because one already existed, for example in the work of Wallon and Stern and others. It is demonstrably not true that when Vygotsky says that the speech environment of those around him does not change when the child learns to talk at one, he is not "profoundly contradictory with the concept of sense": when you read the quotation in context, it is very clear that what he is referring to are the kinds of absolute indicators used by Zalkind: how often the parents read the newspapers, the dialect they speak, and their educational background. These do not change, and if the child wants to make sense, these are the factors the child will have to relate to.

Vygotsky gives the example of a child who is severely retarded. The child wants to play with other children and is rejected. The child walks down the street and the other children follow, laughing. The child is shrieked at, insulted, but as soon as the humiliation stops, the child is perfectly happy with himself. Vygotsky points out that the child is not able to "co-generalize" the "perizhivanie" of the humiliations: each is unpleasant, but they are entirely separate and cannot be connected with any internal sense of inferiority. A normal child, however, is able to "internalize" these humiliations and consequently develops a sense of inferiority. We can see that what has happened is the insertion of what Vygotsky calls an "intellectual" moment: an inner layer, which is what distinguishes later Chaplin movies from earlier ones (again, Vygotsky's example, not mine!) and what brings about the "loss of directness and naivete" that we see in pre-schoolers.

I think that the reason people find "perizhivanie" so hard to work with is the same reason that they find "word meaning" hard to work with: it develops. The feeling of drinking milk as the infant drinks it is perizhivanie, and the thought of being humiliated when you are mulling it over and contemplating revenge is also perizhivanie, and only a profound analysis which includes ontogenetic development and not just learning will show the inner link between them. It's for that reason that I think that "activity" is not a useful unit of analysis and I am much more inclined to use your word "project", so long as it can include what Vygotsky calls "inner activeness".

Vygotsky says:

Когда я размышляю, припоминаю и т. д., я имею дело с внутренней активностью, эта внутренняя деятельность психологических процессов непосредственно не связана с внешней деятельностью. Вот эта новая форма внутренней активности в школьном возрасте заключается в том, что, в то время как в дошкольном возрасте эти внутренние деятельности обнаруживают непосредственную связь с действием, внешней активностью, в школьном возрасте мы имеем относительно самостоятельно возникающие, относительно независимые внутренние активности по отношению к внешней деятельности. Это уже ребенок, который может размышлять, в то время когда он делает или видит что-нибудь, тот, у которого возникает дифференциация внешней и внутренней деятельности.

When I think, remember, etc. I am dealing withinner activeness; this psychological process of inner activity is not directly linked to any external activity. The new form of inner activeness in the School Age consists of this: that while during the preschool years these inner activities demonstrated an immediate link with action, with external activeness, in the school years we have a relative autonomy which emerges, inner activeness which is relatively independent of external activities. Here is already a child who can think, at the same time when he is doing or seeing something, one in whom has emerged a differentiation of inner and outer activities.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 10:07 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    David: "Are words really units?"

    Well, firstly, "units" is a *relative* term. That is,
    the question is: are words units of something, some
    complex process subject to analysis. And which?

    Secondly, according to Vygotsky, "no." The concept
    Vygotsky proposes as a unit is "word meaning" which he
    says is a unity of sound and meaning. The sound is an
    artefact, which, detached from its meaningful
    utterance in a transactional context is just a thing,
    viz., a word. Whereas "word meaning" is an
    arrtefact-mediated action, a unit of human social

    It is true that words can be countable or mass
    according to context, but I wasn't talking about words
    was I? I was talking about word meaning.


    Andy Blunden
    http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>

    On 8/01/2017 7:59 AM, David Kellogg wrote:

        Are words really units? When we look at their
        ideational meaning (that is,
        their logical and experiential content--their
        capacity for representing and
        linking together human experiences) they seem to
        fall into two very
        different categories: lexical words like
        "perezhivanie" or "sense" or
        "personality" of "individual" and grammatical
        words like "of", or "might",
        or "is". The lexical words seem to behave like
        units--they are bounded,
        discrete, and, as Andy would say, "countable" (the
        problem is that almost
        all nouns are both countable and uncountable
        depending on the context you
        put them in, so this distinction is really not as
        essential as Andy seems
        to assume). But the more grammatical words seem to
        be elements of some
        larger unit, which we can call wording.

        Veresov and Fleer come up against this problem
        with "edintsvo" and
        "edintsa". Of course, as they say, the two words
        are distinct. But this
        doesn't necessarily mean that the former always
        corresponds to "unity" in
        English and the latter is always "unit". If you
        look at the paragraph they
        translate on 330, you can see that Vygotsky starts
        with an idea that is
        quite "synoptic" and is well expressed by "unit".
        But in the last sentence
        there is a sense that "perezhivanie" is a
        meta-stable unit--one that
        remains self-similar only through a process of
        thorough change, like a
        bicycle whose every part is replaced--and in
        English is it is better to
        express this idea with "unity". The problem is
        that the differences between
        "edintsvo" and "edintsva" in Russian is a matter
        of gender (I think) and
        not simply abstractness, and as a result the
        English version, which cannot
        use the resource of gender,has to rely on
        abstractness, so the words
        "unity" and "unit" are somewhat more distinct and
        less linked than
        "edintsvo" and "edintsva".

        There are other problems that are similar. When
        Gonzalez Rey uses the word
        "final moment" to refer to the final period of
        Vygotsky's thinking, he
        leaves the anglophone reader the impression that
        he is referring to
        Vygotsky's deathbed thoughts. On the other hand,
        when Veresov and Fleer use
        "factor" to translate the same Russian word that
        Gonzalez Rey is using,
        they are giving us something more quantitative
        than Vygotsky intended, and
        their translation of "dalee nerazloshim'im
        chastyami etava edinstva"
        into  "vital and further indivisible part of the
        whole" is quite opaque in
        English (notice that here Veresov and Fleer use
        "whole" to translate
        "edinstva" rather than "unit"!) At some point you
        have to accept that you
        can change Russian words into English words as if
        you were exchanging
        rubles for dollars, but you still won't be able to
        buy a samovar at Walmart.

        David Kellogg
        Macquarie University

        On Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 5:21 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil
        <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>>

            Larry, all,

            our arguments in the 2014 address a science
            education literature in which
            the constructivist perspective is the leading
            perspective; We note that the
            assertion that people learn from experience is
            everywhere taken for granted
            but nowhere accounted for. We resort to
            pragmatist and phenomenological
            literature along with Vygotsky's insights to
            point out the need to account
            for learning as something that cannot be the
            result of an individual's
            construction; in experience there is always
            something in excess of what you
            intended, and this is a basic feature of
            doing, of performing. I take that
            to be your "trans" in the trans/zhivanie word,
            Larry, which already is
            denoted in the word PERezhivanie.

            But I do not wish to move our discussion too
            far away from Marc's paper
            and the Perezhivanie special issue. We also
            risk disengaging many that have
            not have the privilege we've had to have the
            time to read so many articles
            in just few days into the new year. I think we
            are a point in the
            discussion where a pretty clear point of
            agreement/disagreement, and
            therefore of possibility for growth, has been
            reached with regard to the
            view of perezhivanie as "an experience" and as
            the "working over it". I
            think that to allow as many as possible to
            follow, and hopefully also
            engage, I think it will be helpful to bring
            the diverse perspectives and
            theoretical accounts to matter in accounting
            for some actual material. And
            there are a number of cases described in the
            articles, including Marc's
            case of a teacher, as well as everyday facts,
            such as those brought by
            Beth, and in Beth's article...

            I take the task for myself too, but Saturday
            morning need to attend to
            other things!

            From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
            on behalf of lpscholar2@gmail.com
            Sent: 07 January 2017 18:26
            To: Andy Blunden; Peter Smagorinsky; eXtended
            Mind, Culture, Activity;
            Larry Purss
            Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Happy New Year and

            Andy, Peter, i hope the intention to move
            beyond politeness to struggle
            with this topic materializes.
            In this vein i want to introduce exploration
            of the ‘excess’ of actual
            over intended meaning as he sketched his
            introduction to ‘experience’.

            Citing Dewey, Alfredo says that this excess of
            actual learning over
            intended learning INCLUDES what Dewey refers
            to as ‘attitudes’ and these
            ‘attitudes’ are FUNDAMENTALLY what count in
            the future.
            Alfredo and Roth  then add this summary
            statement :

            There is therefore, a need to theorize
            experience in terms that do not
            assume control and rationality as the sine qua
            non of learning. It also
            implies a need to develop analytical accounts
            that retain the ‘uncertainty’
            that is an ‘integral part’ of human experience.

            Where are Alfredo and Roth leading us with
            this sketch of experience? To
            highlight ‘attitudes’ that occur in the excess
            of actual over intended
            learning? The word ‘attitudes’ generates
            images of (atmosphere) and (moods)
            that ‘flow’ like cascading waterfalls that can
            be imaged as (force) or as
            (receptive). Attitudes that flow to places
            where they are received within a
            certain attitude of care and concern. Not as
            forceful an image as moving
only with control and rationality. Describing ‘weaker’ thought that
            remains uncertain but that also opens us to
            the other’s peril and plight.
            Possibly a post-analytic motion that exceeds
            the intended by living-through
            the actual that develops ‘attitudes’ that are
            fundamentally what count for
            the future.

            Sent from my Windows 10 phone

            From: Andy Blunden
            Sent: January 7, 2017 5:00 AM
            To: Peter Smagorinsky; eXtended Mind, Culture,
            Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Happy New Year and

            OK Peter, what you say is all very true I am
            sure, but it
            entails conflating activity and action (as
            mass nouns) and
            context and mediation, and makes the required
            much like one could find multiple meanings for
            the word
            "and" by listing the different phrases and
            clauses which can
            be linked by "and."


            Andy Blunden

            On 7/01/2017 11:42 PM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

                Let me try to illustrate.

                Reading as mediated action: The
                context of reading mediates how one’s
                attention and
                response are channeled in socially
                constructed ways. So,
                in one setting, say at home or reading in
                the company of
                friends, a novel might bring a reader to
                tears, or invite
                readers to share personal stories that
                parallel those of
                the plot lines, or laugh out loud. But
                another setting, a
                formal school or university class, would
                have historical
                values and practices that mute emotional
                and personal
                responses, and promote a more sober,
                analytic way of
                reading and talking that fits with
                specific historical
                  critical conventions and genres, and
                discourages others.

                Reading as mediating action: The act of
                reading can be
                transformational. In reading about an
                talking about a
                character’s actions, a reader might
                reconsider a value
                system, become more sympathetic to real
                people who
                resemble oppressed characters, etc. In
                other words,
                reading a text may serve a mediational
                process in which
                textual ideas and exemplars enable a
                reader to think

                *From:*Andy Blunden
                *Sent:* Saturday, January 7, 2017 6:28 AM
                *To:* Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu
                <mailto:smago@uga.edu>>; eXtended Mind,
                Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
                *Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Happy New Year
                and Perezhivanie!

                Can you explain in a paragraph or two,.
                Peter, rather than
                asking us all to read 10,000 words to
                extract an answer?



                Andy Blunden

                On 7/01/2017 11:23 PM, Peter Smagorinsky

                     Andy and others, I tried to work out
                the mediated/mediating question

            in the area of reading....see if this helps.

                     Smagorinsky, P., & O'Donnell-Allen,
                C. (1998). Reading as mediated

            and mediating action: Composing meaning for
            literature through multimedia
            interpretive texts. Reading Research
            Quarterly, 33, 198-226. Available

                     -----Original Message-----


            mailman.ucsd.edu <http://mailman.ucsd.edu>] On
            Behalf Of Andy Blunden

                     Sent: Friday, January 6, 2017 7:12 PM


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

                     I have never understood this supposed
                distinction, Alfredo, between

            "mediated activity" and "mediating activity"
            given that all activity is
            mediated and all activity mediates.

                     Also, could you spell out what you
                mean by the "tension"

                     between perezhivanie as meaning and
                perezhivanie as struggle.



                     Andy Blunden




                     On 5/01/2017 6:26 PM, Alfredo Jornet
                Gil wrote:

                         Thanks Marc for your careful

                         I am familiar to Vygotsky's
                notion of cultural mediation and I

            am aware and acknowledge that it was
            elaborated as a means to overcome
            dualism, and that it is not analog to a
            computational approach.

                         When I brought the computing
                analogy, I did so with regard not

            to the concept of cultural mediation in
            general, but to the way it can be
            (and is) deployed analytically. I react to
            what it seems to me a dichotomy
            between a "meaning" as something that is
            static (thereby a form of
            "representation" or reflection of the relation
            with the environment instead
            of​refraction)​​  and the
            experiencing-as-struggling, which is described
            as​transformation or change. If so, mediation
            here would seem to be part of
            a methodological device that first dissects "a
            type of meaning" from "a
            type of activity" (or a given state from the
            process that changes that
            state), and then unites it by adding the term
            "mediation." And this may be
            my misreading, but in that (mis)reading (which
            perhaps is mostly due to the
            fact that in your empirical illustration only
            the initial and end product,
            i.e., perezhivanie, are described, but not the
            that is, the moving between the two),
            mediation here seems to do as
            analytical concept precisely what you were
            afraid our monism was doing:
            explaining nothing. Only the end products but
            not the process of producing
            perezhivanie are revealed. This may be
            problematic if one attends to what
            Veresov argues in the paper I shared
            yesterday, where he defends the notion
            of mediation but also specifies that Vygotsky
            speaks of *mediating
            activity* (as opposed to *mediated* activity).
            That is, not mediation by
            signs as products, but mediating activity as
            the activity of producing
            signs (which again is an activity of producing
            social relations, perhaps
            what you refer as "holistic meanings"?). What
            do you think?

                         I did not think you were trying
                to deny the influence of

            Spinoza, and I do not think we ever said that
            Perezhivanie was primarily a
            move from Cartesian Dualism to Monism, as you
            suggest in your post. I copy
            and paste from my prior post:  "The fact is
            that Vygotsky was building a
            theory on the unity of the affect and the
            intellect that was to be grounded
            on Spinoza, and what we try to do is to
            explore how perezhivanie, as a
            concept being developed during the same period
            (but not finalised or
            totally settled!), could be seen from the
            perspective of the Spinozist

                         I totally believe that bringing
                the distinction between

            perezhivanie as meaning, and perezhivanie as
            struggle, is totally relevant,
            and Beth Ferholt's vignettes of Where the Wild
            Things Are do indeed
            illustrate this. We really need to address
            this tension, which as Beth's
            examples and as our own everyday experience
            shows, is a tension that
            matters not just to books and to theories but
            to living persons (children,
            teachers), a tension that moreover is present
            and mentioned in all the
            articles of the symposium. The papers offer
            different proposals, and I
            think is so great we have the chance to
            discuss them! I too, as you, am
            very interesting in hearing others about the
            questions you had concerning
            sense and meaning.



                on behalf of Marc



                         Sent: 04 January 2017 22:31

                         To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity

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

                         Thank you very much, Alfredo, for
                sharing this excellent paper by

                         Veresov, and thanks also for your
                responses, which really helped

            me to

                         better understand your points. My
                main doubt about your proposal

                         was/is caused by the statement
                that the idea of cultural

                         mediation/mediator implies a
                cartesian dualism. This shocks me

                         because, to me, the idea of
                cultural mediation is absolutely


                         (in fact, the keystone) for the
                construction of a monist (and

                         scientific) psychology that does
                not forget mind –that is, a


                         psychology. From your response,
                however, I realized that we may


                         approaching the idea of mediation
                in different ways. I talk of

                         mediation and mediators in a
                quite restricted way. The starting


                         of my understanding of mediation
                is a dialectical relationship

                         (organic, transactional) between
                the subject and the world

            (Vygotsky departs from the scheme
            stimulus-response, from reflexology).

                         This relationship, that Vygotsky
                calls primitive psychological

                         functions, would be basically
                biological. However, in human


                         this relationship is mediated by
                cultural means: signs and

            tools; or

                         primary, secondary and terciary
                artifacts. These cultural means

                         reorganize the primitive
                functions (dialectic S-O relationship),


                         become then higher psychological
                functions (S-M-O) (see for


                         The problem of the cultural
                development of the child, in The


                         Reader). Now, the subject, the
                cultural mediators, and the

            object form

                         an inseparable dialectical unit,
                so that the subject acts on

                         (transforms) the object through
                the prism of the cultural


                         the object acts on (transforms)
                the subject also through the

            prism of

                         the cultural mediators, and the
                cultural means are themselves


                         transformed as a consequence of
                their mediation in this


                         dynamic dialectical tension.
                Here, for me, it is important the


                         that the cultural means are as
                material (if we assume a


                         monism) as all the rest of the
                world; in fact, are parts of the

                         material world which become signs
                or tools (and can be therefore

                         socially distributed). This
                permits the introduction of the


                         study of mind-consciousness (as
                mediating systems of signs),


                         mind is not anymore something
                immaterial and unobservable, but

            it is

                         as material and observable as the
                rest of the natural world. It


                         from this view that, for me, the
                idea of cultural mediation is


                         keystone of a monist psychology
                that includes mind. Thus, when I


                         of mediators, I refer to the
                cultural means which mediate in the


                         dialectics; I am especially
                interested in signs/secondary


                         Here, it is perhaps necessary to
                insist that when I talk of


                         mediators (and their semantic
                structure), this doesn't mean that


                         are taken out from the activity
                (the flux of live) in which they

                         mediate (since out of activity
                they are not signs anymore);

            here, I

                         think Vygotsky tries again to
                overcome another old dichotomy, the

                         functionalism-structuralism one.
                I hope that all this makes also

            clear the difference between this view and
            that of computational
            psychologies (which in general are profoundly
            and explicitly dualist and
            not dialectic).

                         Back to perezhivanie, I'm not
                obviously trying to deny the


                         of Spinoza on Vygotsky's thinking
                (this is explicit in Vygotsky's

                         writings, especially in “The
                teaching about emotions”, in the

            Vol.6 of

                         the Collected Works). But I have
                doubts that Vygotsky's


                         of the concept of perezhivanie is
                to be regarded primarily as a

                         movement towards monism (from a
                previous cartesian dualism), and


                         this movement questions the
                concept of cultural mediation.


                         and I think that this is in line
                with some of González-Rey

                         observations in his paper, my
                impression is that the

            introduction of

                         the concept of perezhivanie
                responds more to a movement (a


                         step) towards holism (something
                that, in my understanding, can

            also be

                         found in Spinoza). Thus, I think
                that the word meaning is still


                         unit of analysis in the last
                Vygotsky -and therefore, the idea of

                         cultural mediation is still
                crucial (in fact, in The problem of


                         environment, he connects the
                concept of perezhivanie, which has


                         introduced, to the development of
                word meaning [p.345-346, also


                         in my paper]). However, in my
                view, in the last Vygotsky the

            focus is

                         not anymore primarily on the
                word-meaning as formed for things


                         collections of things, as in the
                ontogenetic research with

            Sakharov), but the focus is now in the
            formation of meaning for holistic

                         Best regards,


                         2017-01-03 19:16 GMT+01:00
                Alfredo Jornet Gil<


                             Hi Marc, all,

                             thanks for joining and for
                your interesting work, which I


                             since I became aware of it. I
                appreciate the way in your

            paper you

                             show careful and honest
                attention to the texts of the authors

                             involved, but perhaps most of
                all I appreciate that the

            paper makes

                             the transformational
                dimension related to struggle and change

                             salient, a dimension all
                papers deemed central to

            perezhivanie. And I

                             have learned more about
                Vasilyuk by reading your paper. But

            I also

                             see that we have approached
                the question of perezhivanie


                             and I think that addressing
                the questions that you raise


                             our article may be a good way
                to both respond and discuss

            your paper.

                             I am aware that our use of
                the term monism may be

            problematic to

                             some, and N. Veresov, who has
                recently written about this


                             attached article), warns
                against the dangers of simply

            moving from

                             dualism into an
                undifferentiating monism that relativizes


                             making development
                un-studiable. This seems to be the way in


                             you have understood our
                argument, and of course this is not

            what we are or want to be doing.

                             Probably many will think that
                *dialectical materialism*

            rather than

                             monism is the proper term,
                and I could agree with them; we

            do in fact

                             use dialectical materialism
                there and elsewhere. Yet, we

            wanted to

                             emphasise the Spinozist
                influence (an influence that also


                             through Marx) and so we found
                it appropriate to use the term


                             a term that Vygotsky uses
                before arguing that Spinoza

            "develops an essentially materialistic view"

                             (Collected Works, Vol. 6, p.
                124). For us, the aim is

            working out

                             ways to empirically examine
                and formulate problems in ways

            that do

                             not reify a mind-body dualism.

                             Although overcoming dualism
                is foundational to the CHAT

            paradigm, I

                             would however not say that
                Vygotsky did get to solve all of


                             problems that Cartesian
                dualism had created for psychology,


                             though he recognised those
                problems brilliantly as early as

            in the

                             "Crisis". It should suffice
                to cite Vygotsky's own remarks,

            which we quote in the paper (and which A.N.

                             Leont'ev mentions in the
                introduction to the collected

            works), where

                             Vygotsky explicitly critiques
                some of his own prior ideas

            for failing

                             to overcome dualism. We agree
                with those who, like F. G.

            Rey, see

                             Vygotsky's project as a
                developing rather than as a

            finalised one.

                             The fact is that Vygotsky was
                building a theory on the unity

            of the

                             affect and the intellect that
                was to be grounded on Spinoza,

            and what

                             we try to do is to explore
                how perezhivanie, as a concept


                             developed during the same
                period (but not finalised or


                             settled!), could be seen from
                the perspective of the

            Spinozist Vygotsky.

                             As you note, in our article
                we argue that, if one takes the


                             one-substance approach,
                classical concepts used in


                             psychology, at least in the
                way they are commonly used in

            the current

                             literature, should be
                revised. One such concept is

            mediation. And I

                             personally do not have much
                of a problem when mediation is

            used to

                             denote the fundamental fact
                that every thing exists always


                             *another*, never in and of
                itself. But I do think that it is

                             problematic to identify
                MEDIATORS, such as "a meaning", as a

            means to

                             account for or explain
                developmental processes and learning


                             precisely because it is
                there, at least in my view, that

            dualism creeps in.

                             For example, I find it
                paradoxical that you are concerned

            that our

                             monist approach risks turning
                perezhivanie into a useless


                             because it may be used to
                explain everything and nothing,

            and yet you

                             do not seem to have a problem
                using the term mediation to

            account for

                             the transformation of
                perezhivanie without clearly

            elaborating on how

                             mediation does change
                anything or what it looks like as a


                             process. How is it different
                saying that a perezhivanie

            mediates the

                             experiencing-as-struggle from
                simply saying that it

            "affects" or

                             "determines" it? Indeed, if
                perezhivanie mediates

                does not experiencing-as-struglgle


                             mediate perezhivanie? And do
                not both may be said to mediate

            development, or development mediate them? Is
            not this explaining everything
            and nothing?

                             I do believe you can argue
                that there is a difference between

                             mediation and classical
                psychology's cause-effect relations,

            but to

                             show this you need to dig
                into the dialectical underpinnings

            of the

                             theory. In your paper, you
                offer a nice analysis of a lovely

            case of

                             a teacher who, in dealing
                with a challenge with one of her


                             changes her perezhivanie. I
                think you can rightly argue that

            there is

                             a semiotic transformation,
                and I fully support your

            statement that by

                             studying discourse we can
                empirically approach questions of

                             psychological development.
                The contradictions you show as


                             involved and resolved
                resonate really well with what I

            experience as

                             a parent or as a teacher in
                the classroom. Yet, without


                             what this "mediation" taking
                place between one perezhivanie

            and the

                             next one means as a concrete
                and real, the same analysis

            could be done taking an information processing

                             there is an situation that is
                processed (represented?) in

            one way,

                             which then leads to a
                (cognitive) dissonance, and then there

            is a

                             cognitive resolution by means
                of which the situation is


                             differently in consciousness
                (indeed, when seen in this way,

            the term

                             perezhivanie and the term
                "representation" become almost

                             indistinguishable). How is
                mediation, as an analytical


                             helping here? And most
                importantly to the question of


                             how is this analysis going to
                show the internal connection


                             intellect and affect that
                Vygotsky formulates as

            constitutive of the notion of perezhivanie?

                             I believe that the key lies
                in understanding what Vygotsky

            means when

                             he says that perezhivanie is
                a unit of analysis. I will not


                             here what already is written
                in at least a couple of the

            articles in

                             the special issue (Blunden,
                ours), that is the difference


                             analysis by elements and unit
                analysis (Vygotsky 1987). A


                             analysis approach is
                consistent with Spinoza, for whom


                             explanations were not
                adequate, requiring instead an

            understanding of

                perezhivanie as a kernel cell for the


                             of personality. And I think
                you may be after this in your

            article in

                             suggesting a form of
                continuous movement from perezhivanie to

                             experiencing-as-struggle. But
                perhaps the major difficulty I

            find is that, in positing Vygotsky's
            perezhivanie as "a type of meaning"

                             and Vasilyuk's perezhivanie
                (or experiencing-as-struggle) as

            a "type

                             of activity," it is difficult
                not to see here a division


                             product and process, a
                division that then is analytically

            bridged by

                             the addition of a third term,
                mediation, that should bring

            back the

                             real movement between the
                product and the process.

                             A different approach involves
                considering the concrete

            extension of

                             actual living and lived
                social relations, and look at them as

                             generative phenomena. What is
                there in the encounter between


                             and the child that leads to
                change? For it is not inside the


                             but in real life, in
                consciousness as the real relation

            between people, that Carla is changed.

                             How is the semantic structure
                that you nicely present and


                             to Carla a product of the
                social relation between her and

            the child?

                             I think that to rightfully
                situate perezhivanie as a concept

            in a

                             Vygotskian framework, we
                ought to address its relation to

            the genetic

                             law of development.

                             There is much more to
                disentangle, but this is long enough.

            I hope I

                             have succeeded in making
                clear these ideas. Thanks so much


                             engaging in the discussion!




                on behalf of Marc



                             Sent: 02 January 2017 22:14

                             To: eXtended Mind, Culture,

                             Subject: [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


                             focuses on a distinction
                between a type of activity, which I


                             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,


                             Vasilyuk, that in
                experiencing activities (Vasilyuk's


                             this type of mediator is
                profoundly transformed – in fact,


                             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


                             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


                             (formation of conscious
                purposes) seem to be decisively

            mediated by

                             holistic situational meaning.
                My current research concern is


                             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


                             (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


                             (Vygotsky's Thinking and
                Speech, chapter 7), and I also

            assume the

                             Vygotsky's law of the unity
                of the structure and function of


                             (Vygotsky's Thinking and
                Speech, chapter 6). From these two

                             assumptions, I propose that
                meaning (and its functions in


                             activity) can be
                scientifically studied by structurally

            analyzing the

                             narratives generated by
                subjects, considering that the


                             produced in the narrative is
                the point of departure of this


                             but that considerable
                analytical work must be done to move

            from this

                             discourse to the full
                characterization of meaning. It is in


                             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


                                 in the

                             other papers of the special
                issue. In this first post I will


                             two of them for possible
                discussion. The first one was

            raised by

                             González-Rey, when he
                introduces, in connection with


                             the concepts of personality,
                and especially, of sense. So,

            which is

                             the conceptual (and-or

                             phenomenal) relation between
                perezhivanie and sense?


                             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


                             different levels of depth,
                and that sense corresponds to the


                             level of meaning (which can
                be characterized as a system of


                             oppositions). Therefore,
                sense wouldn't be in opposition to


                             (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


                             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


                             opportunity to ask for your
                opinions about that. About the


                             of Roth and Jornet, I have
                some doubts. First, I don't see


                             Vygotsky's proposals can be
                seen as dualist (in the

            Cartesian sense)

                             -I suspect that it is because
                of the analytical


                             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


                             psychology which includes the
                study of mind is only possible

            if any

                             type of monism is assumed.
                However, in my view, for a


                             psychology, the ontological
                nature of the world is perhaps


                             important (it is an issue for
                metaphysics?), and I am

            inclined to assume a neutral monism (e.g.

                             So from this view, a
                materialist monism and a Spinozist


                             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


                             mind) [which is the
                ontological nature of the world and to


                             degree it is knowable are
                issues that can be left to


                             However, in my opinion, this
                does not mean that, while

            assuming a

                             monism, analytical
                distinctions cannot be done when studying


                             world. In that sense, I had
                the impression that Roth and


                             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


                             there would be the danger,
                noted by Vygotsky in The Crisis


                             cautioned by Kozulin in his
                commentary, that by meaning

            everything, perezhivanie ends by meaning nothing.

                             Best regards and happy new year,


                             2017-01-02 9:12 GMT+01:00
                Alfredo Jornet Gil<


                                 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


                                 article discussion,
                ?although in fact corresponds to the

            last issue

                                 of the year


                                 just passed, Issue 4 on
                Perezhivanie. This is a very


                                 *special* issue, not only
                because its topic has raised

            lots of

                                 interest lately in


                                 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


                                 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


                                 J. Greimas, mobilising a
                number of key concepts

            including those of


                                 mediation and transformation.

                                 ?In addition to Marc, who
                will soon join us, I have

            encouraged some



                                 other authors in the
                special issue to also join as


                                 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





                                 The link to the MCA Forum
                pages, where we announce our


                                 and other xmca things, is

                                 I wish us all a very
                productive and interesting