RE: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

From: Michelle Zoss (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 13:40:37 PST

I wonder if perhaps the distinction between fantasy and reality might be
tied to issues of flow (references below), in that the "fantasy" person is
so far involved in the game that boundaries between what is real and what is
not real become blurred. Dewey talks about *an* experience as being a kind
of moment out of time in which a person can be fully immersed in the
doing/undergoing event of being in a relationship with a work of art (see
*Art as Experience* chapter on "Having an Experience" for more on the *an*
experience concept).
Michelle Zoss.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New
York: Harper.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1984). Being adolescent: Conflict and
growth in the teenage years. New York: Basic Books.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Robinson, R. E. (1990). The art of seeing: An
interpretation of the aesthetic encounter. Los Angeles: Getty Publications.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 8:03 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

The following quote from Dewey speaks to issues that have been ongoing on
XMCA and also provide context for a question I am hoping for some help on
(having been so successful with my question about references on narrative!).
In particular, it concerns the conclusion that experience is a hybrid of
what is termed here the physical and the mental. This snippet is provided
courtesy of Matt Brown, a member of our seminar on mediational theories of

Here's a little tidbit from Dewey that I think is interesting for several
reasons: it answers the question from earlier about whether Dewey is
concerned with the social, it provides a sort of summary statement of
central Deweyan theses, and it is exceptionally clear (for Dewey). From
Chapter 11 of *Art as Experience*:

Experience is a matter of the interaction of organism with its environment,
an environment that is human as well as physical, that includes the
materials of tradition and institutions as well as local surroundings. The
organism brings with it through its own structure, native and acquired,
forces that play a part in the interaction. The self acts as well as
undergoes, and its undergoings are not impressions stamped upon an inert wax
but depend upon the way the organism reacts and responds. There is no
experience in which the human contribution is not a factor in determining
what actually happens. The organism is a force, not a transparency.

Because every experience is constituted by interaction between subject and
object, between a self and its world, it is not itself either merely
physical nor merely mental, no matter how much one factor or the other
predominates... In an experience, things and events belonging to the world,
physical and social, are transformed through the human context they enter,
while the live creature is changed and developed through its intercourse
with things previously external to it.

Here is my question, related to this characterization of experience:

In various situations (in particular, I am thinking of various massive
multi-user games and related cyber-interactional meeting places) it appears
that people can, perhaps cannot help at times, confusing what we would
normally refer to as "fantasy" and "reality."

There is an extensive literature on the development of this distinction in
children's development, but I am seeking research on the distinction's
presumed presence or absence among adults.

Any and all help appreciated
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