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Re: [xmca] Generalization Is Not Abstraction Again


The diagram is just that, a synoptic look at a long monograph which I recommend as a good read. Yes, de Rivera was offering a "structural" - basically structuralist - analysis of the emotions. The basic idea is that each emotion is a movement, often literal and if not metaphorical, between two people. Each movement has both a subject and an object: to put it in very simple terms, I can push you away in anger, or I can withdraw from you in fear. In both cases you are the object of the emotion, I am the subject. The movement is in opposite directions, but in both cases it is along the dimension of intimacy. Other emotions involve movements along two other dimensions, which de Rivera names openness and status. The experience one has as the object of an emotion is different from ones experience as a subject.  I should add that he has conducted cross-cultural comparisons of emotion. 

de Rivera does write about the situatedness of these movements, though of course even the object of an emotion is in the world for the person who is a subject. In fact, he argues that each emotion provides a unique way of understanding a situation. For more of this I always recommend the article by Hall & Cobey, 'Emotion as the transformation of world.' So, on this analysis, although an emotion is an interpersonal movement, and so social, it is *also* an experience of the situation, and so individual.

I wanted to study moral conflicts, not in the form of what people say when they are asked to reason about hypothetical moral dilemmas (a la Kohlberg), but in terms of what people actually do. One clear component of a real, first-person moral conflict is its emotionality. How to look at that without reducing it to an individual subjective experience, chaotic and irrational (the empiricist approach) - or the result of some intellectual process of appraisal (the rationalist approach, common among cognitive psychologists)? What I came to argue was that emotion plays a central role in conflict: it structures the situation in a way that is immediate, unreflective, and with a strong sense of conviction. It is a disclosure, a first way of understanding what has happened, in action rather than in cognition, and it gives rise to practical concerns (an impulse to confess, or seek revenge...). This has many positive aspects, but it also makes it difficult to see the other person's point of view, or even to recognize that they *have* a point of view. The conflicts I studied only got resolved when people talked, even if only to try to convince one another to do what they considered the right thing, because then they found out that what they had taken to be 'the facts' were only one interpretation. The values behind the facts started to become evident. I think many of us would recognize these characteristics of everyday conflicts.


On Jul 6, 2010, at 2:33 PM, Steve Gabosch wrote:

> Martin, on the interesting chart you modified from de Rivera (1977) with the 12 pairs of subject/object interpersonal movement of emotions.  It seems to deal with emotions in a decontextualized way - we don't see the situations that create these responses.  Am I correct in that observation?  The pairings it depicts are thought-provoking, but I don't understand some or most of them.   The whole subject-object structure confuses me.  The premise of the chart that emotions are a way of being engaged in the world, and that emotions are rational, or have rationality, makes sense - I am ok with that - but I don't see how this chart is connected to the world - it seems to detach emotions from their context.  I just see an interesting list of oppositions and groupings of emotions without explanation.  So I seem to be missing something.  Could you explain this chart a little?
> On the topic in this thread, I agree with David K that abstraction and generalization are two different processes.  I am not convinced yet that Vygotsky was always clear on that distinction - he seems to conflate the two in Ch 5 in some places, for example, but seems to have found great relief when he solved new aspects of this question in Ch 6, criticizing the block experiments and their thinking at the time for some important limitations in this regard.  At the same time, David points out the great pressures bearing down on psychologists and pedologists in the early 1930's, greatly distorting that conversation.  Lots of puzzles to work out in that Ch 5 to Ch 6 transition on concept formation theory.
> - Steve
> On Jul 5, 2010, at 3:30 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>> On Jul 5, 2010, at 4:58 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>> an emotion is an interpersonal movement.
>>> systematic structure to the emotions, captured in the diagrams with dimensions of intimacy, status, and openness.
>>> there is a rationality to emotion - emotion is a way of being engaged and involved in the world.
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