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Re: [xmca] Teresa in Ecstasy
Dear Mike and Natalia:
First of all, belated thanks for your generous help with the Russian. BOTH of you made important corrections to my understanding of the text. (As Yongho says, it's really time for us to get more serious about our study of the Russian language here in Korea.)
Mike's translation actually goes somewhat further than my understanding of it. Vygotsky doesn't say Dumas is "scarcely the first" to grasp the clear connection between James-Lange and Descartes or even that he is "almost the first", but that it is hard to believe that he is the very first.
I think Natalia's translation also goes further in the direction that I want to go with Vygotsky's text. She says "even if" the "bottom-up" naturalistic theories could recognize a spiritual love unconnected to sensuous sources (as the "top-down" spiritualistic theories do), they would also see that there is no way to get there from here (as the "top-down" spirtualistic theories also do). I had interpreted this as "even when", and a reference to James, but I think Natalia's right, and Vygotsky is talking much more generally.
It's interesting that Lacan and many others have smirked and sniggered about Bernini's sculpture and Teresa's diary, thinking that either Bernini (who was apparently a Jesuit) or maybe Teresa herself simply didn't understand that she was talking about female orgasm and not about holy grace.
But there is another possibility: there is an older, truer view of things that really doesn't divide our bodily selves against our emotional ones, and is absolutely willing to accept that a female orgasm is not different in kind, or at least in the way that it feels, the fundamental essence of the perizhvanie, from a moment of spiritual grace.
Spinoza had this view, and so of course did Einstein, though Einstein's monad was not "politico-affective" the way that Spinoza's was (it was really about the unity of energy and matter on the one hand, and time and space on the other). Maybe it's a Jewish thing.
But maybe not exclusively so (after all, Teresa was a Carmelite, and Bernini was some kind of Jesuit). The term "politico-affective" is not really Spinoza's. It's actually from Professor Moro and his colleague Shuta Kagawa. (Professor Moro's uni and his experimental high school are within a hundred miles of the nuclear plant at Fukushima, and I find myself involuntarily reminded of his work with almost every news broadcast).
The "politico-affective" monad of word meaning is what Mike and Jim are really getting at when they BOTH reject the idea that language acquisition can be divided into units that are too small to include the acts of thinking and doing that give language meaning.
Even if we reject the innatist idea that the meaning of "water" is innate, along with the empiricist idea that it is somehow transparent, acquirable through pure perception, the idea that "gaa-gaa" can, isolated and cut off by itself, somehow turn into the MEANING of water makes, literally, no sense without a little "politico-affective" context.
It's a little like the idea that Vygotsky's always lampooning in "Teaching on the Emotions". When Socrates' disciples are discussing why the master accepts with emotional equanimity and resignation the unjust sentence of death passed upon him and does not try to escape, the James-Lange theory responds that he is sitting in prison because of the relaxation of the skeletal muscles in his legs and his sense of equanimity and resignation is simply the cortical response to this sensation of relaxation.
But (particularly in the context of the article currently under discussion, which seems replete with bad examples of this) I guess I worry about TOP DOWN reductionism more than I do about the other kind. It seems to me that what we need to study is not simply "context" but the relationship between context and emergent text.
So it seems to me that to really understand the "gaa-gaa" data, we have to accept that not all parts of language are equally receptive to politico-affective nuance. In particular, I think that VOWELS are more emotionally pregnant than consonants (just as consonants are more useful in ideational discrimination).
Later on, with the conceptual learning that Jim is interested in, I imagine that the politico-affectively sensitive parts of uttterances are the grammatical parts of sentences that Halliday calls MOOD (e.g. grammatical subjects, modal verbs, finite verbs more generally as opposed to the residue (non-finite verbs, their complements, and so on). This is where a Korean sentence gets most of its intonational music, and it always appears at the END of a sentence--rather as it does when we use "tails" in English (e.g. "Oh, you do, do you?")
I would guess that the "gaa-gaa" data can be understood as a transition from the "mathetic" focus by the child on the vowel to a more "pragmatic" focus on the consonant, and by a shift from purely expressive language to social-communicative language. But I'm guessing, because of course one can hardly expect to understand the relationship between text and context when the context has been completely excised.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sun, 3/13/11, Natalia Gajdamaschko <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Natalia Gajdamaschko <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Teresa in Ecstasy
To: email@example.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, March 13, 2011, 6:31 PM
Russian is easy (shutka!).
David, I think he is saying that even if naturalistic theories could simply see the holy or
spiritual love, they would also (simultaneously) able to see that it can not be understood from any of the facts that belong to vital love, not could it (spiritual love, NG) be derived from those fact.
----- Original Message -----
From: "mike cole" <email@example.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2011 5:46:32 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] Teresa in Ecstasy
The Russian is really hard, David. I think there may be an error with "ni"
in this triple negative phrase: что их никак нельзя *ни* понять.
Anton, Bella, Natalia? Karaul!!
On Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 10:38 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> On page 214 of Volume 6 of the Collected Works, we've got this:
> "If the naturalistic theory were simply to see the phenomena of holy or
> spiritual love, it would at the same time see from any facts pertaining to
> the sphere of vital love, that it could not in any way fail to understand
> them nor could it escape them."
> Which makes no sense at all in English. Here's the Russian:
> Если бы натуралистическая теория просто видела феномены святой или душевной
> любви, она бы вместе с тем видела, что их никак нельзя ни понять из любых
> фактов, относящихся к сфере витальной любви, ни вывести из них.
> Vygotsky is talking about the naturalistic theories of emotion (he has in
> mind reflexology, James-Lange, the theories which attempt to explain
> emotions as responses to physical sensations from eithe outside the body or
> inside it).
> I think what he is saying is that these theories either do NOT recognize
> the existence of spiritual love at all, or if they do (which of course James
> does in his lectures on the varieties of religious experience) they see no
> way of deriving spiritual love from the various manifestations of physical
> Well, Bernini did!
> Vygotsky does say that the real purpose of descriptive psychology is to
> provide a scientific road down the same paths blazed by poets, painters,
> playwrights and novelists. But he should have added at least one sculptor!
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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