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Re: [xmca] catharsis and category

Thank you Huw. Very encrouaging. "Resolution" seems to capture a lot of it.

I have consulted the OED On-line for "*category*" and found nothing surprising about its meaning, as used by Aristotle and Kant and in mathematics, more or less meaning "class" but extendable to abstract concepts. But what OED did tell me, which adds yet another intriguing thread to the puzzle, is that its Latin roots mean "predicament," and in olden days, "category" used to be translated as "predicament."

Now "predicament" here is related to "predicate" as in subject and predicate, a key metaphysical distinction for Aristotle and dialectics generally, but it forces me to reflect on the relation of "predicament" - and therefore "category" - to "situation", as in "social situation of development," which I have always said, based on how Vygotsky uses the term, should be understood as a "predicament," but in the common usage of this word as a situation or trap, from which one must make a development in order to escape.

*Catharsis*, according to OED is the Greek word meaning "cleansing" or "purging," which is of course what is commonly understood by the word. With reference to Aristotle is means "the purification of the emotions by vicarious experience." Vicarious!? The Freudian usage you referred to (thank you), Huw, is "The process of relieving an abnormal excitement by re-establishing the association of the emotion with the memory or idea of the event which was the first cause of it, and of eliminating it by abreaction." This sounds very much like how I have understood Vygotsky to be using the term!!

All that is fine. A true detective story, as Anton says! But what is the Russian word which is a unity of these disparate concepts??!!



Huw Lloyd wrote:

On 9 June 2011 08:24, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    I have been watching Nikolai Veresov's videos on vimeo. I refer to
    No. 2 in particular: http://vimeo.com/groups/chat/videos/10226589
    In this talk, Nikolai is explaining his view of the development of
    Vygotsky's theory of the development of the high mental functions
    through the appropriation of social functions, and in doing so, he
    appears to be mistaking the English word "category" for the
    English word "catharsis."

I think that there is an issue with the English (Freudian) use of "catharsis" that refers to expression without genuine influence, which a) I don't think is cathartic and b) not what was intended in psychology of art, i.e. achieving, or identifying with, a genuine change (or resolution), even if only a resolution of a staged performance (identification), or some other art.

This notion of "real" catharsis then becomes more related to the notion of category.

In my studies and thinking I have been happy with Nikolai's use of the term category and it's relation to stage. With respect to plan/plane correspondences there are several overlapping aspects, which seem to be quite precisely captured by this otherwise ambiguous term (joint context, intention and topological representation).

The dramatic conflict (category) has correspondence with (distributed) self-organisation. The social participation of emotionally led behaviour leads to structured forms of participation, e.g. acquiring new coordinating structures in the process of achieving one's goals.


*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
MIA: http://www.marxists.org

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