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Re: [xmca] catharsis and category
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] catharsis and category
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- Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 10:11:17 -0700
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The entire discussion of extensions of Vygotsky into the domain of drama
strikes me as full of promise, keeping in mind limitations of the dramatic
metaphor that Yrjo has reminded us of being too easily cut away from its
And I like the idea of kategoria as predicament in the way you trace the
term, Andy. And I especially like equating it with the social situation of
development-as-experienced. I can
provide personal testimony that it is a life long process!
On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 7:51 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
> I should report on the outcome of my investigations of this question.
> Nikolai Veresov and I have met and agreed only that we cannot agree, so, so
> far as I know he retains his position, but I will leave it Nikolai to say
> what that is. I cannot speak for him.
> However, I have verified that the word /kategoria/, was translated from
> Greek via Latin into English as "predicament" and from 1580, meant
> "predicament" in the sense of a "problematic situation" and whatismore
> "kategoria" is used to this day in Rhetoric and in a broadly similar sense,
> but only in highly specialist discourses. Not "category," just "kategoria."
> There is some evidence also that kategoria is used in the theory of theatre
> in a similar sense to this day. So, I have to give some plausibility to the
> claim that the word had such a sense in Vygotsky's circle of theatrical
> friends in Moscow before he went into psychology, but I cannot document it
> from that time. "Predicement" remains the technical word in theatre for the
> situation from which a plot develops, the source of the basic tension which
> drives the story. I have long been of the view, on the basis of reading
> Volume 5 of the LSV CW, that the "social situation of development" can be
> characterised in Vygotsky's view, as a "predicament." But I made the
> connection with a Marxist view of history, not the theory of theatre.
> On Catharsis, I have found the source of this concept in Freud and an
> article by Freud is attached. It is called "working through" in this
> article. Interesting. It makes sense.
> Thank you Anton, and Huw for your insights,
> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Thank you Huw. Very encrouaging. "Resolution" seems to capture a lot of
>> 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:
>>> email@example.com>> 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
>>> 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:
> 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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