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RE: [xmca] dewey and perezhivanie

Many thanks Andy,

I look forward to reading this chapter.

I am intrigued by the focus here, as in many of the postings on perezhivanie, on experience as 'suffering'. The etymology of 'suffer' (from 'sub' - under and 'ferre' - to bear) makes it a close cousin of 'undergo' and it is, I think, interesting that both terms have been used in ways which have moved their meaning towards the dark side. The OED offers as its second definition 'to go or pass through, be subjected to, undergo experience (now usually something evil or painful)'. I wonder whether there may be a risk of projecting the care-worn adult sense of experience as suffering onto young children who may have slightly more capacity for also sometimes enjoying experience!

Accounts of endurance may have more 'weight' than accounts of pleasurable experiences but this may be more of a cultural phenomenon than a 'necessary' feature of perezhivanie.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 05 November 2011 01:38
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] dewey and perezhivanie

Continuing the sharing of my experience in reading Dewey.

In 1934, Dewey published "Having an Experience." What he describes in this essay is, in my opinion, as near to a description of perezhivanie as you are going to get in the English language. For Dewey, "experience" 
is close to "activity" except that in English "activity" carries a connotation of objectivity and "experience" carries a connotation of subjectivity, but Dewey insists his concept of experience is quite different to the concept of experience found in British philosophy: it is "both doing and suffering" and "both subjective and objective" and the emotional, practical and intellectual are aspects which can be abstracted from experience by reflection and discourse, but experience itself is all these things not a combination of them.

Now, "an experience" as opposed to "experience" is an episode which has a unity, and comes to a consummation. He discusses it in the context of aesthetics (artistic production and aesthetic consumption are inseparable in an experience), because "an experience" can only be represented by an experience.

I'd be interested in hearing what others think of this essay. It is a great read in my experience.


Andy Blunden wrote:
> And her4e's Dewey on scientific and everyday concepts:
>    "up to this point ... no distinction has been made between common
>    sense and scientific enquiry. ... [In] common sense problems ...    
> the symbols employed are those which have been determined in the
>    habitual culture of a group. They form a system, but the system is
>    practical rather than intellectual. ...In scientific inquiry, then,
>    meanings are related to one another on the ground of their character
>    /as / meanings, freed from direct reference to the concerns of a
>    limited group.... meanings are determined on the ground of their
>    reltations as meanings to one another, /relations/ become the object
>    of inquiry and qualities are relegated to a secondary status" 
> (235-6)
> Nice eh?
> Andy
> Michael Glassman wrote:
>> Hi Andy,
>> This is a really illustrative quote from Dewey for sure.  I see the 
>> quote actually having two emphases (which would fit into his whole 
>> transactional worldview).  The first, which I think you latch on it, 
>> seems to be that is order for any idea to have meaning it must be 
>> attached to some symbol that in some way can be recognized by the 
>> observer.  You can't go inside of the head of any individual, you can 
>> only see what is there in plain view.  This I think was Dewey's 
>> attempt to overcome dualism by suggesting mind meets object in the 
>> situation itself, and that is the only thing we can comprehend, and 
>> it is dangerous to go further.
>> The second issue brough up by this quote, which I really struggle 
>> with, is if the meaning of the symbol is so tied to the situation 
>> doesn't that mean that the meaning is going to change as the 
>> situation changes.  If there any such thing then as an artifact which 
>> maintains meaning across situaitons.  If not, then isn't the concept 
>> of mediation secondary to the concept of experience.  A lot of people 
>> argued with Dewey on this (Santayana comes to mind, and I wonder if 
>> Vygotsky might have as well) - but it is a difficult conundrum.
>> Michael
>> ________________________________
>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Andy Blunden
>> Sent: Thu 10/27/2011 10:12 AM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Cultural memory dewey
>> At long last I am reading John Dewey seriously, and I am really 
>> entralled and bowled over.
>> His conception of "experience" is wonderful. I need time to digest it 
>> before attempting to describe it, but this concept is the heart of 
>> the matter. It is truly a type of Activity Theory. Just now I am 
>> reading "The Pattern of Enquiry." For Dewey, knowledge is a part of 
>> the situation (not something outside the world, in the head. 
>> knowledge changes the world). He is talking about how ideas 
>> (concepts) originateHi from situations which become problems (and 
>> when known clearly become at first suggestions and then solutions). 
>> Get this:
>>     "Because suggestions and ideas are of that which is not present in
>>     given existence, the meanings which they involve must be embodied in
>>     some symbol. Without some kind of symbol no idea; a meaning that is
>>     completely disembodied can not be entertained or used. Since an
>>     existence (which /is/ an existence) is the support and vehicle of a
>>     meaning and is a symbol instead of a merely physical existence only
>>     in this respect, embodied meanings or ideas are capable of objective
>>     survey and development. To "look at an idea" is not a mere literary
>>     figure of speech."
>> In the context of his conception of Experience this really rounds it 
>> off.
>> And this guy is writing in the 1890s!
>> Andy
>> Tony Whitson wrote:
>>> Andy,
>>> Song, as you describe, is indisputably material -- but it is not a 
>>> physical thing in the same sense as a flute or a song sheet. It 
>>> seems to me you make your position unnecessarily vulnerable by 
>>> treating materiality as more a matter of physicality than it needs to be (cf.
>>> the baseball examples).
>>> The Talmud example brings to mind Plato's objections to recording & 
>>> transmission via writing (a bit ironic, no?, from the transcriber of 
>>> Socrates' dialogues), which I would never have attended to but for 
>>> Derrida, in D's treatment of the traditional prioritization of 
>>> speech over writing. D's argument for "grammatology" is that speech 
>>> itself is fundamentally a kind of "writing" first; but in a sense 
>>> that I would say is material, but not necessarily physical.
>> __________________________________________
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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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