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Re: [xmca] Notions of suffering, enduring, undergoing

I may be worth noting that the American Civil War was 1861-1865.
Holmes was born in 1841; Dewey was born in 1859.

On Sun, 6 Nov 2011, Andy Blunden wrote:

That's an interesting observation, Robert. I have been trying to summarise in what way Dewey did not quite get to where Vygotsky got to. Up till today I had written that "Pragmatism could explain ideas as means of adaptation to the world, but not why people were prepared to die for them; it could explain how people pursued goals, but was less effective in understanding how people formed their goals." But then I read the excellent article "Experience is Pedagogical" where he has an exposition on interest, which fits well with Leontyev's ideas about how children develop an interest in something. He is very strong on the question of the primacy of interest. And he certainly agrees that everything depends on motivation, will and teleology. Menand's wonderful book, "The Metaphysical Club" placed the emergence of Pragmatism as a reaction to the disastrous Civil War, and what they saw as reckless pursuit of Big Ideas. So this seemed to tally. The Pragmatists could not understand why the Abolitionists and Confederates were prepared to enter a national holocaust on a principle. Dewey says that "the chief characteristic trait of the pragmatic notion of reality is precisely that no theory of Reality in general, /überhaupt/, is possible or needed." Holmes' theory of law rests on the same conviction. I still feel that there is something missing in when they rule out the role of abstractions in motivating human beings. And that is what lies at the root of Tragedy, isn't it? I suspect Dewey well knew tragedy, but dedicated his life trying to eliminate it!


Robert Lake wrote:
That is an astute observation about the notion of "happy".
Maxine Greene owes much of her view of aesthetics to Dewey's "Art as experience"
yet her main critique of Dewey was that "he had no sense of the tragic".
Unlike Vygotsky whose personal perezhivanie was marked by the tragic and perhaps
as Kozulin speculates, was one reason he was fascinated with Hamlet.
Robert Lake

On Sat, Nov 5, 2011 at 9:25 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    In this same essay, Dewey is insistent that an experience is not
    composed of components which are respectively practical, emotional
    and intellectual, but these adjectives (he says) only arise in
    subsequent discourse about experience, when we interpret
    experience. An experience is essentially an irreducibly all of
    these things, and in his view any attempt to seaprate out an
    emotional component will destory the unity of the experience.

    And I liked it when Vygotsky said, in Educational Psychology:
    "People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds,
    people who possess strong feelings, even people with great minds
    and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys and

    I think the same goes for "happy little boys and girls."

    Rod Parker-Rees wrote:

        Hi Larry,

        I certainly didn't want to suggest that children are (or even
        should be) care-free, only to note that not ALL of their
        experiences (or ours) are  best described as suffering. Your
        post clearly helps to explain why we tend to focus more on
        distressing experiences, since it is these, more than more
        positive ones, which call others into sympathetic action so
        they are more note-worthy. An unusually happy child is not
        likely to have a teaching assistant allocated to provide
        special support, nor to be seen by an educational psychologist
        but this does not mean that we should understand experience as

        There is another can of worms around the relationships between
        emotions and the development of individualised identity but
        that may be for another thread!

        All the best,


        -----Original Message-----
        From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
        Sent: 05 November 2011 12:46
        To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
        Subject: [xmca] Notions of suffering, enduring, undergoing

        Hi Rod and Andy

        Thank you for the article on Dewey.  I thougt that article
        should remain the focus of that thread, but the question of
        the centrality of suffering to experience is also worth exploring.

        Rod, you wrote

         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.

        Rod, you caution us not to impose our care-worn adult
        sufferings onto the experience of children who are more "care

        In my work in schools I am called to respond to children who
        are experiencing what I will call "foul frustration" as an
        experience of what is not working.  This experience is often
        expressed as anger that is a passionate response to what is
        not working.  Infants also seem to express e-motions that may
        be understood as frustration for what is not working.

        A developmental psychologist in Vancouver [Gordon Neufeld]
        sees development as biological and innate. Though his origin
        narrative I don't agree with, he does have an interesting
        perspective on how to respond to a childs foul frustration for
        what is not working.

        He believes that a person must come to a place of "rest"
        before going in a new direction.  What is sometimes needed to
        move frustration from anger to experiencing saddness are for
        what is not working are "tears of futility".
        He suggests that these tears of futility are expressed within
        particular types of relational configurations that are safe,
        secure, and "attached".

        When the tears of futility are met and "held" by the other
        this releases the frustration for what is not working and the
        child can lean into the other person and come to rest.  Often
        the child at this point is exhausted.  However, after coming
        to rest the child is now moved to exploration of the world and
        is care free and open to new experiences.

        This idea of expressing "tears of futility" for what is not
        working [foul frustration] within intersubjective forms of
        caring and "holding" gives me a way to respond to expressions
        of "anger".  Suffering or enduring or undergoing can sometimes
        be an experienceof stuckness in patterns that are not working.

        In summary

        The ideal is for children to be care free but frustration is
        an inevitable aspect of becoming and e*motion.  If not met and
        "held" by others this frustration can lead to a stuckness that
        must be endured, and undergone.
        It is others who are central in channeling the path of
        frustration for what is not working.  Now I want to emphasize
        it is not "merely" intersubjective as the artifactual "worlds"
         mediating experience are the conditions which lead to
        frustration or being care free. Focusing on changing the
        conditions that lead to the frustration is also a central
        project but frustration is inevitable and unavoidable. When
        undergoing foul frustration how one is met within this
        experience is vital for how the child goes on.

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-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

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*Robert Lake  Ed.D.
*Assistant Professor
Social Foundations of Education
Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
Georgia Southern University
P. O. Box 8144
Phone: (912) 478-5125
Fax: (912) 478-5382
Statesboro, GA  30460

/Democracy must be born anew in every generation, and education is its midwife./
/-/John Dewey.

-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
*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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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education
NEWARK  DE  19716


"those who fail to reread
 are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                  -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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