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Re: [xmca] Perezhivanie and Dewey's concept of experience

Having read the Wikipedia reference which Martin pointed to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharsis , I think it is clear that in Vygotsky's life time, "catharsis" was a concept being used in two different discourses: drama and psychotherapy. Doubtless Aristotle was the original source in both cases, but given Vygotsky's youthful interests it is likely that he had been exposed to Aristotle's use of the term in connection with the dramatic arts and whoever the proximate source was in the context of theatrical discourse, it would have been in that original Aristotlean context. On the other hand, Josef Bleuer and Freud took the concept in a slightly different direction, and detached it from its association with aesthetics. Whether Vygotsky ever know or may any use of the Freudian take on the concept I don't know. But it seems not.


Larry Purss wrote:
This was a fascinating new thread you opened up. I appreciate how you weaved Aristotle and catharsis into our exploration of experience and *an* experience.

On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Thanks for that Martin. All very interesting indeed.
    I always tend to presume that wherever an ancient source is cited
    for some concept, unless the citing author is a classical scholar,
    there was some *mediating* source which is the *proximate* source
    of the concept. The attached excerpt which I think I took from the
    CW of Freud, explains where I got the idea that Freud got it from
    Josef Breuer (mediated via a friend who is au fait with Freudian
    thought). But, maybe Vygotsky was studying Aristotle. I'l have a
    look at that section of "The Psychology of Art". Thanks.
    But sources aside (I defer to you on that, Martin), the
    descriptions you have provided of catharsis square with my
    understanding as well. I appreciate how you have made the
    connection between the usual Feudian meaning of catharsis, and the
    aesthetic process which was central for the young Vygotsky - and
    Dewey too apparently! But I don't see this in Vygotsky's later
    work anywhere. Would be interested if you can find anything about
    catharsis in this vein post-1924.
    Also, I can't recall where I read something about art which
    explained why art is necessary to communicate an experience
    directly, by allowing the audience to "re-experience" the
    experience, rather than an explanation of it. Dewey? Stanislavski?
    Vygotsky? Do you know?


    Martin Packer wrote:

        Here's Victor Turner, in the book I mentioned in my previous
        message, on what for Dilthey makes a difference between
        'experience' and '*an* experience':

        "These experiences that erupt from or disrupt routinized,
        repetitive behavior begin with shocks of pain or pleasure…
        Then the emotions of past experience color the images and
        outlines revived by present shock. What happens next is an
        anxious need to find meaning in what has diconcerted us,
        whether by pain or pleasure, and converted mere experience
        into *an* experience. All this when we try to put past and
        present together" (36).

        "Aesthetics, then, are those phases in a given structure or
        processual unit of experience which either constitute a
        fulfillment that reaches the depths of the experiencer's being
        (as Dewey put it) or constitute the necessary obstacles and
        flaws that provoke the joyous struggle to achieve the
        consummation surpassing pleasure and equilibrium, which is
        indeed the joy and happiness of fulfillment" (38).

        I'm not sure why Andy attributes Vygotsky's notion of
        catharsis to Bleuler and considers Aristotle irrelevant. It is
        to Aristotle's writing that LSV himself attributes the
        concept, in the Psychology of Art. Catharsis for the Greeks
        was "a sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes
        overwhelming feelings of great pity, sorrow, laughter, or any
        extreme change in emotion that results in renewal,
        restoration, and revitalization" (as Wikipedia has it).
        Viacheslav Ivanov, who LSV refers to in the Psych of Art,
        considered catharsis (a la Aristotle) to be the way a novel,
        for example, grips and affects its readers and leads them to
        self- knowledge. Catharsis is not only an aesthetic affect, it
        is the engine of positive historical action.

        Vygotsky's own definition of catharsis spells out this dynamic
        and transformative character in some detail, reminiscent of
        both Ivanov (though he didn't accept Ivanov's Symbolism) and
        Turner on Dilthey. Catharsis is "a complex transformation of
        feelings," an "affective contradiction" that results in
        resolution: in short, a dialectical process on the level of
        emotion. Feeling alone is not sufficient to bring about the
        psychological transformation that Vygotsky is interested in;
        it is the work of art that has the power to initiate "the
        creative act of overcoming the feeling, resolving it,
        conquering it."

        On Mar 2, 2013, at 4:13 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com
        <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:

            Re boundaries of experience and Dewey. In his book on
            education and
            experience he quotes "the poet" in a relevant way

            I am a part of all that I have met;
            Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
            Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
            For ever and for ever when I move.

            The poet was Tennyson, the *I*, Ulysses.


            On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM, Larry Purss
            <lpscholar2@gmail.com <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com>> wrote:

                I find this topic very fertile ground which may need
                to be *reworked*.
                Robert mentioned Dewey was criticized for not having
                an understanding of
                the *tragic soul*   Andy mentioned that an experienced
                must be *bounded*.
                I would like to add further reflections from Tom
                Leddy's article you
                attached on Dewey's Aesthetics. I am referring to page
                34 & 35 where Dewey
                is exploring the common substance of the Arts. This
                section is a response
                to the *tragic soul* and *bounded* experience.

                The creative process BEGINS with a "total seizure", a
                "mood", which
                determines the development of art into parts.  THIS
                *element* Dewey refers
                to as a *penetrating quality* which is immediately
                experienced in all parts
                of the work. It is so pervasive we take it for
                granted. Without this
                penetrating quality the parts would only be
                mechanically related.  The
                organic whole IS the parts PERMEATED by this
                penetrating quality. It may be
                called the SPIRIT of the work. It is also the work's
                *reality* in that it
                makes us experience the work AS *real*  This
                penetrating quality is the
                BACKGOUND that qualifies everything in the foreground.

                What are the *boundaries* of this background which
                Dewey calls *the
                setting*?  Dewey's answer is thought provoking. He
                assumes that although
                experiences have bounded edges like those of their
                objects, the whole of
                *an* experience, and especially its qualitative
                penetrating *spirit* within
                the object, EXTENDS INDEFINITELY. This penetrating
                quality of the
                experience is THAT which is not focused within the
                experience.  The margins
                of our experience shade into that indefinate expanse.
                 This experiential
                penetrating backgound is only made CONSCIOUS within
                the specific objects
                that form the focus.  Behind every explicit experience
                there is something
                implicit that we call *vague* but this vagueness was
                not vague in the
                ORIGINAL experience for this penetrating quality is a
                FUNCTION of the whole
                *situation*  An experience *is mystical*, Dewey
                believes, to the extent
                this feeling of a penetrating background is INTENSE.
                This penetrating
                quality is particularly intense in certain works of
                art, for example IN
                TRAGEDY.  A work of art must include something not

                I am not sure if Vygotsky shares a *family
                resemblance* with this
                expansive, penetrating sense of *substance* which
                makes reality FEEL
                *real*. The question of the boundedness of *an*
                experience, from Dewey's
                understanding certainly was reflecting on the *tragic
                soul* within


                On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:17 AM, mike cole
                <lchcmike@gmail.com <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:

                    It all moves so quickly it is hard to take it all
                    in, Larry, let alone
                    find time to comment.I am still
                    back on rhythmicity which I am thinking of from
                    the perspective of
                    someone who thinks of
                    communication as patterns of coordination over time.

                    In this regard, it seems to me that many of
                    Durkheim's ideas in
                    Elementary Forms of Religious
                    Experience are highly relevant. Durkheim's pluses
                    and minuses are, I
                    know, a matter of important
                    debate in themselves, but they come down to me
                    through my engagement with
                    cross cultural
                    research through Levy-Bruhl and Piaget.

                    And now, toss in the Bakhtin (the liar or the
                    seer) and it should be
                    enough to think about when we are being absent minded.


                    On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Larry Purss


                        This months themed issue linking felt
                        experience with Bahktin's notion
                        of genre's and cultural-historical-activity
                        theory wiil keep the current
                        dialgue with Dewey alive.
                        I'm anticipating a lively encounter.

                        On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:20 AM, mike cole
                        <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:

                            We will be re-posting the articles for
                            discussion poll a little later
                            morning and
                            restarting the balloting so that the full
                            menu is out there for people
                            AND COMMENT ON!
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-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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