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


Seems to me that in the Lectures on Child Psychology, where LSV introduces the term 'experience' in a discussion of the importance of grasping the social situation of development, he was striving once again to overcome the dualisms that keep returning. He wrote that "In modern theory, experience is introduced as a unity of consciousness, that is, a unity in which the basic properties of consciousness are given as such, while in attention and in thinking, the connection of consciousness is not given." He's building here on the line of Romantic philosophy (Dilthey held the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin that Hegel had held) that insisted that there is a level of human existence and understanding that is prior to the subject/object split; a way of knowing the world that doesn't require mental representations. Perhaps he was reacting to limitations he'd run into in his own analysis of thinking (that in thinking "the unity of consciousness as such disappears"). Perhaps he was returning to (or perhaps he never lost sight of) the fundamental importance of emotion (the alpha and omega) in human psychology. 

If this is on the right track, then he'd have to see a potential for change in experience, no? He'd have to understand experience as itself dynamic: transforming and transformative. And he in fact wrote that a developmental crisis "is most of all a turning point that is expressed in the fact that the child passes from one method of experiencing the environment to another," and in addition that "behind every experience, there is a real, dynamic action of the environment" - this is what leads to the crisis, a crisis that must still be understood as "internal" to the child-environment system.

It seems to me that this brings us right back to the topic of the Psychology of Art - or perhaps better to say that LSV's central interest never changed. The work of art is an environmental 'mechanism' that we become lost in, in an engagement that at its best is deeply emotional and that can be profoundly transformative. A good play, a good book, a good movie, is an experience, an event, a rupture in everyday routine experience, that grabs us and shakes us. This phenomenon seems not to fit into the categories of subject and object, and this means that grasping intellectually how it works can help us develop theory that avoids those pestilent categories. If that took him back to Aristotle, why not?Dialectics was also a Greek word!


On Mar 2, 2013, at 8:27 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Martin
> 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.
> Larry
> On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM, Andy Blunden <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?
>> Andy
>> 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."
>>> Martin
>>> On Mar 2, 2013, at 4:13 PM, mike cole <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.
>>>> mike
>>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Mike,
>>>>> 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 understood.
>>>>> 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
>>>>> *settings*.
>>>>> Larry
>>>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:17 AM, mike cole <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.
>>>>>> mike
>>>>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com
>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Mike,
>>>>>>> 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.
>>>>>>> Larry
>>>>>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:20 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>> We will be re-posting the articles for discussion poll a little later
>>>>>>>> this
>>>>>>>> morning and
>>>>>>>> restarting the balloting so that the full menu is out there for
>>>>>>>> people
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> read
>>>>>>>> AND COMMENT ON!
>>>>>>>> :-)
>>>>>>>> mike
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>> --
>> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
>> ------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
>> http://marxists.academia.edu/**AndyBlunden<http://marxists.academia.edu/AndyBlunden>
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