Vygotsky’s psychological views

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The Russian State Social University Report on Psychology. “Vygotsky’s psychological views” Made by the second-year student of faculty of foreign languages, Checked by Khajrullin Ruslan Zinatullovich. Moscow 2005 Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Preface.. PAGEREF _Toc125009879 \h 3 A Biographical Sketch.. PAGEREF _Toc125009880 \h 5 Vygotsky’s Theoretical Approach.. PAGEREF _Toc125009881 \h 9 Conclusion.. PAGEREF _Toc125009882 \h 12 Bibliographic List.. PAGEREF _Toc125009883 \h 13 Preface Like the humanities and other social sciences, psychology is supposed to tell us something about what it means to be human. However, many critics, including such eminent members of the discipline as J.S. Bruner (1976), have questioned whether academic psychology has succeeded

in this endeavor. One of the major stumbling, blocks that has diverted psychology from this goal is that psychologists have too often isolated and studied phenomena in such a way that they cannot communicate with one another, let alone with members of other disciplines. They have tended to lose sign of the fact that their untimate goal is to contribute to some integrated, holistic picture of human nature. This intellectual isolation is nowhere more evident than in the division that separates studies of individual psychology from studies of the sociocultural environment in which individuals live. In psychology we tend to view culture of society as a variable to be incorporated into models of individual functioning. This represents a kind of reductionism which assumes that

sociocultural phenomena can ultimately be explained on the basis of psychological processes. Conversely, sociologists and social problems because the derive straightforwardly from social phenomena. This view may not involve the kind of reductionism found in the work of psychologists, but it is no less naïve. Many aspects of psychological functioning cannot be explained by assuming that they derive solely and simply from the sociocultural milieu. This disciplinary isolation is not attributable simply to a lack of cooperation among various scholars. Rather, those interested in social phenomena and those interested in psychological phenomena have defined their objects of inquiry in such different ways that they have almost guaranteed the impossibility of mutual understanding.

For dec­ades this problem has been of concern to those seeking to construct a unified social science. Critical theorists such as T. Adorno and J. Habermas (1979) have struggled with it since the 19405. Ac­cording to Adorno, “the separation of sociology and psychology is both correct and false” (1967, p. 78). It is correct because it recognizes different levels of phenomena that exist in reality; that is, it helps us avoid the pitfalls of reductionism. It is false, however, because it too readily “encourages the specialists to relinquish the attempt to know the totality”. Keeping sight of this totality while examining particular levels of phenomena in social science is as elusive a goal today as earlier in the twentieth century. Indeed the more progress we make in

studying particular phenomena, the more distant this goal seems to become. My purpose here is to explicate and extend a theoretical approach that tried to avoid this pitfall—the approach of the Soviet psychologist and semiotician Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896-1934). Vygotsky, of course, did not make his proposals in order to deal with today's disciplinary fragmentation, but many of his ideas are rel­evant to the quandaries we face. To harness these ideas, they must first be interpreted in light of the milieu in which they were developed. Hence I shall explicate the cultural and historical setting in which Vygotsky worked and then extend his ideas in light of theoretical — advances made during the half-century since his death. Vygotsky is usually considered to be a