The Generation of Higher Mental Functions in Vygotsky’s Concepts of Development and Contradiction

Ahmed Alnajjar, Mohamed Elhammoumi


In this paper we argue that Vygotsky’s psychological research paradigm is a research epistemology, methodology, and ontology of theory and practice that attempts to build a psychology grounded within the social historical and cultural setting in which he/she evolved. Vygotsky’s whole enterprise was to establish a concrete human psychology committed to investigate how human nature changes, conceiving human development not just as quantitative, cumulative and linear, but also as qualitative, transformative change. In this outlook, contradiction leads to new contradictions, not necessarily “equilibrium”. The dialectical concepts of contradiction, development and transformation were fundamental to Vygotsky’s psychology. Vygotsky never had time, of course, to realize the desire expressed in his critique of the crisis of psychology that psychology needs its own Das Kapital. This paper will outline the main features of Vygotsky’s dialectical approach to understanding human higher mental functions.Two Vygotskian concepts are discussed in depth. The concept of development is conceived not only as quantitative, but also qualitative change, and the concept of contradiction were viewed as the engine of both natural and historical change. Development and contradiction are pictured together as organizing, creative forces that drive the higher mental functions and activities. By bringing development and contradiction in conjunction with cultural historical theory and activity theory, we aim to offer a picture of the Soviet psychologist's indebtedness to historical dialectical materialist philosophy.

Keywords: Contradiction, development, dialectics, materialism, aufheben, equilibrium, social individual, ensemble of social relations, higher mental functions, psychology’s own Das Kapital.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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