Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Выго́тский; Belarusian: Леў Сямёнавіч Выго́цкі; November 17 [O.S. November 5] 1896 – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet psychologist, known for his work on psychological development in children. He published on a diverse range of subjects, and from multiple views as his perspective changed over the years. Among his students was Alexander Luria and Kharkiv school of psychology.
Lev Simkhovich Výgodsky
November 17, 1896
|Died||June 11, 1934 (aged 37)|
|Alma mater||Imperial Moscow University (1917) (unfinished);|
Shaniavskii Moscow City People's University
|Known for||Cultural-historical psychology, zone of proximal development, inner speech|
|Spouse(s)||Roza Noevna Vygodskaia (née Smekhova)|
|Institutions||Moscow State University|
|Thesis||The Psychology of Art (1925)|
|Notable students||Alexander Luria|
|Influences||Baruch Spinoza, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Alexander Potebnia, Alfred Adler, Kurt Koffka, Kurt Lewin, Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Goldstein, Karl Marx, Jean Piaget|
|Influenced||Vygotsky Circle, Evald Ilyenkov, Urie Bronfenbrenner, Patricia McKinsey Crittenden|
He is known for his concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD): the distance between what a student (apprentice, new employee, etc.) can do on their own, and what they can accomplish with the support of someone more knowledgeable about the activity. Vygotsky saw the ZPD as a measure of skills that are in the process of maturing, as supplement to measures of development that only look at a learner's independent ability.
Also influential are his works on the relationship between language and thought, the development of language, and a general theory of development through actions and relationships in a socio-cultural environment. This can be found in many of his essays.
Vygotsky is the subject of great scholarly dispute. There is a group of scholars who see parts of Vygotsky's current legacy as distortions and who are going back to Vygotsky's manuscripts in an attempt to make Vygotsky's legacy more true to his actual ideas.
Overview of scientific legacyEdit
Despite his claim for a "new psychology" that he foresaw as a "science of the Superman" of the Communist future, Vygotsky's main work was in developmental psychology. In order to fully understand the human mind, he believed one must understand its genesis. Consequently, the majority of his work involved the study of infant and child behavior, as well as the development of language acquisition (such as the importance of pointing and inner speech) and the development of concepts; now often referred to as schemas or schemata.
Early in the psychological research period of his career (1920s), which focused upon mechanistic and reductionist "instrumental psychology" in many ways inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov (his theory of "higher nervous activity") and Vladimir Bekhterev (and his "reflexologist" followers), Vygotsky argued that human psychological development could be formed through the use of meaningless (i.e., virtually random) signs that he viewed as the psychological equivalent of instrument use in human labor and industry. It was later during the "holistic" period of his career (the first half of the 1930s) that Vygotsky rejected this earlier reductionist views on signs.
While Vygotsky never met Jean Piaget, he had read a number of his works and agreed on some of his perspectives on learning. At some point (around 1929–30), Vygotsky came to disagree with Piaget's understanding of learning and development, and held a different theoretical position from Piaget on the topic of inner speech; Piaget asserted that egocentric speech in children "dissolved away" as they matured, while Vygotsky maintained that egocentric speech became internalized, what we now call "inner speech". However, in the early 1930s he radically changed his mind on Piaget's theory and openly praised him for his discovery of the social origin of children's speech, reasoning, and moral judgements. Piaget only read Vygotsky's work after his death.
Nearing the end of his life, Vygotsky's later work involved adolescent development. However, his most important and widely known contribution is his theory for the development of "higher psychological functions," which considers human psychological development as emerging through unification of interpersonal connections and actions taken within a given socio-cultural environment (i.e., language, culture, society, and tool-use). Vygotsky eventually came to dialogue with the mainstream Gestalt line of thought and adopted a more holistic approach to understanding development. Under the increasing influence of the holistic thinking of the scholars primarily associated with the German-American Gestalt psychology movement, Vygotsky adopted their views on "psychological systems" and—inspired by Kurt Lewin's "topological (and vector) psychology"—introduced the enigmatic construct of the "zone of proximal development". It was during this period that he identified the play of young children as their "leading activity", which he understood to be the main source of preschoolers' psychological development, and which he viewed as an expression of an inseparable unity of emotional, volitional, and cognitive development. At this time, Vygotsky fully revealed his long-time interest in the philosophy of Spinoza, who would remain one of his favorite thinkers throughout his life. A fervent Spinozist in many respects, Vygotsky was profoundly influenced by Spinoza's thought, largely in response to Spinoza's examinations concerning human emotion. As his work matured, Spinoza's thought became a more central visitation in Vygotsky's later work, increasingly focused on the issue of human emotion and its role in higher psychological functions and development that he largely omitted in his earlier work and utterly needed for creating a holistic psychological theory.
As early as the mid-1920s, Vygotsky's ideas were introduced in the West, but he remained virtually unknown until the early 1980s when the popularity among educators of the constructivist developmental psychology and educational theory of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) started to decline and, in contrast, Vygotsky's notion of the "zone of proximal development" became a central component of the development of "social constructivist" turn in developmental and, primarily, educational psychology and practice. A Review of General Psychology study, published in 2002, ranked Vygotsky as the 83rd top psychologist of the twentieth century and the third (and the last) Russian on the top-100 list after Ivan Pavlov and Vygotsky's longtime collaborator Alexander Luria.
Lev Semionovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Выго́тский, IPA: [vɨˈɡotskʲɪj]; November 17 [O.S. November 5] 1896 – June 11, 1934) was born to the Vygodskii family in the town of Orsha, Belarus (then belonging to Russian Empire) into a non-religious middle-class family of Russian Jewish extraction. His father Simkha Vygodskii was a banker.
Lev Vygodskii was raised in the city of Gomel, where he was homeschooled until 1911 and then obtained formal degree (with distinction) in a private Jewish Gimnasium, which allowed him entrance to a university. In 1913 Lev Vygodskii was admitted to the Moscow University by mere ballot through a "Jewish Lottery": at the time a three percent Jewish student quota was administered for entry in Moscow and Saint Petersburg universities. He had interest in humanities and social sciences, but at the insistence of his parents he applied to the medical school in Moscow University. During the first semester of study he transferred to the law school. There he studied law and, in parallel, he attended lectures at Shaniavskii University.
Vygodskii's early interests were in the arts and, primarily, in the topics of the history of the Jewish people, the tradition, culture and Jewish identity. In contrast, during this period he was highly critical of the ideas of both socialism and Zionism, and proposed the solution of the "Jewish question" by return to the traditional Jewish Orthodoxy. His own academics, however, included a wide field of studies including linguistics, psychology, and philosophy.
Lev Vygotsky never completed his formal studies at the Imperial Moscow University and, thus, he never obtained a university degree: his studies were interrupted by the October Bolshevik uprising in 1917 in the country's capital Petrograd and the second largest city Moscow. Following these events, he left Moscow and eventually returned to Gomel, where he lived after the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 occurred. There is virtually no information about his life during the years in Gomel (that administratively belonged to the Ukrainian State at the time) after the German occupation during WWI, until the Bolsheviks captured the town in 1919. After that, he was an active participant of major social transformation under the Bolshevik (Communist) rule and a fairly prominent representative of the Bolshevik government in Gomel from 1919 to 1923. By the early 1920s, as reflected in his journalistic publications of the time, he informally changed his Jewish-sounding birth name, 'Lev Símkhovich Výgodskii' (Russian: Лев Си́мхович Вы́годский), with the surname becoming Vygótskii and the patronymic 'Símkhovich' becoming the Slavic 'Semiónovich'. It was under this pen-name that the fame subsequently came to him. His daughters (subsequently born in 1925 and 1930) and other relatives, though, preserved their original family name 'Vygodskii'. The traditional English spelling of his last name nowadays is 'Vygotsky'.
In January 1924, Vygotsky took part in the Second All-Russian Psychoneurological Congress in Petrograd (soon thereafter renamed Leningrad). After the Congress, Vygotsky received an invitation to become a research fellow at the Psychological Institute in Moscow. Vygotsky moved to Moscow with his new wife, Roza Smekhova. He began his career at the Psychological Institute as a "staff scientist, second class". He also became a secondary teacher, covering a period marked by his interest in the processes of learning and the role of language in learning.
By the end of 1925, Vygotsky completed his dissertation in 1925 entitled "The Psychology of Art" that was not published until the 1960s and a book entitled "Pedagogical Psychology" that apparently was created on the basis of lecture notes that he prepared in Gomel while he was a psychology instructor at local educational establishments. In the summer of 1925 he made his first and only trip abroad to a London congress on the education of the deaf. Upon return to the Soviet Union, he was hospitalized due to relapse of tuberculosis and, having miraculously survived, would remain an invalid and out of work until the end of 1926. His dissertation was accepted as the prerequisite of scholarly degree, which was awarded to Vygotsky in fall 1925 in absentia.
After his release from the hospital, Vygotsky did theoretical and methodological work on the crisis in psychology, but never finished the draft of the manuscript and interrupted his work on it around mid-1927. The manuscript was published later with notable editorial interventions and distortions in 1982 and was presented by the editors as one of the most important of Vygotsky's works. In this early manuscript, Vygotsky argued for the formation of a general psychology that could unite the naturalist objectivist strands of psychological science with the more philosophical approaches of Marxist orientation. However, he also harshly criticized those of his colleagues who attempted to build a "Marxist Psychology" as an alternative to the naturalist and philosophical schools. He argued that if one wanted to build a truly Marxist Psychology, there were no shortcuts to be found by merely looking for applicable quotes in the writings of Marx. Rather one should look for a methodology that was in accordance with the Marxian spirit.
From 1926 to 1930, Vygotsky worked on a research program investigating the development of higher cognitive functions of logical memory, selective attention, decision making, and language comprehension, from early forms of primal psychological functions. During this period he gathered a group of collaborators including Alexander Luria, Boris Varshava, Alexei Leontiev, Leonid Zankov, and several others. Vygotsky guided his students in researching this phenomenon from three different perspectives:
- The instrumental approach, which aimed to understand the ways humans use objects as mediation aids in memory and reasoning.
- A developmental approach, focused on how children acquire higher cognitive functions during development
- A culture-historical approach, studying how social and cultural patterns of interaction shape forms of mediation and developmental trajectories 
In the early 1930s, Vygotsky experienced deep crises, both personal and theoretical, and after a period of massive self-criticism, he made an attempt at a radical revision of his theory. The work of the representatives of the Gestalt psychology and other holistic scholars was instrumental in this theoretical shift. In 1932–1934, Vygotsky aimed to establish a psychological theory of consciousness, but because of his death, this theory remained only unconfirmed and unfinished.
Life and scientific legacyEdit
Vygotsky was a pioneering psychologist and his major works span six separate volumes, written over roughly ten years, from Psychology of Art (1925) to Thought and Language [or Thinking and Speech] (1934). Vygotsky's interests in the fields of developmental psychology, child development, and education were extremely diverse. His philosophical framework includes interpretations of the cognitive role of mediation tools, as well as the re-interpretation of well-known concepts in psychology such as internalization of knowledge. Vygotsky introduced the notion of zone of proximal development, a metaphor capable of describing the potential of human cognitive development. His work covered topics such as the origin and the psychology of art, development of higher mental functions, philosophy of science and the methodology of psychological research, the relation between learning and human development, concept formation, interrelation between language and thought development, play as a psychological phenomenon, learning disabilities, and abnormal human development (aka defectology). His scientific thinking underwent several major transformations throughout his career, but generally Vygotsky's legacy may be divided into two fairly distinct periods, and the transitional phase between the two during which Vygotsky experienced the crisis in his theory and personal life. These are the mechanistic "instrumental" period of the 1920s, integrative "holistic" period of the 1930s, and the transitional years of, roughly, 1929–1931. Each of these periods is characterized by its distinct themes and theoretical innovations.
"Instrumental" period (1920s)Edit
Cultural mediation and internalizationEdit
Vygotsky studied child development and the significant roles of cultural mediation and interpersonal communication. He observed how higher mental functions developed through these interactions, and also represented the shared knowledge of a culture. This process is known as internalization. Internalization may be understood in one respect as "knowing how". For example, the practices of riding a bicycle or pouring a cup of milk, initially, are outside and beyond the child. The mastery of the skills needed for performing these practices occurs through the activity of the child within society. A further aspect of internalization is appropriation, in which children take tools and adapt them to personal use, perhaps using them in unique ways. Internalizing the use of a pencil allows the child to use it very much for personal ends rather than drawing exactly what others in society have drawn previously.
The period of crisis, criticism, and self-criticism (1929–1932)Edit
In the 1930s, Vygotsky was engaged in massive reconstruction of the theory of his "instrumental" period of the 1920s. Around 1929–1930, he realized numerous deficiencies and imperfections of the earlier work of the Vygotsky Circle and criticized it on a number of occasions: in 1929, 1930, in 1931, and in 1932. Specifically, Vygotsky criticized his earlier idea of radical separation between the "lower" and "higher" psychological functions and, around 1932, appears to abandon it.
Vygotsky's self-criticism was complemented by external criticism for a number of issues, including the separation between the "higher" and the "lower" psychological functions, impracticality and inapplicability of his theory in social practices (such as industry or education) during the time of rapid social change, and vulgar Marxist interpretation of human psychological processes. Critics also pointed to his overemphasis on the role of language and, on the other hand, the ignorance of the emotional factors in human development. Major figures in Soviet psychology such as Sergei Rubinstein criticized Vygotsky's notion of mediation and its development in the works of students. Following criticism and in response to a generous offer from the highest officials in Soviet Ukraine, a major group of Vygotsky's associates, the members of the Vygotsky Circle, including Luria, Mark Lebedinsky, and Leontiev, moved from Moscow to Ukraine to establish the Kharkov school of psychology. In the second half of the 1930s, Vygotsky was criticized again for his involvement in the cross-disciplinary study of the child known as paedology and uncritical borrowings from contemporary "bourgeois" science. Considerable critique came from alleged followers of Vygotsky, such as Leontiev and members of his research group in Kharkov. Much of this early criticism was later discarded by these Vygotskian scholars as well.
"Holistic" period (1932–1934)Edit
There occurred a period of major revision of Vygotsky's theory, a transition from a mechanist orientation of his 1920s to an integrative holistic science of the 1930s. During this period, Vygotsky was under particularly strong influence of holistic theories of German-American group of proponents of Gestalt psychology, most notably, the peripheral participants of the Gestalt movement Kurt Goldstein and Kurt Lewin. However, Vygotsky's work of this period remained largely fragmentary and unfinished and, therefore, unpublished.
Zone of Proximal DevelopmentEdit
"Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD) is a term Vygotsky used to characterize an individual's mental development. He originally defined the ZPD as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” He used the example of two children in school who originally could solve problems at an eight-year-old developmental level (that is, typical for children who were age 8). After each child received assistance from an adult, one was able to perform at a nine-year-old level and one was able to perform at a twelve-year-old level. He said "This difference between twelve and eight, or between nine and eight, is what we call the zone of proximal development." He further said that the ZPD “defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state.” The zone is bracketed by the learner's current ability and the ability they can achieve with the aid of an instructor of some capacity.
Vygotsky viewed the ZPD as a better way to explain the relation between children's learning and cognitive development. Prior to the ZPD, the relation between learning and development could be boiled down to the following three major positions: 1) Development always precedes learning (e.g., constructivism): children first need to meet a particular maturation level before learning can occur; 2) Learning and development cannot be separated, but instead occur simultaneously (e.g., behaviorism): essentially, learning is development; and 3) learning and development are separate, but interactive processes (e.g., gestaltism): one process always prepares the other process, and vice versa. Vygotsky rejected these three major theories because he believed that learning should always precede development in the ZPD. According to Vygotsky, through the assistance of a more knowledgeable other, a child is able to learn skills or aspects of a skill that go beyond the child's actual developmental or maturational level. The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill reached by the child working independently (also referred to as the child's developmental level). The upper limit is the level of potential skill that the child is able to reach with the assistance of a more capable instructor. In this sense, the ZPD provides a prospective view of cognitive development, as opposed to a retrospective view that characterizes development in terms of a child's independent capabilities. The advancement through and attainment of the upper limit of the ZPD is limited by the instructional and scaffolding-related capabilities of the more knowledgeable other (MKO). The MKO is typically assumed to be an older, more experienced teacher or parent, but often can be a learner's peer or someone their junior. The MKO need not even be a person, it can be a machine or book, or other source of visual and/or audio input.
Thinking and speechEdit
Perhaps Vygotsky's most important contribution concerns the inter-relationship of language development and thought. This problem was explored in Vygotsky's book, Thinking and speech, entitled in Russian, Myshlenie i rech, that was published in 1934. In fact, this book was a mere collection of essays and scholarly papers that Vygotsky wrote during different periods of his thought development and included writings of his "instrumental" and "holistic" periods. Vygotsky never saw the book published: it was published posthumously, edited by his closest associates (Kolbanovskii, Zankov, and Shif) not sooner than December, 1934, i.e., half a year after his death. The first English translation was published in 1962 (with several later revised editions) heavily abbreviated and under an alternative and incorrect translation of the title Thought and Language for the Russian title Mysl' i iazyk. The book establishes the explicit and profound connection between speech (both silent inner speech and oral language), and the development of mental concepts and cognitive awareness. Vygotsky described inner speech as being qualitatively different from verbal external speech. Although Vygotsky believed inner speech developed from external speech via a gradual process of "internalization" (i.e., transition from the external to the internal), with younger children only really able to "think out loud", he claimed that in its mature form, inner speech would not resemble spoken language as we know it (in particular, being greatly compressed). Hence, thought itself developing socially.
Death (1934) and posthumous fameEdit
Vygotsky died of tuberculosis on June 11, 1934, at the age of 37, in Moscow, Soviet Union. One of Vygotsky's last private notebook entries gives a proverbial, yet very pessimistic self-assessment of his contribution to psychological theory:
This is the final thing I have done in psychology – and I will like Moses die at the summit, having glimpsed the promised land but without setting foot on it. Farewell, dear creations. The rest is silence.
Immediately after his death, Vygotsky was proclaimed one of the leading psychologists in the Soviet Union, although his stellar reputation was somewhat undermined by the decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of 1936 that denounced the mass movement, discipline, and related social practice of the so-called pedology. Yet, even despite some criticisms and censorship of his works—most notably, in the post-Stalin era in the Soviet Union of 1960s-1980s by his Russian alleged and self-proclaimed best students and followers—Vygotsky always remained among the most quoted scholars in the field and has become a cult figure for a number of contemporary intellectuals and practitioners in Russia and the international psychological and educational community alike.
In the Soviet Union, the work of the group of Vygotsky's students known as the Vygotsky Circle was responsible for Vygotsky's scientific legacy. The members of the group subsequently laid a foundation for Vygotskian psychology's systematic development in such diverse fields as the psychology of memory (P. Zinchenko), perception, sensation, and movement (Zaporozhets, Asnin, A. N. Leont'ev), personality (Lidiya Bozhovich, Asnin, A. N. Leont'ev), will and volition (Zaporozhets, A. N. Leont'ev, P. Zinchenko, L. Bozhovich, Asnin), psychology of play (G. D. Lukov, Daniil El'konin) and psychology of learning (P. Zinchenko, L. Bozhovich, D. El'konin), as well as the theory of step-by-step formation of mental actions (Pyotr Gal'perin), general psychological activity theory (A. N. Leont'ev) and psychology of action (Zaporozhets). Andrey Puzyrey elaborated the ideas of Vygotsky in respect of psychotherapy and even in the broader context of deliberate psychological intervention (psychotechnique), in general. Laszlo Garai founded a Vygotskian research group.
In North America, Vygotsky's work was known from the end of the 1920s through a series of publications in English, but it did not have a major effect on research in general. In 1962 a translation of his posthumous 1934 book, Thinking and Speech, published with the title,Thought and Language, did not seem to change the situation considerably. It was only after an eclectic compilation of partly rephrased and partly translated works of Vygotsky and his collaborators, published in 1978 under Vygotsky's name as Mind in Society, that the Vygotsky boom started in the West: originally, in North America, and later, following the North American example, spread to other regions of the world. This version of Vygotskian science is typically associated with the names of its chief proponents Michael Cole, James Wertsch, their associates and followers, and is relatively well known under the names of "cultural-historical activity theory" (aka CHAT) or "activity theory". Scaffolding, a concept introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross in 1976, is somewhat related to the idea of ZPD, although Vygotsky never used the term.
Criticisms of North American "Vygotskian" and original Vygotsky's legacyEdit
A critique of the North American interpretation of Vygotsky's ideas and, somewhat later, its global spread and dissemination appeared in the 1980s. The early 1980s criticism of Russian and Western "Vygotskian" scholars  continued throughout the 1990s. Van der Veer & Valsiner (1991) called these strands of Vygotskian thought "neo-Vygotskian fashions in contemporary psychology" and Cazden (1996) called them "selective traditions" in Vygotskian scholarship. Palincsar (1998) said that the zone of proximal development was "one of the most used and least understood constructs to appear in contemporary educational literature", and Fischer & Mercer (1992) said that the construct was "used as little more than a fashionable alternative to Piagetian terminology or the concept of IQ for describing individual differences in attainment or potential".
Van der Veer and Valsiner also suggest clearly distinguishing between Vygotsky's original notion of "zona blizhaishego razvitiia" (ZBR) and what they think of as its "superficial interpretations" collectively known as "zone of proximal development" (ZPD). Valsiner and Van der Veer also identify certain statements in Vygotskian literature as mere "declarations of faith", i.e. hollow statements often repeated. Whereas Gillen (2000) talks of different "versions of Vygotsky" and Van der Veer (2008) speaks of "multiple readings of Vygotsky", Gradler (2007) simply speaks of "concepts and inferences curiously attributed to Lev Vygotsky". Toomela (2000) calls the strand known as "activity theory" a "dead end” for cultural-historical psychology  and, moreover, for methodological thinking in cultural psychology.
Gredler & Schields (2004) question "if anyone actually reads Vygotsky's words" and Gredler (2012) asks whether it is "too late to understand Vygotsky for the classroom", while Rowlands (2000) suggests "turning Vygotsky on his head". According to Miller (2011), inconsistencies, contradictions, and at times fundamental flaws in "Vygotskian" literature were revealed in critical publications on this subject and are typically associated with - but certainly not limited to - the North American legacy of Michael Cole and James Wertsch and their associates. Smagorinsky (2011) speaks of "challenges of claiming a Vygotskian perspective".
Lambert (2000) claims that Vygotsky's writings on play were too brief to be called a theory and furthermore were hardly relevant anymore. According to Zhang (2013), Vygotsky's theories are fundamentally flawed from a contemporary linguistic standpoint and Newman (2018) claims that "the support claimed from Vygotsky in accounts of second language acquisition is misplaced, first because of those difficulties and, second, because many who claim support from Vygotsky, do not need or even use his theory but instead focus their attention on his empirical observations and assume incorrectly that if their own empirical observations match Vygotsky's, then Vygotsky's theory can be accepted".
Revisionist movement in Vygotsky StudiesEdit
During the early twenty-first century, several scholarly reevaluations of the popular version (sometimes disparagingly termed "Vygotsky cult", "the cult of Vygotsky", or even "the cult of personality around Vygotsky") of Vygotsky's legacy have been undertaken and are referred to as the "revisionist revolution in Vygotsky Studies". Vygotsky studies conducted within the framework of the "revisionist turn" during the 2010s revealed systematic and massive falsifications and distortions of Vygotsky's legacy., but also demonstrated a rapid and dramatic decrease of this author's popularity in international scholarship that began in 2017. The reasons of this crisis are not entirely clear yet and are being discussed in scholarly circles.
The revisionist movement in Vygotsky Studies was termed a "revisionist revolution" to describe a relatively recent trend that emerged in the 1990s. This trend is typically associated with growing dissatisfaction with the quality and scholarly integrity of available texts of Vygotsky and members of Vygotsky Circle, including their English translations made from largely mistaken, distorted, and even in a few instances falsified Soviet editions, which raises serious concerns about the reliability of Vygotsky's texts available in English. However, unlike critical literature that discusses Western interpretations of Vygotsky's legacy, the target of criticism and the primary object of research in the studies of the revisionist strand are Vygotsky's texts proper: the manuscripts, original lifetime publications, and Vygotsky's posthumous Soviet editions that most often were subsequently uncritically translated into other languages. The revisionist strand is solidly grounded in a series of studies in Vygotsky's archives that uncovered previously unknown and unpublished Vygotsky materials.
Thus, some studies of the revisionist strand show that certain phrases, terms, and expressions typically associated with Vygotskian legacy as its core notions and concepts—such as "cultural-historical psychology", "cultural-historical theory", "cultural-historical school", "higher psychical/mental functions", "internalization", "zone of proximal development", etc. in fact, either occupy not more than just a few dozen pages within the six-volume collection of Vygotsky's works, or never even occur in Vygotsky's own writings. Another series of studies revealed the questionable quality of Vygotsky's published texts that, in fact, were never finished and intended for publication by their author, but were nevertheless posthumously published without giving proper editorial acknowledgement of their unfinished, transitory nature, and with numerous editorial interventions and distortions of Vygotsky's text. Another series of publications reveals that another well-known Vygotsky's text that is often presented as the foundational work was back-translated into Russian from an English translation of a lost original and passed for the original Vygotsky's writing. This episode was referred to as "benign forgery".
Complete Works of L. S. VygotskyEdit
Scholars associated with the revisionist movement in Vygotsky Studies propose returning to Vygotsky's original uncensored works, critically revising the available discourse, and republishing them in both Russian and translation with a rigorous scholarly commentary. Therefore, an essential part of this revisionist strand is the ongoing work on "PsyAnima Complete Vygotsky" project that for the first time ever exposes full collections of Vygotsky's texts, uncensored and cleared from numerous mistakes, omissions, insertions, and blatant distortions and falsifications of the author's text made in Soviet editions and uncritically transferred in virtually all foreign translated editions of Vygotsky's works. This project is carried out by an international team of volunteers—researchers, archival workers, and library staff—from Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland, who joined their efforts and put together a collection of L. S. Vygotsky's texts. This publication work is supported by a stream of critical scholarly studies and publications on textology, history, theory and methodology of Vygotskian research that cumulatively contributes to the first ever edition of The Complete Works of L.S. Vygotsky. Currently, this collection of Vygotsky's research is available and still in print in a series consisting of six total volumes of his work with added commentary/foreword.
Vygotsky's scientific bibliographyEdit
- Van der Veer & Yasnitsky (2016). Vygotsky's published works: a(n almost) definitive bibliography. In: Yasnitsky, A. & van der Veer, R. (Eds.) (2016). Revisionist Revolution in Vygotsky Studies (pp. 243–260). London and New York: Routledge
- Consciousness as a problem in the Psychology of Behavior, 1925
- Educational Psychology, 1926
- Historical meaning of the crisis in Psychology, unfinished and aborted in 1927
- The Problem of the Cultural Development of the Child, 1929
- The Fundamental Problems of Defectology, 1929
- The Socialist alteration of Man, 1930
- Ape, Primitive Man, and Child: Essays in the History of Behaviour, A. R. Luria and L. S. Vygotsky, 1930
- Tool and symbol in child development, ~1930
- Paedology of the Adolescent, 1929-1931
- Play and its role in the Mental development of the Child, oral presentation 1933
- Thinking and Speech, 1934
- The Psychology of Art, 1971 (English translation by MIT Press)
- Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, 1978 (Harvard University Press)
- The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, 1987
- Yasnitsky, A. (2018). Vygotsky's science of Superman: from Utopia to concrete psychology. In Yasnitsky, A. (Ed.). (2018). Questioning Vygotsky's Legacy: Scientific Psychology or Heroic Cult. London & New York: Routledge.
- Dr. Clay Spinuzzi blog, book review: New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalinism
- Spinuzzi, C. (2018). From superhumans to supermediators: Locating the extraordinary in CHAT. In A. Yasnitsky (Ed.), Questioning Vygotsky's legacy: Scientific psychology or heroic cult (pp. 137–166). New York, NY: Routledge.
- Zavershneva, E. (2014). The problem of consciousness in Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology. In A. Yasnitsky, R. Van der Veer & M. Ferrari (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology, 63-97. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Alderson-Day, Ben; Fernyhough, Charles (2015). "Inner Speech: Development, Cognitive Functions, Phenomenology, and Neurobiology". Psychological Bulletin. 141 (5): 931–965. doi:10.1037/bul0000021. PMC 4538954. PMID 26011789.
- Vygotsky, L.S. Thought and Language (1932). Chapter 6: The Development of Scientific Concepts in Childhood. marxists.org
- Oxford Reference: Vygotsky blocks
- Paula Towsey on the Blocks Experiment (2008) Vimeo.com
- Yasnitsky, A. & van der Veer, R. (Eds.) (2015). Revisionist Revolution in Vygotsky Studies. London and New York: Routledge
- Hassard, Jack; Dias, Michael (2013). The Art of Teaching Science: Inquiry and Innovation in Middle School and High School. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-88999-9.
- Vygotsky, L. S. & Luria, A., (1930) Tool and symbol in child development marxists.org
- Lev Vygotsky (1931) marxists.org: Adolescent Pedagogy The development of thinking and concept formation in adolescence
- Vygotsky, L. S. (1931-2) On Spinoza marxists.org
- Vygotsky: "...My intellect has been shaped under the sign of Spinoza's words, and it has tried not to be astounded, not to laugh, not to cry, but to understand." (in his dissertation thesis Psychology of Art) [original in Russian]
- Vygotsky: "...From the great creations of Spinoza, as from distant stars, light takes several centuries to reach us. Only the psychology of the future will be able to realize the ideas of Spinoza." [original in Russian]
- Vygotsky: "...We cannot help but note that we have come to the same understanding of freedom and self-control that Spinoza developed in his 'Ethics'." (Self-Control, 1931) [original in Russian]
- Vygotsky: "...Spinoza's teaching contains specifically what is in neither of the two parts into which contemporary psychology of emotions has disintegrated: the unity of the causal explanation and the problem of the vital significance of human passions, the unity of descriptive and explanatory psychology of feelings. For this reason, Spinoza is closely connected with the most vital, the most critical news of the day for contemporary psychology of emotions, news of the day which prevails in it, determining the paroxysm of crisis that envelops it. The problems of Spinoza await their solution, without which tomorrow's day in our psychology is impossible." (The Teaching about Emotions, 1932) [original in Russian]
- Kline, G.L. (ed.): Spinoza in Soviet Philosophy. A Series of Essays Selected and Translated and with an Introduction. (New York: The Humanities Press, 1952)
- Maidansky, A. (2003). "The Russian Spinozists". Studies in East European Thought. 5 (3): 199–216. doi:10.1023/A:1024066221394. S2CID 169586377.
- Derry, J. Vygotsky, Philosophy and Education. (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2013). Derry (2013, p. 85): "Vygotsky's understanding of free will derives from Spinoza. His work is peppered with references to Spinoza and, according to his childhood friend Semyon Dobkin, Spinoza was his favourite philosopher".
- Secker, M.: Spinoza's Theory of Emotion in Relation to Vygotsky's Psychology and Damasio's Neuroscience. (Ph.D. diss., University of East Anglia, 2014)
- Roth, W.-M.: The Mathematics of Mathematics: Thinking with the Late, Spinozist Vygotsky. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2017)
- Roth, W.-M.; Jornet, A.: Understanding Educational Psychology: A Late Vygotskian, Spinozist Approach. (Dordrecht: Springer, 2017)
- Jornet, A.; Cole, M. (2018). "Introduction to symposium on Vygotsky and Spinoza". Mind, Culture, and Activity. 25 (4): 340–345. doi:10.1080/10749039.2018.1538379. S2CID 145032408.. Jornet & Cole (2018): "It has been known since the publication of Thought and Language in English that at the end of his life, Vygotsky turned to the ideas of Spinoza to overcome what he considered the shortcomings of his earlier theoretical ideas, bringing emotion to center stage in the process of development. Recent scholarship has made it clear that Spinoza was important from the beginning of Vygotsky's career. His doctoral thesis, The Psychology of Art, opens with a quotation from Spinoza, and years later Leont'ev (1997) made it clear in his introduction to Vygotsky's collected works that Vygotsky's interest in the philosophy of Spinoza began as early as his student years, and "would remain his favorite thinker for the rest of his life". Spinoza's lifelong influence on Vygotsky, however, has remained a relatively unexplored issue."
- Haggbloom, S.J.; Warnick, R.; Warnick, J.E.; Jones, V.K.; Yarbrough, G.L.; Russell, T.M.; Borecky, C.M.; McGahhey, R.; Powell III, J.L.; Beavers, J.; Monte, E. (2002). "The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century". Review of General Psychology. 6 (2): 139–152. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.586.1913. doi:10.1037/1089-2618.104.22.168. S2CID 145668721.
- Pound, L. (2019). How Children Learn (New ed.). London: Andrews UK Limited. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-909280-73-1.
- Yasnitsky, A. (2018). Vygotsky: An Intellectual Biography. London and New York: Routledge BOOK PREVIEW
- Van der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (1991). Understanding Vygotsky. A quest for synthesis. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
- Nutbrown, Cathy; Clough, Peter; Selbie, Philip (2008). Early Childhood Education: History, Philosophy and Experience. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-4129-4497-7.
- van der Veer, R. & Zavershneva, E. (2011). To Moscow with Love: Partial Reconstruction of Vygotsky's Trip to London. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science 45(4), 458–474: PDF, pdf
- Завершнева Е.Ю. «Ключ к психологии человека»: комментарии к блокноту Л.С. Выготского из больницы «Захарьино» (1926 г.) // Вопр. психол. 2009. №3. С. 123—141
- Zavershneva, E. "The Key to Human Psychology". Commentary on L.S. Vygotsky's Notebook from the Zakharino Hospital (1926). Journal of Russian and East European Psychology 50(4), July–August 2012
- Zavershneva, E. 2009. Issledovanie rukopisi L.S. Vygotskogo "Istoricheskii smysl psikhologicheskogo krizisa" [Investigation of the original of Vygotsky's manuscript "Historical meaning of crisis in psychology"]. Voprosy psikhologii (6):119-137.
- Завершнева Е.Ю. Исследование рукописи Л.С. Выготского "Исторический смысл психологического кризиса" // Вопросы психологии, 2009. №6, с. 119 - 138.
- Zavershneva, E. Investigating the Manuscript of L.S. Vygotsky's "The Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology". Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 50(4), July–August 2012
- Завершнева Е.Ю., Осипов М.Е. Основные поправки к тексту «Исторический смысл психологического кризиса», опубликованному в 1982 г. в собрании сочинений Л.С. Выготского // Вопросы психологии, 2010. №1. С. 92—103
- E. Iu. Zavershneva and M. E. Osipov. Primary Changes to the Version of "The Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology" Published in the Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, vol. 50(4), July–August 2012
- Kozulin, Alex. 1986. "Vygotsky in Context" in Vygotsky L. "Thought and Language", MIT Press. pp. xi - lvii
- Cf. self-criticism of 1929: "I am revising the s[econd] part of "monkey"[i.e., the book Ape, primitive, and child]. Alas! The f[irst] chapter is written wholly according to the Freudianists [...]; then the impenetrable Piaget is turned into an absolute beyond all measure; instrument and sign are mixed together even more, and so on and so forth. This is not the fault of A. R. [Luria] personally, but of the entire "epoch" of our thinking. We need to put a stop to this unrelentingly. [...] Let there be the most rigorous, monastic regime of thought; ideological seclusion, if necessary. And let us demand the same of others. Let us explain that studying cultural psychology is no joke, not something to do at odd moments or among other things, and not grounds for every new person's own conjectures". In: Vygotsky, L. S. (2007). "Letters to students and colleagues". Journal of Russian and East European Psychology. 45 (2): 11–60. doi:10.2753/RPO1061-0405450201. S2CID 146444813.
- Cf. self-criticism of 1930: "In the process of development, and in the historical development in particular, it is not so much the functions which change (these we mistakenly studies before). Their structure and the system of their development remain the same. What is changed and modified are rather the relationships, the links between the functions. New constellations emerge which were unknown in the preceding stage". In: Vygotsky, L. S. (1930/1997). On psychological systems. In R. W. Rieber & J. Wollock (Eds.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky (Vol. 3. Problems of the Theory and History of Psychology, pp. 91-108). New York: Plenum Press
- From the letter to A. R. Luria, from Moscow, June 12, 1931: "I am still beset with thousands of petty chores. The fruitlessness of what I do greatly distresses me. My scientific thinking is going off into the realm of fantasy, and I cannot think things through in a realistic way to the end. Nothing is going right: I am doing the wrong things, writing the wrong things, saying the wrong things. A fundamental reorganization is called for—and this time I am going to carry it out." In: Vygotsky, L. S. (2007). Letters to students and colleagues. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 45(2), 11-60. doi:10.2753/RPO1061-0405450201, p. 36
- Vygotsky, archival document of mid-1932 titled "Consciousness without word": "Our deficiency is not a deficiency of facts, but the untenability of the theory: in the analysis of our crisis this is the main difficulty, but not a departure from facts. This is contra A[.]N.[Leontiev.] Consequently: salvation is not in the facts but in the theory. We introduced the systemic point of view too late... Now I understand all this more deeply" (Zavershneva, 2010b, p. 54)
- Vygotsky in his presentation of December, 1932, a year and half before his death: "1. The necessity of a new stage of inquiry does not stem from the fact that a new thought has occurred to me or a new idea has caught my interest, but from the necessity of developing the research itself—new facts prod me into searching for new and more intricate explanations. The narrowness, bias, and schematism of the old mindset led us to the wrong assessment of the essential principles that we mistook for the secondary ones: interfunctional connections. We focused attention on the sign (on the tool) to the detriment of the operation with it, representing it as something simple, which goes through three phases: magical—external—internal. But the knot is external and the teenager's diary is external. Hence we have a sea of poorly explained facts and a desire to delve more deeply into the facts, i.e., to evaluate them theoretically in a different way. 2. The higher and lower functions are not constructed in two tiers: their number and names do not match. But our previous understanding was not right, either [, according to which] a higher function is the mastery of the lower ([e.g.,] voluntary attention is the subordination to it of involuntary attention) because this means exactly—in two tiers". Vygotsky's record titled "Symposium, December 4, 1932", see in Zavershneva, E. 2010b. "The Vygotsky Family Archive: New Findings. Notebooks, Notes, and Scientific Journals of L.S. Vygotsky (1912–1934)". Journal of the Russian and East European Psychology 48 (1):34-60, pp. 41-42
- "Vygotsky | Simply Psychology". Aug 5, 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-08-05. Retrieved Sep 1, 2020.
- Fraser, J.; Yasnitsky, A. (2015). "Deconstructing Vygotsky's Victimization Narrative: A Re-Examination of the "Stalinist Suppression" of Vygotskian Theory" (PDF). History of the Human Sciences. 28 (2): 128–153. doi:10.1177/0952695114560200. S2CID 4934828.
- The last line of the notebook entry, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'The rest is silence', was also the last line of Vygotsky's first publication (1915), 'The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark', repr. as ch. 8 in Vygotsky, The Psychology of Art (1925).
- Kozulin, A. (1986). "The concept of activity in Soviet psychology: Vygotsky, his disciples and critics". American Psychologist. 41 (3): 264–274. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.3.264.
- Vassilieva, J. (2010). "Russian psychology at the turn of the 21st century and post-Soviet reforms in the humanities disciplines". History of Psychology. 13 (2): 138–159. doi:10.1037/a0019270. PMID 20533768.
- :Interview with Laszlo Garai on the Activity Theory of Alexis Leontiev and his own Theory of Social Identity as referred to the meta-theory of Lev Vygotsky. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology 2012; vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 50–64.
- Roth, W.M.; Lee, J.Y. (June 2007). ""Vygotsky's Neglected Legacy": Cultural Historical Activity Theory" (PDF). Review of Educational Research. 77 (2): 186–232. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.584.7175. doi:10.3102/0034654306298273. S2CID 12099538.
- Toomela, A (2000). "Activity theory is a dead end for cultural-historical psychology". Culture & Psychology. 6 (3): 353–364. doi:10.1177/1354067x0063005. S2CID 143980608.
- Toomela, A (2008). "Activity theory is a dead end for methodological thinking in cultural psychology too". Culture & Psychology. 14 (3): 289–303. doi:10.1177/1354067x08088558. S2CID 144330215.
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- Cf. Valsiner, J. (1988). Developmental psychology in the Soviet Union. Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press, p. 117: Present-day psychologists’ interest in Vygotsky's thinking is indeed paradoxical. On the one hand, his writings seem increasingly popular among developmental psychologists in Europe and North America. On the other hand, however, careful analyses and thorough understanding of the background of Vygotsky's ideas is rare... Vygotsky seems to be increasingly well known in international psychology, while remaining little understood. The roots of his thinking in international philosophical and psychological discourse remain largely hidden. His ideas have rarely been developed further, along either theoretical or empirical lines.
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- Cf. Valsiner, J., and R. Van der Veer (2000). The social mind: Construction of the idea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.4: It is often an open question as to what functions such declarations can have in science. From a position of in-depth analysis, such statements seem merely to be stating the obvious (compared with the statements like the rain is wet or the rich are affluent). And yet, such general claims about the sociality of the human psyche are made with remarkable vigour and repetitiveness
- Gillen, J (2000). "Versions of Vygotsky". British Journal of Educational Studies. 48 (2): 183–98. doi:10.1111/1467-8527.t01-1-00141. S2CID 8639392.
- van der Veer, R. 2008. Multiple readings of Vygotsky. In The transformation of learning: Advances in cultural-historical activity theory, edited by B. van Oers, W. Wardekker, E. Elbers and R. van der Veer, 20-37. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Gredler, M. E. (2007). "Of cabbages and kings: Concepts and inferences curiously attributed to Lev Vygotsky (Commentary on McVee, Dunsmore, and Gavelek, 2005)". Review of Educational Research. 77 (2): 233–238. doi:10.3102/0034654306298270. S2CID 145115751.
- Gredler, M. E.; Schields, C. S. (2004). "Does no one read Vygotsky's words? Commentary on Glassman". Educational Researcher. 33 (2): 21–25. doi:10.3102/0013189x033002021. S2CID 145203451.
- Gredler, M.E. (2012). "Understanding Vygotsky for the classroom: Is it too late?". Educational Psychology Review. 24 (1): 113–131. doi:10.1007/s10648-011-9183-6. S2CID 144839041.
- Rowlands, S. Turning Vygotsky on His Head: Vygotsky's "Scientifically Based Method" and the Socioculturalist's "Social Other". Science & Education, vol. 9, Issue 6, p.537-575
- Miller, R. (2011). Vygotsky in perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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- Van der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (Eds.) (1994). The Vygotsky Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Van der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (1991). Understanding Vygotsky. A quest for synthesis. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
- Kozulin, A. (1990). Vygotsky's Psychology: A Biography of Ideas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Vygodskaya, G. L., & Lifanova, T. M. (1996/1999). Lev Semenovich Vygotsky, Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, Part 1, 37 (2), 3-90; Part 2, 37 (3), 3-90; Part 3, 37 (4), 3-93, Part 4, 37 (5), 3-99.
- Van der Veer, Rene (2007). Lev Vygotsky: Continuum Library of Educational Thought. Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-8409-3.
- Daniels, H., Wertsch, J. & Cole, M. (Eds.) (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky.
- Dafermos, M. (2018). Cultural-Historical Theory A Dialectical Perspective to Vygotsky.Singapore: Springer.
- Guilherme, Alexandre and Morgan, W. John, (2018), 'Lev S. Vygotsky (1896-1934)-dialogue as meditation and inner speech', Chapter 3 in Philosophy, Dialogue, and Education: Nine modern European philosophers, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 39–54, ISBN 978-1-138-83149-0.
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- Media related to Lev Vygotsky at Wikimedia Commons
- Quotations related to Lev Vygotsky at Wikiquote
- Lev Vygotsky archive, marxists.org: all major works
- Garai, L. Another crisis in the psychology: A possible motive for the Vygotsky-boom
- Annotated bibliography of scholarly histories on Vygotsky, Advances in the History of Psychology, York University