Incisive Ideas from the Soviet Union

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Abstract

Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1962, Vol 7(11), 406-407. Reviews the book, Thought and Language by L. S. Vygotsky, Eugenia Hanfmann (Ed. & Trans.), and Gertrude Vakar (Ed. & Trans.) (see record 1963-00464-000). The book shines with originality, penetration, and civilized breadth; it is the posthumous publication of a man who died in his prime after ten highly productive years as a psychologist. Vygotsky's central interest was the development of the higher mental functions. Thought and speech are, Vygotsky argues, separate functions. Two themes are pervasive: One is that rational language consists of symbols for conceptual categories; the other is that language evolves as a device for mediating the adaptation of the organism, and should be viewed in terms of its functional context. Perhaps the most fascinating and novel sections of the book are those in which the author discusses the functions of speech. Vygotsky begins by criticizing Piaget's treatment of egocentric speech. The author's most brilliant contribution to developmental psychology was his analysis of the functional roots of language. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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