In the context of my education in the Department of Psychology in Rethymno, Crete I came in touch with the cultural-historical theory of Vygotsky and especially with the issue of consciousness. My interest in Vygotsky’s theory is related with three interconnected points of his work.
Vygotsky’s work is a very important starting point for understanding the significance of the social origin of mental phenomena. The general genetic law of human development, which appeared in the primary appearance of his genetic method, tracks the functional aspects of mental activity in the quality of social interaction. For Vygotsky, the function of consciousness depends of the way social interaction and practice is contextualized in a child’s development. Secondly his genetic methodology poses a monument of dialectical understanding. This very important asset helped him to track the essential characteristics which determine human development and consciousness. Thirdly, Vygotsky’s thought is a very important paradigm for understanding the relationship between the natural and the social. He saw how seemingly unrelated mental processes, become socially interconnected as one united process of mental thinking. In the highest phase of his scientific development he tried to understand consciousness as a complex system of sense-making. According to Vygotsky, attribution of meaning to external objects is a constructive and creative process. As the sense aspects of verbal thinking develop, human thinking becomes a highly symbolic procedure. The internal “kingdom” of concepts becomes highly diverse, abstract and individualized. In this way Vygotsky manages to present a modern explanation of subjectivity.
This research program was unique in many ways and attempted to overcome both positivism and idealism, which came in the form of Gestalt psychology and other methods which disintegrated verbal speaking from concept formulation. My goal is to research whether Vygotsky’s theory can provide original insights thinking in social sciences. Even though his theory marks approximately 100 years of its first emergence it can still provide essential insights for further development of psychology as a discipline. Vygotsky’s theory is a significant attempt to overcome the crisis in psychology that remains its significance in the context of social science’s disintegreation.
To do so I moved on to a different scientific area, of that of Social Anthropology because I wanted to explore the character of scientific crisis in different areas. Especially my interests lie in understanding how the various streams of the “postmodern” effected psychology and social anthropology. In the era of the discourse disintegration of subjectivity, whereas cultural represents general values or “ethnopsychology”, it is necessary to understand mental functions as something essential, and not just a social structure. Is Vygotsky’s understanding of culture and sociality inherently incongruent with modern understanding of culture? In which way could we facilitate a discussion between the two scientific paradigms?
I find participating in this summer school an intriguing adventure of understanding the current conversation in Eastern European Psychology. Moreover I want to participate in Moscow’s summer school because I feel that in this environment I will have the opportunity to further elaborate on my ideas.