Marxist psychology and dialectical method

Authored by: Mohamed Elhammoumi

Handbook of Critical Psychology

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9781848722187
eBook ISBN: 9781315726526
Adobe ISBN: 9781317537182


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Much recent work in cultural-historical activity theory has been concerned with mediation, zones of proximal development, activity, language, concept formation, and abstract thinking, to name a few key issues. This work has provided an important corrective to positivist psychology, which has concentrated on describing operation, structure, and processes within individual heads. Through the efforts of cultural-historical activity theory researchers, it has become increasingly clear that any account of human higher mental functions development must be studied within its social, historical, and cultural context. Human higher mental functions are developed historically, formed socially, shaped culturally, and carved by the social relations of production. This leads to the urgent need for an integrated developmental theory. Hegel was one of the first developmental theorists who offered a systematic theory of conceptual development. His dialectic can be seen as a general theory of human higher mental functions. There are important structural similarities between dialectical and developmental psychology of higher mental functions. To achieve these similarities, we need to re-formalize Hegel’s idealistic dialectic and Marx’s materialist dialectic, a truly impressive project on which few attempts have been made (by, among others, Wallon, Politzer, Vygotsky, and Sève). My own position is that Marx’s materialist dialectic is completely incompatible with Hegel’s idealist dialectic, a proposition that Marx and others have sharply disagreed with.

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