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History and Systems of Psychology

HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein

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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 25
HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
There were two current philosophies and practices of psychology during the early and till the
middle of the 20th century; Behaviorism and Functionalism. The Historico-Evolutionary or Soviet
Psychology tried to adopt a different approach and methodology. As the name implies, the contributors in
the Historico-Evolutionary Psychology tried to see how consciousness in humans developed, what exact
role it played in different historical stages of man's development and how it impacts behavior. In other
words, these psychologists looked at the historical evolution of consciousness. They focused on how, in the
past, man has been able to develop his power to think and understand and what role has his consciousness
played in this regard. For further explanation, because this group looked at the historical evolution of man's
mental functions and its relationship with behavior, that is why this point of view is called the Historico-
Evolutionary Psychology.
Leon Vygotsky
The first amongst the Historico-Evolutionary psychologists was Leon Vygotsky who was born in
1896 and died in 1934. The Soviet revolution had taken place in 1917 and therefore Vygotsky was the first
truly Soviet psychologist.
Vygotsky was impressed by Sechenov and Pavlov and believed that man's consciousness came into
being as a result of his development or evolution, and man's higher mental functions, i.e. consciousness
developed as a result of collective labor. So man became different from animals in some fundamental and
basic ways. In other words, as man went through the process of evolution, his mental functions also went
through the same process. This resulted in the development of the higher mental functions, such as that of
thinking and understanding. As the Historico-Evolutionary psychologists focused on the development of
consciousness, Vygotsky proposed that the higher mental function of consciousness also developed through
the process of evolution.
Vygotsky taught that behaviorists, and structuralists and functionalists divide man into parts; some
try to study his behavior and others his consciousness, whereas man is a unity. Therefore, he emphasized on
the fact that the structure and the functions of the consciousness cannot be separated. They both
complement each other and exist for and because of each other.
In Vygotsky's view, man's development is a function of biological evolution and a function of
historico-cultural evolution. The body develops and so does the mind; man's behavior and his
consciousness is a mixture of these two developments. Historico-cultural evolution can be seen in the form
of man's thoughts, determination, ideas etc. Man uses language and mathematical symbols and these are the
tools of his developed consciousness. On the other hand, animals are unable to use language and symbols
to express their thoughts. They have not reached the point of evolution which man has reached. Therefore,
this further substantiates the fact that consciousness and higher mental functions are a result of the
evolutionary process which man had undergone over the past.
He showed that environment effects man, but then in turn man also effects the environment. In
other words, as proposed by previous psychologists such as Darwin, environment has an impact on man,
but according to Vygotsky, in turn man tries to change the environment in his own way, moulds it and
thereby uses it to fulfill his needs. For example, man has over the last one hundred years, developed various
methods and techniques to make the best out of the opportunities available in the environment. In other
words, it is not just the environment that affects man, but man in turn also influences the environment.
This is how consciousness functions and separates man from animals. So Vygotsky said that behavior and
consciousness can not be studied separately. Since consciousness is impacted by the environment, and the
behavior is dictated by consciousness. Further, that the human mental functions are radically different from
functions of lower animals. And this difference is due to man's development of consciousness which is the
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
result of the historical evolution of man. These were some of the contributions of Leon Vygotsky because
of which he is known as a Historico-Evolutionary psychologist.
Sergei Rubenstein
The other prominent name in the Historico-Evolutionary Psychology during the Soviet era was that
of Sergei Rubenstein, who was born in 1889 and died in 1960.
He criticized those who wanted to establish the science of psychology on the basis of only stimulus
and response. He thought such people ignore the important role of internal conditions. Same stimulus may
result in different reactions in different people, and at different times. For example, a person who is already
in a state of anger might perceive a stimulus of somebody staring at him in a different manner as compared
to the one who is normal. Therefore, Rubenstein rightly pointed out the importance of internal conditions
apart from the external stimulus and response relationships. Such an approach was established by the
behaviorist psychologists who considered behavior as the result of stimulus and response process.
Rubenstein went on to say that such psychologist ignore the importance of man's development and
assume humans to be like machines. These machines, once presented with the stimulus would always
respond in the predetermined manner. The soul purpose of the behaviorists was to determine methods to
control and predict human behavior since this school emerged at the advent of the industrial revolution.
Therefore, the approach of the behaviorists to consider only external factors in determining human
behavior was criticized by Rubenstein.
Rubenstein also showed that external factors effect psyche and then in turn psyche also affects
external factors in the environment. This was similar to what Vygotsky had said. Vygotsky had stated that
the environment impacts man and man in turn impacts the environment.
Therefore, according to Rubenstein, man's psychology can be understood as a dialectical process, it
effects and gets affected. He argued that consciousness originates as a result of sensitivity to certain stimuli.
As can be seen, Rubenstein tried to discover how and why consciousness came into being and rejected
purely behaviorist view point. These were the main contributions of the Sergei Rubenstein, because of
which he is regarded as a Historico-Evolutionary psychologist. He focused on the development of
consciousness in the history of mankind rather than concentrating on the stimulus and response
relationships purported by the behaviorists.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Methodology, Grading, Course Overview up to Midterm
  2. ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY/PSYCHOLOGY:Socrates, Plato
  3. GREEK THINKERS:Aristotle, Contiguity, Contrast
  4. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna
  5. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Al-Ghazali, Ibn-Rushd, Averroes
  6. RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
  7. ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke
  8. ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot
  9. GERMAN CONTRIBUTION:Wilhelm Liebniz, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel
  10. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS
  11. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Ivan Pavlov, Reflex, Acquisition
  12. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Vladimir Bekhterev
  13. IMPACT OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES ON PSYCHOLOGY:Charles Darwin, Gustav Fechner
  14. STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY:Wilhelm Wundt
  15. FUNCTIONALISM:William James, John Dewey
  16. EUROPEAN FUNCTIONALISTS:David Katz, Edgar Rubin, Jean Piaget
  17. BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness
  18. BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter
  19. BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson
  20. NEO-BEHAVIOURISTS:Clark Hull, Edward Tolman, Edwin Gutherie
  21. NEO-BEHAVIORISTS:B.F. Skinner, Karl Lashley, Donald Hebb, Hobart Mowrer
  22. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Max Wertheimer, Similarity, Proximity, Closure
  23. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
  24. GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
  25. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein
  26. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Alexei Leontiev, K.M Bykov
  27. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL DISORDERS
  28. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL ILLNESS:Philippe Pinel, Sameul Tuke
  29. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE PSYCHOANALYTIC MOVEMENT:The Superego
  30. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL MOVEMENT:Anna Freud
  31. CARL JUNG AND ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  32. JUNG’S ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  33. ALFRED ADLER AND INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Alfred Adler
  34. NEO-FREUDIANS:Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney
  35. NEO-FREUDIANS:Karen Horney, Erich Fromm
  36. ERIKSON and MORENO:J.L. Moreno, Protagonist, Audience, Role playing
  37. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY:Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Positive Psychology
  38. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
  39. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:Biological Approaches
  40. ANTI-PSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT:D.L. Rosenhan, R.D. Laing, Aaron Esterson
  41. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD:Frantz Fanon
  42. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD CHINA AND PAKISTAN
  43. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY
  44. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Consumer Psychology
  45. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Sports Psychology, Positive Psychology