A.N. Leontev 1978

Activity, Consciousness, and Personality

“In reality the philosophic discovery of Marx consists not in identifying practice with cognition but in recognizing that cognition does not exist outside the life process that in its very nature is a material, practical process. The reflection of reality arises and develops in the process of the development of real ties of cognitive people with the human world surrounding them; it is defined by these ties and, in its turn, has an effect on their development. Human consciousness thus ceases to be an "intrinsic quality of the human spirit" with no history or intractability to causal analysis. We begin to understand it as the highest form of reflection of reality that sociohistorical development creates: a system of objectively existing agents gives birth to it and causal historical analysis makes it accessible to us.” Marxism and Psychological Science

First Published:  1978
Source:  Activity, Consciousness, and Personality
Publisher:  Prentice-Hall
Translated:  Marie J. Hall
Transcription/Markup: Nate Schmolze (marxists.org) 2000.

PDF of whole book and PDF of this article.


The methodological crisis that world psychology has been trying to solve for the last 100 years destroyed the unified system of psychological knowledge. Psychologists split into several schools and directions, and their representatives argue among themselves about the subject of their science. Considering ways to resolve the crisis, A.N. Leont'ev, Active Member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR and Lenin Prize Laureate, in his new book demonstrates the primacy of Marxist methodology in the resolution of fundamental problems of contemporary psychology.

The book is intended for philosophers, psychologists, and teachers, and for all who are interested in the theoretical questions of the science that concerns the origin, function, and structure of the psychological reflection of reality.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Marxism and Psychological Science
1.1 The General Bases of Marxist Psychology
1.2 The Theory of Consciousness
1.3 The Psychology of Cognitive Processes

Chapter 2 - Psychic Reflection
2.1 Levels of Investigation of Reflection
2.2 The Activity of Psychic Reflection

Chapter 3 - The Problem of Activity and Psychology
3.1 Two Approaches in Psychology - Two Plans of Analysis
3.2 The Category of Objective Activity
3.3 Objective Activity and Psychology
3.4 The Relationship of Internal and External Activity
3.5. The General Structure of Activity 

Chapter 4 - Activity and Consciousness
4.1 The Genesis of Consciousness
4. 2 The Sensory Fabric of Consciousness
4.3 Meaning as a Problem of Psychological Consciousness
4.4 Personal Sense

Chapter 5 - Activity and Personality
5.1 Personality as a Subject of Psychological Investigation
5.2 The Individual and Personality
5.3 Activity as a Basis of Personality 
5.4 Motives, Emotions, and Personality 
5.5 Formation of Personality 

Further reading:

Leontyev Archive | Vygotsky Archive | Ilyenkov Archive | Daniel El'konin