Lev Vygotsky 1931
The third level of our research is closest to the historical method of considering higher forms of behavior that we have adopted. The analysis and structure of higher mental processes lead us directly to disclosing the basic problem of the whole history of the cultural development of the child, to elucidating the genesis of higher forms of behavior, that is, the origin and development of the mental forms that are the subject of our study.
Using the expression of S. Hall, psychology places genetic explanation above logical explanation. It is interested in the problem of from where and to where, that is, from what did this phenomenon come and into what is it trying to change.
The historical form of explanation seems to the psychologist-geneticist to be higher than any other possible forms. For him, to answer the question as to what a given form of behavior represents means to disclose its origin and the history of its development thus far. In this sense, as we have already said, in the words of P. P. Blonskii, behavior may be understood only as a history of behavior.
But before we move on to the genesis of higher forms of behavior, we must elucidate the concept of development itself just as we did in the chapters on analysis and structure of higher mental processes. The fact of the matter is that in psychology, because of its profound crisis, all concepts acquired multiple meanings and became confused; they changed depending on the basic point of view of the subject that the researcher chooses. In different systems of psychology oriented toward different methodological principles, all basic categories of research, including the category of genesis, acquire various meanings.
Another consideration that compels us to dwell on the problem of genesis is that the uniqueness of this process of development of higher forms of behavior that comprises the subject of our research is still inadequately recognized by contemporary psychology. The cultural development of the child, as we have attempted to establish above, represents a completely new level of child development which not only is still inadequately studied, but usually has not even been singled out in child psychology.
If we turn to the concept of development as it is represented in contemporary psychology, then we see that there are many things in it that contemporary research must overcome. The first thing, the sad survivor of pre-scientific thinking in psychology, is the cryptic residual pre-formism in the theory of child development. The old representations and erroneous theories, disappearing from science, leave traces of themselves, residues in the form of habits of thought. Regardless of the fact that the view according to which the child differs from the adult only in proportions of the body, only in scale, only in dimensions has long been discarded in the general formulation in the teaching on the child, this representation continues to exist in a cryptic form in child psychology. Not one work on child psychology can now openly repeat the disproved truths as if the child were an adult in miniature, but this view continues to be held even now in a cryptic form and is found in almost every psychological study.
It is enough to say that the most important chapters of child psychology (the teaching on memory, attention, thinking) are beginning only now to escape from this blind alley and to recognize the process of mental development in all its true complexity. But in most cases, scientific studies continue to hold in a cryptic form the view that explains development of the child as a purely quantitative phenomenon.
This view was held at one time in embryology. Theory based on this view is termed pre-formism or the theory of pre-formation. In essence, it is the teaching that in the embryo, there is an already completely finished and formed organism, but only smaller in size. The seed of the oak, according to this theory, for example, contains the whole future oak with its roots, trunk, and branches, but only in miniature. In the seed of man is already contained the formed human organism, but in extremely reduced size.
From this point of view, the whole process of development can be represented extremely simply: it consists in a purely quantitative increase in size of what was present from the very beginning in the embryo; the embryo gradually increases in size, grows, and in this way turns into a mature organism. This point of view has long been discarded in embryology and is of historical interest only. But in psychology, this point of view continues to exist in practice, although in theory it has also long been discarded.
Theoretically, psychology has long since rejected the idea that development of the child is a purely quantitative process. All agree that here we have a process that is much more complex, a process not exhausted by quantitative changes alone. But in practice, psychology is confronted with having to disclose this complex process of development in all its real completeness and to detect all those qualitative changes and transformations that refashion child behavior.
E. Claparède in his introduction to the studies of J. Piaget justifiably says that the problem of thinking of the child was usually posed in psychology as a purely quantitative problem and only new papers treat it as a problem of quality. Usually, says Claparède, what was seen in the development of intellect in the child was the result of a certain amount of addition and subtraction, an increment of new experience and liberation from certain errors. Contemporary studies disclose for us that the intellect of the child gradually changes its very character.
Should we want to characterize in a single general statement the basic requisite that the problem of development raises for contemporary research, we could say that this requisite consists in studying the positive uniqueness of child behavior. This requires some explanation.
All psychological methods used thus far for studying the behavior of the normal and the abnormal child, regardless of the great variety and differences that exist between them, have one common characteristic that links them in a certain respect. This characteristic is the negative description of the child that results from existing methods. All the methods speak of what the child does not have, what the child lacks in comparison with the adult, and what the abnormal child lacks as compared to the normal child. We have before us always a negative picture of the child personality. Such a picture tells us nothing about the positive uniqueness that distinguishes the child from the adult and the abnormal child from the normal child.
Now the problem that confronts psychology is to detect the true uniqueness of child behavior in all the fullness and richness of its actual expression and to present a positive picture of the child personality. But a positive picture is possible only if we radically change our representation of child development and take into account that it is a complex dialectical process that is characterized by complex periodicity, disproportion in the development of separate functions, metamorphoses or qualitative transformation of certain forms into others, a complex merging of the process of evolution and involution, a complex crossing of external and internal factors, a complex process of overcoming difficulties and adapting.
Another thing that must be overcome to clear the road for contemporary genetic research is cryptic evolutionism, which thus far dominates child psychology. Evolution or development by gradual and slow accumulation of separate changes continues to be regarded as the only form of child development which exhausts all the processes we know that make up this general concept. In essence, in discussions of child development, an analogy to processes of plant growth shows through.
Child psychology wants to know nothing about the critical, spasmodic, and revolutionary changes with which the history of child development is replete and which are found so often in the history of cultural development. To the naive consciousness, revolution and evolution seem incompatible. For the naive, historical development continues only as long as it proceeds along a straight line. Where a turn, a break of the historical tissue, a jump occurs, the naive consciousness sees only catastrophe, a failure, a break. For the naive, history stops at this point for the whole period until it again enters on a direct and smooth road.
Scientific consciousness, on the other band, considers revolution and evolution as two mutually connected and closely interrelated forms of development. Scientific consciousness considers the leap itself that is made in the development of the child during such changes as a certain point in the entire line of development as a whole.
This position has an especially important significance for the history of cultural development because, as we shall see, the history of cultural development consists to a great extent of these kinds of crucial and spasmodic changes that occur in the development of the child. The very essence of cultural development consists in a confrontation of developed cultural forms of behavior which confront the child and primitive forms that characterize his own behavior.
The most obvious consequence of what has been said is the change in the generally accepted point of view of the processes of mental development of the child and the representation of the nature of the structure and flow of these processes. Usually all processes of child development are presented as stereotypically occurring processes. The image of development, seemingly its model with which all other forms are compared, is considered as embryonal development. This type of development depends least on the environment, and the word “development” can be applied to it quite justifiably in the literal sense, that is, as an unfolding, of possibilities that are contained in the embryo in a convoluted form. Also, embryonal development cannot be considered as a model of any process of development in the strict sense of the word. Rather, it can be represented as its result, its outcome. It is a process that has already stopped, that is concluded and proceeds more or less stereotypically.
We need only to compare the process of embryonal development with the process of the evolution of animal species, the true origin of species as disclosed by Darwin, in order to see the radical difference between the one type of development and the other. Species arose and died out, species changed and developed in the struggle for survival, in the process of adaptation to the environment. If we should want to draw an analogy between the process of child development and any other kind of process of development, we would have to select the evolution of animal species rather than embryonal development.
Least of all does child development resemble a stereotypic process protected from external influence; the development of the child occurs in an active adaptation to the environment Ever newer forms arise in this process and not simply stereotypically produced links of a chain assembled earlier. Every new stage in the development of the embryo already present in a potential form in a preceding stage occurs due to the unfolding of internal potentials; it is not so much a process of development as a process of growth and maturation. This form, this type is also represented in the mental development of the child; but in the history of cultural development another form, another type has a much greater place; this consists in the new stage arising not out of unfolding potentials contained in the preceding stage, but out of an actual confrontation between the organism and the environment and an active adaptation to the environment.
In contemporary child psychology we have two basic points of view of the process of child development. One goes back to J.-B. Lamarck, the other, to Darwin. Bühler correctly said that it is necessary to look at the book of K. Koffka on the psychological development of the child in an attempt to give Lamarck’s idea a contemporary psychological expression.
The essence of Koffka’s point of view is that the principle that is usually used to explain higher forms of behavior, is used to explain lower forms of behavior while thus far, conversely, the principle that the psychologist used to explain primitive behavior was carried over to the higher form. But, according to Koffka, this method has nothing in common with anthropomorphism. One of the important methodological achievements of contemporary psychology is establishing the most important difference between naive and critical anthropomorphism.
While the naive theory is derived from recognizing the identity of functions at various stages of development, critical anthropomorphism is derived from higher forms that we know in man and traces the same psychological structure and its development dropping down the ladder of mental development. The works of Kohler and Koffka are close to this last theory. But, regardless of the important correction, we have before us theories that carry over the principle of elucidation found in studies of higher forms of behavior to the study of lower forms.
In contrast to this, Bühler regards his attempt to construct child psychology as an attempt to continue Darwin’s idea. If Darwin knew only one area of development, then Bühler indicates two new areas in which, in his opinion, the principle of selection advanced by Darwin finds its confirmation and justification. True, Bühler tries to unite the points of view of Darwin and Lamarck using the words of E. Hering, who said that a single, general picture of the history of the development of everything living could be generated from the two theories, Lamarck’s and Darwin’s, presented with a brilliant one-sidedness. What happened to him is what happens to a person looking through a stereoscope: at first he has two impressions crossing and fighting with each other until suddenly they unite into one clear picture established in a third dimension.
Continuing this comparison, Bühler says that neo-Darwinism without Lamarck is somewhat blind and stationary, but Lamarck without Darwin is not mature enough for the diverse richness of the forms of life. The theory of development will make a real step forward when in child psychology the relation of these two researchers with each other is elucidated more patently than it has been thus far.
Thus we see that the very concept of child development is not the same for the various researchers.
In Bühler’s teachings, his ideas on the various areas of development seem to us to be exceptionally fruitful. In his words, Darwin knew essentially only one area while Bühler himself indicates three distinct areas. According to Bühler, development of behavior passes through three basic stages and the process of development of behavior consists in that the site of the act of selection changes. Darwinian adaptation is accomplished by means of eliminating less favorably organized individuals; here we are speaking of life and death. Adaptation through training is accomplished within the individual; it sorts out the old and creates new methods of behavior. The site of its action is the area of bodily activity, and the price, not lives, but movements of the body produced in excess, lavished in the same manner as they are in nature.
K. Bühler indicates the further possibility of development. If movements of the body still cost too much or are for some reason insufficient, then the site of the act of selection must be transferred to the area of representation and thought.
Bühler says that it is necessary to reduce to a common denominator both the higher forms of human invention and discovery and the most primitive with which we became acquainted in the child and in the chimpanzee, and to understand theoretically what is identical in them. In this way, the concept of internal testing or trials in thought, which are the equivalent of trials with the object itself, allow Bühler to extend the formula of Darwinian selection to the whole area of human psychology. The origin of expediency in three different spheres (instinct, training, intellect), in three sites of action, of the principle of selection can be explained on the basis of a single principle. This idea, in the author’s opinion, is a sequential continuation of the contemporary theory of development of the Darwinian thesis.
We would like to consider in somewhat greater detail the theory of the three stages in the development of behavior. The theory actually encompasses all the main forms of behavior, extending them over three stages of the evolutionary ladder. Instinct, or the innate, inherited resources of methods of behavior, forms the first stage. Above this rises the second stage, which might be called the stage of training, as Bühler calls it, or, in other words, the stage of habits or conditioned reflexes, that is, those learned and acquired through the personal experience of conditioned reactions. And, finally, the third stage rises still higher, the stage of the intellect or intellectual reactions that fulfill the function of adaptation to new conditions and represent, in the words of Thorndike, an organized hierarchy of habits directed toward solving new problems.
In outline, the third stage still remains debatable, least studied, and most complex. Many authors attempt to limit the outline of development to only two stages, believing that intellectual reactions should not be placed in a special class but should be considered as especially complex forms of habits. We think that contemporary experimental research provides a firm basis for considering this debate resolved in favor of accepting the third stage. Intellectual reaction, which differs in many essential characteristics of origin and function, cannot be placed in the same order as mechanical formation of habits that arise by trial and error even in the area of animal behavior, as Kohler’s studies demonstrated.
True, we must not forget that the stage of intellectual reactions is very closely connected with the second stage in the development of behavior and is based on it. But this is a phenomenon of a common order equally applicable to the second stage in the development of behavior.
From the theoretical point of view, we believe one of the most fruitful ideas in genetic psychology is the idea that the structure of the development of behavior resembles the geological structure of the earth’s crust in some respects. Research established the presence of genetically different strata in human behavior. In this sense, the “ geology” of human behavior is undoubtedly a reflection of the “geological” origin and development of the brain.
If we turn to the history of the development of the brain, we will see what Kretschmer calls the law of stratification in the history of this development. With the development of higher centers, the lower centers, older in the history of development, do not simply move aside, but continue to work in a common union as levels subordinate to the direction of the higher centers in such a way that they cannot be defined separately in an undamaged nervous system.
The second pattern in the development of the brain consists in what might be called a transition of functions upward. Subordinate centers do not fully retain their initial type of functioning in the history of development, but surrender a substantial part of former functions upward, to the new centers that are formed above them. As Kretschmer assumes, only in cases of damage to the higher centers or their functional weakening does the subordinate level become independent and exhibit for us elements of the ancient type of functioning which remained in it.
Thus we see that with the development of the higher centers, the lower centers are preserved as subordinate levels and that the development of the brain proceeds according to laws of stratification and superstructure of new stories over the old. The old stage does not die when the new appears, but is displaced by the new, is dialectically negated by it, making a transition into it and existing in it. Precisely in this way, instinct is not abolished but is displaced into a conditioned reflex as a function of the ancient brain among the functions of the new. Precisely in this way, the conditioned reflex is displaced in an intellectual act simultaneously existing and not existing in it. Two completely equally tenable problems confront science: disclosing the lower in the higher and disclosing the development of the higher from the lower.
Recently, Werner expressed the idea that the behavior of a contemporary adult cultured person can be understood only “geologically” since in behavior different genetic strata have also been preserved that reflect all the stages through which man passed in his mental development. Werner maintains that the psychological structure is characterized by not one but many genetic strata superimposed on one another. For this reason even a separate individual considered genetically displays in his behavior certain phases of developmental processes that are already genetically concluded. Only the psychology of elements represents human behavior as a single closed sphere. In contrast to this, the new psychology establishes that man displays genetically different stages in his behavior. Werner sees the main problem of contemporary research to be disclosing the genetic multilayered quality of behavior.
Blonskii’s entire book, Psychological Essays, is built around the genetic analysis of human behavior. ‘Me new idea it contains is that man’s everyday behavior may be understood only if the four basic genetic stages through which the development of behavior always passed can be disclosed in it. Blonskii distinguishes sleeping life as a primitive state of life, primitive waking, a life of incomplete awakening, and a fully awakened life. This singular genetic pattern encompasses both everyday behavior of man and the many thousands of years of the history of his development or, more precisely, it considers everyday behavior of man from the point of view of his history of many thousands of years and presents a beautiful picture of how the historic point of view can be applied to general psychology and to the analysis of contemporary man.
The history of the development of signs, however, leads us to the general law that controls behavior. P. Janet calls it the fundamental law of psychology. ‘me essence of this law is that in the process of development, the child begins to apply the same forms of behavior to himself that others initially applied to him. The child himself assimilates the social forms of behavior and transfers them to himself. Applying this to the area of interest to us, we might say that nowhere is the correctness of this law more clear than in the use of the sign.
Initially, the sign is always a means of social connection, a means of affecting others, and only later does it become a means of affecting oneself Many actual connections and dependences that are formed in this way have been explained in psychology. For example, we might point to the circumstance noted by J. Baldwin that has at present been developed in Piaget’s studies. Research has demonstrated that there undoubtedly is a genetic connection between the child’s arguments and his reflections. The very logic of the child confirms the basis of this. Conclusions appear initially in arguments among children and only later are they internalized by the child himself, linked to how his personality is manifested.
Only with increasing socialization of the child’s speech and all of the child’s experience does development of the child’s logic occur. It is interesting to note that in the development Of the child’s behavior, the genetic role of the group changes, higher functions of thinking are manifested in the beginning in the group life of children in the form of arguments and only later lead to the development of reflection in the behavior of the child himself.
Piaget established that it is specifically the break that occurs in the transition from preschool age to school age that results in a change in the form of group activity. On the basis of this, the child’s thinking itself changes. Piaget said that reflection may be considered as internal argument. For the applicability of this law to the history of the cultural development of the child to be absolutely clear, we need only recall that speech is initially a means of socializing with those around the child and only later, in the form of internal speech, does it become a means of thinking.
But we would have said very little about the significance of the law that controls behavior if we were not able to demonstrate concrete forms in which it is manifested in the area of cultural development. Here we can connect the effect of this law with the four stages in the development of behavior that we noted above. If we take this law into account, it becomes absolutely clear why everything that is internal in higher mental functions was formerly external. If it is true that the sign is initially a means of socializing and only later becomes a means of behavior of the individual, then it is absolutely clear that cultural development is based on the use of signs and that including them in the whole system of behavior occurred initially in a social, external form.
A In general, we could say that the relations between higher mental functions were at one time real relations between people. I relate to myself in the same way that people relate to me. As verbal thinking represents an internalization of speech, as reflection is an internalization of argument, precisely so the mental function of the word, according to Janet, cannot be explained in any other way unless we bring into the explanation a system broader than man himself. The original psychology of the function of the word is a social function, and if we want to trace how the word functions in the behavior of the individual, we must consider how it functioned formerly in the social behavior of people.
At this time, we will not solve beforehand the problem of how true in essence the theory of speech proposed by Janet is. We want only to say that the method of research that he proposes is completely self-evident from the point of view of the history of cultural development of the child. According to Janet, the word was initially a command for others, then it became a complex story consisting of imitation, changes in function, etc., and only gradually was separated from action. According to Janet, the word is always a command because it is a basic means of controlling behavior. For this reason, if we want to explain genetically from what the volitional function of the word is derived, why the word subordinates motor reaction, what the origin of the power of the word over behavior is in both ontogenesis and phylogenesis, we unavoidably arrive at the real function of command. Janet says that the power of the word over mental functions is based on the real power of the superior over the subordinate; the relation of mental functions must be genetically attributed to real relations between people. Regulating another’s behavior by means of the word leads gradually to the development of verbalized behavior of the individual himself.
But of course speech is a central function of social connection and cultural behavior of the individual, For this reason, the history of the individual is especially instructive in the transition from external to internal, from social to individual function and occurs here with particular clarity. Not in vain did Watson see a substantial difference between internal and external speech in the ‘fact that the first serves individual, not social forms of adaptation.
If we turn to the means of social connection, we see that even relations between people have a dual nature. Direct and mediated relations between people are possible. The direct are based on instinctive forms of expressive movement and action. When Kohler describes a monkey that wants another monkey to go with it, how it looks into the other monkey’s eyes, nudges it and begins the action that she wants to persuade the other monkey to do, we have before us a classical example of a direct connection with a social character. In descriptions of social behavior of the chimpanzee, many examples are given in which one animal affects another either by actions or by instinctive, automatic expressive movements. Contact is established through touching, through a cry, through a glance. The whole history of early forms of social contact of the child is full of examples of a similar kind, and here also we see contact established by crying, grasping a sleeve, glancing.
At a higher level of development, however, mediated relations between people appear; an essential characteristic of such relations is the sign by means of which social contact is established. It is understood that the higher form of socializing mediated by a sign grows out of natural forms of direct socializing; nevertheless the latter differs substantially from the higher form.
Thus, imitation and separation of functions among people is the basic mechanism of modification and transformation of the function of the individual himself. If we consider the initial forms of work activity, then we see that the function of fulfilling and the function of directing are separated there. An important step in the evolution of work is the following: what the supervisor does and what the underling does is united in one person. This, as we shall see below, is the basic mechanism of voluntary attention and work.
All cultural development of the child passes through three basic stages that can be described in the following way, using Hegel’s analysis.
As an example, we will consider the history of the development of the pointing gesture; as we shall see, it plays an exceptionally important role in the development of speech in the child and is, to a significant degree, the ancient basis for all higher forms of behavior. Initially, the pointing gesture represents a simply unsuccessful grasping movement directed toward an object and denoting a future action. The child attempts to grasp an object that is somewhat too far away, his hands stretched toward the object are left hanging in the air, the fingers make pointing movements. This situation is the point of departure for further development. Here the pointing movement, which we may arbitrarily term a pointing gesture, appears for the first time. This is movement of the child objectively indicating an object and only an object.
When the mother comes to help the child and recognizes his movement as pointing, the situation changes substantially. The pointing gesture becomes a. gesture for others. In response to the unsuccessful grasping movement of the Child, there arises a reaction not on the part of the object, but on the part of another person. In this way, others carry out the initial idea of the unsuccessful grasping movement. And only subsequently, on the basis of the fact that the unsuccessful grasping movement is connected by the child with the whole objective situation, does he himself begin to regard this movement as a direction.
Here, the function of the movement itself changes: from a movement directed toward an object, it becomes a movement directed toward another person by means of a connection; grasping is converted into a direction. Because of this, movement itself is reduced, is contracted, and that form of the pointing gesture is developed which we may rightly call a gesture for oneself, But movement becomes a gesture for oneself in no other way than being, at first, direction for oneself, that is, objectively having all the necessary functions for direction and gesture for others, that is, being thought of and understood by the people nearby as a direction.
In this way, the child is the last one to recognize his gesture. Its significance and function are initially made up of an objective situation and then by the people around the child. The pointing gesture most likely begins to indicate by movement what is understood by others and only later becomes a direction for the child himself.
Thus we might say that through others we become ourselves, and this rule refers not only to the individual as a whole, but also to the history of each separate function. This also comprises the essence of the process of cultural development expressed in a purely logical form. The individual becomes for himself what fie is in himself through what he manifests for others. This is also the process of forming the individual. In psychology, the problem of the relation of external and internal mental functions is posed here for the first time in all its significance. Here, as has been said, it becomes clear why everything internal in higher forms was of necessity external, that is, was for others what it is now for oneself. Every higher mental function necessarily passes through an external stage of development because function is primarily social. This is the center of the whole problem of internal and external behavior. Many authors have long since pointed to the problem of interiorization, internalizing behavior. Kretschmer sees in this a law of nervous activity. Bühler reduces the whole evolution of behavior to the fact that the field of selection of positive actions is transferred inward from outside.
But we have something else in mind when we speak of the external stage in the history of the cultural development of the child. For us to call a process “external” means to call it “social.” Every higher mental function was external because it was social before it became an internal, strictly mental function; it was formerly a social relation of two people. The means of acting on oneself is initially a means of acting on others or a means of action of others on the individual.
The shift in the three basic forms of development in the functions of speech can be traced step by step in the child. More than anything, the word must have meaning, that is, it must relate to a thing, there must be an objective connection between the word and what it signifies. If there is not, further development of the word is impossible. Further, the objective connection between the word and the thing must be functionally used by adults as a means of socializing with the child. Only then will the word have meaning for the child also. Thus, the meaning of the word exists objectively first for others and only later begins to exist for the child himself. All basic forms of social intercourse between the adult and the child later become mental functions,
We can formulate the general genetic law of cultural development as follows: every function in the cultural development of the child appears on the stage twice, in two planes, first, the social, then the psychological, first between people as an intermental category, then within the child as a intramental category. This pertains equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, to the formation of concepts, and to the development of will. We are justified in considering the thesis presented as a law, but it is understood that the transition from outside inward transforms the process itself, changes its structure and functions. Genetically, social relations, real relations of people, stand behind all the higher functions and their relations. From this, one of the basic principles of our will is the principle of division of functions among people, the division into two of what is now merged into one, the experimental unfolding of a higher mental process into the drama that occurs among people.
For this reason, we might term the basic result to which the history of the cultural development of the child leads us as sociogenesis of higher forms of behavior.
The word, “social,” as applied to our subject, has a broad meaning. First of all, in the broadest sense, it means that everything cultural is social. Culture is both a product of social life and of the social activity of man and for this reason, the very formulation of the problem of cultural development of behavior already leads us directly to the social plane of development. Further, we could indicate the fact that the sign found outside the organism, like a tool, is separated from the individual and serves essentially as a social organ or social means.
Going further, we might say that all higher functions were formed not in biology, not in the history of pure phylogenesis, but that the mechanism itself that is the basis of higher mental functions is a copy from the social. All higher mental functions are the essence of internalized relations of a social order, a basis for the social structure of the individual. Their composition, genetic structure, method of action – in a word, their entire nature – is social; even in being transformed into mental processes, they remain quasisocial. Man as an individual maintains the functions of socializing.
Changing the well-known thesis of Marx, we could say that the mental nature of man represents the totality of social relations internalized and made into functions of the individual and forms of his structure. We do not want to say that this is specifically the meaning of the thesis of Marx, but we see in this thesis the most complete expression of everything to which our history of cultural development leads.
In connection with the ideas expressed here, which in a summarized form present the basic patterns we have observed in the history of cultural development and which are directly connected with the problem of children’s groups, we have seen that higher mental functions, for example, the function of the word, were formerly separated and distributed among people and then became functions of the individual himself. In behavior, understood as individual behavior, it would have been impossible to expect anything similar. Formerly, psychologists attempted to derive social behavior from individual behavior. They studied individual reactions observed in a laboratory, and then, in a group, they studied how the reaction of the individual changes in a group situation.
Formulating the problem in this way is, of course, completely legitimate, but it involves a genetically secondary stratum in the development of behavior. The first task of analysis is to show how individual reaction develops from forms of group life. In contrast to Piaget, we believe that development proceeds not toward socialization, but toward converting social relations into mental functions. For this reason, all of the psychology of the group in child development is presented in a completely new light. The usual question is how does one child or another behave in a group. We ask how does the group create higher mental functions in one child or another.
Formerly, it was assumed that the function exists in the individual in a ready, semi-ready, or rudimentary form and in the group it unfolds, becomes complex, advances, is enriched, or, conversely, is inhibited, suppressed, etc. At present, we have a basis for assuming that in relation to higher mental functions, the matter must be presented as being quite the opposite. Functions initially are formed in the group in the form of relations of the children, then they become mental functions of the individual. Specifically, formerly it was thought that every child was capable of reflection reaching conclusions, proving, finding bases for whatever position. From the collision of such reflections, argument was generated. But the matter is actually something else. Studies show that reflection is generated from argument. The study of all other mental functions brings us to the same conclusion.
In considering the formulation of our problem and the development of the research method, we have already had the opportunity to elucidate the great significance of the comparative method of studying the normal and abnormal child for all of the history of cultural development. We have seen that this is a basic device of research which contemporary genetic psychology has available and which makes it possible to compare the convergence of the natural and cultural lines in the development of the normal child with the divergence of these same two lines in the development of the abnormal child. We will consider in somewhat greater detail the significance of the basic positions we have found relative to the analysis, structure, and genesis of cultural forms of behavior for the psychology of the abnormal child.
We will begin from the basic position that we have established in analyzing higher mental functions which consists of recognizing the natural basis for cultural forms of behavior. Culture creates nothing, it only modifies natural data to conform to the goals of man. For this reason, it is completely natural that the history of cultural development of the abnormal child would be permeated with influences of the child’s basic defect or inadequacy. His natural resources, those possible elementary processes from which higher cultural devices of behavior must be constructed, are insignificant and poor, and for this reason the possibility itself of the rise and adequately complete development of higher forms of behavior frequently seems closed for this child specifically because of the poverty of the material which is the basis of other cultural forms of behavior.
The indicated feature is noted in children with general retardation in development, that is, in retarded children. As we recall, at the base of cultural forms of behavior, there is a certain detour that consists of simpler, elementary connections. This purely associative understory of higher forms of behavior, a foundation on which they arise, a background from which they are nourished, is weakened in a retarded child from the very beginning.
Another point that we found in analysis now introduces a substantial addition to what we have said, specifically: in the process of cultural development, there is a replacement of some functions in the child by others, a construction of detours, and this opens before us completely new possibilities in the development of the abnormal child. If such a child cannot attain something directly, then the development of detours becomes the basis for compensation. The child begins to attain in roundabout ways what he could not attain directly. Replacement of functions is actually the basis of all cultural development of the abnormal child, and therapeutic pedagogics is full of examples of such detours and such compensating instances of cultural development.
A third position that we mentioned above states: the basis of the structure of cultural forms of behavior is made up of mediated activity, the use of external signs as a means for further development of behavior. Thus, isolating a function and using a sign have especially important significance in all of cultural development. Observations of the abnormal child show that where these functions are preserved in an undamaged form, we actually have more or less favorable compensatory development of the child; where they are inhibited or damaged, the cultural development of the child suffers also. On the basis of his experiments, W. Eliasberg developed the general idea that the use of auxiliary means may serve as a reliable criterion for differential diagnosis that makes it possible to differentiate between insanity and any forms of weakening, underdevelopment, disruption, and retardation of intellectual activity. The ability to use signs as auxiliary means of behavior is lost, evidently, only with the onset of insanity.
Finally, the fourth and final position we found discloses a new perspective in the history of cultural development of the abnormal child. We have in mind what we termed higher mastery of one’s own behavior. As applied to the abnormal child, we can say that it is necessary to distinguish degrees of development of one function or another and the degree of development of mastery of this function. Everyone knows what a great disproportion there is in the development of higher and lower functions in the retarded child. For mild retardation, such a general, regular decrease of all functions is not as characteristic as underdevelopment of specifically higher functions with a relatively favorable development of the elementary functions. For this reason, we must study not only what memory the retarded child has, but also how and to what extent he is able to use his memory. Underdevelopment of the retarded child also consists primarily in underdevelopment of higher forms of behavior, in an inability to master his own processes of behavior, and in an inability to use them.
To a certain degree, we are returning from another direction to the idea advanced by E. Seguin for whom the essence of idiocy appeared to be underdevelopment of the will. If we understand will in the sense of mastery of oneself, we would be inclined to share his opinion and maintain that specifically in the defect of mastery of one’s own behavior lies the main source of all underdevelopment of the retarded child. J. Lindworsky expressed the same idea in a somewhat paradoxical form when he attempted to reduce the basis of intellectual activity to perception of relations and maintained that in this sense intellect as a function of perception of relations is as inherent in the idiot as it is in Goethe and that the enormous difference between the one and the other consists not in the act indicated, but in other, higher mental processes.
From this, we can form a basic conclusion, with which we will conclude our remarks on the uniqueness of cultural development of the abnormal child. We can say that a secondary complication of retardation is always, first, primitivism as general cultural underdevelopment that is based on organic underdevelopment of the brain, and, second, certain volitional underdevelopment, an arrest at an infantile stage of self-mastery and of processes of one’s own behavior. Finally, only in the third and last place we must list the basic complication of retardation, the general underdevelopment of the child’s personality.
Now we shall consider certain concrete problems of development of higher mental functions, the consideration of which will enable us to approach more closely the basic data of child and pedagogical psychology.
Is the concept of development applicable in general to those changes of which we are speaking? As development, we of course have in mind a very complex process formed by a series of characteristics.
The first characteristic consists of the fact that with any change, the substrate underlying a developing phenomenon remains the same. The second immediate characteristic consists of the fact that any change here is of an internal character to a certain degree; we do not term as development any change that is not at all connected with any internal process occurring in the organism or in the form of activity that we are studying. Unity and constancy of the whole process of development, internal connection between the stage of development passed and the subsequent change – this is the second basic characteristic that enters into the concept of development.
It must be said that from this point of view, the cultural experience of the child as an act of development has been disregarded for a very long time in child psychology. It was usually said that what could be called development is what comes from within; what comes from outside is training and education because in nature, no child exists who would naturally mature in his arithmetical functions, but as soon as the child reaches, let us say, school age or somewhat earlier, he grasps externally from the people around him a whole series of arithmetical concepts and subsequent operations. Thus, we can scarcely say that acquiring addition and subtraction at eight years, and multiplication and division at nine years is the natural result of the child’s development; these are only external changes that come from the environment and are by no means a process of internal development.
However, a deeper study of how a child’s cultural experience accumulates showed that in this case we have at hand a series of most important prerequisite characteristics if the concept of development is to be applied to certain changes.
The first characteristic consists in that every new form of cultural experience is not simply external, regardless of the state of the organism at a given moment of development, but the organism, assimilating external influences, assimilates a whole series of forms of behavior, and assimilates them depending on the degree of his mental development. Something occurs that resembles what is called nourishment with respect to body growth, that is, assimilation of certain external substances, external material, that is processed and assimilated into the organism itself.
Let us imagine that the child not knowing the cultural forms of arithmetic finds himself in school and begins to study the four functions. The question is, is it possible to demonstrate that acquiring the four functions occurs as a process of development, that is, that it is determined by the presence of knowledge of arithmetic with which the child entered school? It proves to be that the matter is exactly so, and this forms a basis for teaching arithmetic to children of a certain age and not at certain stages of education. This can be explained by the fact that at age seven or eight, it becomes possible for the first time to assimilate this kind of operation because a development of knowledge about arithmetic has occurred in the child. Considering children of grades one to three, we find that in the course of two to three years, the children basically still exhibit traces of preschool, natural arithmetic with which they entered school.
In the same way, it would seem that when a child acquires other operations in school through purely external ways, the acquisition of any new operation is the result of the process of development. We will try to show this at the end of the chapter when we will analyze concepts of assimilation, invention, and imitation, that is, all methods that are used for acquiring new forms of behavior. We will try to show that even where the form Of behavior is acquired through pure imitation, the possibility is not excluded that it appeared as a result of development and not just by imitation.
In order to be convinced of this, it is enough to show experimentally that every new form of behavior, even one assimilated from outside, has different specific qualities. Naturally, it is built on what has gone before; it cannot be otherwise than on the basis of what has gone before. If someone could demonstrate experimentally the possibility of mastering some cultural operation immediately in its most developed form, then we would have proof that here we are speaking not of development but of external acquisition, that is, of some change due to purely external influences. But experiment teaches us the opposite, that every external action is the result of an internal genetic pattern. On the basis of experiments, we can say that a cultured child, even a wunderkind, cannot master at once the last stage in the development of an operation before he goes through the first and second stages. In other words, the very introduction of a new cultural operation is divided into a series of links, into a series of stages, internally connected with each other and succeeding each other.
Since experiment demonstrates this for us, we have every basis for applying the concept of development to the process of accumulation of internal experience, and this is the essence of the second characteristic of which we spoke.
But it is self-evident that the development we have been considering is of a type completely different from the development that is studied in the development of elementary functions of the child. This is a most substantial difference and it is very important to note it because in this case it is also one of the basic characteristics.
We know that in the basic forms of human adaptation, the struggle of man with nature, the zoological type of development differs substantially from the historical. In the first there are anatomical changes in the organism and biological development occurs on the basis of organic changes in structure, while in human history, intensive development of forms of adaptation of man to nature occurs without such substantial organic changes.
Finally, we must point out that the connection between natural development, the behavior of the child based on maturing of his organic apparatus, and the kinds of development we are considering is a connection that is not evolutionary, but revolutionary: development does not occur by gradual, slow changes and accumulation of small changes that, as a totality, finally cause a substantial change. Here, in the very beginning, we observe development of a revolutionary type, in other words, sharp and basic changes in the type of development itself, the driving forces of the process themselves; it is well known that it is this kind of characteristic that would exclude the possibility of applying the concept of development to this process.
Now we will proceed directly to consideration of such instances of change in the type of development.
We know very well that in contemporary child psychology, two theories of genesis are more or less generally accepted: one differentiates two basic stages in the development of behavior; the other differentiates three. The first is inclined to indicate that all behavior in development goes through two basic stages: the stage of instinct or the stage that has been called the unconditioned reflex stage, a hereditary or r innate function of behavior, and the stage of acquisition of reactions based on personal experience, or conditioned reflexes, the stage of dressage as applied to animals.
‘Me other theory is inclined to divide the stage of reactions acquired by personal experience still further and differentiate between the stage of conditioned reflexes or habits and the stage of intellectual reactions.
How does the third stage differ from the second?
Very briefly we might say that the essential difference is, on the one hand, in the method by which the reactions arise, and on the other hand, in the character of the function, that is, the biological function of the reaction, in contrast to habit, that arises as a result of trial and error or as a result of stimuli acting in one direction. In intellectual reactions, a response arises as an expression of a certain image obtained, obviously, as a result of a kind of short circuit, that is, of a complex internal process formed on the basis of excitation of a series of cooperating centers, which creates a new path. Consequently, we are speaking of a reaction of an explosive type, exceptionally complex in the nature of its arising, the mechanisms of which are thus far unknown since our knowledge of brain processes is still at the beginning stage of development.
If the function of the instinctive reaction differs from the function of habit, then the latter differs from the intellectual function. Of course, if the biological function of habit is adaptation to individual conditions of existence that are more or less clear and simple, then the function of intellectual behavior is adaptation to changing conditions of the environment and to changing circumstances under new conditions. An argument has developed among psychologists specifically on this ground: authors who reject the consideration of intellect as a special level in nature say that it is only a special subclass within the same class as acquisition of habit. It seems to me that it is the responsibility of scientific caution that we speak here actually of only two classes of development in child behavior: inherited and acquired through experience, and within the latter – that acquired through experience – we will be able to establish not just two stages, but perhaps even more as our knowledge increases.
Consequently, it would be proper, it seems to us at the contemporary state of knowledge, to adopt the point of view of Thorndike, the American psychologist, who differentiates two stages: inherited and individual, or internal and acquired, and in behavior, he differentiates two stages or two groups of reaction: on the one hand, habits inherited for adaptation to more or less long-term conditions of individual existence, and on the other hand, a whole hierarchy of habits directed toward solving new problems that confront the organism, in other words, that order of reactions of which we have spoken.
In order to understand the connection between the levels of development that are of interest to us in child psychology, we must briefly take into account the kind of relation that exists among them. The relations are of a dialectical character.
Every subsequent stage in the development of behavior, on the one hand, negates the preceding stage, negates it in the sense that properties present in the first stage of behavior are removed, eliminated, and sometimes converted into an opposite, higher stage. For example, we will trace what occurs when a reflex is converted from an unconditioned reflex to a conditioned reflex. We see that a series ‘Of Properties connected with its hereditary characteristics (stereotypical quality, etc.) Is negated in the conditioned reflex because the conditioned reflex is a temporary, flexible formation exceptionally subject to extraneous stimuli and, in addition, inherent only in the given individual not by nature and not by heredity, but acquired due to conditions of the experiment. Thus, every subsequent stage affects the Change or negation of properties of the preceding stage.
On the other hand, the preceding stage exists within the subsequent, which manifests, let us say, the stage of the conditioned reflex Its properties are the same those in the unconditioned reflex; it is the same instinct, but manifested and consisting only in a different form and different expression.
Contemporary dynamic psychology strives to study the energy basis for various forms of behavior. For example, in a series of changes in forms of instinct, psychologists see the effect of development of child speech and its effect on behavior, which is, of course, of great interest to us with respect to the problem of will. We will return to this later. For us, the basic problem which psychologists pose is clear and understandable. For example, modern man goes to eat at a restaurant while an animal with the same innate instinct goes to hunt food needed for existence. The behavior of the animal is based wholly on an instinctive reaction, while in man, experiencing the same hunger, the method of behavior is based on completely different conditioned reactions. In the first case, we have a natural reflex where one reaction follows another, in the second case, a series of conditioned changes. However, if we look into the cultural behavior of the man, we see that the ultimate drive of this behavior, the energy basis, the stimulus, is the same instinct or the same material need of the organism that drives the animal, while instinct is not always needed in conditioned reflexes. In man, instinct exists in a cryptic form and behavior is of necessity connected with a changed series of properties of the instinct.
We have such a precisely dialectical relation of negation of a preceding stage while maintaining it in a cryptic form in the relation of the conditioned reflex and the intellectual reaction. In Thorndike’s well-known example with arithmetic problems, it is essential that the child solving the problem uses no other reactions except those he acquired by habit or in a combination of habits directed toward solving a problem new to him. Thus, even here the intellectual reaction negates habits that are, as if, a cryptic reaction aimed at solving problems confronting the organism, and some properties of habits, are eliminated. However, at the same time, the intellectual reaction, it seems, is essentially reduced not to anything other than a system of habits, and this system or organization of systems is itself the proper matter for the intellect.
If we take into account this kind of sequence of stages in the natural development of behavior, then we must say something similar also with respect to the fourth stage of development of behavior in which we are presently interested. Perhaps we shall have to admit that the higher processes of behavior which we are about to discuss also belong to natural behavior in which every stage within this natural behavior has certain relations to the preceding stage: to a certain degree, it negates the stage of primitive behavior and contains natural behavior in a cryptic form as well.
As an example, we will use an operation such as remembering with the help of signs. We see that, on the one hand, remembering occurs here as it does not occur with ordinary remembering in the establishing of habits; remembering involving intellectual reaction has certain properties that are not present in the first case. But if we separate the process of remembering that depends on signs into component parts, we can easily see that in the final analysis this process contains in itself the same reactions that are also characteristic for natural remembering, but just in a new combination. The new combination is what comprises the basic subject of our studies in child psychology.
Of what do the basic changes consist? They consist in that at the higher stage of development, man begins to control his own behavior, subjects his own reactions to his own control. Just as he controls the actions of outside forces of nature, he also controls his own processes of behavior on the basis of the natural laws of behavior. Since the basis of natural laws of behavior are laws of stimuli-responses, a reaction cannot be controlled as long as the stimulus is not controlled. Consequently, a child controls his own behavior. but the key to this lies in controlling the system of stimuli. The child controls arithmetic operations, having mastered the system of arithmetic stimuli.
Precisely in this way, the child masters all other forms of behavior, having mastered the stimuli, but the system of stimuli is a social force presented to the child from outside.
In order to make what has been said entirely clear, we will follow the stages that the child goes through in developing the operation of controlling his own behavior, We cite the experimental example which we used before in speaking of the selection reaction. It is appropriate to speak briefly here of how this reaction changes in the process of remembering and why we define the properties of development by these changes.
What does the development of the selection reaction consist of in the child? Let us say that five to eight stimuli are used in the study and the child is asked to respond to each stimulus with a different response, for example, to the color blue, he will respond with one finger, to red with another, to yellow, with a third. From data of the old experimental psychology, we know that the selection reaction in the child is established at the age of six. It has also been established that in an adult, the complex selection reaction is formed with significantly more difficulty, and special effort is required to select the responses corresponding to each stimulus from a large number of responses.
For example, if we ask the subject to react to red with his left hand and to blue with his right hand, the selection is established quickly and the reaction will be easier than if we present a selection of three or four or five or six colors. Analysis of old experiments, as we have noted before, leads psychologists to conclude that in the selection reaction, we do not actually select; a process of a different character occurs here which can be taken for selection only from external appearances. In reality, something else is occurring. A series of studies forms a basis for proposing that at the base of the selection reaction there is a very complex form of behavior that we must differentiate between stimuli that appear without order and organized stimuli, that in these reactions there is a closure of conditioned connections, or, in the language of the old psychology, there is a fixing of the instruction. If we use mnemotechniques to remember the instruction, which is generally characteristic for memory, then we can facilitate establishing the correct selection of a reaction.
We proceed as follows: we give a six-year-old child, then a seven-year-old and An eight-year-old a number of stimuli, say, a number of pictures, and ask each child to react to each picture with a different movement, or to press a corresponding key or move a finger. We give the subject the chance to use external means to solve this internal operation and try to observe how the child behaves in such cases.
It is interesting that the child always does the proposed task and does not refuse to do it. He knows so little of his mental powers that the task does not seem impossible to him, in contrast to the adult who, as the experiment has demonstrated, Always refuses and says, “No, I won’t remember and I can’t do this.” And, actually, if the adult is given such instruction, he questions repeatedly, returns to a preceding Color, seeks more precise information as to which color he should react and with Which finger. A child, on the other hand, approaches the task, listens to the instruction, and tries at once to do it.
The experiment begins. Most often, children meet with difficulty almost immediately and 90% make mistakes. But even older children, having mastered one Or two reactions with respect to the other stimuli, naively ask which finger they must use to press the key for which color. In the child, we take this early stage as initial or primitive stage of development of the reaction.
It is clear to us why this is primitive, natural. It is common to all children, and in most cases, children behave exactly in this way in several reactions; it is primitive because the behavior of the child in this case is determined by his potential for direct imprinting, the natural state of his brain apparatus. And actually, if the child tries to master the selection reaction with ten stimuli, this can be explained by the fact that he does not yet know his limitations and operates with what is complex as he operates with what is simple. In other words, he tries to react to a complex structure with primitive means.
Subsequently, the experiment is set up as follows. Seeing that the child cannot cope with the task with primitive means, we modify the experiment to a certain degree, we introduce a second series of stimuli. This is a basic method that is usually used in studying cultural behavior of the child.
Besides the stimuli which were to elicit one selection reaction or another, we give the child a number of additional stimuli, for example, pictures pasted on the different keys, and suggest that the subject connect a given picture with a given key. For example, when the picture of a horse is presented, the key with the sleigh must be pressed. Having been instructed, the child sees that he must press the key with the “sleigh” when the “horse” picture is presented and the key with a drawing of a knife in response to “bread.” Here the reaction goes well, it has already gone beyond the primitive stage because the child’s reaction does not depend on just primitive conditions; suddenly the rule for solving the problem dawns on him and he makes a selection with the help of a generalized reaction. In selecting from ten stimuli, the properties of the reaction change correspondingly. Here the rule of increasing duration of study depending on the number of stimuli no longer holds; it is all the same whether four or eight, five or ten stimuli are presented, the quality of the reaction to the stimuli does not change.
But it would be a mistake to think that the child completely mastered the given form of behavior. One has only to take the same pictures and rearrange them and it is as if there were no such connection. If instead of the key marked “sleigh,” there was a key marked “knife,” and if the child were told to press the “knife” key in response to the “horse” picture, the child would at first not notice that the auxiliary pictures had been switched. If we ask if he can remember, the child without any doubt answers that he can.
He listens to the instruction, but when we actually change the position of the pictures, the child cannot produce the correct selection reaction. This stage occurs differently in different children, but basically, the behavior of all children consists of their dealing with the pictures without understanding how the picture works although they remember that somehow the “horse” helped find the “sleigh.” Frequently, the child considers the internal complex connection purely externally; associatively he feels that it is evident that the picture must help him make a selection, although he cannot explain the internal connection that is the basis for this.
A simple example of this stage in the development of the child’s operation is an experiment conducted with a small girl. ‘Me mother gives the child instruction similar to the instruction in a Binet test – to go to the next room and carry out three small operations. In giving the instruction, the mother repeats it several times or she says it only once. The girl notices that when the mother repeats it several times, the instruction is successful; the girl remembers and finally begins to understand that the mother must repeat the instruction several times. When the mother gives a new instruction, the girl says, “Say it once more,” and not listening, runs off. The girl noted the connection between repetition and success in fulfilling the task, but she did not understand that the repetition alone did not help her, that the repetition must be heard, clearly assimilated, and only then will it be easier to carry out the instruction.
Consequently, for this kind of operation, an external connection between the stimulus and the means, but not a psychological internal connection, is characteristic. It is interesting that similar phenomena observed in primitive man arc: frequently termed magical thinking. This arises on the basis of insufficient knowledge of the strict laws of nature and on the basis of the fact that primitive man assumes the connection between thoughts to be a connection between things.
The following is a typical sample of magic. In order to do serious harm to a person, primitive people practice witchcraft, try to get the person’s hair or portrait and burn it, assuming that in this way the person will also be punished. Here the mechanistic connection between thoughts replaces the connection between objects. How do primitive people make it rain? They try to do this by magical ceremony. At first they begin to blow through their fingers in imitation of wind, then they arrange to have water fall on sand and if the sand gets wet, it signifies that such a ceremony will bring rain. The connection in thinking is converted into a material connection.
In a child in the stage of which we are speaking, an opposite phenomenon occurs – the connection between things is assumed to be a connection between thoughts, a connection between two pictures is assumed to be a mental connection. In other words, what occurs is not an authentic use of the given law, but its external, associative use. This stage can be termed the stage of naive psychology. The term “naive psychology” is used in analogy to the term “naive physics” introduced by O. Lipmann and H. Bogen, and by Kohler also. This term indicates that while same animals make a naive effort at practical use of tools, man makes an analogous naive effort relative to his mental operations. In both cases, the experience is naive because it is acquired through a direct, naive path. But since naive experience has limits, the naive physics of the monkey leads to a series of interesting phenomena. The monkey has somewhat little knowledge of the physical properties of his body, constructs this naive physics on the basis of his optical experience and gets something like the well-known fact described by Kohler: if the monkey learned to get it using a stick and if he has no stick available, he grabs a straw and attempts roll the fruit with the straw. How is such an error possible? Because optically, the straw resembles a stick and the monkey does not know the physical properties ,'Of a stick. The monkey deals with a shoe, with the brim of a straw hat, with a towel, with any object in precisely the same way.
Even more interesting are the inadequacies of naive physics that the monkey exhibits when he wants to get fruit that is high up: he tries to place a box on a corner or edgewise toward a wall and becomes furious when the box fans. Another monkey places the box on the wall at his own height and presses it in the hope that the box will stay there. The actions of the monkeys can be explained very simply from natural life in the forest where the animals acquire naive physical experience. The monkey can support itself on branches that extend from the trunk of the tree in exactly the same direction that he wants to attach the box to the wall. The erroneous attempts are the result of the monkey’s inadequate knowledge of the physical properties of its own body and of other bodies.
This experiment transferred to children demonstrates that the young child’s use of tools can also be explained by his naive physics, that is, by the fact that to the extent that the child acquires any experience, he is capable of using certain properties of things with which he has to deal and to work out a certain relation them. Analogously, as a result of practical use of signs, experience with using them develops that is still naive psychological experience.
In order to understand that it is easier to remember after repetition, one must have certain experience in remembering. It has been observed in experiments how this remembering occurs, and it is understandable that it grows stronger with repetition. The child who understands the connections between repetition and remembering does not have enough psychological experience with respect to real conditions of how the real reaction occurs and uses this experience naively.
Can naive psychological experience be acquired? Undoubtedly it is acquired as naive physical experience is acquired owing to the fact that the child deals with objects, makes movements, masters some properties or others of objects, and learns how to deal with them. Precisely in this way, in the process of adaptation, the child remembers and carries out various instructions. Carrying them out, the child accumulates and acquires certain naive psychological experience and he begins to understand how one must remember, what remembering involves, and when he understands that, he begins to use one sign or another correctly.
In this way at the stage of magical use of signs, he uses them according to purely external similarity. But this stage lasts only a short time in the child. He is convinced that with the help of a certain distribution of the pictures, he will remember the selection reaction, but with a different distribution, he will not remember it. Thus, the child comes to the discovery of the unique character of his remembering and soon begins to say, “No, put that picture here.” When he is told that for the “horse” picture, he must press the “bread” key, he says, “No, I'll press this key with the picture of the sleigh.” So vaguely, but gradually, the child nevertheless begins to accumulate experience with respect to his own remembering.
Having naively mastered what the operation of remembering consists of, the child moves to the next stage. If we give him pictures in random order, he places them in the required order and establishes a certain connection; he no longer deals with signs externally, but knows that the presence of these signs will help him carry out a specific operation, that is, remembering by using the signs.
Very soon, the child, using the already prepared connection and having established the connection in previous experience (horse-sleigh or bread-knife), will begin to create a connection himself. Now the child no longer has difficulty in making and remembering similar connections. In other words, the next stage is characterized by the fact that the child, using a connection which we have given him, makes a transition to creating a new connection. This stage may be termed the stage of using external signs. It is characterized by the fact that in using signs in an internal operation, new connections begin to be formed in the child independently. And this is the most important thing that we wanted to say. The child organizes stimuli in order to carry out his reaction.
At this stage, we see clearly the manifestation of basic genetic laws according to which the child’s behavior is organized. It consists of a reaction that the child wants to direct along a certain path. Here he organizes the stimuli that are external and uses them for carrying out the task given him. This stage lasts a short time before the child passes to the next form of organizing his activity.
After the subject goes through the same experiment several times, the researcher begins to observe a decrease in reaction time: if the reaction took 0.5 second or more before, it now takes only 0.2 second; this means that the reaction has accelerated by a factor of 2.5. The most important change is that in the internal operation of remembering, the child uses external means; wanting to master his reaction, he masters the stimuli; but then the child gradually eliminates the external stimuli that he has before him and no longer pays attention to them. Carrying out the selection reaction, the child operates as he operated earlier, but without the series of stimuli. The difference is that the external reaction turns into an internal reaction; the reaction that was earlier impossible when a large number of stimuli were present now becomes possible.
Let us imagine what has happened: every external operation has, as they say, its internal representation. What does this mean? We make a certain movement, present certain stimuli, one stimulus here, another there. A certain internal brain process corresponds to this; as a result of a number of such experiences with the transition from an external to an internal operation, all intermediate stimuli become needed less and less and the operation begins to be carried out without mediating stimuli. In other words, what happens is what we conditionally call a process of revolution. If the external operation became internal, then it grew inward or made a transition from external to internal.
On the basis of these experiments, we are able to note three basic types of such revolution, that is, transition of an operation from outside inward. We shall list these types and try to show to what extent our results are typical for the cultured child in general and specifically for the arithmetical development of the child and for his speech and memory development.
The first type of revolution, or passage of an external operation inward, is What we conditionally term revolution of the seam type. We know that there is a revolution of living tissue. We take two ends of torn tissue and at first stitch it together with thread. Because of this, the two ends of tissue unite and they become spliced. Then the thread, preliminarily introduced, can be withdrawn and instead of an artificial connection, there is a union without a seam.
When the child combines his stimuli with a reaction, at first he combines a given stimulus with a reaction by means of a seam. In order to remember that the “horse” picture corresponds to the “sleigh” key, the child brings forward an intermediate member between the key and the picture, specifically, the “sleigh” picture;
this is the seam that splices the given stimulus and the reaction. Gradually the seam disappears and a direct connection is formed between the stimulus and the reaction. If the seam is eliminated, then, of course, the reaction accelerates and an operation that required 0.5 second now requires only 0.15 second because the path from the stimulus to the reaction is shorter. The operation is converted from a mediated to a direct operation.
The second type of revolution is revolution of the whole. Let us imagine that the child reacts many times to one and the same picture with the help of pictures of identical things which he understands. If the child reacted 30 times in the same Way, then, of course, we could say that the child will remember that for a given picture (“horse”) he must press the “sleigh” key, in other words, he transfers the Whole series of external stimuli inward as a whole. This is a transition inward of a whole series; here the transition of the operation inward consists in that the difference between external and internal stimuli is smoothed over.
Finally, the third and most important type of transition of an operation from external to internal is one in which the child assimilates the structure itself of the process, assimilates the rules for using external signs, and since he has more internal stimuli and can deal with them more easily than with external stimuli, then, as a result of assimilating the structure itself, the child soon makes the transition to using the structure as an internal operation. The child says: “I don’t need the pictures anymore, I can do it myself,” and in this way, he begins to use verbal stimuli.
Let us trace this stage using the example of the development of such an important area of knowledge of the child as the knowledge of arithmetic.
At the natural or primitive stage, the child solves a problem by direct means. After solving very simple problems, he moves on to the stage of using signs without realizing the method of their action. Then comes the stage of using external signs and , finally, the stage of internal signs.
All arithmetical development of the child must first of all have a natural or primitive stage as a departure point. Can a three-year-old child tell by looking if a group of three apples or a group of seven apples is larger? He can. But, if asked about a more complex differentiation, can a child correctly tell which group contains 16 and which contains 19 apples? No, he cannot. In other words, at first we will see a natural stage defined by purely natural laws when he compares the numbers simply by sight. We know, however, that the child soon and completely unnoticeably, passes from this stage to another, and when he needs to recognize where there are more objects, then, like most children in cultured circumstances, he begins to count. Sometimes children do this even before they understand what counting is. They count: one, two, three, a whole series, although they do not yet know real counting.
Testing to see if many children begin to count before they understand what counting is, researchers (for example, Stern) observed children who knew how to count, but did not understand what counting was. If such a child is asked, “How many fingers does your hand have?” he counts them in order and says, “Five.” And if he is told, “How many do 1 have? Count them!” the child answers, “No, I don’t know how.” This means that the child knows how to apply the series of numbers only to his own fingers but cannot count them on someone else’s hand.
Another of Stern’s examples. The child counts fingers: “One, two, three, four, five.” When he is asked, “How many all together?” he answers, “Six.” “Why six?” “Because this is the fifth, and in all, there are six.” The child has no clear notion of a total. In other words, the child purely externally, “magically” assimilates a certain operation, not yet knowing its internal relations.
Finally, the child makes the transition to real counting; he begins to understand what it means to count his fingers; but nevertheless, he still counts using external signs. At this stage, the child counts mainly on his fingers and if he is presented with a problem such as “Here are seven apples. Take away two. How many will be left?” To solve the problem, he moves from the apples to his fingers. In this case, the fingers play the role of signs. He puts out seven fingers, then subtracts two, leaving five. In other words, the child solves the problem with the help of external signs. If the child is forbidden to move his hands, he cannot carry out the required operation.
But we know quite well that the child very quickly moves from counting on his fingers to counting in his head; an older child, if he is asked to subtract two from seven, no longer counts on his fingers, but in his head. Here, the child exhibits two basic types of revolution of which we spoke. In one case, counting in his head is a revolution of the whole, and the child turns a whole external series inward (for example, counting for himself: “One, two, three,” etc.). In the other case, he manifests revolution of the seam type. This occurs if the child practices and then gives the answer. Finally, he will not need an intermediate operation, but will give the answer directly. This is what happens with any counting when all the intermediate operations are eliminated and the stimulus elicits the required result directly.
Another example involves the development of speech in the child. At first the child is at the stage of natural, primitive, or actually the pre-speech stage: he cries, makes identical sounds in different situations; this is a purely external action. At this stage, when he needs something, he resorts to natural means, depending on direct or conditioned reflexes. Then follows the stage when the child discovers basic external rules or an external structure of speech; he notices that there is a word for every thing, that the given word is the conditional designation of the thing. For a long time, the child considers the word as one of the properties of the thing. Research with older children showed that the relation toward words as toward natural features of things lasts a long time.
There is an interesting philological anecdote that demonstrates the relation toward language in people with little culture. There is a story in a book by Fedorchenko about a soldier talking with a German and discussing which language is best and most correct. ‘Me Russian argues that Russian is best: “Take, for example, nozh; in German it’s Messer, in French, couteau, and in English, knife, but, you know, that it is actually a nozh; this means that our word is the most correct.” In other words, it is assumed that the name of the thing is an expression of its true essence.
Another example presented by Stem involving a bilingual child reflects the same situation: when the child is asked which language is correct, he says that it will be correct in German because Wasser is specifically what one can drink, and not what the French call l'eau. Thus, we see that the child has made a connection between the name of a thing and the thing itself. Children consider a name as one of the properties of things together with its other properties. In other words, the external connection of stimuli or the connection of things is assumed to be the psychological connection.
We know that in primitive people, there is a magical attitude toward words. Thus, in peoples developing under the influence of religion, for example, the Jews, there are words that must not be said, and if one must speak of something, let us say, of a dead person, then one must add the words, “May this not spread to your house.” One must not name the devil because if he is named, he will appear. The same thing applies to words defining “shameful” objects; the words acquire a nuance of these shameful objects, and it is shameful to say them. In other words, this is a remnant of transferring to conditional signs properties of the things that these signs signify.
The child passes very quickly from the stage of regarding words as qualitative properties of a thing to conditional signification of words, that is, he uses words signs, particularly at the stage of egocentric speech of which we have already ken. Here the child, in a discussion with himself, notes the most important options that he must carry out. Finally, from the stage of egocentric speech, the child passes to the last stage, to the stage of internal speech in the true sense of the word.
Thus, in the development of speech in the child, we see the same stages: the natural, or magical, stage at which he relates to a word as if it were a property of a thing, then the external stage, and finally, internal speech. The last stage is authentic thinking.
Each of these examples could be discussed separately. However, after all that I has been said, we may assume that the basic stages appear in forming memory, Will, arithmetical knowledge, and speech – the same stages of which we spoke and through which all higher mental functions of the child pass in their development.