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ERIC Number: EJ864904
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1911
Vygotsky's Enlightenment Precursors
Hardcastle, John
Educational Review, v61 n2 p181-195 May 2009
This article seeks to recover a history of ideas about the role of signs in the development of mind that connects Vygotsky to major traditions in Enlightenment language studies. It offers historical perspectives on ideas about thinking and speaking that shed light on the scope and trajectory of Vygotsky's conception of signs as psychological tools. The Soviet thinker was schooled in German humanities, philology and philosophy. He was also indebted to thinkers of the European Enlightenment, especially Bacon, Locke and Condillac, for ideas about the role of signs in the formation of mind. I explain how ideas about the relationship between words and ideas set down by Locke were taken up and extended by Condillac in a seminal theory of knowledge. According to Condillac, signs play a key role in the development of mind. Later, Herder and von Humboldt built on Condillac's ideas. Herder suggested that individual psychologies are shaped in concrete, historical circumstances, and pictured an organizing, creative force driving linguistic activity. I give a brief account of the way that the concept of "genesis" migrated from biology into German philosophy of language, history and cultural theory. According to von Humboldt, language is an activity through which worlds are disclosed. His work on thinking and speaking, the "inner sense" of language and the constitutive role of signs in development is discussed. In some ways, however, it stands against the instrumental-communicative picture of words handed down from Locke. By bringing Locke and Condillac into conjunction with Herder and von Humboldt I aim to offer a picture of the Soviet psychologist's indebtedness to Enlightenment linguistic thought.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A