Tomasello, Wittgenstein, Vygotsky: The Problem of Interpsychic



The author addresses the issues of early mental development in children basing on the works of two classical researchers of the past century and on some of our contemporaries. Vygotsky argued that higher mental functions are distributed between the child and adult and exist as an 'interpsychic category' prior to being acquainted by the child. However, Vygotsky further developed this productive thought in a rather narrow sense, referring to 'interpsychic' as something expressed in language. Wittgenstein proved that language acquisition is impossible without meanings of words being practically 'shown' in 'language games' — structures of practical activity. He argued, however, that there can be no theory of this process. In his works published in this current century Tomasello states that children actually acquire 'language games' long before they acquire language itself, basing on signs which, in turn, are based on joint intentions and joint attention — that is, on interpsychic in Vygotskian sense. The author then carries on with describing the main difficulties arising when one attempts to develop the issue of interpsychic within the psychological science. The function that is distributed between the child and adult cannot be objectified (it was Vygotsky's attempt to do so that resulted in the narrowing of this issue). Furthermore, reflecting upon the intersubjective status of some mental forms enables one to think that every mental function remains interpsychic throughout the existence. In the author' opinion, such interpretation is absolutely essential, but requires considerable changes of the philosophy and methodology in the development of this issue.

General Information

Keywords: interiorisation, interpsychic, early ontogenesis

Journal rubric: Discussions and Discourses

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Krichevec A.N. Tomasello, Wittgenstein, Vygotsky: The Problem of Interpsychic. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2012. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 95–104. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Anatoly N. Krichevec, Doctor of Philosophy, PhD in Physics and Matematics, Professor, Department of Methodology of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Moscow State University. M. V. Lomonosov, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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