Reflection on the Relationship between Cultural-historical Theory and Dialectics



Challenging dominant positivistic psychology, Vygotsky elaborated cultural-historical theory in order to overcome the crisis in psychology. Spinoza’s monism, Hegelian dialectics and Marx’s materialistic dialectics inspired Vygotsky to develop a dialectical understanding of the development of higher mental functions. Dialectics as a way of thinking focuses on the study of each concrete object in its mutual connections with other objects, in its internal contradictions and in its process of change. Vygotsky criticized the understanding of dialectics as a sum of universal principles which can be applied in a direct way in the field of psychology and highlighted the complex relationships between philosophy and concrete scientific disciplines. Rethinking cultural-historical psychology in the light of dialectics offers a creative insight into crucial theoretical questions of psychology such as the interconnection between theory and practice, objectivist-subjectivist distinction, etc. Dialectical underpinnings of cultural-historical theory have been forgotten in mainstream, North-Atlantic interpretations and applications of Vygotsky’s theory.

General Information

Keywords: dialectics, cultural-historical theory, Vygotsky, development, drama, crisis

Journal rubric: Pedagogical Education

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Dafermos M. Reflection on the Relationship between Cultural-historical Theory and Dialectics . Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2015. Vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 16–24. DOI: 10.17759/pse.2015200303. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Manolis Dafermos, PhD in Philosophy, Professor of Epistemology of Psychology, Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, University of Crete, Crete, Greece, ORCID:, e-mail:



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