L. S. Vygotsky. The History of the Development of the Higher Mental Functions. Chapter 2.
In studying any new area, it is necessary to begin by seeking and developing a method. In the form of a general position, we might say that every basically new approach to scientific problems leads inevitably to new methods and ways of research. The material and method of research are closely related. For this reason, research acquires a completely different form and course when it is linked to finding a new method suitable to the new problem; in that case, it differs radically from those forms in which the study simply applies developed and established scientific methods to new areas.
This difference can be likened to the difference that exists between equations with one and two unknowns. The research that we have in mind is always an equation with two unknowns. Developing the problem and the method proceeds, if not in parallel, then in any case, by jointly moving forward. Finding a method is one of the most important tasks of the researcher. The method in such cases is simultaneously a prerequisite and product, a tool and a result of the research. If we point the description of the method toward an introduction to the history of the cultural development of the child, we do this mainly in the interest of a systematic exposition. For this reason, in the present chapter, we will limit ourselves to a schematic description of the path that our research took. A complete description of the method must be the task of the exposition as a whole.
The method must be adequate to the subject studied. As we have stated above, child psychology has not enjoyed an adequate approach to the problem of higher processes. This means that it had no method for research. It is obvious that the uniqueness of this process of changing behavior that we call cultural development requires very unique methods and ways of research. Knowing the uniqueness and deliberately beginning the research from this point is the first condition for adequacy of the method and the problem; for this reason, the problem of method is the beginning and foundation, the alpha and omega of the whole history of the cultural development of the child.
Knowing the method and its principal basis is a necessary condition for analyzing all the chapters of this history properly. The facts that we will encounter in the exposition, the generalizations to which we will be led by our factual material, the laws which we will try to establish on the basis of those generalizations – all of this will be determined in this most basic and substantial method, how these facts are obtained, how they are generalized and subjected to the known law. For this reason, to depend, as in the past, on a method, to understand its relation to other methods, to establish its strong and weak points, to understand its principal basis, and to develop a correct attitude toward it – to a certain extent implies developing a correct and scientific approach to all future formulation of the most important problems of child psychology from the aspect of the history of cultural development.
We shall begin with the basis for the method of our research and with elucidating its relation to other psychological methods, and then we shall move on to a schematic presentation of the concrete methodology, that is, the technique and organization of experimental study. The concrete method may assume various forms depending on the content of the particular problem itself (a study of memory, thinking, etc.), on the personality of the subject (children of different ages and types), on special tasks of the given research (analysis, genesis of some process), and finally, on the nature of the research (experimental or clinical).
We cannot yet systematize or definitively establish all the basic facts and devices, kinds and types of the concrete methodology. We believe that their variety is at least not infinite. But we shall try to describe its basic form and the more important variations and, what is most important, the reasons for the structure which forms its basis. In separate chapters presenting concrete particular studies, we shall have the opportunity to return to a consideration of the special forms of the methods and experimental techniques we used.
All psychological methods used at the present time in experimental studies, regardless of the great variety, are constructed according to one principle, according to one type, according to one scheme: stimulus-response. No matter how unique and complex the type of setting of a psychological experiment might be, this universal basis can always be easily found in it. No matter on what or how the psychologist was experimenting, what was always discussed was how to affect the subject, how to present to him whatever kind of stimulus, how to stimulate his behavior or experience in one way or another, and then to study, analyze, and describe the response to this action, the response elicited by the given stimulus.
Of course, the very idea of the experiment consisted of the researcher’s artificially eliciting the phenomenon under investigation, varying the conditions of its course, modifying it according to his own purposes. Consequently, a very important and basic resource for the psychological experiment still is the only possible path of correlative analysis of stimuli-responses. As far as such objective trends in psychology as behaviorism and reflexology are concerned, they recognize the stimulus-response method universally as the only way to study behavior. If we consider the question of method more broadly and include all other trends in modern psychology and even the physiology of higher nervous activity, the principal basis of the method remains unchanged.
All deviations in methodology in the various trends and schools, all variety of concrete forms and methodologies, all varieties of methods are bound by their origin to the further branching of the basic psychological method, its principal concepts and concrete application. All of this begins beyond the threshold of basic assumption. The stimulus-response principle may be like a common root of all psychological methods, like their common origin or common coefficient placed outside the brackets, and may be considered as a common characteristic of the method in contemporary experimental psychology.
If, with respect to objective psychological trends, this position is obvious and, therefore, requires no further consideration or evidence, then in its application to subjective, empirical psychology, it requires certain additional explanation. Of course, the stimulus-response principle as the basic origin of the psychological method is frequently taken as a special achievement of objective psychology, frequently considered a specific distinction of the objective method, frequently contrasted with the subjective method of empirical psychology. The impression is easily formed that in empirical psychology, the situation is different, that it knows some kind of basically different forms of experimentation.
With careful consideration of the question, it is not difficult to be convinced that this not so. The deceptive impression is based on external characteristics that lead to error. First, the impression that the method of response in traditional psychology is regarded usually as one of the experimental methods; second, that formulation of the idea of stimulus-response as a basis of the method was created outside empirical psychology within trends competing with it, and was not recognized or accepted by it. Finally, on account of an internal property, but extraneous and not related to the substance of the matter: the very understanding of the relation and nature of stimulus-response changed radically in the new psychology and this, in a sense, changed the content of the concept and, together with the novelty of the verbal formulation, created the impression of a change and novelty in the formal beginning of the experimental method in psychology.
In essence, the old psychology constructed the experiment from the formal aspect on the same foundation as the new. Admitting this means at least an erasing of the boundaries between the old and the new psychology or depreciating the principal significance of various separate trends and psychological methods. This means only that the introduction itself of the experimental method into psychology fed the revolution in empirical psychology from within and brought the method of psychology closer to the method and spirit of natural science and historically prepared the rise of objective psychology. This means only that through force of circumstances, spontaneously, even supporters of the old empirical psychology, standing partially on the hard ground of natural science, in experimenting comprehended correctly the reactive character of mental life.
In the sphere of psychophysics and psychophysiology, we first find the historical roots of experimental psychology, and in the sphere of simpler mental phenomena, most unambiguous and directly connected with external agents and determined by them, the common beginning of the experimental method took shape. Wundt sees the essence itself of the psychological experiment in the change in the material stimulus that elicits a change in the mental process directly connected to it and in the objective registration, as far as possible, of the external manifestations of the mental process elicited. In essence, the whole idea of the experimental method is already contained in this, wholly and in a completely developed form. True, here the response is understood as a purely mental process, and in the relation between the mental process that comprises the real object of the study and its external manifestations detected in the experiment, we feel a large portion of that dualism that lies at the base of all of empirical psychology. But this does not change at all the formal structure of the experiment itself. From the real aspect, it is an experiment constructed according to the pattern, stimulus-response, but interpreted in the spirit of empirical psychology.
True, Wundt himself ascribed an auxiliary-methodological, not a primary-methodological significance to both the role of the stimulus and the role of the response in the psychological experiment. These were the framework that limited mental processes. There, the principal thing was done within. Self-observation remained in the center. But it acquired stability within the framework of experimental action and registration of external discoveries. The stimulus and response were taken in essence as conditions of reliable self-observation. In Wundt’s opinion, the experiment, while strictly controlled by the coercion of physiological effects, strives to free internal perception from the instability which is its distinguishing mark. But even for Wundt, it was no secret that in its purpose, this experiment was still wholly within the framework of empirical psychology, in form and in the real position of things, it was always a psychophysical experiment, an experiment of the stimulus- response type. Also, the contemporary psychological experiment, historically arising before Wundt, differs from the first psychological experiments more substantially according to principal interpretation and understanding of the values that comprise it, according to the formal type of structure.
As a result of this incongruity of the formal structure and the basic understanding, Wundt’s psychological experiment did not realize the idea on which it was based. From the point of view of the relation between the mental process, on the one hand, and the stimuli and responses on the other, Wundt differentiated three types of psychological experiment to which he reduced all the diversity of the research methods applied: the method of stimulation, the method of expression, and the method of response. It is easy to be convinced that from the aspect of formal structure all three types are reduced essentially to one general type of experiment based on the pattern stimulus-response.
We do not even have to speak about the last of the three types, the method of response, since it displays the scheme under consideration in a pure form. But even the other two, the method of stimulation and the method of expression, are constructed in essentially the same way. In the method of stimulation, the change in mental state elicited by stimulation of some sense organ is a mental response to the stimulus that is studied on the basis of responses of the subject. We again see the complete pattern of a type we know. The only difference is that in the response, only its mental aspect is studied, and verbal responses of the subject do not play the role of material being studied, but of symptoms of the mental process.
In the second method, the method of expression, the situation seems to be opposite in appearance, but in point of fact, is identical. Here again the research method consists in using emotionally tinged stimuli (substances pleasant or unpleasant in smell or taste) to elicit emotional experiences and expressive movements connected with them that are studied with special apparatus. Again it is the same pattern. The only difference is that this time the external symptoms of mental response consist of reflex changes in pulse, respiration, and blood pressure, and not of verbal responses of the subject.
Thus, a short analysis allows us to conclude on a solid basis that even the old experimental psychology constructed experiments on the stimulus-response principle. We repeat – the differences between the old and the new psychology and between separate trends in the new consist in the interpretation of this principle, in the content ascribed to these words, in the role that stimulus and response play in the experiment. In the relation between stimulus and response, some psychologists see the immediate material of research and understand response as a purely objective process analogous to all other processes in nature. Others consider the stimulus and response as the external framework that facilitates conditions of the psychological experiment, sometimes as symptoms of the internal process, and they fully identify the response, itself the subject for psychological study, with the internal mental process or experience.
In any case, from the aspect of formal structure, we are justified in considering the stimulus-response principle as a common base of all the various types of psychological experiments and in taking it out of the brackets as a common coefficient.
It is understood that by this we do not want to say that all types of experiments are constructed according to one pattern. We must not close our eyes to the enormous, frequently basic, differences in methodological character between separate trends in the application of this principle. Specifically, we might point to the objective, subjective, and objective-subjective understanding of the response process itself.
Further, it is completely justifiable to speak, as is usually done, about two principally different types of experiments in empirical psychology depending on the basic goal and methodological purpose of the whole investigation: in one case, the experiment has the task of eliciting and presenting the mental process being studied, in another, it pursues the goals of the causal-dynamic, natural-science disclosure of real causes or genetic connections of one process or another. In the first case, self- observation plays the central role; in the second, the experiment on activity, in the main, may skip self-observation completely or ascribe a subordinate role to it. But behind this and behind the other type of experiment stands the same universal pattern in which the place of response is occupied one time by experience and another time by activity.
Further, we must not remain silent about the divergence between the mechanistic and structural understanding of the relations and connections between stimulus and response. In the one case, these relations and connections are taken to be associations mainly of any elements summarily united due to a purely external coincidence in time; in the other case, most important is the study of these connections and relations as whole formations and processes or structures that must be understood specifically as wholes that determine the role and significance of the parts.
Structural understanding of mental processes, as we shall see, undoubtedly contains in itself rudiments of completely new experimental forms. It has already resulted in many studies of the new type. Specifically, it creates the necessary methodological prerequisites especially for this type of experiment, which we are inclined to consider a basic and adequate method for studying the cultural development of the child; disclosing this method is the subject of this chapter. But with all this, the reform of the psychological experiment carried out by structural psychology, which attempts to rise above the extremes and one-sidedness of subjective and objective points of view in psychology and to unite and synthesize them in an integral approach to the mind and behavior, touches on the principal aspect to a much greater extent than on the formal structure of the psychological experiment.
Structural psychology does not even confront the task of creating a new type of experiment side by side with its basic task of a new interpretation of experimental data. Specifically, in the sphere of development of higher mental functions, since it posed problems of this kind, the new psychology made no attempt to develop a method adequate to the specific nature of the given problem. In a general form, however, we may say that with a deeper change in the understanding of the relations between stimuli and responses and tasks of the study, the new psychology on the whole prepared the way for further development of the basic scheme of the psychological experiment, created the necessary methodological prerequisites for it, but did not itself take a decisive step in this direction and remains thus far completely within its own experimental practice and experimental methodology on the old ground of stimulus-response.
We are intentionally simplifying the matter in order to isolate the most essential characteristic of the experimental method in psychology. It is understood that actually the matter is much more complex. Not one stimulus, but a whole series of stimuli, sometimes complexly constructed groups of stimuli and, corresponding to this, not one response, but a long chain of responses or their complex combinations characterize an experiment. Frequently, the subject is confronted by a more or less complex task that requires a coordinated system of responses directed toward a certain goal and deserving to be called a mental operation, for example, the subject must compare, memorize something, interpret, think over, make a choice, etc. But even here the principle of the experiment remains unchanged. Let us assume that a series of stimuli are presented – words, meaningless syllables, figures – and these must be memorized and reproduced. But in all such complications, the pattern of the experiment remains unchanged.
Undoubtedly, this research method is based on the basic premise, on the basic psychological law according to which mental processes are the substance of the response to the stimuli eliciting them. Moreover, the basic experimental pattern, stimulus-response, is also the basic law of behavior. In psychology, all possible kinds of connections, depending on the constellation and change in stimuli and responses, have been studied, but we know of no single study which took the main step beyond the limits of the basic, essentially elementary law of behavior. All changes remained within the common pattern. Even the method of conditioned reflexes essentially finds its place in the same place, within the common circle. So different from other methods in all other relations, in this it holds to their common core.
In this respect, psychology does not know the principal difference between the research method of lower, elementary and higher, complex processes and functions. So the principal research of the simple and the complex response was constructed according to one and the same method. Complex processes – recognition, differentiation, selection, association, and even judgment – were brought forward between the stimulus and the response and appeared in this form before the experimenter. But it is specifically the study of higher mental processes that is the Achilles heel in experimental psychology. The sharpest of all the crises it has experienced unfolded specifically along this line. This circumstance is not at all accidental. It is, as might be expected, the result of the very nature of the traditional psychological experiment and the basic apparatus of psychological research.
In essence, the experiment in the form in which it was set up by Wundt was an adequate means for studying lower, elementary processes of a psychophysiological character, clearly connected with external stimuli. Many psychologists have repeatedly expressed the idea that experimental research is possible only in this sphere. Higher mental processes and functions generally do not permit such a method of research and remain forever closed to experimental psychology. Specifically, with respect to child psychology, such views were expressed particularly categorically and confidently. If we recall the position of the whole problem of higher processes in child psychology and its tendency toward concentrating interest around elementary forms of behavior, which we noted in the preceding chapter, such a decision will not seem surprising or unexpected to us.
It is true that Wundt himself isolated the spheres of applying the three experimental types that he outlined according to degree of complexity. Only with respect to the method of stimulation did he propose the requirement that the mental response elicited by the stimulation be uniform and directly connected with the stimulus that elicited it. The method of expression encompasses a sphere of emotional responses that are more complex, although, of course, still in their elementary form. Finally, the method of response, which allows a conditional relation between stimulus and response and an artificial construction of the task confronting the subject, also includes, as we have seen, methods of studying associations and judgments, that is, processes of thinking. But, in general, even for Wundt it was hardly a secret that the experiment in the form that he considered to be its basic and unchangeable essence would actually be applied only in the sphere of the psychology of elementary processes.
In any case, two positions evoke no doubt as to their correctness, and these are also important with respect to what interests us. The first: regardless of how the matter looked from Wundt’s own views, the objective practice of experimental research and further development of psychology wholly confirmed that the Wundtian experiment would be applied predominantly only to the study of lower mental functions. Second: Wundt himself, the founder of both experimental psychology and ethnic psychology, having worked out the problems of cultural development from the psychological aspect, separated these two spheres of research as far as methodology was concerned with an impassable boundary. The boundary proposed by Wundt between ethnic and experimental, between historical and physiological psychology agrees wholly with the boundary that separates the study of language and other complex cultural-psychological forms from the study of more elementary processes. On a sound basis, H. Werner terms this fact as paradoxical as it is significant.
If we were looking for new evidence to confirm the idea that general and experimental psychology did not recognize the problem of cultural development and basically allowed the study of the mind and behavior only from the natural aspect, from the aspect of natural processes, we would scarcely be able to find a more convincing example. While we believe that this question is sufficiently elucidated, we cannot bypass the fact that in the area of cultural psychology there was no place, according to Wundt, for experimentation. As we know, all ethnic psychology was devised by Wundt through the method of interpretation, that is, interpreting such objective mental formations as language, art, customs.
The matter did not stop here, of course. Experimentation was introduced into ethnic psychology and general and experimental psychology and ethnic psychology – each from its own aspect – were brought by the course of development itself to a certain rapprochement; true, it was insignificant and external, but nevertheless it broke the main methodological boundary between them. However, neither of the two disciplines or branches of psychology has recognized the principal significance of this rapprochement, the whole enormity of the methodological reconstruction that it entails for both sciences. This can be easily seen from the fact that the same experimental methods that were developed in the psychological laboratory for use with an adult cultured person were used with a person growing up in culturally backward conditions.
The situation is no better in child psychology, where only recently has the experiment started to gain a place for itself. Thus far, the opinion which was dominant in the beginning and which considered experimentation inapplicable in child psychology has not been completely overcome. An unspoken prerequisite that a psychological experiment is possible only as an experiment on self-observation was responsible for this. Nevertheless, recently we were witnesses to a fruitful and intensive development in experimental child psychology. But as soon as we turn to the question of methods of this new branch of our science, we see that experiments used in child psychology can be divided according to origin and character into three types or groups. As Karl Bühler completely correctly states, some of them are set up on the example of experiments with adults, while others arise on the basis of child psychology itself and are derived from chance observations in connection with everyday incidents in a child’s life.
We would again reject the idea of looking for more eloquent evidence for the position that in child psychology there is no adequate method of studying cultural development, that it knows only one, the naturalistic approach to this problem, that together with the method, two-thirds of child psychology transfers the principal approach to the behavior of animals and adult persons directly to the study of the child and one-third translates more or less accidental observations into the language of the experiment. In this situation, there is no place for the problem of the cultural development of the child. If, regardless of this, experimental child psychology has achieved undoubted and great successes, it is due exclusively to the fact that in elucidating the natural connections discovered in psychological studies, the indicated methods were completely suitable and were justified.
H. Volkelt, in a review of achievements of experimental child psychology, noted this distinctive feature of most studies: that they were constructed following the example of zoopsychological experiments and used methods that completely eliminated the need for speech. In this admission, which is completely substantiated, we are inclined to see the truly distinguishing characteristic of the experimental study of child behavior. But to admit this is to say in different words the same thing that was said in the preceding chapter: child psychology is fully and entirely permeated with a purely naturalistic approach to the child; it knows and studies him predominantly as a natural, but not as a social being.
But we will put aside incidental remarks and corroborations of positions developed earlier. The problem of the relation of various branches of genetic psychology among themselves and their connections with general and experimental psychology will emerge again at the end of this chapter. Now we will consolidate the conclusion that we must reach in connection with the common problem of the experimental method. The conclusion may be expressed quite laconically: since the experimental method has entered into ethnic and child psychology, the same principle of the method’s structure, the principle of stimulus-response, dominates everything in them.
It remains for us to take one more step in the same direction before finally concluding the elucidation of the fate of this universal pattern and going further. We must ask what the fate of the study of higher processes is and what the structural principle of experiments in this area is. We have already seen that in part, the higher processes, considered from the aspect of cultural development, have been completely removed from the sphere of effect and application of the experiment, and in part – from the psychophysiological aspect – have been studied principally in the same way as elementary processes (for example, the complex response of judgment).
The matter could not, of course, stop here. Research very soon came up against the fact that higher processes, and particularly thinking, do not fit the pattern of the Wundtian experiment, that processes of thinking are not unequivocally connected with any kind of external stimulus as is the case in the area of sensation, and that, consequently, the pattern of the experiment must be restructured. This was done in the research on thinking processes in the Wurzburg school, by O. Külpe and his students, and A. Binet in Paris. These researchers extended, but did not break, the basic and primary pattern of the psychological experiment. They, like all other innovators, looked for a way out in a new understanding of stimulus and response and the role they played, but not in an attempt to go beyond the basic pattern in general. The concept of the stimulus underwent reform first, then the concept of the response. But the pair itself remained undisturbed.
On this topic, Binet wrote that not only the action on our sense organs of any material agent should be understood as a stimulus, but also any change in general that we experimenters evoke at will in the consciousness of the subject; thus, in the hands of the psychologist, language, speech is a stimulus, finer and no less definite than the usual sensory stimuli; language as a stimulus presents a significant range to psychological experimentation.
Thus, language and experiment, which Wundt separated from each other with the ineradicable boundary drawn long ago between physiology and the history of the mind, between the natural and the cultural in human psychology, were brought closer in new studies, and by a quite simple operation and at quite a high cost. Speech was compared – in its role in the psychological experiment – to ordinary sensory stimuli and essentially placed at the same level with them. The naturalistic approach to speech as a stimulus of higher processes of thinking, the one-sided approach to it exclusively from its natural aspect, as to an ordinary sensory stimulus, essentially links two polar directions: the idealistic conception of thinking derived from the Wurzburg school and the mechanistic materialistic conception of thinking that appeared on the grounds of behaviorism and reflexology. Realizing completely the ties of the methodological approach to the extreme polarity of both conceptions, not for nothing did Bekhterev bluntly state that the data of the Wurzburg experiments were absolutely identical with results of reflexological analysis if the subjective terms were just replaced by objective terms in the description of the processes of thinking.
All subsequent conceptions of thinking that appeared on the basis of the new studies were contained in advance along this path, but in a twisted form. For if speech were simply an ordinary sensory stimulus on par with other agents that elicit a change in consciousness, if its role were limited in advance by this and reduced to a stimulus, a necessary material cause for the appearance of processes of thinking, then we might have expected that what happened would happen; in imageless thinking devoid of all sensory traces, not dependent on speech, researchers saw the actus purus, a purely mental act. Again we find ourselves on the path to ideas that Külpe asserted as a result of these studies.
Regardless of how paradoxical this seems at first glance, on questions of thinking, the conception of behaviorism and reflexology is also contained in a twisted form in this same definition. But Binet took a different route. In his logical development, he could arrive at the idea of Bekhterev and J. Watson. In imageless, wordless thinking, Binet saw an unconscious process, a series of mental units, essentially of a motor nature, analogous to physiological processes, which he called internal mimicry. With a greater refinement of this idea, it was not difficult to reach the formulation of Watson, which held that thinking differs in no way from other motor skills, for example, swimming or playing golf.
From the preceding chapter, we know both of these blind alleys, which moved in different directions but were equally blind. We have seen that in the absence of the problem of cultural development of behavior and higher mental functions, psychology – general psychology and child psychology – unavoidably came up against these blind alleys. We will not repeat or develop what has been said above. We will only say: if the common assumption that methods are known by their works applies in this case, this means that together with the Wurzburg school’s conception of thinking, its method was also bankrupt; it means that the verdict of history applies equally and simultaneously to the theory and the method.
But the method – and this is what interests us primarily – of both the Wurzburg school and behaviorism is still the same method of stimulus-response. Külpe and his students understood the role of the stimuli and responses used differently than did the reflexologists; they determined the goal and material of research differently. Using verbal stimuli and responses and assigning them a secondary, auxiliary role, some studied mental responses essentially totally unconnected with them; others made verbal stimuli and responses in themselves the subject of research in the belief that nothing is hidden behind them except signs and phantoms; but both considered verbal stimuli and responses – speech – exclusively from the natural aspect as an ordinary sensory stimulus; both stood equally on the ground of the principle of stimulus-response.
Actually, in verbal instruction, verbal command, considered in the methodology of reflexological research as an associative stimulus completely analogous to all others, we have an extreme expression, taken to the limits, of the theoretical behavioristic approach to verbal instruction which considers the subject’s signals as simple motor responses and leads the naturalistic approach to verbal response to the extreme limit. But we are inclined to state that between these positions carried to extremes and the ordinary use of verbal instructions with ordinary consideration of the subject’s signals, in experimental psychology in a certain respect, there is rather a difference in degree than in substance. Of course, in one case the mental is ignored completely and in the other, it is the only thing that interests the researcher. In this sense, the old psychology and reflexology are the poles. But in a certain respect, we can again bring them closer together. Neither the one nor the other – one to a lesser degree, the other, to a greater – made any basic distinction between verbal spoken instruction and any kind of natural sensory stimulus.
In experimental psychology, verbal instruction is the basis for any experiment. With it, the experimenter creates the required attitude in the subject, elicits the process to be observed and establishes connections, but here, the psychological role of the instruction itself is usually ignored. The researcher then deals with the associations, processes, etc. created and elicited by the instruction just as if they appeared in the natural course in themselves without the instruction.
Usually the decisive moment of the experiment – the instruction – is left outside the field of vision of the researcher. It is not subjected to analysis and is reduced to a secondary, auxiliary process. The experiments themselves were usually considered after the elicited process involuntarily set in motion had stopped. The first trials were usually discarded, the processes were studied post mortem, while the active effect of the instruction was dropped behind, into the shadows. The researcher, forgetting the origin of the artificially elicited process, naively trusted that the process went forward in exactly the same way as if it had appeared of itself without instruction. This uniqueness of the psychological experiment, comparable to nothing else, was not taken into account at all. Experiments with responses were studied, for example, just as if responses of the subject were elicited actually by the appearance of the stimulus and not of the given instruction.
We will return again to the problem of instruction in the psychological experiment. For this reason we have no intention of exhausting it with a brief mention. But for a proper evaluation of the basic position of the present chapter, an analysis of the role that was assigned to speech in the psychological experiment has a decisive significance. Speech was considered at the same level as other sensory stimuli. Instruction was formulated within the framework of the basic plan. True, individual psychologists such as N. Ach and others tried to approach the psychological analysis of instruction, but exclusively from the aspect of its effect on the process of self-observation and its determination. Jumping ahead, we can say that the whole problem of an adequate approach to higher mental functions lies completely within this single, seemingly singular fact.
The basic failure to differentiate the role of speech and the role of other sensory stimuli in the psychological experiment is the direct and inevitable consequence of the undivided dominance of the basic stimulus-response pattern. It is understood that speech may absolutely legitimately be considered in this way. From a certain point of view, speech may be considered completely justifiably as a motor skill among other skills. In the process of forming concepts or meanings of speech, mechanisms of association and other still more elementary mechanisms play their own more elementary role also. Finally, we may also study the natural structure of speech as a sensory stimulus. But specifically because the S-R method is applied equally to all forms of behavior, the lower and the higher, it is insufficient for the study of higher functions, inadequate to their nature, since it captures in them only what they have in common with lower processes and does not capture their specific quality. This method approaches cultural formations from the natural aspect.
Curiously, the physiology of higher nervous activity for which such a theoretical approach, leveling the differences between speech and other stimuli, is more natural and understandable and an approach from the natural aspect to all phenomena of behavior, including the cultural, is absolutely obligatory, does not repeat this mistake. Even in the physiological plan, I. P Pavlov notes the peculiarity that sets apart the “grandiose signalistics of speech” from the whole other mass of signal stimuli.
“Of course,” Pavlov says, “for man, the word is the same real conditioned stimulus as all others that he has in common with animals, but at the same time, it, more than any other stimulus, is so multiply encompassing that it cannot be quantitatively or qualitatively compared in this respect to conditioned stimuli of animals” (I. P. Pavlov, 1951, pp. 428-429). The multiply encompassing quality of the word to which Pavlov pointed as its distinguishing mark does not, of course, exhaust the whole uniqueness of the word in the psychological plan and does not even express the main trait of this uniqueness. But the most important thing is that biological research leads to establishing and admitting the quantitative and qualitative uniqueness of the word and its incomparability in this respect to conditioned stimuli of animals.
It is understood that consciousness of the uniqueness of speech in this plan was not strange to psychology either. But in its own plan, it placed all sensory stimuli, including the human word, at the same level. In this sense, it factually coincided with physiology in its approach to higher behavior of man. The one and the other were united by the methodological S-R pattern. In essence, the pattern forced experimental psychology, in the words of Binet, to equate the word with the ordinary sensory stimulus. It was necessary to reject the pattern, to disrupt it, or to subject everything to it.
We see that this pattern lies at the base of the psychological experiment regardless of any differences in the forms it might assume in various courses of research or whatever areas of psychology it might penetrate. This pattern encompasses all trends, from associative to structural psychology, all areas of research, from elementary to the higher processes, all divisions of psychology, from general psychology to child psychology.
This situation, however, has an opposite side that seemingly depreciates the result of the generalization we reached, that is, our basic conclusion. It seems so at least at first glance. The opposite side consists in the fact that to the extent that our pattern was generalized and extended to all the broad areas of psychology ever more in all directions, the concrete content of the pattern evaporated and disintegrated in direct proportion to these processes. We saw that it might conceal approaches to the mind and behavior of man that were most varied and even poles apart, the most various purposes and research tasks, and finally, areas of research most remote from each other. The question arises: this being the state of the matter, is not the whole pattern an empty, meaningless form which conceals no specific content at all, and for this reason is not the generalization we reached devoid of any sense?
In order to answer this question, we must establish the positive content that stands behind the S-R pattern, what the significance is of the fact that it lies at the base of every experimental method in psychology, or, in other words, what all the various forms and aspects of the psychological experiment have in common, what the pattern that is their base conceals.
That which is common, which unites all types and forms of the psychological experiment and which is present in all of them in different degrees since they are based on the S-R principle, is the naturalistic approach to human psychology; unless this is disclosed and surmounted, it is impossible to find an adequate method for studying the cultural development of behavior. In its essence, this view seems to us to be related to the naturalistic understanding of history, the homogeneity of which, in the words of F. Engels, consists of the fact that it recognizes “that only nature affects man and that only natural conditions determine his historical development everywhere...” and forgets that even “man in turn acts upon nature, changes it, creates new conditions of existence for himself” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20, pp. 545-546).
The naturalistic approach to behavior as a whole, including the approach toward higher mental functions, that was formed during the historical period of the development of behavior does not take into account the qualitative difference between the history of man and the history of animals. In essence, the pattern is applied equally to the study of behavior of man and behavior of animals. Even this fact alone contains in itself, in a twisted form but fully, the idea that all qualitative differences in the history of man, all the change in the nature of man, the whole new type of human adaptation – all of this was not reflected in human behavior and did not evoke in him any changes of a basic character. Essentially, this idea implies the recognition that human behavior is outside the common historical development of humanity.
No matter how slightly valid or even wild such an idea is in its naked form, nevertheless in its cryptic form it continues to be a silent prerequisite, an unspoken principle of experimental psychology. We must not assume that work, which radically changes the character of human adaptation to nature, is not connected with a change in type of human behavior, if we accept with Engels that “a tool implies specifically human activity, a transforming reverse effect of man on nature – production” (ibid., p. 357). Is it possible that in human psychology, in the development of behavior nothing corresponds to this difference in relations to nature that separates man from animals and which Engels had in mind when he said that “an animal only makes use of the environment ... man on the other hand ... dominates it,” that “all systematic acts of all animals did not succeed in placing the stamp of their will on nature. This only man could do” (ibid. p. 495).
Returning to the example cited earlier, we might ask; what is the significance for the psychological experiment of the circumstance that the Jennings formula relative to the organic condition of the system of activity becomes inapplicable to man at the moment when his hand picks up a tool for the first time, that is, in the first year of his life. The S-R pattern and the naturalistic approach to human psychology hidden behind it assume that a passive character of human behavior is its basic feature. We use the word “passive” in the literal sense in which it is ordinarily used in speaking of the passive character of animal adaptation in contrast to the active adaptation of man. In animal and human behavior, we ask, does anything correspond to this difference in the two types of adaptation?
If we pay attention to these purely theoretical considerations and add to that the virtual impotence of experimental psychology, which we have pointed out above and which no one has disputed, in applying the S-R pattern to the study of higher mental functions, it becomes clear that this pattern cannot serve as a basis for the construction of an adequate method of research of specifically human forms of behavior. In the best case, it may help us detect the presence of lower, subordinate, secondary forms that do not exhaust the essence of the main form. Applying a universal, all-encompassing pattern to all degrees in development of behavior may only lead to establishing a purely quantitative range, a complexity and increase in stimuli and responses in man in comparison with animals, but it cannot detect a new quality in human behavior. About its quality, we can say, in the words of Hegel, that something is what it is because of its quality, and losing its quality, it ceases being what it is, for development of behavior from animal to man resulted in the appearance of a new quality. This is our main idea. This development is not exhausted by a simple increased complexity of those relations between stimuli and responses which were already presented to us in animal psychology. Neither does it proceed along the path of quantitative increase and branching of these relations. At its center is a dialectical leap that leads to a qualitative change in the relation itself between the stimulus and the response. We might formulate our basic conclusion thus: human behavior differs by the same kind of qualitative uniqueness in comparison with the behavior of animals as the whole type of adaptation and historical development of man differs from the adaptation and development of animals because the process of mental development in man is part of the total process of the historical development of humanity. In this way, we are forced to look for and find a new methodological formula for the psychological experiment.
We have come right up to the most difficult place in our exposition. We are laced in the course of developing our ideas with formulating in a few words the principal basis and structure of the method we will use to carry out our research. But because of the close tie between the method and the material of our research, of which we spoke at the very beginning of this chapter, to present a formula means to disclose beforehand the central idea of the whole study, to anticipate to a certain degree its conclusions and results which might be fully understood, convincing and clear only at the very end of the exposition. Now to provide a firm basis for the method, we must state what we mean to develop in the present book, in what the beginning and end of all our research is indivisibly merged, what represents the alpha and omega of the whole history of the development of higher mental functions.
We have decided to present the formula which is the basis of our method and to develop the basic idea of our research as a working hypothesis at first. In choosing this way of presenting it, we might depend, in this case, on the words of Engels, which precisely express the methodological significance of our way of thinking. He says, “The form of development of natural science, insofar as it thinks, is the hypothesis. Observation discovers some new fact which invalidates the former method of explaining facts pertaining to a specific group. From that moment the need arises for new methods of explanation based at first only on a limited number of facts and observations. Subsequent experimental data lead to refinement of these hypotheses, eliminate some of them and correct others, until finally a law is established in pure form. If we should want to wait until the data is ready for the law in a pure form, it would mean suspending thoughtful research until then, and for this reason alone, we would never get to the law” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 555).
We began our research with a psychological analysis of several forms of behavior that are found, not frequently it is true, in everyday, common life and are thus known to everyone, but are also to a high degree complex, historical formations of the earliest epochs in the mental development of man. These techniques or methods of behavior, arising stereotypically in given situations, represent virtual solidified, petrified, crystallized psychological forms that arose in remote times at the most primitive stages of cultural development of man and in a remarkable way were preserved in the form of historical survivors in a petrified and in a living state in the behavior of modern man.
We know that the selection itself of such techniqes as the initial point of all research and the immediate subject of our analysis from which we expect to derive the formula for constructing a new method cannot but seem unexpected and strange. These forms of behavior usually are not taken seriously even in everyday life. They never caught the attention of the research psychologist. Mentioning them usually is prompted by curiosity as to psychological oddities that do not command any different regard. The observer and researcher always pass them by since they undoubtedly do not and cannot fulfill any significant functions whatever in the behavior of modern man and stand detached, outside his basic systems, on the edges, on the periphery, tied by nothing and no one to his guiding and deep-seated patterns. Even when using them, resorting to them, modern man usually does this with a smile. It would seem that something might be said about human behavior by these weathered, historical scraps which have lost their meaning, these psychological survivors of a remote past that enter into the common tissue of behavior in an alien body, so atypical, impersonal, having lost almost all meaning in the mental adaptation of modern man.
This verdict undoubtedly is firmly based in the unusually low practical, vital value assigned to these insignificant, trifling facts that do not attract attention in any way, a value unconditionally valid and deserved. For this reason it would be the deepest fallacy to introduce these and similar facts devoid of almost all vital significance into the center of the study and to ascribe to them meaning and interest for their own sake. In themselves they undoubtedly are the last task for psychological explanation; even an account with pretensions toward the broadest and deepest scope could do without them. In themselves, they are nothing or even less than that.
But the vital value of any phenomenon and its scientific-cognitive value do not always coincide and, what is most important, they sometimes cannot coincide immediately and directly when the given phenomenon is considered as indirect proof, insignificant material evidence, a trace or symptom of some great and important process or event that is reconstructed or disclosed on the basis of research and study, analysis and interpretation of its fragments, remnants that become a valuable means of scientific knowledge. The zoologist reconstructs a whole skeleton from an insignificant fragment of bone of some excavated animal and even a picture of its life. An ancient coin, which has no value as a coin, frequently reveals to the archeologist a complex historical problem. The historian, deciphering hieroglyphics scratched into a stone, penetrates into the depths of vanished ages. The doctor diagnoses illness from insignificant symptoms. Only recently has psychology overcome its fear of a vital evaluation of phenomena and begun to learn from insignificant trifles – that rejected material of the world of phenomena, if we use the expression of S. Freud, who called attention to the psychology of everyday life – to see psychological documents that are frequently important.
We would like to take the same path and demonstrate in the area of the problems that interest us how the great is manifested in the very small, as Freud said in this connection.
With respect to this, the “rejects from the world of phenomena” that we collected for analysis represent unusually convenient material from the most diverse aspects. In the world of psychological phenomena, they occupy a completely exceptional, although also highly inconspicuous place. Neither experimental data nor data from the psychology of primitive man, much more vital, complex and valuable, can be compared with them with respect to untangling the fundamental knot of our problem and finding the initial point for applying our method.
These insignificant and at the same time deeply significant phenomena might completely justifiably be called rudimentary mental functions analogous to rudimentary organs. As we know, these organs are exceptionally widespread and can be found in the organic world at every step. Thus, I. I. Mechnikov says that we find vestigial eyes in creatures living in darkness, or vestigial sex organs in plants and animals incapable of reproduction. For this reason, essentially the expression “rudimentary function” is in its literal sense contradictory because the basic feature of rudimentary organs consists exactly in that these are inactive organs that have no function, no role in the general vital activity of the organism. In a figurative sense, we might designate in the same way the mental functions that have been retained to the present but have no essential role in the behavior of a person and are remnants of older behavioral systems.
Rudimentary functions, like rudimentary organs, are documents on development, living witnesses of ancient epochs, clear proof of origin, most important historical symptoms. In exactly this sense, biology and the theory of evolution long ago recognized the important significance, in the opinion of Mechnikov, of rudimentary organs as documents that may serve to reestablish the genealogy of organisms. These organs, useless in themselves, are remnants of similar, but more developed organs that served a useful function in ancestors. The unusually large number of rudimentary organs in man serves as extra evidence of his animal origin and supplies science with substantial data for a philosophical understanding of human nature, Mechnikov concludes.
All this, almost word for word with only small changes, could be repeated after Mechnikov by the psychologist studying rudimentary functions, only with the difference that the inactive functions we have in mind are living remnants not of biological evolution, but of the historical development of behavior. For this reason, the study of rudimentary functions must be the initial point in expanding the horizons in psychological research. At this point, the past and present are inseparably merged. In it, the present stands in the light of history and we find ourselves simultaneously in two planes: that which is and that which was. It is the end of the thread that ties the present to the past, the higher degrees of development to the elementary.
The rudimentary functions that we find in any system of behavior that are remnants of similar, but more developed functions in other, older psychological systems are living proof of the origin of these higher systems and their historical tie with older layers in the development of behavior. Thus, studying them may reveal to us substantial data for understanding human behavior, data that we need for determining the basic formula of the method. For this reason, we decided to begin with the small and insignificant facts and elevate the study of them to a high theoretical level, to attempt to discover how the great is revealed in the very small.
Analysis of these psychological forms shows us what were earlier higher mental functions integrated with them into one system of behavior and what the system itself was in which rudimentary and active functions coexisted. Analysis provides us with the initial point of their genesis as well as the initial point of the whole method. Only the initial point, it is understood. Not an iota more. Not for a second can we forget the differences between them and active functions. Knowing the structure of rudimentary functions sometimes cannot disclose for us either the structure or the character of activity of higher living functions or the whole path of their development. These functions are proof, but not an integrated picture of the whole process. They place in our hands the end of the thread for further research, but in themselves cannot either replace it or make it unnecessary. They are not even in a position to help us untangle completely the whole thread of which they are till we expect of our analysis. We need a method.
As we know, the presence of rudimentary organs of the opposite sex found in certain plants and animals is evidence that at some time these organisms were hermaphrodites. This, however, does not save us from the need to study all the uniqueness of the structure and function of sex organs of modern single-sex organisms. Precisely in the same way, the presence in the behavior of modern man of rudimentary cultural functions undoubtedly indicates that a certain system of behavior developed from ancient primitive systems in which the rudimentary modern functions were at one time an active, integral and organic part. But this does not in the least mean that a study of the whole uniqueness of a higher cultural system is no longer necessary. Rudimentary human organs reveal man’s relationship to the simian, but this fact does not for a minute close our eyes to the significant difference between the structure and functions of the human organism and the simian. In the same way, evidence from rudimentary functions that the behavior of modern man developed from more primitive systems does not in the least force us to erase the boundaries between the primitive and the cultural man. No one would think that knowledge of the fact that a chicken developed from an egg would lead us to identify the egg with the chicken.
There is no doubt about one thing that is of prime importance for the problem of method that is of interest to us. Rudimentary functions in the system of higher cultural forms of behavior and analogous, developed, and active functions of the same kind in more primitive systems make it possible for us to connect lower and higher systems genetically. They supply a point of support for a historical approach to higher mental functions and for connecting the psychology of primitive man with the higher psychology of man. Also, they provide a scale for transferring data from ethnic psychology to experimental psychological research and a measure of homogeneity and similarity of mental processes elicited in a genetic experiment and of higher mental functions. Appearing as a connecting link, a transitional form between experimentally simplified forms of behavior and the psychology of primitive man, on the one hand, and higher mental functions on the other, rudimentary forms are a kind of knot that joins three areas of study, a kind of focus in which all lines of cultural development meet and intersect, a kind of center of the whole problem. They lie halfway between what we observe in an experiment in child psychology and ethnic psychology and what we call higher mental functions that are the final link of all of cultural development.
We do not at all want to say that the working principle of higher mental functions is the same as the principle of structure of rudimentary functions or that the latter discloses fully the path and mechanism of development of higher processes of behavior. But we assume that the two principles are similar and that one is close to the other and, for this reason, instructs us in the approach to higher functions, in the construction of an experimental model of them. As we see it, rudimentary and higher functions are opposite poles of the same system of behavior, its lowest and highest points defining the limits within which all degrees and forms of higher functions are located. Both of these points taken together determine the historical axial cross-section of the whole system of individual behavior. This requires elucidation.
Thus far, many are still inclined to present the idea of historical psychology in a false light. They identify history with the past. For them, to study something historically means necessarily to study one fact or another from the past. This is a naive conception – seeing an impassable boundary between historical study and the study of present forms. Moreover, historical study simply means applying categories of development to the study of phenomena. To study something historically means to study it in motion. Precisely this is the basic requirement of the dialectical method. To encompass in research the process of development of some thing in all its phases and changes – from the moment of its appearance to its death – means to reveal its nature, to know its essence, for only in movement does the body exhibit that it is. Thus, historical study of behavior is not supplementary or auxiliary to theoretical study, but is a basis of the latter.
In accordance with this, we can study both present, available forms and past forms historically. Historical understanding extends also to general psychology. P. P. Blonskii expressed this in the general statement: behavior can be understood only as the history of behavior. This is a truly dialectical point of view in psychology. Consistently advanced, this view inevitably extends to the psychology of the present. The drawing together of general and genetic psychology that results from this, not anticipated by the old researchers, shows that the behavior of the contemporary, cultured adult is not homogeneous and not uniform in the genetic respect. As Blonskii and Werner established, his psychological structure contains many genetically different layers.
In behavior, the individual exhibits in a solidified form various phases of development that are already concluded. The genetic multilevel personality containing in itself layers of various ages gives it an exceptionally complex structure and at the same time serves as a kind of genetic ladder that unites, through a series of transitional forms, higher functions of the personality with primitive behavior in onto- and phylogenesis. The presence of rudimentary functions confirms as well as possible the idea of the “geological” structure of personality and introduces this structure into the genetic context of the history of behavior.
Rudimentary functions themselves become clear only as a result of the study of cultural-psychological development. It is due only to lengthy experimentation and interpretation of results in the light of data from ethnic psychology that we were able to disclose their mechanism and establish their central position in the system of research on cultural development of behavior. The chronological order of separate instances of research does not always fully coincide with the logical order of its ideas, which compels analysis of these functions at the very beginning as the moment that most significantly corresponds to the nature of the research itself. The chronological order teaches us how to create a model of higher functions in an experiment.
Like early formations that appeared in the very first periods of cultural development, rudimentary functions in a pure form retained the principle of structure and activity, the prototype of all other cultural forms of behavior. That which in a cryptic form exists in infinitely more complex processes is presented here in an open form. All ties connecting these formations with the system that once generated them have died off, the ground on which they appeared has vanished, the background of their activity has changed, they have been torn from their system and transported in a flood of historical development to a completely different sphere. For this reason, it seems that they have no roots or connections, but exist as if autonomously, of themselves, representing a fascinating, somehow deliberately isolated subject for analysis. For this reason, we repeat, they exhibit the principle of their construction in a pure form, which fits the problem of higher processes like a key in a lock.
The fact that rudimentary functions stand alone as an alien body without roots or connections, in an unnatural, heterogeneous environment, gives them the character of seemingly deliberately set-up models, patterns, examples. Their genealogy is written in their internal structure. They carry their history within. Analysis of every such form requires a small and final separate monograph in a page of the large [monograph]. But in contrast to a priori constructions, artificially created examples and patterns, the functions in which we are interested are real formations that have found their direct and immediate continuation in the experiment reproducing their basic forms and in research of primitive man, disclosing their history.
Not an artificial bond, but a real bond built into them – in their nature – unites them with the more important lines in the cultural development of behavior. Their history is majestic, but in their time, they were rejects from the world of phenomena. In their time the appearance of each new form heralded a new victory of man over his own nature, a new epoch in the history of functions. They form real nodal paths along which humanity at one time crossed the boundaries of animal existence. They are real monuments of major encounters of culture eking out a miserable existence in an epoch foreign to them. If anyone should want to disclose the history of each such rudimentary form, he would see it on one of the great historical roads of humanity. If we were to disclose it ethnologically, we would see a universal stage of culture to which, in different epochs and in different form, all peoples rose.
But this would mean to complicate the matter and take away from the rudimentary forms their most important merit. They are good specifically in the form in which they are given. Of course, they are interesting to us not in themselves. In them, we are looking for a key to a method. They unite in themselves two advantages that are rarely combined. On the one hand, they are ancient, primitive, coarsely made, like a primitive tool. This means that they are simple to the utmost. They retain the plasticity, the primary significance, the primordial quality that compelled W. Köhler to turn to a study of anthropoids in the hope of finding the first use of tools as a natural initial point for a theoretical understanding of the nature of intellect. On the other hand, we are confronted with forms that are finished, having fully completed their development, devoid of hints of underdeveloped properties, transitional traits, showing completely what they are.
Our psychological fossils show, in a petrified and arrested form, their internal development. The beginning and end of development is united in them. They actually are outside the process of development. Their own development is finished. In this combination of plasticity and fossilization, initial and final points of development, simplicity and completeness lies their great advantage for research, making them incomparable material for study. They were as if destined to become its initial point, the door, the basis of its method.
Before studying development, we must explain what is developing. A preliminary analysis of rudimentary functions is indispensable and must answer the question. The fact that these functions died and live at one and the same time, move together with a living system in which they are included and were also fossilized allows us to find in them the indispensable what that interests us in the process of development. This what must also lie at the base of the formula, of the method which we seek, must form its real basis and transform it into an analog of a true process.
An analysis of rudimentary functions to which we now turn and the methodological significance and basis of which we tried to show in our protracted discussion is offered to disclose the real basis of our methodological formula.
The first form of behavior in which we are interested may be presented primarily in connection with the specific situation in which it usually appears. This situation – in its extreme and simplified expression – is usually called the situation of Buridan’s ass (in whose works, by the way, this example is not found at all). The ass, being hungry and finding himself at equal distances from two completely similar sheaves of hay hanging on the right and left sides, starves to death, since the effective motives are completely equal in value and opposite in direction. This is a famous anecdote illustrating the idea of absolute determinacy of behavior, the idea of no free will. What would man do in a similar ideal situation? Some intellectuals say that the fated destiny of the ass would befall man. Others think that man would be an even more shameful ass and not a thinking being, res cogitans, if he were to die in such circumstances.
In essence, this is the basic question of all of human psychology. In it, in an extremely simplified, ideal form is presented the whole problem of our research, the whole problem of stimulus-response. If two stimuli act with identical force in opposite directions eliciting simultaneously two incompatible responses, complete inhibition occurs with mechanical certainty, behavior ceases, there is no escape. Those who saw an outlet for man from this situation, inescapable for the ass, ascribed the solution of the problem to mind, for which material certainty does not exist and which blows where it will. This philosophical “either-or” corresponds precisely to the spiritualistic or mechanistic interpretation of human behavior in such a situation. Both directions are developed in psychology with the same clarity.
W. James had to borrow, very insignificantly, it is true, as a pragmatist would prefer, from the spiritual energy of the divine fiat – let there be – by which the world was created and without the help of which James saw no possibility of scientifically explaining an act of will. The next behaviorist, if he wished to remain faithful to his system, had to admit that in an analysis of such a situation we would lose the concept of any difference between the man and the ass, we would forget that the ass is an animal and that before us we have a man, imaginary it is true. We shall have occasion in closing our research to return to the philosophical perspective opening up from this point of our problem and to translate into philosophical language what we would like now to establish in a different plane, in the plane of real, empirical research.
For philosophers this whole invented, fictive situation was exclusively an artificial logical construction that made it possible to illustrate in a concrete-visual form one solution or another of the problem of free will. Actually, this was a logical model of an ethical problem. Now, however, we are interested in how an actual and a real man would act, how he would conduct himself in a real situation of the same kind. When the question is posed in this way, naturally, the situation itself, the reacting subject and the research path all change. From the ideal everything is transferred to the real with all its great imperfections and all its advantages, which are just as great.
First of all, actually, such an ideal situation is, of course, never encountered. Instead quite often we encounter situations more or less like the given situation. These situations then make experimental research or psychological observation possible.
Even with respect to animals, experimental research showed that the collision of opposite nervous processes, of a somewhat different type, it is true, but in general of the same order – excitation and inhibition – results in a reaction of a kind entirely different from mechanical immobility. Pavlov said that in a difficult meeting of opposite nervous processes there occurs a more or less prolonged deviation from the norm of cortical activity that frequently cannot be measured by any of our scales. A dog responds to a difficult meeting of opposite stimuli with frustration, pathological excitation or inhibition, and becomes neurotic.
Pavlov tells of one incident where the dog fell directly into a frenzy: its whole body moved continuously, it yelped and barked unbearably and salivated continuously. Its reaction was very much like what we call peracute movement, the reaction of an animal that finds itself in a hopeless situation. In other dogs, neurosis took a different course, resembling a different biological reaction to a hopeless situation – the reflex that mimics death, torpor, diffuse inhibition. These dogs were cured, in the words of Pavlov, with a proven therapeutic agent, bromide. Thus, a dog in a Buridan situation will sooner go into neurosis than mechanically neutralize the opposite nervous processes. But we are now interested in man in a similar situation. We will begin, as we have said above, with rudimentary functions, with observation of facts of everyday life. We will turn to a literary example. “Shall I enlist and go into the army or wait?” Pierre asked himself this question a hundred times. He took a deck of cards lying on the table and began to play solitaire. If I win, he said to himself, shuffling the deck, holding it in his hands and looking up, if I win, that will mean ... what will it mean? ...
“... Regardless of how the game came out, Pierre did not join the army but remained in deserted Moscow, always with the same anxiety, indecision, fear...” (L. N. Tolstoy, Complete Collected Works, Moscow, 1932, Vol. 11, pp. 178-179 [in Russian]).
That which in Pierre Bezukhov, the hero of Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, appeared in the form of a rudimentary, passive function and what must, in the plan of the author, be conveyed in a graphic, active form, that state of indecision that seized his hero, opens our eyes to the capital, overriding importance of a psychological fact. His analysis is simple, but significant. He shows that a man who finds himself in a Buridan situation looks for help in artificially introduced auxiliary motives or stimuli. A man in the position of the Buridan ass would toss a coin and in that way master the situation. The same thing is confirmed concurrently by observations of rudimentary forms of the function of selection when, as in our example, it appears, but is not effected, and by observations of the behavior of primitive man as well as by experimental studies of the behavior of the child where special, artificially created conditions elicit similar behavior in a child of a certain age.
We will discuss these experiments subsequently. Now the important fact for us is the fact that an inactive function has a long and highly complex history. In its time, it was not a simple, symptomatic action producing our internal state, but it is meaningless in the system of behavior in which it appears, having lost its initial function and become useless. Once this was the boundary point that separated one epoch in the development of behavior from another, one of those points of which we spoke earlier, saying that in them humanity once crossed the boundary of animal existence.
Fate plays an enormous role in the behavior of people growing up under conditions of a backward culture. As researchers tell us, in many such tribes not one important decision in difficult circumstances is undertaken without resorting to throwing bones. Bones thrown and falling in a certain way are a decisive auxiliary stimulus in the struggle of motives. L. Levy-Bruhl describes many methods of deciding on one alternative or another by using artificial stimuli that have no connection to the situation and are introduced by primitive man exclusively as a means to aid in making a selection between two possible reactions.
Levy-Bruhl tells of tribes of South Africa in which, if a native meets with difficulty, he either simply throws bones or proceeds like the leader of one of the tribes who, when asked by a missionary to send his son to school, responded: “I will have a dream about it.”
With a solid basis, R. Thurnwald sees in these facts the beginning of conscious self-control of one’s own actions. And actually, man, who first came to throwing bones, took an important and decisive step along the path of cultural development. This is not at all contradicted by the fact that a similar operation inhibits any serious attempt to use reflection or experience in real life: why should one study and think when one can see in a dream or throw dice. Such is the fate of all forms of magical behavior: very soon they are turned into an impediment to further development of thinking, although they themselves at a given stage of historical development of thinking are the embryo of certain trends.
However, we cannot now be interested in this great complex problem in itself no matter how complex and deep is the question of a psychological explanation of the magical aspect of fate. We will note only that the magical character of the operation, rooted, as Levy-Bruhl demonstrated, in the depths of primitive thinking, compels us to reject instantly the idea that we have before us a purely rational, intellectualistic device of the primitive mind. The matter is infinitely more complex. But in the connection that interests us, what is not important now is how it appears and to what extent it is unconscious and eclipsed, how subordinate a role the basic psychological principle plays on which the whole operation is constructed. What is of interest now is the ready form of behavior, along which pathway it developed, the principle itself of constructing the operation. It is important for us to show that the rudimentary function was once an exceptionally important and significant moment in the system of behavior of primitive man.
If we isolate in pure form the principle of construction of the dice-throwing operation, it is easy to see that its most essential characteristic consists in the new and completely unique relation between stimuli and responses. In our experiments, we artificially created for the child and adult a situation halfway between the solitaire of Pierre Bezukhov and the throwing of bones in primitive tribes. On the one hand, we aimed for an operation that would have sense, would be a real escape from a situation, and on the other, we excluded any complicating magical effects connected with throwing dice. Under the artificial conditions of an experiment, we looked for a halfway form of the operation between its rudimentary and initially magical manifestations. We wanted to study the design principle that lies at its base in a pure, noneclipsed, uncomplicated, but active form.
The experiments will be discussed in a subsequent chapter. In a few words, we would like to present the principle of forming behavior which we discovered by analyzing the dice-throwing operation. The discussion will be schematic. In a given situation, a man is affected by two stimuli different in strength and opposite in direction of the reaction elicited: A and B. If simultaneous action of stimuli A and B results in a mechanical complication of their effect, that is, a complete absence of any reaction, we have before us what, according to the anecdote, had to happen with the Buridan ass. This is the highest and most pure expression of the stimulus-response principle in behavior. Complete determination of behavior by the stimulus and complete possibility for studying all behavior according to the S-R pattern are presented here in a maximally simplified ideal form.
A man in this situation throws dice. He artificially introduces into the situation new auxiliary, totally unrelated stimuli a-A and b-B, and changes it. If a comes up, he follows stimulus A, if b, he follows stimulus B. Man himself creates an artificial situation and introduces an auxiliary pair of stimuli. He determines his behavior, his choice, beforehand with the help of a stimulus-device. Let us assume that when the dice are thrown, a comes up. So A wins. Stimulus A elicits the corresponding response, X. Stimulus B remains ineffective. Its corresponding response, Y, could not develop.
Let us analyze what happened here. Response X was elicited by stimulus A of course. Without it, the response could not have occurred. But X was not elicited only by A. A in itself was neutralized by the action of B. Response X was elicited also by stimulus a, which had no relation to it and was artificially introduced into the situation. Thus, a stimulus created by the man himself determined his response. Consequently, we might say that the man himself determined his response with the help of an artificial stimulus.
An adherent of the S-R principle can completely justifiably raise the objection that we have fallen into illusion. What happened can also be wholly explained by the S-R pattern. Actually, our opponent says, we see nothing substantially different in your experiment from what was pointed out in the anecdote. If in the second case – with the dice – a response occurred that was previously inhibited, this happened because the situation changed. The stimuli changed. In the first case A and B were operative; in the second, A-a and B-b. Stimulus A was supported by a and B was weakened by the unsuccessful b. Behavior in the second case, just as in the first, was, on the whole, determined entirely and fully by the S-R principle. The opponent concludes his objection: you speak about a new principle that is the basis of the operation with dice, about a new unique relation between stimuli and responses. We do not see any kind of basic difference between the first and second variants – with dice and without dice. You say that the man himself determined his response. Excuse me: a second before, the man himself did not know how he was going to act, what he would choose. It was not the man who determined his behavior, but the dice. And what are the dice if not a stimulus? Stimulus a determined response X in the given situation and not the man himself. The operation with dice, more than the story with the Buridan ass, confirms that the same principle lies at the basis of human behavior as in animal behavior. Only the stimulation that determines human behavior is richer and more complex. That’s all.
There is one thing we can agree with in the objection raised. What happened can actually be explained by the S-R pattern. Completely and with no remainder. From a certain point of view, specifically from the point of view of our opponent, the difference in behavior in the one case and in the other is wholly determined by the difference in stimuli. Our opponent’s whole analysis from this point of view is absolutely correct. But the crux of the matter is that it is specifically this point of view that we consider insupportable in studying the operation with dice and specifically because in subsequent development, it results in a rejection of the basic difference between the two variants of behavior, that is, in other words, this point of view is incapable of detecting the new structural principle of behavior that the second variant discloses as compared to the first.
This means that the old point of view is inadequate for studying the new material, the new and higher forms of behavior. It detects that which they have in common with the lower – the old principle preserved in the new form of behavior – but does not detect that which is unique, which is in the new form and which distinguishes it from lower forms, does not detect the new principle that appears above the old. In this sense, the objection of our opponent shows yet again that the old point of view cannot adequately disclose the main difference between the behavior of man and animal, adequately disclose the structure of higher mental functions. Who will argue with the fact that it is possible not to notice the specific uniqueness of higher forms and pass them by? Even human speech can be considered among sonic responses of animals, and from a certain point of view, its principal differences may be bypassed. It is possible to limit oneself to detecting the presence of subordinate, auxiliary lower forms in higher forms of behavior. But the whole question is: what is the scientific-cognitive value of such a closing of the eyes to what is specific, unique, and higher in human behavior. Of course, one may close one eye, but one must know that in this case, the visual field unavoidably narrows.
Our opponent’s analysis is also monocular analysis. He does not detect the dynamics of what occurred in our example, the transition from one situation into another, the appearance of additional stimuli a and b, the functional significance of stimuli-devices (dice), the structure of the operation as a whole, and finally, the principle that lies at its base. He approaches the whole operation exclusively from the aspect of its composition, analytically dissolving it into components, and ascertaining that these components – each alone and all together – are subject to the stimulus-response principle. He breaks down both situations statistically and compares them in a petrified form, forgetting that the second part of the operation, the dice throwing, appeared on the basis of the first (the Buridan situation), that the one turned into the other and that specifically this conversion is the crux of the whole problem.
We might answer our opponent by saying that it is completely correct that response X in our example was determined by stimulus a, but this stimulus did not arise of itself and was not an organic part of the situation. Moreover, it has no relation to stimuli A and B which comprised the situation. It was introduced into the situation by the man himself and the connection of a with stimulus A was also established by the man. It is true that in the whole story, the behavior on the whole is to the end and completely determined by the group of stimuli, but the group itself, the stimulation itself is created by the man. You say that the situation in the second case changed since new stimuli a and b appeared. That is not true: it was changed and by the same man who, like the Buridan ass, was forcibly – by virtue of the situation – doomed to inaction or frustration.
In our analysis, if we might conclude our answer, you are overlooking the fact that behind the play of stimuli-responses what really occurred was active intervention of man in the situation, his active role, his behavior which consisted in introducing new stimuli. And this is exactly what comprises the new principle, the new unique relation between behavior and stimulation of which we spoke. In dissolving the operation into components, you lost its most important part: the unique activity of the man directed toward mastery of his own behavior. To say that in this case stimulus a determined the behavior is the same as saying that the stick got the fruit for the chimpanzee (in Köhler’s experiments). But a hand guided the stick and a brain guided the hand. The stick was only a tool of the chimpanzee’s activity. The same must be said of our situation also. Behind stimulus a stood the human hand and brain. The appearance itself of new stimuli was the result of the active participation of man. You have forgotten the man; that is where your error lies.
Finally, and lastly: you say that a second before, man himself did not know how he would act, what he would choose. Stimulus a (the incorporated die) compelled him to act in a certain way. But who gave stimulus a compelling force? The man’s hand guided this stimulus. It was man who beforehand determined the role and function of the stimulus which in itself could not determine behavior just as the stick in itself could not knock down the fruit. In this case, stimulus a was the tool of the man’s activity. That is the essence.
We will again postpone a more detailed consideration of the question not immediately connected with the problem of freedom of the human will to the end of our research. Then, when we have before us in a definitive form higher behavior in its principal forms, constructed on this principle, we will be able to evaluate the essence more fully and more profoundly and trace the perspective that opens behind it. Now we would like only to consolidate the basic conclusion that we can reach from our analysis: in the form of a general situation of an operation with thrown dice, a new and unique structure appears in comparison with the Buridan ass; the new consists of the fact that man himself creates stimuli that determine his response and uses these stimuli as devices for mastering processes of his own behavior. Man himself determines his behavior with the help of artificially created stimuli-devices.
Let us pass to the analysis of the second rudimentary function which is as common and as widespread as throwing dice and just as inoperative. We agreed that analysis of such inactive functions has a great advantage. But now we have before us a rudimentary form of cultural memory which, like the throwing of dice, is a rudimentary form of cultural volition.
To the psychology of everyday life, tying a knot to remember something is just like throwing dice. A man needs to remember something, for example, that he must do some errand, make something, take something, etc. Not trusting his memory and not depending on it, he ties a knot, usually in his handkerchief, or uses some similar device such as placing a small piece of paper under the cover of his pocket watch, etc. The knot must later remind him of what he must do. And, as everyone knows, in certain conditions it may serve as a reliable means of remembering.
Here again we have an operation that is unthinkable and impossible for animals. Again we are ready to see in the very fact of introducing an artificial, auxiliary device for remembering, in the active creation and use of a stimulus as a tool of memory, an essentially new, specifically human behavioral trait.
The story of the knot-tying operation is exceptionally complex and instructive. In its time, its appearance heralded the approach of humanity to the boundaries that separated one epoch of its existence from another, barbarity from civilization. Thurnwald says that nature simply does not know hard boundaries. But if humanity is thought to have begun with the use of fire, then the appearance of the written word must be considered to be the boundary separating lower from higher forms of human existence. Tying a knot for remembering also was one of the very first forms of the written word. This form played an enormous role in the history of culture, in the history of the development of writing.
The beginning of the development of writing is based on similar auxiliary devices of memory, and it is not for nothing that many researchers call the first epoch in the development of writing mnemotechnical. The first knot tied for remembering signified the conception of the written word without which no civilization would have been possible. Widely developed knot records, the so-called quipu, have been used in ancient Peru for keeping chronicles, for keeping data of personal and government life. Similar knot records were widespread in various forms among many ancient peoples. In a living form, frequently in the state of developing, they can be observed in primitive peoples. As Thurnwald assumes, there is no need to see traces of magical origin in the use of these auxiliary memory devices. Observations sooner indicate that tying knots or introducing analogous stimuli to support memory appear first as a purely practical psychological operation and later become a magical ceremony. The same author tells of a primitive man who was in his service during an expedition. When he was sent on errands to the main camp, he always took a similar kind of device with him to remind him about all the errands.
V. K. Arsen'ev, a well-known researcher of the Ussuriysk region, tells how in an Udeg village in which he stopped during a journey, the local inhabitants asked him, on his return to Vladivostok, to tell the Russian authorities that the merchant Li Tanku was oppressing them. The next day, the inhabitants came out to accompany the traveler to the outskirts. A gray-haired old man came from the crowd, says Arsen'ev, and gave him the claw of a lynx and told him to put it in his pocket so that he would not forget their petition about Li Tanku. The man himself introduced an artificial stimulus into the situation, actively affecting the processes of remembering. Affecting the memory of another person, we note in passing, is essentially the same as affecting one’s own memory. The lynx claw must determine memory and its fate in another. There is an endless number of such examples. But we can cite an equal number of examples in which man carries out the same operation with respect to himself. We will limit ourselves to one.
All researchers note the exceptionally high development of innate, natural memory in primitive man. L. Levy-Bruhl believes that the basis for this remarkable trait of primitive thinking is the tendency to replace reflection with remembering. However, even in primitive man, we find two forms principally different in essence that are at completely different stages of development. With a superior, perhaps maximal development of natural memory are found only the most elementary and crude forms of cultural memory. But the more primitive and simpler the psychological form, the clearer is the principle of its structure, the easier its analysis. As an example, we cite the observation of Vangemann told by Levy-Bruhl.
The missionary asked a Kaffir to tell him what he remembered of the sermon he heard the previous Sunday. The Kaffir at first hesitated, then reproduced the main ideas word for word. After several weeks, the missionary saw the same Kaffir during his sermon; this time, he sat, seemingly not paying attention to what was being said, but occupied with notching a piece of wood and later repeated one idea after another, guided by the notches he had made.
In contrast to Levy-Bruhl, who sees here an instructive example of how primitive man whenever he can resort to memory in order to avoid reflection does so in any way he can, we are inclined to see exactly the opposite: an example of how human intellect leads to the formation of new forms of memory. How much thought is needed to record speech with notches on a piece of wood! But this is incidental. The basic thing that interests us is the difference between the two types of remembering. We are ready again to say that they are based on different principles. Here the situation is much clearer than in the case of the dice. In the first case, the Kaffir remembered only as much and only in the way that he happened to remember. In the second case, he participated in the process of remembering by creating artificial, auxiliary stimuli in the form of notches which he connected with the content of speech and which he placed at the service of his memory.
If in the first case, remembering was wholly determined by the principle of stimulus-response, then in the second case, the activity of the man hearing the speech and memorizing it by means of notches on wood is a unique activity consisting in creating artificial stimuli and in mastering his own processes by means of the notches; it is based on a completely different principle.
We have already spoken about the connection of this activity with writing. Here the connection is especially obvious. The Kaffir recorded the speech he heard. But the common knot tied to aid memory easily exhibits a functional relationship with writing. We have also already spoken about the genetic similarity of the one to the other. Thurnwald assumes that similar mnemotechnical devices primarily serve the person who introduces them. Subsequently, they begin to serve as a device for personal contact – written speech – owing to the fact that they are used within a single group in an identical way and are pre-arranged symbols. A number of considerations that will be developed subsequently compel us to assume that the actual sequence in development is more likely the reverse of that which Thurnwald outlines. In any case, we will note one thing now, specifically the social character of the new form of behavior, a means identical in principle with managing another’s and one’s own behavior.
To conclude the analysis of the knot-tying operation, which, by the way, we also transferred to an experiment on child behavior (the experiment makes it possible to see in pure form the structural principle on which the operation is based), we will turn again to a generalized, schematic consideration of the example. A man has to remember a certain errand. The situation is again represented by two stimuli A and B, between which an associative connection must be established. In one case, establishing the connection and its fate are determined by a number of natural factors (the strength of the stimuli, their biological significance, repetition of their combination in the same situation, the general constellation of other stimuli); in the other, the man himself determines the connections. He introduces a new artificial stimulus, a, which in itself has no relation to the situation and with the help of this auxiliary stimulus, he subjects to his own power the course of all processes of remembering and recalling. We are justified in repeating: the man himself determines his behavior with the help of artificially created stimuli-devices.
The third and last rudimentary operation in the series we have selected, which is preserved to the present, is found most often in the behavior of the child and forms a kind of necessary or at least very frequently observed initial stage in the development of arithmetical thinking. This is a rudimentary form of cultural arithmetic: counting on the fingers.
The quantitative characteristic of any group of objects is perceived initially as one of the qualitative characteristics. There is an immediate perception of numbers and it forms a real basis for natural arithmetic. A group of ten objects is perceived differently from a group of three. The immediate visual impression in both cases will be substantially different. Thus, the quantitative characteristic appears among a number of other characteristics as a special stimulus, but completely similar to all other stimuli. Since it is determined by stimuli of this type, man’s behavior is completely determined by the stimulus-response law. Such, we repeat, is all of natural arithmetic.
The arithmetic of stimuli-responses frequently attains a high degree of development, particularly in the behavior of primitive man who can at a glance detect the finest quantitative differences in very large groups. Researchers report that primitive man, by direct perception of numbers, frequently notes if in a group consisting of several dozens or even hundreds of objects (a pack of dogs, a herd or flock of animals, etc.) one object is missing. Actually, regardless of the wonder such a reaction usually elicits among observers, it differs from what we have more by degree than by substance. We also determine numbers visually. Only in the fineness and precision of this reaction does the primitive man differ from us. His reaction is very well differentiated. He detects extremely fine differences and degrees of one and the same stimulus. But this is wholly and completely determined by the laws of development of conditioned response and differentiation of the stimulus.
The matter changes radically as soon as man, in reacting to the quantitative aspect of any situation, resorts to his fingers as a tool to aid in carrying out the counting operation. Turning again to a schematic, algebraic form, we might say that a man is affected by a number of stimuli: A, B, C, D. The man introduces auxiliary stimuli. With the aid of these stimuli-devices, he solves the problem that confronts him.
In its time, counting on the fingers was an important cultural achievement of humanity. It served as a bridge which man crossed from natural to cultural arithmetic, from immediate perception of numbers to counting. Counting on the fingers is the basis of many systems of counting. Even now it is widespread among primitive tribes. Primitive man, who often had no words for designating numbers higher than two or three, counts with the help of fingers and toes and other parts of the body sometimes to thirty or forty. Thus, the inhabitants of New Guinea, Papuans, and many primitive tribes of North America began to count from the little finger of the left hand, then the rest of the fingers, the fist, shoulder, etc., then, in reverse order, began to drop down the right side of the body and ended with the little finger of the right hand. When there are not enough fingers, they frequently resort to the fingers of another person or to toes or to sticks, shells or other small movable objects. In studying primitive systems of counting, we can observe in a developed and active form the same thing that we find in a rudimentary form in the development of arithmetical thinking of the child and in certain cases of adult behavior.
But the essence of the form of behavior that we are interested in remains the same in all cases. The essence consists of a transition from immediate perception of numbers and immediate response to a quantitative stimulus to creating auxiliary stimuli and actively determining one’s own behavior with their help. Artificial stimuli created by man which have no connection with the real situation and are brought in to serve active adaptation again appear as a distinguishing characteristic of higher forms of behavior.
We can conclude the analysis of concrete examples. Further consideration would lead us inevitably to repeating the basic characteristic that we have singled out in newer and newer forms and manifestations. In general, we are not at all interested in rudimentary, dead psychological forms in themselves, but in that most unique world of higher or cultural forms of behavior that is hidden behind them and into which we can penetrate with the help of a study of inactive functions. We are looking for the key to higher behavior.
We think that we have found it in the structural principle of the psychological forms that we are analyzing. This is where the heuristic significance of the study of rudimentary functions lies. As we have already said, the structure of the higher form comes through in psychological fossils, in living remnants of ancient epochs. Rudimentary functions disclose for us what all higher mental processes formerly were, to what type of organization they once belonged.
We again recall the methodological significance of our analysis. It seems to us to be the means for disclosing the structural principle that is the base for higher behavior in a pure abstract form. The task for further research will be to demonstrate the structure and development of the enormous variety of separate concrete forms of higher behavior in all the real complexity of these processes and to trace the real historical movement of the principle we find. We might refer to the remarkable example cited by Engels as evidence of the fact that, to the extent that inductive claims are solidly based, they may be the only or perhaps the basic form of scientific discoveries.
He says: “The steam engine was the most convincing evidence of the fact that mechanical movement can be obtained from heat. A hundred thousand steam engines did not prove this any more convincingly than did one engine...” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 543). But analysis showed that in a steam engine, the basic process does not appear in a pure form, but is hidden by all kinds of peripheral processes. When circumstances peripheral to the main process were eliminated and an ideal steam engine was built, it brought the researcher face to face with the mechanical equivalent of heat. This is the strength of abstraction: it represents the process under consideration in a pure, independent, uncovered form.
If we wanted to present the process that interests us in a pure, independent, uncovered form, and in this way to present the results of our analysis of rudimentary functions, we could say that this process consists in the transition from one form of behavior – the lower – to another, which we arbitrarily call the higher, as being more complex in genetic and functional respects. The line dividing the two forms is the relation of stimulus-response. For one form, an essential characteristic shall be a full – in principle – determinacy of behavior by the stimulus. For the other, the same essential characteristic is autostimulation, the creation and use of artificial stimuli-devices and determining one’s own behavior with their help.
In all three cases that we considered, human behavior was determined not by the stimuli present, but by a new or changed psychological situation created by the man himself. Creating and using artificial stimuli as auxiliary devices for controlling one’s own reactions also serves as a basis for the new form of determinacy of behavior that distinguishes higher behavior from elementary. The presence of created stimuli together with the given stimuli seems to us to be the distinguishing characteristic of human psychology.
We call artificial stimuli-devices introduced by man into a psychological situation where they fulfill the function of autostimulation “signs,” giving this term a broader and at the same time a more precise sense than in common usage. According to our determination, every conditioned stimulus created artificially by man that is a means of mastering behavior – that of another or one’s own – is a sign. Two points are therefore essential for the concept of a sign: its origin and its function. We will later consider both in all their details.
We know that, as Pavlov says, “the most general bases of higher nervous activity are ascribed to the large hemispheres, the same in both higher animals and in people, and for this reason even elementary phenomena of this activity must be identical in the one and in the other in both normal and pathological cases” (1951, p. 15). Actually, this can scarcely be disputed. But as soon as we go from the elementary phenomena of higher nervous activity to the complex, to the higher phenomena within this higher – in the physiological sense – activity, then two different methodological paths for studying the specific uniqueness of human higher behavior open before us.
One is the path to further study of complication, enrichment, and differentiation of the same phenomena that experimental study ascertains in animals. Here, on this path, the greatest restraint must be observed. In transferring information on higher nervous activity of animals to higher activity of man, we must constantly check the factual similarities in the function of organs in man and animals, but in general the principle itself of the research remains the same as it was in the study of animals. This is the path of physiological study.
True, this circumstance is of major significance and in the area of physiological study of behavior, in a comparative study of man and animals, we must not put the function of the heart, stomach, and other organs which are so similar to that of man on the same plane with higher nervous activity. In the words of I. P. Pavlov, “It is specifically this activity that so strikingly sets man apart from the rank of animals, that places man immeasurably above the whole animal world” (ibid. p. 414). And we might expect that along the path of physiological research we will find a specific qualitative difference in human activity. Let us recall the words of Pavlov cited above on the quantitative and qualitative incomparability of the word with conditioned stimuli of animals. Even in the plan of strict physiological consideration, “the grandiose signalistics of speech” stands outside the whole other mass of stimuli, the “multicapaciousness of the word” places it in a unique position.
The other path is the path of psychological research. From the very beginning, it proposes to seek the specific uniqueness of human behavior which does take us beyond the initial point. The specific uniqueness is considered not only in its subsequent complexity and development, quantitative and qualitative refinement of the cerebral hemispheres, but primarily in the social nature of man and in a new method of adaptation, as compared with animals, that sets man apart. The main difference between the behavior of man and of animals consists not only in that the human brain is immeasurably above the brain of the dog and that the higher nervous activity “so strikingly sets man apart from the rank of animals,” but most of all, because it is the brain of a social being and because the laws of higher nervous activity of man are manifested and act in the human personality.
But let us return again to the “most general bases of higher nervous activity, related to the cerebral hemispheres,” and identical in higher animals and man. We think that it is in this point that we can disclose with definitive clarity the difference of which we speak. The most general basis of behavior, identical in man and animals, is signalization. Pavlov said, “So the basic and most general activity of the cerebral hemispheres is signaling with an infinite number of signals and with changeable signalization” (ibid., p. 30). As is known, this is the most general formulation of the whole idea of conditioned reflexes that lies at the base of the physiology of higher nervous activity.
But human behavior is distinguished exactly in that it creates artificial signaling stimuli, primarily the grandiose signalization of speech, and in this way masters the signaling activity of the cerebral hemispheres. If the basic and most general activity of the cerebral hemispheres in animals and in man is signalization, then the basic and most general activity of man that differentiates man from animals in the first place, from the aspect of psychology, is signification, that is, creation and use of signs. We are using this word in its most literal sense and precise meaning. Signification is the creation and use of signs, that is, artificial signals.
We will consider more closely this new principle of activity. It must not in any sense be contrasted with the principle of signalization. Changeable signalization that results in the formation of temporary, conditional, special connections between the organism and the environment is an indispensable, biological prerequisite of the higher activity that we arbitrarily call signification and is its base. The system of connections that is established in the brain of an animal is a copy or reflection of natural connections between “all kinds of agents of nature” that signal the arrival of immediately favorable or destructive phenomena.
It is very obvious that such signalization – a reflection of the natural connection of phenomena, wholly created by natural conditions – cannot be an adequate basis of human behavior. For human adaptation, an active change in the nature of man is essential. It is the basis of all human history. It necessarily presupposes an active change in man’s behavior. “Affecting the environment by this movement and changing it, he changes his own nature at the same time,” says Marx. “He develops forces asleep in it and subjects the play of these forces to his own will” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 23, pp. 188-189).
Each specific stage in mastering the forces of nature necessarily corresponds to a certain stage in mastering behavior, in subjecting mental processes to the will of man. Man’s active adaptation to the environment, the change of nature by man, cannot be based on signalization, passively reflecting natural connections of all kinds of agents. It requires active closure of connections of the kind that are impossible under a purely natural type of behavior, that is, behavior based on a natural association of agents. Man introduces artificial stimuli, signifies behavior, and with signs, acting externally, creates new connections in the brain. Together with assuming this, we shall tentatively introduce into our research a new regulatory principle of behavior, a new concept of determinacy of human reaction which consists of the fact that man creates connections in the brain from outside, controls the brain and through it, his own body.
Naturally, this question arises: in general, how is the creation of external connections and regulation of behavior of the type of which we spoke possible? This is made possible by the coincidence of two points. Essentially, like the inference in the premise, the possibility of such a regulatory principle is contained in the structure of the conditioned reflex. The basis for all teaching on conditioned reflexes is the concept that the main difference between the conditioned and unconditioned reflex is contained not in the mechanism, but in the development of the reflex mechanism. Pavlov said: “The difference is only that in one case, there is a ready transmission path and in the other, preliminary closure is required; in one case, the mechanism of connection is completely ready, and in the other case, the mechanism is augmented to complete readiness” (Vol. IV, p. 38). Consequently, the conditioned reflex is a mechanism newly created by the coincidence of two stimuli, that is, created externally.
The second point whose presence explains the possibility of the appearance of a new regulatory principle of behavior consists of the fact of social life and interaction of people. In the process of social life, man created and developed more complex systems of psychological connections without which work activity and all social life would be impossible. The devices of psychological connection in their very nature and in their essential function are signs, that is, stimuli artificially created to affect behavior by the development of new conditioned connections in the human brain.
Both points taken together lead us to understanding the possibility of the development of a new regulatory principle. Social life creates the need to subject the behavior of the individual to social requirements and together with this, creates complex signalization systems, means of communication that guide and regulate the development of conditioned connections in the brain of each person. The organization of higher nervous activity creates the necessary prerequisites, creates the possibility of external regulation of behavior.
The inadequacy of the principle of the conditioned reflex for explaining human behavior from the psychological aspect, as has been said, consists in the fact that with the help of this mechanism, we can understand only how innate, natural connections regulate the formation of connections in the brain and human behavior, that is, understand behavior in a purely naturalistic, but not a historical sense. Summarizing the principal significance of the regulatory principle of the conditioned reflex, Pavlov said that the infinite mass of natural phenomena is, by means of the apparatus of the cerebral hemispheres, constantly determining the development, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, of conditioned reflexes and by this means finely tuning all the activity of the animal, its everyday behavior. The idea that conditioned connections are determined by natural connections could not be expressed more clearly: nature determines behavior. This regulatory principle corresponds completely to the passive type of animal adaptation.
But active adaptation to nature, man’s changing it, cannot be understood from any natural connections. This can be understood only from man’s social nature. Otherwise we return to the naturalistic conviction that only nature affects man. Quoting Engels: “Both natural science and philosophy have till now completely disregarded research on the influence of man’s activity on his thinking. On the one hand, they know only nature and on the other, thought. But a more substantial and closer base for human thinking is precisely man changing nature and not nature alone as such, and the mind of man developed according to how man learned to change nature” (K. Marx and F Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 545).
A new regulatory principle of behavior must of necessity correspond to a new type of behavior. We find it in the social determination of behavior carried out with the aid of signs. Of central significance among all systems of social intercourse is speech. Pavlov said: “Because of all the preceding life of an adult, speech is connected with all external and internal stimuli that enter the cerebral hemispheres, it signalizes them all, changes them all and for this reason may elicit all the actions and reactions of the organism that these stimuli govern” (Vol. IV, p. 429).
In this way, man created a signalization apparatus, a system of artificial conditioned stimuli by means of which he creates any artificial connections and elicits the necessary reactions of the organism. If, following Pavlov, we compare the cortex of the cerebral hemispheres with an immense signal board, then we might say that man created the key to that board – the grandiose signalistics of speech. By means of this key, he controls the activity of the cortex externally and manages behavior. Not a single animal has anything similar. Moreover, it is not difficult to see that together with this, a whole, almost completely new regulatory principle of controlling behavior externally is created as is a new plan of mental development in comparison with animals – the evolution of signs, ways of behavior and, connected with them, the subjecting of behavior to the authority of man.
Continuing the preceding comparison, we might say that the mental development of man proceeded in phylogenesis and proceeds in ontogenesis not only along a line of development and complication of the very grandiose signal board, that is, the structure and functions of the nervous apparatus, but also along the line of developing and acquiring the corresponding grandiose signalistics of speech that is the key to this board.
Thus far, the discussion seems perfectly clear. There is an apparatus made for closure of temporary connections and there is a key to the apparatus that, together with these connections, which are formed in themselves by the action of natural agents, permits the production of new, artificial, closures that are subject to the power of man and his choice. The apparatus and the key to it are found in different hands. Man alone through speech affects another. But the whole complexity of the problem becomes obvious at once when we combine the apparatus and the key in one pair of hands, when we make the transition to understanding autostimulation and self-mastery. Here psychological connections of a new type appear within one and the same system of behavior.
We will place the transition from social action external to the personality to social action within the personality closer to the center of our research, and we will try to elucidate the most important points that constitute the process of such a transition. Now in the course of analysis, two situations are of interest to us. One consists in the fact that even in the first case, when the apparatus and the key are given to different individuals, that is, in social action on another by means of signs, the question is not as simple as it seemed initially, and actually it contains in a cryptic form the same problem that confronts us in an open form in considering autostimulation.
Actually, it is possible, of course, to assume that in the action of speech from one person to another, the whole process is fully contained in the pattern of a conditioned reflex which provides an exhaustive and adequate explanation for it. This is how reflexologists proceed who consider the role of a speech command in experimental research exactly as if it were any other. Pavlov said: “For man, the word is just as real a conditioned stimulus as all others common to him and to animals...” (ibid., pp. 428-429). Otherwise it could not be a sign, that is, a stimulus fulfilling a specific function. But if we agree with only this and do not pursue further the phrase we have cited which speaks of the incomparability of the word with other stimuli, we will find ourselves in a hopeless position with respect to explaining a number of fundamentally significant facts.
The passive formation of connections to sound signals, to which the process of speech activity is reduced in this kind of understanding, essentially elucidates only the “understanding” of human speech by animals and the analogous stage in the speech development of a child, through which the child passes rapidly, that is characterized by the carrying out of certain actions according to a sound signal. But it is obvious that this process, which is usually called understanding speech, is something greater and something different from reacting to a sound signal. Actually only domestic animals are a true example of such purely passive formation of artificial connections.
As Thurnwald’s beautiful expression puts it, man himself was the first domestic animal. The passive formation of connections genetically and functionally preceded the active, but does not to any degree exhaust it. Even the Romans differentiated between a slave, a domestic animal, and a tool according to the ability to speak, establishing not two, but three degrees with respect to mastering speech: instrumentum mutum, mute, an inanimate tool, instrumentum semivocale, with semispeech as a tool (domestic animals), and vocale, having speech as a tool (the slave). The conception of speech that we have in mind now corresponds to semi-speech, a purely passive form of developing artificial connections proper to animals. For the ancients, the slave was a self-controlled tool, a mechanism with regulation of a special type.
Actually, even in external speech action, man uses not semi-speech, but full speech. Understanding speech, as further research shows, includes in itself its active use.
A second point that interests us in connection with active and passive speech being combined in a single personality consists simply of establishing the presence of this form of behavior, of emphasizing the moving to the first rank of that which we have already found in the analysis of rudimentary functions. Man tying a knot to aid memory or throwing dice is, in fact, an example of such a combination of the key and the apparatus in one pair of hands. His behavior is a real process of the type we were speaking about. It exists.
The problem is based on the personality and its relation to behavior. Higher mental functions are characterized by a special relation to the personality. They represent an active form in their manifestations. If we use the distinction introduced by E. Kretschmer, the personality’s reactions that developed with intense and conscious participation of the whole personality are distinct from primitive reactions that do not include full participation of the whole personality but are formed immediately, reactively along a more elementary, secondary path according to the stimulus-response pattern. The latter, as Kretschmer first noted, we find mainly at early stages of development of people, in children and in animals. In the adult, cultured person, they appear in behavior primarily when the personality is not complete, not fully developed or is paralyzed by an extremely strong stimulus.
Cultured forms of behavior are specifically reactions of the personality. Studying them, we are dealing with separate processes taken in abstracto and rising from the personality, but from the personality as a whole, the higher personality, according to Kretschmer’s expression. Tracing the cultural development of mental functions, we trace the path of development of the personality of the child. The trend toward developing human psychology which drives all our research appears here. Psychology is humanized.
The essence of the change that such a point of view introduces into psychology consists, according to a certain determination of G. Polizer, in contrasting man and processes, in being able to see man who works, and not a muscle that contracts, in a transition from a natural state to a human state, in replacing “inhuman” (in-humain) concepts with “human” (humain). The regulatory principle itself, which we always have in mind when speaking of the new form of man’s determination of behavior, compels us to move from one level to another and to bring man forward to the center. In a somewhat different sense, we might say with Polizer that the concept of determinism is humanized. Psychology looks for those specific human forms of determinism, regulation of behavior, that cannot in any way be simply identified with the determination of behavior in animals or reduced to it. Not nature, but society must, in the first place, be considered as a determining factor of human behavior. This is the whole idea of cultural development of the child.
In psychology time and again, the question has been raised as to how to speak of mental processes – in a personal or impersonal form. “Es denkt sollte man sagen, so wie man sagt, “ wrote Lichtenberg. “To say cogito is somewhat much, once this is translated as ‘I think.'” Actually, would a philosopher agree with saying: I conduct excitation along a nerve. A. Bastian expressed the same position: “Nicht wir denken, es denkt in uns.” In this essentially syntactical controversy, K. Zigvart sees a most important psychological problem: can we think of mental processes as the common notion understands a storm as a series of phenomena that we describe when we say: the storm rages, flashes, thunders, pours, etc.? Zigvart asks, must we, if we want to express ourselves completely, scientifically, speak in exactly the same way in impersonal sentences: it seems, it feels, it wants? In other words: is a psychology of only single processes according to the expression of Zigvart possible together with a personal and impersonal psychology?
We are not interested now in an analysis of direct data of consciousness relative to one form or another of expression, or even the logical question of which of the two forms is most applicable to scientific psychology. We are interested solely in a comparison of the two possible and actually existing points of view and in marking out a boundary between them. We also want to say that this difference agrees completely with the line that divides the passive and active forms of adaptation. It can be said about an animal that he is pulled toward food, but it cannot be said about a stick that it “took” the simian by the hand to get the fruit that lay beyond the railing. In precisely the same way, we must say about the man tying a knot for remembering that it “remembered” the given errand for him.
The development of personality and the development of reaction of the personality are essentially two aspects of one and the same process.
If we seriously consider the fact that with the knot tied for remembering, the man, in essence, constructs externally a process of remembering, an external object compels him to remember, that is, he reminds himself through an external object and, in this way, carries out a process of remembering as if externally, converting it to external activity, if we consider the essence of what occurs here, this one fact can disclose for us all the profound uniqueness of higher forms of behavior. In one case, something is remembered, in the other, man remembers something. In one case, the temporal connection is established due to a coincidence of two stimuli acting simultaneously on the organism; in the other, man himself creates the temporal connection in his brain using an artificial combination of stimuli.
The very essence of human memory consists of man actively remembering with the help of signs. In general, the following might be said about human behavior: in the first place, his individuality is due to the fact that man actively participates in his relations with the environment and through the environment he himself changes his behavior, subjecting it to his control. One of the psychologists says that the very essence of civilization consists in the fact that we purposely erect monuments and statues in order not to forget. In the knot and in the monument, the most profound, the most characteristic, the most important appears which distinguishes the memory of man from the memory of the animal.
With this we can conclude our elucidation of the concept of signification as a new regulatory principle in human behavior. In establishing differences and similarities between the unconditioned and conditioned reflexes as responses based on various regulatory principles, Pavlov cited the example of a telephone communication. One possible case – the telephone communication connects two points directly through a special conductor. This corresponds to the unconditioned reflex. In the second case, the telephone communication is carried out through a central station with the help of temporary, infinitely various connections that answer a temporary need. The cortex as the organ of closure for conditioned reflexes plays the role of such a central telephone station.
The most important thing that we can draw from our analysis and that lies at the base of signification may be expressed with the help of the same example if we broaden it somewhat. Let us take the case of the knot made to help memory or the throwing of dice. Undoubtedly, here in both cases a temporary conditioned connection is established, a connection of the second type, a typical conditioned reflex. But if we fully comprehend what actually occurs here and comprehend it from its most essential aspect, as is only fitting in scientific research, in our explanation of the connection that has arisen, we will be compelled to take into account not only the activity of the telephone apparatus, but also the work of the telephone operator who effected the required closure. In our example, man made the necessary closure by tying the knot. This is the principal uniqueness of the higher form in comparison with the lower. In this we have the basis of that specific activity that we call signification as distinct from and in conformity with signalization.
Since the principle of signification leads us into the area of artificial devices, the question arises as to its relation to other forms of artificial devices, of its place in the general system of man’s adaptation. In a certain specific relation, the use of signs shows a certain analogy to the use of tools. Like all other analogies, this analogy cannot be carried to the bitter end, to a full or partial coincidence of the major essential characteristics of the concepts being compared. For this reason, we must not anticipate finding much similarity to working tools in these devices that we call signs. Moreover, together with similar and common characteristics in one activity or another, we must ascertain the essential characteristics of the difference in a certain relation – contrast.
The invention and use of signs as auxiliary devices for solving any psychological problem confronting man (to remember, to compare something, communicate, select, etc.) is, from the psychological aspect, at one point analogous to the invention and use of tools. As such an essential trait of the two concepts being compared, we consider the role of these devices in behavior to be analogous to the role of the tool in a work operation or, what is the same, the instrumental function of the sign. We have in mind the function of stimulus-device fulfilled by the sign with respect to any psychological operation, that it is a tool of human activity.
In this sense, based on the conventional, figurative meaning of the term, we usually speak of tools when we have in mind the mediating function of some object or means of some activity. True, such common expressions like “language is a tool of thinking,” “auxiliary devices of memory” (aides de memoire), “internal technique,” “technical auxiliary device” or simply auxiliary devices with respect to any psychological operation (Geistestechnik – “spiritual technique,” “intellectual tools,” and many others), are found in abundance among psychologists, are devoid of any specific content, and have scarcely any meaning beyond a simple metaphoric, picturesque expression of the fact that some objects or operations or others play an auxiliary role in the mental activity of man.
In addition, there is no shortage of attempts to ascribe a literal sense to similar signs, equating the sign and the tool, to erase the profound difference between the one and the other, to dissolve in general psychological determinations the specific distinctive characteristics of each type of activity. Thus, J. Dewey, one of the foremost representatives of pragmatism in developing the ideas of instrumental logic and the theory of cognition, defines language as a tool of tools, transferring Aristotle’s definition of the hand to speech.
E. Kapp goes still further in his well-known philosophy of technology; he indicates the fact that the concept of the tool is very commonly used in a graphic, figurative sense and in many cases hampers the real and serious understanding of its true meaning. Kapp continues: when Wundt defines language as a convenient instrument and an important tool of thinking and Whitney says that man invents language, this organ of mental activity, like the mechanical devices he uses to ease his manual labor, both understand the word, tool, in the literal sense. Kapp himself adheres fully to this understanding in considering speech to be a “moving material” like a tool.
With equal strictness, we separate the analogy we made from both the first and the second interpretation. The indeterminate, vague meaning that is usually connected with figurative use of the word tool actually does not lighten the task of the researcher interested in the real and not the picturesque aspect that exists between behavior and its auxiliary devices. Moreover, such designations obscure the road for research. Not a single researcher has yet deciphered the real meaning of such metaphors. Must we think of thinking or memory as analogous to external activity or do devices play a certain role as a fulcrum giving support and help to the mental process? What does this support consist of? What, in general, does it mean to be a means of thinking or memory? We find no answers to these questions among psychologists who willingly use these vague expressions.
Even more vague is the idea of those who understand such expressions in a literal sense. Phenomena that have their own psychological aspect, but in essence do not belong wholly to psychology, such as technology, are completely illegitimately psychologized. The basis for this identification is ignoring the essence of both forms of activity and the differences in their historical role and nature. Tools as devices of work, devices for mastering the processes of nature, and language as a device for social contact and communication, dissolve in the general concept of artifacts or artificial devices.
We intend to subject to precise, empirical research the role of signs and behavior in all its real uniqueness. For this reason, in continuing this whole presentation in greater detail than is practical here, we will on occasion consider how both functions are united and differentiated in the process of the cultural development of the child. But now as a point of departure, we can establish three points that seem to us to be both adequately elucidated by what has been said thus far and sufficiently important for the understanding of the research method we have chosen. The first point pertains to the analogy and points of contiguity between both types of activity, the second elucidates the basic points of divergence, and the third attempts to indicate the real psychological connection between the one and the other or at least to suggest it.
As has already been said, the basis for the analogy between the sign and the tool is the mediating function of the one and the other. From the psychological aspect, they may, for this reason, be classified in the same category. In Fig. 1, we present a diagram attempting to show the relation between the use of signs and the use of tools; from the logical aspect, both may be considered as coordinative concepts included in a more general concept – mediating activity.
With full justification, Hegel used the concept of mediation in its most general meaning, seeing in it the most characteristic property of the mind. He said that the mind is as resourceful as it is powerful. In general, resourcefulness consists in mediating activity that, while it lets objects act on each other according to their nature and exhaust themselves in that activity, does not at the same time intervene in the process, but fulfills only its own proper role. Marx refers to this definition when he speaks of the tools of work and indicates that man “makes use of mechanical, physical, chemical properties of things in order to change them into tools to act on other things according to his purpose” (K. Marx and F Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 190).
It seems to us that on this basis, the use of signs should be classified as a mediating activity since the essence of this is that man acts on behavior through signs, that is, stimuli, letting them act according to their psychological nature. In both cases, the mediating function is of the first order. We shall not define the relation of these coordinative concepts to each other or to the common generic concept any more precisely. We should like only to note that neither can in any case be considered equivalent in meaning nor of equal value in fulfilling functions, nor, finally, in exhausting the whole range of the concept of mediating activity. Together with these, we might have enumerated quite a few mediating activities, since the activity of the mind is not exhausted by the use of tools and signs.
We must emphasize also that our diagram is intended to present the logical relation of the concepts, but not the genetic or functional (on the whole, real) relations of the phenomena. We would like to point to the relation of the concepts, but not in any way to their origin or real root. So conditionally, but at the same time in a purely logical scheme of relations of the concepts, our diagram presents both types of devices as diverging lines of mediating activity. The second point we have developed consists of this. A more substantial difference of the sign from the tool and the basis of the real divergence of the two lines is the different purpose of the one and the other. The tool serves for conveying man’s activity to the object of his activity, it is directed outward, it must result in one change or another in the object, it is the means for man’s external activity directed toward subjugating nature. The sign changes nothing in the object of the psychological operation, it is a means of psychological action on behavior, one’s own or another’s, a means of internal activity directed toward mastering man himself; the sign is directed inward. These activities are so different that even the nature of the devices used cannot be one and the same in both cases.
Finally, the third point, which like the first two, we will develop further, having in view the real connection of these activities and, of course, the real connection of their development in phylo- and ontogenesis. Mastery of nature and mastery of behavior are mutually connected because when man changes nature he changes the nature of man himself. In phylogenesis, we can restore this connection according to separate, fragmentary, documentary traces that do not leave room for doubt; in ontogenesis, we can trace it experimentally.
Even now there is no doubt about one thing. As the first use of a tool instantly changes Jennings’ formula with respect to an organically dependent system of a child’s activity, so precisely does the first use of a sign signify going beyond the limits of the organic system of activity which exists for each mental function. The use of auxiliary devices, the transition to mediated activity radically reconstructs the whole mental operation just as the use of a tool modifies the natural activity of the organs, and it broadens immeasurably the system of activity of mental functions. We designate both taken together by the term higher mental function, or higher behavior.
After a long deviation from our path, we can again return to the direct road. We may consider as basically explained the principle required for all our research and can attempt to define the main formula of our method, which must be an analog of the structural principle of higher forms of behavior, which we have found.