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Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind Paperback – November 14, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0674943513 ISBN-10: 0674943511 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (October 15, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674943511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674943513
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Wertsch's book admirably meets the need of presenting the contemporary significance of Vygotsky's views...He is skilled in peeling apart complex ideas and clearly expressing their core meanings and implications...A much-needed model of how cognitive scientists today can work creatively within a grand theoretical framework that places the study of the individual within the study of humanity as a whole. (Sylvia Scribner)

Wertsch presents the reader with what amounts to a sort of intellectual history of an individual of remarkable breadth and insight and, in doing so, has revealed himself to be a first-rate scholar as well. (James Gavelek Journal of Reading Behavior)

This book falls into three parts: a biographical sketch of Vygotsky, an outline of his principal tenets, and Wertsch's own attempt to bring them up to date. His scholarship is exemplary: the book is the most detailed account in English of its subject's life and work. It will be welcomed by cognitive psychologists and students of development. (P. N. Johnson-Laird Times Literary Supplement)

Wertsch accomplishes an impressive task in this book, providing an enriching source on Vygotsky's ideas as well as constructively criticizing and extending them. (Contemporary Psychology)

Clear, subtle, and always focused on the central issues...The book goes beyond Vygotsky's work and draws on other current research in cognitive studies, cross-cultural psychology, education, and work by linguists, philosophers, and students and colleagues of Vygotsky...It is a significant contribution by Wertsch to have synthesized the theory itself with such clarity, and more so to have brought it up to date with contemporary research on so many fields. (Thomas S. Weisner American Anthropologist)

An excellent analysis of Vygotsky's theory and it will certainly be enjoyed by those interested in the history and theory of psychology. But it also should be of great interest for those involved in the experimental study of language and cognition. (Alex Kozulin American Journal of Psychology)

This lucid account of Vygotsky's ideas makes clear why he is exerting such a great influence on contemporary psychology and education. Especially valuable is Wertsch's explanation of the links that existed in Vygotsky's work between the social and humane sciences in the work of Bakhtin, the Formalists, the Prague School, and many others. Reading the book is a terrific educational experience. (Michael Coles)

I am full of admiration for this book. Vygotsky is an immensely attractive figure who has real conceptual help to offer those now struggling to integrate the immediacy of social and historical experience with the rigor and system of theory. James Wertsch has intimate experience of the Soviet Union, including teaching stints in the psychology faculty at Moscow State University, and shared research with the Soviet scientists most creatively working out new implications of the Vygotsky legacy. His account of Vygotsky's thought is as authoritative as can be found in any language, including Russian; but this book is not canonical: it is much more than an accurate account of Vygotsky's work in the 20s and 30s, exciting as that work was and as skillfully as Wertsch has rendered it. At least half of this book is a dialogic encounter between Vygotsky and the most recent work in linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science--a tour de force of synthetic imagination in which Wertsch himself emerges as an important theorist. (Michael Holquist)

Wertsch's book is an important piece of scholarship, drawing on the one side from Vygotsky's theoretical brilliance and on the other from Wertsch's unusual gifts as a scholar. (Sheldon H. White)

Review

Wertsch's book admirably meets the need of presenting the contemporary significance of Vygotsky's views...He is skilled in peeling apart complex ideas and clearly expressing their core meanings and implications...A much-needed model of how cognitive scientists today can work creatively within a grand theoretical framework that places the study of the individual within the study of humanity as a whole.
--Sylvia Scribner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The first three chapters were okay although Wertsch's writing can be difficult to follow (unlike Vygotsky's) because of his overly formal style. I didn't get the sense that he truly appreciated Vygotsky's subject matter of self consciousness i.e. being able to make oneself the object of one's own awareness through the use of psychological tools. Instead I got more of a sense of someone who was focusing more on Vygotsky's take on language and meaning. This was reinforced when I started to read chapter 4 and his attempt to extend Vygotsky's work by assimilating analytical philosophy and propositional logic into his work. It's a guess but I believe that Vygotsky would have rejected such an attempt and viewed it as a distortion of his work through the use of false universals. I say false universals since analytical philosophy or modern theories of propositional referentiality are divorced from historically constituted life activity which was Vygotsky's explanatory principle (word meaning being his unit of analysis and human self awareness being his object of study).
I bought the book because I wanted to learn about Vygotsky and not the analytic philosophy of Quine and other Anglophile philosophers. If I wanted to learn about them I'd have bought a book that had them as its subject.
My advice to anyone new to Vygotsky is to read his work without the mediation of experts like Wertsch. Unlike Wertsch Vygotsky wrote very clearly so that his ideas would be available to ordinary interested readers and not just scholars .
I don't like the book because I believe it under represents Vygotsky's focus which was on human consciousness. Saying this I know I'm going against the grain and that James Wertsch is highly regarded as a Vygotskian scholar so......
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Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind
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