Notes on the issue of psychological development in Vygotsky
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With the wide availability of Vygotsky works in the Western world, researchers have begun to discuss the mischaracterization of his work. More recently, they have also started to propose a review of which would be his most important works and their true chronology. In the context of these ongoing discussions, our purpose is to present the theoretical evolution of Vygotsky on the subject of psychological development, highlighting the Neoformation and Social situation of development concepts as the main contribution of his final works. To do that we analyzed where Vygotsky argued about the shift from instrumental and post-instrumental or systemic periods, because it is there we can notice the overcoming of his analogy between internal activity - mediated by signs - and external activity mediated by tools. In his writings from the mid-1920s we found a predominance of the genesis of psychological functions that are specific to the human species, which appear in human history due to the emergence of cultural mediators (instruments and signs) that develop from vital activity (labor). With this emphasis, Vygotsky sought to demonstrate that, unlike signaling found in other animals, the sign connects human beings to objects in a way never found before in nature, through the meaning. Further, we found that Vygotsky and his colleagues sought to improve their theoretical arguments and fill the gap between personality and the relationship it stablishes with higher activity forms. As a result of these efforts, we found in his 1930s writings an important advance. Supported by his experiments and an extensive critical review of several investigations of Child Psychology and Psychopathology fields, Vygotsky accumulated rich material which culminated in new formulations. The main material was the understanding that elementary psychological functions are interconnected and form new functional groups that change through time, throughout the psychological ages. For Vygotsky, the source of these new psychological formations is the Social situation of development, which becomes an individual function. This is how inter-functional systems are originated in the environment, in the relations with others; this is how they become part of the individual psychic dynamics, in the person's relationship with him/herself (in the form of inner speech), making self-consciousness possible.