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‘Existentializing’ Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Higher Mental Functions as Skillful Coping

  • Author / Creator
    Shillabeer, Evan J
  • Cultural psychology has typically viewed culture as an abstract system of rules that are first internalized and then employed individually. Lev Vygotsky has been largely mobilized in cultural psychology to support such an account via emphasis on the priority of semiotic mediation and the role of signs in his account of psychological development. Yet, increasingly such a view of culture and socialization as a process by which something external to human conduct is internalized has been viewed as missing the fundamental co-constitutive relationship of personhood and culture. In this thesis, I juxtapose the existential-phenomenological works of Hubert Dreyfus and Martin Heidegger to Vygotsky’s view of development to generate a sketch of an ontogenetic approach that accounts for the co-constitutive relationship of persons and culture. I propose an ‘existential’ zone of proximal development as an existential aspect of all human interaction, or as implied in our relationality, which also provides a view of higher mental functions’ as normative skills. I finally offer an interpretation of how this shift in understanding changes Vygotsky’s developmental account from being a recognition of the relation of less and more competent cultural actors to being a central aspect of what it means to be a person.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-eaar-va46
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.