David et al-- Here, thanks to Marxist.org is a segment on the issue of
elements of mediational in relation to structure. The entire chapter
found at http://www.marxists.org.
Let us now compare the natural and cultural mnemonics of a child. The
relation between the two forms can be graphically expressed by means
triangle: in case of natural memorization a direct associative or
conditional reflexive connection is set up between two points, A and
case of mnemotechnical memorization, utilizing some sign, instead of
associative connection AB, the others are set up AX and BX, which
to the same result, but in a roundabout way. Each of these
and BX is the same kind of conditional-reflexive process of
The mnemotechnical memorizing can thus be divided without remainder
same conditional reflexes as natural memorizing. The only new
the substitution of two connections for one, the construction or
of nervous connections, and the direction given to the process of
by means of a sign. Thus new features consist not in the elements
but in the
structure of the cultural methods of mnemonics.
The second task of scientific investigation is to elucidate *the
that method. Although each method of cultural behaviour consists, as
shown by the analysis, of natural psychological processes, yet that
unites them not in a mechanical, but in a structural way. In other
all processes forming part of that method form a complicated
structural unity. This unity is effected, first, by the task which
solved by the given method, and secondly, by the means by which that
can be followed.
The same problem, if solved by different means, will have a different
structure. If a child in the above mentioned situation turns to the
external memorizing means, the whole structure of his processes will
determined by the character of the means which he has selected.
on different systems of signs will be different in its structure. A
an auxiliary means of a cultural method thus forms a structural and
functional centre, which determines the whole composition of the
and the relative importance of each separate process.
The inclusion in any process of a sign remodels the whole structure of
psychological operations, just as the inclusion of a tool remodels
structure of a labour operation. The structures thus formed have their
specific laws. You find in them that some psychological operations are
replaced by others which cause the same results, but by quite
methods. Thus, for example, in memorizing mnemotechnically, the
psychological functions, such as comparison, the renewal of old
logical operations, reasoning, etc., all become aids to memorizing.
precisely the structure which combines all the separate processes,
the component parts of the cultural habit of behaviour, which
this habit into a psychological function, and which fulfils its task
respect to the behaviour as a whole.
However, that structure does not remain unchanged. That is the most
important point of all we know concerning the cultural development
child. This structure is not an outward, ready-made creation. It
in conformance with definite laws at a certain stage of the natural
development of the child. It cannot be forced on the child from
always originates inwardly, although it is modelled by the deciding
influence of external problems with which the child is faced and the
external signs with which it operates. After the structure comes
it does not remain unchanged, but is subject to a lengthy internal
which shows all the signs of development.
A new method of behaviour does not simply remain fixed as a certain
habit. It has its internal history. It is included in the general
the development of a child’s behaviour, and we therefore have a
talk of a genetic relation between certain structures of cultural
and behaviour, and of the development of the methods of behaviour.
development is certainly of a special kind, is radically different
organic development and has its own definite laws. It is extremely
to grasp and express precisely the peculiarity of that type of
In basing our position on critical explanations and on a series of
suggested by experimental investigations, we shall try to take
toward the correct understanding of this development.
Binet, who in his investigations was faced by these two types of
development, tried to solve the problem in the simplest fashion. He
investigated the memory of eminent calculators, and in this
occasion to compare the memory of a man endowed with a truly
memory with the memory of a man endowed with an average memory; the
however, was not inferior to the former in memorizing a huge number of
figures. Mneme and mnemotechnics were thus for the first time
experimental investigation, and for the first time an attempt was
find an objective difference between these two essentially different
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