Dialectical Perspectives

views updated


Dialectical analysis originated with the theories of the philosopher Georg Hegel (1770-1831), who posited that conflict and change are the fundamentals of human life. Hegel's theories influenced modern dialectical perspectives, which are concerned with action and change occurring during cognitive development rather than development in universal stages. The foremost proponent of dialectical psychology was Lev Semanovich Vygotsky (1896-1934). He theorized that children's development always takes place in a social context and that the social environment always plays a significant role in all aspects of development. According to Vygotsky, development is organized and regulated by adults through interactions between the developing child and the adult. Higher mental functions first occur on a social level through social interactions and are then internalized by the child. This process is called the zone of proximal development, which is a bidirectional interaction where a child performs beyond his or her skills with the support and direction of an adult.



Clarke-Stewart, Alison, Susan Friedman, and Joanne Koch. Child Development: A Topical Approach. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1985.

Damon, William, ed. The Handbook of Child Psychology, Vol.1: Theoretical Models of Human Development. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1998.


Terri DeMent