The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

A Tool to Shape Minds

This view was inspired by the theory of the mediating language advanced in the 1920s by the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky: that language provides a semiotic mediation of knowledge and therefore guides the child's cognitive growth. Cognitive faculties are internalized versions of social processes. This implies that cognition develops in different ways in different cultures. Your mind depends on the cultural conditions of the community that raised you.

The individual is the result of a dialectical cooperation between nature and history, between the biological sphere and the social sphere. An individual is a product of culture (nurture) as well as a product of nature. Children develop under the influence of both biology and society.

Vygotsky insisted on the concept of "zone of proximal development": the difference between the unguided (independent) problem solving skills and the guided (coached) problem solving skills.

Language is a way to organize (internally) the world. But language is also a way to transmit mind to less “mentally-able” individuals and across generations: the by-products of this process of "coaching" are the arts and sciences.

The acquisition of language itself is such a process of transmission of mind: teaching a child to speak is a way of coaching the mind of the child.

Humans solve problems by speaking as well as by using their body and tools.

Vygotsky also realized that the process of "learning" from a coach is mostly unconscious (just like the child is not conscious that s/he is learning to speak). He thought it was a general phenomenon: we become conscious of a function only after we have mastered it by practicing it unconsciously.


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