The Theory of A. R. Luria: Functions of Spoken Language in the Development of Higher Mental Processes

The Theory of A. R. Luria: Functions of Spoken Language in the Development of Higher Mental Processes

The Theory of A. R. Luria: Functions of Spoken Language in the Development of Higher Mental Processes

The Theory of A. R. Luria: Functions of Spoken Language in the Development of Higher Mental Processes

Excerpt

When Dr. Vocate first approached me to inquire if I would write a preface to her book about Alexander Luria's research on language and human psychological processes, my reaction was one of curiousity and misgiving. I was curious about the kind of book that would result from a meticulous study of Luria's translated work, and I doubted strongly that I could add anything of value to readers' experience of her account. When I first read through the manuscript my curiousity was satisfied. In the pages to follow you will find an exceedingly thorough exposition of Luria's work over more than half a century, gleaned from an amazing range of sources. But my misgiving remained. I was uncertain what I could add to Dr. Vocate's scholarship.

However, as time passed I found myself in odd moments letting my mind wander over the incredible canvas of the man's work. Phrases and paragraphs written as many as 50 years apart from each other juxtaposed themselves in my mind, and I was assailed (not for the first time) by a strong sense of wonder at the richness of the insights that Alexander Luria's work contains for contemporary studies of human nature. As these pages testify, I eventually agreed that perhaps it would not be useless for me to comment on the book for English-speaking readers. Whether this judgment was correct or not, those readers must decide for themselves.

Alexander Romanovich Luria began his career prior to the Russian Revolution, while still an enthusiastic teenager, imbued with the ideals of Russian activist humanism and burning with a desire to apply science to the improvement of his countrymen. He died a world famous professor in his country's most prestigious university more than half a century later. In the interim he published a large number of books (more than a dozen of which have been translated into English) and hundreds of research papers. His subject matter included experimental studies of the relation between cognition and affect, the impact of cultural and social conditions on cognitive development, the role of genetic influences in development, mental retardation, aphasia, the restoration of function following brain . . .

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