Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Structural Dialectical Approach in Psychology: Problems and Research resultsPsychology in Russia: State of the Art

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Structural Dialectical Approach in Psychology: Problems and Research resultsPsychology in Russia: State of the Art

Article excerpt

The structural-dialectical approach in psychology, which was developed by a team led by Nikolay Veraksa, is based on dialectical logic. Dialectical logic regards any object as developing, as constantly being in a dynamical context. "Dialectness" is an essential characteristic of a developing object; in other words, a developing object constitutes a unity of oppositions. This feature of complex objects had been defined in a most strict way by Hegel's logic (1970) and has been confirmed many times by scientific research. In the case of a developing object it is correct to discuss not the contradiction but the special type of relations of oppositions that allow them to exclude and to presuppose each other at the same time.

As dialectical thinking is a form of mental process different from formal logical thinking, its researchers face a contradiction. They emphasize the absolute dialectness of nature and society and see inalterability as secondary, as a single moment within the constant changing of objects and phenomena. They also understand the importance of dialectical thinking as a cognitive activity assigned to reflect this dialectness. Yet, although they acknowledge dialectical thinking to be the supreme form of thinking, it appears relatively late in a person's development. The contradiction lies in the fact that if children come across dialectics of things in the world and dialectical thinking appears much later in their development process, some other form of thinking must provide them with the ability to reflect reality adequately; such thinking is not yet dialectical thinking (because it is supreme), but still has to be dialectical (as it's oriented on the dialectics of things). This contradiction was explored in the works of J. Piaget, who distinguished two kinds of dialectics -- "elementary" and "supreme."

Therefore the problem can be set as follows: Are there really two kinds of dialectical thinking--"elementary" and "supreme theoretical," or is there only one kind, whose structures are similar on all levels and whose distinctions are determined by the content?

We proceed from the understanding that dialectical thinking is a special form of cognitive activity and that it is different from the traditional way of thinking and has a certain unity on all levels of representation. On the basis of this understanding only, one can speculate that dialectical thinking, as an independent line in cognitive development, can be ascertained in the mental processes not only of children but also of adults. The unity of dialectical thinking at all ages originates from the dialectical nature of strategies for the transformation of situations whose essential characteristic is the determination of the relations of opposition. Along with the unity of the mechanism of dialectical thinking, certain distinctions are presupposed by the specific features of the cognitive means implemented by a person while in the process of thinking. This difference in means in its turn depends on the activity undertaken by the child or adult (Shiyan, 2011a).

Within the framework of the structural-dialectical approach, dialectical thinking is regarded as creative, productive thinking (Bayanova, 2013; Krasheninnikov, 2008; Shiyan, 1999; Veraksa, 1990, 2007). A person using dialectical thinking can see any object, process, or phenomena as content in which significant oppositions are represented (Shiyan, 2009). Therefore, this content can be transformed dialectically; for example, a resolution of the opposition can be found, or a new situation can be constructed that is opposite to the initial one. Transformations are performed through the following dialectical acts (Krasheninnikov, 2005):

1. Dialectical transformation. For any objects, ideas, phenomena, situations, a person finds oppositional ones.

2. Dialectical integration. In the structure of any object or situation a person establishes the presence of oppositions that mutually disaffirm each other. …

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