Dissolution of the Body–Mind Problem

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
Part of the Cultural Psychology of Education book series (CPED, volume 9)


In his last written texts and notebooks, Vygotsky noted the psychophysical problem as an issue that he needed to address in the future. He had recognized the intellectualism in his own early work, which he intended to overturn in his work to come. When he wrote that language is in practice consciousness for others and for the self, he actually had articulated the seed for an important part of a theory: consciousness exists not in some ideal immaterial netherworld but, in the form of language, is part of the everyday material world that we inhabit and thus is available. However, in his theoretical move from ideal word meanings to the existence of a sense-giving field – the accented visible but not the visible – Vygotsky still formulated a parallelist approach. In a note from late 1933 or early 1934, that is, only months before his death, Vygotsky recognized this parallelism: “Our analysis … was mistaken … there is no unity but rather parallelism and correspondence” (Vygotsky, in Zavershneva 2010, 49). George Herbert Mead (as Alfred North Whitehead), on the other hand, had already developed an approach that overcame the body–mind dualism and parallelism. He did so by making sure the theory of mind is consistent with evolution shaping the human species prior to the emergence of mind and culture, where mind (consciousness) and culture then constituted advantages to the survival of the species: “Man certainly arises in nature, and his experience is that which belongs to nature itself; this does away with the old dualism of the Renaissance” (Mead 1938, 642). John Dewey and Whitehead were fundamentally taken the same transactional approach to mind as Mead.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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