Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Upton I 14
Cultural tools/human history/Vygotsky/Upton: Vygotsky thesis: human history is created through the construction and use of cultural tools (Vygotsky 1930/1978)(1). It is this inventive use of tools that makes humans unique. A hammer is a physical example of a cultural tool. It is a means of knocking sharp objects such as nails into surfaces, in order to create a new structure. The form and function of the hammer are
Upton I 15
the result of generations of cultural evolution and adaptation. The meaning and use of a hammer are not immediately obvious to someone who has never come across one before, or who has never needed to knock nails in. The information about how to use tools is also culturally transmitted.
Each generation may adapt the hammer for its own needs or use it in new ways. Vygotsky calls this ‘appropriation’.
Upton I 16
Language/Vygotsky: One of the most important cultural tools people use is language. Like the hammer, the language we use today is the result of long-term cultural development, adaptation, transmission and appropriation.


1. Vygotsky, LS (1930/1978) Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Vygotsky I
L. S. Vygotsky
Thought and Language Cambridge, MA 1986

Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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