From being motivated to motivating oneself: A Vygotskian perspective

Research paper by Eugene V. Aidman, Dmitry A. Leontiev

Indexed on: 01 Sep '91Published on: 01 Sep '91Published in: Studies in East European Thought


The aim of this paper has been to draw attention to the non-cognitive aspects of Vygotsky's theoretical heritage. We hope that we have succeeded in presenting here his principal ideas on motivation and volition in the present-day problem context. It should be noted that the problem of human freedom and self-determination was of great importance for Vygotsky, though the explicit discussion of this problem is not common in his writings. Approaching this problem both as a philosopher and as a psychologist, Vygotsky inevitably had first to get some idea of the general psychological regularities which could serve as a concrete-psychological basis for the constructive paradigm in the explanation of the phenomena of human freedom and “non-freedom.” It is highly probable that he planned to discuss this problem at length in his last uncompleted book,Doctrine of Affects. However, even the existing texts provide a weighty and insightful basis not only for scientific research but also for creating applied methods of enhancement of human will-power, or, more exactly, the talent to will. Some of the possibilities, revealed by the Vygotskian approach, are presented in the last section. Many other of Vygotsky's brilliant ideas still await an unbiased reading in the contemporary, rather than merely historical, context.