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Conclusion The problem of functional systems

We have completed the tedious way of examining the main points in the evolution of the child's practical intelligence and in the development of its symbolic activity. It remains for us to put together and summarize the conclusions to which we have come to summarize our consideration of the problem of developing practical intelligence and point out those important theoretical and methodological conclusions that can be drawn from a number of similar studies, when each is devoted to one or another particular problem.

If you try to embrace all that has been said about the evolution of the child’s practical intelligence, you can see the following: the main content of this evolution is that, in the process of development, a complex and simple function of practical intelligence observed in a child before mastering speech , multiple, woven from a variety of functions form of behavior. In the process of the child's mental development, as the research shows, not only is the internal reorganization and improvement of individual functions, but also the interfunctional connections and relations are radically changed. As a result, new psychological systems emerge that unite in complex cooperation a number of separate elementary functions. These psychological systems, these unity of a higher order, which take the place of homogeneous, unitary, elementary functions, we conditionally call higher mental functions. All that has been said so far makes us admit that the real psychological education, which in the process of the development of the child takes the place of his elementary practical and intellectual operations, cannot be designated otherwise than as a psychological system. This concept includes both the complex combination of symbolic and practical activities that we have been insisting on all the time, and the new ratio of a number of individual functions that is characteristic of practical human intelligence, and the new unity to which this heterogeneous in the course of development is given composition of the whole.

Thus, we arrive at the conclusion exactly the opposite of that established in the study of intelligence by E. Thorndike (1925). As it is known, Thorndike proceeds from the assumption that higher mental functions are nothing more than a further development, a quantitative growth of associative links of the same order as the links underlying elementary processes. In his opinion, both phylogenesis and ontogenesis reveal the fundamental identity of the psychological nature of the connections underlying the lower and higher processes.

Our study speaks against this assumption. Our research leads us to recognize that connections of a different order are characteristic of those specific neoplasms that we call psychological systems, or higher mental functions. Since Thorndike's position, by his own admission, is directed against traditional dualism in the teaching of lower and higher forms of behavior, and since the question of overcoming traditional dualism is one of the main methodological and theoretical tasks of all modern scientific psychology, we will certainly analyze what answer to We must give this problem (dualism or unity of higher and lower functions) in the light of the experimental research we have carried out.

But first you need to clarify one possible misunderstanding. Objections against Thorndike's theory may be primarily directed not along the line that interests us in this case, but along the line of ascertaining the general inconsistency of associationism and the whole mechanistic concept of intellectual development, which is affirmed on the basis of this point of view. We now leave aside the question of the failure of the associative principle. We are interested in more. It doesn't matter if we recognize the associative or structural nature of mental functions, the main question remains in full force: can higher mental functions be reduced in essential, defining patterns to lower ones; Are they just more complex and confusing expressions of the very same laws that dominate the lower forms, or are they essentially the structure, way of activity, they owe their appearance to the action of new laws unknown in terms of elementary forms of behavior?

We think that the resolution of this issue is connected with the change in the main point of view, which insists in modern psychology K.
Levin and which he designates as a transition from the “phenotypic to conditionally genetic” point of view. We think, further, that psychological analysis, penetrating the external appearance of phenomena and revealing the internal structure of mental processes, and in particular the analysis of the development of higher forms, forces us to recognize unity, but not the identity of higher and lower mental functions.

The question of dualism of lower and higher functions is not removed when moving from associative to structural point of view. We see this from the fact that within structural psychology, there is always a dispute between representatives of these two views on the nature of higher processes. Some insist on recognizing the differences between the two types of mental processes and come to a strict distinction between the two main forms of activity, one of which is usually referred to as the reactive type of activity, the other, the decisive point of which is that it primarily arises from the person, as spontaneous type activities. Representatives of this direction defend the position that we are forced in psychology to proceed from a fundamentally dualistic understanding of those and other processes. The living being, they say, is not only a system that meets irritation, but also a system that pursues its goals.

Opponents of a sharp distinction between higher processes as spontaneous activities and lower ones as reactive activities defend the opposite point of view. They seek to show that that sharp dualism, that metaphysical opposition between the two types of activity that are usually advanced, does not really exist. They are trying to uncover the reactive nature of many moments, the inner-spontaneous forms of behavior and the active character of moments, depending on the internal structure of the system itself, in reactive processes. They show that in so-called spontaneous processes, the behavior of an organism also depends on the nature of the stimulus, and vice versa: in reactive processes, behavior also depends on the internal structure and state of the system itself. Others, like Levin, see in the concept of need the resolution of this question, which is for them that the objects of the external world can have a definite relation to needs. They may have a positive or negative "character of command."

We see, therefore, that the rejection of the associative theory and the structural point of view by themselves without a special study of the problem do not solve, but remove or bypass the question that interests us. True, the new point of view helps to overcome the metaphysical nature of traditional psychological dualism and recognizes the fundamental unity of higher and lower functions in relation to internal and external moments acting in some and other processes. But here two new questions inevitably arise by themselves, to which we do not find a fundamental answer in the usually proposed solution.

The first is that external and internal moments, which are necessary in processes of one and the other type, may have different specific gravities and, therefore, define the whole process of behavior in both cases in a qualitatively different way. Not metaphysically, but empirically, we still have to highlight the higher processes in comparison with the lower ones or not? And the second is that the separation between spontaneous and reactive forms of behavior may not coincide with the distinction between actions directed primarily by internal needs and actions directed by external stimuli.
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Conclusion The problem of functional systems

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