What is your definition of consciousness?  How was your consciousness formed?  Have you ever stopped and thought about this before?  What are your thoughts?  Today in Dr. Rowe’s theory meeting we had much conversation about consciousness in relation to Vygotsky and the sociocultural theory of learning.

Here is a quote from Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind by James V. Wertsch:

On the basis of this Marxian axiom Vygotsky argues that ‘the socialdimension of consciousness id primary in time and in fact.  The individual dimension of consciousness is derivative and secondary’ (1979, p.30)” 1985, p. 58

In our meeting today the question was proposed that does this mean that for Vygotsky that there is no consciousness without the social aspect of society?  The interactions between people and the formed realization of what these actions mean?  What about the individualism of the person?  What about the biological make-up of individuals?  Do these factors play a role in the Vygotsky view of consciousness?  Do they play a role in your view of consciousness?

The example one can think of when trying to wrap your brain around these questions is the symbol of language.  One does not just know language, but one typically has the needed “biological functions” to produce the mechanics of sound.  Language, and some argue even speech is a social behavior.

It became clear in our conversation that this view seems to have some deficits, mainly the lack of attention to the individual, the development of the individual as they grow and “learn” before the age of five and the role of the of form instruction given (school learning is very different then at home or social learning for example).  As thoughts were brought forth, it seemed that we considered the role of the individual married with the social interaction begins that formation of consciousness.  As the individual grows and develops the skills they acquire from the social group they are in as well as their own physical progression increases the amount of signs and tools for that individual.  When one is able to deliberately choose what tool to use, knows how to use the tool, why they want to use the tool and what outcome they are expecting from the tool use, consciousness is forming.  One statement that even takes this further by Dr. Rowe is that once an individual learns to use a tool, it potentially changes the way that individual will do all future things.

So what are your thoughts?