Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development, Central Michigan University, U.S.A.
Background. When Vygotsky suggested the term rudimentary functions for psychological phenomena, he drew a parallel with organismic rudiments that existed and continue to exist in a number of biological species. These rudiments used to play an important role in the life of an organism and allow us to study that life in the process of its development. Vygotsky originally gave three explicit examples of psychological rudimentary functions: 1) attributing an important decision to the result of a solitaire card game, 2) tying a knot in a handkerchief in order to remember and do something later, and 3) counting on one’s fingers.
Objective. The purpose of this article is to offer a contemporary overview and paths for development of L.S. Vygotsky’s notion of rudimentary function.
Design. This paper, in the genre of a theoretical article, drew on existing research and theoretical literature to advance a theory. I analyzed Vygotsky’s original example of a solitaire game and similar actions (for example, flipping a coin), arguing that these actions represent key events mediating choice and exercising human will over affect. I then focused on three more psychological functions that fit Vygotsky’s definition of rudiments: 1) photographic memory and déjà vu as instances of historically primitive eidetic memory, 2) talking to one-self aloud as a rudiment of a key event forming the self-regulatory mechanism of inner speech in childhood, and 3) fantasizing, which could remind us of our young age, when imagination readily created what was lacking in external world.
Results. This analysis allowed me to vividly illustrate the historical and relational focus of Vygotsky’s theories.Conclusions. Rudimentary functions, often perceived as mysterious, in their simplicity can be powerful reminders that historically primitive functions do not disappear, but enter complex relationships with other psychological functions, and that many relationships are possible within different cultural-historical formations, with Western civilization being just one example.
Keywords: cultural-historical theory, higher and lower-order psychological functions, doub- le stimulation