Vygotsky, Heidegger, and Gadamer on Moral Development

Vygotsky, Heidegger, and Gadamer on Moral Development

Leena Kakkori (University of Eastern Finland, Finland) and Rauno Huttunen (University of Turku, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6603-0.ch019
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Abstract

The authors present a Heideggerian-Gadamerian interpretation of Vygotsky from the point of view of moral learning. In doing so, they introduce a new concept called Hermeneutic Zone of Proximal Development (HZPD). They also connect HZPD to the self-education of one's moral voice and lifelong moral learning. Adult self-education includes activities like reappraisal of moral choices, improving moral imagination, especially concerning fellow feeling, and dissimulating unproductive moral feelings in order to convert them into productive moral feelings. The purpose of critical self-reflection of one's moral voice is to transform “everyday morality” into “deliberative morality.”
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Introduction

Is language a simple tool which we use for communication or is it an advanced instrument for expressing our thoughts? According to the hermeneutic notion, language is something more than an instrument of communication. The hermeneutic notion of language matches with Lev Semjonovitš Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of language, in which language and thought are intertwined units of analysis. The problems of dealing with dichotomized concepts like thinking and language, thought and world, have been basic philosophical issues since the beginning of Western thought. Martin Heidegger considered it to be his main task to overcome the Cartesian dichotomy. Thinking and language play an essential role, especially in his later philosophy. Hans-Georg Gadamer, emphasises in a Vygotskian manner the role of dialogue in constructive thinking and hermeneutical experience. In Lev Vygotsky’s view, language and thought have different origins but are interconnected and interwoven inseparably. His view is close to a hermeneutical approach to understanding of language. This approach provides a possibility of interconnecting language to the development of the human being, including moral development. According to the hermeneutic notion, language is something more than a tool or instrument of communication. The hermeneutic notion of language matches with Vygotsky’s (1986) socio-cultural theory of language, in which language and thought are intertwined.

The relation of thought to word is not a thing but process, a continual movement back and forth from thought to word and from word to thought. In that process, the relation of thought to word undergoes changes that themselves may regard as development in the functional sense. Thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them. (p. 218)

Vygotsky claims that contemporary psychology was in a state of profound crisis. He quotes Brentano’s words (Vygotsky 1986, p.13) saying there are many psychologies, but there is no one, unified psychology. Our conclusion is that the situation is same in our days. The duality of body and mind is one indication of the crisis. Piaget tries to escape this fatal duality by remaining strictly in the realms of facts. Vygotsky (1986, p. 14) claims that Piaget fails to solve the Cartesian dualism. Vygotsky offers his socio-cultural approach to solve the crisis of psychology and the problem of Cartesian dualism. There are interesting relations between Vygotsky’s thinking and Martin Heidegger’s philosophy (Pacher & Goicoechea, 2000).

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Purpose Of The Study

Problems of thinking and language, thought and world, have been basic philosophical issues since the beginning of Western thought. Heidegger’s (1992, p. 41- 49) main objective was to overcome Cartesian dichotomy. Thinking and language play an essential role in that respect. Heidegger’s student, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1998, p. 186-188; p. 362-379; p. 383-389) emphasises the role of dialogue in thinking and hermeneutical experience. The purpose of this chapter is to present a Heideggerian-Gadamerian interpretation of Vygotsky from the point of view of adult moral learning.

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