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date: 08 April 2020

Summary and Keywords

The interdisciplinary connections between psychology, the humanities, and the arts in Russia played a powerful role in delineating the unique character of the psychological field in the country. During the 19th and early 20th centuries an approach in Russian psychology that drew on the work of philosophers and theologists, art and literature critics, poets and writers represented a powerful current in the Russian quest for self-understanding. The interdisciplinary exchanges between psychology, sciences, and the arts intensified after the October Revolution of 1917. The revolution’s imperative of reshaping the world in a socialist mold ushered in a period of bold experimentation in the arts and the formulation of similarly ambitious research agendas in the sciences. The first 15 years following the revolution saw intense traffic between scientific laboratories, research institutes, and teaching institutions, on the one hand, and theaters, art studios, and the cinema industry, on the other, reconfiguring what had traditionally been understood as the distinct domains of science and art. The ideal of synthetic knowledge and the imperative of integration, especially in the domain of psychology, was also the main driving force behind the emergence of the cultural-historical paradigm proposed by Lev Vygotsky. Moreover, many of Vygotsky’s key concepts—including sign, mediation, and “perejivanie” (emotional work)—are indebted to his early encounters with literature, theater, and art criticism. A non-classical paradigm, the most recent and original development in Russian psychology, continues to draw important insights from aesthetic theories and philosophy. Overall, the Russian tradition in psychological humanities provides a powerful example of epistemological practice that brings art, humanistic inquiry, and scientific research well and truly together, generating a remarkable synthesis of knowledge.

Keywords: interdisciplinarity, cultural-historical theory, Vygotsky, non-classical psychology, CIT, RAKhN, Proletkult

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