The paper analyses the main achievements and development trends of the national psychology of thinking in the second half of the twentieth century from the point of view of the activity approach. This approach has been implemented in various forms (firstly by S.L. Rubinstein and his followers, secondly by A.N. Leontiev and his followers). The paper summarises and compares the results of long-term cycles of theoretical and experimental studies, and also confirms the synthesis of productivity based upon conceptions of thinking as a process and as an activity according to these research schools.
Based on the principle of the unity of consciousness and activity the authors emphasize the need of thinking in the context of the various activities and claim that the developed thinking should be studied as a separate, self-regulated function of the person with a multi-level psychological determination which presupposes goal-setting, motivational and emotional, meaningful, and reflective functions. The increasing role of the study of the subject of thought, and in a wider sense the cognitive activity in the context of the analysis of mental development (in history, ontogenesis and actual genesis) is being stressed in the paper. It involves identifying both general and specific patterns of micro genesis and macro genesis of thinking.
The restrictions of the rapidly developing informational approach developed by cognitive sciences, inability to reduce the psychological reality to the model laid down in the artificial intelligence systems are being proved in the paper. It is argued that the main feature of thinking as a process is its continuity, which is conceptually genetic (non- disjunctive and non-dichotomous item) in contrast with the separate cycles of any computer programme: all stages of the thinking process is continuously followed by another one, and therefore, being objectively different, they are indivisible, they are mutually determined by the dynamics of intellectual and emotional processes and their products that are attributable to the different levels of awareness and arbitrariness.
At the same time, the paper emphasizes the fact that in modern conditions the intellectual activity produced and processed by computers plays a new significant object of psychological research, as the human societal progress of requires substantial advance in the study of thinking. Considering the rapid dissemination of science-based (physiological, logical and mathematical, cybernetic, sociological) reductionism the authors call for a reorientation of research in the psychology of thinking. First and foremost, they offer to study creative, non-algorithmic, non-formalised components (i.e., to analyze the personal aspect of thinking, which determins patterns of generating and operating new needs, motives, emotions, judgments, meanings, purposes and methods of thinking activity). In this paper we prove a significant advantage of the activity approach methodology, its heuristic approach and prospects to disclose specific features of intricate psychological forms of human thinking.
Brushlinskiy A.V., Tikhomirov O.K. (2013). On the trend of modern psychology of thinking. National Psychological Journal, 2(10), 10-16