Real (or Actual) Concept

Actual (or Real) concepts are those which arise in the course of the person’s real life development in contrast to the concepts which are identified in the laboratory.


Vygotsky calls ‘actual concepts’ the concepts which arise in the course of the person’s real life development in contrast to the artificial concepts identified in experimental work such as that of Narziβ Ach and Leonid Sakharov, and in contrast to ‘ideal typical’ concepts. All the various kinds of concept which Vygotsky defines are in fact ideal paths of development for concepts, which do not perfectly describe any real concept, which is always the product of multiple paths of development.

‘Actual’ concepts may also be spoken of as those of mature adults in contrast to the abstract, idealised ‘true’ concepts that a child has been taught at school, but which have not left the classroom and are untouched by experience, and in contrast to the child’s spontaneous concepts, which have not left the home and remain unaffected by contact with the wider world. All our actual concepts owe their origin to some mixture of both instruction and life experience, and their structure demonstrates traces of both origins. ‘Actual’ means concepts which reflect a concrete understanding of the real world.


Vygotsky, L. S. (1934). The Development of Scientific Concepts in Childhood, Chapter 6 of Thinking and Speech, in LSVCW, v. 1, pp. 167–241

-- AndyBlunden - 13 Nov 2013


Topic revision: r9 - 19 Nov 2013, AndyBlunden

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