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Volume one. Development of the idea

Foreword to the first volume

The present, first volume of the monograph is comprised of three opening sections. The first deals with the problem of the realness of the unconscious as a psychological phenomenon; the second deals with the evolution of ideas on the unconscious mind in modern psychoanalytical literature (the 1960s-70s); the third takes up questions of the neurophysiological bases of the unconscious. Each of these sections has an introduction giving a brief outline of the history of the development of ideas on the unconscious, as well as a specific statement of the problem and the principal propositions on the basis of which this problem is at present being develope d in D. N. Uznadze's school of psychology. It is believed that this arrangement of the subject matter in one volume will facilitate the logical sequence of exposition and comprehension.

Each of the three sections of the first volume gives what in the final analysis amounts to a description of the current state of the problems involved, attention being focused on the historical aspect of examination, for the present status of these problems can be properly understood only by taking account of the complex process of their gradual development.

In Section One this aspect is represented by a description of, at times, very heated arguments and conceptual approaches, the mutual influences and antagonism of which made it possible to reject the idea on the unconscious forms of the functioning of the brain as an activity of only neurophysiological order. The constructive element of this evolution lay in the substantiation of an opposite point of view according to which certain forn s of unconscious brain activity are linked in their dynamics with the semantic categories of purpcse, Hearing, and significance. This latier conception made it clear (a) that the unconscious is psychologically oriented, and (b) that it (i.e. the unconscious) can in essence be treated only as a structurally and functionally unique and very important form of mental activity proper.

In Section Two attention is focused on the not-easily-аn enable-to analysis extremely complex evolution of psychoanalytical not ons, as a result of which present-day psychoanalysis has required features which, in many respects, qualitatively differentiate it from the orthodox Freudianism of the 1920s-30s. This evolution is primarily characterized by a transition to a broader understanding of the motive forces of behaviour than it wss laid down by Freud, and a dePnite revision-often occurring in this connection but not brought to a logical end -of biological explanations that had long fettered psychoanalytical thinking.

The papers of Section Three contain diverse materials describing the contribut'on consistently и ade to the inconscious by the Pavlovian school, the classical EEG studies of the 1950s-60s, research into the problem of functional asymmetry of the cerebral hemispheres, as well as by the most recently discovered possibilities of studying the activity of neuronal populations related to the encoding and decoding of nerve impulses. The change of these trends, as well as of related hypotheses on the concrete neurophys-iological bases of unconscious mental activity, has been attended by a change of the methods which, at various periods, were assigned a dec'sive role in the study of the activity in question.

Bearing all this in mind, the first volume of the monograph may. on the whole, be said to constitute the history - traced from various angles - of the gradual maturation of the idea of the unconscious, based on multidisciplinary research that led to the more or less defined theoretical positions which can today provide the only ground for further, ever-deepening study. The prospects opening up through the adoption of these positions in the study of the basic problems of psychology and related fields of knowledge will be shown in the second and third volumes.

The following also speaks in favour of discussing the problem of the unconscious from the historical angle, as purported by the papers comprised in the first volume. The history of the problem is a characteristic instance of the difficult transition - occurring in the past in many fields of knowledge - from prescientific, mystically coloured irrationalism to increasingly exact forms of reflecting objective reality, establishing the ideas of a Weltanschauung which was first oriented mechanistically and subsequently followed the dialectico-materialistic line- This process of gradual development of scientific notions was particularly pronounced in the history of the problem of the unconscious, exhibiting a retarded development and numerous recrudescences of overtly coarse or subtly covert irrationalism. In some respects this process cannot be taken for completed even today.

Hence, in studying the problem of the unconscious special attention should be paid to consideration of social phenomena in their movement and historical development - a general demand characteristic of Marxist methodology.

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