Notion of subject in psychological concept of Henri Wallon

Mariana Dimitrova Nyagolova


Nyagolova M.D. Notion of subject in psychological concept of Henri Wallon // Psychological science and practice: State of the Art. Collected papers / Ed. Kostrigin A.A. Chicago, 2017. P. 57-60.

Psychological study of man as a subject of the psyche involves the resolution a lot of very complex issues. Among them, a special place is occupied by those ones about the nature of the categories in which the subject of the psyche is being studied, about the ontogenetic formation of the subject, the conditions for the formation of the subject and the subjectivity of the psyche, and also whether it is possible to identify the entire course of the ontogenetic development of the human psyche with its manifestation as a subject.

This article is devoted to the historical and psychological analysis of the views of Henri Wallon (1879-1962) on the formation of the subject of the psyche, on his understanding as the unity of experience and knowledge, on the psychological relationship between the subject and the object.

In all his works, Wallon shares the conviction that the object of studying psychology is "man in interaction with reality" (Wallon, 1982, p. 52). In his opinion, "the Cartesian" «cogito» assumes the existence of a subject who feels, knows, ponders, makes decisions and on which the patterns of his activity depend"(Wallon, 1959, p. 100). Considering Descartes's work "The Passion of the Soul" as a program for studying a subject in which two points of view are united ‑ one that depends on knowledge and reason and the other stemming from the supreme will of man (Valon, 1988, p. 183), Wallon believes that all subsequent theories about the subject are developed by absolutizing one of these two opinions.

Criticizing Descartes's interpretations that absolutize the cognitive line of understanding the subject, he studies in detail the genesis of affectivity in the "Difficult Child" (Wallon, 1984), as well as the combination of affective and cognitive manifestations in a person's mental development ‑ in "The Origins of a Children’s Character" (Wallon, 1975). A textual analysis of his psychological work shows that both terms are used in them: "subjectivstic" and "subjective". The first of them indicates the state of subjectivism, that is, the fusion of the organism with the environment, the impossibility of distinguishing between the subject and the object. The second signifies the manifestation of man as the subject of the psyche. In this case, there is a distinction between what belongs to the object and what is peculiar to the subject.

In the Wallon concept, the beginning of the study of the cognitive side of the psychic relates to the study of sensor-motor activity. Thus, the emergence of logical structures of thought is the completion of a complex and lengthy process of development of the subjective cognition of the child. Consequently, the concept of Wallon can not be defined simply as the "psychology of emotions" (Zazo, 1993), because its author is not limited only to the study of emotions, and introducing this problem, even in Difficult Child, proves the inconsistency of the absolutization of cognitive mental phenomena, including the approach of Jean Piaget (Piaget, 1972), applied to the development of epistemological problems of psychology.

Understanding the sensation as the first form of affectivity, allows Wallon to define the principles of genetic ontology. This psychological theory differs not only from the rationalistic representations of structuralists, but also from the phenomenal nature of the ontological views inherent in existential psychologists.

Полный текст:



Piaget J. Problèmes de psychologie génétique. Paris: Denöel- Gothier. 1972.

Wallon H. Fondaments métaphisiques ou fondements dialectiques de la psychologie // La nouvelle critique. Novembre 1958, pp. 100–107.

Wallon H. Les origines du caractère chez l’enfant. Paris: PUF – Quadrige. 1974.

Wallon H. La vie mental. Paris: Editions sociales. 1982.

Wallon H. L'enfant turbulent. Paris: Alcan. 1984.

Wallon H. Zazo R. Detstvoto. Sofia: Nauka I izkustvo. 1988.

Piaget J. Problèmes de psychologie génétique. Paris, 1972.

Zazo R. Henri Wallon: souvenirs // Enfance. 1993. Vol. 46. № 1. pp. 3–12.


  • На текущий момент ссылки отсутствуют.

(c) 2017 Mariana Dimitrova Nyagolova