Dvoinin Alexey

The nature of religious consciousness in the optics of cultural-historical psychology by Lev S. Vygotsky

Dvoinin Alexey (2022) "The nature of religious consciousness in the optics of cultural-historical psychology by Lev S. Vygotsky ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 104, pp. 123-143 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022104.123-143


Abstract: The article presents the author’s attempt to apply the ideas of Lev S. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology to the analysis of the nature of religious consciousness. Cultural-historical psychology is offered as an adequate alternative to such fields as cognitive religious studies and evolutionary psychology of religion, because it does not ignore and does not reduce the social and cultural determinants of mental development. Based on the ideas of Lev S. Vygotsky and his studies of magical thinking and semiotic mediation of mental functions, the author from the psychological point of view considers religion as a special system of historically formed cultural (semiotic) means that contribute to mastering one’s own mental functions and behavior. It is suggested that these semiotic tools be referred to as religious or supernatural mental tools. The following groups of these tools are distinguished: 1) religious objects (natural or artificial); 2) religious actions (rituals); 3) religious images (objectified or subjective); 4) religious meanings (concepts). The nature of religious consciousness viewed through the lens of cultural-historical psychology by Lev S. Vygotsky is revealed by the author in a number of provisions: religious consciousness is a mental functional system resulting from the process of assimilation, mainly verbal semiotic means of a particular religious tradition; religious consciousness is constituted as dynamic systems of meaning that integrate the believer’s intellectual and affective processes; religious consciousness is social in origin and is formed in activity; semiotic mediation of mental functions and human behavior is the mechanism to form religious consciousness. Further work on the application of Lev S. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology to the analysis of religious consciousness must include the development of experimental research methodology, the advancement of experimental hypotheses, and the consideration from the perspective of this approach of explanatory models and facts obtained in other approaches – cognitive religious studies and evolutionary psychology of religion.


religious consciousness, cultural-historical psychology, Vygotsky, mental tools, psychology of religion, cognitive studies of religion, evolutionary psychology of religion


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Information about the author

Dvoinin Alexey

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Psychological Sciences;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: Department of Psychology, HSE University;
Post: Associate Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0003-0530-740X;
Email: alexdvoinin@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The research was carried out with a financial support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Project “New tendencies of the humanities and social sciences development in the context of digitalization and new social problems and threats: interdisciplinary approach”, Agreement № 075-15-2020-798).