Genetic Epistemology (2022)

Jean Piaget (1968)

Genetic Epistemology (1)

Source: Genetic Epistemology, a series of lectures delivered by Piaget at Columbia University, Published by Columbia Univesity Press, translated by Eleanor Duckworth. First lecture reproduced here.


GENETIC EPISTEMOLOGY attempts to explain knowledge, and in particularscientific knowledge, on the basis of its history, its sociogenesis,and especially the psychological origins of the notions and operationsupon which it is based. These notions and operations are drawnin large part from common sense, so that their origins can shedlight on their significance as knowledge of a somewhat higherlevel. But genetic epistemology also takes into account, whereverpossible, formalisation - in particular, logical formalisationsapplied to equilibrated thought structures and in certain casesto transformations from one level to another in the developmentof thought.

The description that I have given of the nature of genetic epistemologyruns into a major problem, namely, the traditional philosophicalview of epistemology. For many philosophers and epistemologists,epistemology is the study of knowledge as it exists at the presentmoment; it is the analysis of knowledge for its own sake and withinits own framework without regard for its development. For thesepersons, tracing the development of ideas or the development ofoperations may be of interest to historians or to psychologistsbut is of no direct concern to epistemologists. This is the majorobjection to the discipline of genetic epistemology, which I haveoutlined here.

But it seems to me that we can make the following reply to thisobjection. Scientific knowledge is in perpetual evolution; itfinds itself changed from one day to the next. As a result, wecannot say that on the one hand there is the history of knowledge,and on the other its current state today, as if its current statewere somehow definitive or even stable. The current state of knowledgeis a moment in history, changing just as rapidly as the stateof knowledge in the past has ever changed and, in many instances,more rapidly. Scientific thought, then, is not momentary; it isnot a static instance; it is a process. More specifically, itis a process of continual construction and reorganisation. Thisis true in almost every branch of scientific investigation. Ishould like to cite just one or two examples.

(Video) Genetic Epistemology

The first example, which is almost taken for granted, concernsthe area of contemporary physics or, more specifically, microphysics,where the state of knowledge changes from month to month and certainlyalters significantly within the course of a year. These changesoften take place even within the work of a single author who transformshis view of his subject matter during the course of his career.

Let us take as a specific instance Louis de Broglie in Paris.A few years ago de Broglie adhered to Niels Bohr's view of indeterminism.He believed with the Copenhagen school that, behind the indeterminismof microphysical events, one could find no determinism, that indeterminismwas a very deep reality and that one could even demonstrate thereasons for the necessity of this indeterminism. Well, as it happens,new facts caused de Broglie to change his mind, so that now hemaintains the very opposite point of view. So here is one exampleof transformation in scientific thinking, not over several successivegenerations but within the career of one creative man of science.

Let us take another example from the area of mathematics. A fewyears ago the Bourbaki group of mathematicians attempted to isolatethe fundamental structures of all mathematics. They establishedthree mother structures: an algebraic structure, a structure ofordering, and a topological structure, on which the structuralistschool of mathematics came to be based, and which was seen asthe foundation of all mathematical structures, from which allothers were derived. This effort of theirs, which was so fruitful,has now been undermined to some extent or at least changed sinceMcLaine and Eilenberg developed the notion of categories, thatis, sets of elements taken together, with the set of all functionsdefined on them. As a result, today part of the Bourbaki groupis no longer orthodox but is taking into account the more recentnotion of categories. So here is another, rather fundamental areaof scientific thinking that changed very rapidly.

Let me repeat once again that we cannot say that on the one handthere is the history of scientific thinking, and on the otherthe body of scientific thought as it is today; there is simplya continual transformation, a continual reorganisation. And thisfact seems to me to imply that historical and psychological factorsin these changes are of interest in our attempt to understandthe nature of scientific knowledge.

[Another opinion, often quoted in philosophical circles, is thatthe theory of knowledge studies essentially the question of thevalidity of science, the criteria of this validity and its justification.If we accept this viewpoint, it is then argued that the studyof science as it is, as a fact, is fundamentally irrelevant. Geneticepistemology, as we see it, reflects most decidedly this separationof norm and fact, of valuation and description, We believe that,to the contrary, only in the real development of the sciencescan we discover the implicit values and norms that guide, inspireand regulate them. Any other attitude, it seems to us, reducesto the rather arbitrary imposition on knowledge of the personalviews of an isolated observer. This we want to avoid.]

I should like to give one or two examples of areas in which thegenesis of contemporary scientific ideas can be understood betterin the light of psychological or sociological factors. The firstone is Cantor's development of set theory. Cantor developed thistheory on the basis of a very fundamental operation, that of one-to-onecorrespondence. More specifically, by establishing a one-to-onecorrespondence between the series of whole numbers and the seriesof even numbers, we obtain a number that is neither a whole numbernor an even number but is the first transfinite cardinal number,aleph zero. This very elementary operation of one-to-one correspondence,then, enabled Cantor to go beyond the finite number series, whichwas the only one in use up until his time. Now it is interestingto ask where this operation of one-to-one correspondence camefrom. Cantor did not invent it, in the sense that one inventsa radically new construction. He found it in his own thinking;it had already been a part of his mental equipment long beforehe even turned to mathematics, because the most elementary sortof sociological or psychological observation reveals that one-to-onecorrespondence is a primitive operation. In all sorts of earlysocieties it is the basis for economic exchange, and in smallchildren we find its roots even before the level of concrete operations.The next question that arises is, what is the nature of this veryelementary operation of one-to-one correspondence? And right awaywe are led to a related question: what is the relationship ofone-to-one correspondence to the development of the notion ofnatural numbers? Does the very widespread presence of the operationof one-to-one correspondence justify the thesis of Russell andWhitehead that number is the class of equivalent classes (equivalentin the sense of one-to-one correspondence among the members ofthe classes)? Or are the actual numbers based on some other operationsin addition to one-to-one correspondence? This is a question thatwe shall examine in more detail later. It is one very strikinginstance in which a knowledge of the psychological foundationsof a notion has implications for the epistemological understandingof this notion. In studying the development of the notion of numberin children we can see whether or not it is based simply on thenotion of classes of equivalent classes or whether some otheroperation is also involved.

(Video) Jean Piaget's Genetic Epistemology (Learning Theory)

I should like to go on now to a second example and to raise thefollowing question: how is it that Einstein was able to give anew operational definition of simultaneity at a distance? Howwas he able to criticise the Newtonian notion of universal timewithout giving rise to a deep crisis within physics? Of coursehis critique had its roots in experimental findings, such as theMichelson-Morley experiment - that goes without saying. Nonetheless,if this redefinition of the possibility of events to be simultaneousat great distances from each other went against the grain of ourlogic, there would have been a considerable crisis within physics.We would have had to accept one of two possibilities: either thephysical world is not rational, or else human reason is impotent- incapable of grasping external reality. Well, in fact nothingof this sort happened. There was no such upheaval. A few metaphysicians(I apologise to the philosophers present) such as Bergson or Maritainwere appalled by this revolution in physics, but for the mostpart and among scientists themselves it was not a very drasticcrisis. Why in fact was it not a crisis? It was not a crisis becausesimultaneity is not a primitive notion: It is not a primitiveconcept, and it is not even a primitive perception. I shall gointo this subject further later on, but at the moment I shouldjust like to state that our experimental findings have shown thathuman beings do not perceive simultaneity with any precision.If we look at two objects moving at different speeds, and theystop at the same time, we do not have an adequate perception.that they stopped at the same time. Similarly, when children donot have a very exact idea of what simultaneity is, they do notconceive of it independently of the speed at which objects aretravelling. Simultaneity, then, is not a primitive intuition;it is an intellectual construction.

Long before Einstein, Henri Poincare did a great deal of workin analysing the notion of simultaneity and revealing its complexities.His studies took him, in fact, almost to the threshold of discoveringrelativity. Now if we read his essays on this subject, which,by the way, are all the more interesting when considered in thelight of Einstein's later work, we see that his reflections werebased almost entirely on psychological arguments. Later on I shallshow that the notion of time and the notion of simultaneity arebased on the notion of speed, which is a more primitive intuition.So there are all sorts of reasons, psychological reasons, thatcan explain why the crisis brought about by relativity theorywas not a fatal one for physics. Rather, it was readjusting, andone can find the psychological routes for this readjustment aswell as the experimental and logical basis. In point of fact,Einstein himself recognised the relevance of psychological factors,and when I had the good chance to meet him for the first timein 1928, he suggested to me that is would be of interest to studythe origins in children of notions of time and in particular ofnotions of simultaneity.

What I have said so far may suggest that it can be helpful tomake use of psychological data when we are considering the natureof knowledge. I should like now to say that it is more than helpful;it is indispensable. In fact, all epistemologists refer to psychologicalfactors in their analyses, but for the most part their referencesto psychology are speculative and are not based on psychologicalresearch. I am convinced that all epistemology brings up factualproblems as well as formal ones, and once factual problems areencountered, psychological findings become relevant and shouldbe taken into account. The unfortunate thing for psychology isthat everybody thinks of himself as a psychologist. This is nottrue for the field of physics, or for the field of philosophy,but it is unfortunately true for psychology. Every man considershimself a psychologist. As a result, when an epistemologist needsto call on some psychological aspect, he does not refer to psychologicalresearch and he does not consult psychologists; he depends onhis own reflections. He puts together certain ideas and relationshipswithin his own thinking, in his personal attempt to resolve thepsychological problem that has arisen. I should like to cite someinstances in epistemology where psychological findings can bepertinent, even though they may seem at first sight far removedfrom the problem.

My first example concerns the school of logical positivism. Logicalpositivists have never taken psychology into account in theirepistemology, but they affirm that logical beings and mathematicalbeings are nothing but linguistic structures. That is, when weare doing logic or mathematics, we are simply using general syntax,general semantics, or general pragmatics in the sense of Morris,being in this case a rule of the uses of language in general.The position in general is that logical and mathematical realityis derived from language. Logic and mathematics are nothing butspecialised linguistic structures. Now here it becomes pertinentto examine factual findings. We can look to see whether thereis any logical behaviour in children before language develops.We can look to see whether the coordinations of their actionsreveal a logic of classes, reveal an ordered system, reveal correspondencestructures. If indeed we find logical structures in the coordinationsof actions in small children even before the development of language,we are not in a position to say that these logical structuresare derived from language. This is a question of fact and shouldbe approached not by speculation but by an experimental methodologywith its objective findings.

The first principle of genetic epistemology, then, is this - totake psychology seriously. Taking psychology seriously means that,when a question of psychological fact arises, psychological researchshould be consulted instead of trying to invent a solution throughprivate speculation.

It is worthwhile pointing out, by the way, that in the field oflinguistics itself, since the golden days of logical positivism,the theoretical position has been reversed. Bloomfield in histime adhered completely to the view of the logical positivists,to this linguistic view of logic. But currently, as you know,Chomsky maintains the opposite position. Chomsky asserts, notthat logic is based on and derived from language, but, on thecontrary, that language is based on logic, on reason, and he evenconsiders this reason to be innate. He is perhaps going too farin maintaining that it is innate; this is once again a questionto be decided by referring to facts, to research. It is anotherproblem for the field of psychology to determine. Between therationalism that Chomsky is defending nowadays (according to whichlanguage is based on reason, which is thought to be innate inman) and the linguistic view of the positivists (according towhich logic is simply a linguistic convention), there is a wholeselection of possible solutions, and the choice among these solutionsmust be made on the basis of fact, that is, on the basis of psychologicalresearch. The problems cannot be resolved by speculation.

(Video) Piaget's Genetic Epistemology/ Cognitive views of Learning

I do not want to give the impression that genetic epistemologyis based exclusively on psychology. On the contrary, logical formalisationis absolutely essential every time that we can carry out someformalisation; every time that we come upon some completed structurein the course of the development of thought, we make an effort,with the collaboration of logicians or of specialists within thefield that we are considering, to formalise this structure. Ourhypothesis is that there will be a correspondence between thepsychological formation on the one hand, and the formalisationon the other hand. But although we recognise the importance offormalisation in epistemology, we also realize that formalisationcannot be sufficient by itself. We have been attempting to pointout areas in which psychological experimentation is indispensableto shed light on certain epistemological problems, but even onits own grounds there are a number of reasons why formalisationcan never be sufficient by itself. I should like to discuss threeof these reasons.

The first reason is that there are many different logics, andnot just a single logic. This means that no single logic is strongenough to support the total construction of human knowledge. Butit also means that, when all the different logics are taken together,they are not sufficiently coherent with one another to serve asthe foundation for human knowledge. Any one logic, then, is tooweak, but all the logics taken together are too rich to enablelogic to form a single value basis for knowledge. That is thefirst reason why formalisation alone is not sufficient.

The second reason is found in Gödel's theorem. It is thefact that there are limits to formalisation. Any consistent systemsufficiently rich to contain elementary arithmetic cannot proveits own consistency. So the following questions arise: logic isa formalisation, an axiomatisation of something, but of what exactly?What does logic formalise? This is a considerable problem. Thereare even two problems here. Any axiomatic system contains theundemonstrable propositions or the axioms, at the outset, fromwhich the other propositions can be demonstrated, and also theundefinable, fundamental notions on the basis of which the othernotions can be defined. Now in the case of logic what lies underneaththe undemonstrable axioms and the undefinable notions? This isthe problem of structuralism in logic, and it is a problem thatshows the inadequacy of formalisation as the fundamental basis.It shows the necessity for considering thought itself as wellas considering axiomatised logical systems, since it is from humanthought that the logical systems develop and remain still intuitive.

The third reason why formalisation is not enough is that epistemologysets out to explain knowledge as it actually is within the areasof science, and this knowledge is, in fact not purely formal:there are other aspects to it. In this context I should like toquote a logician friend of mine, the late Evert W. Beth. For avery long time he was a strong adversary of psychology in generaland the introduction of psychological observations into the fieldof epistemology, and by that token an adversary of my own work,since my work was based on psychology. Nonetheless, in the interestsof an intellectual confrontation, Beth did us the honour of comingto one of our symposia on genetic epistemology and looking moreclosely at the questions that were concerning us. At the end ofthe symposium he agreed to co-author with me, in spite of hisfear of psychologists, a work that we called Mathematical andPsychological Epistemology. This has appeared in French and isbeing translated into English. In his conclusion to this volume,Beth wrote as follows: "The problem of epistemology is toexplain how real human thought is capable of producing scientificknowledge. In order to do that we must establish a certain coordinationbetween logic and psychology." This declaration does notsuggest that psychology ought to interfere directly in logic -that is of course not true - but it does maintain that in epistemologyboth logic and psychology should be taken into account, sinceit is important to deal with both the formal aspects and the empiricalaspects of human knowledge.

So, in sum, genetic epistemology deals with both the formationand the meaning of knowledge. We can formulate our problem inthe following terms: by what means does the human mind go froma state of less sufficient knowledge to a state of higher knowledge?The decision of what is lower or less adequate knowledge, andwhat is higher knowledge, has of course formal and normative aspects.It is not up to psychologists to determine whether or not a certainstate of knowledge is superior to another state. That decisionis one for logicians or for specialists within a given realm ofscience. For instance, in the area of physics, it is up to physiciststo decide whether or not a given theory shows some progress overanother theory. Our problem, from the point of view of psychologyand from the point of view of genetic epistemology, is to explainhow the transition is made from a lower level of knowledge toa level that is judged to be higher. The nature of these transitionsis a factual question. The transitions are historical or psychologicalor sometimes even biological, as I shall attempt to show later.

The fundamental hypothesis of genetic epistemology is that thereis a parallelism between the progress made in the logical andrational organisation of knowledge and the corresponding formativepsychological processes. Well, now, if that is our hypothesis,what will be our field of study? Of course the most fruitful,most obvious field of study would be reconstituting human history- the history of human thinking in prehistoric man. Unfortunately,we are not very well informed about the psychology of Neanderthalman or about the psychology of Homo siniensis of Teilhardde Chardin. Since this field of biogenesis is not available tous, we shall do as biologists do and turn to ontogenesis. Nothingcould be more accessible to study than the ontogenesis of thesenotions. There are children all around us. It is with childrenthat we have the best chance of studying the development of logicalknowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and soforth. These are the things that I shall discuss later in thebook.

(Video) Piaget's Theory of Genetic Epistemology

So much for the introduction to this field of study. I shouldlike now to turn to some specifics and to start with the developmentof logical structures in children. I shall begin by making a distinctionbetween two aspects of thinking that are different, although complementary.One is the figurative aspect, and the other I call the operativeaspect. The figurative aspect is an imitation of states takenas momentary and static. In the cognitive area the figurativefunctions are, above all, perception, imitation, and mental imagery,which is in fact interiorised imitation. The operative aspectof thought deals not with states but with transformations fromone state to another. For instance, it includes actions themselves,which transform objects or states, and it also includes the intellectualoperations, Which are essentially systems of transformation. Theyare actions that are comparable to other actions but are reversible,that is, they can be carried out in both directions (this meansthat the results of action A can be eliminated by another actionB, its inverse: the product of A with B leading to the identityoperation, leaving the state unchanged) and are capable of beinginteriorised; they can be carried out through representation andnot through actually being acted out. Now, the figurative aspectsare always subordinated to the operative aspects. Any state canbe understood only as the result of certain transformations oras the point of departure for other transformations. In otherwords, to my way of thinking the essential aspect of thought isits operative and not its figurative aspect.

To express the same idea in still another way, I think that humanknowledge is essentially active. To know is to assimilate realityinto systems of transformations. To know is to transform realityin order to understand how a certain state is brought about. Byvirtue of this point of view, I find myself opposed to the viewof knowledge as a copy, a passive copy, of reality. In point offact, this notion is based on a vicious circle: in order to makea copy we have to know the model that we are copying, but accordingto this theory of knowledge the only way to know the model isby copying it, until we are caught in a circle, unable ever toknow whether our copy of the model is like the model or not. Tomy way of thinking, knowing an object does not mean copying it- it means acting upon it. It means constructing systems of transformationsthat can be carried out on or with this object. Knowing realitymeans constructing systems of transformations that correspond,more or less adequately, to reality. They are more or less isomorphicto transformations of reality. The transformational structuresof which knowledge consists are not copies of the transformationsin reality; they are simply possible isomorphic models among whichexperience can enable us to choose. Knowledge, then, is a systemof transformations that become progressively adequate.

It is agreed that logical and mathematical structures are abstract,whereas physical knowledge - the knowledge based on experiencein general - is concrete. But let us ask what logical and mathematicalknowledge is abstracted from. There are two possibilities. Thefirst is that, when we act upon an object, our knowledge is derivedfrom the object itself. This is the point of view of empiricismin general, and it is valid in the case of experimental or empiricalknowledge for the most part. But there is a second possibility:when we are acting upon an object, we can also take into accountthe action itself, or operation if you will, since the transformationcan be carried out mentally. In this hypothesis the abstractionis drawn not from the object that is acted upon, but from theaction itself. It seems to me that this is the basis of logicaland mathematical abstraction.

In cases involving the physical world the abstraction is abstractionfrom the objects themselves. A child, for instance, can heft objectsin his hands and realize that they have different weights - thatusually big things weigh more than little ones, but that sometimeslittle things weigh more than big ones. All this he finds outexperientially, and his knowledge is abstracted from the objectsthemselves. But I should like to give an example, just as primitiveas that one, in which knowledge is abstracted from actions, fromthe coordination of actions, and not from objects. This example,one we have studied quite thoroughly with many children, was firstsuggested to me by a mathematician friend who quoted it as thepoint of departure of his interest in mathematics. When he wasa small child, he was counting pebbles one day; he lined themup in a row, counted them from left to right, and got ten. Then,just for fun, he counted them from right to left to see what numberhe would get, and was astonished that he got ten again. He putthe pebbles in a circle and counted them, and once again therewere ten. He went around the circle in the other way and got tenagain. And no matter how he put the pebbles down, when he countedthem, the number came to ten. He discovered here what is knownin mathematics as commutativity, that is, the sum is independentof the order. But how did he discover this? Is this commutativitya property of the pebbles? It is true that the pebbles, as itwere, let him arrange them in various ways; he could not havedone the same thing with drops of water. So in this sense therewas a physical aspect to his knowledge. But the order was notin the pebbles; it was he, the subject, who put the pebbles ina line and then in a circle. Moreover, the sum was not in thepebbles themselves; it was he who united them. The knowledge thatthis future mathematician discovered that day was drawn, then,not from the physical properties of the pebbles, but from theactions that he carried out on the pebbles. This knowledge iswhat I call logical mathematical knowledge and not physical knowledge.

The first type of abstraction from objects I shall refer to assimple abstraction, but the second type I shall call reflectiveabstraction, using this term in a double sense. "Reflective"here has at least two meanings in the psychological field, inaddition to the one it has in physics. In its physical sense reflectionrefers to such a phenomenon as the reflection of a beam of lightoff one surface onto another surface. In a first psychologicalsense abstraction is the transposition from one hierarchical levelto another level (for instance, from the level of action to thelevel of operation). In a second psychological sense reflectionrefers to the mental process of reflection, that is, at the levelof thought a reorganisation takes place.

I should like now to make a distinction between two types of actions.On the one hand, there are individual actions such as throwing,pushing, touching, rubbing. It is these individual actions thatgive rise most of the time to abstraction from objects. This isthe simple type of abstraction that I mentioned above. Reflectiveabstraction, however, is based not on individual actions but oncoordinated actions. Actions can be coordinated in a number ofdifferent ways. They can be joined together, for instance; wecan call this an additive coordination. Or they can succeed eachother in a temporal order; we can call this an ordinal or a sequentialcoordination. There is a before and an after, for instance, inorganising actions to attain a goal when certain actions are essentialas means to attainment for this goal. Another type of coordinationamong actions is setting up a correspondence between one actionand another. A fourth form is the establishment of intersectionsamong actions. Now all these forms of coordinations have parallelsin logical structures, and it is such coordination at the levelof action that seems to me to be the basis of logical structuresas they develop later in thought. This, in fact, is our hypothesis:that the roots of logical thought are not to be found in languagealone, even though language coordinations are important, but areto be found more generally in the coordination of actions, whichare the basis of reflective abstraction. For the sake of completeness,we might add that naturally the distinction between individualactions and coordinated ones is only a gradual and not a sharplydiscontinuous one. Even pushing, touching, or rubbing has a simpletype of organisation of smaller subactions.

(Video) Piaget's Genetic Epistemology-second sem B. Ed

This is only the beginning of a regressive analysis that couldgo much further. In genetic epistemology, as in developmentalpsychology, too, there is never an absolute beginning. We cannever get back to the point where we can say, "Here is thevery beginning of logical structures." As soon as we starttalking about the general coordination of actions, we are goingto find ourselves, of course, going even further back into thearea of biology. We immediately get into the realm of the coordinationswithin the nervous system and the neuron network, as discussedby McCulloch and Pitts. And then, if we look for the roots ofthe logic of the nervous system as discussed by these workers,we have to go back a step further. We find more basic organiccoordinations. If we go further still into the realm of comparativebiology, we find structures of inclusion ordering correspondenceeverywhere. I do not intend to go into biology; I just want tocarry this regressive analysis back to its beginnings in psychologyand to emphasise again that the formation of logical and mathematicalstructures in human thinking cannot be explained by language alone,but has its roots in the general coordination of actions.


What did Piaget mean by genetic epistemology? ›

Genetic epistemology, also known as developmental theory of knowledge, is the study of the origins of knowledge. It posits that humans' cognition mature as they go through the different stages of development. This was developed by Jean Piaget, a Swiss cognitive psychologist.

What are Piaget's 3 types of knowledge? ›

Piaget believed that children actively approach their environments and acquire knowledge through their actions." "Piaget distinguished among three types of knowledge that children acquire: Physical, logical-mathematical, and social knowledge.

What are the three basic components to Piaget's cognitive theory? ›

Piaget's cognitive theory refers to the three basic components of assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium.

What does Piaget say about learning? ›

Learning is a process of adaptation to environmental stimuli, involving successive periods of what Piaget called assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration. In assimilating knowledge, students incorporate their experiences and observations into the logic of their existing or developing understandings.

What is a genetic epistemologist interested in? ›

A genetic epistemologist is someone who studies the development of knowledge in the individual and the group, and applies developmental and historical perspectives to bodies of knowledge.

What are the major principles of Piaget's theory? ›

Piaget proposed four major stages of cognitive development, and called them (1) sensorimotor intelligence, (2) preoperational thinking, (3) concrete operational thinking, and (4) formal operational thinking. Each stage is correlated with an age period of childhood, but only approximately.

What are the 3 types of knowledge philosophy? ›

Philosophers typically divide knowledge into three categories: personal, procedural, and propositional. It is the last of these, propositional knowledge, that primarily concerns philosophers.

What are the 4 stages of Piaget's cognitive development? ›

Sensorimotor stage (0–2 years old) Preoperational stage (2–7 years old) Concrete operational stage (7–11 years old) Formal operational stage (11 years old through adulthood)

What did Einstein say about Piaget? ›

Einstein himself said of Piaget that his main idea was “so simple, only a genius could have thought of it”. It takes one to know one.

Why Piaget's theory is important? ›

Piaget's theory of cognitive development helped add to our understanding of children's intellectual growth. It also stressed that children were not merely passive recipients of knowledge. Instead, kids are constantly investigating and experimenting as they build their understanding of how the world works.

Can cognitive development be trained what would Piaget say? ›

Piaget believes that children must not be taught certain concepts until reaching the appropriate cognitive development stage. Also, accommodation and assimilation are requirements of an active learner only, because problem-solving skills must only be discovered they cannot be taught.

Why is Piaget's theory better than Vygotsky? ›

Piaget proposed many applicable educational strategies, such as discovery learning with an emphasis on activity and play. However, Vygotsky incorporated the importance of social interactions and a co-constructed knowledge base to the theory of cognitive development.

How is Piaget theory used today? ›

His theory is used widely in school systems throughout the world and in the development of curriculums for children. His theory produced the idea of ages in stages in childhood development. This idea is used to predict the capabilities of what a child can or cannot understand depending on their stage of development.

What is the best theory of development? ›

Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory

Cognitive theory is concerned with the development of a person's thought processes. It also looks at how these thought processes influence how we understand and interact with the world. Theorist Jean Piaget proposed one of the most influential theories of cognitive development.

What does an epistemologist do? ›

Epistemology is the study of knowledge, so an epistemologist is someone who studies how we know things. Want to know whether your friend's crazy ideas came from observation or inspiration? Then you are a budding epistemologist. Epistemology is one of the classical branches of philosophy.

What does a genetic epidemiologist do? ›

Using population and family-based studies, genetic epidemiologists assess the impact of genes in the population on the occurrence of human diseases.

How do children construct thinking? ›

Children construct knowledge by building on their prior experiences. This process of thinking, reflecting and reasoning about their experiences helps them discover new connections and progress to the next level of understanding.

What are Piaget's schemas? ›

A schema, or scheme, is an abstract concept proposed by J. Piaget to refer to our, well, abstract concepts. Schemas (or schemata) are units of understanding that can be hierarchically categorized as well as webbed into complex relationships with one another.

What is an example of Piaget's cognitive theory? ›

For example, a child may use a banana as a pretend telephone, demonstrating an awareness that the banana is both a banana and a telephone. Piaget argued that children in the concrete operational stage are making more intentional and calculated choices, illustrating that they are conscious of their decentering.

Does Piaget's theory apply to adults? ›

Piaget's theory of learning and stage theory applies to adults, as well as to children and adolescents. Some implications of this are worked out. According to Sutherland (1982) and others not all adults can be assumed to be formal operational thinkers.

What are the disadvantages of cognitive learning theory? ›

Disadvantages. The main disadvantage of the cognitive approach is that it refers to cognitive processes that we cannot directly observe. It relies heavily on inference.

What is the most important cognitive theory that impacts memory? ›

1. Multi-Store Model (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968) An influential theory of memory known as the multi-store model was proposed by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968. This model suggested that information exists in one of 3 states of memory: the sensory, short-term and long-term stores.

What is the most important influence on cognitive development? ›

Important Factors That Influence Child Development: Family

Family is almost certainly the most important factor in child development. In early childhood especially, parents are the ones who spend the most time with their children and we (sometimes unwittingly) influence the way they act and think and behave.

How many types of epistemology are there? ›

Epistemology has many branches that include essentialism, historical perspective, perennialsm, progressivism, empiricism, idealism, rationalism, constructivism etc. Empiricism and rationalism are two major constructing debates within the field of epistemological study that relate to business studies.

Can you have knowledge without belief? ›

Although initially it might seem obvious that knowing that p requires believing that p, a few philosophers have argued that knowledge without belief is indeed possible.

Is knowledge justified true belief? ›

The JTB account holds that knowledge is equivalent to justified true belief; if all three conditions (justification, truth, and belief) are met of a given claim, then we have knowledge of that claim.

What age does logical thinking begin? ›

What Is the 'Age of Reason? ' Around the age of seven, give or take a year, children enter a developmental phase known as the age of reason.

At what age do children stop being egocentric? ›

According to Piaget, at age 7 thinking is no longer egocentric, as the child can see more than their own point of view.

At what age does cognitive development begin? ›

What is cognitive development? Cognitive development means the growth of a child's ability to think and reason. This growth happens differently from ages 6 to 12, and from ages 12 to 18. Children ages 6 to 12 years old develop the ability to think in concrete ways.

What is Vygotsky's theory? ›

Vygotsky's sociocultural theory views human development as a socially mediated process in which children acquire their cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving strategies through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society.

Who says children are little scientist? ›

Maria Montessori believed that all children behave like “little scientists” in that they are eager to observe and make “what if” discoveries about their world. Infants and toddlers test the environment to see what happens when, for example, they drop a toy out of their highchair or play with the water in their bath.

What was the discovery made by Piaget that Albert Einstein said was so simple that only a genius could have thought of it? ›

Einstein called it a discovery "so simple that only a genius could have thought of it." Piaget theorised that intelligence is built on in a series of stages. These stages always appear in the same order and can usually be determined by a child's age.

Is Piaget's theory still relevant? ›

His theory of intellectual or cognitive development, published in 1936, is still used today in some branches of education and psychology. It focuses on children, from birth through adolescence, and characterizes different stages of development, including: language. morals.

How can teachers use Piaget's theory? ›

In particular, his theory focuses on the mechanisms that help us adapt and learn new concepts or skills. In the classroom, teachers can apply Piaget's notions of assimilation and accommodation when introducing new material. They can help students approach a new idea through the lens of what they have already learned.

How is Piaget's theory different from others? ›

Piaget's Theory Differs From Others In Several Ways:

Children's ability to understand, think about and solve problems in the world develops in a stop-start, discontinuous manner (rather than gradual changes over time). It is concerned with children, rather than all learners.

Can cognitive development be trained? ›

Cognitive skill development in children involves learning skills, such as attention, memory and thinking. Genetic makeup is responsible for some cognitive ability, but most cognitive skills are learned and therefore can be improved with proper training.

How do children develop knowledge According to Piaget? ›

Piaget's theory is based on the idea that knowledge acquisition is a process of continuous self-construction. Knowledge is invented and re-invented as the child develops and interacts with their surrounding world (Driscoll, 1994).

Is cognitive and intellectual development the same? ›

Intellectual development is also known as cognitive development and refers to growth in a child's capacity for thinking, conceptualizing, making judgements and comparisons, and reasoning.

What is the main philosophical difference between Piaget and Vygotsky? ›

The key difference between Piaget and Vygotsky is that Piaget believed that self-discovery is crucial, whereas Vygotsky stated that learning is done through being taught by a More Knowledgeable Other.

What is the main difference between Piaget and Vygotsky's theories? ›

The fundamental difference between Piaget and Vygotsky is that Piaget believed in the constructivist approach of children, or in other words, how the child interacts with the environment, whereas Vygotsky stated that learning is taught through socially and culturally.

What are three key theoretical similarities between Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories? ›

Similarities between Piaget's and Vygotsky's Theories:

Both believed that cognitive conflict can initiate and further development. Both believed that egocentric speech is vital to the process of cognitive development. Both believed the child is an active participant in his or her own learning.

What are the 4 stages of Piaget's theory? ›

Sensorimotor stage (0–2 years old) Preoperational stage (2–7 years old) Concrete operational stage (7–11 years old) Formal operational stage (11 years old through adulthood)

Why is Piaget's theory important to education? ›

By using Piaget's theory in the classroom, teachers and students benefit in several ways. Teachers develop a better understanding of their students' thinking. They can also align their teaching strategies with their students' cognitive level (e.g. motivational set, modeling, and assignments).

What are the strengths of Piaget's theory? ›

The strengths of Piaget's cognitive development theory are as follows: The theory brings a new and fresh perspective to developmental psychology. The theory has brought a change in the way people view a child's world. Piaget's theory has encouraged more research in cognitive development.

What are the 4 main theories of development? ›

Four main theories of development: modernization, dependency, world-systems, and globalization. / Reyes, Giovanni E.

What are the 3 developmental theories? ›

The three theories discussed in this paper are the Theory of Social Development, Stage Theory of Cognitive Development, and Social Learning Theory.

Which is not a knowledge types proposed by Piaget? ›

Hence, from the above discussion, it is clear that Linguistic is not a knowledge type proposed by Piaget.

How is knowledge acquired epistemology? ›

Modern epistemology generally involves a debate between rationalism and empiricism. Rationalists believe that knowledge is acquired through the use of reason, while empiricists assert that knowledge is gained through experiences.

What is Logico mathematical knowledge? ›

Logico-mathematical knowledge: This is the creation of relationships. The brain builds neural connections which connect pieces of knowledge to one another to form new knowledge. The tricky part to understand here is that relationships don't exist in the external world. They often appear to, but this is an illusion.

What are the stages of cognitive development according to Piaget? ›

Piaget's four stages of intellectual (or cognitive) development are:
  • Sensorimotor. Birth through ages 18-24 months.
  • Preoperational. Toddlerhood (18-24 months) through early childhood (age 7)
  • Concrete operational. Ages 7 to 11.
  • Formal operational. Adolescence through adulthood.
17 Aug 2020

What are the 3 types of knowledge philosophy? ›

Philosophers typically divide knowledge into three categories: personal, procedural, and propositional. It is the last of these, propositional knowledge, that primarily concerns philosophers.

What are the 3 aspects of knowledge? ›

Many philosophers define knowledge as justified true belief (JTB). This definition characterizes knowledge through three essential features: as (1) a belief that is (2) true and (3) justified.

What are the three main questions of epistemology? ›

In these debates and others, epistemology aims to answer questions such as "What do we know?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?", "What makes justified beliefs justified?", and "How do we know that we know?".

Is knowledge enough for human existence? ›

Knowledge is not enough for human existence, the conversion to time-tested wisdom is required, which works by double-loop (deutero) learning. Science and life should be connected by creative and living spirit.

What are the 5 Epistemologies? ›

Core topics of epistemology
  • Perception.
  • Memory.
  • Introspection.
  • Inference.
  • Testimony.

Does math improve IQ? ›

Doing math will help because it develops their ability to notice relationships between numbers. A strong co-relation has also been found between a child's relational skills and IQ scores.

How do you know if you have logical-mathematical intelligence? ›

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence is the ability to analyze situations or problems logically, identify solutions, conduct scientific research, and easily solve logical/mathematical operations.

What famous person has logical-mathematical intelligence? ›

Blaise Pascal, Bill Gates, and Sir Isaac Newton are famous people who have high logical/mathematical intelligence. In other words, they are skilled at deductive reasoning, detecting patterns, and logical thinking.

What are some criticisms of Jean Piaget's development stages? ›

Piaget's theory has some shortcomings, including overestimating the ability of adolescence and underestimating infant's capacity. Piaget also neglected cultural and social interaction factors in the development of children's cognition and thinking ability.

Why is it important to understand Piaget's cognitive development? ›

Piaget's theory of cognitive development helped add to our understanding of children's intellectual growth. It also stressed that children were not merely passive recipients of knowledge. Instead, kids are constantly investigating and experimenting as they build their understanding of how the world works.

At what age does cognitive development begin? ›

What is cognitive development? Cognitive development means the growth of a child's ability to think and reason. This growth happens differently from ages 6 to 12, and from ages 12 to 18. Children ages 6 to 12 years old develop the ability to think in concrete ways.


1. Genetic epistemology
2. Piaget's theory of Cognitive Development
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3. Piaget theory by Dr Chanchal Pal | Genetic epistemology jean piaget | assimilation and accommodation
(Dr Chanchal Pal)
4. What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept
(Kent Löfgren)
5. Piaget's Cognitive Development Theory// Genetic Epistemology//k tet/ set psychology
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6. Piaget - genetic epistemology
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