[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] Piaget on Within-Stage Variability

It seems to me that Esther Thelen and Linda Smith have given us some insight about variability in cognitive processes, per their work on dynamic systems. Do you agree?


David Cross

On Nov 10, 2010, at 7:33 PM, mike cole wrote:

In the early-mid 1950's a remarkable group of scholars met in Geneva to
discuss issues of development. The entire book of discussions on child
development is too big to make a pdf of, but the discussion on stages and
mechanisms of change, involving Piaget, Margaret Mead, Lorenz, Grey
Walter, Tanner the growth guy, and others could be if there is sufficient
interest -- or perhaps Mead's paper.

This is the set of meetings sponsored by Macey Foundation which got Piaget and Mead talking about culture and development and contributed a lot to the large set of empirical studies in the late 1950's. In reading the discussion
as part of re-viewing the cross-cultural landscape, I came upon this
statement in the discussion about stages.

This is the same point that Bowlby raised when in his reply to my
essay he said 'I wonder if Piaget accepts the idea that, at all ages,
behaviour is regulated by cognitive processes of different degrees of
development-that in some of our actions we operate with a fullyfledged
intelligence and in others none at all, and that in respect
of anyone activity we may shift from one level to another?'
Well, I fully accept this idea. Our cognitive functions are certainly
not uniform for every period of the day. Although I am mainly engaged
in intellectual operations, I am for example at an operatory
level for only a small part of the day when I devote myself to my
work. The rest of the time I am dealing with empirical
trial and error. At the time when I drove a car and my engine went
wrong it was even empirical trial and error on a very low level, as
you can imagine. Every moment I am indulging in pre-operatory
intuition. At other times I go even lower and almost give way to
magical behaviour. If I am stopped by a red light when I am in a
hurry it is difficult for me not to link this up with other preoccupations
of the moment. In short, the intellectual level varies considerably,
exactly like the affective level, according to the different times of the
day, but for each behaviour pattern I think we shall find a certain
correspondence. For example, for a primitive emotion a very low
intellectual level, and for a lofty aesthetic or moral sentiment a high
intellectual level. We shall always have this correspondence between
the two aspects.*

How did it come about that this discussion was forgotten? I have never seen Piaget quoted in this way in the English or Russian language translations. My French is too lousy to have any idea about that. The closest I can come to systematic investigation by Americans that follows this logic is in the
work of Kurt Fischer and his colleagues.

For me a big question is: How does this kind of variability get organized along with the diachronic sequence of transformations laid out in Boris's article in the Vygotsky Companion very interestingly elaborated upon by David Kel? This question is related to my constantly worrying the issue of what is meant by "social situation of development" (singular) for people who think that higher psychological functions are organized according to the activities they mediate as well as the properties of the mediational system?


PS- Still reading LSV's *Educational Psychology* and working up to David's essay on the Psych of Art and its place in development of LSV's thinking.
That far behind!
xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list