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[xmca] Operations

Michael, here is what Manfred said in his message:

   "A young infant has not already established a goal-driven level of
   actions. In the first weeks one can observe the acquisition of first
   operations and of first expectations what should happen. But these
   expectations are not yet represented as a mental image about the
   desired future states. This is the product of the acquisition of a
   sign system which enables the person to evoke and  imagine a future
   state in the here and now and to start to strive for it. And for
   this starting point, not only to imagine different future states,
   but also to select one of them and to start to strive for it,
   emotional processes come into play that color one of the imagined
   future state e.g. in a state worth striving for and that mobilize
   the executive power to start striving for it. However, the ability
   to form such notions of goals and to transform them into actions is
   not something that occurs automatically. It emerges in a long-drawn
   ontogenetic learning process in which the attainment of goals
through actions is tried, tested, and increasingly optimized." I make no claim to be a psychologist, Michael, but it always seemed to me that ascribing a knowledge of the world to neonates would be a hard position to sustain. We have to find some other way of understanding the behaviour of neonates and infants other than presuming that they form a goal and then take appropriate premeditated action to realise that goal.

An "operation" is a form of behaviour which has the potential to be transformed into an action, that is, for the subject to become consciously aware of the behaviour and subject it to conscious control. So at first I think we have to say that the neonate smiles, moves its hands around, pouts, squeezes, etc, etc., without first forming the idea "I think I will smile at this woman, and she might give me some more food" or any such thing. But after the relevant stimuli have been repeatedly accompanied by the various kinds of responses which adult carers provide to the child and the successful satisfaction of the stimuli, the child might begin to associate the behaviour with an object, accomodate its behaviour to the social world around them, and what began as an operation may be transformed into an action. Otherwise, I think we are imply a hell of a lot about innate knowledge!


Glassman, Michael wrote:
.... But I also I think disagree with Andy to some extent.  Do infants simply engage in operations?  Is that possible? Isn't there an action tied to every operation, or else why is the infant doing it.  I think infants definitely do react to stimuli (feedback I think can be define through information processing but it can also perhaps be defined through social cognitive theory which is more behavior oriented).  But when they react don't they have an aim of some type?  It might be very rudimentary but it is an aim and the child is developing operations to meet those aims (it also seems to me that there are much fuzzier boundaries between operations and actions at this point).

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