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Re: [xmca] moral life of babies

On May 7, 2010, at 11:54 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:

> One could in fact re-read (admittedly a bit against the grain) Piaget as trying to find the relationships between tool-based activity (i.e. manipulating objects in the world) and sign-based activity (i.e. manipulating propositional meanings) as keys to understanding the origins of core (i.e. Kantian) cultural categories.

I don't think such a reading runs much against the grain. Here is a simple gloss of Piaget's take on the Kantian project, from my book in press:

Box 7.3: Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology
Jean Piaget, the famous Swiss scholar of children’s development, took up the Kantian project. Piaget (1896-1980) called himself a ‘genetic epistemologist’ rather than a psychologist. Piaget’s great book on infancy, The Construction of Reality in the Child (1937/1955) explored precisely the four concepts that Kant had focused on: space, time, causality, and object. Piaget did not believe that these concepts are innate; he considered that Kant had gone too far in claiming this (Piaget, 1970/1988). To Piaget the great cognitive project of human infancy is the “construction” of an understanding of these four concepts, albeit embodied and “sensorimotor” rather than cognitive. The well-known Piagetian notion of “object permanence” is one of the end products of this project of “organization of reality” (1937/1955, p. xiii); there are comparable constructions in each of the other three areas.  By the end of infancy the stage has been set for the “semiotic function,” the ability to use and understand representations, both mental and material (Piaget, 1945/1962). At each subsequent stage of development – the preoperational stage, and the stages of concrete operations and formal operations – knowledge is actively “constructed” by the child in the form of increasingly complex mental representations or “schemes,” through processes of assimilation and accommodation. Piaget proposed that mind does not appear until the end of infancy, but he argued that its formation is logically necessary. Mental action is built on the basis of practical, sensorimotor schemas, which the child progressively replaces with increasingly formal and abstract kinds of representation.

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