chapter  5
15 Pages

The loss of Piaget as a symptom: the issue of development in contemporary cognitive psychology


Piaget’s intellectual journey (1896-1980) is very peculiar. A curious child with an early interest in mechanics, birds, fossils, and, above all, mollusks, the young Piaget experienced a series of crises between the ages of fifteen and twenty that led him to read, reflect on, and develop a passion for philosophical questions (Piaget, 1952). His exposure to Bergson’s Creative Evolution was decisive in that it oriented Piaget toward what would become the leitmotiv of his work: biological explanations for knowledge. However, due to its speculative nature and limited scientific basis, philosophical inquiry did not ultimately capture his attention, which is understandable for a youth with such a passion for the natural sciences (Piaget, 1965). Thus, Piaget found in psychology a way of empirically addressing questions regarding knowledge. However, what psychological perspectives formed his theoretical sources, and how did he elaborate his psychological and epistemological theoretical approach?