chapter  5
The Development of Object Individuation in Infancy
ByFei Xu
Pages 34

William James (1890/1950) once described the infant’s world as “a blooming, buzzing confusion”; Piaget (1954) and Quine (1960) both thought that the young infant’s experiences of the world are fleeting and disjointed. According to these psychologists and philosophers, the infant’s world is fundamentally different from adults’ in the following way: There are no persisting objects. This claim has two parts: First, until about 8 or 9 months of age, infants do not have object permanence, a phenomenon that had been studied extensively by Piaget and his followers. Second, infants do not have any criteria for deciding whether an object seen on one occasion is the same as or distinct from an object seen on a different occasion, a characterization with far-reaching consequences, as argued most extensively by Quine (1960). Several decades later, with an ever-growing enterprise of the developmental psychology of infancy (Clifton, 2001), we now know that both of these claims are wrong.