Jean Piaget – Switzerland

Linked with The Jean Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology, with The Jean Piaget Society JPS, and with The Jean Piaget Archives.

Jean Piaget (August 9, 1896 – September 16, 1980) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemological view called “genetic epistemology”. He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and directed it until 1980. According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget is “the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing” … (full long text).

He said: “Intelligence is an adaptation…To say that intelligence is a particular instance of biological adaptation is thus to suppose that it is essentially an organization and that its function is to structure the universe just as the organism structures its immediate environment”. (human intelligence).

Scientific & philosophical development, the stages of cognitive development.

His major contributions:


Jean Piaget – Switzerland

Listen the video: PIAGET’S DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY, 4.00 min, March 22, 2006.

He said also: “Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society … But for me, education means making creators … You have to make inventors, innovators, not conformists” … (and many more).

J. Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology and the Teaching of Elementary Mathematics.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development.

Jean Piaget, the pioneering Swiss philosopher and psychologist, spent much of his professional life listening to children, watching children and poring over reports of researchers around the world who were doing the same. He found, to put it most succinctly, that children don’t think like grownups. After thousands of interactions with young people often barely old enough to talk, Piaget began to suspect that behind their cute and seemingly illogical utterances were thought processes that had their own kind of order and their own special logic. Einstein called it a discovery “so simple that only a genius could have thought of it” … (full text).

(He) elaborated the stages of childhood.

After watching many children, he felt that all children went through a series of four stages in the same order. Some children advanced through a stage faster than other children. The first stage that he observed was from birth to two years of age. Piaget called this the sensorimotor period. Children in this stage have a cognitive system that is limited to the motor reflexes. Then start to build on these reflexes in order to develop more sophisticated procedures through physical interactions and experiences. By seven months, a child has learned about object permanency, the knowledge that an object still exists when not in the child’s view. During this stage, the child develops simple activities to a wider range of situations and coordinates them into lengthy chains of behavior. A child in this stage is just starting to realize that they are in control of their movements and this allows them to develop new intellectual abilities. They start to learn what the appropriate actions are and they begin to work on the ability to communicate with others through sounds and words that are simple to say. Children at this stage learn from their parents and care- givers. They imitate what they see and hear and experiment with muscle movements and sounds that the mouth makes (full text).

Selected works for students.

For example, he outlines four stages of cognitive development:

  • 1. Sensorimotor
  • 2. Preoperational
  • 3. Concrete Operational
  • 4. Formal Operational

These four stages have the following characteristics:

  • 1. invariant sequence
  • 2. universal (not culturally specific)
  • 3. related to cognitive development
  • 4. generalizable to other functions
  • 5. stages are logically organized wholes
  • 6. hierarchical nature of stage sequences (each successive stage incorporates elements of previous stages, but is more differentiated and integrated)
  • 7. stages represent qualitative differences inmodes of thinking, not merely quantitative differences

Piaget’s theory supposes that people develop schemas (conceptual models) by either assimilating or accommodating new information … (full text).

Piaget’s definitions.

Piaget work has identified four major stages of cognitive growth that emerge from birth to about the age of 14-16. A child will develop through each of these stages until he or she can reason logically … (full text).

Biographies: on Shippensburg University; on Muskingum College; on wikipedia; on Archives Jean Piaget; on Jean Piaget Society.

… Piaget’s godfather introduced him to philosophy (the search for knowledge). Biology (the study of living organisms) was thus merged with epistemology (the study of knowledge), both basic to his later learning theories. Work in two psychological laboratories in Zurich, Switzerland, introduced him to psychoanalysis (the study of mental processes). In Paris at the Sorbonne he studied abnormal psychology (the study of mental illness), logic, and epistemology, and in 1920 with Théodore Simon in the Binet Laboratory he developed standardized reasoning tests (universal tests). Piaget thought that these quantitative (expressed as an amount) tests were too strict and saw that children’s incorrect answers better revealed their qualitative thinking (quality of thinking) at various stages of development. This led to the question he would spend the rest of his life studying: How do children learn? … (full text).

Jean Piaget’s theory of education analyzed into eight factors.

She intersperses segments of the film with old-style documentary-type segments about child development; these segments appear to be rooted in the child development theories of Erik Erikson and, to a lesser degree, Jean Piaget. I get what she was going for with these segments – she’s obviously trying to make a statement here about moral development and its relation to having a linear sense of the impact of our actions in the present on what happens in the future. (full text, Feb 3, 2008).

What do we do with our education? 10 February, 2008.

In his book Structuralism (1970), the renowned Swiss philosopher Jean Piaget revealed the affinity between the structure of language and the function of systemic processes in developmental psychology. Piaget’s investigations closely though indirectly paralleled the work of conceptual artists of the same period who were more interested in clarifying their art through structural parameters than in terms of aesthetic form. For example, Sol LeWitt and Hanne Darboven, who began to work directly with language and systems as early as 1966, both challenged the notion that form in art was necessarily the result of an expressive intention. Instead, they believed art should exist within a logical structure, namely, the grid … (full text, 6 Feb 2008).

The Construction of Reality in the Child, the Elaboration of the Universe — Conclusion.

Intellectual growth involves three fundamental processes: assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration. Assimilation involves the incorporation of new events into preexisting cognitive structures. Accommodation means existing structures change to accommodate to the new information. This dual process, assimilation-accommodation, enables the child to form schema. Equilibration involves the person striking a balance between himself and the environment, between assimilation and accomodation. When a child experiences a new event, disequilibrium sets in until he is able to assimilate and accommodate the new information and thus attain equilibrium. There are many types of equilibrium between assimilation and accomodation that vary with the levels of development and the problems to be solved. For Piaget, equilibration is the major factor in explaining why some children advance more quickly in the development of logical intelligence than do others (Lavatelli, 40). (full text).

Jean Piaget – The Three Mountains.

The Theory of Cognitive Development, one of the most historically influential theories was developed by Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist (1896–1980). His theory provided many central concepts in the field of developmental psychology and concerned the growth of intelligence, which for Piaget, meant the ability to more accurately represent the world and perform logical operations on representations of concepts grounded in the world. The theory concerns the emergence and acquisition of schemata—schemes of how one perceives the world—in “developmental stages”, times when children are acquiring new ways of mentally representing information. The theory is considered “constructivist”, meaning that, unlike nativist theories (which describe cognitive development as the unfolding of innate knowledge and abilities) or empiricist theories (which describe cognitive development as the gradual acquisition of knowledge through experience), it asserts that we construct our cognitive abilities through self-motivated action in the world. For his development of the theory, Piaget was awarded the Erasmus Prize. Piaget divided schemes that children use to understand the world through four main periods, roughly correlated with and becoming increasingly sophisticated with age:

  • Sensorimotor period (years 0–2);
  • Preoperational period (years 2–6);
  • Concrete operational period (years 6–12);
  • Formal operational period (years 12–adulthood).

… (full long text).

And he said: “Every acquisition of accommodation becomes material for assimilation, but assimilation always resists new accommodations” … (this anmany more … full text).
Find him and his publications on ; on wikipedia; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search; on human intelligence; on .

And finally he said: “Intelligence is assimilation to the extent that it incorporates all the given data of experience within its framework…There can be no doubt either, that mental life is also accommodation to the environment. Assimilation can never be pure because by incorporating new elements into its earlier schemata the intelligence constantly modifies the latter in order to adjust them to new elements”. (human intelligence).


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Chess teacher and author Igor Sukhin, Bisik-Bisik by Edwin Lam Choong Wai;

Historical studies of thought and cognition;

Developmental psychology;






Artificial intelligence;

Constructivist epistemology;

Developmental psychology;

Stage of development;

Inquiry-based science;

Psychsocial development / Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development;

Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

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