Monday, March 26, 2018

Development and evolution continued

Continuing this post, the following section is on developmental psychology's more general contribution to EP, and more specifically Piaget's genetic epistemology.

"In painstaking psychogenetic studies, Piaget established that organisms are not passive achievers of knowledge or reactors to external conditions; to the contrary, the system seeks its own experience and reacts to stimuli with active and creative changes in itself and in the environment. Piaget's genetic epistemology gave a plausible explanation for the relation between cognition and action (as the Santiago School of Maturana and Varela put it: no cognition without action, and no action without cognition). Piaget emphasized the emergence of cognitive abilities out of a groundwork of sensorimotor abilities. At the beginning of an interaction there is no subject and no object. Both result from the internal organization of the subject's experience with the external. For Piaget, boundaries between the cognitive subject and the outside object were not given qualities but created categories of the world. The cognitive system was the subject-environment unity. Piaget attempted to show the constructivist-interactionist power between the two antagonistic mechanisms of life: organization and adaptation - maintenance and change - essential for every natural process, like development, evolution, and cognition. Development, in this view, is the construction of all kinds of causal factors—genetic, epigenetic, ecological, social and cultural factors—which interact together in a self-organized and not centrally controlled manner (Stotz, 1996). His understanding of ontogenesis hugely influenced his conception of evolution. Piaget was one of the first to take a developmental perspective on evolutionary processes. His genetic epistemology was a biology of knowledge based on an evolutionary theory situated between the extremes of (neo-) Darwinism and Lamarckism. Behavior is seen as a driving force in evolution, and an adaptation to the environment is understood as the result of an interactive construction of self and the environment."

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