The Art and Science of How People Learn - Revised Edition
Edited By Greg S. Goodman
11. Jean Piaget and the Origins of Intelligence: A Return to “Life Itself”
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Jean Piaget and the Origins of Intelligence
A Return to “Life Itself”
AFFINITY AND DISTANCE FROM “THE SPIRIT OF KANTIANISM”
One can feel very close to the spirit of Kantianism (and I believe I am close to it). [However] the necessity characteristic of the syntheses [Kant’s a priori categories of Reason are the universal and necessary ways that experience is “knit together” by Reason. They are “synthesizing.” They are “syntheses”] becomes [in my work] a terminus ad quem and ceases to be [as in Immanuel Kant’s work] a terminus a quo. (Piaget, 1965, p. 57)
In this passage, Jean Piaget articulates both his affinity to and his distance from the work of Immanuel Kant, which we shall examine briefly to illuminate Piaget’s profound originality and contribution to educational theory and practice.
In Piaget’s work, the universality and necessity of the categories of human reason articulated by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason are not the starting point (terminus a quo) of human reason, but its end point (terminus ad quem). These categories describe, Piaget argues, typical mature adult reasoning and are therefore not the origin of knowledge but the outcome. They are not present from the beginning and/or present in each case but emergent over time.
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