Does knowledge progress through a succession of stages?
Knowledge is the understanding of something; it is considered that for someone to be knowledgeable about something, a tripartite of stages must occur; firstly believing something to be true, secondly it must be true (a fact) and thirdly said person must have a justification for thinking this. I am going to be arguing that knowledge progresses through a succession of stages using Piaget’s Stages of Development theory. I will look at both sides of the argument by examining the criticisms of the methodology that Piaget undertook as well as the issues raised with participants. Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland in 1896 and was a psychologist and the first person to study how children learnt systematically. (Biography, 2012) He formulated phases in children’s emotional, mental and psychological growth and also helped develop tests to determine children’s ability to comprehend the world. Piaget’s theory set cognitive development in to four stages. In his theory the progression of one stage is the prerequisite to another, that is, without the first the second was not possible. (Ziegler & Mitchell, 2006) One could say that it is the gradual development of more complex understandings of the surroundings. The first one is called “Sensorimotor” and occurs in children at 0-2 years of age also known as the age of infancy. (Jardine 2006: 50) The main characteristic of this stage is Solipsism – failing to differentiate between themselves and their surroundings. The baby presumes the world lacks permanence and when something is not present then it is non-existent, the stage where the child cannot comprehend that things exist even when they are not in immediate contact. During Piaget’s experiments he found that at this stage babies had the dexterity to grasp things but that once they were removed from view they turned their attention away. If it was revealed again, the baby realises its existence again which suggests...
References: Mitchell, P & Ziegler, F (2004) “Fundamentals of Development: The Psychology of Childhood” (1st edition) East Sussex: Psychology Press
Jardine D.W (2006) “Piaget and Education” (1st Edition) New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
Biography.com: (2012) “Jean Piaget”. Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/jean-piaget-9439915 [Accessed 20th March 2012]
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