Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Brief Biography of Jean Piaget

A Brief Biography of Jean Piaget

Text and images provided courtesy of the Archives Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

[just a dot]Jean Piaget was born in Neuchâtel (Switzerland) on August 9, 1896. He died in Geneva on September 16, 1980. He was the oldest child of Arthur Piaget, professor of medieval literature at the University, and of Rebecca Jackson. At age 11, while he was a pupil at Neuchâtel Latin high school, he wrote a short notice on an albino sparrow. This short paper is generally considered as the start of a brilliant scientific career made of over sixty books and several hundred articles. [just a dot]His interest for mollusks was developed during his late adolescence to the point that he became a well-known malacologist by finishing school. He published many papers in the field that remained of interest for him all along his life.
[just a dot]After high school graduation, he studied natural sciences at the University of Neuchâtel where he obtained a Ph.D. During this period, he published two philosophical essays which he considered as "adolescence work" but were important for the general orientation of his thinking.
[just a dot]After a semester spent at the University of Zürich where he developed an interest for psychoanalysis, he left Switzerland for France. He spent one year working at the Ecole de la rue de la Grange-aux-Belles a boys' institution created by Alfred Binet and then directed by De Simon who had developed with Binet a test for the measurement of intelligence. There, he standardized Burt's test of intelligence and did his first experimental studies of the growing mind.
[just a dot]In 1921, he became director of studies at the J.-J. Rousseau Institute in Geneva at the request of Sir Ed. Claparède and P. Bovet.
[just a dot]In 1923, he and Valentine Châtenay were married. The couple had three children, Jacqueline, Lucienne and Laurent whose intellectual development from infancy to language was studied by Piaget.
[just a dot]Successively or simultaneously, Piaget occupied several chairs: psychology, sociology and history of science at Neuchâtel from 1925 to 1929; history of scientific thinking at Geneva from 1929 to 1939; the International Bureau of Education from 1929 to 1967; psychology and sociology at Lausanne from 1938 to 1951; sociology at Geneva from 1939 to 1952, then genetic and experimental psychology from 1940 to 1971. He was, reportedly, the only Swiss to be invited at the Sorbonne from 1952 to 1963. In 1955, he created and directed until his death the International Center for Genetic Epistemology.
[just a dot]His researches in developmental psychology and genetic epistemology had one unique goal: how does knowledge grow? His answer is that the growth of knowledge is a progressive construction of logically embedded structures superseding one another by a process of inclusion of lower less powerful logical means into higher and more powerful ones up to adulthood. Therefore, children's logic and modes of thinking are initially entirely different from those of adults.
[just a dot]Piaget's oeuvre is known all over the world and is still an inspiration in fields like psychology, sociology, education, epistemology, economics and law as witnessed in the annual catalogues of the Jean Piaget Archives. He was awarded numerous prizes and honorary degrees all over the world.

Abraham Harold Maslow

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theory of self-actualization.[2] Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a "bag of symptoms."[3]

Abraham Maslow Quotes

"For any man of good will, there is work to be done here, effective, virtuous, satisfying work which can give rich meaning to one's own life and to others"


Maslow used the term metamotivation to describe self actualized people who are driven by innate forces beyond their basic needs, so that they may explore and reach their full human potential.[37]


In studying accounts of peak experiences, Maslow identified a manner of thought he called "Being-cognition" (or "B-cognition", which is holistic and accepting, as opposed to the evaluative "Deficiency-cognition" or "D-cognition") and values he called "Being-values".[38] He listed the B-values as:
  • Wholeness (unity; integration; tendency to one-ness; interconnectedness; simplicity; organization; structure; dichotomy-transcendence; order);
  • Perfection (necessity; just-right-ness; just-so-ness; inevitability; suitability; justice; completeness; "oughtness");
  • Completion (ending; finality; justice; "it's finished"; fulfillment; finis and telos; destiny; fate);
  • Justice (fairness; orderliness; lawfulness; "oughtness");
  • Aliveness (process; non-deadness; spontaneity; self-regulation; full-functioning);
  • Richness (differentiation, complexity; intricacy);
  • Simplicity (honesty; nakedness; essentiality; abstract, essential, skeletal structure);
  • Beauty (rightness; form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness; perfection; completion; uniqueness; honesty);
  • Goodness (rightness; desirability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty);
  • Uniqueness (idiosyncrasy; individuality; non-comparability; novelty);
  • Effortlessness (ease; lack of strain, striving or difficulty; grace; perfect, beautiful functioning);
  • Playfulness (fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humor; exuberance; effortlessness);
  • Truth (honesty; reality; nakedness; simplicity; richness; oughtness; beauty; pure, clean and unadulterated; completeness; essentiality).
  • Self-sufficiency (autonomy; independence; not-needing-other-than-itself-in-order-to-be-itself; self-determining; environment-transcendence; separateness; living by its own laws).

    Hierarchy of Needs

A visual aid was created to explain his theory, which was called the Hierarchy of Needs, is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological and physical. When a human being ascends the steps of the pyramid he reaches self-actualization.
  • At the bottom of the pyramid are the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being: food, water, sleep and sex.
  • The next level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability.” These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more.
  • The third level of need is “Love and Belonging,” which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends.
  • The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.
  • Then there is the “Cognitive” level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore.
  • After that is the “Aesthetic” level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty.[32]
  • At the top of the pyramid, “Need for Self-actualization,” occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they have achieved their full potential.[33] Once a person has reached the self-actualization state they focus on themselves and try to build their own image. They may look at this in terms of feelings such as self-confidence or by accomplishing a set goal.[34]
The first four levels are known as 'Deficit needs' or 'D-needs'. This means that if you don't have enough of one of those 4 needs, you'll have the feeling to get it. But when you do get them then you feel content. These needs alone are not motivating.[35]
Maslow wrote that there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the basic needs to be satisfied. For example, freedom of speech, freedom to express oneself, and freedom to seek new information[36] are a few of the prerequisites. Any blockages of these freedoms could prevent the satisfaction of the basic needs.
File:Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.svg