Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Piaget was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University in 1936, the Sorbonne in 1946, and the University of Brussels in 1949 for his work on the evolution of intelligence in the human young. He found in developmental psychology a link between the biological adaptation of organisms to the environment and the philosophical quest for the source of knowledge.
Jean Piaget was born the first of three children and only son of Arthur and Rachel Piaget. Arthur was devoted to medieval literature, and Rachel, although energetic and intelligent, suffered from poor mental health. As a young child, Piaget was interested in mechanics, birds, sea shells, and fossils. At the age of ten, he went to Latin School and after school hours helped the director of the Natural History Museum put labels on collections in exchange for rare species, which he added to his own collection. Piaget began writing when he was seven, and a short essay on an albino sparrow was published when he was eleven. By the age of fifteen, he was writing a series of articles in the Swiss Review of Zoology and was receiving letters from foreign scholars who expressed a desire to meet him. They did not, of course, realize how young he was.
Piaget might have pursued his career as a naturalist had it not been for several events that occurred when he was between fifteen and twenty years of age. His mother insisted that he take...
(The entire section is 2195 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Biography (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
French psychologist, philosopher, and naturalist.
Jean Piaget is universally known for his studies of the development of intelligence in children. Although he is one of the creators of child psychology as it exists today, psychology was for him only a tool of epistemology (the theory of knowledge). He identified his domain as "genetic [i.e., developmental] epistemology." He thus studied the growth of children's capacity to think in abstract, logical terms, and of such categories as time, space, number, causality, and permanency, describing an invariable sequence of stages from birth through adolescence. A prolific author, he wrote over fifty books and hundreds of articles.
Piaget was born in 1896 in the French-speaking Swiss city of Neuchâtel, the son of an agnostic medievalist and a religious mother with socialist leanings. After completing a doctoral thesis in natural sciences (1918), and studies in psychology and philosophy in Zurich and Paris, he joined the Rousseau Institute of Geneva in 1921, which was founded by...
(The entire section is 721 words.)