Term Paper: Unrecognized Genius of Jean Piaget

Pages: 15 (3921 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] When an infant differentiates him or herself from the world, the cognitive reaction becomes independent.

Kegan points out that the neo-Piagetian view emphasizes the first eighteen months of life as the first instance of basic evolutionary activity. The child realizes that it is his or her own movements that create action. He or she realizes that there is a separate world, and that the world changes based on individual movements or actions. Kegan continues by pointing out that, "the process of differentiation, creating the possibility of integration, brings into being the lifelong theme of finding and losing, which before now could not have existed" (81).

Kegan defines the next stage as the impulsive balance stage. During this time, the child learns to employ reflexes as opposed to being them. The child learns to coordinate the "perceptions" and "impulses." Furthermore, the child is able to recognize separate objects according to his or her perceptions, as opposed to objective ones. This goes back to the example of the child's interpretation of the two beakers filled with water. During this stage, the child can perceive a difference between the two, yet cannot equate the equivalence of them.

The second stage Kegan defines as the imperial balance, which he distinguishes himself or herself from others. He or she is aware of the private world they exist in, and the independent thought they are capable of. The child can now control with great accuracy his or her impulses. Things are no longer random, but happen for reasons, usually because of causality. This stage also marks the beginning of a conscious, and feelings of guilt. This stage can be closely associated with the previous chapter's exploration of the development of feelings of morality. No longer are the child's actions free of consequence.

The third stage is that of interpersonal balance, which the introduction to personal conflict is. It involves the resolution of ideas, and rationalization of actions. This stage incorporates for the first time the idea of balancing and rational thought in decision making.

The fourth stage is that of institutional balance, which another stage of strengthening independence is. Finally, stage 5, or the interindividual balance stage, emphasizes the increased capacity to hear, speak, and alter behavior accordingly. Kegan points out the most important consequence of this stage is the finalization of "self."


The stages seem to make sense, but this chapter makes me wonder what kind of empirical evidence led to their differentiations. How are we to know that the stages occur precisely at this order, and furthermore, how are we to decipher the child's interpretation of self?

Kegan points out that these stages are somewhat intertwined, and can overlap. He says that every developmental stage is an evolutionary truce, or balance, but that at the same time, they can be transcended. The child may move back and forth between these stages in order to achieve some sort of balance. This repetition may serve as a further construction of the "self," or it may just serve as a reinforcement of previously learned ideas.

Chapter 4: The Growth and Loss of the Incorporative Self

Kegan points out that a person's evolution is so crucial to understanding him or her because the way the person settles issues can relate back to his or her definition of "self" and "other." As previously mentioned, this construction can be partly due to biology, but also to experience. Experience is result of the succession of "holding environments," which can also be contributed to the stages explored in chapter 3. Kegan notes that holding environments "are the psychological environments which hold us (with which we are fused) and which let go of us (from which we differentiate)" (116).

This "holding on," or attachment, is one of the basis behind the idea of experience. A second function of the culture of embedded ness is the idea of "letting go." At some point the child has developed a full range of emotions and idea of one's self, and needs to be released from the care of others to discover the world for themselves. The act of refraining from allowing the child independence can halter his or her cognitive development.

A third function recognized by Kegan is that of remaining in place. This idea stresses the, "reconciliation, the recovery, the recognition of that which before was confused with the self" (129). Following the child's new independence, this function serves as one of discovery.


It is interesting how Kegan can relate some major personality disorders with the way in which a child is either over-nurtured, or not nurtured enough. It goes to show that while the infancy is not the only source for cognitive development, it is the primary one. How we are treated as infants is paramount in the development of our personalities. Disorders occurring from this stage can become extremely problematic later in life, and can often be very hard to correct.

It goes to show that there is a certain formula to raising children from their infancy. There is a certain degree of emotion and "holding on," that needs to be given, but one should also be careful about giving too much. It is important to balance these themes in order to develop a healthy mind in the child.

Chapter 5: The Growth and Loss of the Impulsive Self.

In this chapter, Kegan explores the transformation in which a person emerges from their embedded ness of impulses and perceptions, and from special adult-child relationships. This evolution, Kegan asserts, is organized by the idea of "loss." The loss of special involvement with objects and others mark the discoveries made in this stage. Kegan writes, "How the small child navigates this first growth and loss of a full-blown yearning for inclusion must certainly have consequences for its future orientation to this side of life's motion" (143). Again, this idea relates back to the degree of nurture shown to the child. More nurture would equate to more loss, while less nurture would equate to less loss. Either way, this stage of development will have to occur at some point, regardless of all extraneous factors.

The differentiation between this and the previous stage, marked predominantly by loss, can be a very emotional time for the child. The child is dealing with dramatic change in his or her perceptions, and his or her surrounding environment. Kegan writes, "As the young child begins the differentiation from her old impulse bound self, she fairly cries out for the support of a culture which will bridge the self-she-has-been and the self-she-is-becoming" (146).

This is also a stage of great confusion because the child has not yet learned to completely control impulses, yet he or she is being inserted into a world that requires it. The child has to learn to rationalize his or her impulses and passions. It is, in many ways, a stage of self-sufficiency. Kegan says it is the classic expression of self.


Kegan depicts this stage in the beginning of school. Children around the age of 5, 6, and 7 experience school for the first, and often this is the catalyst for this stage to begin. Children are separated from their parents, and placed in an environment unfamiliar to them. They have to rationalize their impulses and fears at school, but this is part of the "growing" experience.

The most symbolic part of this stage is the child's ability to show off his or her development outside of the house. The child shows the parents his or growth, and this adds to the child's self, dignity and integrity.

I remember my first years of school as being ones of great development. I learned how to socialize outside of the exclusive community that was my home. I learned how to balance ideas, and come to rational conclusions. Most importantly, I learned how to deal with the "loss" of the attention and "compassion" showed to me by my parents during the daytime.

Chapter 6: The Growth and Loss of the Imperial Self.

Kegan points out that school has more functions than serving as a function for loss. It also, to some extent, defines a child's role. Kegan asserts, "In differentiating from his impulse confusion within the family, the child grows out of an undifferentiated adhesion to these older people with whom he lives, and into the role of 'child' in relation to 'parents'" (162). The child recognizes a world outside of his or her home, and the purposes it serves. The child also recognizes the role of the two individuals most influential in his or her life up until this point. They are not the complete environment, but rather just a part of it.

School offers things that expand on the child's learning that cannot be done in the home. The child is exposed to social interaction with peers, and the practicing of games with them. Kegan points out that, "These countless rituals, games, and understandings are also about the… [END OF PREVIEW]

Jean Piaget or Feud Skinner Term Paper

Jean Piaget and George Vaillant Essay

Piaget to the Search Committee Essay

Operational Thought Jean Piaget Essay

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development Essay

View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Unrecognized Genius of Jean Piaget.  (2003, May 8).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/unrecognized-genius-jean-piaget/2202930

MLA Format

"Unrecognized Genius of Jean Piaget."  8 May 2003.  Web.  23 August 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/unrecognized-genius-jean-piaget/2202930>.

Chicago Format

"Unrecognized Genius of Jean Piaget."  Essaytown.com.  May 8, 2003.  Accessed August 23, 2019.