Personen Psychologie

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

Swiss psychologist, best known for his pioneering work on the development of intelligence in children. His studies have had a major impact on the fields of psychology and education.
Piaget was born August 9, 1896, in Neuchâtel. He wrote and published his first scientific paper, on the albino sparrow, at the age of ten. He was educated at the University of Neuchâtel and received his doctorate in biology at age 22.
Piaget became interested in psychology; he studied and carried out research first in Zürich, Switzerland, and then at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he began his studies on the development of cognitive abilities. He taught at various European universities while he continued his research and writing.
In 1955 he became director of the International Center for Epistemology at the University of Geneva, and later he was codirector of the International Bureau of Education. He died in Geneva, on September 17, 1980.

In his work Piaget identified the child's four stages of mental growth.

In the sensorimotor stage, occurring from birth to age 2, the child is concerned with gaining motor control and learning about physical objects. In the preoperational stage, from ages 2 to 7, the child is preoccupied with verbal skills. At this point the child can name objects and reason intuitively.
In the concrete operational stage, from ages 7 to 12, the child begins to deal with abstract concepts such as numbers and relationships.
Finally, in the formal operational stage, ages 12 to 15, the child begins to reason logically and systematically.

Among Piaget's many books are
The Language and Thought of the Child (1926),
Judgment and Reasoning in the Child (1928),
The Origin of Intelligence in Children (1954),
The Early Growth of Logic in the Child (1964), and
Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child (1970).

 


William James (1842-1910)

American philosopher and psychologist, who developed the philosophy of pragmatism.
James was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. His father, Henry James, Sr., was a Swedenborgian theologian; one of his brothers was the great novelist Henry James. William James attended private schools in the U.S. and Europe, the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University, and the Harvard Medical School, from which he received a degree in 1869. Before finishing his medical studies, he went on an exploring expedition in Brazil with the Swiss-American naturalist Louis Agassiz and also studied physiology in Germany. After three years of retirement due to illness, James became an instructor in physiology at Harvard in 1872. After 1880 he taught psychology and philosophy at Harvard; he left Harvard in 1907 and gave highly successful lectures at Columbia University and the University of Oxford. James died in Chocorua, New Hampshire, on August 26, 1910.

 Psychology
James's first book, the monumental Principles of Psychology (1890), established him as one of the most influential thinkers of his time. The work advanced the principle of functionalism in psychology, thus removing psychology from its traditional place as a branch of philosophy and establishing it among the laboratory sciences based on experimental method.
In the next decade James applied his empirical methods of investigation to philosophical and religious issues. He explored the questions of the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, free will, and ethical values by referring to human religious and moral experience as a direct source. His views on these subjects were presented in the lectures and essays published in such books as The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897), Human Immortality (1898), and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902). The last-named work is a sympathetic psychological account of religious and mystical experiences.

 Pragmatism
Later lectures published as Pragmatism: A New Name for Old Ways of Thinking (1907) summed up James's original contributions to the theory called pragmatism, a term first used by the American logician C. S. Peirce. James generalized the pragmatic method, developing it from a critique of the logical basis of the sciences into a basis for the evaluation of all experience. He maintained that the meaning of ideas is found only in terms of their possible consequences. If consequences are lacking, ideas are meaningless. James contended that this is the method used by scientists to define their terms and to test their hypotheses, which, if meaningful, entail predictions. The hypotheses can be considered true if the predicted events take place. On the other hand, most metaphysical theories are meaningless, because they entail no testable predictions. Meaningful theories, James argued, are instruments for dealing with problems that arise in experience.
According to James's pragmatism, then, truth is that which works. One determines what works by testing propositions in experience. In so doing, one finds that certain propositions become true. As James put it, Truth is something that happens to an idea" in the process of its verification; it is not a static property. This does not mean, however, that anything can be true. The true is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only the expedient in the way of our behaving," James maintained. One cannot believe whatever one wants to believe, because such self-centered beliefs would not work out.
James was opposed to absolute metaphysical systems and argued against monism, a doctrine that maintains that reality is a unified, monolithic whole. In Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912), he argued for a pluralistic universe, denying that the world can be explained in terms of an absolute force or scheme that determines the interrelations of things and events. He held that the interrelations, whether they serve to hold things together or apart, are just as real as the things themselves.
By the end of his life, James had become world-famous as a philosopher and psychologist. In both fields, he functioned more as an originator of new thought than as a founder of dogmatic schools. His pragmatic philosophy was further developed by the American philosopher John Dewey and others; later studies in physics by Albert Einstein made the theories of interrelations advanced by James appear prophetic.

 


Stanley Granville Hall (1844-1924)

American psychologist and educator, born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and educated at Williams College, Union Theological Seminary, and Harvard University. He taught philosophy and psychology at various colleges in the U.S. In 1889 Hall was named president of the newly founded Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Under his guidance considerable work was done in educational research at the university during its first 20 years. Hall was instrumental in the development of the new science of educational psychology. His work in that field shows the influence of the American philosopher William James, with whom he had studied at Harvard.

At The Johns Hopkins University (1882-88) Hall set up the first formal psychology laboratory in the United States. He founded several publications, including the American Journal of Psychology (1887), the first of its kind in the country. He was a founder and the first president (1892) of the American Psychological Association and first president of Clark University (1889-1919). In 1909, Hall invited Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung to speak at Clark, introducing psychoanalysis into the United States.

A founder of DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, Hall claimed that the individual passes through the same developmental stages as the species does. He published books on the thoughts of schoolchildren--such as Adolescence (1904)--and was one of the first to apply psychology to education.


Piaget, Jean © 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.
James, William © 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.
Hall, G(ranville) Stanley: © 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation and ©1995 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. 
©opyright Werner Stangl, Linz 1997.
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