Jean Piaget: The Man Behind the Lab Coat
Jean Piaget's legacy is one that has affected a wide disparity of disciplines. Commonly acknowledged as one of the foremost psychologists of the 20th century, certainly the premiere child developmental psychologist, Piaget preferred to be referred to as a genetic epistemologist. This is because he identified child psychology as being limited to merely the study of the child, whereas his main focus was the study of the origins, characteristics, and limitations of knowledge, usually as seen in the development in children. It has been said of him that "he approached questions up until then exclusively philosophical, in a resolutely empirical manner, and made epistemology (the study of knowledge), into a science separate from philosophy, but related to all of the human sciences." (Gruber and Voneche, 18)
Developmental psychology is what his renown is based upon, yet Piaget's interests were much more widespread. He is characterized as a "zoologist by training, an epistemologist by vocation, and a logician by method." (Munari, 311) This is in part due to the fact that before achieving prominence in the field of child psychology, Piaget immersed himself in various other fields, such as philosophy, logic, politics, and the sciences. He was very much an interdisciplinary thinker, utilizing what he learned in one arena, in the others. Unlike many of the other prototypes of Howard Gardener's (1993) model, Piaget was able to achieve a respectable level of success in these endeavors, publishing various novels and research papers. Although it is uncertain whether he would have been able to achieve "genius" level in any of these undertakings, it seems to demonstrate his multi-talented personality...
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