Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget is regarded as one of the most influential psychologists and natural scientists in the western world. He is best remembered for his study of genetic epistemology, which was established based on his theories of epistemology and cognitive development. As the Director of the Bureau of Education in Switzerland, he also made valuable contributions to the promotion of children’s education.

Jean Piaget was born on the 9th of August, 1896 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was the first child of Arthur Piaget, a medieval literature professor at the University of Neuchâtel. When he was studying at the Neuchâtel Latin High School, he wrote an essay about an albino sparrow, and this paper marked the beginning of an illustrious career as a natural scientist. After he graduated from high school, he went on to study at the University of Neuchâtel, majoring in natural sciences. He published a couple of essays on philosophy during his university years, and then, he graduated with a Ph.D.

Piaget pursued further education at the University of Zürich, and he became interested in psychoanalysis. After one semester, he decided to travel to France, where he worked at the Ecole de la rue de la Grange-aux-Belles. In this institution, he conducted his first experiments on the developing mind. Piaget was given the position of director of studies at Geneva’s J.J. Rousseau Institute in 1921. Two years later, he married Valentine Châtenay, who would become the mother of his three children. His children, named Jacqueline, Lucienne, and Laurent, became subjects for his studies on the intellectual development of children.

During Piaget’s lifetime, he held a number of chairs in different universities in Switzerland. From 1925 to 1929, he was a professor of sociology, history of science, and psychology at the University of Neuchâtel. Then, he taught history of scientific thinking at the University of Geneva between the years 1929 and 1939, sociology from 1939 to 1952, and genetic and experimental psychology between 1940 and 1971. He became professor of sociology and psychology at the University of Lausanne between 1938 and 1951. From 1929 to 1967, Piaget was also the Director of the International Bureau of Education, and he taught at the Sorbonne between 1952 and 1963. In the year 1955, he founded and became the director of the International Center for Genetic Epistemology, a post he held until his death on the 16th of September, 1980.

Piaget’s studies on genetic epistemology and psychological development were conducted to reveal truths about the development of knowledge. His conclusion is that the progression of knowledge is actually the advancement of intellect from lower logical means to higher reasoning capabilities as an individual grow from childhood to adulthood. Piaget’s theories have influenced many scholars in the fields of sociology, psychology, epistemology, economics, education, and law. 

  • Jean Piaget Society: A website that is dedicated to the understanding of the life and work of Jean Piaget.