2017 Personality 06: Jean Piaget & Constructivism


this one’s particularly complicated so
because with Piaget you enter a whole new domain of of axiomatic thinking
that’s the right way to think about it say each of these people that were
discussing each of these theories comes out the construction of the world from a
different perspective and it’s it’s really fundamentally different it’s
different way deep down at the level of fundamental assumptions and so Piaget
who’s a who’s probably the world’s most famous developmental psychologist but
although he didn’t consider himself a developmental psychologist he considered
himself a genetic epistemology and what that meant was that he was interested in
Paestum ology which is how knowledge structures work and genetic means
formulation of and so he was interested in how children formulate their
knowledge structures in the world and he was a constructivist because he believed
that human beings construct the they don’t only construct the representations
of the world and it’s deeper than that it’s more like they construct the world
itself now it depends to some degree on what you think of as the world and of
course that’s so there’s a reality definition issue that’s nested at the
bottom of this and it’s a very complex one and so I’m going to have to walk you
through it piece by piece now Piaget was a genius he was he wrote a paper I
believe on mollusks when he was ten and had it published in a scientific journal
and he was offered the curatorship of a museum as a consequence of that and his
parents had to write the museum directors and tell them that he couldn’t
curate the museum because he was only ten and so that gives you some idea
about Piaget and he’s published many many many books and many of them haven’t
been translated into English yet and so he was quite the he was quite the you
know large intelligence creature and he studied all sorts of things so I’m gonna
tell you a little bit about constructivism I’m gonna start with a
quote from Piaget and it’s uh it’s he’s some book some of his books I found
quite straightforward and some of them very difficult and I think it’s often
because of the quality of the translation this happens to be a
relatively difficult section I don’t think it’s translated that well but
whatever we’re going to go through it I’ll explain it to you a little bit so
Piaget said the common postulate that’s assumption of various traditional
epistemology theories of valid knowledge is that
knowledge itself is a fact and not a process and then if our
various forms of knowledge are always incomplete and our various science is
still imperfect that which is acquired is still acquired and can therefore be
studied statically hence the absolute position of the problems what is
knowledge or how are the various types of knowledge possible under the
converging influence of a series of factors we’re tending more and more
today to regard knowledge as a process more than a state any being or object
that Sciences attempts to hold fast dissolves once again in the current of
development it is the last analysis of this development and of it alone that we
have the right to state it is a fact what we can and should then seek is the
law of this process quotes we are well aware on the other hand of the fine book
by kuhn on scientific revolutions now there is an awful lot of information in
that paragraph so we’ll unpack it a little bit before we go on now one way
of looking at science is that it’s a collection of facts right that’s that’s
what Piaget is stating to begin with and that we assume that the facts that
science has gathered are facts and Static but if you observe them across
time what you find is that scientific facts tend to shift and transform
because scientific theories that are applicable in one century let’s say turn
out to be less applicable in the next now there’s been a lot of argument and
discussion about this because the fact that facts change seems to indicate that
they’re not so self-evidently fact and there are people and perhaps Kuhn would
be among them who believe that science consisted of the juxtaposition of
paradigms so those are sets of axioms within which something operates and the
paradigms he considered them often in commensurate you couldn’t move from one
to another because the axioms were different there was no necessary no what
what might you say there was no necessary means of communication between
them but and and and Piaget knew of Thomas Kuhns work that’s the scientists
structure of scientific revolutions which was published in 1962 it’s a
classic text in the philosophy of science and and what Piaget
soon more was more like a I would say more like a classic view of science
where so for example when Newton came up with Newtonian physics there was a set
of propositions upon which Newtonian physics was based and then when Einstein
transformed those propositions what happened was that Newtonian physics
became a subset of Einsteinian physics and so the way that Piaget looked at the
development of factual ideas at least in part was that you’d come up with a set
of ideas that were facts and then that would be superseded by a different
theory within that within which that original theory would be nested and so
that what happens that each theory in some sense although it transforms it
becomes more complete as the scientific progression continues now Kuhn didn’t
precisely believe that although exactly what Kuhn meant by a paradigm shift
because Kuhn originated that term isn’t clear but he didn’t seem to actually
believe that science had this capacity to present a series of facts and then
alter the underlying presuppositions and then to nest that within a broader
series of facts like you would assume if you were thinking about the relationship
between Newton and Einstein so Newtonian physics is a subset of
einsteinium physics so now that’s kind of how Piaget thought about how human
beings developed knowledge he believed that we came up with well let’s say you
wanted to chop down a tree that might be a good example I mean you could use a
dull axe made of bronze and it’s like well that would chop down the tree it’d
be a lot of work though and then maybe you replace that with a sharp steel axe
that’s designed like a wedge so that you can really hack down a tree with it or
maybe you replace it with a saw and so the it’s not like the bronze axe could
chop down the tree but the steel axe can do a better job in the saw can do even a
better job and so the way that Piaget thought about the transformation of
human knowledge structures from from infancy onward essentially was that
infants would produce a representation of the world that was sort of low
resolution but quite tool like it would work in the world but then as they
progressed the nature of those tools would become refined that sometimes
transform completely so some sometimes imagine that a child would use in a
sense a low resolution picture of something and then they would increase
its resolution as they filled in the details that would
be assimilation that’s the page idea notion of assimilation you’re using the
same basic theory but filling in the details and then now and then you’d have
to switch to another picture entirely and that would be more like
accommodation that’s where you’d have to transform your internal structures
completely in order to properly represent an act within the world and so
that’s the basic difference between accommodation and assimilation so
assimilation is like micro alterations and accommodation is transformation of
the knowledge structure itself and so that’s part of so what khun pointed out
was that there’d be a set of facts and then there’d be an anomaly arise of some
sort so like at the end of the 19th century the only remaining anomaly was
at least one of the remaining anomalies was that no matter which direction you
shine a light beam in and no matter how fast the platform on which you’re
standing is moving the light beam has exactly the same velocity which seems
impossible so you know if the earth is moving this way around the Sun and you
shine a light off the earth you’d expect the speed of light to be the speed of
light plus the speed of the earth and then if you shone it the other way then
you’d expect the speed of light to be the speed of light – the earth speed but
that isn’t what happens no matter how fast the platform on which the person
shining the light is standing the speed of light is always the same to every
observer so and people kind of thought of that as that wasn’t the only anomaly
but that was one of them thought of that is the only anomaly left
in physics at the end of the 19th century and turned out that was a bad
one how long there was some other ones as well like the fact that light tends
to behave as a wave and a particle more or less at the same time which doesn’t
seem possible so there’s a couple of things left over in Newtonian physics
that the Newtonian physics couldn’t explain but by the end of the 19th
century there were famous scientists saying yeah well we got this all wrapped
up there’s really nothing left to discover and then Along Came quantum
mechanics and Einstein Yin relativity and bang the whole world was like really
different and quantum mechanics is much more comprehensive theory of the world
then Newtonian physics all of the electronics you used wouldn’t work if
quantum physics wasn’t correct roughly speaking and so that little tiny anomaly
blew into something that knocked the slats out underneath from underneath the
entire axiomatic structure of Newtonian physics it showed it was wrong at its
fundamental levels even though it turned out to be a subset
a correct subset of something that was much broader and so you can kind of
think of that as that’s what kids are doing as they progress they develop a
theory that accounts for a certain set of you could say fact but this is
another place it gets tricky and then they modify those and make them more and
more refined but now and then they have to under grow quite a transformation not
be a stage transition in Piaget and thought that that’s the stage transition
idea and that would be akin in some sense to a kuhnian scientific revolution
now what Piaget is trying to state here is that because you there’s this weird
problem with facts which is that they tend to transform across time you know
like if you go take a biology course right now in 20 years pretty much
everything you read you learned or very much of what you learned will turn out
to have been wrong and that’s kind of weird because it isn’t wrong right now
and you think well how can it be wrong in 20 years and that that’s a really
complicated problem and in order to solve that you kind of have to think
about facts like tools instead of them as thinking about them as objective
independent realities because a bad tool can still work as a tool whereas a bad
fact just kills you stone dead and so there’s any ways in any case that seems
to be a completely unnecessary phenomena Oh God
there’s no reason for that that’s just sheer spite as far as I can tell mm-hmm
okay so so here’s one of psays propositions and and it is that because
facts flux in some sense across time you’re looking for something that
doesn’t change across time to call it a real fact and so what Piaget is trying
to point out in this let’s call it introductory paragraph is that the one
thing that doesn’t change is the manner in which people generate facts rather
than the facts themselves so the ultimate fact is a fact about the way
people generate facts all right and so psays theory in part is a is a theory
about how knowledge is acquired and transformed and so it’s not that no it’s
not a study of the knowledge itself it’s a study of the process by which the
knowledge is generated and he believed that that process was unchanging at
least with regards to human beings and so you could think of the Piaget alien
genetic epistemological mystery as being how is it that people form and transform
representations of the world and one of his conclusions about that is that
there’s a standard process and then the reason that I’m telling you about Piaget
right now is because as far as I can tell the standard Piaget daeun
description of the manner in which knowledge is acquired and transformed is
the same thing that’s represented in the mythology of the shamanic transformation
which is that there’s a state of being and then it’s derp up disrupted by
something chaotic and there’s a disintegration period and that’s the
space between the stage transitions for for children in which time they’re often
upset because their little theory about the world isn’t learning it isn’t
working anymore and then in that chaotic period they
adjust themselves to new anomalies and anomalies or what occur when you act in
the world and what you want to happen doesn’t happen right because that means
there’s something wrong with your knowledge structure if you act and then
something happens you don’t want to happen something’s wrong with the way
you’re representing the world or you could say something’s wrong with the
world but good luck with that although you know people can modify the world as
well as modifying their belief structures and people do that a lot but
so this the piagetian stage transition as far as I can tell is a micro case of
the broader idea of the the existence an orderly state its dissolution into a
chaotic state because something unexpected has occurred and then it’s
retransfer Meishan into a more integrated state now Piaget would say
well the initial state and the chaotic state and the final state aren’t the
ultimate realities the ultimate reality is the process of moving through those
stages and that’s how people acquire knowledge and that’s you could say
that’s the central element of human beings and I would say that’s a that’s
another reason Tatian of the hero myth because the hero is the person who notes
uh normally notes something that’s changed that’s outside of explored
territory encounters it defeats it let’s say or get something of value from it
and then recasts it into the world shares it with the community
restructures of the world and so that’s the central story it’s it’s not the
central story of human beings but it’s it’s close enough for for our purposes
at the moment so okay so that’s what Piaget is about how do human beings
encounter the world and and what happens when they
do that now the thing about the world for Piaget is it’s also a complicated
place it’s not exactly the set of it’s not the set of all objective facts that
remain to be discovered because Piaget is a constructivist and he’s more of a
pragmatist than he is precisely a scientific realist and so that’s a
complicated thing very very complicated thing I don’t know if any of you and
maybe this is completely irrelevant I don’t know if any of you listened to my
argument with Sam Harris but Sam Harris is a scientific realist and I was trying
to make at least in part at Piaget Ian’s point but he was having none of that
that’s for sure but but Piaget makes the point and so you know I’m going to let
him speak in some sense as we proceed through this and and well you’ll see why
he does what he does so if all knowledge is always in the state of development
and consists in proceeding from one state to a more complete and efficient
one so that that implies a hierarchy of states right that you move from one
knowledge structure to the next one which includes the previous one and is
better and it’s better because it covers more territory that’s how you know it’s
better it does the same thing the old tool does plus some additional things so
it’s a definition of better it’s a good thing to have a definition of better and
worse all knowledge is always in the state of
development and consists in proceeding for one state to a more complete
deficient one evidently it is a question of knowing this development and
analyzing it with the greatest possible accuracy which is something I happen to
agree with but that’s partly because I read Piaget and and I think I understand
what he meant and he’s quite the thinker and so I’m gonna see if I can like clue
you in a little bit about this because it’s it’s well it’s exceedingly complex
you know and most of the time when people talk about Piaget they just talk
about his surface experiments they don’t talk about what he was actually up to
and what he was up to was well he was trying to figure out how people
represent the world and learned and that’s not only it’s not only that you
know this is another thing people don’t know about Piaget is that he was trying
to reconcile the chasm between science and values that’s what drove him through
his entire intellectual life he was attempting to bridge the gap between
science and religion that’s another way of thinking about it and and that was
explicit he knew that that’s why he did everything he did and so the thing
that’s so cool about Piaget I think is that he actually started to provide what
you might think about as a rational basis for morality it’s not exactly
rational that’s the thing because it’s rational rational belief like scientific
realism has a certain set of presuppositions at its core and Piaget
doesn’t use those presuppositions to solve the problem get a problem so deep
the gap between what is and what ought to be that’s the David Humes problem you
can’t derive a naught from it is just because you know a bunch of things
doesn’t give you an unerring guide to know what to do about those things
there’s a gap there and Harris and people like him say that gap is illusory
but most philosophers including David Hume including Piaget these are
heavy-duty people including Heidegger would would disagree with that they
don’t believe that that that that gap is non-existent and and and Harris believes
that you can nest values within science and and that’s the proposition that he
continually puts forward like most of the so-called new atheists but it’s a
hell of a lot more difficult to do than you think that’s for sure and so anyway
so how is Piaget purporting to manage this well one thing he does is he for
Piaget it’s really important that you have a body and that’s one of the things
that’s four cool about his thinking so you could
think about him as an early exponent of embodied cognition it’s like he’s not
exactly a Cartesian a follower of Descartes he doesn’t really believe that
you have a spirit or say a rational mind that is in some sense separate from your
body which is an implicit presupposition of a lot of a lot of of philosophical
claims Piaget really sticks you in your body and the other thing that Piaget
claims is that your abstract knowledge is actually determined by the structure
of your body and that it unfolds from your body up into abstraction and that’s
what happens as infants transform into adults first of all almost all their
knowledge is embodied and what that means is that it’s not look there’s a
couple of different kinds of memory like the most the most fundamental
distinction you might think of is between procedural representation
procedural memory and and representational memory so when you
remember your past that little movie or that runs in your head or maybe the
facts that you can recite about your past
that’s episodic memory that’s representational but procedural memory
is different procedural memories how you walk you don’t know how you walk that’s
how you ride a bike it’s how you play the piano it’s how you type so it’s it’s
automatic right it’s built into your nervous system it’s built into the
nerves that innervate your musculature and there’s completely separate memory
systems now one can represent the other which is interesting the
representational system can represent the output of the body which is
basically what you happen what happens when someone tells a story even when you
tell a story about your own life but the contents of procedural memory precede
the contents of representational memory and they’re shaped in different ways
so for example part of the wisdom that’s encoded in your body is there because of
things you’ve practiced but it’s also there because you’ve practiced things in
a social environment and so while you practice those things the effect of the
social environment shaped the way you learned it and that’s encoded right in
your neurons it’s not representational it’s encoded
in the way you do things it’s encoded in the way you smile when you look at
someone or frown or when you do that and that’s all implicit it’s not under your
conscious control it’s not even in that system and so Piaget figured this out
and so one of the things he said was that you start as an infant by building
your cedral memory not your representational
memory that’s partly perhaps why you can’t remember your infancy you know I
actually don’t have that kind of representational memory there what you
do is you act you learn to act you build your body so that it can move and you do
that partly by experimenting with your own body but you also do that by
experimenting with your body in a context that’s shaped from the beginning
by the presence of other people so for example you know what child learns how
to breastfeed its mouth is pretty wired up right at birth hey and and the rest
of its body isn’t wired up very much at all but its mouth is and you might think
well that’s just a reflex and that Piaget would agree with that it’s a
built in it’s something built in that that a baby can do right at birth but
even in the act of breastfeeding the baby has to learn how to modify that
reflex so that it gets along with its mother so even at the very beginning
with the most you might think the most primordial acts there’s a sociological
and influence and there’s a mutual dynamic going on that’s really really
important it’s really important and so in some sense for Piaget the structure
of society is implicitly built into the structure of the procedural memory
system and so one of the things you might think about that and Piaget makes
much of this because he looks at the relationship between play and dreams and
imitation so he’s kind of a quasi psychoanalyst one of the things that
means is that coded in your behavior coded in your behavior is is this is the
social structure in which you emerged and it’s coded in a way that you don’t
actually understand you just know how to act and then you can figure out how
you’re acting and you can extract out of that some of the social rules but you
don’t you don’t that doesn’t mean that you know the rules it meant that the
rules were built into you here’s the way of thinking about it like a wolf pack
wolf pack knows how to operate together it knows how to hunt right and each wolf
knows where every other wolf is in the dominance hierarchy but they don’t know
they know that they don’t have rules right they don’t have a code they don’t
have laws what they have is behavioral regularities patterned behavioral
regularities and those are like a morality they’re very very in fact
that’s exactly what they are a dominance hierarchy of animal
that aren’t representational you know that don’t have language at least they
don’t have language the dominance hierarchy is a kind of morality it’s a
way of it’s a way of setting up individual behavior within a social
context to maximize cooperation and minimize competition and so well so
Piaget would say that you know the origin of more and and Fran’s de Waal
who’s a great primatologist by the way Fran’s fr ansd de w AAL he’s written a
lot of books about the emergence of morality and chimpanzees in particular
and you know he follows the same line of logic it’s that the morality emerges out
of the interaction between the chimpanzees and it’s bounded by the
necessity that the actions take certain forms so for example if the chimpanzees
act in a way that each of them kills everyone else it’s like that’s the end
of it it’s the end of the game so that’s not a
very functional morality it’s it doesn’t produce survival of the individuals it
doesn’t produce flourishing of the individuals certainly it produces
extinction of the individuals and the death of the group so as far as do all
would concerned from an evolutionary perspective that sort of mode of
interacting is a dead end and so one of Pia Jays claims implicit claims is that
and this is one of the things that’s so brilliant about Piaget is that the
interactions between people the social interactions between people necessarily
emerge within a kind of bounded space and the space is the space of the game
so we’re always playing games always and a game you might think about a game as a
microcosm of the world and a small child’s game is a tiny fractional
microcosm of the world but then you get up into adult games and you could think
about those maybe as multiplayer online games that’s one good representation but
even more sophisticated things like being a lawyer say are like working at
McDonald’s or any of those things those are also forms of game and and that P
and people negotiate the rules and that game is nested inside sets of broader
games and so for Piaget that the game that killed the games the children play
kind of transform inexorably and and and what incrementally into the games that
adults play and and a a game that’s playable as an adult is a
functional game it’s it’s an acceptable game and one of PJ’s claims is that not
only do people start playing games unconsciously in a sense and implicitly
then they start to play games more consciously they actually they actually
represent the games to some degree at least in their actions then they start
to learn the explicit rules of the game but only later after they know how to
play it and then at the highest stage of moral development they start to realize
that not only are they players of games and followers of a rules but they’re
also producers of rules so it starts you start out not being able to play a game
at all then you can play a game with yourself then you can play a game with a
few other people then you can play rule-governed games with lots of people
and then you realize that you make the rules and you can make new games and
that’s the highest level of moral development according to Piaget it’s
varrick’s brilliant it’s it’s bloody brilliant he’s the first person that I
ever really encountered who was able to put the notion of an emergent morality
on something you know broadly commensurate with a scientific
perspective but you have to understand that in order to do that he had to
sacrifice a little bit of his notions of scientific realism and that’s what makes
him a constructivist and so and so we’re going back to constructivism so he says
at the beginning and this is the beginning of the development of
knowledge does not unfold itself as a matter of chance but forms a development
so he said there’s not only do knowledge structures change across time and
they’re embedded in the social world but the manner in which they change across
time actually has a bit of a structure and so that would be the Piaget lien
stages of development just so you know now people have debated ever since
Piaget proposed this if those developmental stages are fixed and
necessary and if he identified them properly and even and as well whether or
not they could be sped up which he always called the American problem could
you speed up these stages of development and there’s a lot of argument about
whether those stages exist in the manner that Piaget described there and whether
they’re fixed at all of that but that’s still the fundamental elements of his
the fundamental element of his theory so and in since the cognitive domain has an
absolute beginning which means you were you’re here now but at one point you
weren’t so there was an absolute beginning to to you as a phenomena it’s
to be studied at the very stages nor known as formation that’s his
rationalization for being a genetic epistemology right someone who studies
the formation of knowledge structures across time like an embryologist someone
like that right who developmental embryologist the first aim of genetic
epistemology is therefore if one can say so to take psychology seriously and to
furnish verifications to any question which each epistemology necessarily
raises yet replacing the generally unsatisfying speculative or implicit
psychology with controllable analysis and so basically what he’s saying there
is that you can guess in a sense like Freud did about developmental psychology
Freud kind of projected backwards from his patients into the dim mists of
childhood and came up with like a what would a hypothetical developmental
sequence and Piaget said well we’re not going to do that we’re going to go run
experiments on kids often individuals but sometimes multiple individuals we’re
gonna we’re going to observe exactly what they’re doing he watched his kids
in their cribs for example unbelievably intently and with great he was like an
ethologist which is a person who studies animal behavior observational II like
Fran’s de Waal he was like an ethologist of children not exactly an experimental
psychologist although also an experimental psychologist and he more or
less established the field of developmental psychology so he said well
let’s empirically analyze how children learn and then maybe we can figure out
how this knowledge process unfolds and we don’t have to guess about it we can
we can use controllable analysis and so you could say he introduced scientific
methodology even though he wasn’t a scientific realist he introduced
scientific methodology into the study of child development but more importantly
into the study of how knowledge structures unfold across time so he was
a philosopher as well but a strange type of philosopher because he was interested
in how philosophy itself emerges in the mind of the child and so that’s what
Piaget was up to and so quite quite remarkable and he had incredibly wide
range of interests befitting someone who probably had an IQ of like 190 I mean he
was seriously smart guy like way way outside of the normal range and so this
is the sort of questions he was trying to answer well how do you on what do you
base your judgments cuz you make judgments about things better or worse
well how how do you come up with that ability how does that emerge and on what
basis do you make the judgments there’s a famous ruling on pornography
that I believe the Supreme Court of the United States laid down and one of the
justices wrote something that’s become infamous or famous depending on how you
look at he said well I can’t define pornography but I know it when I see it
and and that’s and that’s a notion of the incomplete ability of the
representational system to represent the contents of implicit perception or the
procedural system you can know that you know something but you that doesn’t mean
you can describe why it doesn’t mean you can describe how you know it and you
don’t how do you focus your eyes like you don’t know how you focus your eyes
you just focus them you know how do you smile like this well maybe less ugly but
you know you you can’t describe how you do it you can’t describe the musculature
you can represent the output of the act and you can do it but you can’t
represent it and you’re just stuffed full of skills like that which is
another example of the way that you’re way more complicated than your
understanding of you you know one of the things people often ask is how can we
use the rat as a model of a person because like you know a rats not much of
a person depending of course on the person but the the real answer to that
is well compared to what like compared to your understanding of a person a rat
is an excellent model of a person so it’s not as good a model of a person as
a person is but compared to imagination let’s say it’s incomparably better and
you know that’s because we share like I don’t know what 98% of our genes or some
damn thing with rats it’s like it’s really up I think we share 90% of our
genes with yeast for God’s sake you know and so we’re a lot more rat-like than
yeast like so and I think with chimps it’s over 99% you know so it’s not a bad
model obviously it’s not perfect but it always depends on what you compare it to
you know and you hear animal rights activists say things like well we can
replace that with computer simulations it’s like no we can’t because you can’t
simulate what you don’t know or at least not very well so that’s a silly idea you
know even though they have a point it’s not so great to torture animals to death
and all but what are his norms well that’s a
good question where do norms for behavior come from you have norms when
they’re violated it annoys you doesn’t mean you know what your norms are but
you do kind of get a sense of what they are when they get violated that really
upset me well what does that mean well you don’t really know you might
have to think about that for like six months why you got so upset about that
but you can notice that you got upset and that means that you do have
expectations and norms let’s say but you don’t know where they came from now
obviously in part they came from your intrinsic structure but also a core
they’re a consequence of your learning but even more importantly they’re our
consequence of your learning in a social environment so all of those phenomena
which exceed your comprehension determine the nature of your norms and
often you only detect them when they’re violated so because why bother paying
attention to something that works you just don’t know one does they take
it for granted it’s almost the definition of something working it’s
like you know you think I’m driving my car to school and you think you’re in a
car but you’re really not in a car you’re in a thing that gets you from
home to school and you can pretend that that is so annoying you can pretend that so you might think well the thing that
I’m I’m in is it’s kind of a weird example is it is this object with
objective qualities that you call a car but but that isn’t exactly how you
actually perceive or act towards it what happens is is that as long as it’s doing
what it’s supposed to do which means that its function is intact not what it
is but its function then you can use a really low resolution representation of
the thing the car is just what gets you from point A to point B right and so the
fact that you don’t understand the damn thing at all is completely invisible to
you but it isn’t when it quits as soon as it quits it becomes a car it’s like
bang car oh my god I don’t understand this thing at all now what do I do
well you panic a little bit right because well what do you know about your
car nothing nothing nothing at all and worse than that now the car has become
an intersection between you and whoever’s going to fix your card so that
introduces a whole bunch of human elements into it like are they going to
figure out what’s wrong with it are they going to rip you off is your car ever
going to work again are you going to get to work what’s going to happen tonight
so all of a sudden that thing that you were in that was a car turns into this
massive complex unbelievably complicated thing and that’s actually what it is
your initial representation of it it’s like it’s really low resolution it’s
like one bit and then bang it breaks down and poof complexity complexity
complexity everywhere and that complexity that’s what the world’s made
out if you remember we talked about William James and that crazy nitrous
oxide induced pseudo hippie poetry that he was writing in the 1890s when he was
talking about chaos well that chaos that he was talking
about out of which him order emerges that’s the same thing as that complexity
that’s hovering in the background and children have to operate in a world
that’s actually that complex but they’re not smart enough and neither are you so
they build partial representations that sort of work and the parents scaffold
them so the way children manage that’s like children they don’t know anything
but stay they’re still alive so what’s up with that you know
part of it is the child is laying out one of its procedures in the world in
accordance with its understanding and something goes wrong what does the child
do cry right it defaults it defaults to this
distress cry and what happens is the adults move in with their superior
skills and their enhanced understanding and they mediate between the partial
knowledge of the child in the actual complex world and without the child
that’s why if you take your child to the mall and just leave you know it doesn’t
take very long for them to get really really really really upset you know
depending on the child some of them almost instantaneously you know one day
I was in the Boston Airport with my daughter she was about three and three
and a half maybe and my son he was about two and we were there to pick someone I
was just packed and so I had them by the hand you know and I were told my
daughter a bunch if she ever got separated from me in a crowd just to sit
down immediately wherever she was or as close there by it I would find her don’t
move well somehow I got separated from them and I looked behind them and they
weren’t there and I found out later she followed someone else who looked like me
from behind and she I found her in about three minutes you know which is a long
time man if you’re three years old at that Airport she was sitting there like
paralyzed you know but her brother was with her he didn’t care at all and the
reason he didn’t care is because as far as he was concerned she was an adult but
as far as she was concerned she was an abandoned kid in an airport you know it
was very hard on her and it’s because the you know she was protected from the
complexity by her primordial representations and my presence but as
soon as my presence disappeared the complexity came flooding back and just
overwhelmed her that’s chaos and uncertainty and then she’d cry and the
cry says help I’m out of my league I’m drowning I’m drowning you know
intervened and so that’s how kids in part can get along in the world with
their incomplete knowledge representations always huh also how you
get along in the world because you’re incomplete beyond belief but you got all
these other people around you in the whole damn society filling in the gaps
and so you walk around like you know what you’re doing but you don’t you know
you just hardly know at all you know if you can fit into that system great
you’ve got it on your side and you can use it to fill the gaps that’s also
partly why people are so concerned with maintaining their social identity like
the real identity on talking about some surface identity but
you see because you have set up a set of expectations and desires about how you
want the world to unfold and you do that within a social context and as long as
your desires and the actions of the community match which means you’re at
home roughly speaking as long as they match you stay emotionally regulated you
like that that’s why you can stay calm in here it’s like your desires are being
played out by everyone else because one of your desires is that none of these
crazy primate starts brandishing a knife for example or even twitching or any of
that sort of thing you don’t want any of that and if it starts happening it’s
like you get weary very quickly and maybe you look and maybe you won’t and
maybe you’ll freeze maybe you’ll get the hell out of there or maybe you’ll get
aggressive but that match has to maintain itself intact or your entire
nervous system gets dysregulated and the reason for that is that as soon as that
match is disrupted the underlying complexity and chaos of the world
reveals itself and so does your inadequacy and then your body defaults
into predator mode and and the fact that you don’t know anything and that
everything is really complicated becomes very evident to you very quickly and
people hate that it’s the worst thing that can happen to them the bottom
falling out of their world and so that happens more when your fundamental
presumptions about things are are challenged and then you have to solve
the problem of what constitutes a fundamental presupposition you know how
do you know which presupposition is peripheral in which one central and you
can tell in part because the more upset you get about something the more central
it is that that things about to your entire structure of belief and that’s
one way of getting into that unconscious structure of belief from a
psychoanalytic perspective so what are the things that happens to me for
example as a therapist is I’ll be talking to my clients and they’ll be
talking about something difficult and all of a sudden they’ll cry and they
often don’t know why so I stopped them right there it’s like something went
through your mind something happened and the cry indicates that you’ve moved
beyond your domain of competence out into the unknown world all of a sudden
into chaos what’s that chaos what exactly happened and people you know
they’re usually embarrassed that they cry but often make
remember what flitted through their mind and it’s a represent it’s a it’s some
encounter with the chaos beyond their conceptual systems that produces that
emotional response and then we can dig into that find out oh that’s a trauma
especially if it’s more than a year – how fold and those can be of various
depths and profundity you know sometimes they’re so bad that the person just
breaks down completely and they never put themselves together you know that’s
when something’s just walloped you it’s hit you right at the bottom of your
axiomatic structures so to speak right at the trunk but when you’re doing
therapy with people and you watch how they respond emotionally you look for
those tiny eruptions of negative emotion and those are like holes in their
conceptual structure and those have to be sewed up by their man you in the
process of dialogue you figure out okay there was a bit of unexplored territory
there that manifested itself it produced an emotional response in you that
indicates that you’ve reverted in some sense to childhood that would be the
Freudian interpretation now we have to figure out what it was that that’s in
that hole what caused that tear and then we have to go back and articulate it and
analyze and study it until we can sew it up and then and art and and get to the
gist of it to make it into a adaptive story and then you can leave it behind
and it actually produces neurological transformation as you do that the
memories in some sense actually move their psychophysiological location you
could say their location in your psyche but you can also note that the brain
systems that are handling the memories aren’t the same
so they’re much more limbic they’re way lower and closer to the emotional
centers when it’s still raw trauma and by the time it’s fully articulated it’s
more represented in an articulated story a causal story and that’s partly why
writing about emotional events actually helps you overcome them so and it’s
possible that writing about how it is that you overcome emotional events in
general is actually the best kind of therapy right not how do you solve a
particular problem but how is it that you orient yourself in the world so that
you solve the class of the fact that there are problems right that’s that’s
the ultimate story and I think that’s the hero myth and I also think that
that’s the knowledge generating process that Piaget is talking about you that’s
because you have you’re constantly overcoming problems in the world
and the problems are that you don’t know enough to get what you want from the
world and so you get that mismatch mismatch
there’s you’ve got whole brain systems that are designed to do nothing but
detect that mismatch like crucial central brain structures and we’ll talk
about that a lot when we get into the into the physiology so all right how
does on what does an individual basis judgments water is norms how are they
validated how do you know if you’re right about your norms what’s the
interest of such norms for the philosophy of science in general that’s
a really tough one it’s like well you have norms and expectations as a human
being and because of that they they have a determining influence on the manner in
which you conduct science so for example here’s one of the problems with a
straight realist view so we could be having a discussion and I could say well
you know that tile is to the right of that tile and then I could say well this
brick is smaller than that brick and then I could say you know the roof is
white really quite white there and start back there and like after about 20
statements like that you’re just going to want to slap me and the reason for
that is that well those statements are perfectly valid representations of fact
but there’s an infinite number of facts and most of them are irrelevant and
that’s the thing that’s the thing the facts have to be relevant like if you
come to a lecture and all the person does is tell you irrelevant facts what
happens you’ve been in lots of lectures like that what happens when you start
fantasizing about something that might be more worthwhile
you know or you go to sleep because your brain is a lot smarter than you are it
figures hell if all we’re gonna get exposed to here is an infinite infinite
number of irrelevant facts we might as well have a nap until something
important happens so it’s true it’s exactly how it works now this is gonna
get big isn’t that what happens next No so okay so and then how does the fact
that the child children think differently affect our presumption of
fact itself children live in the world they think differently about the world
but yet they survive and so well I already mentioned a partial solution to
that adults intercede you know around the edges around the borders children do
this all the time a so it’s called referencing and they do it two ways so
for example if you’re in a room with your child maybe to wait and mouse runs
across the child will orient to it watch it track it that’s pretty much
unconscious and the mother let’s say will do that too and then the child
looks at the mouse and then looks at the mother and the reason is is because the
child doesn’t know what the mouse is and so then it looks at the mother to read
from the mothers face which is a projection screen of emotions how to
classify the mouse in terms of import and if the mother is like all calm about
it and gives the kid a pad it’s like you know okay whatever
you know not a danger that’s what the mouse is first danger not danger
it’s way after that that it’s a mouse you think no it’s a mouse to begin with
it’s like these things are not so straightforward they are not so
straightforward so anyways if the mother climbs up on the table it has a
screaming fit then the child’s already prepared because of this anomaly to be
emotionally responsive the child looks at the mothers face it’s got terror on
at the mouse child takes small danger big danger it’s like phobia phobia
phobia now all kids that won’t happen to you because some are very emotionally
robust but if they’re very Charles very high in neuroticism trait neuroticism
the probability that they’ll develop a permanent semi-permanent fear of the
mouse is extraordinarily high and that’s what should happen because the mother
tells you what the mouse is and in the face does it’s a mouse it says safety
danger and that’s the first thing you want to know about something is it safer
is it dangerous and that’s a tricky one eh
because whether something is safe for dangerous is not exactly an objective
fact there’s a guy named JJ Gibson who wrote a book called NACA logical
approach to visual perception which I would highly recommend and his claim in
that book it’s a real work of genius I believe is that when you see when you
walk towards a cliff you don’t see a cliff you don’t see a cliff and infer
danger what you see is a falling off place and you infer cliff and you can
tell that some of you have vertigo you go up on the 26th floor out into balcony
and it’s like you don’t want to go near the edge maybe you feel like you’re
gonna throw yourself over because people have that kind of what if what if I fell
or what if I jumped over it’s like stay away from that it’s like that perception
of the danger precedes your perception of the balcony and the object now you
know that’s how your brain is wired the dangers first object second so in people
with blind sight who I’ve talked about before who think they’re blind they
can’t see then they tell you that they could still detect fearful faces and you
could detect their detection by measuring their skin conductance and so
their eyes are mapping right on to their fear and reflex systems without any
intermediary of objective perception whatsoever so don’t be thinking that
what you see in the world is the objective world and then infer its
meaning it could easily be exactly backwards and it looks like if you look
at how the brain is set up that it is in fact actually backwards or at least
parallel but but the but the danger not danger perception has to be very very
very very fast and so it precedes the more elaborate cognitive interpretations
even the perceptions because it actually takes a while to see something because
it’s really complicated to see something and so you can’t just wait around to see
the damn thing before you act you just not fast enough so they say if you’re a
pro tennis player the time it takes the ball to leave your opponent’s racket to
get to you is not long enough for you to plan any motor act so what you’re doing
is you’ve got them what you dis inhibit the motor act by looking at the stance
of your opponent and watching and by the time they hit it you’re already prepared
for the response because you just not it’s coming at 120 miles an hour it’s
like it’s going fifty feet you don’t have the reflexes for it so your your
your eyes are making body ready without in some sense without
your conscious perception you become conscious if you make a mistake right in
fact that’s kind of what consciousness is for it’s like detect error fix detect
error fix that’s consciousness it’s not plan what
you’re going to do next although it’s not that simple either other problems
that Piaget was trying to address well what water numbers what does it mean for
there to be space what what do we mean when we when we talk about time how do
we how did we come up with that concept what does speed mean how do we know an
object is permanent how do we know that an object stays the same across sets of
transformation so that’s a very classic piagetian problem so let’s say you give
a kid a bowl of clay and then you crush it so it’s now a cylinder is like is
that the same thing or is it a different thing and the answer is well it’s the
same thing and it’s a different thing but there’s something about it that
remained constant across the transformations and so one of the things
that Piaget is trying to figure out is what remains constant across
transformations because you might think about that is a real fact protons are
like that right they remain constant across transformations and so we assume
that they’re pretty damn real and they last I don’t know how long protons last
it’s like I don’t know what it is it’s some tens of billions of so don’t worry
your protons are going to just sit right there and behave you know so they last
for a very very very long time across sets of transformation so we can regard
them as real he was interested in why children play and why there are patterns
in play and how that’s related to dreams and he was really interested in the fact
that we imitate other people and this is another part of Piaget staggering genius
in my estimation because he was one of the early developmental thinkers who
understood that our capacity for learning was not so much mediated by
language as it was mediated by our capacity to use our bodies to represent
the bodies of other people and that’s mind-boggling it’s a mind-boggling idea
so you know you hear monkey-see monkey-do but it’s actually not true
they’re not very good at imitating octopuses or octopi they can imitate
actually so if you give a octopus a bottle with a cork in it and there’s a
crab in the cork it can figure out how to get out the cork and sneak out the
crab but if you get an octopus to watch it
our octopus do that it’ll learn to do it faster those things are smart and that’s
partly that’s because they’re all tentacley right and so they actually
have something they can do something with like our hands there’s our
tentacles you know an octopus I can operate in the world because they have
tentacles and and you know you hear about the superhuman intelligence of
things like dolphins and whales it’s like ya know they’re basically test
tubes you know what what are we gonna do now tap a city it’s like no they’re not
gonna do that they can’t manipulate the world so
whatever their intelligence is it’s way different than ours okay imitation so
partly what you’re doing all the time is imitating other people all of you are
imitating each other right now you can tell because look around you’re
all doing exactly the same thing so it’s it’s mass imitation and that’s really a
huge part of social structure is that we’re constantly imitating each other
and so that means that your body and her body are very much matched
physiologically right now you’re in the same state and you can tell because you
basically have the same expression and as long as all you crazy primates
violent primates have the same expression on you can pretty much be
sure that all of you are thinking and about to do approximately the same thing
and so you can keep that match between your desire slash expectation and
reality happening and that’s why we have a face it’s so that other people know
what the hell we’re up to and that’s why you’re always watching people’s faces
because you want to see what they’re up to and that’s why you have white
surround your iris gorillas don’t and so that’s because I can see exactly where
your eyes are pointing because they’re highlighted by that white and I’m
unbelievably good at detecting the precise direction of your gaze and so if
you stand on the corner and look up the buildings other people will stand beside
you and look up because they think well that guy would be standing there
pointing his eyes into the sky unless there was something of interest to a
primate like me and so this classic social psychology experiment you’ll get
people gathered around trying to figure out what the hell it is that you’re
pointing your eyes at right because that indicates intense interest interest in
something valuable that I might be able to share partake in if I can figure out
what it is that you’re up to and so all your ancestors who didn’t have nicely
defined eyes they all got killed or they didn’t mate and that’s
why you have these beautiful white eyes with this like colorful
iris in the middle it’s so that people can tell what the hell you’re up to and
they’re more likely to cooperate with you more likely to mate with you and
less likely to kill you which is you know probably a good thing all things
considered and so you know if you look at the same thing that someone else is
looking at you’re imitating them and one of the things that’s interesting is that
if you’re looking at the same thing that someone else is looking at and you would
have at the same value structure then your emotional responses are going to be
very much akin to one another and you can tell that when you go to a movie and
you watch the hero and you embody the hero while you’re doing so and the
emotions that you produce inside of you by imitating the hero on the screen
enable you to figure out what the hero is going through and you can learn from
that and so that’s a very complex form of imitation and we do that when we tell
stories or we watch stories and those stories are really complicated because
as we already outline they’re not just factual representations of someone’s
action during a day their representations of the important things
that the person did the meaningful things and so when you go see a movie
all you’re doing is watching meaningful things if the movies any good and you
know that because well if the movie isn’t meaningful well then you leave
your board right it’s and the fact that it’s meaningful is what keeps you in the
seat and you don’t necessarily know why in fact you often have no idea why it’s
meaningful it’s like watching Pinocchio rescue is
farther from a whale it’s like what the hell you know how I is that meaningful
well you don’t know but it is so moral concerns well we already talked about
Piaget is concerned about morality oh boy this is really not good okay here’s a proposition constructivist
proposition knowledge does not begin in the eye by by which he means they’re
kind of two ways of looking at the world there’s more but we’ll start with that
one is is that all of your knowledge comes from outside sense data okay and
now that’s kind of a behaviorist claim and before that it’s a it’s an
empiricist claim and then the other ideas no that can’t be right because you
have internal structures that enable you to look at the world and interpret it
and so and and some of those might be implicit axiomatic like the fact that
you have two eyes and you look at the outward into the world and that you can
hear and that you can touch it’s like the fact of those senses isn’t dependent
on the empirical reality for those senses to manifest themselves they’re
already built into you and people like Kant for example made the proposition
that we had a priori knowledge structures and that we use them to
interpret the world and so it’s different than him it’s different than
empiricism and so what Piaget is saying well it’s neither of
those are right exactly it’s not like you will learn everything from the world
through your senses and it’s not as if you project everything onto the world as
interpretation it’s something in-between and it’s a dynamic it’s a dynamic and so
and it’s like bootstrapping that’s the right way to think about it
you know when your computer boots up that means bootstrapping
its off and then a bunch of simple processes occur and then out of those
simple processes some more complex processes emerge and then out of those
some more complex processes emerge and all of a sudden your computer is there
well that’s kind of what Piaget thinks happens to you you bootstrap yourself
and so you have got a couple of reflexes to begin with like the sucking reflex
for example and you’ve got some proclivities like maybe you can sort of
flip your hand or or you develop that and you have reflexes so you know if you
blow on a baby for example a baby you’ll go like this it’s built into it it’s
like an it’s a it’s a startle reflex essentially so that startle reflex is
there right from the beginning so whole body reflex and you know if you stroke
the bottom of their feet their feet will sort of curl up and if you put your
finger in their hands even a newborn if you put your finger in their hands you
can lift them right up and it’s sort of well clinging ape
you know because chimpanzee infants cling to their mother for like five
years and so without reflux is still there so the kid comes into the world
born with these simplistic low resolution procedures that enable it to
get a foothold on the world and then out of that the child emerges and that’s so
the constructivist idea is that well it isn’t like you have your heads full of
fully developed axiomatic structures and it isn’t that you get all your knowledge
from the world it’s that you have a bit of structure there to begin with that
gives you a toehold on the world and then you act in the world and as you act
you generate information and out of that information you make the structures
inside of you and you make the world that’s a constructivist idea is that you
take whatever’s there this tremendous complexity and you sort it into you and
the world and so and so that that goes back to that William James idea about
that initial chaos and it’s a hard conflict it’s a hard hard concept to
grasp because that isn’t really how we think you know we think that there’s an
objective world and there’s a subjective world and that the objective world is
just there and the subjective world is maybe a subset of that but that is not
piagetian presupposition it’s not a presupposition of phenomenologist sin
general who we’ll talk about later but so here’s one example of how to
think about this in a sense it’s like you know you think as Piaget said you
kind of think that your representations of the world are fixed so we’ll go back
to the you’re in a long-term relationship and the person betrays you
a scenario right so you’ve been with this person 10 years you assume fidelity
and faithfulness and honesty and all of that you you weave a shared narrative
you both inhabit that it structures your existence and regulates your emotion
then you find out that the person has not only betrayed you once but multiple
times it’s like okay what you thought isn’t what happened but here’s the weird
thing you see because you interpreted the world obviously within the confines
of that relationship and you hadn’t you know obviously you had an interpretation
but there was also a world that’s the world you thought you lived in it’s like
those were facts well all of a sudden those aren’t facts they’re not at all
facts and so what happens that’s that descent into the underworld it’s like
all of a sudden what happens is that past that you thought was fixed now
becomes this weird mixture of fantasy because you’re wondering what what what
what is it that happened then and you’re gonna run through all sorts of fantasies
some of them are gonna be really dark you know really dark about what happened
in the state of the world and all that and those are unconscious fantasies and
that’s mingled inextricably with the world right because you don’t know the
facts anymore which kind of suggests that maybe you never did know them and
that’s pretty strange thing because you know you’re operating as if you’ve got
this factual representation of the world but it can be upended like that and so
that makes you think well what about these facts like they’re kind of they’re
kind of hard to get a handle on you know and you see this a lot in court room in
courtroom situations because of course what the court decides is what happened
and the answer is we don’t exactly know because you can keep making the context
of interpretation wider and wider so you know maybe you bring your partner to
court because they’ve betrayed you let’s say and you’re trying to get a divorce
settlement predicated on that but then they tell a bunch of stories about how
you were just as miserable as you could possibly be and that anybody with any
sense would have betrayed you and never told you about it because you know
that’s just what a normal sensible person would do and so then the question
is well were you actually betrayed and if you were well who was it that
betrayed you was that your partner was it you or is it your bloody mother or
your father who taught you act that way or who didn’t teach you it’s like it’s a
hell of a thing because you can just keep altering the interpretive context
and within it the facts shift around and then you might say well they’re not
facts it’s like yeah yeah you can say that but it’s it’s more complicated than
that by a large margin anyways so PJ’s notion is essentially
that well this is how I interpret it this is sort of this is my thinking in
some sense but I’m offering it to you as a scheme for helping you understand
Piaget it’s like junior Rome Bruner famous famous cognitive psychologist
said we seem to have no other way of describing live time SEP except in
the form of a narrative and a narrative as far as I could tell I think this is
the same thing as one of PS J’s knowledge representations as far as I
can tell there’s a representation of you and there’s a representation of the
future and there’s behaviors that you use to transform one into the other and
so when Piaget talks about so this is kind of where the mind meets the body
that that’s how it looks to me it’s like you have a conception of you and you
have something you’re aiming at you want to have happen
those are both representations but when you act in the world those aren’t
representations anymore those are actually actions and some of mine
transforms into body when you act out your notion and that’s that’s sort of
how the mind is linked to the body as far as I can tell and so what Piaget
says is that the behaviors are built before the representation and so we’re
going to take a look at that so here’s here’s a Piaget a notion of assimilation
and accommodation whereas other animals cannot alter themselves except by
changing their species so that’s through Darwinian means right
so what happens is a bear is a kind of solution to a set of problems and
they’re the problems that the bear’s environment presents and the bear is
just a bear so it’s sort of like bears were ten thousand years ago and the only
way the bear can solve a new problem basically is by generating new random
bears which is what it does wouldn’t reproduce us and hoping that one of
those more random bears is a better fit for whatever random change might occur
in the environment that’s the whole Darwinian issue right you can’t predict
which way the environment is going to go and so what you do is you take your
structure and you vary it and you throw those out into the world and some
animals do that expensively so they have infants that they have to program to
that specific environment but it takes a lot of investment and some creatures do
that cheaply like mosquitoes it’s like they don’t care for their kids but they
have a million of them so like who cares if nine hundred and ninety nine thousand
nine hundred ninety eight die there’s still twice as many of you as there were
so those are two different reproductive strategies and you could think about all
those mosquito offspring as new mosquito ideas in embodied form and most of them
are bad ideas and so the environment just wipes them out
Opia Jays point is we do the same thing with our cognitive structures and that’s
the thing that’s so interesting about people in some sense that we’ve
internalized the Darwinian problem and so when you think about the future what
you’re doing is generating a multiplicity of potential environments
and then you’re generating a sequence of avatars of yourself to live in those
fictional futures and then you watch what happens as that Avatar lives in
each of those those fictional futures and if the Avatar fails you don’t act
that out it’s bloody brilliant it’s brilliant
that’s what our brain does it’s like it hypothesizes potential futures it runs
simulations and it kills them and that can be really painful but it beats the
hell out of dying yourself or maybe sometimes you won’t think so because it
really can be painful but it’s it’s it’s something that as far as we know only
human beings can really do right we invent possible futures and invent
possible future selves and kill them off in our imagination and that’s what
you’re doing in an argument that’s what an argument is it’s like well here’s an
avatar a representational avatar you know that’s based on certain axioms and
all articulated and you articulate yours and we’ll have them have a fight in
which everyone survives we’ll accept as true and we’ll move forward and act that
out and you know arguments can be pretty damn intense but hypothetically they’re
not as intense as acting out a stupid idea that’s the thing right better to
have some conflict and reach resolution in an abstract sense than to embody your
stupidity and die and so you know it’s sort of a trade-off between anxiety and
and an annihilation or pain whereas other animals cannot alter
themselves except by changing your species man can transform himself by
transforming the world and construct himself by constructing structures and
these structures are his own they’re not eternally predestined either from within
or from without also Piaget you know he’s well he’s a constructivist he
believes that there’s something that your biology brings to the table and and
and sets up the parameters let’s say within which you can play games but
within those parameters there’s a very wide range of games that you could play
and so it’s not a biological determinism even though it’s a biological framing
and you can think about it like a chess game you know let’s let’s assume that
the rules of chess are biologically determined just for the sake of argument
you can still play a near infinite number of chess games and so it’s the
same with you you come into the world with a set of built-in axioms that’s
sort of your body and your nervous system but you can play a very large
number of games within that set of frames and one of the things that’s very
interesting about that something that’s very mysterious to me is this is a game
that I played before with students so I’m gonna play it with you if you don’t
mind so we’re gonna play a game you ready okay you move first right exactly
you don’t know what to do right and that’s well that’s so interesting
because I basically made the presupposition that you could do
anything you’re completely free and what do you do you throw up your hands it’s
like you don’t know what to do I’m so free it’s like free to do what well
that’s not freedom it’s it’s just nothing but if I said well look what
we’re gonna do instead is when I move my arm right you’re gonna move your arm
right so let’s do that okay so I’m gonna go like that you’re gonna good and then
I’ll go like that and then we’ll have a little dance yeah yeah so you can play a
game like that with it with a kid instantly and they like that they’ve got
that man and so I’ve got so I’ve got some pictures of that I’ll show you that
in a bit but even a newborn baby you stick out your tongue they can stick
their tongue out back and now do you think about that that’s just absolutely
mind-boggling that they can do that and they really can they really do seem to
be able to do that right at the moment of birth and so you know you hear babies
have no theory of mind it’s like ah yeah no they can imitate that’s pretty bloody
amazing man like you haven’t seen robot that can do that yet although there are
robots now that you can teach by moving their their arms you move their arms and
then they’ll do it and so you can actually program them by moving them and
then they’ll just repeat it and so they’re getting damn close to imitation
they’re really getting close and then look the hell out man because they’re
gonna be imitating each other as well as us and they’re gonna do it so fast you
just won’t be able to believe it so that’s coming the organism adapts itself
by but materially constructing new forms to fit themselves into those of the
universe where as intelligence extends this creation by constructing mental
structures which can be applied to those of the environment that’s that there are
winny an idea that I just mentioned you know the guys that are building the
autonomous cars like they don’t think they’re building on Thomas cars they
know perfectly well what they’re doing they’re building fleets of mutually
intercommunicating autonomous robots and each of them will to be able to teach
the other because their nervous system will be the same and when there’s ten
million of them when one of them learned something all ten million of them will
learn it at the same time so they’re not gonna have to be very bright before
they’re very very very smart because us you know we’ll learn something you have
to imitate it’s like god that’s hard or I have to explain it to you and you have
to understand it and then you have to act it out we’re not connected
wirelessly with the same platform but robots they are and so once those things
get a little bit smart they’re not going to stop at a little bit smart for very
long they’re gonna be unbelievably smart like overnight so and they’re imitating
the hell out of us right now too because we’re teaching them how to understand us
every second of every day the net is learning what we’re like it’s watching
us it’s communicating with us it’s imitating us and it’s gonna know it
already knows in some ways more about us than we know about ourselves you know
there’s lots of reports already of people getting pregnancy ads or ads for
infants sometimes before they know they’re pregnant but often before
they’ve told their families and the way that that happens is the net is watching
what they’re looking at and inferring with its artificial intelligence and so
maybe you’re pregnant that’s just tilting you a little bit right to
interest in things that you might not otherwise be interested in the net
tracks that then it tells you what you’re at what you’re after it does that
by offering an advertisement so it’s reading your unconscious mind
so well so that’s what’s happening so all right so what’s the motive for
development dis equilibria that’s a Piaget lien term well this is a
life is suffering idea it’s like why learn something cuz you’re wrong who
cares it makes you suffer you care so you know if you run out a little scheme
in the world a little action pattern you don’t get what you want if you’re
especially if you’re two years old you burst into tears and cry and why is that
it’s because you don’t know what you don’t know where you are and you don’t
know what you’re doing it’s like time for some negative emotion
it indicates that you’re wrong and that’s terrible in some sense because it
all it almost always means that to learn requires pain now I don’t believe that
exactly because people are curious you know and to go out and be curious and to
learn new things can be very exciting and so what it seems to be is that
there’s there’s a rate of learning that’s too fast and that hurts you
that’s what makes you cry but if you get the rate just right you’re just opening
up enough novelty so that you can benefit from the possibilities that
gives you a dopamine kick fundamentally you can benefit from the possibilities
without being overwhelmed by the by the unexpected element of it and you can
tell when that’s happening and this is one of the coolest things as far as I’m
concerned this is and I learned this partly from Piaget it’s like you know in
order to withstand suffering let’s say your life has to have some meaning okay
well that that means a bunch of things it means that part of the way that you
overcome suffering is by making the suffering into something meaningful and
I don’t mean that metaphysically I mean it technically you made a mistake it
causes you suffering you learn something about it you don’t make that mistake
again it’s real adaptation it’s not it’s not
defense against death anxiety or something like that it’s real adaptation
but more importantly the reality that you learn through pain is the oldest
reality will say it’s it’s really old it’s as old as nervous systems and so
you’ve adapted so that you’ve learned to transform your knowledge structures in a
way that will minimize your potential exposure to future pain
they at a rate you can tolerate or maybe even enjoy and so what’s happening is
you don’t actually like being static it bores you but you don’t like being
thrown into chaos it’s like no a little bit of that’s fine what you want is you
want to be opening up your knowledge structures on the periphery to
transformation voluntary transformation that’s voluntary exploration and letting
those things manifest a little bit of interesting chaos and so you have a
little bit you put a little feeler out there that you’re willing to let die and
it comes apart and you gather a bit of information it comes back together
stronger and you do that all the time if you’re if you’re smart and you’re
looking for new information foraging for new information and that means you keep
taking little bits of yourself apart and reconstructing them and overtime that
keeps you alive and active you know part of the reason you’re alive is because
you’re dying all the time right all the cells in your body like if they don’t
die you get cancer and that that’s it you’re done you’re a very very tight
balance between death and life at every every single level including the
cognitive level and it’s not that fun to learn something because you have to kill
something you already know in order to learn it that’s another piece yet in
observation because you’re always interpreting something within a
structure and if that interpretation is wrong even in a microwave you have to
kill that structure and it’s a biological structure it actually hurts
to kill it but maybe you can generate something new in its stead and if you
get the dynamic right let the rate right then you find that exhilarating not
painful and that’s and that’s well you can tell when you’re doing that as far
as I can tell you can tell when you’re doing that because you’re engaged in the
world in a meaningful way and what your nervous system is doing is signaling to
you that you’re not in a static place that’s death you’re not in a chaotic
place that’s death your balance between the static and the chaotic such that the
static structures are transforming at exactly the right rate to keep you on
top of the environmental transformations and so you’re surfing you know in Hawaii
the surfers surfing was sacred well that’s why it’s like do you can you tell
someone how to surf well you can’t because they have to go out there and
dynamically interact with the wave but they can stay on top of the wave and
that’s what you have to do and if you’re
staying on top of the wave properly then it’s exhilarating and that’s the kind of
meaning that that it rejuvenates you literally it makes you able to tolerate
the suffering in life and it’s not metaphysical precisely it’s because that
is what you’re doing at that moment you’re you’re overcoming your
limitations and of course that’s what you have to do in order to to know and
to learn because you want to be doing both of those things at the same time
that’s what you do when you play a game properly your parents say it doesn’t
matter whether you win or lose this is a PSAT and observation it’s how you play
the game what does that mean well it means that you should play the game in a
manner that increases the probability that you’re going to be invited to play
many games in the future perfect so you master the skills of the game but at the
same time you master a set of meta skills which is the skills that remain
constant across transforming sets of games and that’s what it means to play
fair that’s a bloody basis of morality as far as Piaget was concerned it’s so
damn smart you know because you think all interactions have this game-like
quality they’re sort of bounded and but there are commonalities across all the
games and you want to extract out the commonalities and you want to learn to
inhabit the universe that’s made out of the commonalities between games and
that’s what it means to be a good person roughly speaking you know it varies to
some degree from culture to culture obviously because each culture is a game
unto itself but there’s something that transcends that that’s the nature of
games across game contexts and you know that you know that because you can tell
the difference between a game and and something that isn’t a game instantly
everyone knows and it’s not like there’s only one kind of game there’s hockey say
and there’s there’s a world of warcraft I know it’s way out of date but so am I
so it’s not surprising so but the fact that those things are very very
different in many many ways doesn’t stop you from identifying the underlying
commonalities you know they’re games and they’re they’re like stories in a sense
so and that’s a piagetian that’s a piagetian observation very very smart
so why do you develop well it’s because your your previous idea their your
previous frame micro frame let’s say doesn’t fit the circumstance and so
something happens it you go like this what’s up well the world isn’t what you
thought and there’s something wrong with your knowledge structure this is partly
what’s makes Piaget a pragmatist you see the pragmatist American school of
philosophy William James and his followers they knew that we had bounded
knowledge we don’t have infinite knowledge and so they thought well that
means we can’t really be right about anything because we’re definitely wrong
and so how is it that you can operate in the world given that you’re always wrong
and the answer is you you set up a procedure that has rules for what
constitutes true within the procedure itself so you play a game and at the
same time you set up the rules so you might say well is this joke funny and
then the answer is well do people laugh now when I tell the joke do they laugh
and if the answer is yes then it’s funny enough you’ve you’ve you’ve taken a
particular definition of funny you’ve transformed it into a local phenomena
and if your behavior matches the prediction in that local area you say
well that’s true enough is it like transcendently funny well maybe you’d
have to tell it to 200 different groups of people to figure that out but mostly
it’s it’s funny enough so that when I predicted what would happen when I told
the joke that’s what happened and you don’t predict it by the way you desire
it it’s not the same thing because prediction has no motivation in it but
desire does and we’re always motivated always always motivated so well here’s a
way of thinking about the Piaget teen system so two-year-olds they’re very
chaotic and they bounce between one highly motivated emotional state to
another and so the first thing that the two-year-old has to do is get his or her
act together more or less inside and so you know two-year-olds still have
tantrums and they still cry a lot and and they still run around like mad being
joyful crazily which you have to train out of them right away because it’s
nothing but disruptive and it’s one of the most painful things about being a
parent like 90% of the time you’re going stop
having fun stop having fun you know and then you turn into a teenager and your
parents get what they ask for and so but because positive emotion is so impulsive
and so chaotic it’s really hard to manifest itself it’s manifested within
it within a predictable environment and so you’re dampening down your child’s
enthusiasm non-stop it’s but it has to be regulated because happiness is
impulsive and chaotic and people don’t like to think that because they think
well we should be happy it’s like Mannix are happy but they’re maniacs that’s
where the word comes from like they’re just you it’s not good they’re too happy
way too happy like someone who’s way too stoned on math or on cocaine and I mean
that technically because it’s it’s they’re very similar they’re very
similar biochemical states so and and cocaine produces happiness pretty much
in its pure form so does meth very rapidly and so it’s
just not good you know you lose judgment you happy people you don’t have good
judgment they’re too happy maybe they get dopey it’s like you know it’s like
irrational stock market bubbles oh boy it’s always going to go up it’s like no
no it’s not always going to go up but that’s what you think when you’re happy
anyways the two-year-old has to get all these motivational systems sort of
hammered into one thing internally now in some sense from the PIA jetty in
perspective that happens within the child he thinks of the child is
egocentric but and that that development takes place internally and then it’s not
till a child’s let’s say about three that it can learn to bring its
controlled unity into a unity with another controlled unity and make a game
that happens around three and so what happens is that instead of the child
only pursuing his or her goals although modulated by the social
environment the child is able to communicate with another child and
establish a shared goal and that’s what happens when they play and so obviously
you play Monopoly that’s what you’re doing but when you play peekaboo
you’re doing the same thing it’s like with your parent you’re actually playing
with object permanence dad’s go on oh look dad’s here haha
he’s there dad’s gone that’s here yeah it’s gone dad’s here
like a kid man you can do that for like three hours they never get tired of it
because every time you reappear it’s an it’s a miracle unis watch babies it’s so
funny like you go like this and they go then you talk back holding like they’re
so happy they’re just overjoyed and then you take yourself away and they’re like
what’s going on what’s going on bang you reappear they don’t have a real memory
you know it’s like reality is manifesting itself in all its freshness
moment by moment and and they can’t remember there are neurological
conditions that do that so sometimes and there are people who that this has
happened to so they get hippocampal damage and so they can’t move
short-term information into long-term storage and there’s this one guy it’s
very interesting case he was a concert pianist and he had hell of a
neurological injury and he could still play the piano he couldn’t remember
eight he couldn’t he had amnesia and he couldn’t move information from
short-term storage into long-term storage so as far as he was concerned it
was it was always like ten days before he had his accident he never got passed
out he was stuck in that moment and then but he could still play the piano and
but was so interesting you watch him there were films of him before he sat
down to play the piano he’d have like a seizure and then he could play the piano
procedural memory that was intact and then at the end he’d kind of have a
little seizure and then he’d go back to being who he was but he had these
notebooks and all he did was write in them over and over the same thing it’s
as if I have never seen this before it’s as if I’ve never seen this before
it’s as if I’ve never seen this before so he’s in this ecstatic state where
everything was novel and new and pure and paradisal but there was no
continuity and so when his wife would come to visit him he would just be
overwhelmed to see her overwhelmed every time and even if she just left the room
and came back in it was exactly the same thing it’s just like the kid it’s like
no object permanence and every time the face appears it’s it’s a staggering and
you can see that in the reflexes of the child and that’s that’s without object
permanence and so that’s what Piaget was talking about with regards to object
permanence it’s very very cool so anyways the two-year-olds a collection
of these sort of random motivations more or less gets
his or her act together by about three if they’re being socialized properly and
that means that the parents are doing their best to make the child acceptable
to other children that’s your damn job as a parent you have to understand that
because if your child isn’t acceptable to other children they won’t play with
your child and then your child will be lonesome and isolated and awkward and
they will never recover because if the kid doesn’t get that right between two
and four it’s over they’re never gonna learn it the other
kids accelerate forward that kids left behind and it’s not a good life for that
kid they don’t learn how to play with others and then they’re done and there’s
a huge literature on trying to rectify antisocial children say from the age of
four on it’s like no you can’t and you can go ahead and read three four hundred
papers on rectification of antisocial behavior and figure it out for yourself
but I did that for about five years and it was a while ago but I know the
literature hasn’t changed so you got to get it right between that period you got
to get the kid together enough so they can control themselves well enough so
that they can adopt a mutual frame of reference with a peer so that they can
start using that to scaffold their development further and become more and
more sophisticated in social interactions and that’s what you’re
you’re acting as a proxy for the social environment as a parent that’s what
you’re doing now a gentle proxy an informative proxy maybe even a merciful
proxy but a proxy nonetheless because they’re not going to be around you
forever they’re gonna be out there among people who don’t really care about them
and if they don’t have something to bring to the table at least the ability
to cooperate they’re gonna be lonesome and isolated and that’s not going to be
good well here’s an here’s an here’s an idea so as you’re moving from what is to
what should be you’re in this little frame of reference this little game this
little Piaget alien game sometimes you get what you want or predict that’s on
the left-hand side that makes you happy and it validates your frame so if the
frame keeps working across different circumstances you get a reward from that
the reward produces a dopaminergic kick that makes you feel good but the
dopamine also enhances the strength of the circuitry that underlies that
particular representation that’s what reinforcement is
it’s different than reward reward is what you feel let’s say roughly speaking
reinforcement is the effect of the dopamine bathing the neurological
tissues to make it stronger and grow and so if the neurological tissue underlies
a sequence of actions that produces a desired outcome there’s a biochemical
kick that strengthens the nervous structures that were activated just
before the good thing happens and so that’s how something you know that’s
valuable gets instantiated and if it fails instead you get punished
pain anxiety and that that starts to extinguish that circuitry and we don’t
know how that works exactly we don’t know exactly if those circuits then
start to die because they can degenerate across time or if what happens is you
build other circuits that inhibit them so it’s like you’ve got this knowledge
structure it’s built into you and once it’s there there’s not really much
getting rid of it but you can build another one that tells it to shut up
that’s sort of what happens when you’re addicted to drugs
so cocaine bathes the tissue that was active just before you took the cocaine
with dopamine and so that gets stronger and stronger and stronger and stronger
and so you’re basically building a cocaine seeking monster in your head and
that’s all it wants and it has rationalizations and it has emotions and
it has motivations and it’s alive but it wants one thing and the problem is once
you build that thing especially if you nail it a couple of hundred times with
the powerful dopaminergic agonist like cocaine that thing is one vicious
monster and it’s alive and it’s in there and you can’t get it to go away the only
thing you can do is build another structure to shut it up but the problem
is is that as soon as you get stressed it interferes with that new structure
and the old thing comes popping back up not good I wouldn’t recommend it and the
faster acting those dopaminergic agonists are cocaine is a good example
but so is math the faster they hit you which is often why people inject them
instead of snorting them say the faster that transformation from steady state to
dopaminergic path the bigger the kick is and so you know so speed of introduction
of the substance matters which is why you drink shots instead of drinking say
wine or beer because alcohol has you know very similar very similar effects
so all right so if you get what you want
well then you feel good but not only do you feel good but the frame itself is
validated and if you don’t get what you want well then not only do you not get
what you want but the frame itself starts to come apart at the seams and
the question part is how far should the frame come apart how deeply should you
unlearn something when you make a mistake god it’s a very very very hard
problem and I’ll show you a partial solution to it this very useful thing
and this is a pia jetty an idea – let’s see yeah I’m gonna go to this for a
minute so so I’m gonna decompose something for you and and this is partly
to give you an introduction to the way behaviorists think but it’s also to help
unpack how the pia jetty in oceans work and so from a piagetian perspective
high-order abstractions are actually made of what’s common among actions and
perceptions so and those things are unified in some sense so an abstraction
isn’t what’s common across sets of objects it’s more like what’s common
across sets of perceptions and actions and so that’s a hard thing to understand
but but this will help you understand okay so let’s say you want to be a good
person it’s kind of abstraction all right
and then you think well what does it mean to be a good person it’s a box it’s
an empty box no it’s a box and it says good person on outside but it’s full of
things it might even be full of transforming things so but you know what
it means you say good person you kind of know and you kind of know but you know
if we started talking about details we might start to argue but it’s like
pornography you know what when you see it okay so what does it mean to be a
good person well we could decompose it we could say well if you’re one way of
being a good person is to be a good parent and you basically say that being
a good parent is a subset of being a good person right because person is
bigger than parent and maybe it’d be to be a good employee and to be a good
sister and to be a good you know to be to be a good good partner sort of on the
same level of abstraction so you decompose good person into your major
functional roles let’s say and you’re good at all of them whatever that means
well let’s say if you’re a good parent well you have to have a good job because
otherwise you starve and so do your children so at least you have to
financially provide in some manner that’s a subset of being a good parent
it’s not the only subset and then to be a good to have a good be a good parent
you also have to take care of your family and so you could decompose that
into play with baby or complete meal you might say well if take care of family
you can either order a meal or you can cook one it’s like good for you and so
then you’re cooking a meal and you think well what do you decompose that into
well now you’re starting to get to the micro level say because let’s say you’re
making broccoli so you take the broccoli out of the fridge and you put it on the
cutting board that’s actually action that’s not abstraction it’s actually
something you’re doing with your body so the abstraction grounds itself out in
micro activity actual action that’s the connection between the mind and the body
and so you’re cutting broccoli right but that’s not abstraction and so if you
take apart these higher-order moral abstractions what happens is you
decompose them into action perception sequences and they’re embodied now
Piaget is basic claim is you build the dam abstractions from the bottom up
that’s his that’s the fundamental Pia jetty and claim it so the kid comes into
the world with some reflexes and starts building a body of embodied knowledge
out of that interaction with other people and then they start playing games
and that abstracts but but they move from the bottom of the hierarchy which
is actual micro actions up to the top of the abstraction world and so it’s this
is how you boot yourself up little bitty stories what little bitty stories at the
bottom cut broccoli you know and then cut corn here set table do dishes
complete meal take care of your family be a good parent be a good person and
you know one of the propositions that I am offering you in this class is that to
be a good person you’re actually not stuck in one of these to be a good
person means that you’re the thing that transforms these things continually
and so that’s what’s at the top of the hierarchy and that’s basically the hero
story which is you’re in a state of being and it normally occurs you allow
it to demolish you and then you rebuild and that’s at the highest end of the
moral hierarchy and that’s also a sense reappears Yeti and claim so so let’s
think about emotional regulation because this is a really good schema for
understanding emotional regulation how upset should you get and how do you
calculate it because if you make a mistake you wake up in the morning in
your side hurts okay you it’s the first symptom of pancreatic cancer you’re dead
in six months 100% chats or you know you pulled a
muscle well which is it you might say well the chances of the pancreatic
cancer or low but they’re not zero and like infinite times any proportion is a
very large number so you might be thinking why don’t you just have a
screaming fit any time ever any little thing happens to you which is exactly
what happens by the way if you’re two years old right that is what you do so
and it’s because you don’t know you don’t know like things fell apart what
does that mean could be anything well that’s no good well so let’s say you’re
arguing with your with your partner you know and they I don’t know if they make
a lousy meal or maybe no meals and you’re kind of sick of it you know and
so you say you’re a bad person and what’s the evidence not only are you a
bad person but you’ve always been a bad person and the probability that you’re
going to improve in the future looks to me to be zero it’s like what’s the
person supposed to do punch you right really because there’s no room in there
for any discussion you’re done it’s like you’re horrible and you don’t change and
you’ve always been horrible and you’ve never changed and you know inferring
from that into the future you’re gonna stay horrible and you’re
not going to change well any argument can go there immediately it’s a really
bad idea and it happens all the time and this is why people can’t have a civil
discussion you know they can’t say here’s an example so you’ve got your
four-year-old you want them to clean up their room and so it’s full of toys
let’s say they’re three and a half you look at it you say look you know clean
clean this up clean up your room so you shut the door and you go away and you
magically hope that when you come back the room will be clean but of course the
child has no idea in all likelihood at that age or maybe
it’s two and a half something like that they
know what clean up a room means that’s like way up here man it’s like you told
your child there’s mass every be a good person you know and then you come back
in half an hour and they’re no better a person than they were and you get upset
it’s like you can’t do that you have to say you see that teddy bear and you know
that that kid knows how to see a teddy bear and they know how to pick it up
because you’ve watched them see a teddy bear and pick it up and you know that
the child knows the name of the teddy bear it’s teddy bear and so you point to
the teddy bear and you say do you see that teddy bear and they go yes and you
say that’s good pat pat and they get a little kick of
dopamine so that’s happy day for the kid and then they smile at you so you feel
pretty good about that too and then you say you think you could pick up that
teddy bear and they say yeah and so they go over there not every kid by the way
but they go over there and they pick up the teddy bear and it’s like it’s a good
day for both of you and then you say you see that little space on the shelf
because you know they know what a shelf is and you know they know what a space
is and you say take that teddy bear and put it in the shelf and then go over
there and they put it in the shelf and then they look at you and you’re smiling
and so the probability that they’ll do that again is now increased because but
watching you smile produces a dopaminergic kick and you’ve just
strengthened those circuits so I would highly recommend that you do that with
your children and with your partners right you watch them like like a sneaky
person and every time they do something that you actually want them to do you
notice and you give them a little pat on the head yeah and then they like you
that’s cool but if they don’t if you don’t want them to like you because you
hate them and then you won’t do that but and you think well I don’t hate them
it’s like oh yes you do you just think about the last month man there’s been
twenty times you absolutely hated them and maybe that’s the predominant emotion
and that’s not so good over time so when they do something good if you really
want to screw things up watch like a hawk and wait till they do something
good and then punish them that’s really fun that is that really messes with them
and people do that all the time so if you really want to mock things up you
can even do it more subtly you can wait till they do something good especially
if they’ve never done it before and they’re just kind of tentatively trying
it and then you can ignore them that’s a really good what that’s even better than
punishing them because at least when you punish
you’re paying attention if you ignore them it’s like that’s that’s just
perfect also takes hardly any effort on your part so that’s an additional plus
so anyways so if you’re having a discussion with someone it’s like what
you’re doing with this kid you know it’s like you say maybe you’re negotiating
about meals you don’t start with you’re a bad person let’s way the hell up here
you know you blow the whole person schema right out from underneath them
and you might as well get divorced which is what will happen if you keep doing
that soon you’ll roll it your eyes at each other that means you’re getting
divorced by the way so if you ever watch it he does I’m serious there’s good
empirical data on that once you’re at the eye-rolling stage there’s no going
back so you should intervene way before that it’s discussed that AI role once
you’ve hit disease-carrying rodent status in your mates eyes there’s no
coming back so anyways so what you do if you want to have a conversation with
someone that’s a corrective conversation is you sort of take a piagetian attitude
and the attitude is go to the highest level of resolution that you can manage
so let’s say and that’s what you’re doing with the kid
it’s like clean up your room be a good person it’s like no they don’t know any
about anything about that but they do know how to pick up a teddy bear and
then maybe you think cleaning up your room is a hundred things like that and
so you have to teach the child each one of those hundred things and then they
learn this is the scheme they learn what’s the same across all of those
different actions that’s clean right pick up the teddy bear put away the
Legos make your bed what those have nothing in common really like the motor
outputs completely different but they fall under the heading of clean but
unless you fill the heading of clean with all the subordinate categories of
the action perception sequences that make up clean kid can’t do it and so
partly what you’re doing by attending to your child constantly is noticing where
they are in the construction of this hierarchy and they start way down here
right and so that’s why you play peekaboo for example it’s like they can
do that and you can you know you interact with them because you can watch
you do a little something and if they respond you got some sense that you’re
you’re at the same level and kids and playgrounds do that with each other
right away so if you if you see two three-year-olds
together say they’re fairly sophisticated for three-year-olds what
they’ll do is they’ll start playing a little primitive game with each other
like door like a dog you know what a dog does what it wants to play it kind of
goes like that and and that’s what kids do and that’s what adults do too it’s a
plague it’s play it if it tastes like I’m ready
but you’re smiling it’s not like I’m ready it’s and so you can tell the
difference between a play fight and play and kids can too so it’s an invitation
to play and so if you’re interacting with your little kid they got that play
circuit man that thing’s in there like when they’re from birth I think because
you can play with a kid right from birth at least something like peekaboo and so
you’re on the same wavelength fundamentally and then you interact with
them and you see if they’re following what you’re doing is what I’m doing when
I’m lecturing more or less I’m watching you guys and seeing if we’re more or
less in the same shared space you know and we want the space to be expanding
because if it’s just staying the same well you might as well play whatever you
play on your computer it has to be expanding at the same time that’s
optimal and so when you’re playing with your kid you put them on that
developmental edge where they’re undoing and then rebuilding their little skills
you know you can do that like I had this memory from when I was a little kid a
while back and I remembered I used to go over to these peoples house with my
father and my mom and it was way up in northern Alberta and these people were
Russian immigrants as children of Russian immigrants and they had a
farmhouse way way out in the country way out by the way there where the railroad
actually ended if you walk north from there you’d walk until you hit like
southern Europe without fun running into another person it was way the hell out
in the middle of nowhere and anyways they had a nice house it’s like a warm
house you know they had three kids and they were way older than me but it was a
real fun comfortable place to go and I used to sit in the living room with my
father and his friend whose name was Nick and Nick was a really playful guy I
really liked him he was like my surrogate grandfather and I used to I
don’t think I was more than about three I’d sit there and I try to hit his foot
with my fist and he would be talking to my dad you know and my dad would say
Jordan don’t bother Nick and Nick would say well he’s not really bothering me
and his dad was checking it out to see if I
was anoint were poor if I was a fun kid you know cuz it’s a fine line and so I
tried to hit his foot and he would move it and now I had this memory while back
and I thought wow that was a good memory and I thought what is going on there
exactly and I realized well he’s sharpening he was sharpening me up you
know it’s like I was aiming at something you’re aiming at something if you’re
pointing your eyes at it you’re pointing your whole damn soul out it you’re
aiming at something and you’re trying to get your behaviors and your conceptions
in line and organized so that you can attain that aim that’s what people do
you know we throw rocks at things we we fire arrows at things we shoot guns at
things we aim at things our whole body is that platform for aiming and I was
trying to aim at his feet and he’d move his feet you know but he’d let me hit it
what now and then and so let’s say you’re a rat okay because like I said it
rats a good model for a person let’s say you’re a little rat a juvenile male and
you want to play because you want to play and you’ll work to play and that’s
how we know you want to play if we’re experimental psychologists because
you’re Bosch put button push like mad to get access to an arena where you can
wrestle with another little rat and so rats wrestle just like human beings and
they even pin each other just like human beings and they love that and so if you
put little rat a in with a little rat B and little rat B is 10% bigger little
rat B can stomp the hell out of little rat a all the time so they go out there
and they have a little dominance competition and little rat B is gonna
win because he’s bigger so now he’s dominant rat so then they play in they
wrestle and little rat a loses but and then next time they both know that
little rat a is the inviter because he’s subordinate so he’s the one
who has to go up to the big rat and go you ready and the big rat then we’ll
wrestle however if you repeatedly pair them and the big rat doesn’t let the
little rat win at least 30% of the time the little rat won’t invite him to play
anymore and that was york panksepp who figured that out and that is
mind-boggling because it tells you like the bit there’s a there’s an ethical
basis for play that’s so deep that the damn rat and their rats
not known for their sense of fair play the big rat has to let the little rat
win 30% of the time or the little rat will not play anymore and even rats know
that it’s it’s so profound that discovery like banks have discovered the
play circuit in mammals that’s a big deal that’s like discovering a whole
continent like that’s a big deal he should have got a Nobel Prize for that
and to see that that’s built in that sense of fair play that’s mind boggling
you know cuz that’s evidence for the biological instantiation of a complex
morality fair play even if you can win you shouldn’t all the time well so when
I’m trying to hit Nick’s feet with my hand like I’m really paying attention
and he’s moving it pretty well but now and then I get to nail it and I’m
feeling pretty good about that you know and he makes a little bit more difficult
all the time so that my aim gets better and better and I’m building up my motor
coordination I’m building up my social skills cuz I don’t hit too hard and I
don’t cry when I miss because that just makes you annoying to play with right so
I’m learning really complicated things about how to go about finessing my aim
and that’s what you’re doing with your kids and what are they aiming at well
they aim higher and higher so when my son was about two and a half we had him
start setting the table it’s you don’t say you know you want to take grandma’s
fine china and go set the table it’s like no you don’t do that you say
you know what a fork looks like he goes yeah see if you wanted the forks are
well that doesn’t work because the Drover’s way up here right so you have
to hand him a fork you say look take this fork and go put it on the table
he’s like this high you know so he goes over to the table and he puts the fork
up here can’t even see what he’s doing he puts the fork up there and then you
know he’s reasonably happy with that and you could give him a path and then you
go and give him a really sharp not no you don’t do that you don’t do that you
give him a spoon and you say well go put the spoon beside the fork and you don’t
say look you’re stupid kid you got to leave enough space between the fork and
the spoon so the plate can fit there don’t you know anything
you’re stupid it’s like well that’s right up here right you’re a bad kid no
that’s bad you don’t do that you go down here and you say well good micro routine
adaptation there Chum well let’s try it again you know when you
build that up and like men you can’t extend the kid past its point
his point or her point of exhaustion because it’s got to be a game and a
two-year-old can probably only do that for you can watch them and some are more
persistent than others but 10 minutes 15 minutes you pushing your luck you can
take a two-year-old to a restaurant for about 40 minutes and expect them to sit
and behave but after that you know they’re the will exhausts them all right
well anyways that’s Piaget in his nascent form fundamentally and so if you
if you remember that diagram and you think about how that would be built from
the bottom up and how there would be a stage transition every time those things
are learned you kind of got the essential elements of piagetian theory
so we’ll see you Thursday

100 thoughts on “2017 Personality 06: Jean Piaget & Constructivism

  1. idk tennis players are fast but i can stop jordan's lectures right when he says his "and so (…)"…so i'm pretty fast! lol

  2. 1:45:00 One locally known singer had best marriage advice: if you want it to last get bank loan that last 20-30 years and then kids. Your marriage is safe and you can still eyeroll.. 🙂

  3. I think, i will compliment kids like this from now on: "Good micro-routine adaptation there, chum!" 😀

  4. This dude is smart smart, like he's not just a smart guy he's the kind of smart smart guy that smart guys think wow that's a smart guy, which gives him two smarts

  5. We are connected wireless like and operating on the same platform. What suppressed these abilities?

  6. Good lecture, thank you! I'd like to offer a little insight too. The idea that society produces the morality that aims at preservation and prosperity of humans which are part of it is only "Variation A". There is also a "Variation B" which happens when the society experiences the deficit of resources and considers itself overpopulated. In such a situation, society emerges completely different morality, which is oriented at reduction of the population. In such a case, what happens is most of the conflicts are resolved by someone getting killed and most of what is going on is rationalization of who and why will be killed next.

  7. I wish you were my professor!! You are a genious.. I hope you visit my country one day.. ?

  8. The quote by the Chief Justice was talking about obscenity in relation to pornography, but close enough in this case. Jacobellis v. Ohio

  9. (On robots) JP: "they're not going to have to be very bright before they're very f-very smart"

  10. "if our various form of knowledge are always incomplete and our various science is still imperfect that which is acquired is still acquired and can therefore be studied statically"
    can someone please explain for a non-native english speaker what he meant by "that which is acquired is still acquired"

  11. You are a very bright person but you lack some bases in philosophy… Kant's transcendental structure is the ground of constructivism

  12. What a great pleasure to listen to him! Thank you so much professor!

  13. I find this lecture probably the best by Jordan Peterson. If anybody happened to have a transcript, I would be immensely and eternally grateful.

  14. Robots are close to immitating. "They are comming" JP. he made me laugh and scared me at the same time.

  15. Well if our genetic is 99% similar to chimps or 97%% to rats, doesnt this only mean, that we have 99% or 97% the same MAP? But whats about epigenetic? Does the similarity in a map says anythig about the way you can read it???? I can give even 100% the same maps to different people with complete different navigation results.

  16. I enjoy reading comments under JBP's lectures because we all testify how life-changing they can get, and reading them makes me want to glorify God for allowing the good Doctor to heal our wounds.

  17. That lecture was mind boggling:O Really interesting stuff there chum

  18. I had to come here to gain a more thorough understanding of this as part of my teaching degree after my university lecturers made a hatchet job of it. Thanks JP.

  19. Was his computer being hacked? Someone seemed to be messing with his display…

  20. Why this girl is going out at the beginning? Get your ass back there and school yourself down

  21. I would love to have access to some of the tests or quizzes his students receive, just so I could see the form the questions tale and evaluate my own retention of these ideas.

  22. At about 12:30 he starts "spitting straight fire" if i do say so myself. Looks like hes performing at a packed stadium.

  23. The more i learn about the basics of learning and social interraction, the more dissapointed i get in human behavious, its all so fucking abvious yet i can only conclude that pretty much every person of authority ive ever had in my life was completly fucking incompetent, its so fucking dissapointing cus all they had to do was use their fucking brain and shove their own fucking fears and ego where the sun never shines, its all so simple, but somehow nobody manages to get it done.

  24. regular professors: it's exceedingly easy make it even more complicated than it already was
    JP: it's exceedingly complex and hard makes it so clear it feels like i already knew it somehow
    rare gift!

  25. Türkçe altyazılısı var mı varsa linkini paylaşabilir misiniz.

  26. That part where he talks about A.I. had me completely terrified. Artificial intelligence will be our demise if you ask me.

  27. 1:35:10 Pretty much summarizes most people's childhood, mine included.

  28. This is going into my favorites.

  29. Coded in your behavior is the social structure in which you emerged.

  30. Jordan Peterson may be controversial but he is a brilliant teacher. I can easily imagine same material if you give it to my professors back in undergrad in South Asia or even in graduate school here in the west, I would have been put to sleep. But this guy has some magnetic charm specially in his intonation and delivery of message.

  31. 'Straighten your own collars first then maybe you can venture out into the world and help others with their collars….'

  32. Jordan ‘I’m unbelievably good at detecting the whites of your eyes’ Peterson

  33. That one girl who walked in class late probably felt the collective millions of people viewing her tardiness.

  34. I am absolutely grateful for your life lessons, history lessons, and behavioral teachings. Thank you so very much, it has absolutely made me a better human being for myself, and for my children, and for my wife, and for society in general!!!

    I am eternally grateful for your existence on this earth!

  35. God, I really hate it when something really wallops me at the bottom of my axiomatic structure

  36. I would best describe this lecture as "a finite number of relevant facts"

  37. If knowledge can be acquired and transformed after being exposed to different variables, then it isn't impossible for gender biology to transform, under certain environmental conditions, with time?

  38. Ben Shapiro: Facts don't care about your feelings!

    Jordern B. Peterson:

    H o W d O Y o U k N o W w Ha T a F a C t I s?

  39. Peterson’s “little dance” with the girl at 1:06:05 is so freaking funny lol.

  40. Man, Piaget must really be one of Peterson's favorite thinkers. Jordan is on fire in this lecture!

  41. Those aren’t facts then if they’re changing. That’s what Plato might have meant by opinion.
    So what a fact is, what the truth is, is that which isn’t context dependent or relativistic. It is what is independent of any of us. This seems to have been worked out in Plato’s Parmenides with regards to the dialectic if The One.

  42. God, these are freekin' geniuses, all of 'em. Thanks for the knowledge.

  43. The really sweet thing about the guy with memory problems being overwhelmed (really, overjoyed) to see his wife every time was that he didn't remember who she was, but the moment he saw her he knew he loved her. Every time.

  44. Economics, Comparative mythology, and social and developmental psychology and psychosis.

  45. Dadoe very important for social influence on behavior. And the relation between theory and praxis.

  46. Articulating the procedural memory into the representational and putting it into a formal system.

  47. Listening to this, I'm led to believe married couples desire that each has no long-term memory, so that every time they see each other, they fall in love for the first time all over again.

  48. I think his computer was trying to help teach. The first or second time, he was describing how your knowledge structure breaks down when things dont go as planned.

    The third time, he was describing how things that work get taken for granted.

    Also, I wonder if this stuff that men have spent 10 millenia figuring out, do women just know instinctively? Like with childhood development and the sort. It's really a miracle we've developed at all, when the science about how that happens is only a hundred years old.

  49. Anybody ever walk up to a falling off place and get that tingly feeling in your balls? What's with that, man?

  50. My god, I'm only 36min 58sec into this lecture, and I can't take any more in. Time for coffee. I love this man.

  51. huhuhu, did I hear complex dynamic systems theory? ….now were talking….

  52. Apart from having a profound influence on my personal development, Jordan B.Peterson is also very much influencing my academic studies.
    I'm an architecture student who is currently working on a project which aims to integrate 'play' into the urban environment to make it more engaging and informative for children. If anyone knows of any relevant or worthwhile books/talks on the subject of 'play' or 'child development' by Jean Piaget (or related) I will be very grateful!

    Thank you

  53. I love this man so much…this is so valuable… and so important for humanity in general. I hope you get out of the Chaos and get better mr Peterson, I miss you.

  54. I don't see how his detractors can honestly stand themselves. He's fun and engaging: what a great teacher!

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