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December 2021

Convergence and divergence between Frege and Piaget: a commentary on Leslie Smith

Journal/Book: New Idea Psychol. 1999; 17: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 131-136.

Abstract: Leslie Smith makes a strong case for an epistemological convergence of the work of Frege and Piaget. He grounds the convergence in five epistemological criteria (autonomy, entailment, intersubjectivity, objectivity, and universality), which he identifies in both Frege's rational epistemology and Piaget's genetic epistemology. Furthermore, Smith argues that, taken by themselves, both Frege's rational epistemology and Piaget's genetic epistemology remain incomplete. His joint discussion of the work of Frege and Piaget elaborates on how the work of each of them can complement the work of the other. According to Smith, the major contribution of genetic epistemology to rational epistemology consists in the study of the development of the normative grounds or rational justification of knowledge. As Smith convincingly shows, accepting the investigation into the normative grounds of knowledge as a central part of developmental psychology has major implications for the inquiry into the development of knowledge. In this commentary I will take up Smith's lead and elaborate on further points of epistemological convergence between the work of Frege and Piaget. However, I will also point to some divergences that concern Frege's and Piaget's view of what constitutes the psychological. I will argue that Frege's notion of the psychological is rather narrow, which resulted in an inadequate conception of the role of the subject in the constitution of knowledge. As I will indicate, a wider notion of the psychological has also implications for the relation between genetic epistemology (psycho-logic) and psychology. Finally, I will raise some questions about the kind of epistemological enterprise envisioned by Frege and Piaget.

Note: Article Muller U, Univ Massachusetts, Ctr Adopt Res & Policy, 55 Lake Ave N, Worcester,MA 01655 USA

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