B1 Intermediate 5 Folder Collection
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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
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2017 Personality 06: Jean Piaget & Constructivism

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林宜悉 published on March 30, 2020
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