By Theodore Mischel (Eds.)

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Extra resources for Cognitive Development and Epistemology

Sample text

Y e t , once again, this half truth demands its complement. Empirical facts m a y not be self- 30 STEPHEN T O U L M I N describing, but theoretical analyses are not self-validating. In this m e t h o d o logical respect, Descartes' claim that his o w n basic mathematical and physical notions were uniquely "clear and distinct" was o u t of order—if not a downright fudge. N o set of theoretical categories can prove its own relevance in advance of being used to make our actual experiences more intelligible.

If this is the situation in developmental physiology, we must not be too sanguine in our hopes for developmental psychology. For there, too, we m a y not yet have a sufficient grasp, either of the complex factors involved in the process of psychological development, or of the "psychological m a t u r i t y " that is its presumed product, to justify any very substantial claims. If that is the case, we shall only deceive ourselves if we think that we can say any more, at the present time, than our understanding permits.

W e m a y concede to Urmson that, in the case of normal adult humans, the crucial tests of a man's recognizing something are either linguistic or "linguamorphic"—that is, having a structure isomorphic with that of language. T h e normal adult agent's recognition is best evidenced (that is) b y his naming, labeling, pigeonholing, or describing correctly the person or object in question, or b y his treating it in a manner specifically appropriate to a thing so labeled or described. " Rather, the basic relationship goes in the other direction.

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