By D. G. Boyle (Auth.)
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Stage of random and reflex action The neonate's behaviour is almost completely autistic, and his intermittent contacts with external reality (mainly at feeding time) do not essentially affect the automatic, largely undirected use of reflexes. 2. Stage of primary circular reactions We have already explained that a "circular reaction" is one in which the completion of a response pattern is the stimulus for its repetition. By "primary" Piaget means that the first circular reactions to appear are part of the baby's innate behavioural repertoire, for instance sucking and grasping.
Piaget regards such a prejudice as irrational. After all, he argues, psychologists use quantitative methods in statistical analysis and in test construc tion, so why not apply non-quantitative algebra to the descrip tion of the intellect ? The justification for doing so, of course, would be that it materially assisted our purpose. Naturally, Piaget believes that it does, but it is precisely here that most people encounter the greatest stumbling block in their apprecia tion of Piaget. They feel that the amount of effort required to master the unfamiliar concepts is not justified in terms of the increased understanding of the intellect that would result.
I n the second, m a n y commentators have given long, detailed descriptions of Piaget's developmental studies, the most recent being Baldwin (1967) and Flavell (1963), and this book is not intended to compete with theirs. Students who are interested in Piaget's developmental studies will find it helpful to consult these other commentaries for more detail before, of course, turning to Piaget's own works. CHAPTER 3 The Sensorimotor Phase and Pre-operational Thinking W E HAVE seen that Piaget's main concern is with the development of intelligence, that is to say, with the growth of operational thinking.