Invention and Discovery of Reality

E.J. Peill

What is the mechanism by which mechanism is acquired? The literature on conservation acquisition is often disappointing; loose thinking and weak methodology are common. Piaget's writings on the subject have been superficially read and inappropriately criticized, but Piaget's replies have not been illuminating. My hope is that this book will help to sort out some of the muddles which need never have occurred had there been greater concern for precision. Vague statements may offer protection against criticism, but they are unlikely to lead to progress. In the first part of the book I have tried to point out important conceptual distinctions which have been ignored, to pin down the routes to conservation proposed by Piaget and Bruner in particular, and to specify plausible routes which do not at present have names attached to them. The second part of the book (Chapters 7-11) contains a series of experiments designed to find out which of these routes are taken by children, and the book finishes by suggesting how the concept of conservation of amount could be acquired.

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