Post-Formal Thought in Gerontagogy or Beyond Piaget


Jean Piaget, one of the most influential theorists in developmental psychology, assumed that formal thought, characterized by the development of an individual’s logical capacities, was the last stage of adult thinking. In this article, we review how the brain evolved, describing its main structures, and examining each cerebral hemisphere’s specific functions. Evidence is also provided for the production of new neurons and new connections between them, forcing a revision of old theories about the decline of intellectual functions in the elderly. We then consider Jones’ theories X and Y, and the different definitions of intelligence (fluid vs. crystallized, and qualitative vs. quantitative), and how these perspectives have influenced the way we see intelligence. Evidence supporting the addition of another stage, named post-formal thought, is examined in the context of gerontagogy. Dialectical thought characterizes this stage, and developing wisdom is its main goal. We examine the two basic principles of dialectical thought, namely the principle of contradiction and the principle of relativity of everything. It is suggested that the learning of wisdom should be the focus of future university programs to educate the elderly.

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A. Lemieux, "Post-Formal Thought in Gerontagogy or Beyond Piaget," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2012, pp. 399-406. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2012.23046.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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