Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Arvin Vos, Ronald Nash, Larry Mayhew

Degree Program

Department of Philosophy & Religion

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Jean Piaget and Eric Havelock are two writers who have essentially identical conceptions of the nature and development of ideas and the mind. This essential identity is the case even though Piaget is studying the cognitive development of the individual preoperational child, while Havelock is studying the development of the Homeric Greek mind and ideas in relation to the oral processes of communication which existed in Homeric Greece. Both the Homeric and the preoperational conceptions of the mind are examined in regard to the content and form of their ideas, as well as to the mechanisms of their development.

Both conceptions of mind view this mental development as the result of introducing new cultural information into the psyche. This new information conflicts with established structures and disrupts their equilibrium, eventually resulting in the development of a new more general cognitive structure which is in equilibrium with the new information. Each level of equilibrium has associated cognitive structures which are qualitatively different from those in the preceding level.

The form and content of both the preoperational and the Homeric conceptions of mind are shaped by the dominance of the perceptual faculties at that level. In both views, the mind is bound to perceptual concretes and is incapable of abstractions. mental processes, such as they are at this level, are tied to actions, events, and mental imagery. These actions and events follow the structure of the perceptual processes in that they are unidirectional and take place sequentially. The minds of the Homeric Greek and preoperational child are egocentric: they cannot take the viewpoint of another, and do not admit the existence of evidence which conflicts with their own beliefs, since everything is viewed from their particular perspective rather than from an "objective" abstract one.

The few differences noted between Planet's conception of the preoperational mind and Havelock's characterization of the Homeric mind are seen as a result of their varying perspectives, individual versus cultural, and not as a result of any essential difference.


Arts and Humanities | Philosophy | Religion