The Epigenesis of Mind: Essays on Biology and Cognition (Hardback) book cover

The Epigenesis of Mind

Essays on Biology and Cognition

Edited by Susan Carey, Rochel Gelman

© 1991 – Psychology Press

350 pages

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Paperback: 9781138882737
pub: 2015-07-31
Hardback: 9780805804386
pub: 1991-04-01
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pub: 2014-01-14
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Reflecting the focus of a Jean Piaget Symposium entitled Biology and Knowledge: Structural Constraints on Development, this volume presents many of the emergent themes discussed.

Among these themes are:

  • Structural constraints on cognitive development and learning come in many shapes and forms and involve appeal to more than one level of analysis.
  • To postulate innate knowledge is not to deny that humans can acquire new concepts.
  • It is unlikely that there is only one learning mechanism, even if one prefers to work with general as opposed to domain-specific mechanisms.
  • The problems of induction with respect to concept acquisition are even harder than originally thought.


"….this edited volume represents some important progress in closing the gap in our understanding of the relative contributions of biological and experiential factors to the origins and development of knowledge. The chapters are well written, provocative, and stand as a challenge to researchers studying infant cognition….it is strongly recommended to all those who are truly interested in the origins of knowledge."

American Journal of Psychology

"…a very important contribution to the literature; one which should prove to be a rich mine of researchable ideas for developmental and educational psychologists alike, be they students or professors or both."

Child Development Abstracts & Bibliography

"…provides an excellent source of current research by leaders in the field of cognitive development, and it is therefore valuable from this perspective alone….provides an opportunity both to read about some of the best work in the field and to face the challenge of developing theories about the biological basis of cognition."

American Scientist

"…the chapters…capture the vitality and diversity embodied in the new constructivism….the book provides a readable introduction to the new constructivism….a handy summary of the views of many of its primary proponents."

Contemporary Psychology

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Part I: Biological Contributions to Cognition. C.R. Gallistel, A.L. Brown, S. Carey, R. Gelman, F.C. Keil, Lessons From Animal Learning for the Study of Cognitive Development. P. Marler, The Instinct to Learn. A. Diamond, Neuropsychological Insights into the Meaning of Object Concept Development. E.L. Newport, Contrasting Concepts of the Critical Period for Language. Part II: Innate Knowledge and Beyond. E.S. Spelke, Physical Knowledge in Infancy: Reflections on Piaget's Theory. A. Karmiloff-Smith, Beyond Modularity: Innate Constraints and Developmental Change. K.W. Fischer, T. Bidell, Constraining Nativist Inferences About Cognitive Capacities. F.C. Keil, The Emergence of Theoretical Beliefs as Constraints on Concepts. S. Carey, Knowledge Acquisition: Enrichment or Conceptual Change? R. Gelman, Epigenetic Foundations of Knowledge Structures: Initial and Transcendent Constructions.

About the Series

Jean Piaget Symposia Series

Each year, following their annual meeting, the Jean Piaget Society publishes an edited volume.  This approximately 300-page volume covers the main themes of the symposium and is published by Psychology Press.

Members of the society receive the volume free of charge. Non-members can order copies from this website.

About the Jean Piaget Society

The Jean Piaget Society, established in 1970, has an international, interdisciplinary membership of scholars, teachers and researchers interested in exploring the nature of the developmental construction of human knowledge. The Society was named in honor of the Swiss developmentalist, Jean Piaget, who made major theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of the origins and evolution of knowledge.

The Society's aim is to provide an open forum, through symposia, books, our journal, and other publications, for the presentation and discussion of scholarly work on issues related to human knowledge and its development. The Society further encourages the application of advances in the understanding of development to education and other domains.

In 1989, the name of the Society was changed to Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development.

You can find out more on the Jean Piaget Society website at .

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General