TRAMES 1, 4, 2000


Aaro Toomela

University of Tartu

Abstract. This article examines a question of stages in mental development. Two approaches to the study of development, 'modular' and 'structural', are differentiated. These approaches seem to contradict one another. We suggest that there is a need to differentiate complementary levels of analysis, each with specific objectives and methodologies. Contradictions between theories of development do not emerge because some theories are "wrong", but because different levels of analysis are confused. So, universal and general stages of mental development can be revealed at one level of analysis, at two other levels the development can be characterized as a continuous change or a quantitative growth, respectively. Following these ideas, a new definition of the stages of mental development is proposed along with theoretical differentiation of the first three stages of development. Empirical evidence for supporting the theoretical model of stages is also discussed.

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