Following Lamarck

In a recent post I wrote about story-telling and discussed an evolutionary approach to understanding the learning process. In this post I want to propose a model of learning, based on a Lamarckian view of evolution.

The following elements form the basis of a fractal (a fractal has statistical self-similarity at all resolutions and is generated by an infinitely recursive process; you can see examples here) model of development and learning, applicable to all levels of human behaviour, from the individual to human society as a whole.

I have used the term cognitive organism as shorthand for each element of this fractal scale:

1. Cognitive organisms are the products of society and the production takes places through long periods of time.
2 . Only the simplest cognitive organisms are fashioned at the beginning (“immediately").
3. The environment in which a cognitive organism originates causes the gradual development of organisational elements or components - this is the cause of diversity.
4. Growth is inherent in all parts of the cognitive organism.
5. Cchanges in conditions cause the modification of the cognitive organism over time.
6. All cognitive organisms undergo changes in their parts - cognitive organisms are not fixed in nature, but are in a constant state of flux.
7. Adaptation by a cognitive organism to the environment is effected by a process termed learning.

In considering this model, it is crucial to understand what learning means and to delve more deeply into the process of learning; I recommend a book by W. Calvin, How Brains Think, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson: 1996) - a review is available here.

As I get more involved in the world of blogging, I am beginning to think that the elements outlined above could be used to describe the evolution of a multi-author blog, as well.

"And I like to think that Charles Darwin and William James would have liked the idea that mental life involves copying competitions biased by a multifaceted environment. Sigmund Freud might have been intrigued with the mechanism it suggests for how subconscious associations could occasionally pop into the foreground of consciousness."

W. Calvin, op. cit.

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