The learning paradox, which dates back to the Sophists, illustrates how difficult it is to give an adequate account of the emergence of novelty in cognitive functioning. More recently, Fodor has raised the same problem, criticizing Piaget on the grounds of the ‘impossibility of acquiring more powerful structures’. Convincing counterarguments to Fodor’s (or the Sophists’) objections are sparse. Recently, however, Miller has argued that the learning paradox is a corollary of individualistic models of learning, such as Piaget’s, and he has proposed a theory of collective learning, in order to escape the circularity inherent in most learning theories. However, Piaget’s model of individualistic learning can be defended against the objections associated with the learning paradox in a way that is quite similar to Miller’s Vygotskian recourse to collective learning. Nevertheless, both Piaget’s and Miller’s theories have a comparable weakness in that the still problematic notion of reflective abstraction has to bear the burden of explaining novelty.

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