The Unicist Logical Foundations of Jean Piaget’s Theory

Adaptation, accommodation and assimilation were terms used by Jean Piaget to define the learning process. It has been sustained that the adaptation process, which is the final goal of human intelligence, follows two complementary processes: accommodation and assimilation.

The unicist approach has been using these concepts since the eighties considering them as a neural entity individuals have to approach learning processes. Therefore they have, as any entity, a purpose, and active function and an energy conservation function.

The purpose of this entity is to adapt to the environment, because this is the purpose of any healthy human being.

The active function is given by the accommodation process, that is the process in which the mind has to accommodate itself to the evidence with which it is being confronted.

This process is extremely energy consuming because it demands moving internal structures to find a way to adapt to the external environment. The accommodation process is supplementary to the adaptation process meaning that it is redundant but having a superior solution to adapt to the environment.

The changes proposed by the accommodation process are limited by the assimilation process. The assimilation process is the energy conservation function that allows adapting to the environment. The assimilation process consists in the integration of the external environment in the mind without changing the concepts the individual has.

Assimilation and adaptation are complementary which means that the assimilation provides the information that is needed to adapt to the environment.

Adaptation, accommodation and assimilation define the essential structure of a learning process which is nonexistent if individuals cannot adapt to the environment because they need to over-adapt to it. Over-adaptation implies a submissive, dominant or oppositional attitude towards the environment.


There exists no complementation between the accommodation and the assimilation processes. They are integrated by the adaptation process. That is why when adaption does not exist there is no possibility that an individual learns.

Peter Belohlavek

NOTE: The Unicist Research Institute was the pioneer in complexity science research and became a private global decentralized world-class research organization in the field of human adaptive systems.