Terrance A. Brown (27 August 1939 – 11 July 2005)

On July 11, 2005, Terry Brown, a remarkable Piagetian scholar, a former JPS President, and a close personal friend to many Society members, was tragically killed in an auto accident.

Terry was irreplaceable—instrumental in the growth and intellectual focus of the Society, he was a brilliant scholar who inspired us. He brought tremendous intellectual energy and wisdom to the Jean Piaget Society. Terry will be sorely missed by all.

A tribute to Terry will be held the 36th Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

[Friends and colleagues of Terry are invited to visit www.terranceabrown.com to add their thoughts to an on-line book of remembrance]

[see also: Obituary from the Chicago Tribune]

  When improvident death snatches away those close to our hearts, an important part of what is also lost is the chance to have said our last goodbyes. Ordinarily we can do little more with such regrets than wonder what might or should have been said.

  Although it was a decade ago, and in the closing moments of his Presidency of JPS, Terry had, what must now pass as an opportunity to say goodbye to his friends and colleagues—at least those in the Society.  As he always did, he would have (had fate given him the opportunity) found a different and still more elegant way of saying it all again. Still, the tone and quality of his earlier remarks are both vintage-Terry, and, no doubt, his sentiments until the end.

  What follows, then, is a lightly edited (i.e., shorter) version of his earlier goodbyes—circa 1995—remarks that appeared earlier in the Genetic Epistemologist:

It is difficult to know just what to say. My reflections about my years as president, however powerful for me, seem trite in our age of hard-sell rhetoric, where anything is said and feeling comes cheap. It has been an honor to serve as president of the Society, to be surrounded by colleagues of such class, to be part of an organization where, as Katherine Nelson recently said to me, "intellectual things happen."

When I began translating Piaget in the late seventies, I had no idea that this office would come to me. I only wanted my students to read a few things that were unavailable in English. At the time, I even shied away from JPS, imagining that it must be some sort of cult. It was not until 1987 that my despair over psychiatry's conception of mind in terms of brain and thorazine drove me to my first JPS symposium. I was willing to try anything except antidepressants.

As president, I ... presided over many changes, some begun before I arrived, some encouraged by me. Their overall thrust has been to open the society up to a wider audience. In no case has their purpose been to produce converts to Piaget. If there is any doctrine that the Society wishes to promote, it is something like: "We are interested in people who think about what knowledge is and where it comes from. If you have similar interests, come and join us." (That, of course, is completely Piagetian.)

Concretely, the society has begun having meetings at different sites, and it has increased efforts to enroll both national and international members. The board is reorganizing in ways that will allow it to operate in much more wide-open fashion, and it is seeking ways to involve members more fully in the workings of the society. We have a fine symposium coming up, and we will be represented in at least three centennial celebrations of Piaget's birth, most notably our own, but not in a retrospective spirit. We want to represent, according to Michael's felicitous metaphor, the cambium layer of Piagetian thought, not the supporting wood.

But enough. I am no good at good-byes. No matter how I cut it, I end up with a list. Michael has written a wonderfully provocative article for this edition of the GE. Your time is better spent reading that and, if you feel the urge, sending commentary on it. This old horse is willingly put out to pasture. But he thanks you for the privilege of being your colleague and your president.

I give this heavy weight from off my head . . .
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart.
Etc., Etc.

Terry Brown


If you would like to add your own thoughts to this list of remembrances, please send them to webmaster@piaget.org

This is such terrible and sad news—for us personally and for the Jean Piaget Society.

Besides many other situations I particularly remember when he visited Berlin as JPS president and we spent a sunny afternoon in our garden and a wonderful evening at the Royal Palace in Potsdam and a beautiful lake—drinking good wine and talking about psychology and the Jean Piaget to whom he had dedicated his effort and intelligence

We fondly remember Terry as the most European of American minds.

Wolfgang Edelstein, Ph.D., Professor and Director Emeritus
Monika Keller, Ph.D., PD, Senior Researcher
Max-Planck-Institute of Human Development
Lentzeallee 94
14195 Berlin 

We have lost the best sort of friend and colleague and we would be all the poorer, were it not for the warm memories of Terry's company. His contributions to the intellectual life of the Jean Piaget Society are well known. We all have special memories of Terry that will sustain us in this time of grief. Here is mine.

During the JPS meeting in Toronto last year, Terry and I were invited to a dinner party at the home of a local colleague. Thinking it good form to arrive bearing wine, we stopped at a local shop for something suitable. I kept trying to entice Terry into the section of the shop containing Canadian wines. Terry giggled.

It was in reference to an old joke we had shared about a Canadian at a restaurant in Paris trying to send back a bottle wine. When the waiter looked down his nose, the Canadian opined: "Look, I'm Canadian, we know bad wine."

Firmly planted in the French wine aisle, Terry grinned that mischievous grin and noted that "Life is too short to drink bad wine."

We had fine wine that night, a fine dinner, and a long and deeply satisfying conversation that ranged from Piaget to Tibet to modern art and the mysteries of horses (at least they were mysteries to me). I will treasure the image of that grin and the memory of that conversation.

To Wendy I offer my deepest sympathies. Terry was too good to be taken from us, but we're all richer for having known him.

Chris Lalonde
University of Victoria

Terry gained and deserved our admiration both for his academic work and for the person he was. The tragedy this week is one in which we are all losers. Yet what Terry set for us was a fine example of rare distinction, and in this we are all in his considerable debt.

As a person, Terry was so good to be with. I first met him at the 1990 JPS conference in Philadelphia. He wore a high-class suit - and did he wear it well! He had arranged for a band of translators to meet at a restaurant with a decent menu but relaxed in style. His was a smart mind with an enviable capacity to ask good questions and make astute comments. These were often expressed either as befits a man on the range from Wyoming or at a level well above the standard in academe today.  Wit and charm were in abundance. To be in his company was to be made to feel special, effortlessly and with ease, but without artifice. At the 1994 JPS in Chicago, Terry arranged for some "internationals" to enjoy the delights of an Italian meal in the Loop - a delight I well remember, though not alas the particular year of the  Barolo that Terry  negotiated with the Maitre D'.  Last year at  a bar in Chicago was, for me, the finest couple of hours with Terry at his convivial best. To top that,  he had a copy of a recently published French book included in which were three short papers on "Reason" written by  Jean Piaget in 1980. We talked about what could be done with them. Terry was tied up - more on this next.  But I reckoned this was something I could take on. His parting line to me last year was fateful  - "We should do this more often".

As a savant, Terry made distinctive contributions in two ways, one to Piagetian scholarship, the other to psychology and epistemology.  In the late 1980s, serendipity had led me to a superb paper written in English by Terry [with Lee Weiss] in Archives dePsychologie [1987; reprinted in my 1992 book]. This paper is a "must read".  The argument went something like this. In psychology, "cold cognition" is not even half a story about the human mind, but rather a set of characters waiting for the plot. The outline of the main plot was there for us all - indeed,  most of us will have flicked over it in reading §2 of the opening chapter of Piaget's first book on infancy. You know the Table about Biological Function and Categories of Reason - the one we read with eyes wide shut.  Terry did two things. One was to sketch an account of the mind in which intelligence and affectivity make an inter-dependent contribution. Central to knowing are feelings and values, and their centrality is explicit in Piaget's Table. What Terry wanted to do was to set out an interpretation of Piaget's account on the basis of this centrality. To that end and for the public record, he had  translated Piaget's 1954 Sorbonne lectures into English as Intelligence and Affectivity in 1981. This combination - an English translation and novel interpretation - is an achievement of some distinction. Equally important was a second translation [with Kishore Thampy] of Piaget's Equilibration of CognitiveStructures in 1985. This book dealt with Piaget's main construct, and so is also a contribution to the public record. We worked together on a couple of books. Terry contributed two chapters to the translation of Piaget's Sociological Studies in 1995, and I assisted him in our edited book on Reductionism in 2003. For Terry, the real issue was a better psychology and epistemology. His 1987 paper had identified other Genevan work due to Bärbel Inhelder and Guy Céllerier. In  2004,  Terry was completing for English publication their 1992 book providing a synthesis [working title Pathway to Children's Discoveries]. The synthesis covered the functional aspects, notably children's procedural discoveries, in the growth of knowledge structures with special reference to cybernetics and AI. An open question is the extent to which this synthesis is compatible with the main argument of Terry's 1987 paper. To say the least, this strikes me as something worth pursuing.

Yes—we are all in Terry's considerable debt. I for one miss him dearly.

Les Smith
Lake District UK

Terrible news indeed ! I had such a close relation with him for a long time and, unexpectedly, he did not come to meetings anymore, did not write or call ; a painful preparation for the final and absurd loss of today. I will remember him dearly.

Jacques Vonèche
Jean Piaget Archives, Geneva

What very sad news. Terry was a humane and interesting, in the best sense, person. A great loss to all of us.

Henry Markovits
Université du Québec à Montréal

The news of Terry's tragic death brought great sadness to me. Terry was a good friend and valued colleague in the workings of the Jean Piaget Society. His contributions to the Society were immense. I enjoyed working with him, and had very good times in many social occasions. He was fun to be with. We will all miss him.

Elliot Turiel
University of California, Berkeley

By T'ao Ch'ien (AD 372-427) From Substance, Shadow, and Spirit - Translated by Arthur Waley

Heaven and Earth exist for ever:
Mountains and rivers never change.
But herbs and trees in perpetual rotation
Are renovated and withered by the dews and frosts:
And Man the wise, Man the divine--
Shall he alone escape this law?
Fortuitoussly appearing for a moment in the World
He suddenly departs, never to return.
How can he know that the friends he has left
Are missing him and thinking of him?
Only the things that he used remain;
They look upon them and their tears flow.

Constance Milbrath
University of California, San Francisco

Terry's Publications

This list is incomplete. If you know of other publications, or find errors below, please contact Les Smith (l.smith@lancaster.ac.uk)


Brown, T. (1981). Intelligence and affectivity. [Translation of Jean Piaget Intelligence et affectivité]. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Review Monographs

Brown, T.  & Thampy, K. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. [Translation, Jean Piaget, Equilibration des structures cognitives]. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Reed, E., Turiel, E.,  Brown, T. (1996). Values and knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, T. & Smith, L. (2003). Reductionism and the development of knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Brown, T. (in preparation). Pathway  to children's discoveries. [Translation of Bärbel Inhelder & Guy Cellérier (eds). Le cheminement des découvertes de l'enfant.] [The available ms is a complete translation awaiting publication]


Brown, T. (1980). Foreword. In J. Piaget, Experiments in contradiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brown, T. (1986). Holzman's fences: chauvinism or confusion. Archives of General Psychiatry, 43, 910-12.

Brown, T. & Weiss, L. (1987). Structures, procedures, heuristics and affectivity. Archives de Psychologie, 55, 59-94. Reprinted in L. Smith (1992). Jean Piaget: critical assessments. Vol. 4. London: Routledge

Brown, T. (1988). Ships in the night. Human Development, 31, 60-64.

Brown, T. (1988). Why Vygotsky? The role of social interaction in constructing knowledge. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Human Cognition, 10, 111-17.

Brown, T. (1990). The biological significance of affectivity. In N. Stein, D. Leventhal, T. Trabasso (eds). Biological and psychological perspectives on emotion. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, T. (1991). Psychiatry's unholy marriage: psychoanalysis and neuroscience. In D. Offer & M. Sabshin (eds). The diversity of normal behaviour. New York: Basic books.

Brown, T. (1993). Affective dimensions of meaning. In W. Overton & D. Palermo (eds). The nature and ontogenesis of meaning. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, T. (1994). Man is not a machine, but neither are machines organisms. Psychological Inquiry, 5, 241-44.

Brown, T. (1995). Problems of the social psychology of childhood. In L. Smith (ed), Jean Piaget's Sociological studies [Translation of Jean Piaget's Etudes Sociologiques]. London: Routledge.

Brown, T. & Gribetz, M. (1995). Logical operations and social life. In L. Smith (ed), Jean Piaget's Sociological studies [Translation of Jean Piaget's Etudes Sociologiques]. London: Routledge.

Brown, T. (1996).Values, knowledge, and Piaget. In E. Reed, E. Turiel, T. Brown (eds). Values and knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, T. (1997). ¿Es la teleonomía una categoría del entendimiento? In R. Garcia (ed). La epistemologia genétíca y la cienccia contemoránea.  Barcelona: Gedisa.

Brown, T. (1998). Temptations of reductionism. El Centro de Investgacion y de Estudios Avanzados,  Mexico City, Mexico.

Brown, T. & Kozak, A. (1998). Emotion and the possibility of psychologists entering into heaven. In M. Mascolo & S. Griffin (eds). What develops in emotional development? New York: Plenum Press.

Brown, T. (2001). Bärbel Inhelder and the fall of Valhalla. In A. Tryphon & J. Vonèche (eds). Working with Piaget: essays in honour of Bärbel Inhelder. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Brown, T. (2003). Reductionism and the circle of the sciences. In T. Brown & L. Smith (2003). Reductionism and the development of knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.