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What Is Gestalt Theory
What is Gestalt theory and what is its purpose? Gestalt theory was the result of rigorous investigations in psychology, logic, and epistemology.
The current situation at the time of its origin can be summarized as follows.
We pass from the world of everyday phenomena to the world of science, and do not unsurprisingly believe that in making this transition we shall gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of what is essential.
Change should be a symbol of progress. And yet, even though one may have learned a lot, he is poorer than before.
It is the same in psychology. Here also we find that science is focused on the systematic collection of data.
Yet often through that activity is thrown out precisely that which is most vivid and real in the living phenomena it studies.
Somehow everything that matters has eluded us. What happens when a problem is solved, when someone suddenly “gets the point”?
As common as this experience is, we look for it in vain in psychology textbooks. There is an abundance of things, of the poor, and of unnecessary things, but what really matters is missing.
Instead, we are told about the formation of concepts, abstraction and generalization, class concepts and judgments, perhaps associations, creative imagination.
Intuition, genius – anything but the answer to our original problem. And what are these last words besides the names of the problem?
Where are those insightful answers psychology is full of great potential-personality? Abstraction, intuition, and the rest.
But when one wants to understand their concrete content, such words are left behind.
This is the situation and the specialty of modern science is that the same problem comes to the fore everywhere.
Several attempts have been made to resolve the matter. One was blatant defeatism preaching the separation of science and life.
Psychological phenomena responsible for the Gestalt problem in psychology.
However, this does not mean that the theory of vitalists in biology regards itself as particularly fruitful, since their answer precludes the possibility of success in the pursuit of a material Gestalten.
Biologists have certainly made some attempts to search for analogies in physics, but nothing more than vague comparisons with crystal structures has been achieved.
The problem was formulated too generically.
The closest approach between general biology and psychology occurs in the theory of neural functions, in particular in the theory of the physical basis of consciousness.
Here we have an immediate correspondence between mental and physical processes and the demand seems inevitable that biological functions at this point be thought of as essentially attending to and exhibiting Gestalt characteristics.
Its importance and extraordinary importance was first recognized by Wertheimer, who associated Gestalten with a degree of reality that was far greater than any he had previously possessed.
This implies, as Koffka emphasized, that central physiological processes can be thought of not as sums of individual stimuli, but as configured whole processes.
XV We now find ourselves in a very different position with regard to physics, for a brief reference to Biolo^ has suggested what we lacked, viz.
A particular but far more concrete problem – and certainly nothing is lost if one begins by attacking this problem alone.
A successful solution here would provide not only the beginnings of physical Gestalt theory, but also definitive examples of physical (in this case neurological) Gestalts.
If we are successful in discovering such a Gestalten in physics, we should be able to derive the principles necessary for a generally satisfactory result of our original search.
If there are some cases of Gestalten in physics, these will be sufficient to guide any subsequent investigation.
It follows that this particular path — ^viz. From individual examples of Gestalt processes in the nervous system to physics can lead us on a broader path and ultimately back to biology and thus allow a more comprehensive physiological treatment of not only neural but all organic Gestalt processes.
|Author||Willis D Ellis|
|PDF Size||57.4 MB|
Gestalt Psychology PDF Free Download