PSYCH 413 Lecture 9: Gestalt Psychology

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9 Feb 2017

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October 4, 2016
Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt vs. “analysis”
Means “whole-form”
Can conscious experience be decomposed?
Can “elements” be taken out of context?
Importance of pattern and configuration?
Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?
Decomposition and reductionism
Knowing more and more about less and less
Roots in German philosophy and physics (setting the zeitgeist)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
A priori categories of the mind shape experience
Wundt rejected Kant, followed British Associationists
Ernst Mach (1838-1916)
Spatial forms resist analysis into basic elements
“Squareness” is defined by the relationship between four lines
“Squareness” cannot be reduced further
Franz Brentano (1838-1917)
Philosopher (Wurzburg, Vienna); contemporary of Wundt
Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874)
Empirical: gaining knowledge through direct phenomenological experience (not
How mind creates the nature of experience (Kantian)
Act psychology; mind imposes structure; Kant
Students: Husserl, Stumpf, Freud, von Ehrenfels, Steiner
Christian von Ehrenfels (1859-1932)
Studied with Brentano at Vienna
Accomplished musician
Musical melody defined by relationship between notes; transposition
Melody has a “form-quality”: Gestaltqualitat
Carl Stumpf (1848-1936)
Studied with Brentano (1867-1870) at Wurzburg
Gottingen, PhD (1868) in philosophy
Named professor at Wurzburg, replaces Brentano (1873)
Visited by James in 1882
He and James become lifelong friends
Berlin (1894-1921)
Becomes out-right psychologist
Contemporary of Wundt
Disagreed with analytic introspection
Controversy with Wundt in 1891
Accomplished musicians
Musicians experience tons (and combinations of tones) differently than Wundt’s analytic
Disagreement should be resolved in direction of musicians
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