On 'Gestalt qualities' (trans. B. Smith)

In Barry Smith (ed.), Foundations of Gestalt Theory. Philosophia. pp. 82--117 (1988)
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The theory of Gestalt qualities arose from the attempt to explain how a melody is distinct from the collection of the tones which it comprehends. In this essay from 1890 Christian von Ehrenfels coined the term 'Gestaltqualit├Ąt' to capture the idea of a pattern which is comprehensible in a single experience. This idea can be applied not only to melodies and other occurrent patterns, but also to continuant patterns such as shapes and colour arrays such as the array of a chess board. Ehrenfel's essay gave birth to the Gestalt movement in psychology.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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