Mach and Ehrenfels: The foundations of Gestalt Theory

In Barry Smith (ed.), Foundations of Gestalt Theory. Vienna: Philosophia Verlag. pp. 124-157 (1988)
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Ernst Mach's atomistic theory of sensation faces problems in doing justice to our ability to perceive and remember complex phenomena such as melodies and shapes. Christian von Ehrenfels attempted to solve these problems with his theory of "Gestalt qualities", which he sees as entities depending one-sidedly on the corresponding simple objects of sensation. We explore the theory of dependence relations advanced by Ehrenfels and show how it relates to the views on the objects of perception advanced by Husserl and by the Gestalt psychologists.

Author Profiles

Kevin Mulligan
University of Geneva
Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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