Gestalt theory: An essay in philosophy

In Foundations of Gestalt Theory. Vienna: Philosophia Verlag. pp. 11-81 (1988)
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The Austrian philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels published his essay "On 'Gestalt Qualities'" in 1890. The essay initiated a current of thought which enjoyed a powerful position in the philosophy and psychology of the first half of this century and has more recently enjoyed a minor resurgence of interest in the area of cognitive science, above all in criticisms of the so-called 'strong programme' in artificial intelligence. The theory of Gestalt is of course associated most specifically with psychologists of the Berlin school such as Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. We shall see in what follows, however, that an adequate philosophical understanding of the Gestalt idea and of Ehrenfels' achievement will require a close examination not merely of the work of the Berlin school but also of a much wider tradition in Austrian and German philosophy in general.
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