Australasian Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):243 – 258 (1932)
There are two opposed theories which attempt to account for the processes of problem solution involved in learning and intelligence. The former is neural in its basis and postulates the existence of a bare connection as a bonding or linkage of two experiences. The second theory, that of gestalt, implies that learning or apprehension involves a relationship of the parts of the experience to each other as well as to the whole. While these psychological schools are exclusive of and opposed to each other, yet they are merely extremes of what actually exists. There is a minimum level of learning in which associationism is operative and a maximum intellectual level at which explicit relationships predominate. An examination of experimental results will show this to be the case. The results of conditioned reflex experiments in both animals and man appear to show that there is present nothing beyond arbitrary linkage or bonding between the parts of the situation involved. On the other hand, one finds a certain degree of implicit meaning involved in perceptual situations—the level of animal achievement—as well as a certain measure of transfer of meaning. Explicit meanings may be related by means of word symbols involving the principle of the concept through the medium of speech, and this is only arrived at by human beings. We may regard these higher levels as “emergents” from the level of bonding or linkage.
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