Kevin Mulligan
University of Geneva
The distinctive claim of the Gestalt psychologists (of Prague, Graz, Berlin, Leipzig, and Vienna) is that we are typically aware of wholes which have “Gestalt qualities”, such as being a melody, and that these qualities could not be properties of mere sums, for example of sums of tones. A common, stronger claim is that the wholes we are aware of are themselves “Gestalten”, the parts of which are inseparable from each other and from the wholes they belong to. The Gestalt psychologists took themselves to be opposing associationistic and atomistic assumptions in psychology. The notion of a Gestalt is applied primarily in their accounts of perception and to a much lesser extent in their accounts of feelings (Gefühle), aesthetic and non-aesthetic, of their objects, of our awareness of the feelings of others, of our attributions of emotions, of our grasp of value and of the relations between affective phenomena and perception.
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