Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Task of Gestalt Psychology

The Task of Gestalt Psychology

Copyright Date: 1969
Pages: 174
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Task of Gestalt Psychology
    Book Description:

    Contents: Wölfgang Kohler (1887-1967), by Carroll C. Pratt. I. Early Developments in Gestalt Psychology. II. Gestalt Psychology and Natural Science. III. Recent Developments in Gestalt Psychology. IV. What is Thinking?

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6896-4
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. WOLFGANG KÖHLER 1887-1967
    (pp. 3-30)
    Carroll C. Pratt

    The first sentence in the preface to Köhler’sThe Place of Value in a World of Factsproclaims boldly that the purpose of the book is philosophical. It is dedicated to Ralph Barton Perry, and ranges widely over areas which at the time most American psychologists would have feared to tread, perhaps because during their student days they had become infected by Titchener’s pontifical proclamation that science has nothing to do with values or by the behaviorists’ thumping insistence on facts, facts, facts, nothing but facts. Some twenty years earlier Köhler had publishedDie physischen Gestalten in Ruhe und im...

  4. The Task of Gestalt Psychology

      (pp. 33-62)

      I have been invited to talk about Gestalt psychology. This name is often supposed to refer not to a part of general psychology but rather to a particular school or, perhaps, a sect within this science. You will soon see why, and also why this interpretation of the name is entirely misleading.

      Not all members of this audience are specialists in psychology. I will, therefore, begin not with a discussion of very special technical issues but with very simple psychological questions and observations.

      When, about a hundred years ago, psychology began to develop as a new science, perception was naturally...

      (pp. 63-94)

      In the previous lecture I said that, until about 1920, the Gestalt psychologists did not often look beyond their psychological observations, which referred to interesting facts in perception. I added that they were unable to explain their findings in this field. For instance, the fact that, under certain conditions, the mere sequence of two objects shown in different places is transformed into the movement of one object–across the space between them–does not tell the observer why this happens. Similarly, during observations of striking geometrical illusions, one merely sees amazing distortions, but one does not see why the shapes...

      (pp. 95-132)

      In my first lecture I discussed what other psychologists called the “mysteries” investigated by the early Gestalt psychologists. And, to be sure, the Gestalt psychologists could not at the time explain what they were observing. Then, surprisingly, it was discovered that the main characteristic of such “mysteries” was well known to outstanding physicists, who described some problems in their own field in terms which closely resembled those used by the Gestalt psychologists. Physicists among us will not have had serious difficulties in following what I said in my second lecture–which was concerned with some basic concepts in natural science....

      (pp. 133-164)

      What do we mean by thinking? Common language is not particularly careful in its use of psychological terms. Take the word “thinking” itself. What does it really mean? Sometimes, it means that a person is merely considering certain situations or events of his past. “What are you thinking about?” we may ask a friend who, at the moment, looks a bit absent-minded. And the friend answers, “Oh, I was just thinking of that lovely scenery near Amalfi in Italy, where I spent a few days last spring.” Here, thinking clearly means no more than an inspection of memories. Again, somebody...

  5. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-166)