Gestalt Psychology in German Culture, 1890-1967: Holism and the Quest for Objectivity

Gestalt Psychology in German Culture, 1890-1967: Holism and the Quest for Objectivity

by Mitchell G. Ash
     
 

ISBN-10: 0521475406

ISBN-13: 9780521475402

Pub. Date: 07/28/2010

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

This is the first full-length historical study of Gestalt psychology - an attempt to advance holistic thought within natural science. Holistic thought is often portrayed as a wooly minded revolt against reason and modern science, but this is not necessarily so. On the basis of rigorous experimental research and scientific argument as well as on philosophical grounds,…  See more details below

Overview

This is the first full-length historical study of Gestalt psychology - an attempt to advance holistic thought within natural science. Holistic thought is often portrayed as a wooly minded revolt against reason and modern science, but this is not necessarily so. On the basis of rigorous experimental research and scientific argument as well as on philosophical grounds, the Gestalt theorists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka opposed conceptions of science and mind that equated knowledge of nature with its effective manipulation and control. Instead, they attempted to establish dynamic principles of inherent, objective order and meaning - in current language, principles of self-organization - in human perception and thinking, in human and animal behavior, and in the physical world. The impact of their work ranged from cognitive science to theoretical biology and film theory. Based on exhaustive research in primary sources, including archival material cited here for the first time, this study illuminates the multiple social and intellectual contexts of Gestalt theory and analyzes the emergence, development, and reception of its conceptual foundations and research programs from 1890 to 1967 in Germany. The book challenges stereotypical dichotomies between modern and antimodern, rational and irrational, democratic and proto-Nazi thinking that have long dominated the history of German science and culture. It also contributes to the debate on continuity and change in German science after 1933 with a new look at Wolfgang Kohler's effort to resist Nazism, at the work of Gestalt theorists who remained in Nazi Germany after the founders emigrated, and at the impact of the Cold War and the professionalization of psychology in Germany on the reception of Gestalt theory after 1945.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521475402
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2010
Series:
Cambridge Studies in the History of Psychology Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
527
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.30(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Preface
Introduction1
1The academic environment and the establishment of experimental psychology17
2Carl Stumpf and the training of scientists in Berlin28
3The philosophers' protest42
4Making a science of mind: Styles of reasoning in sensory physiology and experimental psychology51
5Challenging positivism: Revised philosophies of mind and science68
6The Gestalt debate: From Goethe to Ehrenfels and beyond84
7Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Kohler103
8Laying the conceptual and research foundations118
9Reconstructing perception and behavior135
10Insights and confirmations in animals: Kohler on Tenerife148
11The step to natural philosophy: Die Physischen Gestalten168
12Wertheimer in times of war and revolution: Science for the military and toward a new logic187
13Establishing the Berlin school203
14Research styles and results219
15Theory's growth and limits: Development, open systems, self and society247
16Variations theory and practice: Kurt Lewin, Adhemar Gelb, and Kurt Goldstein263
17The encounter with Weimar culture284
18The reception among German-speaking psychologists307
19Persecution, emigration, and Kohler's resistance in Berlin325
20Two students adapt: Wolfgang Metzger and Kurt Gottschaldt342
21Research, theory, and system: Continuity and change362
22The postwar years382
Conclusion405
Appendix 1: Tables413
Appendix 2: Dissertations419
List of unpublished sources427
Notes431
Index501

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