Origins of Gestalt Law
The concept of Gestalt was first introduced in contemporary philosophy and psychology by Christian von Ehrenfels (a member of the School of Brentano). The idea of Gestalthas its roots in theories by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Immanuel Kant, and Ernst Mach. Max Wertheimer's unique contribution was to insist that the "Gestalt" is perceptually primary, defining the partsof which it was composed, rather than being a secondary quality that emerges from those parts, as von Ehrenfels's earlier Gestalt-Qualität had been.
Both von Ehrenfels and Edmund Husserl seem to havebeen inspired by Mach's work Beiträge zur Analyse der Empfindungen (Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations, 1886), in formulating their very similar concepts of Gestalt and Figural Moment,respectively.
Early 20th century theorists, such as Kurt Koffka, Max Wertheimer, and Wolfgang Köhler (students of Carl Stumpf) saw objects as perceived within an environment according to all of theirelements taken together as a global construct. This 'gestalt' or 'whole form' approach sought to define principles of perception.
Properties of Gestalt Law
Emergence: is the process of complexpattern formation from simpler rules. It is demonstrated by the perception of the Dog Picture, which depicts a Dalmatian dog sniffing the ground in the shade of overhanging trees. Instead, the dog isperceived as a whole, all at once. Gestalt theory does not explain how the percept of a dog emerges.
Reification: is the constructive or generative aspect of perception, by which the experiencedpercept contains more explicit spatial information than the sensory stimulus on which it is based. For instance, a triangle will be perceived in picture A, although no triangle has actually been drawn.Multistability: is the tendency of ambiguous perceptual experiences to pop back and forth unstably between two or more alternative interpretations. Other examples include the 'three-pronged widget'...
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