Gestalt Definition

An  organization or integration of components that are so interdependent , the whole is otherwise not easily described or easily summated.

  •  Most often use to describe spatial and /or temporal “phenomena”  or observable happenings..
  •  but can be used to describe  constructs and relationships.
  •   The organization or integration could graphically described as  a figure that is forming from a backround, where it remains in “contact” the ground.  That is: ” what is the gestalt” is always” in contact with “not the gestalt, globally”.

An example of a gestalt being not otherwise easy to describe or not easy summate might be   hand writing on paper and the hand eye coordination required.

  • One could study the functions of the nervous system and arm and fingers as it writes on paper.
  • One could study the visual process of the nervous system and eyes watching as one writes.

However, one could not just add the data of the  two studies  and expect to understand the interplay of hand an eye that is  involved with writing.  Instead one might treat and study hand eye coordination in writing as an integrated whole or Gestalt, because the components mention formerly are rather interdependent.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

is the creed of gestalt psychology ( a scientific and holistic study of perception that commonly uses gestalts) and a rather striking statement.  Mathematicians familiar with calculus and  analytic geometry might take issue with the literal value of this statement.  but consider the following examples:


In this visual example  of “closure” or “reification”:  an image of a triangle will  appear to a viewer.  the visual data of a triangle(in the right image above) is only constructed with the viewers  biology (his brain, eyes,etc.) and with all the components of the image viewed as a whole.  simply adding the visual components will not produce the visual data that is the triangle.
It would seem that  the arrangement of the smaller components must be involved in producing the triangle in any equation, but this would be hard to predict without at least considering the image as an integrated whole… or gestalt.

See if you can read the following:

you slouhd be albe to read  tihs sneetnce esliay
buscease yuor mind orangiezs waht you raed itno wohles.

(to check your “translation” mouse-over the highlighted above.)

Practical Investigations with  Gestalts

A gestalt   could be an organism,  family, community,  a social movement  a widget in a visual environment on your computer, a market place in business,  a symbiotic relationship inside an ecosystem and so on.
Since some things are difficult to study internally due interdependence  of its components and properties, thinking with gestalts may be helpful.  For example one may study cultures, subcultures and social movements. by comparing and contrasting “what is not” the culture, subculture, and social movement in question.  Graphically, one defines  a gestalt  by its borders, where it interacts with “other”.
The same  comparison is also done in Gestalt therapy  ( * not the same as gestalt psychology) where a client  focus on where and how “he”, or “she”  contacts and interacts his/her  world, environments and circumstances to define him or herself.

Gestalt is a graphical interpretation, that can include approximation. It is origionally a German word to describe a form, shape,or figure. I think that it is an ugly word when spoken yet beautiful in its usefulness.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

4 Responses to Gestalt Definition

  1. Pingback: Artist and Appreciator (Repost) | Pennsylvania Echoes

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  4. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    Gestalt! ∴ ∵

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