chapter  12
18 Pages

Christian von Ehrenfels on the mind and its metaphysics 1

WithCarlo Ierna

This chapter outlines some of the influences and background of Christian von Ehrenfels's conception, briefly discusses his notion of Gestalt, explains how it was taken up by others, and then considers how Ehrenfels himself further applied and developed it. On Ehrenfels's account, virtually any change, process, or movement that has some unity to it, involves a Gestalt quality. At the closing of his 1890 article, Ehrenfels claims that, ultimately, the concept of Gestalt "would yield the possibility of comprehending the whole of the known world under a single mathematical formula". The chapter explains how Ehrenfels's application of the notion of Gestalt in cosmology informs his metaphysics of the human mind. By 1916, the discussion of Gestalt qualities in psychology had moved on, with the two schools in Graz and Berlin having already produced significant results. In the debates between the two schools, Ehrenfels's own more philosophical and theoretical approach to the theory of Gestalt was however mostly disregarded.