Alex asks to contribute to his writing on Gestalt, based on Vedic teachings
relating to how we memorise texts. Not knowing anything about the Vedic
part of it, let me summarise what used to be accepted wisdom on Gestalt in
psychology: this without any claim to completeness or correctness or other

Gestalt is “what makes a whole /to be worth, to have a value/ more than the
sum of its parts” (Ehrenfels), we have been taught, and to my knowledge
there is no better approach accepted yet. In this respect, Gestalt
resembles life, because there is a difference between a dead body and that
same organism as a living one, and between a random pattern of pixels black
on a screen and the picture of a face, made up by the same number of pixels
black. We had learnt that only a living organism can perceive a Gestalt,
because it is the active collaboration of constituents that join them
together into something recognisable, and this activity comes not from the
objects on the scene but is performed by the spectator. So much the
teachings of old times. Now with all kinds of recognising software, this
approach no more stands. Artificial intelligence machines project, match
and detect patterns among pixels or other data points, be they
fingerprints, voice recordings or contact habits. They perform the
pattern-detection part of peripheral ganglia, including the recognition of
Gestalts. Ehrenfels has introduced a logic with some disregard to accepted
rules of additivity, causing a deep alienation between psychology and
mathematics, the consequences of which we may hopefully help to clean up
here in this FIS.

The ability to look a Gestalt into objects has transformed into the ability
of inanimate objects to constitute a Gestalt, which we can or cannot
perceive. Are these animistic concepts of the world, where the objects have
properties, not we look their properties into them? If the objects, e.g.
pixels on a screen, are a Gestalt, constitute momentarily a constellation
among them into that what is a Gestalt, then the objects have an immanent
property of relations among each other, which is transportable across
individuals and species. (The definition of objectivity is that the
stimulus causes comparable reactions across individuals and across
cultures.) Children and animals react differently to pictures of a circle
and of two dots, if these represent the archetype of a face. There appears
to exist an immanent property of pixels that the nervous system utilises.
In other words: it is a property of a set that it is ordered. There exists
the logical category of possible orders, among which some can be realised
concurrently. Some of the combinations of the possible orders will be so
much more probable than others that they will create a density in a
probability space. Coordinates for pixels in forms that resemble a Gestalt
of a face with two eyes will exist as a delineated class of possible
realisations. The coordinates are the result of superior probabilities of
combinations of orders to appear, relative to the other orders that also
produce coordinates for pixels, but not so frequently, consistently and

Not only must the nervous system be prepared to recognise a state of the
world (something is looking at me) in the circle with two dots in it, but
the biological reality must also produce this pattern in abundance. The
recognition of the smiley is done by the central nervous system, which
operates by means of impulses of -70 mV; these are uniform but place-bound
and sequenced in time. As such they resemble N. The production of the head
and the eyes is done while the butterfly is still fluid, so the same
principle is present also in the humeral fluids of the body. The same
Gestalt is produced in two different environments. Producing a smiley in a
biochemical factory and perceiving it as an electric pattern means that the
idea of a smiley exists, irrespective of how we express it in terms of
relations of symbols among each other. We can express the idea of a smiley
by means of elements that can be of many kinds and be anywhere; and we can
express the same idea also by means of uniform units that have fixed
topological positions by being sequenced among each other. The idea of this
Gestalt transcends the languages in which it can be said. In linguistic
parlance, the idea is a deep structure which exists in differing cultures,
each of which give it a differing superficial structure, like the French
say chaise to chair. We are again with the classical problem of having an n
of N that is to be identified consistently across describing languages,
here seen as enumerating systems.

The archetype apparently indeed does exist, and it must be of a simple,
every-day, almost axiomatic truth. The algorithms that produce the
coordinates of a Gestalt are of course some specific of the tautologies
that make up the naming system. The necessary tautology can be of no other
form but the result of very simple, basic rules that apply as well in fluid
environments, as well in solid systems of coordinates. The system of rules
that produces tautologies must have hierarchies, where references to a
circle and two dots within are more elementary, therefore produce
realisations more frequently than the more subtle, which children and
animals do not recognise that instinctively. The tautology, and this is
what Wittgenstein underlined, is in the grammar of what can be said, and
can be of no news itself. Introducing the new grammatical rule that order
competition is a logical pastime every bit as legitimate as addition and
multiplication, one is permitted to say new sentences in a grammatically
correct, legitimate fashion. These sentences may sound strange at first,
prove utile with time, but they cannot convey anything new. We have just
not realised it so far, but it has always been so and will remain always
so, being a meaningless tautology, otherwise known as a Principle of Nature.

The Aha! experience gives us a good approach to Gestalt. There is a moment
of constriction when one realises a Gestalt: after the discovery of its
principle (explanation, meaning), the previous puzzle occupies less room.

The ancient Vedic gurus were not in a position to come up with an
explanation for the Gestalt, because one needs a computer to get an
overview of the possible patterns. One does not stumble upon the central
element and the two agglomeration points by chance.

If any logical relation is possible, then among all possible of them, the
simpler are more frequently present. If the idea of Archetype A, circle
with two dots in it, is so common that it gets hard-wired in recognition
instincts and used as a basic form-giving structuring pattern, then it has
something to do with basic truths of logic, like: a+b=c. The basic,
fundamental, simple part of the invention could have come from the creators
of Zero. They simply did not possess the computing power, but if they had,
they would have tabulated, what is where and when, involving into their
research also other objects than the stars, in a more general fashion.

As to the memorising of texts, it appears that a specific pattern of
humoral fluids is that what carries the content of the memory. In the same
emotional state one has easier access to patterns of excitations that were
once present. The theory of “ausgeschliffenen Bahnen” (paths well-trodden)
is very old and keeps its credibility, as a general idea. It would be a
pleasure to contribute to research into packaging and unpackaging specific
excitation patterns and humoral states.

Wishing you all the best with your project on the theory of thinking in a
historic perspective!

Fis mailing list

Reply via email to