Major Movements in Psychology

Gestalt Psychology

How did William James’s functionionalism anticipate Gestalt theory?

Gestalt theory had much in common with James’s interest in the holistic flow of consciousness. Like Wertheimer and his colleagues, James did not believe we can understand reality simply by breaking it down into its elemental parts. In order to understand the whole of reality, we must look at it as a whole. Gestalt theorists felt that James did not go far enough, however, in his rejection of reductionistic assumptions. But this may not be fair to James, who after all died in 1910, the same year that Wertheimer first became fascinated with the perception of movement.


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