The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Explain.

The word Gestalt is used in modern German to mean the way a thing has been “placed” or “put together”. The Gestalt school of psychology was founded in Germany by Max Wertheimer and his colleagues. These psychologists felt that the theory of structuralists that the mind is made up of elements was not right. The central principle of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies.

This principle maintains that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole is other than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.

The gestalt effect is the capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves…). In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism.

The theoretical principles are the following:

Principle of Totality: The conscious experience must be considered globally (by taking into account all the physical and mental aspects of the individual simultaneously) because the nature of the mind demands that each component be considered as part of a system of dynamic relationships.

Principle of psycho-physical isomorphism: A correlation exists between conscious experience and cerebral activity.

The Phrase: The whole is other than the sum of the parts is often used when explaining Gestalt theory, though there is a common mis translation of Kurt Koffka’s original phrase to “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.

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