Who is Max Wertheimer?June 26, 2021
He was a German psychologist who lived between 1880-1943.
He is one of the founders of Gestalt psychology.
He was born on April 15, 1880 in Prague and died on October 12, 1943 in New York, USA. Wertheimer, who had a great interest in music and composed various chamber music works in his childhood, left his law studies at Karl University in Prague in 1900 and entered the Department of Psychology at the University of Berlin in 1901 after graduating from high school. During his graduate work at the University of Würzburg, Wertheimer received his doctorate in 1904, who was involved in the construction of a polygraph to assess the objectivity of witnesses.
He continued his studies in the fields of Jung’s “word-association” technique and alexia (the state of losing the ability to read although there is no deterioration in vision or intelligence) in Berlin, Vienna and Prague. After meeting Koffka and Köhler at Frankfurt University between 1910 and 1916, his research on perception led to the development of ideas that would later give birth to Gestalt psychology. He emphasized the necessity of a method that would prevent the psychological analysis from bending and changing the phenomenon he studied while remaining objective. Between 1916 and 1929 he worked as an associate professor of psychology at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin; In 1922, together with Koffka and Köhler, he started to publish the journal Psychologische Forschung as the publication organ of the Gestaltist psychology approach. In 1929 he became a professor at the University of Frankfurt; He attracted great attention with his social and experimental psychology courses as well as the seminars he organized on the basic problems of philosophy, logic and mathematics. After listening to a radio speech by Hitler in the spring of 1933, deciding that it was pointless to stay in Germany any longer, he moved to Czechoslovakia.
He went to the USA in September 1933, following the call of the New School for Social Research; He taught at this higher education institution until his death. In the 1910s, Wertheimer realized that during the visual perception of motion, not a succession of motionless objects, but a different whole is perceived; For example, when looking out of a train, a movement was perceived, not individual objects, or when watching a movie, not individual film frames. The discovery of this phenomenon, called the Phi Phenomenon, deeply affected the psychology of Wertheimer and his friends. They concluded that psychological events are not the sum of individual elements, but indivisible wholes, structures. Wertheimer called these wholes Gestalt, and the views they advocated later became known as Gestalt Psychology.
Wertheimer, the laws of thought and logic; He discussed the necessity of distinguishing between habitual behaviors and creative, productive acts in his book called Productive Thinking. Its real significance in its field of science lies in the challenge of asking questions in psychology and debate among the sciences, and in raising a generation of creative psychologists who have made significant contributions to their disciplines.
Also please see:
– What is the Phi (Fi) phenomenon?
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook