Gestalt Theory in Italy - Is it Still Alive?

by Mario Zanforlin


First published: Gestalt Theory - Vol. 26, No. 4
(December 2004)


At interational level Gestalt theory in Italy appears to have disappeared after the death of its most influential followers F.METELLI and G.KANIZSA.To show that this is not true and as evidence that Gestalt theory is still alive in Italy, more than twenty papers were presented at a meeting held last February in Padua entitled “Recent developments of Gestalt theory in Italy ”.

In considering why young researchers today do not appear to call themselves Gestaltists, two main factors are suggested:

1) the changes in institutional organization that has transferred “academic power ”over publications from the Directors of the Institute to “international referees ”of non Gestalt orientation;

2) the internal debate among Gestalt oriented researchers,“descendants ”of METELLI and KANIZSA, that has led some of them to prefer the term “Experimental Phenomenology”. From their writings it emerges that they seem to be closer to WERTHEIMER’s position rather than KÖHLER’s. They consider KÖHLER ’ physiology and phenomenology as two independent sciences and are not interested in physiology. But there are also those who believe that it is possible to demonstrate a parallel between isomorphic physiological processes and phenomena.

In any case, leaving aside individual differences, all the young researchers use Gestalt concepts and phenomenological methods of investigation. Gestalt is still the main theory of reference for many young researchers and if it does not appear so evident from abroad, this is simply because, often, they do not discuss the general theoretical implications of their experimental results.

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