Kurt Koffka, an Unwitting Self-Portrait

By Molly Harrower | Go to book overview

preface

This book that I have the pleasure of introducing is significant for a number of reasons: It is set in an important and lively period in American intellectual history; it deals with a significant movement in psychology, Gestalt psychology; it features a central figure in that movement, Kurt Koffka; and it constitutes an experiment in autobiography/biography. Each of these aspects of the book deserves our attention.

Most of the letters on which this Unwitting Self-Portrait is based are from the period just before and after January 30, 1933. On that date Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, and there soon followed an exodus of German intellectuals. Some of them-- natural scientists, social scientists, artists, writers--came to the United States. Although their numbers were small--pitiably small compared with present practices of granting asylum to victims of totalitarian oppression--their distinction was great, and their influence on the American intellectual scene far exceeded their numbers. The Germans were soon joined by Austrian, Italian, French, and other émigré scholars and writers.

The newcomers influenced and were influenced by their American colleagues. In psychology and the social sciences, for example, the Europeans were impressed by, and adopted, the standards of evidence of their American counterparts, while the Americans became interested--if not wholly engaged--in the theoretical issues that concerned the émigrés. The tension between a broader

-xi-

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Kurt Koffka, an Unwitting Self-Portrait
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Koffka as Psychologist 9
  • The Private Koffka 39
  • The Public Koffka 74
  • Koffka as Mentor 99
  • Koffka as Colleague 118
  • The Russian- Uzbekistan Expedition 143
  • Reactions to The Gathering Clouds Of War 165
  • In Oxford The Clinician 185
  • In Oxford The Year Unfolds 206
  • Epilogue. Koffka's Core Values And Beliefs 249
  • Appendix A. Biographical Sketch: Koffka 253
  • Appendix B. Major Dates: Koffka 259
  • Appendix C. Major Dates: Harrower 261
  • Appendix D. a Note on The Koffka Papers 263
  • Appendix E. - Koffka's Letter To Sir Arthur Eddington 276
  • Glossary of Names 307
  • Works Cited 319
  • Index 323
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