Kurt Koffka, an Unwitting Self-Portrait

By Molly Harrower | Go to book overview

koffka as psychologist

Contribution to the Gestalt Idea

If one sets up a triangle with Wertheimer at the apex and Köhler and Koffka along the baseline, one sees Wertheimer's position as the originator of the Gestalt idea and sees him supported by Köhler and Koffka, each in his own unique way.

How can one describe the components of Koffka's support system to the Gestalt idea?

First, I would list a personal loyalty, with a concomitant feeling of responsibility to protect and further an idea which he valued, both intellectually and with an almost religious feeling. It is important to point out that this loyalty of Koffka's and his true appreciation of the idea were totally untouched by any need to claim kudos for himself in terms of basic Gestalt contributions. This innate modesty was viewed with particular sympathy by Koffka's British colleagues because it enabled them to learn more easily from him than from the other two contributors. Indirectly this same manner did much to break down arbitrary barriers. In 1923, at the First International Congress of psychologists in Oxford after World War I, "He is one of us," reported psychology professor Beatrice Edgell* of the University of London.

Second, I would see among Koffka's supporting contributions his view of himself as a needed systematizer. He felt strongly that there was a need for a thorough, cohesive Gestalt system that at-

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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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