Fiorenza Toccafondi

The notion of "field" between physics, psychology and philosophy of experience

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Field; Contents of Experience; Form and Matter of Intuition; Tertiary Qualities; Berlin Gestalt School.

In 1920 Wolfgang Köhler published Die physischen Gestalten in Ruhe und im stationären Zustand, in which the notion of "field" introduced by J.C. Maxwell and M. Faraday played a central role. The notion of "topological field" instead became one of the focal points of Kurt Lewin's perspective. Alongside the empirical and experimental dimension, the philosophical and theoretical aspect was an essential component of the Berlin Gestalt school. This essay examines the following aspects which, from a philosophical point of view, characterized the use of the concept of "field" within the Berlin Gestalt movement: the opposition to those investigations of experience which took mechanical physics as a model; the critique of Kant's dualism between the form and matter of knowledge; the affirmation of the idea that the senses capture values and meanings autonomously, without top-down interventions; the introduction of the concept of "requiredness" and an objectivist vision of expressivity.

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