In terminology, gestalt, or ‘Gestalt’ (German), is
Gestalt 1gestalt 2
Visual examples of "gestalt", of images or forms hidden in images or forms, depending on perspective.
form, shape, or “external appearance”; essence or shape of an entity's complete form; the manifestation of competing drives that yield form change or metamorphosis; a dynamical and evolutionary event. [1] Romanian socioeconomic physicists Gheorghe Savoiu and Ion Siman explain the term gestalt as follows: [5]

Physics—with its solutions of decomposing a system into its parts and in its final manner of understanding known as ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ (the Gestalt phenomenon)—can contribute more or less unexpectedly to the understanding of economic problems, processes, or decisions.”

Gestalt, in this sense, seems to have some kind of relation or similarity to the English term synergy.

The term "gestalt", supposedly, is said to have its roots, some way or another, in the work of Plato, particularly his famous allegory of the cave, wherein a puppet trickster makes a shadow theater on a wall for chained prisoners, confined such that all they can see are the shadows, to watch, and who in turn come to form beliefs about the shadows in that they are people moving about outside, whereas in "reality" their perception led them into a perceptual allusion.

German thinker Johann Herder’s term Bildung or "natural shape" is said to an historical precursor, of sorts, to the term "Gestalt", albeit one which became overshadowed with the notion of development towards and ideal.

Modern gestalt theory, according to German-American historian Paul Tillich, originated in Plato’s ideas on essences, which transcend empirical reality—but more directly was the organismic interpretation of nature of Johann Goethe, according to which nature is not a causal assemblage of isolated atoms, but is composed of structures; in the psychological realm these became the archetypes of David Hume (1711-1776). [4]

Elective Affinities
German polyintellect Johann Goethe’s usage of Gestalt, possibly having connectedness in idea to Plato, is said to be a modified variant of Herder's Bildung, however, one which was a fixed term disconnected, supposedly, from the antecedent unity and with the future notion of becoming. [3]

Following the publication of his 1809 Elective Affinities, Goethe, according to summary reviews by American Goethean scholar Astrida Tantillo (2001), wrote to many people about the novel, informing them “a unified ‘Gestalt’, hidden meanings, and the necessity of multiple rereadings.” [2]

In a letter to German composer Carl Zelter, for example, Goethe stated that he had placed numerous different elements within the text, but that many of these were hidden; also that past the veiled quality of the work lays the “truly intended Gestalt.”

The English re-translation of what Goethe means by "unified Gestalt" or "intended Gestalt", however, is a bit of a puzzling and open-ended subject, being that Goethe seemed to be using this term in the framework of a number of contexts, not only in respect to Elective Affinities but also, it seems, in Faust context, as well as plant metamorphosis, human and animal evolutionary anatomical common origin, chemical reaction level change (scaled up to the human-human interaction level), competing drives that produce or yield balanced growth and or monstrous growth (in plants), among other complicalities.

1. McCarthy, John A. (2006). Remapping Reality: Chaos and Creativity in Science and Literature (Goethe, Nietzsche, Grass) (Gestalt, Goethe’s definition) pg. 179; “gestalt”, 46+ pgs). Rodopi.
2. Tantillo, Astrida O. (2001). Goethe’s Elective Affinities and the Critics (Gestalt, 49+ pgs). Camden House.
3. Brady, Ronad H. (1998). “The Idea in Nature: Rereading Goethe’s Organics”, in: Goethe’s Way of Science (ch. 5, pg. 100) (editors: David Seamon, Arthur Zajonic). SUNY Press.
4. Tillich, Paul. (1972). A History of Christian Thought: from its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism (pg. 375). Simon and Schuster.
5. Savoiu, Gheorghe and Siman, Ion. (2012). “History and Role of Econophysics in Scientific Research”, in: Econophysics: Background and Applications in Economics, Finance, and Sociophysics (editor: Gheorghe Savoiu) (§1, pgs. 3-16; 5). Academic Press.

Further reading
● Reitz, Gertrud. (1932.). Die Gestalt des Mittlers in Goethes Dichtung (The Form of the Mediator in Goethe’s Poetry). Frankfurt.

External links
Gestalt – Wikipedia.
Gestalt (German → English) – Wikipedia.

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