L.Kleine-Horst: Empiristic theory of visual gestalt perception. Hierarchy and interactions of visual functions. (ETVG), Part 10, IV
1. Comments to new facts and their interpretation
The new facts that I described evoked much more interest in the readers than my theory; they are more comprehensible. As I have already mentioned, even the observations described in my 1961 manuscript seemed to be partially new, and therefore of interest to B1 and B2. B4 and B5 showed great interest in the actual-genetic investigation. I sent B4 a special collection of 72 different negative afterimages of one and the same pattern, the "ring with cross" (Figs 6-18, 6-20). These negative afterimages represent stages within the dynamic actual-lytic and actual-genetic processes. B4 wrote:
"I looked at your stimulus patterns for the afterimage experiment with interest. I think these observations, following the experi- ments with a stabilized retinal image, are potentially important and fruitful. As far as I know, there has not been much done in this field since Pritchard and Piggins."
I am indeed astonished that my investigations into extrasensory perception (ESP), too, have raised great interest. A psychologist, who had received the booklet (Kleine-Horst 1987) in which I, for the first time, compared sensory and extrasensory percepts with each other on the grounds of their actual geneses, was interested in this issue:
"At first, I thought it was one of the usual shipments that we often receive; however, after looking through it, I got the impression that your considerations could be of great use to our students in regard to the actual genesis of visual ESP."
Another psychologist, known to be interested in probability calculus, had subjects attribute the "clairvoyant images" that I had attributed to one of several "target similarity classes" of the "ring with cross", and had judged them "hits" (see Fig. 9-8), to the target itself. His result: no significant difference between the group of clairvoyant images that were judged similar to the target, and those that were judged dissimilar. Of course! This was to be expected. This in particular was the reason that I conceived a particular procedure of gaining "clairvoyant images" and investigated their defined similari- ties, not only to the target itself, i.e. its fully differentiated percept, but also to its parts and to its actual-genetic pre-percepts.
Ref 1, who rejected my paper on "subjective" contours and fields, was, however, most interested in my ESP experiments and their results, although superficial descriptions of them took up only a tiny part of the complete paper:
"He describes his own experiment which, if the results are as he described, and if he did it properly, would be extremely important, but he does not give enough details to know whether this is the case."
And he suggested
"that he writes up his parapsychological experiments properly and submits them to a specialist journal."
As one can read in Part 9, I mentioned these ESP results only in order to demonstrate that "clairvoyant images" are purely "subjective" figures of a kind unknown even to the scientists who investigate in this area. My intention was not to describe the experiments in greater detail in this manuscript. I had, however, already properly written up my parapsychological experiments, and in the paper offered three references for reading about the procedure and results of my ESP experiments in very great detail (see Kleine-Horst 1987, 1989, 1994a).
2. Comments of non-gestaltists to the ETVG
A well-known psychologist thought the 1961 manuscript was a doctoral thesis and "was very pleased by your endeavor to form concepts exactly". He recommended the use of further literature, especially Hebb's (1949) "Organization of Behavior. A neuro- psychological theory". But Hebb considered the figure-ground mechanism to be a "primitive", i.e. innate, unity (p.21):
"The primitive unity of a figure is defined here as referring to that unity and segregation from the background which seems to be a direct product of the pattern of sensory excitation and the inherited characteristics of the nervous system on which it acts." (p.19) "It is not possible to specify exactly the stimulating conditions which determine the primitive figure-ground organization." (p.20)
My 1961 theory, however, already showed the part of the figure's hierarchical structure that must be formed by a learning process, and specified the part of the stimulation conditions that determine the relationships that are implicitly learned to form the figure/ground organization, which thus cannot be thought of as innate. Instead of recommending that I read Hebb's theory, the psychologist should have recommended to Hebb that he read my theory.
After the two manuscripts, in which I tried to account for "subjective" contours and fields in great detail, but was forced to only briefly outline Parts 1, 2, and 8 of the ETVG, were rejected by a journal, I must admit that today it seems to me very difficult, if not impossible, to describe the ETVG, or even relevant parts of it, in the mandatory detail on a necessarily small number of pages, and still make it plausible to the reader. Thus, the two referees who had reviewed the manuscripts, and who had not understood anything of the ETVG, must therefore reject the manuscripts. Ref. 2 offered "some suggestions that will make the papers less wordy and tighter in format", and recommended deleting approx. 25 pages. However, it is just on these pages that I had described both the theoretical ETVG background and the particular "gestalt laws" that condition the experience of "subjective" contours and fields. However, the same reviewer did not suggest that I delete the section as well where I describe how the application of the theory is used to account for facts. Thus, he seemed to at least have a good feeling about the concrete explanation of facts. (By the way, he went to great trouble to find at least some way to accept the papers. In doing so, he gave me many tips that would help me prepare better manuscripts in the future.)
Ref. 2 judged: "I suspect the theory is not a theory in fact", the full statement of Ref.1 on the ETVG was: "His theory is unintelligible". As I have already mentioned, I have added the application parts of the two rejected manuscripts to this book as Part 9. Thus, Parts 1, 2, and 8, which are important for understanding Part 9, are available to the reader in unabridged form.
Ref.2 seemed to recognize certain similarities between the ETVG and the Grossberg theory, and recommended:
"The author should read Grossberg carefully and determine whether Grossberg proposals and terminology could be helpful. Grossberg may have formal and quantifiable proposals that could provide machinery for the author's main hypotheses."
A Dutch neurophysiologist and researcher in visual domain received Parts 1 and 2 of the ETVG in 1987; the contents of these German booklets are nearly identical to that in this English edition. For the neurophysiologist, the theory was indeed intelligible, as he found these Parts "very much worth reading". He recommended that I confront my theory with neurobiological facts. At that time, I had just had the same idea, and was already preparing Part 3 that deals with this topic. Furthermore, this reader, too, seemed to recognize some similarities between my theory and that of Grossberg. But he did not recommend that I read the Grossberg theory, instead, he recommended that Prof. Grossberg read my theory and suggested that I send it to him. Therefore, in 1987 I sent the latter the German Parts 1 to 7 that correspond to the Parts 1 to 6 of this book, in which I dealt exclusively with static, two-dimensional figure/outfield and form perception. After that, Grossberg conceived his second theory that concerns three-dimensional figure/ground and form perception.
In the next chapter, I shall compare the ETVG with the Grossberg theory.
"Comparing the ETVG with the Grossberg theory"
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