Excerpts from
L.Kleine-Horst: "Empiristic theory of visual gestalt perception. Hierarchy and interactions of visual functions" (ETVG). Köln
2001 (Preface and Introduction)

Overview of the entire concept

Diagram 0-1 shows the ETVG in relation to both other models or theories and facts. Visual data are well-known to the sciences, in the form of "veridical" and "illusory" perception. The model of reality of the natural sciences  is  also  well-known. It is therefore understand- able that one may try to explain known facts within the framework of the known model of reality. But there is little relation between visual facts and the traditional model of reality. Only veridical sensory perception can  be explained  to a certain degree within this frame- work (see broken line in Figure 0-1). However, most "illusions", i.e. deviations from "veridical" perception, have managed to avoid being explained in such a manner. Both types of visual phenomena are explained by the ETVG. They are closely related to each other, as they result from the actualization of the same visual factors. There is, moreover, no clear distinction possible between "veridical" and "illusory" perception.

Figure 0-1. The "system" of facts and models ETVG is involved with

The reality of extrasensory perception (ESP) has almost been completely ignored by "normal" science, pushing it away into the ghetto of "parascience". It has only recently been possible to occasionally find papers in recognized scientific journals dealing with the topic of ESP (for example, Bem and Honorton 1994; Gregory 1983; Targ and Puthoff 1974). Although, since the 1930s, research by "parapsychologists" on ESP has predominantly been occupied with quantitative experiments, in an attempt to prove the existence of ESP,  no one has systematically attempted to determine the relationship between extrasensory and sensory perception. My own ESP experiments had this aim among others, arriving at results which were qualitative as well as quantitative (Kleine-Horst 1989, 1994a). To make the examination of the quantitative results possible, the complete raw material of 3187 "clairvoyant images" was published (Kleine-Horst 1992e). In these experiments, the subjects drew ESP percepts; in respect to three targets, I found that approximately 25 - 30% of these clairvoyant images could be attributed to "classes of similarity", which are related to the phenomenal structure of the sensory images of the same targets: "clairvoyant images" look like actual-genetic stages of the target`s afterimages (see Parts 6 and 9). This means that extra-sensorily perceived information is processed in the same manner as sensorily perceived information, namely with the help of the system of gestalt factors described in the ETVG. The ETVG can be used to explain the form of these clairvoyant images, but not their existence. The "Theory of Extrasensory Perception" shows how one can perceive extrasensory information, and was derived from the evolutionary Four-Level Model of Reality. This model includes the model of reality of the natural sciences as well as Hartmann's (1964) four-layer model which has still not received the recognition it merits. One must traverse this broad spectrum of theory and fact before one can understand the sensory as well as the extrasensory perception of objects.

I must now accept that readers seem to have much greater difficulties in understanding the ETVG, than I had first suspected. Since 1961, eleven scientists have responded to the entire theory, parts of it, or a necessarily shortened description of it within the manuscript committed to a scientific journal. My experience is as follows:

1. Each reader responded either generally positively or generally negatively. All five Berlin gestaltists and the two anonymous referees rejected the theory, due, however, to an absolute lack of understanding rather than to valid arguments. The two Leipzig gestaltists and the only neurophysiologist accepted the essentials of the theory, one psychologist outside gestalt psychology commented positively.
2. The more text that was presented, the more positive the response: when full text: 3+/3-; when only parts: 1+/2-; when summarized : 0+/2-.


I therefore do recommend the full reading of this book, just quickly, if needs be. If you stop reading, you have wasted your time. On reaching the end, you will have a "feeling" for what the theory is about, although possibly not more. When you then read the book a second time, and with greater scrutiny, you will - I`m sure - fully recognize the "true" structure of visual information processing, which thanks to its logic is as simple as it is wonderful.
Fig. 0-2 illustrates how the Parts are interrelated so that you can choose "reading paths" alternative to the numerical one. This can be helpful if you have a specific topic you immediately want to read about.

 

Figure 0-2. Recommended "reading paths" 

In either case Parts 1 and 2 need to be read first, as they describe the experience of the polar, static, two-dimensional figure/ outfield, which is accounted for as being the result of six special "gestalt factors" each of them twice, and antagonistically, actualized by their special "gestalt stimuli".

In Part 3, single cells found at the five levels: retina - LGN - V1 - V2 - V4 are shown to possess the same, or similar, visual functions and receptive fields as the ETVG predicts for the six gestalt factors producing the figure/outfield perception, which are hierarchically ordered on five levels as well.

Those interested in memory or infant development will learn where these six gestalt factors come from while reading Parts 4, 8 and 9: they are memory contents implicitly acquired in early infancy on the basis of both the light stimuli impinging on the retinal mosaic and an old-fashioned, well-known memory law. The gestalt factors are - as memory contents - closely connected to one another through associations, and thus form mutual influences ("gestalt laws") which are able to account for a great number of psychophysical findings. The development in early infancy of the ability to visually perceive a "figure in its outfield" seems to follow the prediction of the factor hierarchy's formation "from the bottom up".

Parts 5 and 6 show how, based on the interrelationships between eye muscle innervations during saccades, a further five-level hierarchy of the eight memory contents that operate as gestalt factors for the perception of the number, orientation, and form of figures, has been formed in early infancy.  Examples are given to show that both the actual genesis and the ontogenesis of the shape of a figure follow the predicted hierarchical order of the gestalt factors "from the bottom up", whereas the decomposition of a percept is caused by the deactualization of the gestalt factors "from the top down". New facts are reported showing that a great number of percepts in various states of differentiation can be evoked by one and the same sensory stimulus.

The hierarchy of the eleven gestalt factors that are responsible for depth, time, and motion perception is described in Part 7. Fig. 7-1 shows the entire ten-level hierarchy of the 25 visual gestalt factors.

The Berlin gestalt psychology and the FACADE theory of Grossberg are discussed in Part 10, as are most points of criticism that prior readers of the ETVG have brought forth. At the last minute, I added Part 11, in which further facts are accounted for using the ETVG. Part 11 is completely understandable when Parts 1-10 have been completely understood, but it may also be possible to intuitively understand it to some extent.

To give you an initial idea of what follows, I have included a brief comparison of the ETVG with the well-known Berlin Gestalt Theory in Section 4 of this Preface as well as a list of the ETVG's characteristics in Section 5. If you still remain inclined to reject the theory because of its strangeness, please read Kuhn (1970) (referred to in the Epilogue), but also take into consideration the suppression of scientific truth that are described in the following

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