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Nicolai Hartmann und die Gestalttheorie. Ein Vergleich unter dem Aspekt “Kausalität”


In 1919 Nicolai Hartmann (NH) convincingly justified that there cannot exist a “general law of causation” as A. Meinong had in mind. For him Meinong’s understanding of causation (linear, successive in time) was bound on the region of the physical layer of being, simultaneously postulating it as the only possible causation there.

This is the starting point of the comparison between N. Hartmann‘s understanding of causation and that of the Gestalt Theory, for which neither in psychic nor in natural (physical) context linear-successive causality plays a part. Therefore NH’s conception of 1919 was still completely incompatible with that of the Gestalt Theory despite the fact that he was distancing himself from the “general law of causation” sensu Meinong.

20 years later he changed this by adding the “Wechselwirkung” (interaction) to the linear successive causation in the physical layer.

In doing so he approached the Gestalt theoretical position but failed it insofar as for it his linear-successive understanding of causation generally has had its day with regard to natural processes, also consequently for the physical (instead interaction between system and border conditions applies, an interaction of field forces). Thus the term “causation“ had become free for a dynamic concept of causation which is equally appropriate for the physical and the psychic.

NH makes this move not until 1949, shortly before his death, by writing: ... (see original quotation in the German summary above).

It is the opinion of the author of this work that the ingenious systematics of NH‘s Critical Ontology (which is not a closed system) should make it possible to execute the necessary corrections in some details of his theory of layers without questioning the structure of his systematics, thus carrying out what NH was not able to do himself due to his death.