The World In Your Head:

A Gestalt View of the Mechanism of Conscious Experience

Steven Lehar

publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

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Back Cover Blurb

The World In Your Head: A Gestalt View of the Mechanism of Conscious Experience represents a bold assault on one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science: the nature of consciousness and the human mind.

Rather than examining the brain and nervous system to see what they tell us about the mind, this book begins with an examination of conscious experience to see what it can tell us about the brain.

Through this analysis, the first and most obvious observation is that consciousness appears as a volumetric spatial void, containing colored objects and surfaces. This reveals that the representation in the brain takes the form of an explicit volumetric spatial model of external reality. The world we see around us therefore is not the real world itself, but merely a miniature virtual-reality replica of that world in an internal representation. In fact the phenomena of dreams and hallucinations clearly demonstrate the capacity of the brain to construct complete virtual worlds even in the absence of sensory input. Perception is therefore somewhat like a guided hallucination, based on sensory stimulation.

This insight allows us to examine the world of visual experience not as scientists exploring the external world, but as perceptual scientists examining a rich and complex internal representation. This unique approach to investigating mental function has implications in a wide variety of related fields, including the nature of language and abstract thought, motor control and behavior—as well as to the world of music, art, and dance, showing how the patterns of regularity and periodicity in space and time apparent in those aesthetic domains reflect the periodic basis set of the underlying harmonic resonance representation in the brain.

Table of Contents


Chapter OneThe Two Worlds of Reality

Review for Lawrence Erlbaum

Reviewer 1

"...This is a difficult project to evaluate. The prospectus makes a large claim, and the chapters I saw are intriguing. The introductory chapter is strikingly original and thought provoking..."

Reviewer 2

"The Lehar manuscript is a creative, bold, forceful presentation of a computational basis for the Gestalt view of conscious perception. The creativity exemplified by the [manuscript] provides for a thoughtful new approach to many problems in the field. In this regard the manuscript is a positive contribution to science and an advancement of knowledge."

Reviews After Publication

Philosophical Psychology 17(1) 2003

"I think it is reasonable to suggest that The World in Your Head is a seminal work that is destined to become a fixture in the conceptual landscape which no one seriously interested in the study of perception can reasonably ignore. It's hypotheses, models, implications, and extensions are likely to influence investigators for decades to come. It is obviously a 'must read' for anyone interested in visual perception..."

Choice (current reviews for academic libraries) 40(10) June 2003

"This powerful and inspiring book will fascinate those committed to psychological theory. Summing up: Highly recommended."

Gestalt Theory 25(3) September 2003

"The theory that LEHAR presents here is unusually stimulating, and can certainly be seen as the most important contemporary contribution to Gestalt theory and its further development. Much of it is — as the author concedes — speculative, but when one considers the facts, his considerations are characterized by a high plausibility and rigor."