In this book, Kurt Koffka reformulates the basic question of perception. In the past it had often been assumed that there was really no need to explain the features of veridical perception. Here Koffka rejects this approach: regardless of the veridicality of perception, the researcher must always ask the question, “Why do things look as they do?” The book details the phenomenological and holistic approach to this question which the Gestalt movement embraced, while also reviewing the extensive research which had been conducted up to that time in support of the Gestalt orientation.

Kurt Koffka was one of the most important Gestalt psychologists. Born in 1886, he received his PhD from the University of Berlin in 1909 and became an assistant at Frankfurt University. In 1911, he moved to the University of Giessen, where he taught until 1927. While there, he wrote Growth of the Mind: An Introduction to Child Psychology (1921). In 1927, he left for the U.S. to teach at Smith College. He published Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. He died in 1941.