Thinking the Impossible: The Gestalt of a Round Square

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In this article I connect two concepts that played central roles in the School of Meinong: the notion of impossible objects and that of Gestalt. Ehrenfels claims that Widerspruch or incompatibility would be a temporal Gestalt quality, specifically the trying and failing to build an intuitive presentation. Where, when, and how does this process break down exactly? Meinong’s Graz students developed a more detailed production theory for the presentation of Gestalten (Vorstellungsproduktion) which can help to determine how the failure to produce one Gestalt can generate another, which moreover is typical of impossible objects. There are three contributions to Meinong’s 1904 volume Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, the ones by Mally, Benussi, and Ameseder, that provide helpful analyses to clarify the incompatibility Gestalt. These suggest three options to refine the analysis of the Gestalt of impossible objects. The conclusion is that the failure of the Vorstellungsproduktion itself is not enough, the incompatibility relation between the foundations must also play a role.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychological Themes in the School of Alexius Meinong
EditorsArnaud Dewalque, Venanzio Raspa
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783110664850
ISBN (Print)9783110662511
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMeinong Studies
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2198-2317


  • Christian von Ehrenfels
  • Alexius Meinong
  • Gestalt
  • School of Brentano
  • Graz School
  • Vorstellungsproduktion
  • Impossible objects


Dive into the research topics of 'Thinking the Impossible: The Gestalt of a Round Square'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this