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Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka claimed, "The whole is other than the sum of the parts," his summation of the theory of mind that tries to explain how we obtain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. Whenever we form a perception, the whole has a reality of its own, independent of the parts. This is best illustrated by the familiar phenomenon of an "optical illusion," in which people view some image -- and, for example, one sees a vase and the other sees two faces. The way we read this poem depends on whether we understand the Cosmic Beloved to be a human "soul mate" or a divine manifestation.
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