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By William R. Uttal

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In short, theform of an object is a "diagram of forces," in this sense, at least, that from it we can judge of or deduce theforces that are acting or have acted on it: in this strict and particular sense, it is a diagram-in the caseof a solid, of the forces which have been impressed on it when its conformation was produced, together with those which enable it to retain its conformation; in the case of a liquid (or of a gas) of the forces which are for the moment acting on it to restrain or balance its own inherent mobility.

Another important influence on the shaping of our concepts of form came from the Arab philosophers of the 10th and 11th centuries when Europe was intellectually quiescent, Of these, two are of special importance. Avicenna (980-1037) dealt with form as a property of a material objects, a property comparable to the matter of which it was composed. ) The distinction between matter and form made by Avicenna wasa subtle andlargely unappreciated precursor of later thought concerning the nature of form.

A further fundamental, but infrequently expressed, premise of this point of view is that the comparison or correspondencematching process is the essential partof the classification or recognition process. 2. ON THE RECOGNITION OF VISUAL FORMS 19 Furthermore, it is usually assumed by the proponents of the feature comparison process that the establishment of the library of comparison forms required previous “learning,” a process that is considered by some psychologists to be a necessary prior preparatory step in the recognition process.

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