Sultan (ape)

Sultan, one of the brightest of the early chimpanzees used for psychological research, was tested by Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Kohler. Sultan is particularly recognized for his insight in solving numerous problems, including stacking or manipulating boxes to reach a reward and use of two sticks as a unit to rake food to a reachable distance. While other Chimpanzees in Kohler's study were also quite adept at problemsolving—namely, obtaining an out-of-reach fruit suspended above a playground or perched just beyond arm's reach outside the bars of a cage—Sultan proved to be peculiarly advanced. He and his peers were also known to stack crates to reach the fruit, and even scramble up a hastily balanced stick to grab the banana before falling back down. Chimpanzees helped Kohler to prove that animals are capable of learning beyond simple trial and error, and that, given the right conditions, many species—particularly the more "human" species of primates—will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the constituents of a problem. For example, several chimpanzees who had proven capable of reaching the banana via a stack of crates found that in a crateless room, a table or chair worked to meet the same end. When nothing else was available, Kohler himself could even be used: "On one occasion, Sultan did something even more impressive: he came over to Kohler, pulled him by the arm until he was under the banana, and then showed that in a pinch even the director of the Prussian anthropoid station would do as a climb-upon-able." (Gleitman 2004) In 1910-13, he was an assistant at the Ps chological Institute in Frankfurt in which he worked with fellow psychologists Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka. He and Koffka functioned as subjects for Wertheimer's now-famous studies of apparent movement (or the phi phenomenon), which led them in turn to conclusions about the inherent nature of vision. They collaborated on the founding of a new holistic attitude toward psychology called Gestalt theory (from the German word for "whole"), aspects of which are indebted to the earlier work of Stumpf (Kohler's teacher) and Christian von Ehrenfels (whose lectures at the University of Prague Wertheimer had attended). In an introduction to the book The Task of Gestalt Psychology, Carroll Pratt emphasizes Kohler's irritation regarding a misinterpretation of his famous quote, "The whole is different from the sum of its parts". Though perhaps a simple error made in translation, many lectures in textbooks of modern-day psychology quote Gestalt theory by saying "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". It is difficult to imagine that a translation error occurred here, especially when considering that 'greater' translates to 'gro?er' and 'different' translates to 'unterschiedlich' in German, respectively. Considering Kohler's frustration towards this error, one must assume that these two minor variations of the quote harness different meanings. When the word 'greater' is used, it implies that the whole still resembles the parts that created it. However, when the word 'different' is used, as Kohler originally stated, it implies that the whole bears no resemblance to the parts creating it.