From Robert Silverberg’s “Earthmen and Strangers” anthology, 1966:
The German word “gestalt” means “shape” or “pattern,” but it also has the sense of “group” or “formation.” The science-fictional concept of the gestalt mind has frequently been examined—the intelligence that includes more than one individual. On Earth, the rule of one-body-one-intelligence seems to hold true, but who knows what we may find on other worlds? We already know of some simple creatures, like the corals and sponges, that exist in colonies numbering many individuals. Such Unkings are purely physical; the possibility exists, though, that on another planet some higher form of life may have developed a colony of linked minds. What it would be like to encounter such a form of life is considered in this story.