He then proceeds with numerous experiments, systematically observing the effects of rarefied mediums such as dust, air, and moisture on the perception of colour. When viewed through a prism, the orientation of a light—dark boundary with respect to the prism's axis is significant. With white above a dark boundary, we observe the light extending a blue-violet edge into the dark area; whereas dark above a light boundary results in a red-yellow edge extending into the light area.
Goethe was intrigued by this difference. He felt that this arising of colour at light—dark boundaries was fundamental to the creation of the spectrum which he considered to be a compound phenomenon. Varying the experimental conditions by using different shades of grey shows that the intensity of coloured edges increases with boundary contrast.
Since the colour phenomenon relies on the adjacency of light and dark, there are two ways to produce a spectrum: with a light beam in a dark room, and with a dark beam i. In both cases, he found that the yellow and blue edges remain closest to the side which is light, and red and violet edges remain closest to the side which is dark. At a certain distance, these edges overlap—and we obtain Newton's spectrum.
When these edges overlap in a light spectrum, green results; when they overlap in a dark spectrum, magenta results.
With a light spectrum i. The spectrum with green in the middle arises only where the blue-violet edges overlap the yellow-red edges.
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Unfortunately an optical mixture of blue and yellow gives white, not green, and so Goethe's explanation of Newton's spectrum fails. With a dark spectrum i. When the eye sees a colour it is immediately excited and it is its nature, spontaneously and of necessity, at once to produce another, which with the original colour, comprehends the whole chromatic scale.
Goethe anticipated Ewald Hering 's Opponent process theory  by proposing a symmetric colour wheel. He writes, "The chromatic circle Thus, yellow demands violet; orange [demands] blue; purple [demands] green; and vice versa: thus In the same way that light and dark spectra yielded green from the mixture of blue and yellow—Goethe completed his colour wheel by recognising the importance of magenta—"For Newton, only spectral colors could count as fundamental.
By contrast, Goethe's more empirical approach led him to recognize the essential role of magenta in a complete color circle, a role that it still has in all modern color systems. Goethe also included aesthetic qualities in his colour wheel, under the title of "allegorical, symbolic, mystic use of colour" Allegorischer, symbolischer, mystischer Gebrauch der Farbe , establishing a kind of color psychology.
He associated red with the "beautiful", orange with the "noble", yellow to the "good", green to the "useful", blue to the "common", and violet to the "unnecessary". These six qualities were assigned to four categories of human cognition, the rational Vernunft to the beautiful and the noble red and orange , the intellectual Verstand to the good and the useful yellow and green , the sensual Sinnlichkeit to the useful and the common green and blue and, closing the circle, imagination Phantasie to both the unnecessary and the beautiful purple and red.
Hence, references to Goethe's recognition of magenta are fraught with interpretation. If one observes the colours coming out of a prism—an English person may be more inclined to describe as magenta what in German is called Purpur —so one may not lose the intention of the author. However, literal translation is more difficult.
Goethe's work uses two composite words for mixed intermediate hues along with corresponding usual colour terms such as "orange" and "violet". The text about interference from the "physical" chapter  does not consider Rot and Purpur synonymous. This article uses the English translations from the above table.
It would be superficial to dismiss this struggle as unimportant: there is much significance in one of the most outstanding men directing all his efforts to fighting against the development of Newtonian optics.
Due to their different approaches to a common subject, many misunderstandings have arisen between Newton's mathematical understanding of optics, and Goethe's experiential approach. Because Newton understands white light to be composed of individual colours, and Goethe sees colour arising from the interaction of light and dark, they come to different conclusions on the question: is the optical spectrum a primary or a compound phenomenon?
For Newton, the prism is immaterial to the existence of colour, as all the colours already exist in white light, and the prism merely fans them out according to their refrangibility. Goethe sought to show that, as a turbid medium, the prism was an integral factor in the arising of colour.
Whereas Newton narrowed the beam of light in order to isolate the phenomenon, Goethe observed that with a wider aperture, there was no spectrum. He saw only reddish-yellow edges and blue-cyan edges with white between them, and the spectrum arose only where these edges came close enough to overlap. For him, the spectrum could be explained by the simpler phenomena of colour arising from the interaction of light and dark edges.
Newton explains the appearance of white with colored edges by saying that due to the differing overall amount of refraction, the rays mix together to create a full white towards the centre, whereas the edges do not benefit from this full mixture and appear with greater red or blue components. For Newton's account of his experiments, see his Opticks Goethe's reification of darkness is rejected by modern physics. Both Newton and Huygens defined darkness as an absence of light. Young and Fresnel combined Newton's particle theory with Huygen's wave theory to show that colour is the visible manifestation of light's wavelength.
Physicists today attribute both a corpuscular and undulatory character to light—comprising the wave—particle duality. From its publication, the book was controversial for its stance against Newton. So much so, that when Charles Eastlake translated the text into English in , he omitted the content of Goethe's polemic against Newton. Significantly and regrettably , only the 'Didactic' colour observations appear in Eastlake's translation.
In his preface, Eastlake explains that he deleted the historical and entoptic parts of the book because they 'lacked scientific interest', and censored Goethe's polemic because the 'violence of his objections' against Newton would prevent readers from fairly judging Goethe's color observations. Goethe was initially induced to occupy himself with the study of colour by the questions of hue in painting. In the years —88, Goethe began investigating whether one could ascertain rules to govern the artistic use of color.
This aim came to some fulfillment when several pictorial artists, above all Philipp Otto Runge , took an interest in his colour studies. Turner studied it comprehensively and referenced it in the titles of several paintings. During a party in Weimar in the winter of , Goethe had a late-night conversation with the South American revolutionary Francisco de Miranda. In a letter written to Count Semyon Romanovich Vorontsov , Miranda recounted how Goethe, fascinated with his exploits throughout the Americas and Europe, told him, "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colours are not distorted.
In the nineteenth century Goethe's Theory was taken up by Schopenhauer in On Vision and Colors , who developed it into a kind of arithmetical physiology of the action of the retina, much in keeping with his own representative idealism ["The world is my representation or idea"]. In the twentieth century the theory was transmitted to philosophy via Wittgenstein, who devoted a series of remarks to the subject at the end of his life.
These remarks are collected as Remarks on Colour , Wittgenstein, Someone who agrees with Goethe finds that Goethe correctly recognized the nature of colour. Wittgenstein was interested in the fact that some propositions about colour are apparently neither empirical nor exactly a priori , but something in between: phenomenology, according to Goethe.
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However, Wittgenstein took the line that 'There is no such thing as phenomenology, though there are phenomenological problems. Wittgenstein took his examples from the Runge letter included in the "Farbenlehre", e. The logical status of these propositions in Wittgenstein's investigation, including their relation to physics, has been discussed in Jonathan Westphal's Colour: a Philosophical Introduction Westphal, As early as , in Hermann von Helmholtz 's lecture on Goethe's scientific works—he says of Goethe's work that he depicts the perceived phenomena—"circumstantially, rigorously true to nature, and vividly puts them in an order that is pleasant to survey, and proves himself here, as everywhere in the realm of the factual, to be the great master of exposition" Helmholtz Helmholtz ultimately rejects Goethe's theory as the work of a poet, but expresses his perplexity at how they can be in such agreement about the facts of the matter, but in violent contradiction about their meaning—'And I for one do not know how anyone, regardless of what his views about colours are, can deny that the theory in itself is fully consequent, that its assumptions, once granted, explain the facts treated completely and indeed simply'.
Helmholtz . Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his aesthetic approach did not lend itself to the demands of analytic and mathematical analysis used ubiquitously in modern Science. Thomas Johann Seebeck was the only prominent scientist among Goethe's contemporaries who acknowledged the theory, but later also saw it critically. Goethe's colour theory has in many ways borne fruit in art, physiology and aesthetics. But victory, and hence influence on the research of the following century, has been Newton's.
One hole Goethe did find in Newton's armour, through which he incessantly worried the Englishman with his lance. Newton had committed himself to the doctrine that refraction without colour was impossible. He therefore thought that the object-glasses of telescopes must for ever remain imperfect, achromatism and refraction being incompatible. This inference was proved by Dollond to be wrong Here, as elsewhere, Goethe proves himself master of the experimental conditions. It is the power of interpretation that he lacks.
Much controversy stems from two different ways of investigating light and colour. Goethe was not interested in Newton's analytic treatment of colour—but he presented an excellent rational description of the phenomenon of human colour perception. It is as such a collection of colour observations that we must view this book. Most of Goethe's explanations of color have been thoroughly demolished, but no criticism has been leveled at his reports of the facts to be observed; nor should any be.
This book can lead the reader through a demonstration course not only in subjectively produced colors after images, light and dark adaptation, irradiation, colored shadows, and pressure phosphenes , but also in physical phenomena detectable qualitatively by observation of color absorption, scattering, refraction, diffraction, polarization, and interference.
A reader who attempts to follow the logic of Goethe's explanations and who attempts to compare them with the currently accepted views might, even with the advantage of sophistication, become convinced that Goethe's theory, or at least a part of it, has been dismissed too quickly. Mitchell Feigenbaum came to believe that "Goethe had been right about colour! As Feigenbaum understood them, Goethe's ideas had true science in them. They were hard and empirical. Over and over again, Goethe emphasized the repeatability of his experiments.
It was the perception of colour, to Goethe, that was universal and objective. What scientific evidence was there for a definable real-world quality of redness independent of our perception?
Goethe showed that this step from observation to theory is more problematic than Newton wanted to admit. By insisting that the step to theory is not forced upon us by the phenomena, Goethe revealed our own free, creative contribution to theory construction. And Goethe's insight is surprisingly significant, because he correctly claimed that all of the results of Newton's prism experiments fit a theoretical alternative equally well..
The critique maintained that Newton had mistaken mathematical imagining as the pure evidence of the senses.. Goethe tried to define the scientific function of imagination: to interrelate phenomena once they have been meticulously produced, described, and organized Newton had introduced dogma.. Sepper, . Goethe started out by accepting Newton's physical theory. He soon abandoned it One beneficial consequence of this was that he developed an awareness of the importance of the physiological aspect of colour perception, and was therefore able to demonstrate that Newton's theory of light and colours is too simplistic; that there is more to colour than variable refrangibility.
It was not an apriori poetic prejudice against mathematical analysis but rather performing the experiments that led him to reject the theory Goethe soon concluded that in order to explain color one needs to know not just about light but also about eye function and relative differences in light across the visual field. As a catalogue of observations, Goethe's experiments probe the complexities of human colour perception. Whereas Newton sought to develop a mathematical model for the behaviour of light, Goethe focused on exploring how colour is perceived in a wide array of conditions.
Developments in understanding how the brain interprets colours, such as colour constancy and Edwin H. Land 's retinex theory bear striking similarities to Goethe's theory. A modern treatment of the book is given by Dennis L. As to what I have done as a poet I take no pride in it They are important, complete, and significant data, rich material for a future theory of colour. He has not, however, undertaken to furnish the theory itself; hence, as he himself remarks and admits on page xxxix of the introduction, he has not furnished us with a real explanation of the essential nature of colour, but really postulates it as a phenomenon, and merely tells us how it originates, not what it is.
Goethe's theory of the origin of the spectrum isn't a theory of its origin that has proved unsatisfactory; it is really not a theory at all. Nothing can be predicted by means of it. It is, rather, a vague schematic outline, of the sort we find in James's psychology. There is no experimentum crucis for Goethe's theory of colour. Can you lend me the Theory of Colours for a few weeks? It is an important work. His last things are insipid.
The Astonishment of Words, an experiment in the comparison of languages.
Lift to drink the heaven's blue Or when sun, veiled by sirocco, Royal red sinks out of view — Give to Nature praise and honor. Blithe of heart and sound of eye, Knowing for the world of colour. But I was astonished, as I looked at a white wall through the prism, how it stayed white! That only there where it came upon some darkened area, it showed more or less some colour, then at last, around the window bars all the colours shone, whereas in the light grey sky outside there was no colour to be seen.
It didn't take long before I knew that a border was required for colour to be brought forth, and I spoke as through an instinct out loud, that the Newtonian teachings were false. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wallace Wood. Further information: Color wheel. Judd , . John Oxenford , London, , p. Abtheilung: Naturwissenschaftlichte Schriften, Bd.
London: John Murray. I want this repeated with more plants. This is a hoax. Science talks: The experiment looked into the idea that plants, like humans, could respond better to kind words. Sticks and stones: By the end of the day trial, the plant that had undergone a torrent of verbal abuse appeared wilted with dying leaves. While some are convinced the experiment is true, others have questioned whether Ikea have manufactured the result for marketing purposes. Another added: 'Scam ad that's obviously been rigged by the ad agency. This whole "experiment" is based on non-existent science.
Kudos for doing something for a good cause but this is entirely fake. The plants were kept in identical conditions at the school, and were each administered with the same amount of light, water and fertilizer. They respond. When asked if this was something he still did, Charles joked self-deprecatingly: 'No, now I instruct them instead. Can plants really get upset? Bizarre experiment sees students 'BULLYING' one flower and praising another - and the difference between the two after 30 days is astonishing but could it all be a hoax?
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