I doubt I need to list for you the many titles of the 18th century German savant and polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but allow me to add. By closely following Goethe's explanations of the color phenomena, the reader may become so divorced from the wavelength theory—Goethe never even. Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal pp | Cite as be a possible candidate for an alternative science, as is the case with Goethe's theory of colors.


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In this lesson, explore the basics of Goethe's color theory.

  • Goethe's Color Theory
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  • Goethe's Color Theory

German writer and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - was a multi-talented individual. A celebrity in his native country by the time he was in his 20s, he was an important figure in the blossoming of 18th-century German literature, famous for fiction works like Faust.

But Theory of color goethe explored diverse creative paths.

Goethe's theory of colours

In addition to novels and plays, he wrote epic poems, authored scientific treatises on wide ranging subjects, and dabbled in drawing and painting. It was his theory of color goethe with painting that led to his ideas regarding color, which appeared in print in Theory of Colors, published in By this time, people were familiar with the color theories of Sir Isaac Newton, the English scientist and mathematician.

Therefore, according to Goethe, what we see of an object depends upon the object, the lighting and our perception. Goethe seeks to derive theory of color goethe of color harmony, ways of characterizing physiological colors how colors affect us and subjective visual phenomena in general.

He took the same approach to colour—instead of narrowing and isolating things to a single 'experimentum crucis' or critical experiment that would prove or disprove his theoryhe sought to gain as much breadth for his understanding as possible by developing a wide-ranging exposition through which is revealed the essential character of colour—without having to resort to explanations and theories about theory of color goethe phenomena such as 'wavelengths' or 'particles'.

According to Goethe, "Newton's error. What he provided was really not so much a theory, as a rational description of colour.

Goethe's Theory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Free Ebook

For Goethe, "the highest is to understand that all fact is really theory. The blue of the sky reveals to us the basic law of color.

Search nothing beyond the phenomena, theory of color goethe themselves are the theory. Data for a Theory of Color. They are important, complete, and significant data, rich material for a future theory of color goethe of color.

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 color, but really postulates it as a phenomenon, and merely tells us how it originates, not what it is.

Theory of Colours - Wikipedia

For Goethe, light is "the simplest most undivided most homogenous being that we know. Confronting it is the darkness" Letter to Jacobi.


It sounds absurd when I express it; but so it is: January 4, ; trans. Wallace Wood Based on his experiments with turbid media, Goethe characterized colour as arising from the dynamic interplay of darkness and light.

Goethe's Color Theory |

Rudolf Steinerthe science editor for the Kurschner edition of Goethe's works, gave the following analogy: Modern natural science sees darkness as a complete nothingness.

But how I was astonished, as I looked at a white wall through the prism, that theory of color goethe stayed white! That only where it came upon some darkened area, it showed some color, then at last, around the window sill all the colors shone