The Competitiveness of Nations

in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

H.H. Chartrand

April 2002



Introduction by Deane B. Judd

Introduction by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Research Notes

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LONDON, 1840.

The M.I.T. Press


Introduction by Deane B. Judd


Deane B. Judd, Washington, D.C., September 1969

THE enigma of color has attracted the interest and attention of many of the most gifted intellects of all time. Aristotle, Grimaldi, Newton, Goethe, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Young, Maxwell, Helmholtz, Hering, and Schrödinger all have been intrigued by color and have contributed to our knowledge of it.

Aristotle based his view of color on the observation that sunlight on passage through, or reflection from, an object is always reduced in intensity, or darkened.  Since by this operation colors may be produced, he viewed color as a phenomenon arising out of the transition from brightness to darkness, which in a sense it is; or, stated less clearly as it usually is, Aristotle viewed color as a mixture, or blend, or commingling, or superposition, or juxtaposition of black and white.  An essential part of this view, widely held up to Newton’s time (1642 to 1727), is that all true and pure light, such as light from the sun, has no color, and color must be some sort of constituent or material permeating opaque and transparent objects and media, capable of altering or degrading the pure light incident upon them.  Some doubts as to the correctness of Aristotle’s view began to arise early in the seventeenth century because of the discovery of what


we now name interference colors - colors of thin films, such as soap bubbles - which change markedly with angle of view.  These films seem to have every kind of color in them at the same time and to contaminate the incident sunlight in different ways depending on thickness of the film and direction of passage of sunlight through it.

The discovery in 1665 by Newton that light from the sun could be bent to varying degrees by a prism so as to produce a spectrum of colors ranging from red (rays least bent), through orange, yellow, green, and blue, to violet (rays most bent) provided the basis for rejecting Aristotle’s view that color comes from objects and permitted substitution for it of the view that color is a property of light.  This view has been supported by the great advance in our understanding of the various physical phenomena (interference, scattering, and diffraction as well as refraction and absorption) by which color may appear.  This view is, indeed, a view widely held today.  It states that wavelength composition of a light beam serves to define its color, and it suggests that physics holds the key to the enigma of color.

We must pause here to make clear that this extreme view that color is a property of light, and of light alone, though it arose among Newton’s followers arid was based on his discovery,

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was not shared by Newton himself.  He states in a passage, lately much quoted, from his Opticks: “And whenever I seem to speak of radiation or rays, coloured or imbued with colour, I should like it always so expressed that it does not sound philosophical or special, but intelligible to the general public; since those ideas are accepted which people, watching experiments of this kind, can themselves comprehend.  Indeed, rays, properly expressed, are not coloured.  There is nothing else in them but a certain power or disposition which so conditions them that they produce in us the sensation of this or that_colour.”  Newton’s view that color is a sensation is also widely held today, but, though Grimaldi, the great Italian pioneer in optics had already expressed a closely similar view in tile very year (1665) of Newton’s discovery, Newton’s followers quickly forgot it.

It must not be supposed, either, that Newton is responsible for the great oversimplification that wavelength of light determines color.  Newton’s view of light was that it consists of corpuscles or small particles flying through space away from every source of light.  The wave theory was not substantiated until many years after Newton’s death in 1727 by Thomas Young (1773 - 1829) who successfully maintained from his experiments on interference that “radiant light consists of undulations of the luininiferous ether.”  Independently of Young, tile French physicist,


Fresnel (1788 - 1827) disproved Newton’s corpuscular theory of light by experiments supporting the view that light is due to wave motion, and that these waves are perpendicular, or transverse, to the direction of propagation of the waves.  The wave theory, once established, explained in a simple and brilliant way the colors produced by scattering, diffraction, interference (for example, in thin films), polarization, and refraction.  It became easy to ignore Newton’s view of color as a sensation, usually, but not always, originating out of ra­diation, and to say simply that waves of length 400 to 450 nm (billionths of a meter) are violet; 450 to 480, blue; 480 to 560, green; 560 to 590, yellow; 590 to 620, orange; and 620 to800 mm, red.

To Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), student of the arts, theatrical director, and widely acclaimed author of the master works Iphigenia at Taurus, Egmont, and Faust, this simple theory of color was the result of mistaking an incidental result for an elemental principle.  His study of color phenomena, which extended over many years, had led him to an explanation of color more akin to that of Aristotle than to the new physics that he did not understand.  In a period of his life described by literary critic as “a long interval, marked by nothing of distinguished note” he wrote out a clear and sys­

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tematic description of all of his extended observations of color phenomena interspersed with the arguments supporting his explanation of them.  Instead of attacking the physicists of his own day, who deserved it, for their neglect of the subjective aspect of color, he attacked their predecessor, Newton, who did not.  All of physics, he implies, had got off to a misguided start because of its reliance on Newton.  He says (Paragraph 726) : “A great mathematician was possessed with an entirely false notion on the physical origin of colours; yet, owing to his great authority as a geometer, the mistakes which he committed as an experimentalist long became sanctioned in the eyes of a world ever fettered in prejudices.”  Again (Paragraph 725): “The theory of colours. . . has suffered much, and its progress has been incalculably retarded by having been mixed up with optics generally, a science which cannot dispense with mathematics; whereas the theory of colours, in strictness, may be investigated quite independently of optics.”

Of his own theory Goethe was supremely confident.  He writes in his Introduction (page lviii): “From the philosopher, we believe we merit thanks for having traced the phenomena of colours to their first sources, to the circumstances under which they simply appear and are, and beyond which no further explanation respecting them is possible.”  He believed it his duty


to set everybody straight, to expose the fallacies of the Newtonian theory by a detailed application of his own theory to all known color phenomena, and he hoped that the medical practitioner, the investigator of nature, the chemist, the practical dyer, and the artist would applaud his achievement, make use of it, and push its development forward.  Up to the present time, this hope has gone largely unfulfilled.

The science of optics took little notice either of Goethe’s attacks, or of his account of subjective color phenomena, or of the old-fashioned, nonmathematical explanation of color contained in his Theory of Colours published in 1810.  The physicists of Goethe’s time were of the opinion, of course, that Goethe was the one who had mistaken an incidental result for an elemental principle, not they, and they largely ignored him.  Nevertheless, this book caused a great stir among the many readers of Goethe’s masterpieces of fiction.  According to Helmholtz (Physiological Optics, Chapter 19, The Simple Colors): “The great sensation produced in Germany by Goethe’s Farbenlehre was partly due to the fact that most people, not being accustomed to the accuracy of scientific investigation, are naturally more disposed to follow a clear artistic presentation of the subject than mathematical and physical abstractions.  ,Hegel’s natural philosophy used Goethe’s theory of colour for its pur-

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poses.  Like Goethe, Hegel wanted to see in natural phenomena the direct expression of certain ideas or of certain steps of logical thought.  A similar long-lasting popular interest in England led Charles Lock Eastlake to prepare, after a lapse of 30 years and with sympathetic and scholarly notes, his accurate and free-flowing translation into English, here reissued.

The general public nowadays has .a considerable understanding of, and appreciation for, the accomplishments of physical science.  In view of the fact the Goethe’s explanation of color makes no physical sense at all, one might wonder why it is considered appropriate to reissue this English translation of the Theory of Colours.  From what standpoints might an intelligent and well-informed nonspecialist approach this 160-year-old book expounding a largely repudiated theory of color?

1. Goethe’s Theory of Colours can be read, first of all, for the beauty and sweep of his conjectures regarding the connection between color and philosophical ideas, and for the flavor of life in Europe just after our revolutionary war.  This book does not have to be studied to be enjoyed. Goethe’s subjective, rather mystical, theory of colors permits him to speak most persuasively regarding color harmony and aesthetics; it seems to make green the symbol of both heaven and hope as opposed to red, the symbol


of earthly power.  If these conjectures evoke in some readers a responsive thrill, then they must to a degree correspond to an artistic truth.  Others will regard them as pure fantasy, charmingly stated, but valuable chiefly as an indication of early nineteenth century beliefs and modes of thought.

2. Goethe’s Theory of Colours may be read as a guide to the study of color phenomena.  In this book a master of prose describes the production of color by all means available to a household in eighteenth century Weimar, and of course, easily available here and now.  He tells what equipment (vessels, diaphragms, lenses, prisms, and so on) is required to produce the color, he tells what to do with the equipment, and he tells what you ought to see.  Goethe had a passion for careful observation and accurate reporting that may come as a surprise from a theatrical director and famous author of fiction.  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).

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3. Finally, Goethe’s Theory of Colours can serve to prepare the reader for unprejudiced consideration of new solutions to the enigma of colors.  Goethe’s own solutions are interspersed with his directions for experiencing the colors.  Some of the explanations are correct, but most of them spring from Goethe’s own version of Aristotle’s view of color, largely repudiated and so far unproductive.  Nevertheless Goethe was a master salesman of his own ideas.  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 1970 sophistication, become convinced that Goethe’s theory, or at least a part of it, has been dismissed too quickly.

For example, Goethe does not deny that light from a slit allowed to pass through a prism permits an observer to see the succession of colors reported by Newton: violet, blue, green, yellow,. orange, red ( Paragraph 214), but he maintains that, far from being the fundamental phenomenon by which to explain color, it is an unimportant, incidental result of a truly basic fact.  This fact (Paragraph 198) is that circumscribed objects must be displaced by refraction in order to exhibit an appearance of color.  The displacement, not the refraction, in Goethe’s view, is the pertinent circumstance.  If the edge of a white figure is displaced over a dark boundary by viewing through a prism, he says (Paragraph 204),


a narrow blue edge appears next to this boundary, and a broader blue-red border appears next to the blue edge; but if the edge of a black figure is displaced in the same way over the light boundary, a. narrow yellow edge appears next to the boundary and a broader yellow-red border appears next to the yellow edge.  Both types of border colors thus tend toward red, which is, for Goethe, the most powerful and intense of all colors.  A white area circumscribed by a dark surround, viewed through a prism, may thus give rise to the series yellow-red, yellow, white, blue, blue-red; but if the white area be narrowed, the yellow and blue colors can be made to overlap and produce green.  The series thus becomes yellow-red, yellow, green, blue, blue-red, in close agreement with what was reported by Newton.  But refraction through a prism is not necessary for these effects, says Goethe (Paragraph 239): “. . . thus the colours produced by refraction may be fitly explained by the doctrine of the semi-transparent mediums.  For where dark passes over light, as the border of the semi-transparent accessory image advances, a yellow appears, and, on the other hand, where a light outline passes over the dark background blue appears.”  Furthermore, Goethe says (Paragraph 247): “Having now sufficiently investigated the exhibition in this phenomenon, we repeat that we cannot admit it to be an elementary phenomenon.

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On the contrary, we have traced it to an antecedent and a simpler one; we have derived it, in connexion with the theory of secondary images, from the primordial phenomenon of light and darkness, as affected or acted upon by semi-transparent mediums.”

Note how closely Goethe adheres to Aristotle’s view that color arises from the transition of brightness to darkness.  Note also how utterly Goethe ignores wavelength.  He never mentions the word.

The advantage of trying to follow Goethe’s explanations of color phenomena is that, by the time you have succeeded in doing so, your thoughts have become so divorced from the wavelength explanation of color, that you can begin to think about color theory relatively unhampered by prejudice, either ancient or modern.  Remember that if an observer is in a room illuminated entirely by light from the long-wave extreme of the spectrum, he ought, by the wavelength explanation of color, to see nothing but objects having colors intermediate to red and black.  The observable fact is, however, that he sees, in addition to these, pink, yellowish red, purplish gray, and deep greenish blue objects.  Again, if the room is illuminated entirely by two kinds of spectrum light, middle-wave and longwave, he ought, by the wavelength explanation of color, to see nothing but black, red, green,


and mixtures of them including various kinds of yellow.  Actually he sees objects having colors of all hues including blue.  The blue is said by adherents of the wavelength theory of colors to be caused by chromatic contrast, a subjective phenomenon; and this is another way of admitting that wavelength is not all there is to color.  Goethe knew all about chromatic contrast (Paragraphs 47 to 50).  Whenever we try to predict what colors will be perceived to belong to objects under non-daylight, we are likely to find that the wavelength explanation of color falls down badly.  It may be significant that these scenes must involve, as an essential element, images of circumscribed objects” insisted upon by Goethe (Paragraph 191).  Perhaps, after 160 years, Goethe’s mystical theory may come to be recognized as foreshadowing, however dimly, the next important advance in the theory of colors.




Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

THE desire of knowledge is first stimulated in us when remarkable phenomenon attract our attention.  In order that this attention be continued, it is necessary that we should feel some interest in exercising it, and thus by degrees we become better acquainted with the object of our curiosity.  During this process of observation we remark at first only a vast variety which presses indiscriminately on our view; we are forced to separate, to distinguish, and again to combine; by which means at last a certain order arises which admits of being surveyed with more or less satisfaction.

To accomplish this, only in a certain degree, in any department, requires an unremitting and close application; and we find, for this reason, that men prefer substituting a general theoretical view, or some system of explanation, for the facts themselves, instead of taking the trouble to make themselves first acquainted with cases in detail and then constructing a whole.

The attempt to describe and class the phenomena of colours has been only twice made: first by Theophrastus,* and in modern times

* The treatise to which the author alludes is more generally ascribed to Aristotle - T.

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Boyle.  The pretensions of the present essay to the third place will hardly be disputed.

Our historical survey enters into further details.  Here we merely observe that in the last century such a classification was not to be thought of, because Newton had based his hypothesis on a phenomenon exhibited in a complicated and secondary state; and to this the other cases that forced themselves on the attention were contrived to be referred, when they could not be passed over in silence; just as an astronomer would do, if from whim he were to place the moon in the centre of our system; he would be compelled to make the earth, sun, and planets revolve round the lesser body, and be forced to disguise and gloss over the error of his first assumption by ingenious calculations and plausible statements.

In our prefatory observations we assumed the reader to be acquainted with what was known respecting light; here we assume the same with regard to the eye.  We observed that all nature manifests itself by means of colours to the sense of sight.  We now assert, extraordinary as it may in some degree appear, that the eye sees no form, inasmuch as light, shade, and colour together constitute that which to our vision distinguishes object from object, and the parts of an object from each other.  From these three, light, shade and colour, we construct the visible


world, and thus, at the same time, make painting possible, an art which has the power of producing on a flat surface a much more perfect visible world than the actual one can be.

The eye may be said to owe its existence to light, which calls forth, as it were, a sense that is akin to itself; the eye, in short, is formed with reference to light, to be fit for the action of light; the light it contains corresponding with the light without.

We are here reminded of a significant adage in constant use with the ancient Ionian school - “Like is only known by Like”; and again, of the words of an old mystic writer, which may be thus rendered, “If the eye were not sunny, how could we perceive light?  If God’s own strength lived not in us, how could we delight in Divine things?”  This immediate affinity between light and the eye will be denied by none; to consider them as identical in substance is less easy to comprehend.  It will be more intelligible to assert that a dormant light resides in the eye, and that it may be excited by the slightest cause from within or from without.  In darkness we can, by an effort of imagination, call up the brightest images; in dreams objects appear to us as in broad daylight; awake, the slightest external action of light is perceptible, and if the organ suffers an actual shock, light and colours spring forth.

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Here, however, those who are wont to proceed according to a certain method, may perhaps observe that as yet we have not decidedly explained what colour is.  This question, like the definition of light and the eye, we would for the present evade, and would appeal to our inquiry itself, where we have circumstantially shown how colour is produced.  We have only therefore to repeat that colour is a law of nature in relation with the sense of sight.  We must assume, too, that every one has this sense, that every one knows the operation of nature on it, for to a blind man it would be impossible to speak of colours.

That we may not, however, appear too anxious to shun such an explanation, we would re-state what has been said as follows: colour is an elementary phenomenon in nature adapted to the sense of vision; a phenomenon which like all others, exhibits itself by separation and contrast, by commixture and union by augmentation and neutralization, by communication and dissolution: under these general terms its nature may be best comprehended,

We do not press this mode of stating the subject on any one.  Those who, like ourselves, find it convenient, will readily adopt it; but we have no desire to enter the lists hereafter in its defence.  From time immemorial it has been dangerous to treat of colour; so much so, that


one of our predecessors ventured on a certain occasion to say, “The ox becomes furious if a red cloth is shown to him; but the philosopher, who speaks of colour only in a general way, begins to rave.”

Nevertheless, if we are to proceed to give some account of our work, to which we have appealed, we must begin by explaining how we have classed the different conditions under which colour is produced.  We found three modes in which it appears; three classes of colours, or rather three exhibitions of them all.  The distinctions of these classes are easily expressed.

Thus in the first instance, we considered colours, as far as they may be said to belong to the eye itself, and depend on an action and re-action of the organ next, they attracted our attention as perceived in, or by  means of, colourless mediums and lastly where we could consider them as belonging to particular substances.  We have denominated the first, physiological, the second, physical, the third, chemical colours.  The first are fleeting and not to be arrested; the next are passing, but still for a while enduring; the last may be made permanent for any length of time.

Having separated these classes and kept them as distinct as possible, with a view to a clear, didactic exposition, we have been enabled at

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the same time to exhibit them in an unbroken series, to connect the fleeting with the somewhat more enduring, and these again with the permanent hues; and thus, after having carefully attended to a distinct classification in the first instance, to do away with it again when a larger view was desirable.

In a fourth division of our work we have therefore treated generally what was previously detailed under various particular conditions, and have thus, in fact, given a sketch for a future theory of colours.  We will here only anticipate our statements so far as to observe, that light and darkness, brightness and obscurity, or if a more general expression is preferred, light and its absence, are necessary to the production of colour.  Next to the light, a colour appears which we call yellow; another appears next to the darkness, which we name blue.  When these, in their purest state, are so mixed that they are exactly equal, they produce a third colour called green.  Each of the two first-named colours can however of itself produce a new tint by being condensed or darkened.  They thus acquire a reddish appearance which can be increased to so great a degree that the original blue or yellow is hardly to be recognised in it; but the intensest and purest red, especially in physical cases, is produced when the two extremes of the yellow-red and blue-red are


united.  This is the actual state of the appearance and generation of colours.  But we can also assume an existing red in addition to the definite existing blue and yellow, and we can produce contrariwise, by mixing, what we directly produced by augmentation or deepening.  With these three or six colours, which may be conveniently included in a circle, the elementary doctrine of colours is alone concerned.  All other modifications, which may be extended to infinity, have reference more to the application, - have reference to the technical operations of the painter and dyer, and the various purposes of artificial life.  To point out another general quality, we may observe that colours throughout are to be considered as half-lights, as half-shadows, on which account if they are so mixed -as reciprocally to destroy their specific hues, a shadowy tint, a grey, is produced.

In the fifth division of our inquiry we had proposed to point out the relations in which we should wish our doctrine of colours to stand to other pursuits.  Important as this part of our work is, it is perhaps on this very account not so successful as we could wish.  Yet when we reflect that strictly speaking these relations cannot be described before they exist, we may console ourselves if we have in some degree failed in endeavouring for the first time to define them.  For undoubtedly we should first

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wait to see how those whom we have endeavoured to serve, to whom we have intended to make an agreeable and useful offering, how such persons, we say, will accept the result of our utmost exertion: whether they will adopt it, whether they will make use of it and follow it up, or whether they will repel, reject, and suffer it to remain unassisted and neglected.

Meanwhile, we venture to express what we believe and hope.  From the philosopher we believe we merit thanks for having traced the phenomena of colours to their first sources, to the circumstances under which they simply appear and are, and beyond which no further explanation respecting them is possible.  It will, besides, be gratifying to him that we have arranged the appearances described in a form that admits of being easily surveyed, even should he not altogether approve of the arrangement itself.

The medical practitioner, especially him whose study it is to watch over the organ of sight, to preserve it, to assist its defects and to cure its disorders, we reckon to make especially our friend.  In the chapter on the physiological colours, in the Appendix relating to those that are more strictly pathological, he will find himself quite in his own province.  We are not without hopes of seeing the physiological phenomena, - a hitherto neglected, and, we may add, most important branch of the theory of


colours, - completely investigated through the exertions of those individuals who in our own times are treating this department with success.

The investigator of nature should receive us cordially, since we enable him to exhibit the doctrine of colours in the series of other elementary phenomena, and at the same time enable him to make use of a corresponding nomenclature, nay, almost the same words and designations as under the other rubrics.  It is true we give him rather more trouble as a teacher, for the chapter of colours is not now to be dismissed as heretofore with a few paragraphs and experiments; nor will the scholar submit to be so scantily entertained as he has hitherto been, without murmuring.  On the other hand, an advantage will afterwards arise out of this: for if the Newtonian doctrine was easily learnt, insurmountable difficulties presented themselvse in its application.  Our theory is perhaps more difficult to comprehend, but once known, all is accomplished, for it carries its application along with it.

The chemist who looks upon colours as indications by which he may detect the more secret properties of material things, has hitherto found much inconvenience in the denomination and description of colours; nay, some have been induced after closer and nicer examination to look upon colour as an uncertain and fallacious cri-

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terion in chemical operations.  Yet we hope by means of our arrangement and the nomenclature before alluded to, to bring colour again into credit, and to awaken the conviction that a progressive, augmenting, mutable quality, a quality which admits of alteration even to inversion, is not fallacious, but rather calculated to bring to light the most delicate operations of nature.

In looking a little further round us, we are not without fears that we may fail to satisfy another class of scientific men.  By an extraordinary combination of circumstances the theory of colours has been drawn into the province and before the tribunal of the mathematician, a tribunal to which it cannot be said to be amenable.  This was owing to its affinity with the other laws of vision which the mathematician was legitimately called upon to treat.  It was owing, again, to another circumstance: a great mathematician had investigated the theory of colours, and having been mistaken in his observations as an experimentalist, he employed the whole force of his talent to give consistency to this mistake.  Were both these circumstances considered, all misunderstanding would presently be removed, and the mathematician would willingly co-operate with us, especially in the physical department of the theory.

To the practical man, to the dyer, on the other hand, our labour must be altogether ac-


ceptable; for it was precisely those who reflected on the facts resulting from the operations of dyeing who were the least satisfied with the old theory: they were the first who perceived the insufficiency of the Newtonian doctrine.  The conclusions of men are very different according to the mode in which they approach a science or branch of knowledge; from which side, through which door they enter.  The literally practical man, the manufacturer, whose attention is constantly and forcibly called to the facts which occur under his eye, who experiences benefit or detriment from the application of his convictions, to whom loss of time and money is not indifferent, who is desirous of advancing, who aims at equalling or surpassing what others have accomplished, - such a person feels the unsoundness and erroneousness of a theory much sooner than the man of letters, in whose eyes words consecrated by authority are at last equivalent to solid coin; than the mathematician, whose formula always remains infallible, even although the foundation on which it is constructed may not square with it.  Again, to carry on the figure before employed, in entering this theory from the side of painting, from the side of aesthetic* colouring generally, we shall be

* Aesthetic - be1onging to taste as mere internal sense, from [Greek not reproduced], to feel; the word was first used by Wolf. - T.


found to have accomplished a most thankworthy office for the artist.  In the sixth part we have endeavoured to define the effects of colour as addressed at once to the eye and mind, with a view to making them more available for the purposes of art.  Although much in this portion, and indeed throughout, has been suffered to remain as a sketch, it should be remembered that all theory can in strictness only point out leading principles, under the guidance of which, practice may proceed with vigour and be enabled to attain legitimate results.




adapted from notes prepared by

Susan von Finckenstein, Research & Evaluation,

Canada Council, Ottawa, 1988

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s  Zur Farbenlehre (Theory of Colours) consists of two volumes containing the following:


Translated into English

Beitraege zur Optik (Contributions to Optics): a lecture on prismatic experiments, called subjective ones, i.e. experienced by the eye of the observer made up of 47 pages with122 paragraphs published 1791;


Versuch, die Elemente der Farbenlehre zu entdecken (Attempt to Discover the Elements of the Theory of Colours) made up of 18 pages with 45 paragraphs published 1794; and,


Widmung an Herzogin Luise von Sachsen-Weimar und Eisenach (Dedication to Duchess Luise von Sachsen-Weimar und Eisenach) consisting of a 2 page letter of January 30, 1808.



Of this first part of Zur Farbenlehre, the following sections have been translated into English:

Vorwort (Preface to the First Edition);

Einleitung (Introduction);

Erster Band, Erster, didaktischer Teil (First volume, First, didactic part) made up of 920 paragraphs;

Zugabe (An addition, comments to a copy of a letter from the painter Philipp Otto Runge); and,

Schlusswort (Concluding remarks).



Not Translated into English

Enthuellung der Theorie Newtons (Explication of Newton’s Theory) - Erster Band, Zweiter, polemischer Teil (First volume, Second, polemic part - may be left out, if only a certain amount of text can be published).


In a note at the beginning Goethe declares - freely translated:

“I am not too proud of my achievements as a poet.  Excellent creative writers lived in my time, even more brilliant ones before me, and there will always exist some after my time.  But that I am the only one in my century who knows the truth about the theory of colours - that is which I am proud of and which gives me a feeling of superiority over many!”



Einleitung . (Introduction) made up of 5 pages and 14 paragraphs;

Zwischenrede (Intermediate Remarks) made up of 3 pages and 9 paragraphs;

Teil (First part) made up of 656 paragraphs

Abschluss (Conclusion - freely translated: “… we trust to have made it clear that Newton’s hypothetical explanation and conclusions of colour phenomena from refractions is not foo1proof.”

Vorrede des Herausgebers (Preface of the publisher) made up of 4 pages; and,

Einleitung (Introduction) by Rudolf Steiner made up of 26 pages.



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