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Goethe contra Newton: Polemics and the Project for a New Science of Color Paperback – 18 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Revised ed. edition (18 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521531322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521531320
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,799,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Goethe Contra Newton Sepper shows that the condemnation of Goethe's attacks on Newton has been based on erroneous assumptions about the history of Newton's theory. Full description

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Format: Paperback
This is a book with an excellent analysis of the reasons behind Goethe's attempt to discredit Newton's Opticks, specifically his work on the generation of colour in the spectrum obtained by the refraction of a "ray" of light (through a prism) emitted through a small pinhole. It must be remembered that Dennis Sepper is a philosopher rather than a physicist which means that the actual analysis of Goethe's work on 'Colour Theory' is not so deeply studied, although he does say just enough to give the impression all is not well with the standard Newtonian view and that Goethe's observations, especially the fact that the spectrum obtained by the above technqiue is a product of two spectra obtained at the edges between a dark and lighter surface e.g. a card with half black and half white colouring, remain valid today. The spectrum then only ever appears at the boundary between the two and only certain colours of the spectrum, reversing the position of black and white shows some more spectral colurs and the meeting of the two produces the green seen in standard spectra.

Sepper separates the book into sections with the first an introduction explicating both Goethe's and Newton's ideas followed by the second section on Goethe's first work on colour: "The Beitraege" and its differences to the later "Farbenlehre" and the reason for these differences. The third section discusses the inherent problems within Newton's views and his experimentun crucis. The remaining chapters discuss how Goethe was right and where he was wrong as well as his very sophisticated ideas on the philosophy of science which makes him one of the earliest student's of the discipline; something which was not fully investigated until the 20th Century.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c564af8) out of 5 stars 1 review
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ba72db0) out of 5 stars A superbly argued thesis. 31 Mar. 2003
By Frank Bierbrauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a book with an excellent analysis of the reasons behind Goethe's attempt to discredit Newton's Opticks, specifically his work on the generation of colour in the spectrum obtained by the refraction of a "ray" of light (through a prism) emitted through a small pinhole. It must be remembered that Dennis Sepper is a philosopher rather than a physicist which means that the actual analysis of Goethe's work on 'Colour Theory' is not so deeply studied, although he does say just enough to give the impression all is not well with the standard Newtonian view and that Goethe's observations, especially the fact that the spectrum obtained by the above technqiue is a product of two spectra obtained at the edges between a dark and lighter surface e.g. a card with half black and half white colouring, remain valid today. The spectrum then only ever appears at the boundary between the two and only certain colours of the spectrum, reversing the position of black and white shows some more spectral colurs and the meeting of the two produces the green seen in standard spectra.
Sepper separates the book into sections with the first an introduction explicating both Goethe's and Newton's ideas followed by the second section on Goethe's first work on colour: "The Beitraege" and its differences to the later "Farbenlehre" and the reason for these differences. The third section discusses the inherent problems within Newton's views and his experimentun crucis. The remaining chapters discuss how Goethe was right and where he was wrong as well as his very sophisticated ideas on the philosophy of science which makes him one of the earliest student's of the discipline; something which was not fully investigated until the 20th Century.
Its a superbly argued book and Sepper never at any point verges too much in either direction. Both weaknesses and strengths are highlighted, in both instances, whether Goethe or Newton. Sepper makes the point that there is still much to colour science, even as it stands today, that needs to be more fully explored. Even with the tremendously successful wave theory which explains most of the phenomena of light and colour. I say most given that quantum theory was needed for some cases and who knows what still remains to be discovered. maybe even some of the observations of Goethe may still need to be explained.
I would say that of all the books written on the subject of the so-called non-scientific science of Goethe, this is by far the best. Having read both critiques of Goethe by scientists and other books by proponents of Goethe this one is very clear and gets to the bottom of often vague statements made by others. Only Bortoft's book on "The Wholeness of Nature" does the same kind of justice.
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