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The Goethe Triangle

About the Piece
From about 1790 to about 1810 the poet Wolfgang Goethe worked on the science of light and colour. The resulting Theory of Colour (1810) consisted of three sections: a ‘didactic’ section on the experimental science, a ‘polemic’ section intended to dethrone Newtonian orthodoxy, and , most interestingly, a ‘historical’ section on theories of colour since the pre-Socratics.

Although, even in his lifetime, Goethe’s physics was regarded as naïve, his work did capture a sense of an unending scientific process – a world containing God and contained by God, in which force is present in action and reaction – and to the endlessly controversial and changing nature of the scientific discourse with which they engage. (John Waley Goethe: Selected Poems 1998).

Should your glance on mornings lovely
Lift to drink the heaven's blue
Or when sun, veiled by sirocco,
Royal red sinks out of view -
Give to Nature praise and honour.
Blithe of heart and sound of eye,
Knowing for the world of colour
Where its broad foundations lie.

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Nigel Morgan, Prudential Buildings, 55 Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1BW, United Kingdom Tel: 01924 383017 e-mail: tonalitysystems@mac.com

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