A Commitment to Observation

Elemente der Naturwissenschaft 83, 2005, P. 90-96 | DOI: 10.18756/edn.83.90


In his article Pepe Veugelers (Veugelers 2005) takes up the old issue of whether it is possible to explain “prismatic colours”, i.e. the characteristically coloured and diffuse transitions between bright and dark structures seen obliquely through a boundary between media of different optical densities, with Goethe’s ‘archetypal phenomenon’1 ? In other words his project is to explain colours which arise under the use of dispersive optical media in the context of looking through ‘hazy’ media, i.e. media that in a conventional manner of speaking cause ‘light scattering’. I will not try to decide whether such a project can be at all fruitful, although there are some concerns that will be mentioned later, but I will discuss why Veugelers’ arguments are not convincing for me. Two objections touch his argumentation directly and lead us to more fundamental methodological issues.

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