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The Young-(Helmholtz)-Maxwell Theory of Color Vision

Heesen, Remco (2015) The Young-(Helmholtz)-Maxwell Theory of Color Vision. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In the second volume of the "Handbuch der physiologischen Optik", published in 1860, Helmholtz sets out a three-receptor theory of color vision using coterminal response curves, and shows that this theory can unify most phenomena of color mixing known at the time. Maxwell had publicized the same theory five years earlier, but Helmholtz barely acknowledges this fact in the "Handbuch". Some historians have argued that this is because Helmholtz independently discovered the theory around the same time as Maxwell. This paper argues that this hypothesis is implausible. By writing what he did in the "Handbuch", Helmholtz (purposefully or not) influenced the field's perception of its own history. As a result, Helmholtz has received more recognition for his contributions to the field of color mixing than was his due, and Maxwell less.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Heesen, Remcor.heesen@lse.ac.uk0000-0003-3823-944X
Keywords: History of physiology; History of color mixing; Hermann von Helmholtz; James Clerk Maxwell; Priority
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Depositing User: Remco Heesen
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2015 22:46
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2023 13:10
Item ID: 11279
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Date: 23 January 2015
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11279

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