Henry Corbin quoting from polymath Goethe’s ‘Farbenlehre’ (Theory of Colors)

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Goethe, Farbenkreis zur Symbolisierung des menschlichen Geistes- und Seelenlebens, 1809.


Our new sharing from the Blue House of Hygeia is Henry Corbin quoting from polymath Goethe’s ‘Farbenlehre’ (Theory of Colors) in his ‘The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism’.


‘‘The eye, (writes Goethe) owes its existence to light. From an auxiliary, sensory apparatus, animal and neutral, light has called forth, produced for itself, an organ like unto itself; thus, the eye was formed by light, of light and for light, so that the inner light might come in contact with the outer light. At this very point we are reminded of the ancient Ionian School, which never ceased to repeat, giving it capital importance, that like is only known by like. And thus, we shall remember also the words of an ancient mystic (Jacob Boehme, in ‘Aurora’) that I would like to paraphrase as follow: ‘If the eye were not by nature solar, how should we be able to look at the light? If God’s own power did not live in us, how would the divine be able to carry us off in ecstasy?’’


‘’From the idea of polarity inherent in the phenomenon, from the knowledge that we have reached of its particular determination, we can conclude that particular impressions of colors are not interchangeable, but that they act in a specific way and must produce conditions having a decisive effect on the living organism. The same applies to the soul (Gemüt): Experience teaches us that particular colors produce definite mental impressions.’’


“Finally it will be easy to foresee that colors can assume a mystical significance. In effect, the schema in which the diversity of colors is represented suggests the archetypal condition (Ürverhaltnisse) that belong equally to man’s visual perception and to nature; that being established, there is no doubt that one cans make use of their respective relationships, as of a language, if one wishes to express those archetypal conditions, which do not of themselves affect the senses with the same force or with the same diversity.’’


‘If the polarity of yellow and blue has truly been grasped, if in particular their intensification into red has been well noted and it has become clear how these opposites tend towards one another and reunite in a third color, then it cannot be doubted that the intuition of a profound secret is beginning to dawn in us, a foretaste of the possibility that a spiritual meaning might be attributed to these two separate and mutually opposed entities. When they are seen to produce green below and red above, one can hardly refrain from thinking that one is contemplating here the earthly creatures and there the heavenly creatures of the Elohim.’

Henry Corbin quoting from Goethe’s ‘Farbenlehre’ (Theory of Colors)in his ‘The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism’ last chapter, page 138 to 144.Omega Publications. Translation into English from the original French by Nancy Pearson. *** Further reading: /é_des_couleurs/
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