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The Republic of ColorScience, Perception, and the Making of Modern America$
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Michael Rossi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226651729

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226651866.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021



Cloven Tongues of Fire

(p.1) Introduction
(p.iii) The Republic of Color

Michael Rossi

University of Chicago Press

This introductory chapter sketches the early nineteenth century roots of American color science, beginning with the work of the American researcher, Joseph Henry. Henry was an exponent of “common sense philosophy” – a ubiquitous worldview in American science in which sensations of colors were taken to be objective manifestations of the physical world. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Henry’s philosophy was challenged by the emergence new sciences which held colors to be subjective manifestations of human psychology and physiology. These new color ontologies suggested radical new definitions of matters of fact – and, therefore, of matters of science, morality, politics, and aesthetic awareness.

Keywords:   Joseph Henry, common sense philosophy, objectivity, philosophy of vision, color and politics

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