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Hermann von Helmholtz

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Hermann von Helmholtz
BornHermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz
(1821-08-31)August 31, 1821
Potsdam, Kingdom of Prussia
DiedSeptember 8, 1894(1894-09-08) (aged 73)
Charlottenburg, German Empire
Alma materMedicinisch-chirurgisches Friedrich-Wilhelm-Institut [de]
InfluencesJohann Gottlieb Fichte
Immanuel Kant
Hermann Lotze[1]
InfluencedFriedrich Albert Lange[2]
Ludwig Wittgenstein[3]
Notable awardsMatteucci Medal (1868)
Copley Medal (1873)
Faraday Lectureship Prize (1881)
Albert Medal (1888)

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (31 August 1821 – 8 September 1894) was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions in several scientific fields. The Helmholtz Association is named after him.[4]

In physiology and psychology, he is known for his mathematics of the eye, theories of vision, ideas on the visual perception of space, and color vision research. His work on the sensation of tone, perception of sound, and the physiology of perception is also notable.

In physics, he is known for his theories on the conservation of energy, work in electrodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and on a mechanical foundation of thermodynamics.

As a philosopher, he is known for his philosophy of science, ideas on the relation between the laws of perception and the laws of nature, the science of aesthetics, and ideas on the civilizing power of science.


  1. Hermann von Helmholtz entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Lydia Patton
  2. Friedrich Albert Lange entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Nadeem J. Z. Hussain
  3. Patton, Lydia, 2009, "Signs, Toy Models, and the A Priori: from Helmholtz to Wittgenstein," Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 40 (3): 281–289.
  4. Cahan, David (1993). Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08334-2 . [page needed]