Introduction: A Most Happy Encounter

in The Romantic Conception of Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780226712109
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226712185 | DOI:
Introduction: A Most Happy Encounter

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Historians of nineteenth-century science usually dismiss anything sounding like Romantic science as an aberration and suspect that anyone following such a red thread will be traveling down a path that terminates in the higher nonsense. Historical investigations of Romanticism may be amusing enough for the moment but certainly not instructive about the authentic science of the period, the science that grounds contemporary understanding. Romantic thinkers considered the activities of the scientist comparable to that of the artist, for both employed creative imagination. And when addressing nature, both found in their object a source of similar creativity. Nature's forms—various, unexpected, delightful, but exhibiting a deep unity—had to be regarded as creative expressions as well. Romantic biologists thus concluded that in nature “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Keywords: historians; nature; Romanticism; scientist; biologist

Chapter.  6230 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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