Chapter

Goethe's Scientific Revolution

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226712185.003.0011
Goethe's Scientific Revolution

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Goethe's theories of morphology became the established mode of biology in the first half of the century and they cleared the way for the triumph of Darwinian science in the second half. This understanding of Goethe's scientific accomplishment deviates from recent evaluations. Goethe portrayed the various stages of plant development as expressive of the universal forces of expansion and contraction—or, as one found them in the nonanimate sphere, forces of repulsion and attraction. Goethe credits Schiller's monograph with introducing into aesthetic discourse the categories of the classical and the Romantic, when these were synonyms for the real and the ideal. Goethe introduced a new proposal that would distinguish archetypes according to the kinds of development they specified. His proposal rested on the differences he now recognized in the organizational structure of mineral bodies, plants, insects, and higher animals.

Keywords: Goethe; revolution; Romantic; Schiller; plant development

Chapter.  43567 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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