Chapter

Conclusion: The History of a Life in Art and Science

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/9780226712185.003.0012
Conclusion: The History of a Life in Art and Science

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Biologists and historians of biology, starting at the beginning of the past century, have usually denigrated Goethe's scientific accomplishments. On the one hand, his arguments for the presence of the intermaxillary bone in man have been dismissed, and his entire theory of the archetype thought a Platonic shadow that had to fade in light of the new evolutionary ideas just emerging. On the other hand, uncritical enthusiasts for Goethe have granted him the palm when faced with an obviously even more unworthy claimant, as Lorenz Oken was thought to be. Goethe constructed his science out of many elements: the physical evidence before him, the ideas of his predecessors (such as Spinoza) and contemporaries (such as Kant and Schelling), his own artistic imagination, and the features of a complex personality and tremendously active life.

Keywords: historians; biologists; Goethe; art; science

Chapter.  2172 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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