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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( , 28 August 1749 22 March 1832) was a German writer and polymath. Goethe's works span the fields of poetry, drama, literature, theology, philosophy, humanism and science. His magnum opus, lauded as one of the peaks of world literature, is the two-part drama Faust. Goethe's other well-known literary works include his numerous poems, the Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; this movement coincides with Enlightenment, Sentimentality ( ), Sturm und Drang and Romanticism. The author of the scientific text Theory of Colours, his influential ideas on plant and animal morphology and homology were extended and developed by 19th century naturalists including Charles Darwin. He also served at length as the Privy Councilor ("Geheimrat") of the duchy of Weimarmarker.

Goethe is the originator of the concept of Weltliteratur ("world literature"), having taken great interest in the literatures of England, France, Italy, classical Greece, Persia, the Arab world, and others. His influence on German philosophy is virtually immeasurable, having major effect especially on the generation of Hegel and Schelling, although Goethe himself expressly and decidedly refrained from practicing philosophy in the specialized sense.

Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a major source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry and philosophy. Goethe is considered by many to be the most important writer in the German language and one of the most important thinkers in Western culture as well. Early in his career, however, he wondered whether painting might not be his true vocation; late in his life, he expressed the expectation that he would ultimately be remembered above all for his work on colour.

Early life

Goethe's father, Johann Caspar Goethe (Frankfurt am Mainmarker, Hessenmarker, 29 July 1710 Frankfurt, 25 May 1782), lived with his family in a large house in Frankfurt, then an Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire. Goethe's mother, Catharina Elisabeth Textor (Frankfurt, 19 February 1731 Frankfurt, 15 September 1808), the daughter of the Mayor of Frankfurt Johann Wolfgang Textor (Frankfurt, 11 December 1693 Frankfurt, 6 February 1771) and wife (married at Wetzlarmarker, 2 February 1726) Anna Margaretha Lindheimer (Wetzlar, 23 July 1711 Frankfurt, 18 April 1783, a descendant of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Henry III, Landgrave of Hesse-Marburg), married 38-year-old Johann Caspar when she was 17 at Frankfurt on 20 August 1748. All their children, except for Goethe and his sister, Cornelia Friederike Christiana, who was born in 1750, died at early ages.

Johann Caspar and private tutors gave Goethe lessons in all the common subjects of that time, especially languages (Latin, Greek, French and English). Goethe also received lessons in dancing, riding and fencing. Johann Caspar was the type of father who, feeling frustrated in his own ambitions by what he saw as a deficiency of educational advantages, was determined that his children would have all those advantages which he had not had.Goethe had a persistent dislike of the church, characterizing its history as a "hotchpotch of fallacy and violence" (Mischmasch von Irrtum und Gewalt). His great passion was drawing. Goethe quickly became interested in literature; Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and Homer were among his early favourites. He had a lively devotion to theatre as well and was greatly fascinated by puppet shows that were annually arranged in his home; a familiar theme in Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.

Legal career

Goethe studied law in Leipzigmarker from 1765 to 1768. Learning age-old judicial rules by heart was something he strongly detested. He preferred to attend the poetry lessons of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. In Leipzig, Goethe fell in love with Käthchen Schönkopf and wrote cheerful verses about her in the Rococo genre. In 1770, he anonymously released Annette, his first collection of poems. His uncritical admiration for many contemporary poets vanished as he became interested in Lessing and Wieland. Already at this time, Goethe wrote a good deal, but he threw away nearly all of these works, except for the comedy Die Mitschuldigen. The restaurant Auerbachs Kellermarker and its legend of Faust's 1525 barrel ride impressed him so much that Auerbachs Keller became the only real place in his closet drama Faust Part One. Because his studies did not progress, Goethe was forced to return to Frankfurt at the close of August 1768.

In Frankfurt, Goethe became severely ill. During the year and a half that followed, because of several relapses, the relationship with his father worsened. During convalescence, Goethe was nursed by his mother and sister. Bored in bed, he wrote an impudent crime comedy. In April 1770, his father lost his patience; Goethe left Frankfurt in order to finish his studies in Strasbourgmarker.

In Alsacemarker, Goethe blossomed. No other landscape has he described as affectionately as the warm, wide Rhine area. In Strasbourg, Goethe met Johann Gottfried Herder, who happened to be in town on the occasion of an eye operation. The two became close friends, and crucially to Goethe's intellectual development, it was Herder who kindled his interest in Shakespeare, Ossian and in the notion of Volkspoesie (folk poetry). On October 14 1772 he held a speech in his parental home in honour of the first German "Shakespeare Day". His first meeting with Shakespeare's works is described as his personally awakening in literature.

On a trip to the village Sesenheim, Goethe fell in love with Friederike Brion, but, after a couple of weeks, terminated the relationship. Several of his poems, like , and , originate from this time.

Despite being based on his own ideas, his legal thesis was published uncensored. Shortly after, he was offered a career in the French government. Goethe rejected it; he did not want to commit himself, but to instead remain an "original genius".

At the end of August 1771, Goethe was certified as a licensee in Frankfurt. He wanted to make the jurisdiction progressively more humane. In his first cases, he proceeded too vigorously, was reprimanded and lost the position. This prematurely terminated his career as a lawyer after only a few months. At this time, Goethe was acquainted with the court of Darmstadtmarker, where his inventiveness was praised. From this milieu came Johann Georg Schlosser (who was later to become his brother-in-law) and Johann Heinrich Merck. Goethe also pursued literary plans again; this time, his father did not have anything against it, and even helped. Goethe obtained a copy of the biography of a noble highwayman from the Peasants' War. In a couple of weeks the biography was reworked into a colourful drama. Entitled Götz von Berlichingen, the work went directly to the heart of Goethe's contemporaries.

Goethe could not subsist on being one of the editors of a literary periodical (published by Schlosser and Merck). In May 1772 he once more began the practice of law at Wetzlarmarker. In 1774 Goethe wrote the book which would bring him worldwide fame, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Despite the immense success of Werther, it did not bring Goethe much financial gain copyright law at the time being essentially nonexistent. (In later years Goethe would bypass this problem by periodically authorizing "new, revised" editions of his Complete Works.)

Early years in Weimar

Johann Wolfgang Goethe ca. 1775
In 1775, Goethe was invited, on the strength of his fame as the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther, to the court of Carl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. (The Duke at the time was 18 years of age, to Goethe's 26.) Goethe thus went to live in Weimarmarker, where he remained for the rest of his life and where, over the course of many years, he held a succession of offices, becoming the Duke's chief adviser.

Goethe, aside from official duties, was also a friend and confidant to the Duke, and participated fully in the activities of the court. For Goethe, his first ten years at Weimar could well be described as a garnering of a degree and range of experience which perhaps could be achieved in no other way. Goethe was ennobled in 1782 (this being indicated by the "von" in his name).

During Goethe's term of office as a member of the Geheime Consilium, the top deliberative circle of the Duke Carl August of Saxony-Weimar, there were three cases of the killing of a newborn infant by its mother. Whereas in 1781 Dorothea Altwein was sentenced to lifelong penal servitude (she was released after 27 years), and Maria Rost was assigned to lifelong penal servitude by the Duke without judicial sentence (she was released after 6 years), Johanna Höhn was executed. Johanna Catharina Höhn, born the 15th of April 1759 in Tannroda in Saxony-Weimar, had killed her just-born baby, a boy, in an attack of panic. Her crime exposed her to a possible death sentence by sword. But Duke Carl August sent her punishment to be adjudicated, due to arguments for its mitigation. The duke wished to save her, repealing capital punishment in her case and sentencing her to lifelong penal servitude. He therefore referred Johanna's case to members of his government and deliberative circle for consideration. The three members of the Consilium, Goethe, Fritsch and Schnauss, voted on the matter on 4 November 1783. The other counsellors, Fritsch and Schnauss, voted first. Goethe's vote decided the issue. In Saxony-Weimar capital punishment was not repealed. Duke Carl August immediately ordered Johanna's execution. Johanna Höhn was beheaded on 28 November 1783.

Italy

Goethe's journey to the Italian peninsula from 1786 to 1788 was of great significance in his æsthetical and philosophical development. His father had made a similar journey during his own youth, and his example was a major motivating factor for Goethe to make the trip. More importantly, however, the work of Johann Joachim Winckelmann had provoked a general renewed interest in the classical art of ancient Greece and Rome. Thus Goethe's journey had something of the nature of a pilgrimage to it. During the course of his trip Goethe met and befriended the artists Angelica Kauffmann and Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, as well as encountering such notable characters as Lady Hamilton and Alessandro Cagliostro (see Affair of the Diamond Necklace).

He also journeyed to Sicily during this time, and wrote intriguingly that "To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything." While in Southern Italy and Sicily, Goethe encountered, for the first time genuine Greek (as opposed to Roman) architecture, and was quite startled by its relative simplicity. Winckelmann had not recognized the distinctness of the two styles.

Goethe's diaries of this period form the basis of the non-fiction Italian Journey. Italian Journey only covers the first year of Goethe's visit. The remaining year is largely undocumented, aside from the fact that he spent much of it in Venicemarker. This "gap in the record" has been the source of much speculation over the years.

In the decades which immediately followed its publication in 1816 Italian Journey inspired countless German youths to follow Goethe's example. This is pictured, somewhat satirically, in George Eliot's Middlemarch.

Weimar

In late 1792, Goethe took part in the battle of Valmymarker against revolutionary France, assisting Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar during the failed invasion of France. Again during the Siege of Mainz he assisted Carl August as a military observer. His written account of these events can be found within his Complete Works.

In 1794 Friedrich Schiller wrote to Goethe offering friendship; they had previously had only a mutually wary relationship ever since first becoming acquainted in 1788. This collaborative friendship lasted until Schiller's death in 1805.

In 1806, Goethe was living in Weimar with his mistress Christiane Vulpius, the sister of Christian A. Vulpius, and their son Julius August Walter von Goethe. On 13 October, Napoleon's army invaded the town. The French "spoon guards", the least-disciplined soldiers, occupied Goethe's house.

The next day, Goethe legitimized their eighteen year relationship by marrying Christiane in a quiet marriage service at the court chapel. They already had several children together by this time. Their son, Julius August Walter von Goethe (25 December 1789 28 October 1830), whose wife, Ottilie von Pogwisch (31 October 1796 26 October 1872), cared for the elder Goethe until his death in 1832. The younger couple had three children: Walther, Freiherr von Goethe (9 April 1818 15 April 1885), Wolfgang, Freiherr von Goethe (18 September 1820 20 January 1883) and Alma von Goethe (29 October 1827 29 September 1844). Christiane Vulpius died in 1816.

Later life

After 1793, Goethe devoted his endeavours primarily to literature. By 1820, Goethe was on amiable terms with Kaspar Maria von Sternberg.In 1823, having recovered from a near fatal heart illness, Goethe fell in love with Ulrike von Levetzow whom he wanted to marry, but because of the opposition of her mother he never proposed. Their last meeting in Carlsbadmarker on 5 September 1823 inspired him to the famous Marienbad Elegy which he considered one of his finest and dearest works.

In 1832, after a life of vast productivity, Goethe died in Weimarmarker. He is buried in the Ducal Vault at Weimar's Historical Cemetery.

Eckermann closes his famous work, Conversations with Goethe, with this passage:

The first production of Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin took place in Weimarmarker in 1850. The conductor was Franz Liszt, who chose the date 28 August in honour of Goethe, who was born on 28 August 1749.

Works



Literary work

The most important of Goethe's works produced before he went to Weimar were his tragedy Götz von Berlichingen (1773), which was the first work to bring him recognition, and the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (called Die Leiden des jungen Werthers in German) (1774), which gained him enormous fame as a writer in the Sturm und Drang period which marked the early phase of Romanticism - indeed the book is often considered to be the "spark" which ignited the movement, and can arguably be called the world's first "best-seller". (For the entirety of his life this was the work with which the vast majority of Goethe's contemporaries associated him). During the years at Weimar before he met Schiller he began Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, wrote the dramas Iphigenie auf Tauris (Iphigenia in Tauris), Egmont, Torquato Tasso, and the fable Reineke Fuchs.

To the period of his friendship with Schiller belong Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years (the continuation of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship), the idyll of Hermann and Dorothea, the Roman Elegies and the verse drama The Natural Daughter. In the last period, between Schiller's death, in 1805, and his own, appeared Faust Part One, Elective Affinities, the West-Eastern Divan (a collection of poems in the Persian style, influenced by the work of Hafez), his autobiographical Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (From My Life: Poetry and Truth) which covers his early life and ends with his departure for Weimar, his Italian Journey, and a series of treatises on art. His writings were immediately influential in literary and artistic circles.

Faust Part Two was only finished in the year of his death, and was published posthumously.

Scientific work

Although his literary work has attracted the greatest amount of interest, Goethe was also keenly involved in studies of natural science. He wrote several works on plant morphology, and colour theory.

His focus on morphology and what was later called homology influenced 19th century naturalists, though his ideas of transformation were about the continuing flux of living things and did not relate to contemporary ideas of "transformisme" or transmutation of species. Homology, or as Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire called it "analogie", was used by Charles Darwin as strong evidence of common descent and of laws of variation. His studies led him to independently discover the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, which Broussonet (1779) and Vicq d'Azyr (1780) had (using different methods) identified several years earlier. While not the only one in his time to question the prevailing view that this bone did not exist in humans, Goethe, who believed ancient anatomists had known about this bone, was the first to prove its peculiarity to all mammals. In 1790, he published his Metamorphosis of Plants.


During his Italian journey, Goethe formulated a theory of plant metamorphosis in which the archetypal form of the plant is to be found in the leaf - he writes, "from top to bottom a plant is all leaf, united so inseparably with the future bud that one cannot be imagined without the other".

Goethe popularized the Goethe Barometer using a principle established by Toricelli (1608-1647). According to Hegel, 'Goethe has occupied himself a good deal with meteorology; barometer readings interested him particularly... What he says is important: the main thing is that he gives a comparative table of barometric readings during the whole month of December 1822, at Weimarmarker, Jenamarker, Londonmarker, Bostonmarker, Viennamarker, Töpel... He claims to deduce from it that the barometric level varies in the same propoportion not only in each zone but that it has the same variation, too, at different altitudes above sea-level'. (Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, pp 128–129) [708468]

In 1810, Goethe published his Theory of Colours, which he considered his most important work. In it, he (contentiously) characterized color as arising from the dynamic interplay of darkness and light. After being translated into English by Charles Eastlake in 1840, this theory became widely adopted by the art world, most notably J. M. W. Turner (Bockemuhl, 1991). It also inspired the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, to write his Remarks on Color. Goethe was vehemently opposed to Newton's analytic treatment of color, engaging instead in compiling a comprehensive description of a wide variety of color phenomena. Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his theory's failure to demonstrate significant predictive validity eventually rendered it scientifically irrelevant. Goethe was, however, the first to systematically study the physiological effects of color, and his observations on the effect of opposed colors led him to a symmetric arrangement of his color wheel, 'for the colors diametrically opposed to each other… are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye. (Goethe, Theory of Colours, 1810). In this, he anticipated Ewald Hering's opponent color theory (1872).

Goethe outlines his method in the essay, The experiment as mediator between subject and object (1772). In the Kurschner edition of Goethe's works, the science editor, Rudolf Steiner, presents Goethe's approach to science as phenomenological. Steiner elaborated on this in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception and Goethe's World View, in which he emphasizes the need of the perceiving organ of intuition in order to grasp Goethe's biological archetype (i.e. The Typus).

Key works

The short epistolary novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, or The Sorrows of Young Werther, published in 1774, recounts an unhappy romantic infatuation that ends in suicide. Goethe admitted that he "shot his hero to save himself": a reference to Goethe's own near-suicidal obsession with a young woman during this period, an obsession he quelled through the writing process. The novel remains in print in dozens of languages and its influence is undeniable; its central hero, an obsessive figure driven to despair and destruction by his unrequited love for the young Lotte, has become a pervasive literary archetype. The fact that Werther ends with the protagonist's suicide and funeral a funeral which "no clergyman attended" made the book deeply controversial upon its (anonymous) publication, for on the face of it, it appeared to condone and glorify suicide. Suicide was considered sinful by Christian doctrine: suicides were denied Christian burial with the bodies often mistreated and dishonoured in various ways; in corollary, the deceased's property and possessions were often confiscated by the Church. Epistolary novels were common during this time, letter-writing being a primary mode of communication. What set Goethe's book apart from other such novels was its expression of unbridled longing for a joy beyond possibility, its sense of defiant rebellion against authority, and of principal importance, its total subjectivity: qualities that trailblazed the Romantic movement.

The next work, his epic closet drama Faust, was to be completed in stages, and only published in its entirety after his death. The first part was published in 1808 and created a sensation. The first operatic version, by Spohr, appeared in 1814, and was subsequently the inspiration for operas and oratorios by Schumann, Berlioz, Gounod, Boito, Busoni, and Schnittke as well as symphonic works by Liszt, Wagner, and Mahler. Faust became the ur-myth of many figures in the 19th century. Later, a facet of its plot, i.e., of selling one's soul to the devil for power over the physical world, took on increasing literary importance and became a view of the victory of technology and of industrialism, along with its dubious human expenses. In 1919, the Goetheanummarker staged the world premiere of a complete production of Faust. On occasion, the play is still staged in Germany and other parts around the world.

Goethe's poetic work served as a model for an entire movement in German poetry termed Innerlichkeit ("introversion") and represented by, for example, Heine. Goethe's words inspired a number of compositions by, among others, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz and Wolf. Perhaps the single most influential piece is "Mignon's Song" which opens with one of the most famous lines in German poetry, an allusion to Italy: " ?" ("Know thou the land where the lemons bloom?").

He is also widely quoted. Epigrams such as "Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him", "Divide and rule, a sound motto; unite and lead, a better one", and "Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must", are still in usage or are often paraphrased. Lines from Faust, such as " ", " ", or " " have entered everyday German usage.

It may be taken as another measure of Goethe's fame that other well-known quotations are often incorrectly attributed to him, such as Hippocrates' "Art is long, life is short", which is found in Goethe's Faust ("Art is something so long to be learned, and life is so short!") and Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.

Eroticism

Many of Goethe's works, especially Faust, the Roman Elegies, and the Venetian Epigrams, depict hetero- and homosexual erotic passions and acts. For instance, in Faust, the first use of Faust's power after literally signing a contract with the devil is to fall in love with and impregnate a teenage girl. In fact, some of the Venetian Epigrams were held back from publication due to their sexual content. In his 1999 book The Tiger's Tender Touch: The Erotic Life of Goethe, Karl Hugo Pruys argued (with great controversy in Germany) that Goethe's writings suggest he may have been gay. Goethe's sexual portraitures and allusions may have been inspired by his sojourn in Italy, where men, trying to avoid both the prevalence of venereal disease among prostitutes, and the demand of marriage among 'maidens', embraced homosexuality. Whatever the case, Goethe clearly saw sexuality as a topic worthy of poetic and artistic depiction—an idea that was uncommon in a time when the private nature of sexuality was rigorously normative, and one which may make him a more modern thinker than he is typically considered.

Religion

Born into a Lutheran family, Goethe's early faith was shaken by news of such events as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and the Seven Years' War. In July 1782, he described himself as "not anti-Christian, nor un-Christian, but most decidedly non-Christian." His later spiritual perspective evolved among pantheism, humanism, and various elements of Western esotericism, as seen most vividly in Part II of Faust.

A year before his death he expressed an identification with the Hypsistarians, an ancient Jewish-pagan sect of the Black Seamarker region. After describing his difficulties with mainstream religion, Goethe laments:

Historical importance

"Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality." (Goethe)


Goethe had a great effect on the nineteenth century. In many respects, he was the originator of many ideas which later became widespread. He produced volumes of poetry, essays, criticism, a theory of colours and early work on evolution and linguistics. He was fascinated by mineralogy, and the mineral goethite is named after him. His non-fiction writings, most of which are philosophic and aphoristic in nature, spurred the development of many philosophers, including G.W.F. Hegel, Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Cassirer, Carl Jung, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Along with Schiller, he was one of the leading figures of Weimar Classicism.

Goethe embodied many of the contending strands in art over the next century: his work could be lushly emotional, and rigorously formal, brief and epigrammatic, and epic. He would argue that classicism was the means of controlling art, and that romanticism was a sickness, even as he penned poetry rich in memorable images, and rewrote the formal rules of German poetry. Even in contemporary culture, he stands in the background as the author of the ballad upon which Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice is based.

His poetry was set to music by almost every major Austrian and German composer from Mozart to Mahler, and his influence would spread to French drama and opera as well. Beethoven declared that a "Faust" Symphony would be the greatest thing for Art. Liszt and Mahler both created symphonies in whole or in large part inspired by this seminal work, which would give the 19th century one of its most paradigmatic figures: Doctor Faustus.
The Faust tragedy/drama, often called " " (the drama of the Germans), written in two parts published decades apart, would stand as his most characteristic and famous artistic creation. Followers of the twentieth century esotericist Rudolf Steiner built a theatre named the Goetheanummarker after him - where festival performances of Faust are still performed.

Goethe was also a cultural force, and by researching folk traditions, he created many of the norms for celebrating Christmas, and argued that the organic nature of the land moulded the people and their customs—an argument that has recurred ever since, including recently in the work of Jared Diamond. He argued that laws could not be created by pure rationalism, since geography and history shaped habits and patterns. This stood in sharp contrast to the prevailing Enlightenment view that reason was sufficient to create well-ordered societies and good laws.

It was to a considerable degree due to Goethe's reputation that the city of Weimarmarker was chosen in 1919 as the venue for the national assembly, convened to draft a new constitution for what would become known as Germany's Weimar Republicmarker.

The Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institution, The Goethe-Institut is named after him, and promotes the study of German abroad and fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics.

Influence

Goethe's influence was dramatic because he understood that there was a transition in European sensibilities, an increasing focus on sense, the indescribable, and the emotional. This is not to say that he was emotionalistic or excessive; on the contrary, he lauded personal restraint and felt that excess was a disease: "There is nothing worse than imagination without taste". He argued in his scientific works that a "formative impulse", which he said is operative in every organism, causes an organism to form itself according to its own distinct laws, and therefore rational laws or fiats could not be imposed at all from a higher, transcendent sphere; this placed him in direct opposition to those who attempted to form "enlightened" monarchies based on "rational" laws by, for example, Joseph II of Austria or, the subsequent Emperor of the French, Napoleon I. A quotation from his Scientific Studies will suffice:

This change later became the basis for 19th century thought; organic rather than geometrical, evolving rather than created, and based on sensibility and intuition, rather than on imposed order, culminating in, as he said, a "living quality" wherein the subject and object are dissolved together in a poise of inquiry. Consequently, he embraced neither teleological nor deterministic views of growth within every organism. Instead, the world as a whole grows through continual, external, and internal strife. Moreover, he did not embrace the mechanistic views that contemporaneous science subsumed during his time, and there with he denied rationality's superiority as the sole interpretation of reality. Furthermore, he declared that all knowledge is related to humanity through its functional value alone and that knowledge presupposes a perspectival quality. He also stated that the fundamental nature of the world is aesthetic.

His views make him, along with Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Ludwig van Beethoven, a figure in two worlds: on the one hand, devoted to the sense of taste, order, and finely crafted detail, which is the hallmark of the artistic sense of the Age of Reason and the neo-classicistic period of architecture; on the other, seeking a personal, intuitive, and personalized form of expression and society, firmly supporting the idea of self-regulating and organic systems. Thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson would take up many similar ideas in the 1800s. His ideas on evolution would frame the question which Darwin and Wallace would approach within the scientific paradigm.

Bibliography



See also



References

  1. According to Gregory Maertz, Goethe was "Germany's greatest man of letters… and the last true polymath to walk the earth." Cf.
  2. Originally speech of Goethe to the Shakespeare's Day by University Duisburg
  3. see Goethe and his Publishers
  4. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954
  5. See also:
  6. Karl Hugo Pruys, The Tiger's Tender Touch: The Erotic Life of Goethe. Trans. Kathleen Bunten. (Edition Q, 1999). ISBN 1883695120.
  7. Outing Goethe and His Age, edited by Alice A. Kuzniar (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1996) p.97. ISBN 0804726159. [1]
  8. Outing Goethe and His Age; edited by Alice A. Kuzniar (page number needed)
  9. Boyle 1992, 353
  10. Webmineral.com. Retrieved 8-21-2009,


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