Goethe also had the largest private collection of minerals in all of Europe. By the time of his death, in order to gain a comprehensive view in geology, he had collected 17, rock samples. His focus on morphology and what was later called homology influenced 19th century naturalists , although his ideas of transformation were about the continuous metamorphosis of living things and did not relate to contemporary ideas of "transformisme" or transmutation of species.
The elephant's skull that led Goethe to this discovery, and was subsequently named the Goethe Elephant, still exists and is displayed in the Ottoneum in Kassel , Germany. 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".
The ever-changing display of plant forms, which I have followed for so many years, awakens increasingly within me the notion: The plant forms which surround us were not all created at some given point in time and then locked into the given form, they have been given Goethe's botanical theories were partly based on his gardening in Weimar.
Goethe also popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli.
According to Hegel, "Goethe has occupied himself a good deal with meteorology; barometer readings interested him particularly He claims to deduce from it that the barometric level varies in the same proportion not only in each zone but that it has the same variation, too, at different altitudes above sea-level". In , Goethe published his Theory of Colours , which he considered his most important work. In it, he contentiously characterized colour as arising from the dynamic interplay of light and darkness through the mediation of a turbid medium. After being translated into English by Charles Eastlake in , his theory became widely adopted by the art world, most notably J.
Goethe was vehemently opposed to Newton's analytic treatment of colour, engaging instead in compiling a comprehensive rational description of a wide variety of colour phenomena. Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his aesthetic approach did not lend itself to the demands of analytic and mathematical analysis used ubiquitously in modern Science.
Goethe was, however, the first to systematically study the physiological effects of colour, and his observations on the effect of opposed colours led him to a symmetric arrangement of his colour wheel, 'for the colours diametrically opposed to each other Goethe, Theory of Colours , Goethe outlines his method in the essay The experiment as mediator between subject and object Steiner elaborated on that in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception  and Goethe's World View ,  in which he characterizes intuition as the instrument by which one grasps Goethe's biological archetype— The Typus.
Novalis , himself a geologist and mining engineer, expressed the opinion that Goethe was the first physicist of his time and 'epoch-making in the history of physics', writing that Goethe's studies of light, of the metamorphosis of plants and of insects were indications and proofs 'that the perfect educational lecture belongs in the artist's sphere of work'; and that Goethe would be surpassed 'but only in the way in which the ancients can be surpassed, in inner content and force, in variety and depth—as an artist actually not, or only very little, for his rightness and intensity are perhaps already more exemplary than it would seem'.
Many of Goethe's works, especially Faust , the Roman Elegies , and the Venetian Epigrams , depict erotic passions and acts. For instance, in Faust , the first use of Faust's power after signing a contract with the devil is to seduce a teenage girl.
Faust. First Part Lesson Plans
Some of the Venetian Epigrams were held back from publication due to their sexual content. Goethe clearly saw human 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.
Though in his novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship , Goethe described the beauty of the male body, he was attracted to women, starting with his first love "Gretchen" when he was 14 and ending with Ulrike von Levetzow when he was In a conversation on April 7, Goethe stated that pederasty is an "aberration" that easily leads to "animal, roughly material" behavior.
He continued, "Pederasty is as old as humanity itself, and one can therefore say, that it resides in nature, even if it proceeds against nature What culture has won from nature will not be surrendered or given up at any price. If I tire of her as a girl, she'll play the boy for me as well". Goethe was a freethinker who believed that one could be inwardly Christian without following any of the Christian churches, many of whose central teachings he firmly opposed, sharply distinguishing between Christ and the tenets of Christian theology, and criticizing its history as a "hodgepodge of fallacy and violence".
Born into a Lutheran family, Goethe's early faith was shaken by news of such events as the Lisbon earthquake and the Seven Years' War. Goethe's preoccupation with and reverence for Spinoza are well known in the history of Western thought. His later spiritual perspective incorporated elements of pantheism heavily influenced by Spinoza's thought ,     humanism , and various elements of Western esotericism , as seen most vividly in part 2 of Faust. Goethe was a Freemason , joining the lodge Amalia in Weimar in , and frequently alluded to Masonic themes of universal brotherhood in his work.
In old age, he explained why this was so to Eckermann:. How could I write songs of hatred when I felt no hate? And, between ourselves, I never hated the French, although I thanked God when we were rid of them. How could I, to whom the only significant things are civilization [ Kultur ] and barbarism, hate a nation which is among the most cultivated in the world, and to which I owe a great part of my own culture? In any case this business of hatred between nations is a curious thing.
You will always find it more powerful and barbarous on the lowest levels of civilization. But there exists a level at which it wholly disappears, and where one stands, so to speak, above the nations, and feels the weal or woe of a neighboring people as though it were one's own. 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 iron oxide is named after him.
With these I must come to terms when I have long wandered alone; they may call me right and wrong; to them will I listen when in the process they call each other right and wrong. 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.
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. Followers of the twentieth century esotericist Rudolf Steiner built a theatre named the Goetheanum after him—where festival performances of Faust are still performed.
Goethe was also a cultural force. It was to a considerable degree due to Goethe's reputation that the city of Weimar was chosen in as the venue for the national assembly , convened to draft a new constitution for what would become known as Germany's Weimar Republic. Goethe became a key reference for Thomas Mann in his speeches and essays defending the republic. 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.
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". Goethe praised Francis Bacon for his advocacy of science based on experiment and his forceful revolution in thought as one of the greatest strides forward in modern science.
We conceive of the individual animal as a small world, existing for its own sake, by its own means. Every creature is its own reason to be.
BBC - Culture - What the myth of Faust can teach us
All its parts have a direct effect on one another, a relationship to one another, thereby constantly renewing the circle of life; thus we are justified in considering every animal physiologically perfect. Viewed from within, no part of the animal is a useless or arbitrary product of the formative impulse as so often thought.
Externally, some parts may seem useless because the inner coherence of the animal nature has given them this form without regard to outer circumstance. Goethe's scientific and aesthetic ideas have much in common with Denis Diderot , whose work he translated and studied. 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-classical 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.
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George Henry Lewes celebrated Goethe's revolutionary understanding of the organism. Thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson would take up many similar ideas in the s.
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Goethe's ideas on evolution would frame the question that Darwin and Wallace would approach within the scientific paradigm. The Serbian inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla was heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust , his favorite poem, and had actually memorized the entire text. It was while reciting a certain verse that he was struck with the epiphany that would lead to the idea of the rotating magnetic field and ultimately, alternating current. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Goethe disambiguation and Gote disambiguation.
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Leipzig University University of Strasbourg. Sturm und Drang Weimar Classicism Romanticism in science. Christiane Vulpius m. See also: Goethean science. Main article: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bibliography. Poetry portal Philosophy portal Biography portal. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary 3rd ed.
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