© 1987

Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal

  • Editors
  • Frederick Amrine
  • Francis J. Zucker
  • Harvey Wheeler

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 97)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Goethe in the History of Science

  3. Expanding the Limits of Traditional Scientific Methodology and Ontology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 113-113
    2. Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
      Pages 115-132
    3. Adolf Portmann
      Pages 133-145
    4. Gernot Böhme
      Pages 147-173
    5. Christoph Gögelein
      Pages 247-254
  4. Contemporary Relevance: A Viable Alternative?

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 255-255
    2. Ronald H. Brady
      Pages 257-300
    3. Frederick Amrine
      Pages 301-318
    4. Jonathan Westphal
      Pages 319-339

About this book


of him in like measure within myself, that is my highest wish. This noble individual was not conscious of the fact that at that very moment the divine within him and the divine of the universe were most intimately united. So, for Goethe, the resonance with a natural rationality seems part of the genius of modern science. Einstein's 'cosmic religion', which reflects Spinoza, also echoes Goethe's remark (Ibid. , Item 575 from 1829): Man must cling to the belief that the incomprehensible is comprehensible. Else he would give up investigating. But how far will Goethe share the devotion of these cosmic rationalists to the beautiful harmonies of mathematics, so distant from any pure and 'direct observation'? Kepler, Spinoza, Einstein need not, and would not, rest with discovery of a pattern within, behind, as a source of, the phenomenal world, and they would not let even the most profound of descriptive generalities satisfy scientific curiosity. For his part, Goethe sought fundamental archetypes, as in his intuition of a Urpjlanze, basic to all plants, infinitely plastic. When such would be found, Goethe would be content, for (as he said to Eckermann, Feb. 18, 1829): . . . to seek something behind (the Urphaenomenon) is futile. Here is the limit. But as a rule men are not satisfied to behold an Urphaenomenon. They think there must be something beyond. They are like children who, having looked into a mirror, turn it around to see what is on the other side.


history of science philosophy of science science theory of science

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal
  • Editors F.R. Amrine
    Francis J. Zucker
    H. Wheeler
  • Series Title Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1987
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-277-2265-2
  • Softcover ISBN 978-90-277-2400-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-3761-1
  • Series ISSN 0068-0346
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages , 464
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Science
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


' This book will be of interest to both historians and philosophers of science ...'
M. Riegner, The Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 63, September 1988