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Reopening the Texts of Romantic Science: The Language of Experience in J. W. Ritter’s Beweis

  • Stuart Walker Strickland
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 151)

Abstract

I grew up nursing an illusion: that science was a humanity. Maybe this deliberate naïveté explains how breathlessly I fell in with romantic science. But that is a story with many roots. In any case, it is not a story of retreat, nor an antiquarian withdrawal from the problems of the present world. My turn to romanticism has always born the mark of its original motivation: to goad my contrary commitments to literature and to science — the rivalries I have allowed to grow, even fostered, within me — into a dialogue, to force them to confront each other and to speak.

Keywords

Everyday Experience Weak Contraction Phlogiston Theorist Conversation Open Animal Electricity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Circumscribing Science: Johann Wilhelm Ritter and the Physics of Sidereal Man” (Ph. D. diss., Harvard University, 1992 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Epistolario di Alessandro Volta. Edizione Nazionale. Volume Quinto, 1805–1827 (Nicola Zanichelli Editore: Bologna, 1955), 110. All translations are my own.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gilbert to Volta, 18 February 1803. Epistolario di Alessandro Volta. Edizione Nazionale. Volume Quarto, 1800–1805 ( Nicola Zanichelli Editore: Bologna, 1953 ), 258.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Johann Wilhelm Ritter, Beweis, daß ein beständiger Galvanismus den Lebensproceß in dem Thierreich begleite. Nebst neuen Versuchen und Bemerkungen über den Galvanismus (Weimar: Industrie-Comptoir, 1798). For alternative readings of Ritter’s Beweis, see Hinrich Knittermeyer, Schelling und die romantische Schule (Munich: Ernst Reinhardt, 1929), 142151; Barry Gower, “Speculation in Physics: The History and Practice of Naturphilosophie,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 3 (1973): 327–339; and Walter D. Wetzels, “Johann Wilhelm Ritter: Romantic Physics in Germany,” in Romanticism and the Sciences, ed. Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990 ), 201–203.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Luigi Galvani, De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius (Bologna, 1791 ). For a detailed examination of the reception of Galvani’s discovery among German-speaking researchers, see Maria Trumpler, “Questioning Nature: Experimental Investigations of Animal Electricity in Germany, 1791–1810” (Ph. D. diss., Yale University, 1992 ).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beweis, 121.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ritter, “Über den Galvanismus; einige Resultate aus den bisherigen Untersuchungen darüber, und als endliches: die Entdeckung eines in der ganzen lebenden und todten Natur sehr thätigen Princips; — vorgelesen in der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Jena, am 29. October 1797,” in Physisch-Chemische Abhandlungen in chronologischer Folge ( Leipzig: C. H. Reclam, 1806 ).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Beweis, x.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Brigitte Lohff, Die Suche nach der Wissenschaftlichkeit der Physiologie in der Zeit der Romantik ( Stuttgart and New York: Gustav Fischer, 1990 ).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ritter to Ernst II., Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha, 14 June 1802, in Kurt Poppe, “Johann Wilhelm Ritter und Ernst II., Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha Etc. Zwei unbekannte Briefe aus den Jahren 1802–1803,” Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts (1972): 183.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Beweis, 28 and 36.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., 25 ff.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., 61, 80, and 161.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ibid., 34.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid., 44.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ibid., ix.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Darstellung der neuern Untersuchungen über das Leuchten des Phosphors im Stickstoffgas u.s. w. und der endlichen Resultate daraus für die chemischen Theorie (Jena: Frommann, 1800).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ibid., iii.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ibid., vi—vii.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., X.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ibid., 13.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Beweis, 85–86.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    James Paradis. “Montaigne, Boyle, and the Essay of Experience,” in One Culture. Essays in Science and Literature, ed. George levine ( Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 ), 76.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Beweis, 94.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid., 105.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid., xii.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ibid., 174.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ibid., viii.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
    Hans Christian Orsted, “Betrachtungen über die Geschichte der Chemie,” Journal für die Chemie und Physik 3 (1807): 209.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Beweis, vii.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ritter, Die Physik als Kunst. Ein Versuch, die Tendenz der Physik aus ihrer Geschichte zu deuten ( Munich: Joseph Lindauer, 1806 ).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    A. Baltas, “On the Harmful Effects of Excessive Anti-Whiggism,” Contemporary Trends in the Historiography of Science, Corfu, 27 May 1991.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Walker Strickland
    • 1
  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityUSA

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