Goethe: The Thinker

Goethe: The Thinker

Goethe: The Thinker

Goethe: The Thinker

Excerpt

Were our knowledge of Goethe's writings confined to his productions as an imaginative author, that knowledge would not be complete. Together with the poet and the author, the investigator demands our attention. The nineteenth century undervalued--indeed, well-nigh forgot--Goethe's achievement as a research worker, but in our day a lively interest in his scientific writings has been reawakened. If, as is usual in research, their results have been left behind, their methods have lost but little of their significance. Above all, the way in which Goethe observed nature must be of the highest interest to us simply because it is so different from that which obtains in our own period.

The second and more extensive portion of my study undertakes something which, so far as I know, has never before been attempted in quite this way. Without undue systematization, it tries to offer the reader an orderly presentation of Goethe's philosophic thought. From the gigantic mass of his reflections, his notions, and his perceptions, I have chosen the most significant passages for treatment in their ideational relationship. It is my hope that the reader will find as I do that a unique treasure trove of genuine wisdom is thus offered to us.

I am deeply indebted to Professor Bayard Quincy Morgan for undertaking the translation--certainly no light task. The tireless assistance of my dear wife has been of inestimable value in bringing this book to its conclusion. Helpful also has been the aid given me by my good friends, Tilly Edinger, George Jaffa, and Howard Mumford Jones, to whom I am heartily grateful.

Karl Viëor

Cambridge, 1950 . . .

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