Goethean Science (4): The Yonder Side of the Kantian Threshold

Kant is in many ways the Guardian of the Threshold before modern philosophy, and he confronts us both on our entry into the labyrinth of his thought, and also on our eventual escape to the other side. In this final chapter, we will attempt this passage according to the principles of Goethean science. Our “adventure…

Goethean Science (3.4) A Traverse of the Kantian Labyrinth

Having striven to depict Goethe’s intuitive approach to knowledge in the last chapter, we will now attempt to establish to counterpole to this thesis. To accomplish this, we mean to enter the speculative labyrinth of Kantian philosophy. This is something Goethe was never inclined to do. Despite having developed a moderate familiarity with Kant’s work,…

Goethean Science (3.3): The Archetypal Plant

As part of our method of inquiry into Goethe’s way of knowledge, we have repeatedly invoked contrasting ways of science that the Goethean approach may be made manifest in its similarity and difference. Goethe provides an aperçu into one such contrasting conception of knowledge when he relates his now famous confrontation with the poet-philosopher Friedrich…

Goethean Science (3.2): the Organism, Evolution, and Kant

When it is said that “all cows are grey at night,” the reason is, of course, that homogenous low lighting conditions fail to provide necessary conditions to perceive contrast. Similarly, a given philosophical system leaps into sharp relief directly it is juxtaposed against another. Goethe held it to be a fundamental mistake on Newton’s part…

Goethean Science (3): Fact and Theory

So far in our exploration of Goethean science, we have attempted to comprehend what we have termed the Goethean maxim: Alles Faktische schon Theorie ist. Everything factual is already theory. One manner in which we have attempted to accomplish this is (1) to counterpose Goethe’s way against the mathematical approach of Newtonian science as well…

Goethean Science (2 ⅔): Colours

Thus far in our exploration of Goethean science, we have juxtaposed it against the mathematical science of Newton and the mechanical science of Helmholtz. By considering Goethean science in various contexts, we are attempting to apply the Goethean method to itself. This indeed was Goethe’s conception of science: to read the archetypal phenomenon in changing…

Goethean Science (2 ½): Goethe contra Newton

In the last chapter we compared the approach which these two great thinkers took in their respective studies on colour. We presented the scene of Newton, closing himself in a darkened study to isolate the single ray of light, and of Goethe, striving to follow with his comprehension the generation of colours out of the…

Goethean Science (2): Colour Theory

In the first chapter of this investigation, we set forth the following aphorism from Goethe: The highest were to grasp that everything phenomenal is already noumenal. The blue of the heavens proclaim the principle of colour-theory. A man should not look past the phenomena, but allow himself to be instructed by them. [1] We suggested…