Anschauung and the Archetype

Janus Head 8 (1):254-270 (2005)
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Abstract

Comparative biology is afield that deals with morphology. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe recognised comparative biology, not as a passive science obsessed with counting similarities as it is today, but as an active field wherein he sought to perceive the inter-relationships of individual organisms to the organic whole, which he termed the archetype. I submit that Goethe's archetype and his application of a technique termed the Anschauung are rigorous and significant ways to conduct delicate empiricism in comparative biology. The future of comparative biology lies in the use of the Anschauung to communicate the archetype as a set of inter-relationships of homologues that we perceive intuitively. In this essay I present how the extension of our own intuitive perception forms the foundations of a method for seeing and discovering the archetype in comparative biology.

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