Goethe and the Poetics of Science

Janus Head 8 (1):207-227 (2005)
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In Representative Men, Ralph Waldo Emerson presented Goethe as the prototype of the writer elected by nature, and he identified Goethe's specific genius as "putting ever a thing for a word." But Goethe's talents as writer and poet have long seemed to scientific readers to undermine his efforts to be a scientist, and to talk of his, or any, poetics of science would involve a category mistake. But putting things to words—that is, filling and structuring what we say about the world with the content of experience—is what Goethe's investigations of nature aimed at. Considered as a philosophy of science, his method gives robust meaning and contemporary relevance to the term "poetics of science."



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Dennis Sepper
University of Dallas

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