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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on how Goethe’s writing thought about, and to a point negotiated, the discontinuities it tracked between the visual arts, poetic writing, and the natural sciences. Even a modest set of Goethe’s works offers art history and criticism alongside his novels, drama, lyric, epic, autobiographical and aphoristic writings. What is more, his literary and critical achievements find some of their most expressive, corresponding interfaces in the scientific work to which the poet gave a large part of his life—as if he had undertaken to triangulate a map of creativity and method which late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers had worked hard to differentiate. Goethe’s effort to reflect on his encyclopedic writings critically evoked a kind of theory that would be nearly universal, and yet stay integral to distinctive kinds of understanding, practice, or analysis.

Keywords: Hermeneutics, science, metaphor, mediation, genre, encyclopedia, Goethe, Germany

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