Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's philosophy of poetry


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a famous writer best known for his analysis of nature and poetry. Journalist John Morley says,
All Goethe's work, whether poetry or prose, his plays, his novels, his letters, his conversations, are richly bestrewn with the luminous sentences of a keen-eyed, steadfast, patient, indefatigable watcher of human life. (Aphorisms, 1887)
Author Theodore Roszak says,
Goethe wondered at what point our instruments might be creating what we think we see out there in the world... his question is still a good one. Every science of observation must take care not to get lost among its own artifacts. (The Gendered Atom, 1999)
This post is a collection of quotes from Goethe talking about the human condition and his philosophy of science.

Poetry


"All poetry is supposed to be instructive but in an unnoticeable manner; it is supposed to make us aware of what it would be valuable to instruct ourselves in; we must deduce the lesson on our own, just as with life." (Letter to Carl Friedrich Zelter, 1825)

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." (Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre, 1786)

Science


"They forgot that science arose from poetry, and failed to see that a change of times might beneficently reunite the two as friends, at a higher level and to mutual advantage." (On Morphology, 1817)

"Hypotheses are scaffoldings erected in front of a building and then dismantled when the building is finished. They are indispensable for the workman; but you mustn't mistake the scaffolding for the building." (Maxims and Reflections, 1833)

Goals


"Freedom and life are earned by those alone, who conquer them each day anew." (Faust, Part 2, 1832)


"Who strives always to the utmost, for him there is salvation." (Faust, Part 2, 1832)

"I love those who yearn for the impossible." (Faust, Part 2, 1832)

Emotion


"Life teaches us to be less harsh with ourselves and with others." (Iphigenie auf Tauris, 1787)

"So certain is it that he alone is great and happy, who requires neither to command nor to obey, in order to secure his being of some importance in the world." (Götz von Berlichingen, 1773)

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