Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Goethe" and "Göte" redirect here.
|Johann Wolfgang von Goethe|
|Born||Johann Wolfgang Goethe|
|Died||22 March 1832(1832-03-22) (aged 82)|
|Occupation||Poet, novelist, playwright, natural philosopher, diplomat, civil servant|
(m. 1806; died 1816)
|Children||5 (4 died young)|
|Relatives||Cornelia Schlosser (sister)
Christian August Vulpius (brother-in-law)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman.
In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived.
He is considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era.
A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, in 1782 after taking up residence in Weimar in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774).
He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement.
During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe became a member of the Duke's privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena.
He also contributed to the planning of Weimar's botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace.
Goethe's first major scientific work, the Metamorphosis of Plants, was published after he returned from a 1788 tour of Italy.
In 1791 he was made managing director of the theatre at Weimar, and in 1794 he began a friendship with the dramatist, historian, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, whose plays he premiered until Schiller's death in 1805.
His conversations and various shared undertakings throughout the 1790s with Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Gottfried Herder, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and August and Friedrich Schlegel have come to be collectively termed Weimar Classicism.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer named Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship one of the four greatest novels ever written, while the American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson selected Goethe as one of six "representative men" in his work of the same name (along with Plato, Emanuel Swedenborg, Montaigne, Napoleon, and Shakespeare).
Though he had studied law in Leipzig and had been appointed Imperial Councillor, he was not involved in the city's official affairs.
Johann Caspar married Goethe's mother, Catharina Elizabeth Textor at Frankfurt on 20 August 1748, when he was 38 and she was 17.
All their children, with the exception of Johann Wolfgang and his sister, Cornelia Friederica Christiana, who was born in 1750, died at early ages.
Johann Caspar, feeling frustrated in his own ambitions, was determined that his children should have all those advantages that he had not.
He had a lively devotion to theater as well and was greatly fascinated by puppet shows that were annually arranged in his home; this is a recurrent theme in his literary work Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.
He also took great pleasure in reading works on history and religion.
He writes about this period:
Goethe also became acquainted with Frankfurt actors.
He adored Caritas Meixner (1750–1773), a wealthy Worms trader's daughter and friend of his sister, who would later marry the merchant G. F. Schuler.
Goethe studied law at Leipzig University from 1765 to 1768.
He detested learning age-old judicial rules by heart, preferring instead to attend the poetry lessons of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert.
In Leipzig, Goethe fell in love with Anna Katharina Schönkopf and wrote cheerful verses about her in the Rococo genre.
In 1770, he anonymously released Annette, his first collection of poems.
Already at this time, Goethe wrote a good deal, but he threw away nearly all of these works, except for the comedy Die Mitschuldigen.
As his studies did not progress, Goethe was forced to return to Frankfurt at the close of August 1768.
Goethe became severely ill in Frankfurt.
During the year and a half that followed, because of several relapses, the relationship with his father worsened.
During convalescence, Goethe was nursed by his mother and sister.
In April 1770, Goethe left Frankfurt in order to finish his studies at the University of Strasbourg.
In Alsace, Goethe blossomed.
No other landscape has he described as affectionately as the warm, wide Rhine area.
In Strasbourg, Goethe met Johann Gottfried Herder.
On 14 October 1772 Goethe held a gathering in his parental home in honour of the first German "Shakespeare Day".
His first acquaintance with Shakespeare's works is described as his personal awakening in literature.
Several of his poems, like "Willkommen und Abschied", "Sesenheimer Lieder" and "Heidenröslein", originate from this time.
At the end of August 1771, Goethe acquired the academic degree of the Lizenziat (Licentia docendi) in Frankfurt and established a small legal practice.
Although in his academic work he had expressed the ambition to make jurisprudence progressively more humane, his inexperience led him to proceed too vigorously in his first cases, and he was reprimanded and lost further ones.
This prematurely terminated his career as a lawyer after only a few months.
At this time, Goethe was acquainted with the court of Darmstadt, where his inventiveness was praised.
From this milieu came Johann Georg Schlosser (who was later to become his brother-in-law) and Johann Heinrich Merck.
Goethe also pursued literary plans again; this time, his father did not have anything against it, and even helped.
In a couple of weeks the biography was reworked into a colourful drama.
Entitled Götz von Berlichingen, the work went directly to the heart of Goethe's contemporaries.
Goethe could not subsist on being one of the editors of a literary periodical (published by Schlosser and Merck).
In May 1772 he once more began the practice of law at Wetzlar.
In 1774 he wrote the book which would bring him worldwide fame, The Sorrows of Young Werther.
The outer shape of the work's plot is widely taken over from what Goethe experienced during his Wetzlar time with Charlotte Buff (1753–1828) and her fiancé, Johann Christian Kestner (1741–1800), as well as from the suicide of the author's friend Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem (1747–1772); in it, Goethe made a desperate passion of what was in reality a hearty and relaxed friendship.
Despite the immense success of Werther, it did not bring Goethe much financial gain because copyright laws at the time were essentially nonexistent.
(In later years Goethe would bypass this problem by periodically authorizing "new, revised" editions of his Complete Works.)
Early years in Weimar
(The Duke at the time was 18 years of age, to Goethe's 26.)
Goethe thus went to live in Weimar, where he remained for the rest of his life and where, over the course of many years, he held a succession of offices, becoming the Duke's friend and chief adviser.
In 1776, Goethe formed a close relationship to Charlotte von Stein, an older, married woman.
The intimate bond with von Stein lasted for ten years, after which Goethe abruptly left for Italy without giving his companion any notice.
She was emotionally distraught at the time, but they were eventually reconciled.
Goethe, aside from official duties, was also a friend and confidant to the Duke, and participated fully in the activities of the court.
For Goethe, his first ten years at Weimar could well be described as a garnering of a degree and range of experience which perhaps could be achieved in no other way.
In 1779, Goethe took on the War Commission of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, in addition to the Mines and Highways commissions.
In 1782, when the chancellor of the Duchy's Exchequer left his office, Goethe agreed to act in his place for two and a half years; this post virtually made him prime minister and the principal representative of the Duchy.
As head of the Saxe-Weimar War Commission, Goethe participated in the recruitment of mercenaries into the Prussian and British military during the American Revolution.
The author W.  claims that Goethe engaged in negotiating the forced sale of vagabonds, criminals, and political dissidents as part of these activities. Daniel Wilson
Goethe's journey to the Italian peninsula and Sicily from 1786 to 1788 was of great significance in his aesthetic and philosophical development.
His father had made a similar journey during his own youth, and his example was a major motivating factor for Goethe to make the trip.
Thus Goethe's journey had something of the nature of a pilgrimage to it.
During the course of his trip Goethe met and befriended the artists Angelica Kauffman and Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, as well as encountering such notable characters as Lady Hamilton and Alessandro Cagliostro (see Affair of the Diamond Necklace).
He also journeyed to Sicily during this time, and wrote intriguingly that "To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything."
While in Southern Italy and Sicily, Goethe encountered, for the first time genuine Greek (as opposed to Roman) architecture, and was quite startled by its relative simplicity.
Winckelmann had not recognized the distinctness of the two styles.
Goethe's diaries of this period form the basis of the non-fiction Italian Journey.
Italian Journey only covers the first year of Goethe's visit.
The remaining year is largely undocumented, aside from the fact that he spent much of it in Venice.
This "gap in the record" has been the source of much speculation over the years.
In the decades which immediately followed its publication in 1816, Italian Journey inspired countless German youths to follow Goethe's example.
Again during the Siege of Mainz, he assisted Carl August as a military observer.
His written account of these events can be found within his Complete Works.
In 1794, Friedrich Schiller wrote to Goethe offering friendship; they had previously had only a mutually wary relationship ever since first becoming acquainted in 1788.
This collaborative friendship lasted until Schiller's death in 1805.
On 13 October, Napoleon's army invaded the town.
The French "spoon guards", the least disciplined soldiers, occupied Goethe's house:
Days afterward, on 19 October 1806, Goethe legitimized their 18-year relationship by marrying Christiane in a quiet marriage service at the Jakobskirche in Weimar .
They had already had several children together by this time, including their son, Julius August Walter von Goethe (1789–1830), whose wife, Ottilie von Pogwisch (1796–1872), cared for the elder Goethe until his death in 1832.
Christiane von Goethe died in 1816.
Johann reflected, "There is nothing more charming to see than a mother with her child in her arms, and there is nothing more venerable than a mother among a number of her children."
After 1793, Goethe devoted his endeavours primarily to literature.
By 1820, Goethe was on amiable terms with Kaspar Maria von Sternberg.
In 1823, having recovered from a near fatal heart illness, the 74-year-old Goethe fell in love with the teenaged Ulrike von Levetzow whom he wanted to marry, but because of the opposition of her mother he never proposed.
During that time he also developed a deep emotional bond with the Polish pianist Maria Agata Szymanowska.
Goethe, now in his seventies, was greatly impressed by the child, leading to perhaps the earliest confirmed comparison with Mozart in the following conversation between Goethe and Zelter:
Mendelssohn was invited to meet Goethe on several later occasions, and set a number of Goethe's poems to music.
In 1832, Goethe died in Weimar of apparent heart failure.
His last words, according to his doctor Carl Vogel, were, Mehr Licht!
), but this is disputed as Vogel was not in the room at the moment Goethe died.
The conductor was Franz Liszt, who chose the date 28 August in honour of Goethe, who was born on 28 August 1749.
The most important of Goethe's works produced before he went to Weimar were Götz von Berlichingen (1773), a tragedy that was the first work to bring him recognition, and the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (German: Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) (1774), which gained him enormous fame as a writer in the Sturm und Drang period which marked the early phase of Romanticism.
Indeed, Werther is often considered to be the "spark" which ignited the movement, and can arguably be called the world's first "best-seller."
During the years at Weimar before he met Schiller he began Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, wrote the dramas Iphigenie auf Tauris (Iphigenia in Tauris), Egmont, Torquato Tasso, and the fable Reineke Fuchs.
To the period of his friendship with Schiller belong the conception of Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years (the continuation of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship), the idyll of Hermann and Dorothea, the Roman Elegies and the verse drama The Natural Daughter.
In the last period, between Schiller's death, in 1805, and his own, appeared Faust Part One, Elective Affinities, the West-Eastern Diwan (a collection of poems in the Persian style, influenced by the work of Hafez), his autobiographical Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (From My Life: Poetry and Truth) which covers his early life and ends with his departure for Weimar, his Italian Journey, and a series of treatises on art.
His writings were immediately influential in literary and artistic circles.
Details of selected works
Goethe admitted that he "shot his hero to save himself": a reference to Goethe's own near-suicidal obsession with a young woman during this period, an obsession he quelled through the writing process.
The novel remains in print in dozens of languages and its influence is undeniable; its central hero, an obsessive figure driven to despair and destruction by his unrequited love for the young Lotte, has become a pervasive literary archetype.
The fact that Werther ends with the protagonist's suicide and funeral—a funeral which "no clergyman attended"—made the book deeply controversial upon its (anonymous) publication, for on the face of it, it appeared to condone and glorify suicide.
Suicide is considered sinful by Christian doctrine: suicides were denied Christian burial with the bodies often mistreated and dishonoured in various ways; in corollary, the deceased's property and possessions were often confiscated by the Church.
However, Goethe explained his use of Werther in his autobiography.
He said he "turned reality into poetry but his friends thought poetry should be turned into reality and the poem imitated."
He was against this reading of poetry.
Epistolary novels were common during this time, letter-writing being a primary mode of communication.
What set Goethe's book apart from other such novels was its expression of unbridled longing for a joy beyond possibility, its sense of defiant rebellion against authority, and of principal importance, its total subjectivity: qualities that trailblazed the Romantic movement.
The first part was published in 1808 and created a sensation.
Goethe finished Faust Part Two in the year of his death, and the work was published posthumously.
Goethe's original draft of a Faust play, which probably dates from 1773–74, and is now known as the Urfaust, was also published after his death.
The first operatic version of Goethe's Faust, by Louis Spohr, appeared in 1814.
Faust became the of many figures in the 19th century.
Later, a facet of its plot, i.e., of selling one's soul to the devil for power over the physical world, took on increasing literary importance and became a view of the victory of technology and of industrialism, along with its dubious human expenses.
Goethe's poetic work served as a model for an entire movement in German poetry termed Innerlichkeit ("introversion") and represented by, for example, Heine.
Perhaps the single most influential piece is "Mignon's Song" which opens with one of the most famous lines in German poetry, an allusion to Italy: "Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn?"
("Do you know the land where the lemon trees bloom?
He is also widely quoted.
Epigrams such as "Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him", "Divide and rule, a sound motto; unite and lead, a better one", and "Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must", are still in usage or are often paraphrased.
Lines from Faust, such as "Das also war des Pudels Kern", "Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss", or "Grau ist alle Theorie" have entered everyday German usage.
Some well-known quotations are often incorrectly attributed to Goethe.
These include Hippocrates' "Art is long, life is short", which is echoed in Goethe's Faust and Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.
See also: Goethean science
Although his literary work has attracted the greatest amount of interest, Goethe was also keenly involved in studies of natural science.
He wrote several works on morphology, and colour theory.
Goethe also had the largest private collection of minerals in all of Europe.
By the time of his death, in order to gain a comprehensive view in geology, he had collected 17,800 rock samples.
His focus on morphology and what was later called homology influenced 19th century naturalists, although his ideas of transformation were about the continuous metamorphosis of living things and did not relate to contemporary ideas of "transformisme" or transmutation of species.
Goethe's studies (notably with an elephant's skull lent to him by Samuel Thomas von Soemmerring) led him to independently discover the human intermaxillary bone, also known as "Goethe's bone", in 1784, which Broussonet (1779) and Vicq d'Azyr (1780) had (using different methods) identified several years earlier.
While not the only one in his time to question the prevailing view that this bone did not exist in humans, Goethe, who believed ancient anatomists had known about this bone, was the first to prove its existence in all mammals.
During his Italian journey, Goethe formulated a theory of plant metamorphosis in which the archetypal form of the plant is to be found in the leaf – he writes, "from top to bottom a plant is all leaf, united so inseparably with the future bud that one cannot be imagined without the other".
In 1790, he published his Metamorphosis of Plants.
As one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, Goethe wrote in Story of My Botanical Studies (1831):
Goethe's botanical theories were partly based on his gardening in Weimar.
According to Hegel, "Goethe has occupied himself a good deal with meteorology; barometer readings interested him particularly... What he says is important: the main thing is that he gives a comparative table of barometric readings during the whole month of December 1822, at Weimar, Jena, London, Boston, Vienna, Töpel...
He claims to deduce from it that the barometric level varies in the same proportion not only in each zone but that it has the same variation, too, at different altitudes above sea-level".
In 1810, Goethe published his Theory of Colours, which he considered his most important work.
In it, he contentiously characterized colour as arising from the dynamic interplay of light and darkness through the mediation of a turbid medium.
Goethe was vehemently opposed to Newton's analytic treatment of colour, engaging instead in compiling a comprehensive rational description of a wide variety of colour phenomena.
Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his aesthetic approach did not lend itself to the demands of analytic and mathematical analysis used ubiquitously in modern Science.
Goethe was, however, the first to systematically study the physiological effects of colour, and his observations on the effect of opposed colours led him to a symmetric arrangement of his colour wheel, "for the colours diametrically opposed to each other ... are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye."
Goethe outlines his method in the essay The experiment as mediator between subject and object (1772).
Steiner elaborated on that in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception and Goethe's World View, in which he characterizes intuition as the instrument by which one grasps Goethe's biological archetype—The Typus.
Novalis, himself a geologist and mining engineer, expressed the opinion that Goethe was the first physicist of his time and "epoch-making in the history of physics", writing that Goethe's studies of light, of the metamorphosis of plants and of insects were indications and proofs "that the perfect educational lecture belongs in the artist's sphere of work"; and that Goethe would be surpassed "but only in the way in which the ancients can be surpassed, in inner content and force, in variety and depth—as an artist actually not, or only very little, for his rightness and intensity are perhaps already more exemplary than it would seem".
For instance, in Faust, the first use of Faust's power after signing a contract with the devil is to seduce a teenage girl.
Some of the Venetian Epigrams were held back from publication due to their sexual content.
Goethe clearly saw human sexuality as a topic worthy of poetic and artistic depiction, an idea that was uncommon in a time when the private nature of sexuality was rigorously normative.
In a conversation on April 7, 1830 Goethe stated that pederasty is an "aberration" that easily leads to "animal, roughly material" behavior.
He continued, "Pederasty is as old as humanity itself, and one can therefore say, that it resides in nature, even if it proceeds against nature....What culture has won from nature will not be surrendered or given up at any price."
On another occasion he wrote: "I like boys a lot, but the girls are even nicer.
If I tire of her as a girl, she'll play the boy for me as well".
Religion and politics
Goethe was a freethinker who believed that one could be inwardly Christian without following any of the Christian churches, many of whose central teachings he firmly opposed, sharply distinguishing between Christ and the tenets of Christian theology, and criticizing its history as a "hodgepodge of fallacy and violence".
His own descriptions of his relationship to the Christian faith and even to the Church varied widely and have been interpreted even more widely, so that while Goethe's secretary Eckermann portrayed him as enthusiastic about Christianity, Jesus, Martin Luther, and the Protestant Reformation, even calling Christianity the "ultimate religion," on one occasion Goethe described himself as "not anti-Christian, nor un-Christian, but most decidedly non-Christian," and in his Venetian Epigram 66, Goethe listed the symbol of the cross among the four things that he most disliked.
According to Nietzsche, Goethe had "a kind of almost joyous and trusting fatalism" that has "faith that only in the totality everything redeems itself and appears good and justified."
Goethe's preoccupation with and reverence for Spinoza are well known and documented in the history of Western thought.
He was one of the central figures in a great flowering of a highly influential Neo-Spinozism which occurred in German philosophy and literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.—that was the first remarkable Spinoza revival in history.
His later spiritual perspective incorporated elements of pantheism (heavily influenced by Spinoza's thought), humanism, and various elements of Western esotericism, as seen most vividly in part 2 of Faust.
A year before his death, in a letter to Sulpiz Boisserée, Goethe wrote that he had the feeling that all his life he had been aspiring to qualify as one of the Hypsistarians, an ancient sect of the Black Sea region who, in his understanding, sought to reverence, as being close to the Godhead, what came to their knowledge of the best and most perfect.
Goethe's unorthodox religious beliefs led him to be called "the great heathen" and provoked distrust among the authorities of his time, who opposed the creation of a Goethe monument on account of his offensive religious creed.
August Wilhelm Schlegel considered Goethe "a heathen who converted to Islam."
Politically, Goethe described himself as a "moderate liberal."
He was critical of the radicalism of Bentham and expressed sympathy for the prudent liberalism of François Guizot.
At the time of the French Revolution, he thought the enthusiasm of the students and professors to be a perversion of their energy and remained skeptical of the ability of the masses to govern.
Goethe sympathized with the American Revolution and later wrote a poem in which he declared "America, you're better off than our continent, the old."
He did not join in the anti-Napoleonic mood of 1812, and he distrusted the strident nationalism which started to be expressed.
The medievalism of the Heidelberg Romantics was also repellent to Goethe's eighteenth-century ideal of a supra-national culture.
Goethe was a Freemason, joining the lodge Amalia in Weimar in 1780, and frequently alluded to Masonic themes of universal brotherhood in his work, he was also attracted to the Bavarian Illuminati a secret society founded on 1 May 1776.
Although often requested to write poems arousing nationalist passions, Goethe would always decline.
In old age, he explained why this was so to Eckermann:
Goethe had a great effect on the nineteenth century.
In many respects, he was the originator of many ideas which later became widespread.
His non-fiction writings, most of which are philosophic and aphoristic in nature, spurred the development of many thinkers, including Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Cassirer, and Carl Jung.
With these I must come to terms when I have long wandered alone; they may call me right and wrong; to them will I listen when in the process they call each other right and wrong."
Goethe embodied many of the contending strands in art over the next century: his work could be lushly emotional, and rigorously formal, brief and epigrammatic, and epic.
Beethoven declared that a "Faust" Symphony would be the greatest thing for art.
The Faust tragedy/drama, often called Das Drama der Deutschen (the drama of the Germans), written in two parts published decades apart, would stand as his most characteristic and famous artistic creation.
Goethe was also a cultural force.
During his first meeting with Napoleon in 1808, the latter famously remarked: "Vous êtes un homme (You are a man)!"
The two discussed politics, the writings of Voltaire, and Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, which Napoleon had read seven times and ranked among his favorites.
Goethe came away from the meeting deeply impressed with Napoleon's enlightened intellect and his efforts to build an alternative to the corrupt old regime.
Goethe always spoke of Napoleon with the greatest respect, confessing that "nothing higher and more pleasing could have happened to me in all my life" than to have met Napoleon in person.
She praised Goethe as possessing "the chief characteristics of the German genius" and uniting "all that distinguishes the German mind."
Staël's portrayal helped elevate Goethe over his more famous German contemporaries and transformed him into a European cultural hero.
Goethe met with her and her partner Benjamin Constant, with whom he shared a mutual admiration.
Eliot presented Goethe as "eminently the man who helps us to rise to a lofty point of observation" and praised his "large tolerance", which "quietly follows the stream of fact and of life" without passing moral judgments.
Matthew Arnold found in Goethe the "Physician of the Iron Age" and "the clearest, the largest, the most helpful thinker of modern times" with a "large, liberal view of life."
It was to a considerable degree due to Goethe's reputation that the city of Weimar was chosen in 1919 as the venue for the national assembly, convened to draft a new constitution for what would become known as Germany's Weimar Republic.
Goethe became a key reference for Thomas Mann in his speeches and essays defending the republic.
He emphasized Goethe's "cultural and self-developing individualism", humanism, and cosmopolitanism.
The Federal Republic of Germany's cultural institution, the Goethe-Institut is named after him, and promotes the study of German abroad and fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics.
Goethe's influence was dramatic because he understood that there was a transition in European sensibilities, an increasing focus on sense, the indescribable, and the emotional.
This is not to say that he was emotionalistic or excessive; on the contrary, he lauded personal restraint and felt that excess was a disease: "There is nothing worse than imagination without taste".
Goethe praised Francis Bacon for his advocacy of science based on experiment and his forceful revolution in thought as one of the greatest strides forward in modern science.
However, he was critical of Bacon's inductive method and approach based on pure classification.
He said in Scientific Studies:
Goethe's scientific and aesthetic ideas have much in common with Denis Diderot, whose work he translated and studied.
Both Diderot and Goethe exhibited a repugnance towards the mathematical interpretation of nature; both perceived the universe as dynamic and in constant flux; both saw "art and science as compatible disciplines linked by common imaginative processes"; and both grasped "the unconscious impulses underlying mental creation in all forms."
Goethe's Naturanschauer is in many ways a sequel to Diderot's interprète de la nature.
His views make him, along with Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Ludwig van Beethoven, a figure in two worlds: on the one hand, devoted to the sense of taste, order, and finely crafted detail, which is the hallmark of the artistic sense of the Age of Reason and the neo-classical period of architecture; on the other, seeking a personal, intuitive, and personalized form of expression and society, firmly supporting the idea of self-regulating and organic systems.
George Henry Lewes celebrated Goethe's revolutionary understanding of the organism.
Thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson would take up many similar ideas in the 1800s.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.