Goethe's contribution to philosophy: the morphology of individuality

Steen Brock
2019 Sats: northern european journal of philosophy  
In this essay, I will discuss a variety of considerations that Goethe expressed in his writings. I will with few exceptions address these writings in chronological order. I include both literary and scientific-philosophical works. In this way I hope to show that a certain theme is at the heart of Goethe's thinking, and that Goethe's later works expresses a sophisticated and "deep" account of this theme. In addition, I will try to explain how one can ascribe this Goethean theme to major
more » ... e to major philosophers of the twentieth century – Cassirer, Merleau-Ponty, and Wittgenstein. The theme in question concerns the individuality of a human life in a metaphysical sense, characterizing the individual as situated "in between" Nature and Culture. By being both a child of Nature and a child of Culture, the fate of individuals is the transformation of previously given human concerns and practices. There never is a natural child nor a cultural formation securing human individuality. In Goethe's words: The history of an individual human being is the individual human being. "Die Geschichte der Wissenschaft ist die Wissenschaft selbst, die Geschichte des Individuums, das Individuum". See Hamacher (2010, 182). Hamacher's book has been a major source for me!
doi:10.1515/sats-2019-0004 fatcat:4dvnrmvu7fginasxshm7osuihy