Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 39

Goethe's Morphology: Urphnomene and Aesthetic Appraisal

Author(s): Joan Steigerwald


Source: Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 291-328
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4331735 .
Accessed: 20/06/2014 20:01
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the History of
Biology.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Journal of the History of Biology 35: 291-328, 2002.


?) 2002 KluwerAcademic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

291

Goethe's Morphology: Urphanomene and Aesthetic Appraisal


JOAN STEIGERWALD
Science and Society
BethuneCollege
YorkUniversity
Toronto,M3J IP3
Canada
Abstract. This paperexamines the relationshipsbetween Goethe's morphologyand his ideas
on aestheticappraisal.Goethe's science of morphologywas to provide the method for making
evident pure phenomena [Urphdnomene],for making intuitable the necessary laws behind
the perceptibleforms and formationof living nature,through a disciplined perception.This
emphasis contrastedwith contemporarystudies of generation, which focused upon hidden
formativeprocesses. It was his views on aesthetic appraisalthat informed these epistemological preceptsof his science. His study of antiqueartefactsconvinced Goethe thatthese should
be prototypesfor all art,since they made perceptiblethe ideal of art,its archetypesor objective
forms. His ambitionwas to eliminate the subjectiveelements he contendedwere leading contemporaryartastray.He arguedthatthe techniqueshe developed for cultivatingthe perception
of the ideal exemplarsof art could become a model for science, enabling the intuitionof the
objective forms of naturethrougha similar disciplined and cultivatedperception.This paper
also examines some of the wider motivationsfor the particularemphases Goethe gave to his
science and aesthetics, noting a similar impulse to discipline unrulyforces in his life - in his
work as an administratorfor the Weimarcourt and Jena University,in his vision of an ideal
Germanculture centred on the aristocracy,and in his literaryproductions and biographical
writings.Finally it discusses the extent to which those unrulyelements neverthelessremained
a potent and disturbingpresence in his understandingof nature,his artand his life.
Keywords: aestheticappraisal,disciplined perception,Goethe, morphology,objectivity,pure
phenomena,symbolic plant

As Germany'smost famous poet and culturalrepresentative,Goethe's activities have attractedconsiderableinterest.But since he was alreadya cultural
icon duringhis own lifetime, interpretingGoethe's work is problematic.His
status as a poet and the abundanceof his achievementscan color views of
his contributionsin particularareas. Goethe wrote on a vast range of topics,
and it seems problematicto sever his achievementsin one areafrom the rest,
yet the currentstate of scholarshipis such that it is virtually impossible to
masterthe whole. Nicholas Boyle's biographyof Goethe, which attemptsto
understandthe poet in the context of his age, has alreadyreachedover 1700

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

292

JOAN STEIGERWALD

pages and still awaits a thirdvolume.' It presumesa knowledge of all facets


of the extraordinarilycomplex period of Germanand Europeanhistory that
touched on the poet's life, an understandingof ideas and events that must
surpassthe insightsof any single individual.At times it seems thata vision of
the life of the man is lost amidst the detail. The ambitionhere is necessarily
modest- to considerGoethe's morphologicalstudies, with an emphasisupon
the epistemologicalconsiderationsinformingthose studies.But it does argue
that Goethe's scientific epistemology needs to be understoodin the light of
his developingideas on aestheticappraisal.
Goethe's morphological studies were stimulated in the 1780s by his
responsibilities as an administratorin the Duchy of Weimar,responsibilities that placed him in charge of the ducal mines and forests, and that led
him to serious studies of mineralogy,botany and other sciences. To inform
himself about these subjects, Goethe not only read widely, but in addition
drew upon the expertiseof scientific colleagues in Weimarand Jena.He also
formed his own views about the propermethod for scientific inquiry.In his
science of morphology,his study of the diverse forms of plants and animals
and their transformationsin development,Goethe sought the necessarylaws
determiningthese forms andtheirmodifications,which he conceived in terms
of Urformen. The intuitionof these primordialforms was to be based upon
perceptibleforms, ratherthan abstractideas. Although not readily visible
parts of a plant or animal, Urformen were to be determinedthroughdisciplined perceptionand carefully constructedexperimentalinvestigations,not
philosophicalreflection.
To understandthe developmentof Goethe's conceptionof the science of
morphology,and its method of inquiryin particular,it is necessary to turn
to his ideas on aesthetics.It is not simply that Goethe had a poetic vision of
nature,seeing naturein its wholeness and harmonyas well as in its fecundity
and transformations.His reflectionson science and art were more epistemologically sophisticated.As Nicholas Jardinehas argued,the way of seeing
which enabledGoetheto intuita series of anatomicalstructuresas derivations
from an ideal type was guided by aestheticappraisal.2Goethe did not regard
this appealto aestheticappraisalas a model for thejudgmentof organicform
as introducingsubjectiveelements into scientific methods of inquiry;quite
the contrary,it was to provide an objective basis for scientific investigation.
His study of antiqueartefactsconvinced Goethe that these should be prototypes for all art,since they made perceptiblethe ideal of art,its archetypesor
the objective forms for all art. Friedrichvon Schiller representedGoethe as
I Boyle, 1991-2000.
2 Jardine,2000, pp. 37-43. See also ch. 10 for a wider discussion of the influence of
aestheticson science.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

293

possessing an intellectualintuitionthatcould see the generalin the particular,


as a naturalgenius, who, like the ancients, had no sense of distance from
nature.Schiller contrastedsuch a "naive poet" with the modem poet who
reflectsupon his sense of the disharmonybetween natureand culture,reason
and experience.The contrastis apt, for Goethe's writingson aestheticsare at
odds with new romanticattentionto the fragmentaryor incompletenatureof
all artisticproduction,the irreduciblegap betweenthe ideal of artand its realization, and accordinglyto the process of creationof the work of art.Goethe
held the techniqueshe developed for cultivatingthe perceptionof the ideal
exemplarsof artcould become a model for science, enablingthe intuitionof
the objectiveforms of nature,its purephenomena,or Urphdnomene,through
a similardisciplinedand cultivatedperception.He was criticalof the interest
of contemporaryscience in the hiddenforces of nature,in particularthe forces
or activity postulatedto lie at the basis of the generationof organicform. He
was also critical of contemporaryscience for leaving space for speculation
and subjectivityin the constructionof theories.Whathe did not acknowledge
was the extent to which his own methods for making evident Urphdnomene
involved acts of constructionor artifice, in the arrangingof experimentsor
the appealto images of the Urformenof plantsor animals.
If no attemptis made here to understandGoethe's science of morphology
and the epistemologicaland aestheticreflectionsinformingit in terms of the
whole of the life and times of the poet, it is neverthelessimportantto reflect
upon the wider motivationsfor the particularemphases Goethe gave to his
science. Looking beyond his scientific and aesthetic writings to his work as
an administratorfor the Weimarcourt, to his specific interventionsinto the
organizationof the university,the museumsand scientificsocieties of Jena,to
his vision of an ideal Germanculturecentredon the aristocracylaid out in the
journals Horae and Propylden,to his literaryproductionsand biographical
writings,a similar impulse to discipline unrulyforces can be discernedas in
his morphologyand aesthetics.Althoughthe scientific and aesthetic ideas of
Germany'smost famouspoet did attractattention,his contemporarieslargely
rejected the ideals of science, art and German culture that he advocated.
The energy that he neverthelessgave to such projectscan be understoodas
offering a structureand discipline to his life, as acting as counterpartsto
the erraticimaginativeand passionate impulses of the poet. Yet his literary
and biographicalworks also revealthe extent to which those unrulyelements
remaineda potentand disturbingpresencein his understandingof natureand
his life.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

294

JOAN STEIGERWALD

A Science of Morphology
Goethe's interestin science developed throughhis work as an administrator
in the small Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.In the early 1770s, prior to
his move to Weimar,Goethe's poetryand early majorwork, TheSufferingof
YoungWerther,made vivid the innerworkingsof the humanheartand spirit
throughimages of the creativeenergy of nature.3In these years Goethe also
experimentedwith alchemy, and sharedthe genteel fascinationwith natural
history.4But upon entering the services of the young Duke Carl August in
1775, his responsibilitiesfor first mining and then the ducal forests led him
to a systematic study of science. One of his first tasks in Weimarwas to
reopen the copper-silvermine at Ilmenau, which broughthim into contact
with a groupof mineralogistsassociatedwith the prestigiousFreiburgMining
Academy, such as JohannCarl Wilhelm Voigt, and led him to take up the
study of mineralogy and to establish his own collection of minerals.5He
also began to study anatomywith the young professorof medicine in Jena,
JustusChristianLoder;it was throughhis workwith LoderthatGoethemade
his discovery of the intermaxillarybone in humanbeings in 1784. After the
publicationof his study of the intermaxillarybone, and its rathercool reception by the scientificcommunity,Goethebecameincreasinglyconcernedwith
the study of botany;he studiedthe pharmacologicaluses of plants, pursued
the naturalhistory of plants under the guidance of a local youth, Friedrich
GottliebDietrich,diligently studiedthe worksof CarlLinnaeus,took instruction from the botanistAugust JohannGeorg KarlBatsch at the Universityof
Jena, and began his own botany collections.6 Goethe's numerousadministrativeduties requireddiscipline and organization,and broughtstructureinto
his life.7 They also changed his attitudeto nature.In contrastto his earlier
poetic vision of nature,in which he viewed naturalphenomenaprimarilyas
a mediumfor the depictionof humanfeeling, Goethe now studiedminerals,
mammalianskeletonsand plantswith a view to findinga principleof order,a
guiding thread[Leitfaden]throughdiverse appearances.Goethe becamecritical of speculativeapproachesto the study of naturethat appealedto hidden
forces on the basis of subjectivejudgment ratherthan empirical study. But
he also grew increasinglydissatisfiedwith the system used by the Linnaeans,
3 Lange, 1982, pp. 71-76; Boyle, 1991-2000, 1: 152-178.
4 See Boyle, 1991-2000, 1: 75-76; Goethe, "Geschichtemeines botanischenStudiums,"
in Goethe, 1948-1963, hereaftercited as GA, 17: 64-83; Koerner,1993.
S Hamm,2001.
6 On Goethe's scientificstudieswhilst in Weimar,see Goethe, 1947-, hereaftercited as LA.
The morphologicalwritingsare found in LA 1 9 and I 10, and 119A, II 9B, and II IOA.Also
see Boyle, 1991-2000, 1: 336-337, 346-357; Koemer, 1993; Hamm,2001; Jackson, 1994.
7 Boyle, 1991-2000, 1: 240f; Reed, 1980, pp. 56-57.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

295

which produced at best a fragmentaryand artificialtaxonomy based on a


few perceptibleparts,seeking insteada more unifiedand naturalorderingof
phenomena.It was this naturalorderthat his morphology,the science of the
necessary and primordialforms of living bodies and their transformations,
sought to express. Goethe's problemwas to provide a basis for the intuition
of the orderedwhole in perceptionratherthanspeculation.
Goethe represented morphology as a science [Wissenschaft],and his
attemptsto articulateit as such must be distinguishedfrom his early explorations of natureand naturalhistoryas a partof the pastimesof a well-educated
young gentleman.8When he finally published his collection of writings on
morphology,it was in a journalentitledOn Science in General, On Morphology in Particular,which he publishedbetween 1817 and 1824, and his earlier
notes from the mid-1790s, "PreliminaryNotes for a Physiology of Plants,"
sketcheda science of morphologyin relationshipto otherextantsciences. The
Germanword Wissenschaftrefers to scientific knowledge in the sense of an
orderedor coherentregion of knowledge. The notion of a naturalscience or
Naturwissenschaftwas used in severalGermantexts duringthe course of the
eighteenthcenturyas synonymous with physica or naturalphilosophy,with
ChristianWolff and ImmanuelKantprovidingthe most influentialdeliminations of this conceptionof naturalscience. It designatedthe studyof the forces
of naturalbodies in contrastto spirit,and,whilst conceiving the naturalworld
as God's creation,it was to pursuethis study throughempiricaland rational
inquiry.9Thus the notion of a scientific study of naturewas widespreadin
Germantexts when Goethe began his inquiriesinto nature.Under the influence of Kant's critical philosophy,by the end of the eighteenthcentury the
notion of scientific knowledge also included the critical examinationof the
conditionsof that knowledge, which in the naturalsciences meantparticular
attention to the methods used in inquiry.Hence when Goethe set out his
science of morphologyhe was concernedto indicate not only its natureas a
coherentbody of knowledge,but also the requisitemethodologyfor acquiring
this knowledge.
Goethe defined his new science of morphology as "the theory of form
[Gestalt], formation [Bildung] and transformation[Umbildung]of organic
bodies" (GA 17: 115). He conceived morphologyas having a unique character and place amongst the sciences not with respect to its subject matter,
which was familiar,but with respect to its "viewpointand method."It was
8 Lisbet Koerner'srepresentationof Goethe's
botany studies, in Koerner(1993), are thus

misleading. For a discussion of the shifting senses of naturalhistory in the late eighteenth
century,see Jardine,2000, pp. 11-55.
9 Konig, 1984. On the developing conception of science at the turn of the nineteenth
century,see Cunninghamand Jardine,1990; Cunningham,1988.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

296

JOAN STEIGERWALD

to provide a means to: "recognize living formationsas such, to grasp their


externallyvisible, tangiblepartsin relationto one another,to take these parts
as indicationsof whatlies withinand thus to acquirea degreeof masteryover
the whole in intuition(GA 17: 13)."
Goethe did not arguethat morphologywas to replaceexisting sciences of
living organisms,but rather,as an auxiliaryscience, it was to link together
the considerationsthat lie scatteredthroughoutthe other sciences. It was
to draw upon the materialof naturalhistory,which studiedform in general
and the relationand combinationof parts.Goethe found that contemporary
naturalhistory,however,was restrictedto the outwardappearanceof organic
forms. Moreover,althoughhe admittedto learningmuch from Linnaeus,he
was highly criticalof Linnaeus'sfragmentaryapproachto naturalhistory,his
analysis of the organic world into distinct categories, and his artificialand
arbitraryclassificationsof plants(GA75-76). Yet Goethe also held thatthose
sciences that penetratedinto the internalparts and processes of the organic
body - anatomy,chemistryand physiology - presentedisolated phenomena.
Physiology attemptedto reconstructthe living creaturefrom basic elements,
both animate and inanimate,throughmental operationsin order to provide
"anaccountof the whole insofaras it lives andacts."Quitejustifiably,Goethe
argued, a force was ascribedto this life for the purposesof discourse. But
as so many of the elements of the organic body remained unknown, and
so many of its actions and effects a mystery,the syntheses put forwardin
physiology remainincompleteand speculative(GA 17: 111-119). Morphology, in contrast, by studying the perceptibleform and formationof living
beings, was to provide a vantagepoint from which the organicwhole could
be intuitedand made objective.'I
Goethe's proposalwas to representthe differentpartsof the organicbody
as transformationsof an Urform, a primordialform. Although primordial
forms are not simply visible appearancesfound within nature,neither are
they ideas of natureexisting only in thought.Rather,primordialforms were
depictedby Goethe as generalimages, Urbilder,abstractedfromexperience;
through a disciplined perception idealized forms could become discerned
as the pure phenomena of an intuition in which thought and experience
are collapsed into one. These primordialforms are the necessary forms of
organicbodies in which the specific forms realizedby specific organismsare
containedas possibilities.Thus Goetheportrayedthe plantas formedthrough
10 Goethe's original conception of his science of morphologywas to include the study of
minerals,and he wrote Schiller as late as 1796 that "withoutwhich the famous morphology
would not be complete" (LA, II 9B: 90), but he eventually restrictedit to the study of the
organicworld. I thankErnieHammfor this point.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'S MORPHOLOGY

297

the progressivemodificationof a single fundamentalorgan, the primordial


leaf [Urblatt], and the vertebrateskeleton as a modificationof a primordial
vertebra.Such primordialforms offer a guiding "threadthroughthe labyrinth
of diverse living forms"(GA 17: 58). Throughprimordialforms the unity of
the organic realm is established, as an ideal unity, in contrastto the superficial and fragmentaryknowledgeof contemporarynaturalhistory.But these
primordialforms are to be intuited as a result of disciplined perception,in
contrastto the subjectivespeculationsof physiology. The study of morphology, the study of form, is importantas it focuses upon what is necessary as
well as objective in the formationand transformationof organicbodies.
Goethe's 1790 An Attemptto Explain the Metamorphosisof Plants was
writtenbefore he had workedout his conceptionof a science of morphology
in the mid-1790s, yet it was the only published text in which he offered a
detailedtreatmentof the differentpartsof the organicbody as transformations
of an Urform. In this essay Goethe presented"the laws of transformation
accordingto which natureproducesone part throughanotherand achieves
the most diversifiedforms throughthe modificationof a single organ"(GA
17: 22). Identifyingthe leaf as this primaryform, he described how it can
be clearly recognizedin the seed, and tracedin its successive metamorphosis
into the stem, leaves, flowerand organsof fructification.The transformations
of the leaf are producedthroughthe interactionof the nutritivejuices and
the generativeforce ascribedto them with the organsof the plant. Thus, for
example, once the calyx is formed from several leaves clustered arounda
centralaxis, its vessels, tightly crowdedand pressed together,are capable of
the most delicate and refinedfiltrationof thejuices it receives.These purified
juices proceedto transformthe leaves arisingbeyond the calyx into flowering
partswith the finestform (GA 17: 29, 33). The originalqualityof the nutritive
juices in turnaffects which transformationsare possible throughsuch filtration. Frequentnourishmentcan presentthe plantwith excessive coarsejuices,
renderingthe formationof the flowering parts that requirehighly purified
juices impossible (GA 17: 30). The forms that arise when the nutritivejuices
have been refinedGoethe representedas a perfection[Vervollkommnung]
or
enhancement[Steigerung]of the original form. Goethe furtherrepresented
the metamorphosisof the leaf as a successive expansion and contraction:
"the same organwhich expandedon the stem as a leaf and assumeda highly
diverseform, now contractsin the calyx, expandsagain in the petal, contracts
in the reproductiveorgans, only to expand finally as the fruit"(GA 17: 56).
A regularmetamorphosisaccordingto the law of alternatingexpansion and
contractionresults in a progressivetransformationascending from the first
seed leaves to the formationof the fruit.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

298

JOAN STEIGERWALD

In TheMetamorphosisof Plants Goethedid not makereferenceto contemporary theories of generation. Parts of his account are, however, actually
similar to that of CasparFriedrichWolff, who describedthe motion of the
nutritivejuices under control of a generative force, and how their action
transformedthe structureof the organs of the plant. Goethe did not discuss
Wolff's work on generation directly until a brief essay, "Discovery of an
Excellent Predecessor"writtenbetween 1816 and 1817, buthe hadlearnedof
Wolff's theory throughJohannGottfriedHerderin the mid-1780s." Goethe
had also met JohannFriedrichBlumenbachin 1783, correspondedwith him,
and was familiarwith his publications(LAII 9A: 281). Indeed,the numerous
notes and outlines for works on botanyGoethe madepriorand subsequentto
writing TheMetamorphosisof Plants reveala generalknowledgeof contemporary debates regardinggeneration. But he discussed the weaknesses of
the explanationsof generationoffered by the system of preformationand
the system of epigenesis, and distinguishedhis work from both approaches,
claiming that these "hypotheseshave [had] no influenceon [his] exposition"
(GA 17: 129).12

It is instructiveto compare Goethe's discussions of plant formationto


those of Wolff and Blumenbach, and to make clear the difference in his
interpretationandapproach.In a note on Blumenbach'snotionof the Bildungstrieb or formativeimpulse from 1817 Goethe subscribedto Kant'spositive
assessmentof Blumenbach'sachievement,and praisedBlumenbach'srefinement of the notion of a force of generation by anthropomorphizingthe
phrasing of the problem and calling the object of discussion a formative
impulse or activity (GA 17: 175). But although frequent references to the
Bildungstriebcan be found in Goethe's notes on plant formation,"3he did
not examine formativeactivity in Blumenbach'ssense. He was interestedin
the transformationof manifestorgansin generation,not the hiddenformative
activity underlyingthis metamorphosis.This emphasis can also be seen in
his appraisalof Wolff. In "Discovery of an Excellent Predecessor"Goethe
praised the extent to which Wolff recognized the identity of plant parts in
spite of theirvariationduringgenerationandcriticizedhis failureto recognize
that the contractionof partsalternateswith their expansion in a path toward
perfectionof form (GA 17: 101-102). But he did not mentionthe distinctive
featureof Wolff's treatment,the action of the nutritivejuices workingunder
the actionof a vis essentialis in formingandtransformingorganicparts.It was
11 See LA, I1 9A: 305 and 505. Goethe actually received Wolff's works in 1807. See LA II
9B: 271.
12 See also GA 17: 201-202, 204.
13 See in particularGA 17: 174-176, 237-239.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

299

precisely such speculativephysiology Goethe sought to avoid. Morphology


was to provide objective knowledge of organic bodies by discerning from
experiencethe pureforms guiding theirformation.
It is the primalform that gives necessity to the transformationof organic
bodies. In his "First Sketch of a General Introductioninto Comparative
Anatomy,Startingfrom Osteology,"writtenin 1795, Goethe discussed a law
binding the action of the Bildungstrieb,that "nothingcan be added to one
part without subtractingfrom another,and conversely" (GA 17: 237, 192,
206). This "lawof compensation"has similaritiesto the laws of Bildungstrieb
or Lebenskraftor vital force put forward by Blumenbach, Carl Friedrich
Kielmeyer and others in the early 1790s. But Goethe was interestedin the
limitations imposed on the possible forms of the organized body, whereas
the laws proposedby Blumenbachand Kielmeyerwere concerned with the
relationships between the extent of the generative, irritable and sensible
activities in different living beings. The laws of Lebenskraftwere purely
functional;Goethe's law, in contrast,addressed strictly formal constraints.
"Thenumberof partsand theirmodifications,the alterationsof form allowed
become endless,"if not opposed by a tendency to fixed, definite forms (GA
17: 237, 238-242). Goethe was interestedin how a boundaryis set to nature's
structuralrange throughthe laws of metamorphosis.His discussion of the
variationsof types underthe influenceof externalfactorsdid have similarities
to Blumenbach'sdiscussions. But whilst Blumenbachattributedsuch variations to the action of environmentalfactors on the Bildungstrieb,Goethe
attributedthem to the influenceof variationson essential forms (GA 17: 191195). Goethe did referto a formingforce or Bildungstrieb,but he represented
its action as subject to the laws of metamorphosisor changes of form as
determinedby the primordialforms.'4
Goethe's morphologyis also distinct from Schelling's Naturphilosophie.
Goethe was, of course, instrumentalin securing a position for Schelling at
the University of Jena. But even before Schelling arrivedin Jena to begin
teachingin the fall of 1798, Goethe hadbegunto realizethathe and Schelling
had fundamentallydifferent approachesto the study of nature.Writing to
Schiller in Januaryof 1798, after a careful readingof Schelling's Ideas for
a Philosophy of Nature, Goethe criticized Schelling's attemptto approach
naturethroughthe laws of the mind (LA II 9B: 128-129). Goethe instead
articulateda "rationalempiricism [rationellenEmpiricism],"in which "pure
phenomena"[reine Phanomen], such as the Urform, stand before us "as a

14 See GA 17:200, 204, 287. TimothyLenoirmakesa similarpoint Lenoir, 1987, pp. 17-28.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

300

JOAN STEIGERWALD

resultof our observationsand experiments."15


Goethedid continue,however,
to read Schelling's works and to maintainfriendlyrelationsand correspondence with Schelling. He also found Schelling's developmentof the notion of
polarityuseful in his own studies of naturalphenomena.Schelling, in turn,
referredfavourablyto Goethe's study of metamorphosis,incorporatingthe
notion into his 1798 On the WorldSoul. He also describedthe progressive
individualizationof matterin the growth of a plant as a refinementof the
nutritivejuices, and the growthas involving the alternationof extension and
contractionof parts,after Goethe (SW 2: 532-533). He even stated that the
endless metamorphosisof forms in natureexpresses itself in accordancewith
a rule, in accordancewith an internalrelationshipof forms based upon an
archetype[Grundtypus].But such phenomenawere not his primaryconcern:
"even with such a productwe have not that of which we are in quest" (SW
3: 300). Schelling insisted that empirical science is directed "only at the
surface [Oberflache]of nature."His speculativescience, in contrast,was to
be directed"atthe innerspring-work[Triebwerk]"of nature.Accordingly,it
was necessarilya subjectiveor purelytheoreticalscience. If empiricalphysics
is directed to what is "objective"in nature, it only "views its objects in
being," as a finished product;a speculativephysics, in contrast,is directed
to what is "non-objectivein nature,"and "regardsits object in becoming,"
in its productivity.16 Schelling described the productivityof natureas the
"Proteusof nature"which lies hiddenwithinthe diverseappearancesor forms
of the productsof nature(SW 2: 382). Goethe also referredto the "Proteus"
of nature,but in his case it denotedthe primordialform thatprovidedthe law
for the transformationof form (GA 17: 239, 128).17Schelling was interested
in the activity underlyingmanifest forms, the process by which a positive
principleor pureproductivityconcurredwith a negativeprincipleor material
conditionsto give rise to determinateproductsin nature,determinateproducts
in which nevertheless"the permanenceof productivityis secured"(SW 3:
300). Goethe, in contrast,was interestedin perceptibleforms,what Schelling
would characterizeas merely productsof the primaryprocesses of nature.
When Schelling wrote Goethe a long letterearly in 1801 outliningan extension of the notion of metamorphosisto the origin of life in the terms of
polarisedproductiveprinciples, in his reply Goethe distancedhimself from
Schelling's speculations(LAII 9B: 177-178)."8
15 See Goethe's letterto Schiller,21 February1798, in Goethe, 1962-1967, 2: 333; and the
essay "Erfahrungund Wissenschaft,"completed in January1798, in GA 23: 24-25.
16 Schelling, 1856-1861, hereaftercited as SW, 3: 274-275, 282-283.
17 CompareGA 17: 239, 128, and 11:413.
18 See also Goethe's letter to C.G.v. Voigt, 27 February1816, in Goethe, 1962-1967, 3:
341-344; Boyle, 1991-2000, 2: 593-600, 618-22.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

301

TimothyLenoirhas suggestedthatthe primordialforms, or what he terms


morphotypes,thatGoethe regardedas guiding and delimiting the forces that
give rise to nutrition,growth and reproductionare similar to what GeorgesLouis Leclerc Comte de Buffon described as the moule interieur.9 Goethe
certainly repeatedly praised Buffon for his use of the correct method of
comparativeanatomy,one that provided him with an overview of diverse
animalforms.20Moreover,his close friendFrauvon Stein did see an analogy
between Goethe's description of his developing vision of the Urpflanze
during his travels in Italy and Buffon's model, whose moule interieur was
translatedas Urbild or primordialimage in the 1752 Germanedition of his
Histoire naturelle.21But whereas Buffon's conception of a moule interieur
was purely speculative and referred to no perceptible structures,Goethe
insisted thatthe Urformwas to be intuitedon the basis of a properlydirected
studyof perceptibleform.
In fact, Goethe was probablymore influencedby Herderin the developmentof his ideas on morphology.Duringthe winterof 1783-1784, renewing
their friendshipfrom Goethe's studentdays in Strasbourg,they discussed in
detail Herder'sworkon the Ideasfor a Philosophyof the Historyof Humanity
and the analogy Herderdrewbetween worldhistoryand the historyof nature.
Herderwas interestedin the succession of forms of plants and animals, and
the analogy of their organization.Through his conversationswith Herder,
Goethe became convinced that each creature is only "a shade of a great
harmony,which one must study as a whole, otherwise each individualis a
dead letter."22It was to his conversationswith Herderthat Goethe attributed
his firstconceptionof the Urform(LAII 9A: 286).
In extending his science of morphologyfrom plants to animals, Goethe
regardedthe methods of comparativeanatomy as the method best suited
to discerning primordialforms, especially one based on the principle of
comparing"allanimalswith every animalandevery animalwith all animals,"
rather than "comparinganimals to human beings" as was traditional in
anatomy in the eighteenthcentury.Throughsuch a comparativemethod, he
argued,it would be possible to abstracta generalanatomicaltype [Typus],"a
generalimage [Bild] containingthe formsof all animalsas potential,andone
which will guide us to an orderlydescriptionof each animal"(GA 17: 233).
For developed animals Goethe proposed the skeletal structureas "the clear
frameworkfor all forms"(GA 17: 242). His emphasiswas upon the constant
elements in this structure,despite variationsin the form, age or size of the
19
20
21
22

Lenoir, 1987, pp. 23-24.


See LAI 9: 121, 201; 11 9A: 144; II 9B: 216.
Frauvon Stein's letteris from 9 June 1787. LA II 9A: 520.
Letterto Knebel, 17 November 1784. LA, II 9A: 303.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

302

JOAN STEIGERWALD

animal,and in the separationor adhesionof parts.Goethe repeatedlyemphasized the importanceof having the guidance of a primordialform or type.
It was the concept of a vertebratetype which, Goethe claimed, made sense
of his discovery of the intermaxillarybone in humanbeings and led him to
representthe skull as well as the spinal column as modificationsof a primordial vertebra.23
Physiologicalconsiderationsdid enterinto Goethe'sstudiesof
anatomy.He argued,for example, that a bone like the intermaxillary,which,
as well as being present in most vertebrates,serves an importantfeeding
function, is likely to belong to a primordialform. He also stated that "one
has to look not merely into the relativejuxtapositionsof parts,but into their
living, reciprocal dependence, influence and effect" (GA 17: 278). But in
practiceGoethe's work was dedicatedto using comparativeanatomy"to fill
in the holes of physiology"(GA 17: 272).24In contrastto the growinginterest
in the complex alterationswithin organicbodies underlyingthe activities of
generation,irritabilityand sensibility in the work of Blumenbach,Alexander
von Humboldtand others duringthe 1790s, Goethe's study of living beings
concentratedon theirperceptibleforms.
The emphasisGoetheplaceduponthe perceptibleformalaspectsof generation becomes explicit in his discussions of the similarities between the
metamorphosisof plantsand thatof insects. The metamorphosisthatGoethe
representedin plants as a series of stages in which one and the same organ
takes different forms is even more conspicuous with insects in which the
partsare manifestlyconnected,orderedanddevelopedin a certainseries.The
example Goethe gave of the caterpillar,in which each form taken duringits
radicaltransformationis completelydifferentfrom the precedingone, particularlyencouragesan understandingof metamorphosisin termsof the evident
formal qualities of its distinct stages rather than a continuous formative
activity (GA 17: 199, 282-284).
In writing an introductionfor the publication of the collection of his
morphologicalfragments in 1817, Goethe did caution that attentionsolely
upon the structuredform of an actual being, the Gestalt, what is fixed and
defined, excludes what is changeable.He emphasizedthat in organicforms
nothing is at rest or defined. Rather,everything is in a flux of continual
motion. "Thatis why [the German]language quite properlyis accustomed
to using the word formation[Bildung]for the productas well as the process
of production.Thus if we intend to introducea morphology,we should not
speak of form, or if we use the term we should only mean by it the idea, the
concept or to what is held fast in experienceonly for a moment.The formed
is immediatelyagain transformed(GA 17: 13-14)."
23 See Brauning-Oktavio,1956, pp. 4-144; Lenoir, 1987; Jardine,2000, pp. 37-43.
24 See also GA, 17: 231-267, 269-288, 371-380.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

303

Yet Goethe's morphologicalfragmentsrevealan emphasisupon the forms


which can be "held fast in experience,"ratherthan on the hidden organic
activity generatingthese forms. Goethe acknowledgedformative forces or
activity in the transformationof living beings, but his primaryinterestwas in
representingthe formal constraintsupon these forces, ideal types abstracted
from experience through a disciplined perception. But having argued that
the basis for the intuition of the ordered whole lies in perception rather
than speculation,Goethe needed to providea methodologyfor realizing that
intuitionobjectively.

Urphanomene:Aesthetics and Epistemology in Goethe's Vision of


Science
Goethe's science of morphology was to provide the method for making
evident pure phenomena [Urphdnomene],for making intuitablethe necessary laws behind the perceptibleforms and formationof living nature,for a
rationalempiricism.It was his developing views on aesthetic appraisalthat
informed these epistemological precepts of his science. Goethe's growing
sense of himself as an artist,especially from the time of his Italianjourney,
led him to reflect increasinglyupon the problemsof aesthetic appraisaland
to take an interestin the aesthetictheoriesof JohannJoachimWinckelmann,
CarlPhilippMoritzand Schiller.His readingof Kant's 1790 Critiqueof Judgment,in which "aestheticandteleologicaljudgmentilluminatedone another,"
provided him with a further stimulus for bringing together his disparate
interests in the productsof art and nature.25Particularlyimportantfor his
scientific epistemology was the poet's interest in the visual arts that was
fostered duringhis sojournin Italy; the methods he learnedfor an informed
viewing of artisticproductsbecame a model for the studyof naturalproducts.
Goethearguedthatthe subjectiveandspeculativetendenciesof contemporary
science could be domesticated and disciplined through a similar mode of
cultivatedperceptionas disciplinedthe subjectivetendencies in art,and thus
the ideal form in natureintuitedon a similarbasis as the ideal form in art.But
there was a tension within his attemptto model scientificepistemology upon
aestheticappraisal;works of art are constructedproductsin contrastto those
of nature.Goethe's methodfor makingevident Urphanomenein naturewould
involve similar acts of construction,carefully arrangedexperimentsor the
drawingof the Urformenof plants, startingfrom a naturealreadycultivated
or alreadygiven form.
25 Goethe, "Einwirkungder neuerenPhilosophie,"in
Goethe, 1948-1960, hereaftercited as

HA 13: 25-31.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

304

JOAN STEIGERWALD

Goethe explicitly wrote aesthetics into his study of naturein his account
of his Italianjourneyfrom September1786 to June 1788. His ItalianJourney
is his reconstructionof his travelsin Italy from letters,diaries and memories
some twenty-five years later, and since he subsequentlydestroyed most of
the documentshe used in its writing,it cannotbe known to what extent it is
a reliable account of his actual experiences and thoughtsat the time. Yet it
is clear from the documentsthat do remainthat Goethe was deeply engaged
with the studyof both organicforms andart,andbeganto develop interesting
connections between the two pursuits.Freed from the social and emotional
constraintsof the Weimarcourt, Goethe found himself stimulatedby the
lush landscape,antiqueartefactsand free lifestyle of the artists'colonies he
found in Italy, and rediscoveredhimself "[a]s an artist!"- as he enthusedin
a letter to Duke Carl August shortly before his returnto Weimar.26Goethe
was not simply referringto himself as a writerwith these words,for although
he completed several unfinishedworks whilst in Italy, it was not a particularly productiveor creativeperiod for his writing. Indeed,he spent much of
his time in Italy studying the visual arts, throughhis efforts to cultivatehis
perceptionof classical artefactsand his attemptto learn to draw and paint.
Rather,Goethe was referringto a new sense of his vocation as an artistand
a new sense of the significanceof artisticsensibility.He was encouragedin
these views by his conversationswith Moritzin Rome, whose essay "Onthe
Plastic Imitationof the Beautiful,"reflectingthose conversations,privileged
artisticcreativityand elevatedartistslike Goethe to the statusof a demi-god.
Every beautifulwhole thatproceedsfrom the handsof such an artist,Moritz
argued, bears the imprintof the supreme beauty of the great whole that is
nature.27

It was Goethe's study of the visual arts that became significantfor his
study of morphology,as he drew direct analogies between his quest for the
laws of art and the laws of plant form. Visual images were importantfor
Goethe throughouthis life. "I should like to lose the habitof conversation,"
he remarkedin 1809, "and,like nature,expressmyself entirelyin drawings"28
- a remarkablecommentfor a poet. Goethe had some instructionin drawing
and artfrom his early childhoodand studies at the Universityof Leipzig, and
had been concernedwith the correctmethod for drawinganatomicalforms
in the years priorto his trip to Italy, taking drawingclasses at the Drawing
Academyin Weimarand adoptingthe methodof PetrusCamperfor the illus-

26 Goethe, 1962-1967, II: 85. See Boyle, 1991-2000, II: 491.


27 Boyle, 1991-2000, II:496-500; Moritz, 1962.
28 Remarkfrom one of Goethe's conversations,writtendown by J.D. Falk, incorrectlycited
as a letterto Falk in Goethe, 1980, p. 73. I thankErnieHammfor this correction.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

305

trationof anatomicalform.29But it was duringhis Italianjourney,living as an


artistamongst artists,that he came to recognize drawingas a means to focus
the eye on realities that must be the same for artistand scientist, even as he
came to recognize his own limitationsas a visual artist.Goethe was initially
overwhelmedby the difficultiesconfrontinghim in these tasks. In his study
of the artisticproductsof antiquity,he thus took Winckelmann'sletters and
1764 History of the Art of Antiquityas his guide. Winckelmannpraisedthe
coherence and proportion,the ideal beauty, of classical art, claiming it to
be indicative of a state of mind of exemplarycoherence in its creators.He
arguedthatthe formaland spiritualvalues representedin classical art are not
directly present to an uncultivatedeye. To be able to discern their essential
and spiritual value, their proportionand coherence, requires serious study
and reflection, a kind of moral discipline. Only thus could one's aesthetic
judgment become objective. But in his appreciationof antique sculpture,
Winckelmannemphasizednot only theirformalbeauty,but also theirsensual
qualities, their smooth, unblemished,graceful contours.He insisted that the
judgmentof a workof artmustbe a responseto its visual presence,not simply
its rationalstudy.30Althoughdisagreeingwith details of Winkelmann'sstudy
of art,Goethefoundthatthe principleof his approach"exactlyfits my method
of investigating"(GA 11: 162). It was in the context of working to refine
his visual sensibility accordingto such "Winckelmannianthreads,"seeking
to discern the classical ideal in the antique ruins and statues of Italy, that
Goethe claimed to conceive the organizingidea of his morphology.Amidst
the lush vegetationof Italy, he envisaged that it might be possible to derive
all varietiesof plantsfroman ideal originalplantor Urpflanze.31 Althoughhe
was not yet able to discern the Urpflanzeexactly or see the full implications
of "this model,"he became convinced that it was "the key" to "the secret of
At the same time as his study of artled
plantgenerationand organization."32
him to a principle, "a masterkey,"by which he could "explainworks of art
and unlock the secret that artistsand art experts since the Renaissancehave
been laboriouslytryingto discover,"Goethe claimedto develop his key to the
diversityof plant form, his law of plantorganization(GA 11: 435-436).
29 For Goethe's early instructionin drawing see Boyle, 1991-2000, I: 53-54, 63-64; and
for his studyingof anatomicaldrawingsee LA II 9A: 277, 288-289, 296, 305.
30 On Winckelmann, see Potts, 1994; Barasch, 1990,
pp. 97-121; Lange, 1992, pp.
105-109.

31 See GA, 11: 63, 241-243, 291-292, 385. In his retrospectiveaccounts of his Italian
journey, Goethe would attributeto this time his first ideas on the metamorphosisof plants
and the Urblatt.See GA 17: 58-62, and 11: 412-420, 442-452.
32 Letterto FrauStein, 8 June 1787, in GA 19: 84-85, and includedin ItalienischeReise as
a letter to Herder,GA I 1: 351-353.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

306

JOAN STEIGERWALD

What Goethe transportedfrom his study of art in Italy to the study of


naturewas not his original idea of an Urform,for he had first formed this
idea through his conversationswith Herderbefore his travels to Italy, but
the methodfor discerningthis primordialform. Winckelmannhadconcluded
that beauty is a means to truth,that the study of art could also teach one to
see and comprehendnaturemore clearly.33In Italy Goethe also concluded
that the antique "masterpieceswere producedby man in accordancewith
the same true and natural laws as the masterpieces of nature"(GA 11:
435-436). Although convinced that the Urpflanze was the key to plant
organization,the perceptionof its exact form eluded him. Goethe concluded
that if he was to uncover the organizing principle of plants, it was to be
throughculture and cultivation,throughthe kind of disciplined perception
that Winckelmannarguedwas necessaryto discern the essential form of art.
Indeed, althoughGoethe spent a great deal of time travellingthroughcountryside, even traversingthe relatively wild interiorof Sicily, it was always
in gardens that his insights into the order underlyingthe diversity of plant
forms seemed to occur. He claimed his most importantepiphanyoccurred
whilst he was in the Public Garden in Palermo, Sicily. The poet infused
the moment with the dramaof discovery and disappointment.Intendingto
meditate on a poetic project, one inspired by a classical theme, he was
seized by another.Surroundedby rich varietyof "new and renewedstructures
[Gebilde]"broughttogetherand cultivatedin the garden,his thoughtsturned
to the Urpflanze.He sought to make this thoughtmore precise by examining
the differentplantforms,butwithoutsuccess (GA I1: 291). Goetheconcluded
that a disciplined perceptionsimilar to the one advocatedby Winckelmann
in art is needed to form an objective judgment of the masterpieces of
nature.What became clear from his experiences in Italy was that such an
objectivejudgment remainedan unrealisedideal, and that such a judgment
could not be based simply upon an immediate perceptionof uncultivated
nature.
In the decadefollowing his returnto Weimar,Goethecontinuedto develop
his ideas on art and nature,and the methods for their study. He again took
up anatomicalstudies with Loder, and began to investigatethe phenomena
of colour. In his own drawings and paintingsGoethe tended to temper the
classical ideal of artistic beauty with a sense of colour and rhythm. In
fact, he began inquiriesinto colour in the hope of finding guidance for the
artisticuse of colour, althoughthey soon expandedinto the study of all the
phenomenaassociated with colour, from the physical and chemical to the
physiological and psychological,from the objectiveto the subjectiveaspects
of colour phenomena.In the ideas on art that he sketched shortly after his
33 Lange, 1992, p. 107.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

307

returnfrom Italy,Goethe similarly arguedfor a balance between objectivity


and subjectivity,diligent imitation and free invention, the tangible and the
essential. If in his own artistic practice, his art collection and his reviews
of artists Goethe tended to oscillate between an enthusiasm for the imitation of nature and imaginative mannerismor sketches, he aimed to bring
both tendencies into balance in an enhanced or more perfect form of art,
which he called style.34Indeed, polarity became a frequentmotif in many
of Goethe's writingsof this time. He sometimes describedpolaropposites as
the primaryprinciplesbehindappearances,such as the encounterof light and
darknessgiving rise to colour or the interchangeof extension and contraction
in the metamorphosisof plants.But more significantis the pervasivepolarity
between a free, subjective, creative impulse and a disciplining, objective,
structuringelement or law. It is this sense of polaritythat is fundamentalto
Goethe's 1790 essay The Metamorphosisof Plants, in which he represented
the formation [Bildung] or perfection [Steigerung]of a plant as the result
of the interactionbetween the activity and forces of the nutritivejuices of
the plant and the form of the primal leaf. As Jardinehas argued,the terms
polarity, enhancementand perfection found in Goethe's studies of colour
and plant metamorphosisare terms of aesthetic appraisal."[T]hey are used
as terms of critical and art-historicalappraisalto describe the relationship
between art works and their prototypes" thus Goethe's TorquatoTasso is
an enhancementof Werther- and they "are used to describe the process
whereby the artist derives the particularwork of art from the source of his
inspiration."35Nicholas Boyle also notes how WilhelmMeister's Yearsof
Apprenticeship,an ongoing project that Goethe finally brought to a close
in 1796, can be read as applying the metaphorof plant metamorphosisto
the patternof formationof Wilhelm's life - with the first stage of Wilhelm's
symbolic existence encapsulatingits futurestructurelike seeds, the next stage
of his life unfoldingin a simple, chronologicaland unidirectionalprocess like
the developmentof the plant stem, and the necessity of halting that process
in orderfor his life to flower,as depictedin the final books - whilst acknowledging the limitationsof that metaphorin accountingfor all elements of the
structureof the work.36In two poems writtenin 1798 and 1800 respectively,
"The Metamorphosisof Plants"and "The Metamorphosisof Animals,"the
relationshipbetween organicand intellectualdevelopmentare made central.
The opposition between an inner force and the constraintof form are also
depicted, most explicitly in the later poem. During the 1790s Goethe thus
developed the relationships between ordering principles for both art and
34 See Goethe, "EinfacheNachahmungder Natur,Manier,Stil,"in GA 11: 66-7 1.
35 Jardine,2001, p. 41. See also Wilkinsonand Willoughby, 1962, chs. 6, 10 and 11.
36 Boyle, 1991-2000, II: 410-425.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

308

JOAN STEIGERWALD

nature,and the methodsfor the studyof both, thathe had begun to explore in
Italy.
When Goethe triedto explainhis views on the metamorphosisof plantsto
Schiller in 1794, he did not use the term Urpflanzebut spoke of sketching
for Schiller "a symbolic plant" (GA 16: 867). The two became engaged
in their first extended conversationafter a meeting of the Jena Scientific
Society, and Goethe was stimulatedby the younger poet's criticism of the
fragmentedtreatmentof naturein the lecture they had just heardto give an
account of his own method of inquiry.The symbolic plant was a symbol
that Goethe contended he could sketch for Schiller; that is, make it into a
concrete, perceptibleimage [Bild]. Goethe representedthe "symbolicplant"
as following directly from observation.Schiller objected: "That is not an
experience, it is an idea."Goethe's riposte at the time was that "I can only
be pleased that I have ideas withoutknowing it, and can even see them with
my own eyes" (GA 16: 867-868). To Schiller,who had been deeply engaged
with Kantianphilosophy duringthe previousthree years, Goethe's claim to
be able to see ideas was problematicat best. Goethe's reputationand talentas
a poet was also problematicfor the younger Schiller,who, despite successes
with works like The Robber, had recently become preoccupiedwith reflections upon and doubtsabouthis own creativeprocesses.37Schiller'sresponse
to his encounter with Goethe was to express the differences in their ways
of perceiving, understandingand representingnatureepistemologicallyand
artisticallyin Kantianterms.
Schiller's first attempt to articulatethese differences was in a letter to
Goethe a month after their first exchange. In his letter Schiller was also
attemptingto persuadeGoethe to become involved in a new criticaljournal
that he was founding, Horae, and so was concerned to representGoethe's
ideas in a positive light. To this end, Schiller played with the two meanings
of intuition [Anschauung]in Kantianphilosophy.He characterisedGoethe's
approachto nature as intuitive, as starting from sensory experience, and
as raising itself from material and particularthings to general laws. He
contrastedthis approachto natureto speculativeor rationalapproaches,such
as his own, which start from abstracta priori principles, and deduce laws
thatare then to be demonstratedin the particular.But Schiller also honoured
Goethe with an intellectual intuition, an inspired intuition that can see the
generalin the particular,a "geniuswhich underthe darkbutcertaininfluence
of purereasoncombines [thegiven] accordingto objectivelaws"(GA20: 13).
In an essay writtenin 1795, On Naive und SentimentalPoetry,Schillerelaboratedthis contrastbetween the intuitiveand speculativeways of thoughtinto
a distinctionbetween two types of poetic perception.The naive poet is intui37 Reed, 1980, pp. 68-69.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

309

tively in harmonywith nature.In this category Schiller included the poetic


genius of the Greeks and Shakespeare.The sentimentalpoet, in contrast,
is aware of his separationfrom nature,of the artificeand convention in his
poetic products.Such is the condition of the modem poet. Schiller's essay
startedfrom the sentimentalpoet who reflectsupon his sense of disharmony
between experienceand reason,natureand culture,and comparesit wistfully
with the naturalpoetry of antiquity.The naive poet has no consciousness
of such a distinction,as he has no sense of distance from nature.38Schiller
representedGoethe as a naive poet, who has a simple, naturalgenius like
the ancients, and himself as a sentimentalpoet, reflective and speculative,
thus articulatinghis private, tormentedmeditations on his own talents in
relationshipto the genius of Goethe.
But if Schiller thus dignified Goethe's naive Geist, he also asserted the
artistic potential of the modem reflective poet. In an elaborationof Kant's
analysisof aestheticjudgmentin his On theAestheticEducationof Humanity,
firstwrittenas a series of lettersto his Danishpatron,Duke FriedrichWilhelm
Augustenberg,in the summerof 1793 andthen revisedfor inclusionin Horae
at the beginning of 1795, Schiller arguedfor the potency of reflectionupon
the juxtapositionof the sensory and rationalimpulses of the human being.
The materialimpulse, the Stofftrieb,is directedto the materialconditions of
humanitybinding us to the sensory and transient;the formal impulse, the
Formtrieb,is directedto unchangingformalconditionsand is the basis of our
sense of identity and freedom. The aesthetic state of mind arises from the
play [Spiel]between these two tendencies.Throughcontemplatingthis play
and the beautifulmaterialforms createdthroughit, Schiller proclaimed,the
humanbeing cultivateshis or her highest capacity,a state of wholeness. The
Spieltrieb, as the harmonyof the sensory and rationalimpulses, provides a
symbol in the real world of the ideal of humanity- virtuous,free and happy,
the beautifulbeing. Art, in showing us beauty, shows us freedom or moral
perfectionin appearances;in art moralityand life are representedas fictions,
as semblances,as somethingwith which both the minds of the artistand his
or her audience plays, and so thus are able to bring into harmony.Schiller
arguedthat it is throughsuch aesthetic reflection and play that the modem
poet can aspireto the naturalunityof the naive poet.39Schillerwasjust beginning to conceive these aesthetic ideals when his meeting with Goethe took
place.
Schiller's assessmentof Goethe's poetic genius was thus not born simply
out of a need to establisha relationshipwith the establishedpoet to supporthis
own literaryventures,butout of a deep intellectualinterestin aesthetictheory.
38 Schiller, 1962, 20: 413-503.
39 Schiller, 1967. See also Boyle, 1991-2000, 2: 229-232.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

310

JOAN STEIGERWALD

He was able to translateGoethe'sepistemologicalandaestheticcommitments


into the predominantKantianterminology.The unequivocal systematicity
of his letter of 1794, however,exaggeratedtheir differences.Goethe, if not
overly reflectiveon his poetic gifts, did not enjoy a free-flowingunconscious
creativity,nor did his poetry confine itself to the visible and tangible.40But
Goethe was pleased by Schiller's assessmentof his genius. If in a later note
on Kant'sphilosophyhe treatedironicallythe claim to the intuitivejudgment
of an intellectusarchetypusor a godlike understanding(GA 16: 877-879), he
also set as the purposeof his science of morphologyan understandingof the
whole throughintuition(GA 17: 13).41 In his reply to Schiller'sletterin 1794
Goethe enthusedthatit had laid out the sum of his existence (GA 20: 16-17).
Withindays he sent Schiller a suggestion for an essay applyingthe concept
of beauty that Schiller had derived speculativelyto the naturalworld. The
perfectly structuredliving organism,he argued,is beautifulif it is regarded
with respect to its organization,perfection,coherence and function.42This
piece illustratesGoethe's representationof the ideal form in the concrete
particular,in contrastto Schiller'smore abstractanalysis.AlthoughSchiller's
influencecan be seen in a greateremphasisupon form and in a greaterphilosophical sophisticationin his subsequentwriting,Goethe continuedto insist
upon the need to intuitthe idea on the basis of the empiricallygiven. Schiller
and Goethe neverbecame intimatefriends,never addressingeach other with
Du, and Schiller continuedto remaindeferentialto the elder poet. But their
meetingin 1794 was the beginningof a long andclose collaborationon Horae
andotherventures,madepossible by theiracceptanceof theirdifferencesand
theirmutualrespect.43
Goethe'sessay "TheCollectorand his Circle,"publishedin the Propylaen
in 1799, does not, however,fit neatly into Schiller's aesthetictheory.Goethe
concluded this essay with a diagram in which six different tendencies of
artists are polarized into oppositions between earnestnessand play. Perfect
art, he argued,is the result of a balance between earnestnessand play (GA
13: 319). But in Aesthetic Education Schiller representedplay as the result
of reflection upon the relationof the materialand formal tendencies of the
human spirit. Although he increasinglyshared with Goethe an ambitionto
establish norms for Germanart and culture, Schiller was also interestedin
reflectingupon the creativeprocess itself, as presentedin play. Goethe mini40 Boyle, 1991-2000, 2: 224-225.

41 See the discussionof Goethe's treatmentof Kantianarchetypalintuitionin Jardine,2000,


pp. 40-42.
42 HA 13: 21-23.
43 On the relationshipbetween Goethe and Schiller, see Boyle, 1991-2000, 2: 222-233,
258-260, 285, 453, 467-469; Mayer, 1973, pp. 57-65.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

311

mized reflectionupon the creativeprocess in his aesthetics as well as in his


inquiryinto nature.Representedas a naive poet, he could claim his artistic
creationsas spontaneous.Representedas an intuitiveintellect,he could claim
to intuitin Urphanomenethe identityof the realandthe ideal, to makeevident
naturalnecessity, and thus to establish an objective science of morphology.
Schiller sought to cultivate play, in the process perhapsdomesticatingand
taming the unruly elements in the creative process. Goethe seems to have
had an anxiety about delving too deeply into the darkrealm of the imagination. The process by which the real is united with the ideal was not explored
by Goethe, and he was critical of preoccupationwith the subjectiveprocess
of creativity by the new generationof romantic writers and artists. When
Goethe organizedart competitions in Weimarbetween 1799 and 1805, the
governing principlewas the antiqueas the prototypeof the ideal. Although
Goethe sometimes expressed a fascination with romantic art, its attempts
to representthe activity of reflective thought and the imagination, and its
preoccupationwith freedom in art, was alien to Goethe. Similarly, in his
morphologyGoethe left the formativeforces, the Bildungstrieb,unexplored
and unspecified,ratherseeking objective knowledge of natureby discerning
the ideal archetypesgiving necessity to the transformationof form througha
disciplinedperception,the purephenomenathatcould be representedthrough
images.

"Thesymbolic,"Goethe wrote in a maxim on art,"transformsthe appearance into an idea, the idea into an image [BildI,and in such a way thatthe idea
in the image remainsalways endlessly effective and unreachable,and even if
expressed in every language, still remains inexpressible"(HA 12: 470). In
contrastto allegory, which speaks to the intellect alone, signifying directly
and with its perceptibleface having no reason save to transmita meaning,
a symbol speaks to both perceptionand intellect. Signifying only indirectly,
it is present first of all for itself, and only secondarilydo we discern what
it signifies. For Goethe, the symbolic is the exemplary,what allows itself to
be consideredas the manifestationof a general law.44In a true symbol "the
particularrepresentsthe general"(HA 12: 471).
Goethe's characterizationof the symbol reflects the broadertheory of art
that he articulatedat the turnof the nineteenthcentury,which he conceived
in terms of primordialimages or Urbilder.Goethe held that the ideal of art
is not to be found in any particularwork of art, yet particularworks of art
can resemble or present these archetypes, which he contended the works
of the Greeks have done most closely. These ancient artifacts,complete in
themselves and the most perfect of artistic forms, became for Goethe the
canonof art,prototypesfor contemporaryartisticproduction.Accordingly,in
44 On Goethe's conceptionof the symbol, see Todorov,1977, pp. 201-207.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

312

JOAN STEIGERWALD

explicatingthe conceptof style as the most perfectformof art,Goethedid not


offer a philosophicalclarificationof the problemof its form in the abstract,
but made referenceto the criterionof certainprototypes.In the plastic arts,
classical artefactsembodiedthis typifyingstyle; for the verbalarts,he sought
to exemplify these ideals himself. Thus the ideal archetypesremaininvisible
and are in principle only intuitable.Worksof art such as antique artifacts,
however,can and should resemble these archetypesby making perceptible
in a particularcontent the intuitedideal.45Goethe regardedthe relationship
between the intuitedideal and the perceptiblecontent of art as a necessary
one, and attemptedto determinethe directionof Germanart accordingthese
ideals, with Greek art as its prototype, through his articles on aesthetics
and establishingartcompetitions.The conceptionof a necessaryrelationship
between the intuitedideal archetypeand perceptiblecontentthatbecame the
centraltenet of Goethe's aesthetictheory also became the centraltenet of his
scientificepistemology.Thatthe ideal archetypesof artwere not the creation
of artists, but existed prior to all created work as the necessary or natural
forms of all art,madeGoethe's ambitionto intuitthe Urphanomenein nature
inseparablyintertwinedwith his ambitionto intuitthe ideal of art.
Goethe's problem was, however,how to make evident Urphdnomenein
nature;in art, after all, they were only visible throughprototypesor actual
artefacts.In severalbriefessays writtenduringthe late 1790s Goetheoutlined
his methodfor evident Urphanomenein nature,drawinguponthe methodfor
the appreciationof worksof arthe was workingout in his aestheticessays. In
his journalon "natureand art,"the Propylaen,Goethearguedthata truework
of artstripsfrom its object "everythingwhich is not essential"to it, to extract
He illustratedthis ideal
"the significant,the characteristic,the interesting."46
throughexemplars,such as the antiquesculptureLaocoon,which "is a model
of symmetryand diversity,of rest and motion, of opposition and gradation,
which presentthemselvestogether,partlysensibly andpartlyintellectually,to
the viewer"(GA 13: 164). In his notes on scientificmethod,Goethe arguedin
a similar mannerthat the empiricalphenomenathat everyone finds in nature
needs to be raised to the level of pure phenomena[reine Phanomene]."To
representit, the human mind determinesthe empiricallyvariable,excludes
the accidental,separatesthe impure,unfolds the complicated."The scientific
researchermustthus striveto grasp"notonly how phenomenaappear,butalso
how they should appear"(GA 16: 869-871). Urphanomene were such pure
phenomena,how naturalphenomenanecessarily appearor laws of nature.
Lacking exemplarsthat he could point to, as in art, Goethe contendedthat
such Urphanomenecould "standbefore [the investigator]as a result of all
45 Benjamin, 1996a, pp. 179-181.
46 Goethe, 1980, pp. 8-9.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

313

experiences and experiments"(GA 16: 71). To obtain empiricalevidence of


this "highersort"in practice,in his essay "Experimentas Mediatorbetween
Subject and Object" he proposed setting up a spatial array of contiguous
experiments."Studiedthoroughlyand viewed as a whole, they could make
up a single experiment, merely representinga single experience under its
most manifoldvariations."Such an experimentwould have the objectivityof
a mathematicalproof, he argued,which leaves no gaps between the succession of arguments(GA 16: 852). The need to conceive or imagine the links
between the successive stages, for example, in the developmentof a plant,
would be eliminated in such a visible array.Goethe regardedhis experiments with the phenomenaof colour experimentsof this sort. His criticism
of the method of the Newtonians was that they built their theories on the
basis of isolated experiments;they went astraybecause they had to construct
the whole mentally, subjectively,throughtheories or systems of purported
relationships.47Instead, he sought a method of disciplined perception in
which the interconnectionof phenomenais presentedobjectively. What he
did not recognize in these essays was that such a series of experiments
neededto be arrangedso thatthe interconnectionsbetween phenomenacould
be perceived.The similaritiesbetween his aesthetics and scientific epistemology were perhaps other than Goethe intended; the pure phenomena he
envisaged in naturewere to be artefactsof scientists' experimentalconstructions, and perceptiondisciplined according to scientists' normativeideals.
The objectivity Goethe sought in nature was one of the scientists' own
making.
A similar situationarises in Goethe's appeal to Urbilderin his morphology. In claiming that he could make the symbolic plant into a concrete,
perceptibleimage [Bild] for Schiller, Goethe offered to sketch it. Since the
Urformenare hidden behind the diverse appearancesof nature, an artistic
image could make them presentin the form of a likeness.48It was Goethe's
intentionto publishillustratededitions of his morphologicalworks, although
he never realized this plan. In the work he did do on this project, he was
able to draw upon his trainingin drawingand paintingthat he had taken up
in earnest during his Italianjourney. The illustrationsthat he prepared,or
had preparedby others, for a projectednew edition of The Metamorphosis
of Plants emphasized the formal and spatial relationshipsof the different
parts of the plant, with reference to the basic leaf form. In such illustrations the process of transformationitself, the internal processes by which
one form transformsinto another,the linkage between the different forms,
could not be represented.Indeed, the extant illustrationsfocus upon single
47 For a detaileddiscussion of Goethe's colour theory and its reception,see Sepper, 1988.
48 Benjamin, 1996a, pp. 180-18 1.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

314

JOAN STEIGERWALD

plants, ratherthan depicting a series of images in analogy to the arrayof


contiguousexperimentsGoethe suggested shouldformthe basis of empirical
evidence of Urphanomene.Perhapshis attentionto particularexemplarsof
the ideal formof artled him to conceive his images of the Urformenof plants
also in terms of particularexemplars.In any case, such images, ratherthan
eliminating speculation in favour of objective form, depicted Goethe's, an
artist's,particularvision of the ideal form.
When Goethe characterizedthe science of morphology as a means "4to
understand living formations as such, to grasp their externally visible,
tangible parts in relation to one another,to take these parts as indications
of what lies within and thus to acquirea degree of masteryover the whole
through intuition"(GA 17: 13), he did so in the terms of the methods of
disciplinedperceptionthat he had outlined his aestheticand epistemological
essays. His ambitionwas to eliminate the subjectiveelements he contended
were leadingcontemporaryartand science astrayand to providean objective
vision of science in their stead, an intuition of Urphanomeneon the basis
of a disciplined perception.In art Goethe could make evident this ideal by
selecting particularartefactsto exemplify it. In science he needed a similar
appeal to artifice, to carefully arrangedexperimentsor the drawing of the
Urformenof plants,to a naturealreadycultivatedor alreadygiven form. Yet
his insistenceon embeddingideal forms in perceptiblematerialsexposed his
science to elements thateluded his attemptsat discipline and domestication.
Envisioning a Culture, Writing a Life
Goethe's scientific and aesthetic projects fell far short of his ideals. In
contrastto his literaryproductions,his writingson morphologyand scientific
methodologyfound only a small receptiveaudience,and like his publications
on the intermaxillarybone and colour theory they were largely ignored or
dismissed by the scientific establishment.His aestheticprojects,the journals
the Horae and the Propylaea as well as the art competitionshe organized,
similarlywere met firstwith resistanceandthen indifference.Indeed,it is not
clear that there would have been interestin these projects,either duringhis
lifetime or in the present, if it were not for his reputationas a writer.49 It is
thus importantto understandGoethe's scientificpursuitsin the contextof the
life he triedto makefor himself as a writer,in the contextof his reflectionsin
his literaryworks and his diaries and lettersupon his role as an artistwithin
a developing Germancultureand of his attemptsto contributeto and shape
official Germanculture.
49 For modem appeals to Goethe's science and epistemology, see Seamon and Zajonic,
1998; Amrine,Zuckerand Wheeler, 1987.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

315

The impossibility of a life as a writer in the late eighteenth century led


Goethe to accept a position as administratorfor the Duchy of Weimar.The
demandsof his life as an administratormade, at times, the life of the writer
difficult, yet it also provided a context and structurefor that life, making
writing possible. The interest in scientific studies that he developed in this
new role did not act as a supplementto his poetry,nor offer him with a new
identity,but rather,like his administrativeduties, provideda new discipline
in the life of the poet. A persistenttheme in Goethe's scientific and aesthetic
writings is a polarity between an internalcreative force and the constraint
of form and order,between imaginationand discipline. A similaropposition
can be seen in his literaryworks, and indeed seems to have been a persistent
theme of his life. As he noted in the last book of his autobiographyFromMy
Life: Poetryand Truth,completedshortbefore his death in 1832:
In the course of this biographicalrecital, we have seen in detail how the
child, the boy, the youth tried to approachthe metaphysicalby various
paths - first affectionately looking to natural religion, then attaching
himself lovingly to the positive one, next testing his own abilities by
withdrawinginto himself, and at last joyously yielding to the universal
faith. While meanderingin the spaces between these areas, seeking and
looking about, he encounteredsome things that seemed to fit into none
of these categories, and he became increasingly convinced that it was
better to divert his thoughts from vast and incomprehensiblesubjects.
- He believed that he perceived something in nature(whether living or
lifeless, animate or inanimate)that manifested itself only in contradictions and thereforecould not be expressed in any concept, much less in
any word. It was not divine, for it seemed irrational;not human, for it
had no intelligence;not diabolical,for it was beneficent;and not angelic,
for it often betrayedmalice. It was like chance, for it lacked continuity,
and like Providence,for it suggested context. Everythingthat limits us
seemed penetrableby it, and it appearedto do as it pleased with the
elements necessaryto our existence, to contracttime andexpandspace. It
seemed only to acceptthe impossibleand scornfullyto rejectthe possible.
- This essence, which appearedto infiltrateall the others, separatingand
combining them, I call "daemonic"[damonisch],after the example of
the ancients and others who had perceived something similar. I tried to
save myself from this fearfulthing by taking refuge, as usual, behind an
image.50
Goethe's science of morphologyand the methodshe advocatedfor its study,
with its emphasis upon the intuitionof Urbilderon the basis of disciplined
50 HA 10: 175-176, as translatedby Stanley Corngoldin Benjamin, 1996b, p. 316.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

316

JOAN STEIGERWALD

perception, sought to bring unruly tendencies in living nature and human


nature to order, and helped him temper his own unruly imaginative and
passionate tendencies. Yet the need to provide a carefully arrangedset of
experimentsor drawingsof plantsand animalsto constructa contextin which
"a degree of mastery over the whole in intuition"(GA 17: 13) would be
possible, meantthatothersmight constructsuch contextsdifferently.And his
insistenceuponembeddingthe studyof ideal forms in materialparticulars,in
the perceptiblephenomena,meantthatothersmightperceivethemdifferently.
In his literaryworks, the ambitionto presentan exemplarof the ideal form
of writing was temperedby the complexities of his actual writing, by what
remainedimplicit in the materialof his writing.Indeed,his most interesting
literarycontributionsseem to be when he did not follow his own aesthetic
precepts,and when the discipline of his administrativeduties and scientific
studies did not dominatehis life.
In contrast to his preoccupationswith his writing, his public role as
an artist and his relationshipto a developing Germanculture, Goethe had
an ambivalentrelationshipto his scientific productions.He never provided
a comprehensivestatementof his conception of morphology to which his
contemporariescould refer. Before the publicationbetween 1817 and 1824
of his "fragmentarycollection" (GA 17: 12) of writings on morphologyin
his journalOn Morphology,Goethe's only publishedaccountof his morphological studies was the 1790 essay The Metamorphosisof Plants. Moreover,
the first volume of Goethe's scientific journal seems more concerned with
reflections upon the formationof his ideas on morphologythan with their
content or development. It began with an apology and statementof intent,
both writtenin 1807, followed by a preface,a brief historyof Goethe'sbotanical studies and an excursuson the origin of the essay on the metamorphosis
of plants, all from 1817. Only then did the essay on plant metamorphosis
appear,followed by essays on the fate of the originalmanuscriptand the fate
of its firstprinting.5'Perhapssome of this reticencearosefromhis earlydeep
disappointmentwith the receptionof his work on the intermaxillarybone in
humans and colour theory.The rejection of his colour theory,to which he
respondedhighly polemically,confirmedGoethe in his view of his scientific
activitiesas outside the contemporaryscientificestablishment.52
Goethe's most confident interventionsinto scientific activity were as an
administratorin Weimar.He not only regardedthe administrationof science
in WeimarandJenaas a partof his official duties, he also regardedscience as
of importto official culture.He took a directinterestin the Universityof Jena,
51 Hamm, 1997. Hammis currentlycompletinga monographon Goethe andgeology, which
will include a chapteron Goethe's self-fashioningas a scientist. See also LA I 9.
52 On the receptionof Goethe's colour theoryandhis polemicalresponse,see Sepper, 1988.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

317

being instrumentalin the appointmentof Schelling as Professorof Philosophy


and workingwith Voigtto securefor the medicalfacultyLoderandChristoph
Wilhelm Hufeland.Togetherwith Voigt, he persuadedthe Duke Carl August
of the necessity of scientificstudiesto the practicalimprovementof his estate,
which led the Duke to establishnew chairsin chemistry,botanyand mineralogy, and to provide the facilities for their study.53Goethe turned the Jena
MineralogicalSociety into a state society over which he could have direct
control, and had it moved into the Ducal Museums. He attemptedthe same
with the Jena Scientific Society, although less successfully, for it dissolved
shortly thereafter.54He also had considerableinfluence on the management
of the scientific collections in Jena, on which he was able to imprint his
own conceptions for their arrangements.Goethe enjoyed the discipline of
these concrete projects.Many of these projectswere collaborativeefforts, in
keeping with the ideal of collaborativescientific work set out in his essay
"Experimentas Mediator Between Subject and Object,"but Goethe also
enjoyed the authoritythathis position at Weimargave him in these activities.
It was Goethe's position as an administratorat the Weimar court, his
involvementthroughthis position in the institutionsat Jena and his frequent
contact with the intellectualfigureswho gravitatedto Jena, thatenabled him
to generate interest in his science of morphology and the methods for its
study.The anatomistsandnaturalistswith whom Goethe workedin Jenatook
the most direct interestin his morphology- Loder,A.K. Batsch, J.G. Lenz,
and F.S. Voigt. Voigt, in particular,proved to be a true disciple of Goethe.
A nephew and studentof Blumenbach,Voigt became close to Goethe after
1803, becoming appointedas directorof the Ducal Botanical Gardensand
professorat Jenain 1807. He allowed Goethe to guide him in his experiments
on growth and generation,and promotedGoethe's ideas on metamorphosis
in all his writings.55Alexandervon Humboldt,a frequentvisitor to Jena,was
also influenced by Goethe's morphological ideas. Humboldtdedicated his
1807 Ideas towardsa Geographyof Plants to Goetheand TheMetamorphosis
of Plants. Like Goethe, he sought the original plantforms, what he termeda
"physiognomyof plants."CriticizingLinnaeus' approachfor producingbut
''miserableregistriesof nature,"his physiognomyof plants was to group the
myriad species of plants into a few Urformenor original forms. He argued
that these are to be determinedfrom the overall "characterof the vegetation
andthusthe impressionthatthe sight of the plantsandtheirgroupsmakeupon
the mindof the observer."56
Like Goethe, in Humboldt'swork"natureand art
53 Ziolkowski, 1990, pp. 235-236.
14 Hamm,2001.
55 See Jahn, 1994, pp. 85-86; Uschmann, 1959; Mandelkow,1980, 1: 190-200.
56 Humboldt 1989a:p. 64.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

318

JOAN STEIGERWALD

are close siblings,"for him the impressionthat a region made on the mind of
the observerwas an aestheticimpression.57But KarlFriedrichBurdachwas
the firstto actuallyuse the term"morphology"in printin his 1800 Prepatory
Courseto the Studyof the EntireHealing Art, one of the numeroustextbooks
he published to help supporthimself until he was able to secure a position
as a professor of anatomy in 1811. He subsequentlyincluded morphology
as a section in the numerousphysiological textbooksand encyclopaediashe
producedin the early nineteenthcentury.These sections on morphologyin
his textbooks would include reference to standardanatomy texts, but also
to Goethe's writings. Burdach made explicit, like Goethe, morphology's
concern with the visible structuresof plants and animals, defining morphology as having form as its object, that is the way in which "thingsrepresent
In an encyclothemselves in space, and relate themselves to one another."58
paediaof medical literaturepublishedin 1810-1811, Burdachindicated,like
Goethe, the importof aesthetic sensibility to the concept of morphologyby
referenceto works by the artistsAlbrechtDurerand PeterPaul Rubens,next
to traditionalanatomicaltreatises.59This juxtapositionemphasizedthat it is
the image [Bild] of the living form that Burdach,like Goethe, understoodto
be the object of morphology.
Burdach provided a striking institutional materializationof Goethe's
conceptionof morphologyat the new KonigsburgAnatomicalInstitutewhen
he was appointedDirectorin 1817. BurdachincorporatedGoethe's method
of disciplinedperceptionand his science of morphologyinto the structureof
both the curriculumand the displays of specimens. In a lecture deliveredat
the opening of the institute,On the Taskof Morphology,Burdachexplained
how, through methodical empirical investigation,framed by the structures
of the institution,the order of the organic world would be made presentto
the studentsand the necessarybonds between individualphenomenonmade
manifest in a direct intuition. At the end of their study, as a result of the
careful arrangementof materials,the studentwould have an experience "in
which living forms and their interconnectionsbecome evident in his soul."60
Burdach'sinstituteactuallyoffered a much more vivid and directexpression
of Goethe's conception of morphology than Goethe's own publicationsof
the same year. It also highlightedthe extent to which the experienceof the

57 Humboldtto Goethe, Jan. 1810, cited in Hein, 1985, pp. 51-52. For the relationshipof
Humboldt'sphysiognomyof plantsto Goethe's morphology,see Steigerwald,2000.
58 Burdach,1809, p. 18. See also Burdach,1810-181 1, pp. 376-378; Nyhart, 1995, pp. 3548; Lichtenstern,1990.
59 Burdach,1810-181 1, pp. 376-379.
60 Burdach,1817, p. 62.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

319

interconnectionof living forms is dependentupon their correctframingand


arrangement.
In physiology, anatomy and naturalhistory texts in the early nineteenth
century several of the terms emphasized by Goethe in his morphological
writings can be found - Typus,Gestalt, Form, Bildung, Stufenfolge- and
the term metamorphosiswas often used to describe the transformationsof
structurethat occur in development.But these terms were used in ways that
reflected specific interestsof specific scientists in the structuresof plants or
animals and their development,ratherthan Goethe's directivesfor a science
of morphology.Even Humboldt,despite dedicating his own work on plant
physiognomy to Goethe, developed his studies in a unique way. Humboldt
was interestedin groupsof vegetation,ratherthanin individualplants,in how
the vegetationand physical environmentcombine to producethe characterof
a region and in how that charactervaries across time and space under the
influenceof the environment.61In keeping with his emphasisupon "naturein
its greatness"ratherthanindividualplants,in characterizingand cultivatinga
visual aesthetic Humboldtappealedto the contemporarydeveloping fashion
for landscapepainting,ratherthanthe individualclassical masterpieceswhich
Goethe studied. He arguedthat the "delicateartisticappreciationof nature"
of the landscape painter is especially suited to portrayingthe collective
phenomena of vegetation, vegetable forms occurring in large masses, in
which the form and distributionof leaves, of branchesand stems, lose their
individuality.62Moreover,in his study of plant physiology, Humboldtwas
concernednot only with the visualizationof its basic forms, not only with an
aesthetic response to the characterof a vegetation,but also with meticulous
physical measurementsof their environment,and to this end employed an
extraordinarynumberof physical measurementsin his geographyof plants.
If concerned with a disciplined perceptionof plant form, one informed by
aesthetic appraisal,Humboldtneverthelesshad a singular vision of how to
pursuesuch study.Indeed,by emphasingthe necessity of studying Urphdnomene in particularperceptiblematerialsGoethe had opened the possibility
that these materials would take different inquirers in different directions.
Unlike the authorityhe could exert in his interventionsinto scientific activity
as an administratorin Weimar, his science of morphology was open to
reinterpretationin individualscientific practices.
In pursuing his aesthetic projects, it was again through his position as
an administratorat the Weimarcourt that Goethe was able to shape German
culturallife in generalmost directly,throughhis involvementwith its cultural
61 On Humboldt'sgeography and physiognomy of
plants, see Dettelbach, 1996a, 1996b;

Hagner, 1995; Nicolson, 1987; Hein 1985.


62 Humboldt, 1902, pp. 221-223.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

320

JOAN STEIGERWALD

institutions such as the Weimar Court Theatre, the Weimar Library,and


the University of Jena. He also became involved throughthe persuasionof
Schillerin a granderambitionof formingGermanculturethroughits aesthetic
education,collaboratingwith Schiller on the journalHorae and startinghis
own journalPropylaento this end in the late 1790s. These aestheticprojects
were a partof his explorationof his own vocation as an artistand the place
of the artistwithin Germanculture.More confidentinterventionsthanthatof
his scientific projects, they laid out a vision of an official Germanculture
associated with the courts that included artists as of central significance.
These aesthetic projectsset out the principlesof his aesthetic theory and its
exemplarsfor a wide audience,but, much as his scientific projectsfailed to
gain the supportof the scientific establishment,these projectsfailed in the
end to gain the supportof eitherartistsor the Germanpublic.
Schiller convinced Goethe that an aesthetic education was necessary to
the foundationof a moral society that ensured individualfreedom and that
enabledeach individualto develop fully theirhumanity.Schiller'sconception
of aesthetics was deeply political, formulatedas it was in the shadowof the
FrenchRevolution.His reactionto events in France,however,was complex;
if regardingits initial stages with some optimism,he was opposedto its more
radicalelements andhorrifiedby the treatmentof the king. But he was certain
that one could not be indifferentin the face of such events.63It was the idea
thataestheticsprovidedthe solutionto the politicalturmoilof the day thatled
him to found the journalHorae in 1795. As he statedin the prospectusof his
new journal:
At a time when the soundsof war troublethe nation,when the struggleof
political opinions and interestscarriesthis war into almost every circle,
and only too often drives away the muses and graces ... it must seem

risky, yet perhaps,meritorious,to invite readerswho are so thoroughly


distracted,to a diversionof an altogetherdifferentsort.... The more the
narrowinterestsof the presentexcite, confine and subjugateour minds,
the moreurgentis the need, througha universalandmoreelevatedinterest
in what transcendsall presentconflicts, to reunitethe politically divided
world underthe flag of truthand beauty.64
In On Grace and Dignity, completed in 1793 after his study of Kantian
philosophyandhis reassessmentof the FrenchRevolution,Schillerfirstintroduced the notion of the life of a beautifulsoul as virtuous,as performingthe
obligationsof morallaw with ease, and the notionthatsuch a dispositionwas
not innate but acquired.He developed these argumentsin Aesthetic Educa63 Beiser, 1992, pp. 96-107.
64 Schiller, 1965-1967, 5: 870.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

321

tion, elaboratinguponthe politicalsignificanceof the aesthetic.In the original


lettersto the Danish CrownPrinceSchiller noted thatthe Frenchhad triedto
base theirconstitutionon the principlesof reason,but recentevents had made
clear thatthe people were incapableof acting upon them. It was this problem,
the gap between theory and practice, that the letters sought to address. For
Schiller, the solution lay in an aesthetic education that not only imparts
knowledgeof correctconcepts, but also an incentivefor action - an aesthetic
education,because it is the aestheticwhich is capableof exciting and refining
feelings, of cultivatingsensibility, so that citizens take pleasure in the form
of things and are thus ready to act accordingto rationalprinciples.Schiller
developed these ideas in the revised text published in the Horae in early
1795, but with a less explicit political agenda. Again, Schiller emphasized
the importanceof feelings in motivatingaction, buthe also stressedthatthese
feelings must be educatedto ensure that individualsact in accordancewith
rationalprinciplesratherthanout of self-interest.Thus, in oppositionto political revolutionaries,he arguedthat a stable republiccould only be achieved
graduallythroughan aestheticeducation.And in contrastto Kant'swritings
on moralphilosophy,he did not subordinatesensibilityto a principleof duty,
butemphasizedthe role of sensibilityin executingour moralintentions.65It is
the aesthetic that alone is capableof resolving the conflict between duty and
inclination,between reasonand sensibility.The play drivethatacts according
to our whole natureas rationaland sensible beings gives rise to the aesthetic
state of mind, to beauty.It is "throughbeautythatthe humanbeing achieves
freedom,"a freedomwhich is basedneitheron arbitraryactionnoron external
law.66

When Goethe agreed to collaboratewith Schiller on the Horae it was not


with such a developed sense of the political nor the place of the aesthetic
within it. But he agreed with Schiller that a journal dedicated to producing
a canon of critical and reflective work would contributeto producing the
clearerprinciplesand moralattitudesupon which any improvementin social
conditionsdepended.Goethe thoughthe could contributeto this end through
his own exemplar,by submittinghis own poetry,such as the RomanElegies,
and thus giving legitimacy to his aestheticideal and illustratinga disciplined
fusion of naive and reflective poetic impulses. He also contributeddidactic
pieces, and increasinglycame to see the role he might play in the Bildung
of a German culture, in the shaping of German society according to his
ideals, by laying out the preceptsfor its aestheticeducation.Schiller,in turn,
increasinglysaw the role he might play in educating the Germanpeople to
an aestheticstate of mind, in thus determiningwhat is necessaryfor freedom.
65 Beiser, 1992, pp. 96-107.
66 Schiller, 1967, thirdletter.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

322

JOAN STEIGERWALD

But the Horae adoptedsuch a high-handedand severe tone that many of its
initial contributorswithdrewtheir supportand subscriptionsdecreased,and
the journal had to cease publicationtwo short years after the appearanceof
its first issue. Goethe vented his frustrationsin a series of distichs he called
"Xenia,"arrogantsatires of the culture that had rejected his and Schiller's
culturalprogram.Afterthe failureof the Horae Goethe immediatelystarteda
new journal,Propylaea,which was intendedas a forumfor a small groupof
individualssharinghis aesthetic vision to discuss the theory and practiceof
art. But it continuedits polemical attitudeto contemporaryGermanculture,
criticallyevaluatingmodernworks of artagainstideal antiqueprototypes,as
in his essay "Laocoon."The new journal failed as well. Goethe also started
artcompetitionstogetherwith the ratherpedanticpainterand critic Heinrich
Meyer, a former studentof Winckelmann'sthat Goethe had met in Italy, in
which the principles,the laws, for an aesthetic ideal were clearly specified.
Many of the most interestingentries, such as one by Otto Philipp Runge,
were excludedbecause they did not follow the dictatedrules.67The failureof
these aestheticprojectswas in partdue to their arrogantand polemical tone,
but also in partdue to Goethe insisting on necessaryand objective ideals of
art in an age increasingly preoccupiedwith reflection upon the subjective,
imaginativeforces in artisticproduction.Indeed,he insistedon an ideal of art
modelled on classical prototypesto which his own artistic materialdid not
conform.

These aestheticprojectsalso need to be understoodas a meansfor Goethe


to explore the social and political forms of Germanculture and the place
of the artist within it as a part of his own explorationof his place in that
culture.Goethe was dismayedby the politics of his time, and had originally
insisted that the Revolutionnot be discussed in the Horae, despite Schiller's
prospectus.He regardedthe revolutionin Franceas the "most terribleof all
events," born of lawlessness and corruption(HA 13: 39 and 12: 380). His
involvement with Duke Carl August in the disastrous Prussiancampaign
against France, his immediate experience of the inhuman suffering of the
retreatingarmy, led him to seek refuge from the political turmoil of the
time in the small court of Weimar.68But he eventually used the Horae to
criticize political events in France and to speak for the importanceof the
aristocracyin creatinga civil society and cultivatinghumansensibility.The
Horae sufferedfrom Schiller being involved in too many other projectsand
Goethe not submittinghis best writing, but also because it flaunteda preference for aristocraticculture and its cultivatedsensibilities whilst writing
67 On these ventures, see Lange, 1992, pp. 139-142, 147-152; Boyle, 1991-2000, II:
218-222, 270-277, 609-611, 632-635.
68 For the details of this experience,see Boyle, 1991-2000, 2: 117-136.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

323

for an audienceof the urbanmiddle class. Goethe regardedthe courts as the


site for the formationof Germanculture, and his conception of his role as
an artist included dependency upon the court. He also contended that the
artistis essential to courtculture.Indeed,since his rethinkingof his vocation
as an artist in Italy, Goethe had excused himself from many of his former
administrativeduties and concentratedmore of his energy on his writingand
culturalprojects.69
Goethe's literaryworks of the 1790s showed a similarexplorationof the
place of the imaginativeartist within Germanculture, and a similar articulation of the civilizing affect of an aristocraticsocial order.When Goethe
began writing TorquatoTasso, for example, in the early 1780s the play
contained only the love of a poet for his princess, the young man offering
intense, spontaneous feeling to a woman constrained in her response by
convention.But in the play Goethe finally publishedin 1790 the passionate
and tormentedyoung poet is juxtaposedto a judicious and disciplined elder
statesman.TorquatoTassowas in parta statementof Goethe's renewedsense
of himself as an artistafterhis Italianjourney,a bold claim that the poet was
of equal status to the statesmanat court.70But the play does not place the
poet above the statesman,or impulse above discipline; its dramaconsists in
the interactionbetween the two. And the play ends ambiguously,with it left
unclear whether the poet would be able to find his place at court through
accepting the assistance of the statesman to temper his creative impulses
or whether those same impulses had led him to madness.7' The polarities
in WilhelmMeister's Apprenticeshipare more complex. Goethe's unpublished WilhelmMeister's TheatricalMission, on which he worked between
1777 and 1785, treatedthe problematicof the place of a spontaneousand
imaginativepersonalityin a world in which pragmaticand aesthetic ideals
are kept apart.The detachedand ironic voice of the narrator,which represents Wilhelm's theatricalmission as misguided,became more pronouncedin
the 1795 Apprenticeshipin which Goethe substantiallyreworkedthe earlier
text. Wilhelm's enthusiasmfor the theatreis now just a single aspect in his
education[Bildung]or perfection[Steigerung],which takes place throughhis
interactionswith a diversityof contrastingcharacters.The novel ends when
the opposing tendencies representedby the different charactersachieve a
balance,with Wilhelm'simpulsiveandenthusiastictendenciesnow tempered
by the disciplinedand cultivatedsensibilities of the aristocraticcharacters.
One of the most interestingcontrasts in Apprenticeshipis that between
Mignon and the Tower Society. Mignon is a romanticfigure - an intense,
69 See Boyle, 1991-2000.
70 See Reed, 1980, pp. 126-27.
71 Boyle, 1991-2000, 1:605-627.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

324

JOAN STEIGERWALD

androgynous,eccentric personalityof pure inwardnessand the embodiment


of myth and mystery.Goethe casts her as a child of incest, as a sickly being,
who eventually dies. The irrationalforce of Mignon is countered by the
overarchingorderingprinciple in the novel's narrative,the Tower Society.
Goethe's introductionof this TowerSociety reflectedthe eighteenth-century
fascinationwith secret societies and Goethe's own brief flirtationwith Freemasonry in the early 1780s, and added a sense of mystery to the narrative.
The TowerSociety, however,as a groupof men who watchover andguide the
destinies of others,is a secularratherthanreligious instrument.Significantly,
this society of men does not actually directly bring about Wilhelm's transformation,but representsa symbol of necessity, and an aid to compositional
order.72It is an image of a higher, universal, invisible society of secular,
rational humanity.But it is a society that is treated ironically in the text,
with its weighty purposesand ritualspresentedas outmoded.At the work's
end, it is displaced by Natalia, Wilhelm's true counterpart,as the image of
ideal human dignity and wisdom objectified in an aristocraticfigure. Thus
this work emphasizes the necessity for discipline and the preferencefor the
civilizing effect of the aristocraticsocial orderthat Goethe advocatedin the
Horae and Propylaeaand enactedin his own life.
But Apprenticeship,like Tasso,ends ambiguously,with it left unresolved
as to whetherWilhelm will stay and marryNatalia or whetherhe will leave
for Italy with his son. Withthis indeterminateending, the ideal orderis never
made explicit, but is left implicit throughoutthe text, in individualconcrete
events that stimulate Wilhelm to rethinkor redirecthis life in small ways.
Implicit in the text, however, are also many coincidences, discontinuities,
self-deceptions,mysteries.The final vision of the work is thatof a life never
in controlof itself.73
In Goethe's Elective Affinities,completed in 1809, the civilizing effects
of aristocraticculture and the elemental forces within human nature are
presented in more problematicrelationshipsthan in these earlier works.
Goethe began Elective Affinitiesonly a year after his marriageto his lover
of twenty years, ChristianeVulpius- a marriagein a sense forced upon him
by fateful pressure,by Christiane'sdefence of him during the invasion of
Weimar,and a marriagethat was troubled within a year by Goethe's love
for the young Mariannevon Willemer.The novel does not present a justificationof marriageby appealto the laws or ethical principlesof a civilized
society; rather,it presents the dissolution of a marriage,the forces arising
from a decaying marriage.The civility of the landedgentryand the morality
informing it are found ineffectual and vacuous in the face of such forces.
72 See ibid., ch. 6; Bruford,1975, ch. 2; Swales, 1978, ch. 3.

73 See Boyle, 1991-2000, II: 367-392, 417-425.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

325

Culturalconventions turn into mere appearancesas more mythic elements


come to the fore. Although a novella within the novel offers an image of
a transcendentallove, the attractionbetween the husband Eduardand the
young niece of his wife Ottilie in the novel is a passion foundedon physical
beauty.The affinity holding them underits spell is not a spiritualharmony,
but a connection at the level of subterraneanstratathat is slightly amiss and
seemly. Mythic powers pervade the unfolding of events, menacing a civil
society apparentlyfree of superstition- water acts as a primevalelement,
an enigmatic calm, that symbolizes the lovers ruin as they succumb to the
unfathomable;omens of deathgo unheededand a ritualsacrificeis enactedin
a quest for atonement.The powers thatemerge from the disintegrationof the
marriageare those of fate, as the nexus of guilt among the living. Embedded
within the narrativeof ElectiveAffinitiesis the presenceof somethingdark,a
shadow in the existence of the humanbeing, an incomprehensibleand ambivalent nature,given expression in the image of fate. Goethe deliberatelyhid
these mythic elements in the materialof his text, but theirexcavationreveals
a strugglekept secret within his own life story.74
As Goethe admitted in his autobiographyshort before the end of his
life, he "believedthat he perceived something in nature... that manifested
itself only in contradictionsand therefore could not be expressed in any
concept." He tried to save himself from this irrationalsomething, that he
called "daemonic,"by taking refuge "behindan image" (HA 10: 175-176).
In his science of morphology,he triedto minimize its presencein the hidden
forces of nature and scientific speculation by arguing for the intuition of
Urformenin living forms and their representationin perceptibleimages; in
his aesthetic theory, he countered its presence in the romantic fascination
with internalcreative forces by advocatingthe ideal of Urphdnomeneand
their representationin prototypes;in his life, he tempered its presence by
engaging in the discipline of administrative,scientific and aesthetic projects
and by participatingin official court culture; and in his writing, he muted
its presence by making the charactersembodying it problematic,irrational,
erratic, or even having them die, and balancing them with more judicious
and disciplinedcharacters.In these projectsadvocatingan idealized science,
artand GermancultureGoethe was at odds with manyof his contemporaries.
Moreover,for all Goethe's attemptsto avoid this "daemonic"force in his own
science, his artand his life, it clearly remaineda predominantpreoccupation.
Indeed,his most engaging writing seems to be when it pervadesthe text.

74 See Benjamin, 1996b, pp. 297-360.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

326

JOAN STEIGERWALD

References
Amrine, F., F. J. Zucke and H. Wheeler, eds. 1987. Goethe and the Sciences. Dordrecht:D.
Reidel.
Barasch,M. 1990. Modern Theoriesof Art, 1: From Winckelmannto Baudelaire.New York:
New YorkUniversityPress.
Beiser,F. 1992. Enlightenment,Revolutionand Romanticism:TheGenesisof ModernGerman
Political Thought,1790-1800. Cambridge,MA: HarvardUniversityPress.
Benjamin,W. 1996a."TheConceptof Critiquein GermanRomanticism."In WalterBenjamin:
Selected Writings,Volume1, 1913-1926, eds. M. Bullock and M.W.Jennings(trans.by D.
Lacherman,H. Eilandand I. Balfour),pp. 116-200. Cambridge,MA: HarvardUniversity
Press.
1996b. "Goethe'sElective Affinities."In WalterBenjamin:Selected Writings,Volume1,
1913-1926, eds. M. Bullock and M.W. Jennings (trans. by S. Corngold), pp. 297-360.
Cambridge,MA: BeknapPress.
Boyle, N. 1991-2000. Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Oxford:ClarendonPress.
Brauning-Oktavio,H. 1956. "Vom Zwischenkieferknochenzur Idee des typus. Goethe als
Naturforscherin den Jahren1780-1786." Nova Acta LeopoldinaNS 18: 4-144.
Bruford,W. H. 1975. The GermanTraditionof Self-Cultivation:"Bildung"fromHumboldtto
ThomasMann. Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress.
Burdach,K. F. 1817. Uberdie Aufgabeder Morphologie.Leipzig: Dyk'scherBuchhandlung.
1816. Enzyklopddieder Heilwissenschaft.Leipzig.
1810-1811. Die Literaturder Heilwissenschaft.Gotha:JustusPerthes.
1810. Die Physiologie. Leipzig: WeidemannischenBuchhandlung.
Cunningham,A. 1988. "Getting the Game Right: Some Plain Words on the Identity and
Inventionof Science."Studies in the Historyand Philosophyof Science 19: 365-389.
Cunningham,A. and N. Jardine.1990. "Introduction:The Age of Reflexion."In Romanticism
and the Sciences eds. A. Cunninghamand N. Jardine,pp. 1-9. Cambridge:Cambridge
UniversityPress.
Dettelbach, M. 1996a. "Global Physics and Empire: Humboldt's Physical Portraitof the
Tropics."In Visionsof Empire:Voyages,Botany,and Representationsof Nature,eds. D.P.
Miller and P.H.Reill, pp. 258-301. Cambridge,CambridgeUniversityPress.
1996b. "HumboldtianScience." In Culturesof Natural History, eds. N. Jardine,J. A.
Secord and E. C. Spary,pp. 287-304. Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress.
Goethe, J. W. von. 1980. Goethe on Art, ed. and trans.J. Gage. London:ScholarPress.
1962-1967. Goethes Briefe, ed. K. R. Mandelkow.Hamburg:ChristianWegnerVerlag.
1948-1963. Gedankausgabeder Werke,Briefe und Gesprache,ed. E. Bueutler.Zurich:
ArtemisVerlag.
1948-1960. Goethes Werke,14 vols. Hamburg:ChristianWegnerVerlag.
1947- . .. Die Schriftenzur Naturwissenschaft,herausgebenim Auftrageder Deutschen
Akademieder Naturwissenschaft(LeopoldinaAusgabe).Weimar:HermannBohlaus.
Hagner, M. 1995. "Zur Physiognomik bei Alexander von Humboldt."In Geschichte der
Physiognomik,eds. M. Schneiderand R. Campe.Freiburg.
Hamm, E. 2001. "UnpackingGoethe's Collections: The Public and the Privatein NaturalHistoricalCollecting."BritishJournalfor the Historyof Science 34: 275-300.
1997. "Colections, Publication and Legitimation: Goethe on Science and Autobiography."Paperpresentedat Historyof Science AnnualMeeting,San Diego, California,
6-9 November.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

GOETHE'SMORPHOLOGY

327

Hein, W.-H. 1985.Alexandervon Humboldt.Lebenund Werk.Frankfurtam Main:Weisbecker


Verlag.
Hofmann,W. 1994. "Playand Earnest."In TheRomanticSpirit in GermanArt, ed. K. Hartley,
pp. 19-27. Edinburghand London:Scottish NationalGalleryand HaywardGallery.
Humboldt,A. von. 1902. Viewsof Nature, or Contemplationson the Sublime Phenomenaof
CreationwithScientificIllustrations,trans.by E. C. Otteand H. G. Bohn. London:George
Bell & Sons.
1989a. "Ideen zu einer Geographie der Pflanzen, nebst einem Naturgemalde der
Tropenldnder."In Schriften zur Geographie der Pflanzen, ed. H. Beck. Darmstadt:
WissenschaftlicheBuchgesellschaft.
Jackson,M. W. 1994. "Naturaland ArtificialBudgets: Accounting for Goethe's Economy of
Nature."Science in Context7(3): 409-431.
Jahn,I. 1994. "Onthe Originof RomanticBiology and its FurtherDevelopmentat the University of Jena between 1790 and 1850." In Romanticismin Science: Science in Europe,
1790-1840, eds. S. Poggi and M. Bossi, pp. 75-89. Dordrecht:KluwerAcademic.
Jardine,N. 2000. Scenes of Inquiry: On the Reality of Questions in the Sciences, 2nd edn.
Oxford:ClarendonPress.
Koerner,L. 1993. "Goethe'sBotany:Lessons of a FeminineScience."Isis 84: 470-495.
Konig, G. 1984, "Naturwissenschaft."In Historisches Worterbuchder Philosophie, unter
Mitwirkungvon mehr als 700 Fachgelehrtenin Verbindungmit GUntherBien ... [et al.],
ed. J. Ritter,vol. 6, pp. 641-650. Basel: Schwabe, 1971.
Lange, V. 1992. The Classical Age of German Literature, 1740-1815. London: Edward
Arnold.
Lenoir,T. 1987. "The EternalLaws of Form:Morphotypesand the Conditionsof Existence
in Goethe's Biological Thought."In Goetheand the Sciences, eds. F. Amrine,F. J. Zucker
and H. Wheeler,pp. 17-28. Dordrecht:D. Reidel.
Lichtenstern,C. 1990. Die Wirkungsgeschichte
der MetamorphoselehreGoethes von Philipp
Otto Runge bis Joseph Beuys. Weinheim:VCH, Acta Humaniora.
Mandelkow,K. R. 1980. Goethe in Deutschland. Rezeptionsgeschichteeines Klassikers, 4
vols. Munich:C.H. Beck.
Mayer,H. 1973. Goethe.Ein Versucheuber den Erfolg. Frankfurtam Main:Suhrkamp.
Moritz,C. P. 1962. "Uberdie bildenenNachahmungdes Schonen."SchriftenzurAsthetikund
Poetik.Tuibingen:Max Niemeyer Verlag,pp. 63-93.
Nyhart,L. K. 1995. Biology TakesForm:Animal Morphologyand the German Universities,
1800-1900. Chicago: Universityof Chicago Press.
Potts, A. 1994. Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmannand the Origins of Art History. London:
Yale UniversityPress.
Reed, T. J. 1980. The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar,1775-1832. London: Croom
Helm.
Seamon, D. and A. Zajonic,eds. 1998. Goethe's Wayof Science: A Phenomenologyof Nature.
New York:SUNY.
Schelling, F. W. J. 1856-1861. SammtlicheWerke.Stuttgart:J.G. Gotta'scherVerlag.
Schiller,J. C. F. 1962. Schillers Werke,ed. J. Petersen.Weimar:HermannBohlausNachfolger.
- 1967. On the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. by E. M. Wilkinson and L. A.
Willoughby.Oxford:Oxford UniversityPress.
1965-1967. SammtlicheWerke,eds. G. Frickeand H. Gopfert.Munich:Hanser.
Sepper, D. Z. 1988. Goethe ContraNewton: Polemics and the Projectfor a New Science of
Colour.Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

328

JOAN STEIGERWALD

Steigerwald, J. 2000. "The CulturalEnframingof Nature: EnvironmentalHistories in the


GermanRomanticPeriod."Environmentand History6: 451-496.
Swales, M. 1978. The GermanBildungsromanfrom Wielandto Hesse. Princeton:Princeton
UniversityPress.
Todorov,T. 1977. Theoriesof the Symbol,trans.by C. Porter.Ithaca,N.Y.:CornellUniversity
Press.
Uschmann,G. 1959. Geschichteder Zoologie und der zoologischenAnstaltenin Jena 17791919. Jena: Gustav Fischer.

Wilkinson,C. M. and L. A. Willoughby.1962. Goethe as Poet and Thinker.London:Edward


Arnold.
Ziolkowski, T. 1990. GermanRomanticismand its Institutions.Princeton:PrincetonUniversity Press.

This content downloaded from 188.72.126.182 on Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:01:12 PM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions