|Left: Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte's 1933 oil on canvas painting entitled "Elective Affinities" based on the human chemical theory of German polymath Johann Goethe’s 1809 physical chemistry based novella Elective Affinities, according to which the “will” is largely determined by forces external (1796).Right: some 2012 free will artwork, based on Margritte's painting, the idea that we are each hatched into a world caged by external forces. |
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
In Goethe's time, his view was that each person was an evolved form of a chemical species and that the various reaction laws of chemical affinity, which number up to ten depending on which chemist is sourced, determine the fate and destiny of human relationships, intimate, social, and political.  Subsequently, in the novella, the characters compare the passions, friendships, and animosities of reactions between people in different combinations and discuss the nature of these in comparison to the reaction lives of the chemicals. The central chemical theory used in Goethe's novella stems from Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman's 1775 textbook A Dissertation on Elective Attractions. As such, for either a human or a chemical born or synthesized in a reactive system to assume that they are chemically "feel" is illogical.
The picture is used on the cover of American philosopher Lydia Goehr's 2008 book Elective Affinities on the philosophy of music and aesthetics, the first chapter of which opens with a discussion of Geothe's Elective Affinities. 
1. (a) ABC Gallery – Elective Affinities (1933).
2. Goethe, Johann von. (1809). Elective Affinities. New York: Penguin Classics.
3. Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two), (preview), (ch. 10: "Goethe's Affinities", pgs. 371-422). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
4. Goehr, Lydia. (2008). Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (Wahlverwandtschaft, pgs. 1-2). Columbia University Press.
5. Die Wahlverwandtschaften / Les Affinities elective (by Druide52) (2012) – FotoCommunity.com.