Elective Affinities | IAD: Love theories

In Elective Affinities: IAD, the following is the love theories page of online project.


As Goethe famously said that he has hidden many things (see: commentary decoding) in Elective Affinities, this page focuses on the various philosophical, mythological, and or scientific love theories that scholars have uncovered hidden in the novella. The following is the listing of known theories of love, relationships, and reproduction models that Goethe is argued to have incorporated into his novella:


Cupid Imhotep
The god of love (Eros), in the form of a putto, with his bow and arrow of love, with which a shot from, via the actions of its chemically-dipped arrow head, causes a person to fall in love; the nature of love, passion, and the rules and repercussions of desire is the central motif of the novella.Cover (Cupid) Philipp Johann
Hjalmar Boyesen
A Greek mythology figure who is credited with the creation of man from clay (Ѻ), and who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity, i.e. theft of fire (Ѻ), an act that enabled progress and civilization; Shakespeare, whom Goethe started reading at age 17 (see: timeline), famous commented, in his 1603 Othello, the Moor of Venice, in riddled form: “I know not where is that Promethean heat, that can thy life relum”; the term here is extrapolated to the nature of the heats of passion, and the life and death of relationships. Cover (Prometheus)
Chemical aphorismEmpedocles
(495-435 BC)
The theory that people who love each other mix like water and wine; whereas, conversely, those who hate each other separate like oil and water.Water and wine (mixing)
Soul mate theory
(or split human theory)
Human ancestors were hypothesized to once have had two heads, four arms [and supposedly one soul]. They did something to offend a god so that god punished them by splitting them down the middle, resulting in the creation of humans. As a punishment, we are condemned to spend our lives searching for the other half, our soulmates. (Ѻ) The theory is described in a dialogue in Plato’s The Symposium, in which he has Aristophanes present a story about soul mates; a theory that, supposedly, Goethe incorporated into the Edward/Ottilie paring via his alternate headache coincidence descriptions. In modern terms, about 75 percent of people, supposedly, believe in this theory, to the effect that when two soul mates find each other it will be love at first sight.Split soul theoryWilliam Lillyman [1]
Narcissism Ovid

NarcissismStefani Engelstein [2]
Maternal imagination theoryLevinus Lemnius (1505-1568)
Robert Burton (1577-1640)
Pierre Maupertuis (1698-1758)
A physiology of reproduction theory which holds that whoever a woman (or in some versions the man) is thinking of at the time of conception those traits will be passed to the offspring.Double mental adultury (Elective Affinties)
BildungstriebJohann Blumenbach (1752-1840) A “formative drive” theory (see also: Freud-Schiller drive theory), which hypothesizes that an epigenetic driving force exists that directs form reproduction in plants, animals, and humans; such as observed in grafting shoots and plant growth.bildungstriebStefani Engelstein [2]

Human chemical theoryJohann Goethe
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
A theory that humans "react" together like chemicals, forming and or breaking bonds, according to chemical reaction diagram (equation) logic, of the Bergman reaction diagram variety; the theory was originated by Goethe (1793-1796), as an extension of his early evolution of plants and animals theory (metamorphology), then developed in part via discussions with Schiller (1798-1805).Limestone sulfuric acid reaction
HCR diagram
Jeremy Adler
Evolutionary psychology
The "Captain" to "Major" change, only after which Charlotte agrees to marry the Captain, is situated in the novella, as some type of Alley equation factor.
Person [?]

1. (a) Lillyman, William J. (1982). “Analogies for Love: Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften and Plato’s Symposium” (quote, pg. 128). Goethe’s Narrative Fiction: the Irvine Goethe Symposium. Walter de Gruyter.
(b) Plato. (c.380BC). “Aristophanes’ speech”, in: Collected Works of Plato (translator: Benjamin Jowett) (pgs. 520-25). Oxford University Press, 1953.
(c) Symposium (Plato) – Wikipedia.
(d) Burton, Neel. (2010). “Platonic Myths: the Myth of Aristophanes”, Outre-Monde.com, Sep. 25.
2. Engelstein, Stefani. (2008). Anxious Anatomy: the Conception of the Human Form in Literary and Naturalist Discourse (§Goethe’s Monstrous Otto, pgs. 26-30; Metamorphology, pgs. 48-54; Elective Affinities or Chosen Correspondences, pgs. 55-60). SUNY Press.

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