Goethean philosophy

Goethean philosophy (four stages)
A summary of the four stages of ideological states an advanced thinker, will proceed through, in his average 80-years of existence, broken up into 20-year stages of "mindset".
In philosophy, Goethean philosophy refers to []

In c.1770s until 1882, Goethe, via his various intellectual circles, and published works (140+ volumes), outlined an advanced philosophical outlook on nature, existence, and experience held in the mindset of German polymath Johann Goethe—as found in his 142+ publications collected works set—the description and meaning of which varies from person to person—Einstein, for example, kept a bust of Goethe in his study along with a 52-volume collected works set of Goethe’s publications, the most representative author in his personal library, but may not have explicitly stated what this meant to him, philosophically-speaking—Tesla, likewise, owned a thorough collection of Goethe’s scientific texts and read these to the exclusion of all other philosophies—the central message, however, of Goethe’s philosophy being found in coded layers of hidden gestalt in the text of his self-defined greatest work: his 1809 physical chemistry based novella Elective Affinities, the formulation of which as is explicitly stated in the famous chapter four—the gist of which being well summarized in the 1816 words of his human chemistry protégé Arthur Schopenhauer:

“As the title indicates [Elective Affinities], though Goethe was unaware of this, [it] has as its foundation the idea that the will, which constitutes the basis of our inner being, is the same will that manifests itself in the lowest, inorganic phenomena.”

which, when combined with Goethe’s 1799 critical comments, on the work of French author Prosper Crebillon, to his closest his intellectual friend German author Friedrich Schiller that:

“Crebillon … treats the passions like playing cards, that one can shuffle, play, reshuffle, and play again, without their changing at all. There is no trace of the delicate, chemical affinity, through which they attract and repel each other, reunite, neutralize [each other], separate again and recover.”

taken together with his 1796 Lectures on Anatomy views:

“There are, by nature, stronger or weaker bonds between chemical components, and when they evidence themselves, they resemble attractions between human. This is why chemists speak of elective affinities, even though the forces that move chemical components [or humans] one way or another and create chemical structures are often purely external in origin.”

statements, about which, Goethe defended in Dec 1809 by telling a women in the street who attacked him about his greatest theory that:

“The principle illustrated in the book is true and not immoral.”

meaning that, in sum, this “principle”, Goethe speaks of here, which can be generally attributed to his 24 Jul 1809 comment:

“The moral symbols in the natural sciences, that of the elective affinities invented and used by the great Bergman, are more meaningful and permit themselves to be connected better with poetry and society.”

is "Goethean philosophy", about which, as he summarized, in retrospect reflection, in discussion with his associate Johann Eckermann, on 06 May 1827:

“The only production of greater extent, in which I am conscious of having labored to set forth a pervading idea, is probably my Elective Affinities.

In sum, the “pervading idea” and the “principle” illustrated in “hidden layers of gestalt” in his coded 1809 physical chemistry treatise is Goethean philosophy, pure and simple—and thus constitutes a modern day “belief system” to many a modern intellectual person, such as exemplified in the description of the central character Oskar of Gunter Grass's 1959 novel The Tin Drum, in which Elective Affinities is one of the two books which Oskar uses for guidance, along with a book on Rasputin.

The essence of the Goethean philosophy is embodied, quantitatively, in the 1882 Goethe-Helmholtz equation, which refers to any equation, of differing formats, relating the affinities of an isothermal-isobaric reaction (i.e. the attractions, repulsions, reunitings, separations, and or neutralizations, in Goethe’s words) to the change in the Gibbs free energy of the system, a value that can be measured; the most common version of which is:

 A = - \Delta G \,

where A is the chemical affinity or driving forces, of the isothermal-isobaric reaction, and ΔG is the change in the Gibbs free energy of the reaction or process.

Goethean philosophers
Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) and American philosopher Ralph Emerson (1803-1882) are said to be two noted early mediators of the “Goethean philosophy”; although, possibly not in the same “chemical philosophy” sense, described above, as was mediated in the works of Schopenhauer, who went on to structure his two-volume opus The World as Will and Representation around Goethe's chemical philosophy in the form of a will to power philosophy, so to speak. [1]

American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims is one of the greatest modern-day adherents to Goethean philosophy, in the chemical philosophy sense of the term, such as he discusses in the adjacent 2011 video, wherein he explains that, on the Dawkins scale, he is a 10 and that in verbal terms:

“Myself, I am a Dawkins number 10. Like Russell, I was forced to tread through a path of self-education, starting from an age 5 question about where does God live?—upward through chemical engineering studies—and further prolonged research in the field of comparative religion and mythology, in a quest for knowledge, which, to note, is embodied presently in a personal library totaling 1,247 books, of which 330 are in thermodynamics, the subject upon which the modern physical chemistry morality system is based. In plain speak, for me, the is no God—it is not even a thought in the back of my mind—there are no supernatural forces, all that exists is matter and energy governed by the laws of hard physical science; the theory of life, death, afterlife—in particular ‘life’ and the ‘origin of life’—is a defunct theory, passed on to us through religious-mythological teachings. Morality, however, does exist: and is explained within the framework of thermodynamics, the laws that govern the known universe in particular, by way of being explained by differentials of Gibbs free energy, the same energy that governs and describes the nature of the reactions that occur between the atoms of the periodic table—a morality system as outlined in 1809 [1796] by German polymath Johann von Goethe—hence I am what might be called, one step above atheism, as a ‘Goetheanist’ or a believer in Goetheanism—or humanism mixed with physicalism mixed with materialism.”

In short, to elaborate, although about 95 percent of modern scientists (see: existence of God) are atheists, by declaration and definition, this only explains what one does not believe in—Goetheanism, or a belief in (a) the periodic table (what one is comprised of), (b) the laws of thermodynamics, and (c) the main tenets Goethe's chemical philosophy of existence, is a step above this, a way of explaining what one does believe in—a cogent distancing from nihilism or belief in nothing.

See also
Goethean revolution
Goethe timeline
Goethe’s affinity table
● Goethean human chemistry
Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded

1. Wahr, Frederick B. (1915). Emerson and Goethe (Goethean philosophy, pg. 47). G. Wahr.

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