Goethe's Vision of Natur during the Italian Journey



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The following project will examine the scientific, metaphysical, and aesthetic themes connected to Goethe's vision of Natur during and surrounding the years of his famed Italian Journey. Goethe's progressing conceptualization of the Urpflanze during this period, as witnessed in his autobiographical Italienische Reise and the Versuch, die Metamorphose der Pflanzen zu erklaren, will be of special concern because of its pertinence to a number of vital natural scientific themes in Goethe's scientific work. I will also trace the progression of these themes over time as seen in Goethe's related theories of the intermaxillary bone and of the morphology of plant organs so as to maintain that the Italian Journey may be seen as a period not only of literary revitalization as commonly cited, but also of scientific progress in connection with Goethe's deepening understanding of Natur as well as its inherent laws and archetypal nature. The first chapter will introduce the project's problem in detail as well as the textual and critical obstructions associated with the project. I will maintain in Chapter II that Goethe's biography during the 1780s shows a systematic progression in the understanding of Natur in his scientific projects and in the Reise, which also helps to demonstrate that Goethe's Journey was a period during which Goethe was able to develop, in greater detail than heretofore, his metaphysical vision of Natur. In Chapter III, I will investigate the primary textual material on Goethe?s notion of the Urpflanze within the Italienische Reise and its resulting extension in his 1790 study of plant morphology, the Metamorphose der Pflanzen. Chapter IV will discuss the topic of the Eins in Nature and anschauende Urteilskraft as detected in Goethe's scientific writings. Chapter V will continue and conclude this argument by linking Richards' argument regarding "Romantic biologists" to Goethe?s natural science during the time of the Italian Journey, thus making a connection between Kunst and Natur in the Italienische Reise and in Goethe's scientific projects during and surrounding the Journey.