The romantic conception of life : science and philosophy in the age of Goethe /
Robert J. Richards.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.
xix, 587 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
0226712109 (alk. paper)
More Details
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.
0226712109 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 555-571) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-06-01:
In this well-written book Richards (history, philosophy, and psychology, Univ. of Chicago) develops ideas he articulated in The Meaning of Evolution: The Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin's Theory (CH, Nov'92), in which he sought to reconstruct the understanding of evolution prevalent in the 19th century. In the present volume Richards focuses on early German Romantics, especially Schelling and Goethe, and their impact on the developing science of biology. Richards has two ambitious goals: to rehabilitate the reputation of Romantic science, especially biology, by showing that it gave essential impulses to Darwin's theory of evolution and to show that the Romantics' personal relationships shaped their ideas "as much as ... the formal aspects of their inquiries." Though the author does not ultimately develop a convincing conception of living in the "Romantic mode" and the relationship between biography and textual production, his portraits of the early Romantics in Jena and Weimar and the interaction between their lives and their changing understanding of life and nature are interesting and informative. And he makes progress in demonstrating the importance of Romanticism's influence on the development of biology, presenting these theses in a more convincing way--a way likely to provoke debate. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. R. Bledsoe Augusta State University
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Choice, June 2003
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Main Description
"All art should become science and all science art; poetry and philosophy should be made one." Friedrich Schlegel's words perfectly capture the project of the German Romantics, who believed that the aesthetic approaches of art and literature could reveal patterns and meaning in nature that couldn't be uncovered through rationalistic philosophy and science alone. In this wide-ranging work, Robert J. Richards shows how the Romantic conception of the world influenced (and was influenced by) both the lives of the people who held it and the development of nineteenth-century science. Integrating Romantic literature, science, and philosophy with an intimate knowledge of the individuals involvedfrom Goethe and the brothers Schlegel to Humboldt and Friedrich and Caroline SchellingRichards demonstrates how their tempestuous lives shaped their ideas as profoundly as their intellectual and cultural heritage. He focuses especially on how Romantic concepts of the self, as well as aesthetic and moral considerationsall tempered by personal relationshipsaltered scientific representations of nature. Although historians have long considered Romanticism at best a minor tributary to scientific thought, Richards moves it to the center of the main currents of nineteenth-century biology, culminating in the conception of nature that underlies Darwin's evolutionary theory. Uniting the personal and poetic aspects of philosophy and science in a way that the German Romantics themselves would have honored, The Romantic Conception of Life alters how we look at Romanticism and nineteenth-century biology.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Uniting the personal and poetic aspects of philosophy and science in a way that the German Romantics themselves would have honored, 'The Romantic Conception of Life' questions how we look at Romanticism in relation to 19th century biology.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Most Happy Encounter
The Early Romantic Movement in Literature Philosophy, and Science
The Early Romantic Movement
Schelling: The Poetry of Nature
Denouement: Farwell to Jena
Scientific Foundations of the Romantic Conception of Life
Early Theories of Development: Blumenback and Kant
Kielmeyer and the Organic Powers of Nature
Johann Christian Reli's Romantic Theories of Life and Mind, or Rhapsodies on a Cat-Piano
Goethe, A Genius for Poetry, Morphology, and Women
The Erotic Authority of Nature
Goethe's Scientific Revolution
Conclusion: The History of a Life in Art and Science
The Romantic Conception of Life
Darwin's Romantic Biology
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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