Goethe’s Way of Science


Trading parallels and insights are to be found everywhere.

From Goethe’s Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature, David Seamon & Arthur Zajonc, University of New York Press, 1998:

Goethe emphasized that perhaps the greatest danger in the transition from seeing to interpreting is the tendency of the mind to impose an intellectual structure that is not really present in the thing itself: “How difficult it is…to refrain from replacing the thing with its sign, to keep the object alive before us instead of killing it with the word.”(1) The student must proceed carefully when making the transition from experience and seeing to judgement and interpretation, guarding against such dangers as “impatience, precipitancy, self-satisfaction, rigidity, narrow thoughts, presumption, indolence, indiscretion, instability, and whatever else the entire retinue might be called.”(2)

Yet Goethe argued that it is not enough to train only the outer senses and the intellect. He maintained that, as a person’s abilities to see outwardly improve, so do his or her inner recognitions and perceptions become more sensitive: “Each phenomenon in nature, rightly observed, wakens in us a new organ of inner understanding.”(3) As one learns to see more clearly, he or she also learns to see more deeply. One becomes more “at home” with the phenomenon, understanding it with greater empathy, concern and respect.

[1.Goethe: Scientific Studies, p. 275.
2.Matthaei, Goethe’s Color Theory, p. 60.
3.Goethe’s Botanical Writings, p. 235.]

3 responses to “Goethe’s Way of Science

  1. Pingback: Good to Go Pile . . . « Trading for the Masses

  2. Caravaggio,

    As a trader with a BA in Biology, I really enjoyed this post!

  3. Thanks Linda, I gave up the study of biology way too early. There seems to be so much more to learn from the scientific disciplines than from the psuedo-science trading books. All the best.

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