Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Frankfurt am Main, 1749 – Weimar, 1832) German writer (poet, novelist, playwright), politician, humanist, scientist, and natural philosopher (a Polymath). He studied at the universities of Leipzig and Strasbourg.

In Literature, Goethe is sometimes considered one of the greatest figures.

Goethe produced volumes of poetry, essays, criticism, and scientific work, including a theory of optics and early work on evolution and linguistics. He was fascinated by minerals and early mineralogy (the mineral goethite is named for him). As a philosopher and writer he is one of the key figures in the transition from the Enlightenment to Romanticism.[1]

As scientist

Goethe's possible importance to 19th, 20th century and modern-day science has been an ongoing academic concern. Perhaps Faust was Goethe's way of warning mankind against the use of his scientific methods. Such books are Rudolf Steiner's Goethe the Scientist (1950) and A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception (1968), Frederick Amrine's Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal (1987 Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 97), Henri Bortoft's Goethe's Scientific Consciousness (1986), and Douglas Miller's Goethe: Scientific Studies (1988).[2] Also David Seamon's Goethe's Way of Science (SUNY Press, 1998)[3] and Dennis L. Sepper's Goethe Contra Newton: Polemics and the Project for a New Science of Color (Cambridge University Press, 2003) [4]

As writer

A suicide cult grew up after publication of one of his earliest works, The Sorrows of Young Werther.[5] Multiple suicides were reported among young readers of the work led to the books' banning in Italy and Denmark.[6]


Goethe in the Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein.

Among many other works:

  • Götz von Berlichingen (1773)
  • The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)
  • Hermann and Dorothea
  • Faust (1832)
  • Poetry and Truth (1833). Memoires. (Aus Meinem Leben. Dichtung und Wahrheit)


"Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure. But it’s the same with that type of artistic activity as with all others: We are merely born with the capability to do it. The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

See also

External links


  1. Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe (1749 - 1832)
  2. Faith and Knowledge, Douglas Sloan, Westminster John Knox Press, 1994, ISBN 0664228666, ISBN 9780664228668, 272 pages, pp. 209-210 n.70
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. Devitt, Patrick. "13 Reasons Why and Suicide Contagion", Scientific American. (en) 
  6. Furedi, Frank (2015). "The Media's First Moral Panic". History Today 65 (11).