Johann Goethe

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In existographies, Johann Goethe (206-123 BE) (1749-1832 ACM) (IQ:210|#1) (ID:2.53|82) (Cattell 1000:7) (RGM:41|1,350+) (PR:63|65AE / writer:4) (Murray 4000:2|WL) (Gottlieb 1000:131) (Perry 80:1) (Norlinger 22:1) (SN:1) (FA:112) (GA:6) (EVT:8) (FET:1) (EVT:8) (CR:942) (LH:21) (TL:2,190|#1), pronounced: GU(R)-tuh or gu(r)-te), or "Wolfgang Goethe" (Haeckel, 1899), was a German polyintellectual, noted for his affinity-driven model of form change, chemical to humans, aka "Goethe model".


A diagram of Goethe's 4-7 Oct 1793 lab notebooks, wherein he studied a reaction with Berlin-blue liquor using a double elective affinity diagram logic (left) and Goethe's 1809 used of the "double elective affinity" reaction, as the basis of the opening chapters of his Elective Affinities novel.

In 1783, while studying the orangutan to skeletal and human facial angle diagrams of Petrus Camper, discovered the human intermaxillary bone, therein proving, contrary to the Biblical view of Camper that humans were distinct from apes, that humans have morphed or form-changed over time from apes.

In 1790, Goethe penned his "Metamorphosis of Plants", a Lucretian style poem.[1]

In 4-7 Oct 1793, Goethe, in his lab notebooks (see: full page), analyzed a reaction with Berlin-blue liquor using a double elective affinity diagram:[2]

In 1799, Goethe penned his "Metamorphosis of Animals", a Lucretian style poem.[3]

On 3 Oct 1809, Goethe, exactly 16-years (to the day) after his Berlin-blue liquor affinity reaction notes, and following dialogue with Schiller, from 1798 to 1805, on affinity reactions applied to humans, published Elective Affinities: On the Nature of the Choice of Our Elective Attractions, a novel which outlines a double elective affinity between the four characters: Charlotte (A), Edward (B), Captain (C), and Ottilie (D), shown above right; letters (A, B, C, D) being the new Bergman letter notation (1775) for chemicals.


By age 8, Goethe had studied French, Greek, Italian and Latin.[4]

In 1765, Goethe, age 16, he entered Leipzig University to study Law; eventually completing his law degree at Strasbourg University in 1771.



Goethe was influenced by: Empedocles[5], Lucretius[6], Ovid, Johann Faust, William Shakespeare, Benedict Spinoza, Isaac Newton, Carl Linnaeus, Prosper Crebillon, Susanne Klettenberg, Petrus Camper, Jacob Spielmann, Baron Holbach, Torbern Bergman, Wilhelm Buchholz, Johann Blumenbach, Claude Berthollet.


Goethe was friends or good associates with: Carl August, Christoph Wieland, Johann Herder, Carl Zelter, Friedrich Schiller, Samuel Sommerring, Wilhelm Humboldt, Alexander Humboldt, Johann Cotta, Heinrich Meyer, Friedrich Riemer, Johann Dobereiner, Johann Eckermann.


Goethe was in relationships with: Charlotte Stein (infatuation), Christiane Vulpius (wife, 1806), Minna Herzlieb.


Goethe influenced: Arthur Schopenhauer, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig Beethoven, Ralph Emerson, Hermann Helmholtz, Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, George Elliot, John Tyndall, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Ostwald, Otto Weininger, Fielding Garrison, Walter Benjamin, Albert Einstein, Rudolf Steiner, George Santayana[7], Jeremy Adler, Ilya Prigogine, Reginald Hollingdale, Alfred Steer, Tom Stoppard, Karl Fink, Jurgen Mimkes.


Quotes | On

An illustration of the famous "meeting of the minds", showing Schiller, Goethe, Wilhelm Humboldt, and Alexander Humboldt, at Jena (1797), discussing “all of nature from the perspectives of philosophy and science” as Goethe later reflected.

The following are quotes on Goethe:

“It is to me very plain that no recent genius can work with equal effect upon mankind as Goethe, for no intelligent young man can read him without finding that his own compositions are immediately modified by his new knowledge.”
Ralph Emerson (c.1835), Journals, Volume Five (pg. 314)
“To many of us who feel that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the present philosophy of science, but who have been also taught, by baffled efforts, how vain is the attempt to grapple with the inscrutable, the ultimate frame of mind is that of Goethe.”
John Tyndall (1863), “Vitality” (pg. 96)[8]
Newton and Boyle lived and worked happily under the influence of this [prime mover] conception; Goethe rejected it with vehemence, and the same repugnance to accepting it is manifest in Carlyle. Boyle’s model of the universe was a Strasburg clock with an outside artificer. Goethe, on the other hand, sang: ‘It befits him to move the world within, to cherish nature in itself, in nature’ (‘ihm ziemt's die welt im innern zu bewegen, natur in sich, sich in natur zu hegen’). Carlyle’s views are expressed in his 1843 Past and Present (§5)[9].”
John Tyndall (1873), “Atheistic Materialism”, BAAS Address (pg. 24)[10]

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Goethe, dated and sourced:

“I perceived something in nature, whether living or lifeless, animate or inanimate, that manifested itself only in contradictions and therefore could not be expressed in any concept, much less any word. It was not divine, for it seemed irrational; not human, for it had no intelligence; not diabolical, for it was beneficent; and not angelic, for it often betrayed malice. It was like chance, for it laced continuity, and like providence, for it suggested context. Everything that limits us seemed penetrable by it, and it appeared to dispose at will over the elements necessary to our existence, to contract time and expand space. It seemed only to accept the impossible and scornfully to reject the possible. The essence, which appeared to infiltrate all others, separating and combining them, I called ‘daemonic’, after the ancients and others who had perceived something similar. I tried to save myself form this fearful thing.”
— Johann Goethe (c.1772), Autobiographical Notes (pg. #)[11]
“I have found neither gold nor silver, but something that unspeakably delights me — the ‘human Os intermaxillary’!
— Johann Goethe (1784), “Missive to Johann Herder from Jena”, Night, Mar 27 [12]
“For natures like mine a journey is invaluable; it animates, corrects, instructs and develops.”
— Johann Goethe (1797), “Letter to Schiller”, Oct 14[4]
“These remarks were written as early as 1809. I should then have been much cheered to hear so kind a word about Elective Affinities; for at that time, and afterwards, not many pleasant remarks were vouchsafed me about that novel.”
— Johann Goethe (1827), “Comment to Johann Eckermann” (regarding a letter from Solger to Tieck in which kind words were spoken about his Elective Affinities, regarding the fine nature of the Architect’s character), Jan 18
“He who is firm in will molds the world to himself.”
— Johann Goethe (c.1800), Publication
“That power of perception which only cognises the nature of inorganic phenomena has arrived at the boundary which must be crossed in order to grasp what is living.”
— Johann Goethe (c.1805), Source; cited by Rudolf Steiner (1928) in: Goethe’s Conception of the World (pg. 105)[13]
“Girls we love for what they are; young men for what they promise to be.”
— Johann Goethe (c.1810), Publication [14]
“My work is an assemblage of ‘essences’, which have been derived from the course of nature. This bears the name of ‘Goethe’.”
— Johann Goethe (c.1820), Publication; cited by Newell Sims in Society and Surplus (pg. 342); compare: James Maxwell (1879), Wilhelm Ostwald (1926), and Carl Sagan (1980)

End matter

See also


  1. Goethe, Johann. (1790). “Metamorphosis of Plants”, in: Goethe: Selected Poems, Volume One (translator: Michael Hamburger) (pgs. 150-57). Suhrkamp, 1983.
  2. Adler, Jeremy. (1987). An almost Magical Attraction: Goethe’s Elective Affinity and the Chemistry of its Time (Eine fast magische Anziehungskraft: Goethe’s 'Wahlverwandtschafte' und die Chemie seiner Zeit) (pg.76) (GB) (Amz). Munich: Beck.
  3. Goethe, Johann. (1799). “Metamorphosis of Animals”, in: Goethe: Selected Poems, Volume One (translator: Christopher Middleton) (pgs. 160-61). Suhrkamp, 1983.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Johann Goethe –
  5. Goethe and Empedocles – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Albrecht, Michael. (1997). A History of Roman Literature: From Livius Andronicus to Boethius: with Special Regard to Its Influence on World Literature (pg. 310). Brill.
  7. Santayana, George. (1935). Three Philosophical Poets: Lucretius, Dante, and Goethe. Harvard.
  8. (a) Tyndall, John. (1863). “Vitality”, Publisher.
    (b) Tyndall, John. (1893). Lectures and Essays by John Tyndall (pgs. 94-96). Watts, 1903.
  9. Carlyle, Thomas. (1843). Past and Present (§5). Little.
  10. Tyndall, John. (1874). “Atheistic Materialism (txt), Address, British Association for the Advancement of Science, Belfast. Longmans.
  11. (a) Benjamin, Walter. (1996). Selected Writings, Volume One, 1913-1926 (pg. 316). Harvard.
    (b) Albinus, Lars. (2016). Religion as a Philosophical Matter (pg. 89). Walter.
  12. Human intermaxillary bone – Hmolpedia 2020.
  13. Steiner, Rudolf. (1928). Goethe’s Conception of the World (§7: The Doctrine of Metamorphosis, pg. 105) (txt), Haskell, 1973.
  14. Edwards, Tryon. (1902). A Dictionary of Thoughts: a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors, Both Ancient and Modern (pg. 642). Publisher.


  • Goethe, Johann. (1790). “Metamorphosis of Plants”, in: Goethe: Selected Poems, Volume One (translator: Michael Hamburger) (pgs. 150-57). Suhrkamp, 1983.
  • Goethe, Johann. (1799). “Metamorphosis of Animals”, in: Goethe: Selected Poems, Volume One (translator: Christopher Middleton) (pgs. 160-61). Suhrkamp, 1983.

Further reading

  • Goethe, Johann; Eckermann, Johann. (1901). Conversations with Eckermann: Being Appreciations and Criticisms on Many Subjects (Introduction: Wallace Wood). Dunne.
  • Duran, Xavier. (2012). “Goethe and the Affinity Between Chemistry and Literature: Molecules and Divorce in a Romantic Novel” (pdf), Metode Annual Review, 27-31.


  • Goethe, Johann. (c.1871). “On Nature” (translator: Christopher Bamford; narrator: Brain Saxton) (YT), BMA Studios 1, Dec 12.

External links

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