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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goethe and evolution

Diegogarcity (there! I've used my new favourite word in a sentence) forced me to the Wikipedia entry on Goethe, and I quote from there:

"Goethe was also a cultural force, and by researching folk traditions, he created many of the norms for celebrating Christmas, and argued that the organic nature of the land moulded the people and their customs

"He argued that laws could not be created by pure rationalism, since geography and history shaped habits and patterns. This stood in sharp contrast to the prevailing Enlightenment view that reason was sufficient to create well-ordered societies and good laws.

"Goethe's influence was dramatic because he understood that there was a transition in European sensibilities, an increasing focus on sense, the indescribable, and the emotional. This is not to say that he was emotionalistic or excessive; on the contrary, he lauded personal restraint and felt that excess was a disease: “There is nothing worse than imagination without taste”. He argued in his scientific works that a “formative impulse”, which he said is operative in every organism, causes an organism to form itself according to its own distinct laws, and therefore rational laws or fiats could not be imposed at all from a higher, transcendent sphere; this placed him in direct opposition to those who attempted to form “enlightened” monarchies based on “rational” laws by, for example, Joseph II of Austria or, the subsequent Emperor of the French, Napoleon I. "

Now read about a Curious Inconsistency as written by Don Boudreaux. And from there go read about the Social Snowflakes as written by Steven Horwitz.

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10:02 pm


Comments to Goethe and evolution

For an uproariously funny take on Goethe, and german culture in general, checkout 'Measuring the world' by Daniel Kehlman. A novel loosely based on Humboldt and Gauss's life histories.

posted by Anonymous selva 

9:30 pm, November 14, 2007

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