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June 2002
272 pages  

6 x 9
9780822941774
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The Will to Create
Goethe’s Philosophy of Nature
Tantillo, Astrida
Better known as a poet and dramatist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was also a learned philosopher and natural scientist. Astrida Orle Tantillo offers the first comprehensive analysis of his natural philosophy, which she contends is rooted in creativity.

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Astrida Orle Tantillo, associate professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois–Chicago, is the author of Goethe’s Elective Affinities and the Critics.
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Philosophy
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Better known as a poet and dramatist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was also a learned philosopher and natural scientist. Astrida Orle Tantillo offers the first comprehensive analysis of his natural philosophy, which she contends is rooted in creativity. Tantillo analyzes Goethe’s main scientific texts, including his work on physics, botany, comparative anatomy, and metereology. She critically examines his attempts to challenge the basic tenets of Newtonian and Cartesian science and to found a new natural philosophy. In individual chapters devoted to different key principles, she reveals how this natural philosophy—which questions rationalism, the quantitative approach to scientific inquiry, strict gender categories, and the possibility of scientific objectivity—illuminates Goethe’s standing as both a precursor and critic of modernity. Tantillo does not presuppose prior knowledge of Goethe or science, and carefully avoids an overreliance on specialized jargon. This makes The Will to Create accessible to a wide audience, including philosophers, historians of science, and literary theorists, as well as general readers.
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“Finally, we have a readable work in English comparable to Margrit Wyder’s Goethes Naturmodell, Dorothea-Michaela Noé-Rumberg’s Naturgesetze als Dichtungsprinzipien, and Günther Schnitzler and Gottfried Schramm’s Ein Unteilbares Ganzes that encompasses all aspects of Goethe’s philosophy of nature. Tantillo takes the reader on a fascinating and illuminating journey of discovery through Goethe’s life as a scientist and poet. I highly recommend this exciting and incisive study.”—John A. McCarthy, Vanderbilt University

“Must Read !!!!!”—Today’s Books Public News Service, September 16, 2002

“ Tantillo provides a valuable, lucid analysis of Goethe’s scientific writings, showing (as have others) that these works are not what one would today consider scientific writing.” —Choice, November 2002

“Tantillo solves the problem of the validity of Goethe’s science by reading him as a philosopher of nature. In this bold new reading, Goethe’s nature is neither sentimental nor solely a principle of order. Tantillo shows us rather a dynamic, Faustian nature with its own creative will—sometimes brutal, sometimes monstrous. This eminently readable book is as important for readers of Goethe’s poetry as for those of his science.”—Jane K. Brown, University of Washington


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