Goethe's Magical Philosophy and Possession of Nature Essay

Goethe's Magical Philosophy and Possession of Nature Essay

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Goethe's Magical Philosophy and Possession of Nature


After hearing comments from the class, and especially Professor, about Goethe's appropriation of nature I began to wonder about the argument I had presented in our presentation. I decided to do further research and found some interesting arguments that both supported and detracted from my original statement.


Although I think Goethe's relationship to nature is undeniable, perhaps his "appropriation" of nature is less clear. I think the term "appropriation" is the cause of the problem in identifying his true relationship to nature. In our presentation we presented examples of the appropriation of nature through Romantic literature. The most direct example of this was in Anne's detailed description of English landscape gardening where nature was physically appropriated to create the picturesque. Here we can see the distinction between any concept of Goethe's appropriation of nature and the real and physical appropriation by English landscapers.

The term appropriation denotes and connotes possession on the part of the appropriator. The question of possession therefore becomes central to an idea of Goethe's appropriation of nature. Indeed, the landowners of England commissioned landscape architects to transform their grounds into models of the picturesque and this process was demonstrative of an actual possession over the land. However, I find it difficult to reduce Goethe to materialism and believe that he would take a more engaged and emotional approach to nature. It is obvious that Goethe never actually appropriated any of nature, especially when compared with the English landscapers, but I'm not sure if this satisfies an understanding of his relationship to nature...


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...n cooperation. It is also interesting how this problem expands into Goethe's Faust and Italian Journey and seems to be the basis of a greater theme in his literature. The question of Goethe's appropriation of nature could be whether he subscribes to a mechanical or magical philosophy in MacLennan's terms. Either master to nature or companion, Goethe's relationship with nature is dynamic and complex.

Works Cited

Brown, Jane K. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. http://worldroots.com/brigitte/goethe1.htm 19 Feb. 2005.

Goethe, Johann. Italian Journey. London: Penguin Classics, 1962.

MacLennan, Bruce. Introduction to 'Goethe, Faust, and Science' seminar. http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/Classes/UH348/Intro-IIC5.html 19 Feb. 2005.

Seamon, David. "Goethe, Nature, and Phenomenology". http://www.arch.ksu.edu/seamon/book%20chapters/goethe_intro.htm 18 Feb. 2005.

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