Introduction to German Idealism

My lecture in two parts introducing German Idealism (focusing on Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Goethe, Hegel)

1 Comment

  1. Hi, Matt. What essay did you give the class to read? Which class did Sean have you come in for?

    Great lecture. Speaking of asymmetries in Nature, I got this nice, related quote from Pasteur out of Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary”: “Life as manifested to us is a function of asymmetry of the universe… I can even imagine that all living species are primordially, in their structure, in their external forms, functions of cosmic asymmetry.”

    I have a few thoughts after viewing. Regarding claims of truth in medieval and early Renaissance universities, the posts in the universities had a direct bearing on whether frameworks were mere models or assertions about how reality is. In biographies by real historians, this is understood widely, so be careful to be suspicious when getting your history from scientists; they tend to be really bad at it. I think Heilbron talks about the meaning of chairs in disciplines within medieval universities, as in his biography of Galileo. This is actually also why the Church, risk free, encouraged Copernicus to write his “Revolutionibus.” Galileo made claims about actual reality prior to his receiving the chair, which I think was a move from mathematics to natural philosophy (but I could be wrong), but those claims were offhandedly reprimanded, without much attention or force. Duhem also talks about why it was that this distinction of the disciplines/chairs regarded theories with varying relations to ontology. He talks about this in his works regarding “saving phenomena.” That models were not in accord with sensible observation was really no big deal at all.

    Goethe’s “all is leaf” is an expression of his view of the dynamic connection of being through temporality. The closest Goethe comes to depicting this visually in “The Metamorphosis of Plants” is in his depiction of the transformation of the petal into stamen. However, I’ve seen better depictions, and I think one place of this dynamic temporal unity sort of depiction was in “The Strategy of Life: Teleological Mechanics in Nineteenth Century German Biology” by Tim Lenoir, but I don’t remember where he got this imagine drawn by Goethe. (As a side note, if you do more than look at the pictures in this book by Lenoir, you should know we did an in-depth study at IU, reading the original sources in parallel, and Lenoir’s narrative suspect to the point of misrepresentation of the original thinkers; but you can judge for yourself, though we were excited about the possibilities of the thesis.)

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