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Title: Goethe and the study of life: a comparison with Husserl and Simmel
Authors: Weik, Elke
First Published: 22-Sep-2016
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
Citation: Continental Philosophy Review, 2016, pp. 1-23
Abstract: In the paper at hand I introduce Goethe’s ontology and methodology for the study of life as an alternative to current theories. ‘Life,’ in its individual, social and/or pan-natural form, has been a recurring topic in the social sciences for the last two centuries and may currently experience a renaissance, if we are to believe Scott Lash. Goethe’s approach is of particular interest because he formulated it as one of the first critical responses to the nascent discipline of biology. It can be characterised broadly as phenomenology with a strong dose of life philosophy. For this reason, and to draw its contours more clearly, I compare his approach to the respective thoughts in Husserl’s and Simmel’s work. The comparison focuses on the two central concepts phenomenon and life but also discusses broader epistemological and methodological issues, such as the relationship between observer and observed, the relationship between culture (cultural sciences) and nature (natural sciences), the nature of causality as well as preferred methods of study.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s11007-016-9387-z
ISSN: 1387-2842
eISSN: 1573-1103
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: © The Author(s) 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Management

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