Goethe on Science

An Anthology of Goethe's Scientific Writings

Edited by Jeremy Naydler; Foreword by Henri Bortoft

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A systematic arrangement of extracts from Goethe's major scientific works which reveal how fundamentally different his approach was to scientific study of the natural world.

234 x 156 mm
Floris Books
Philosophy of the Natural World
144 pages
Publication date:
01 Oct 1996


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is most famous for his work on colour theory, but he was also an accomplished all-round scientist, studying and writing on anatomy, geology, botany, zoology and meteorology. This book draws together, in Goethe's own words, his key ideas on nature, science and scientific method.

Goethe believed that we should study our world and nature as people at home in it, rather than removedly, as if we were aliens from another planet. He adopted a qualitative approach to science at odds with Newton's quantitative methods that were so popular in his day. His is a sensitive science which does not ignore our relationship to nature.

The extracts in this book are fascinating and essential reading for anyone who feels that we've lost our spiritual connection to nature.


Jeremy Naydler is a philosopher and cultural historian who lives in Oxford. He is the author of Temple of the Cosmos: Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred and The Reality That Is Not There: Reflections on Non-locational Space.

Henri Bortoft (1938-2012) was a physicist with an interest in the history of science and continental philosophy. He authored The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe's Way of Science (Floris Books, 1996, 2005) and Taking Appearance Seriously (Floris Books, 2012).

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