Ninth Lecture Series of the Spinoza Center
Goethe: Poet, Scientist, Philosopher
Convened and moderated by Dr. Dror Yinon and Dr. Pini Ifergan
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is a paragon of Western culture in general and of German culture in particular. He is famous mainly for his rich poetic and prosodic output, but his theoretical thought in science, aesthetics, and philosophy is also fascinating and deserving of recognition. Although this thought is not systematic, it provided a powerful alternative to the accepted theories of his time and offered new horizons of thought. Moreover, Goethe the man is a rare example of a person with regard to whom the study of his private life and the formation of his character reveals a universal dimension that goes beyond individual biography.
Goethe will be the focus of the ninth lecture series by the Spinoza Center at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. The series will examine how Goethe’s literary works and theoretical thought are interwoven, by tracing his life and work as they are revealed in the rich documentation of his diaries, his diverse correspondence, and his autobiography. The aim is not to present a personal or intellectual biography but rather to suggest a general theoretical position, a philosophical possibility encompassed in his unique personality. Each of the five lectures in the series will deal with a single aspect of the topic, and we hope that the overall picture they create will demonstrate that even if Goethe was first and foremost an artist, his personality included the poet and the writer of prose as well as the philosopher and the scientist, together creating a unique synthesis.