Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought

Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought

by Henri Bortoft


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The history of western metaphysics from Plato onwards is dominated by the dualism of being and appearance. What something really is (its true being) is believed to be hidden behind the 'mere appearances' through which it manifests. Twentieth-century European thinkers radically overturned this way of thinking. 'Appearance' began to be taken seriously, with the observer participating in the dynamic event of perception.

In this important book, Henri Bortoft guides us through this dynamic way of seeing, exploring issues including how we distinguish things, how we find meaning, and the relationship between thought and words.

Expanding the scope of his previous book, The Wholeness of Nature, Bortoft shows how Goethean insights combine with this dynamic way of seeing in continental philosophy, to offer an actively experienced 'life of meaning'.

This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the contribution and wider implications of modern European thought in the world today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780863159275
Publisher: Floris Books
Publication date: 11/15/2012
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x (d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 9

1 Into the Dynamic Way of Thinking 10

A Different Approach to Wholeness 13

Introduction to Phenomenology 17

The Act of Distinction 19

The Illusion of Independent Existence 26

2 Goethe and Modern Science 28

The Beginnings of Modern Science 28

The Temple of the Sun 33

Galileo and the New Science 37

Descartes Seeks Foundations 40

Newton and the Mathematical Physics of Nature 49

Goethe Returns to the Senses 52

Goethe and the Bimodal Brain 59

3 Goethe and the Dynamic Unity of Nature 62

The Idea of Metamorphosis 62

Protean Thinking Goethe and Schelling 70

The Self-Differencing Organ 71

Becoming Other in Order to Remain Itself 76

The Archetypal Movement 81

Modes of Unity and the Bimodal Brain 85

4 The Philosophy of Unfinished Meaning 90

The Common Sense View 90

The Dynamic Approach 94

Aristotle and the Unitary Event 97

The Event of Understanding 99

The Hermeneutic Reversal 101

The Problem of Multiple Meaning 109

The One and the Many 109

The Act of Saying 113

Self-Differences in Meaning 116

Organic Hermeneutics 118

The Enhancement of Being 121

5 Catching Saying in the Act 128

Disclosure and Representation 132

Introduction into Language 139

Language and World 145

The Fallacy of the Proposition 152

6 Taking Appearance Seriously 164

Notes 177

Bibliography 228

Index 233

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