Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5959bf8d4d-89n48 Total loading time: 0.232 Render date: 2022-12-10T02:35:15.721Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

1 - Goethe’s World

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 October 2020

James Hodkinson
Affiliation:
University of Warwick UK
Get access

Summary

What Is World?

WHAT DO WE MEAN when we say the word “world”? Or more precisely, when we say the word Welt? Welt, or “world,” is a key concept in modernity, and the way we think about it is inseparable from the way we think about what it means to be human and to relate to other humans, to the imagined environment, and to the physical environment. Modernity’s struggle with the network of relationships humanity has established is encompassed in the question, what is world? Barbara Cassin's Dictionaryof Untranslatables (2014) gives Welt a full seven and a half pages, noting how it separates “the cosmological concept of the world, of which I am but a tiny part,” from the “phenomenological conception—that within which the human being deploys his being, according to a triple determination: cosmological, anthropological and ontological.” This dividing function is a concise description of the ground Johann Wolfgang Goethe covers in his poetic and scientific works. To understand what the work of this concept has been in modernity, it is worth investigating what the term meant for Goethe, not as a unified concept that was carried through into subsequent discussions of what Welt might mean, but as a series of explorations in various discourses whose aim was a unified experience of life. The purpose of this chapter is to sketch the dimensions of Welt as Goethe explored it, and the analysis is framed by the assumption that the tensions he attached to the concept are defining tensions of modernity with which we continue to live. It is possible to read almost any text of Goethe's in this way—and to do so profitably. This chapter confines itself to Faust, the writings on Weltliteratur (world literature), and the methodological considerations in Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors, 1810).

In keeping with the theme of this volume, the understanding of German as a language and a culture in the world points to a multilayered mapping of linguistic and cultural processes onto territory. The practical dimension involved here was of interest to Goethe, and he noted it in such everyday experiences as the informal dissemination of information, navigating the built world, assimilating global news, tending libraries, cultivating friendships, and so on.

Type
Chapter
Information
German in the World
The Transnational and Global Contexts of German Studies
, pp. 21 - 32
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×