Goethe's Concept of the Daemonic: After the Ancients by Angus Nicholls

By Angus Nicholls

For Plato, the daemonic is a sensibility that brings members into touch with divine wisdom; Socrates used to be additionally encouraged by way of a ''divine voice'' often called his ''daimonion.'' Goethe used to be brought to this old inspiration through Hamann and Herder, who linked it with the cultured type of genius. This ebook indicates how the younger Goethe depicted the assumption of daemonic genius in works of the hurricane and rigidity interval, prior to exploring the daemonic in a sequence of later poetic and autobiographical works. studying Goethe's works at the daemonic via theorists reminiscent of Lukács, Benjamin, Gadamer, Adorno, and Blumenberg, Nicholls contends that they include arguments pertaining to cause, nature, and subjectivity which are primary to either eu Romanticism and the Enlightenment. ANGUS NICHOLLS is Claussen-Simon origin learn Lecturer in German and Comparative Literature on the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural relatives within the division of German, Queen Mary, collage of London.

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For the force of air pursues him into the sea, and sea spits him out onto earth’s surface, earth casts him into rays of blazing sun, and sun into the eddies of air; one takes 38 ♦ THE ANCIENTS AND THEIR DAEMONS him from another, and all abhor him. I too am one of these, an exile 14 from the gods and a wanderer, having put my trust in raving strife. The daemon is cast out of heaven as a result of committing the sin of bloodshed (defilement of the limbs), which is viewed as an act that produces a pollution of the divine part of the soul.

See F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (New York: New York UP, 1967), 51. 36 ♦ THE ANCIENTS AND THEIR DAEMONS early Platonic dialogues is, according to this chronology, Plato’s closest approximation of the historical Socrates: a figure who pursues truth by refuting the views of others, and who was executed by the state for doing so. This Socrates does not expound the detailed metaphysical theories outlined in dialogues like the Symposium and Phaedrus. The Socrates with which this study is largely concerned is precisely the ontological Socrates of the middle period who appears in some of Plato’s key texts on the daemonic: the Symposium, Phaedrus, and the “Myth of Er” in The Republic.

Thus for Dilthey Goethe became the intuitive genius who managed to reveal “das Geheimnis der Natur” by forging a seamless 62 continuity between poetry and lived experience, while for Simmel Goethe demonstrated an organic unity between the individual’s productivity and his natural inclinations, a unity sadly lacking in the rational and bureaucratic lives of early-twentieth-century humans as analyzed in Max Weber’s Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus 63 (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1904).

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