Publication 6641

Amrine F. (2015) The music of the organism: Uexküll, Merleau-Ponty, Zuckerkandl, and Deleuze as Goethean ecologists in search of a new paradigm. Goethe Yearbook 22: 45–72.
Excerpt: Ecology is an eminently practical discipline, but the practical dilemmas of the ecological movement – and arguably of the environmental crisis itself – are the consequences of our failure to comprehend the complexity and unity of nature theoretically. The ecological crisis is first and foremost an epistemological crisis. 1 As Thomas Kuhn has taught us, such crises are potentially revolutionary episodes out of which new paradigms can emerge. 2 We have also learned from Kuhn that paradigm shifts are rarely sudden events; usually they unfold over decades or even centuries. So it has been with the search for a new paradigm that was inaugurated by Goethe’s scientific work. 3 As a practicing scientist and as a philosopher of science, Goethe both foresaw the crisis of mechanistic explanation and laid foundations for a new paradigm that might replace it. 4 In doing so, he also laid foundations for a future, alternative science of ecology. Although the term “ecology” did not exist until Ernst Haeckel coined it in 1866, Goethe was a profound ecologist in principle and practice if not yet in name. 5 This essay on four major “Goethean ecologists” seeks to add a brief chapter to the history of the reception of Goethe’s scientific work6 and also to Donald Worster’s now standard history of ecology, 7 which barely mentions Goethe in passing.
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