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The Cultural Enframing of Nature: Environmental Histories during the Early German Romantic Period

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Abstract:

The introduction of histories of nature in the late eighteenth century posed the epistemological problem of how to bring the diversity of empirical laws into theoretical unity. Whilst Goethe and Humboldt argued for the possibility of objective histories of nature through modes of disciplined perception, Schelling emphasised the inevitable subjectivity of such histories and the impossibility of displaying visually or instrumentally the internal processes generating manifest forms. Each of these three figures used different technologies of representation to produce their environmental histories. But all three gave a central role to aesthetic judgment in representing their view of a unified history of nature.

Keywords: Goethe; Humboldt; Schelling; aesthetics; representation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096734000129342370

Publication date: November 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has an impact factor (2015) of 0.811.
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