By Bernhard Kuhn
Set opposed to the backdrop of a quickly fissuring disciplinary panorama the place poetry and technological know-how are more and more seen as irreconcilable and unrelated, Bernhard Kuhn's learn uncovers a formerly missed, primary connection among autobiography and the typical sciences. studying the autobiographies and medical writings of Rousseau, Goethe, and Thoreau as consultant in their a long time, Kuhn demanding situations the now entrenched thesis of the 'two cultures.' particularly, those 3 writers are exemplary in that their autobiographical and clinical writings could be learn now not as separate or perhaps antithetical yet as jointly constitutive tasks that problem the newly rising barriers among clinical and humanistic idea through the Romantic interval. studying every one writer's existence tales and nature works part through part - as they have been written - Kuhn unearths the medical personality of autobiographical writing whereas demonstrating the autobiographical nature of average technology. He considers all 3 writers within the context of clinical advancements of their personal occasions in addition to ours, displaying how every one marks a particular degree within the turning out to be estrangement of the humanities and sciences, from the confident epistemic solidarity of Rousseau's time, to the splintering of disciplines into competing methods of understanding lower than the pressures of specialization and professionalization in the course of the past due Romantic age of Thoreau. His booklet hence strains an unfolding drama, within which those writers and their contemporaries, each one positioned in an highbrow panorama extra fragmented than the final, search to maintain jointly what sleek tradition is set to wreck aside.
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Extra resources for Autobiography and Natural Science in the Age of Romanticism
Yet, even as he links one form to another for the purposes of identification and distinction, he does not systematize his findings into an unchanging, atemporal taxonomic tableau. He is content to name, observe, and compare parts. By keeping his sights fixed on the natural world and his thoughts away from the establishment of an overarching organizational scheme, Rousseau notes that which escapes and is obscured by the static grid of classical natural history, namely the living, growing, and evolving plant form.
He can also consider them by their color, their taste, their odor, their flavor, by all the rewards they can offer to the senses; but this is only an analogical and secondary study for clarifying and confirming that of forms; to the eyes of the botanist plants are only organic beings, as soon as the vegetal is dead and ceases to vegetate, its parts no longer have the mutual correspondence which enables it to live and makes it a unity, it is no longer within the scope of the botanist, it is a simple substance, matter, a compound, a dead earth, which no longer belongs to the plant realm but to the mineral.
What, after all, can be gained if we consider his outdated works in physics, to take but one example, alongside his works on social theory or education? I would venture a great deal. Activities as different as chemistry and music were part of a shared cultural discourse. ) To consider them separately is to erect modern disciplinary walls where none yet existed. Unencumbered by a specialized and exclusionary language, disciplines we now view as unrelated interacted in a much more fluid and dynamic fashion.