Poggi, Stefano. Il genio e l’unità della natura: La scienza della Germania romantica [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 56 (1):199-199 (2002)

This clear and well-documented monograph is dedicated to the development of the interweaving of science and philosophy in Germany from the years following the French Revolution to Hegel’s death. The role played by chemistry has long been recognized as central and many studies have delved into it; and the same holds for the primacy of the “biocentric” standpoint, which was originally sponsored by Goethe. However, Poggi’s book has a much wider scope. It gives space to almost the whole scope of science in those decades in Germany. It begins by dealing with the philosophical foundations of scientific investigation, as were provided, among others, by Kant in his Metaphysical Foundations of the Science of Nature. Goethe’s introduction of the notions of “form” and “polarity” is the subject of the second chapter. Chapters 3 and 4 are dedicated to animal physiology, chapter 5 to physics and cosmology, and chapter 6 to Schelling’s arguments for proving the existence of the infinite in the finite by means of the notion of the world’s soul. With chapter 7 the investigation shifts to the individual sciences starting with mathematics, chapter 8 is dedicated to medicine, chapter 9 to chemistry, and chapter 10 to biology. Finally, the eleventh and last chapter considers neurophysiology and psychology. Only one discipline is missing, which is geology, and missing too is the discussion of two major issues such as alchemy and the connection of romantic science to literature. Poggi had to draw a line to avoid his research going out of proportion.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
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