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SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy Dennis J. Schmidt, series editor

From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine

Elaine P. Miller


Published by State University of New York Press, Albany © 2002 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, address State University of New York Press, 90 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207 Production by Kelli Williams Marketing by Michael Campochiaro Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Miller, Elaine, 1962– The vegetative soul : from philosophy of nature to subjectivity in the feminine / Elaine Miller. p. cm. — (SUNY series in contemporary continental philosophy) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7914-5391-X (alk. paper) — ISBN 0-7914-5392-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Philosophy of nature—Germany—History—18th century. 2. Botany—Germany—History—18th century. 3. Philosophy of nature—Germany—History—19th century. 4. Botany—Germany—History—19th century. 5. Feminist theory. 6. Subjectivity. I. Title. II. Series. B2748.N35 M55 2002 113'.0943'09034—dc21 2002075918

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EFFLORESCENCE The Legacy of the Vegetative Soul in Twentieth-Century Thought NOTES BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX 201 219 233 v . RHIZOMES.CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ABBREVIATIONS INTRODUCTION ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX CONCLUSION KANT vii ix 1 19 45 79 99 119 149 181 The English Gardent GOETHE The Metamorphosis of Plants HÖLDERLIN Gleaning FIGURES OF PLANT VULNERABILITY Empedocles and the Tragic Christ HEGEL The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant NIETZSCHE The Ivy and the Vine DISSEMINATION.

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” As one proceeds. to the untrained eye. as if one had known from the outset in what particular ways it would unfold. when the rest of the work has already been done. one cannot tell what kind of plant it will become.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS In a preface. I would like to thank the DePaul University philosophy community. is the lack of immediately comprehensible or recognizable signs of the direction in which they will grow. one is often at pains to bring together the way in which the work was initially projected with its present form. naturally. the way in which. this is precisely the way in which all writing progresses. nor does the flower somehow imply the particular form of its fruit. written. one is always aware there is no way that one can present this study after the fact as a straightforwardly sustained “argument. When a seed first opens and allows the signs of root and stem to emerge. The seeds and growth of a book necessarily reflect interactions with others who inspire. Indeed. things get out of one’s “own” control and change. And yet. While one has certainly believed this to be the case. and especially: Michael Naas. the leaves of the plant give no indication of its eventual flower. as a plant develops. Somehow one must show the coherence of the various parts. one of its parts will completely metamorphose into another. read. and the astonishing adaptability of plants to the vicissitudes of their environments. and certainly what thinkers from Goethe to the German Idealists and Romantics and Friedrich Nietzsche found fascinating about them. leaving little or no trace of its earlier form. without giving any explicit direction for them to do so. I initially became interested in plant anatomy and growth through descriptions in philosophical texts from the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. It is also the way in which a plant grows. and criticize it or its ideas. discuss. the way in which each of them “naturally” develops out of the other. whose language and philosophical stance were vii . What is intriguing about plants.

As critic and friend. My family gave me support in many ways that allowed me to continue and thrive. who could be counted on to come up with bright guiding ideas at a moment’s notice.viii The Vegetative Soul always something to which to aspire. Peg Birmingham. Finally and most importantly. Celeste Friend gave generously of her time and ideas. and direction from beginning to end. while Daniel Price spent many much appreciated hours carefully commenting upon and discussing ideas. and David Farrell Krell who gave inspiration. Emily Zakin provided many valuable insights into its continued development and revision. that the most beautiful creations transcend any calculation. Sheila Croucher’s encouragement and creative input helped me overcome more than one mental impasse at the last minute and were immensely appreciated. this book would never have been written had I not met him. he. A summer research grant and an assigned research leave at Miami University gave me the time to complete this book in its current form. Daniel Selcer and Anna Vaughn read my work from its inception and helped prune its growth. and belief in me even when she didn’t understand. Susan Miller. more than anyone. . who was born just as I was finishing the final manuscript. Mark Bryant generously gave me the computer on which it was originally written. motivation. I would like especially to thank my mother. for proofreading. and who convinced me of what I have formally argued. Jane Bunker and Kelli Williams of SUNY Press were the most helpful of editors. He was there when I chose to follow philosophy and showed me a way beyond the conventional path. childcare. witnessed and fostered its expansive and contractive metamorphoses. I could not have written this book without Ferit Güven’s intellectual and emotional support. I dedicate it to Sofi Nur.

1902).. KU. GE 575/54). except in the case of Schopenhauer.g. Martin’s Press. III). Indianapolis: Hackett. Works by Kant Ak Kants gesammelte Schriften.. 1. KrV). Pluhar. (the “Academy Edition”). Translated by Lewis White Beck. All English translations may have been modified. Critique of Judgment. V). Berlin: Georg Reimer.. Kritik der Reinen Vernunft (Ak. 1987. 1913. All references will be to page numbers unless otherwise noted (e. There will be no reference to the English pagination when the English translators include pagination from the original language edition in their translations (e. Kritik der Urteilskraft (Ak.g.g. 1965. in this case the second abbreviation refers to the English title. Translated by Werner S. Numbers given after the abbreviation but before the comma refer to volume numbers (e. Two abbreviations separated by a slash indicates that the title is significantly different in English.ABBREVIATIONS All abbreviated references refer first (and sometimes only) to original language editions. New York: St. J III. § = section number). the first number refers to the original language edition and the second number refers to the English translation (e. all references to Kant will be to Ak. Critique of Pure Reason. When two page numbers are given.. separated by a slash.g. KrV KU ix . 25). Unless otherwise noted. Berlin: Königlich Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Essays and Letters on Theory. Albany: State University of New York Press. Works by Goethe GA MP SS Gedenkenausgabe der Werke. Grund zum Empedocles (WB 2: 570–83). Works by Hölderlin WB H TE GE Werke und Briefe. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company. Works by Hegel W JI Werke.x The Vegetative Soul 2. 1975. 4. Briefe und Gespräche. 1970. Edited by Ernst Beutler. 1949. Jenaer Systementwürfe I: Das System der Speculativen Philosophie. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Edited by Klaus Düsing and Heinz Kimmerle. Scientific Studies. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Hyperion (WB 1). New York: Humanities Press. Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. Gesammelte Werke 7. 3. Gesammelte Werke 6. Der Tod des Empedocles (WB 2: 463–566). Metaphysik. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Translated by Michael John Petry. 1988. Jenaer Systementwürfe III: Naturphilosophie und Philosophie des Geistes. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag. Edited by Friedrich Beißner and Jochen Schmidt. 1994. Translated by Thomas Pfau. 1988 (50–61). Edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Johann Heinrich Trede. 1992. New York: Suhrkamp Publishers. Edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Johann Heinrich Trede. Jenaer Systementwürfe II: Logik. J II J III PN . 1969. Zürich: Artemis Verlag. 1971. Naturphilosophie. Translated by Willard R. 24 volumes. 1970. Trask. Gesammelte Werke 8. Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen. Stuttgart: Verlag Freies Geistesleben. Version number (1–3) given before page number. 1976. Edited and translated by Douglas Miller.

Historische-Kritische Gesamtausgabe. section (in italics) and page number. The Gay Science. . Translated by T. Berlin and Munich: Walter de Gruyter and Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. Munich: C.B. Hollingdale. Werke. Wolfgang Müller-Lauter. 1935. F. Translated by Walter Kaufmann. HKG KGA BT GS UM WTP 6. section (in italics) and page number. M. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. and Karl Pestalozzi. New York: Vintage Books. Cited by number (1–4) and page number. Edited by Giorgio Colli. J. CO: The Falcon’s Wing Press. J. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kritische Studienausgabe. Der Geist des Christentums und sein Schicksal (TJS). J. 1980. Translated by Walter Kaufmann. Miller. The Phenomenology of Spirit. Payne. Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. Early Theological Writings. GCS L PS 5. New York: Vintage Books. Werke. The Will to Power. Cited by volume number (roman numerals). Cited by volume number (in roman numerals).Abbreviations TJS xi Hegels theologische Jugendschriften. Other works WWR Arthur Schopenhauer. Die Liebe (TJS). 1974. Mazzino Montinari. New York: Random House. Tübingen: Verlag von J. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Hollingdale. 1967. Indian Hills. Edited by Herman Nohl. Works by Nietzsche KSA Sämtliche Werke. Translated by A. V. 1907. 1969. Translated by R.Beck’sche Verlag. 1983. Edited by Hans Joachim Mette and Karl Schlechta. Translated by E. The Birth of Tragedy. The World as Will and Representation. Edited by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari.C. 1948. 1977. Cited by volume number (1–2) and page number. 1958. Untimely Meditations. 1993.H. Mohr. 15 vols. Knox. Cited by volume number (in italics) and page number.

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As Orpheus walks out of Hades he “devours the path” ahead of him “in large. Orpheus. Eurydice. greedy.1 Rilke begins with the descent of Orpheus and Hermes “like veins of silver ore” into Tantalus. who is walking behind him with Hermes. unchewed bites. at the path’s next turn—but his hearing.INTRODUCTION When something in our observation of nature takes us aback. stop. we are well advised to look about for parallels in the history of thought and understanding. also called “the deep uncanny mine of souls. On the way out of Hades. stayed behind.” He who had the power to enchant the beasts of the field loses control of his own state of mind as if it were an unrestrained animal: “His senses felt as though they were split in two. would stand. which have fallen to his sides 1 .” In addition. when we find our usual way of thought inadequate for its comprehension. now walks powerless and alone.” Blood “heavy as porphyry” wells up around them as they approach the part of Hades where human souls abide. Hermes.” Rainer Maria Rilke tells an allegory of nature rather than a narrative in his version of the story of Orpheus’s descent to Hades to find his dead wife. “The Spiral Tendency in Vegetation” In “Orpheus. Rilke draws attention to Orpheus’s arms. then rushing off again. forbidden to look back to check if Hades has kept his promise to bring Eurydice to join him once they have passed the gates of the underworld. Rilke chooses to describe Orpheus’s state of mind in the vocabulary of unreflective and restless animal instinct. Orpheus loses all of his customary equilibrium in his eagerness to rejoin his beloved. come back. the realm of stone. Eurydice. like an odor. his sight would race ahead of him like a dog. impatient. to magnetize the stones. —Goethe. the musician with the power to make the trees pull themselves up by the roots to dance.

like “a young flower at nightfall. is what makes him capable of creating a rapture that made it possible for listeners to forget the bounds of earthly individuation. In the misty dark of the underworld. At the same time. like the lyre that represents Orpheus’s music and his power to entrance nature. She is “like a fruit suffused with its own mystery and sweetness. were invented as the focus of natural science moved from categorization and classification to the observation of the living body. unable to act in its own best interest. and how one particular bodily figure had already influenced scientific and philosophical paradigms prior to the ascendance of organic form. animal life with activity and masculinity. like a slip of roses grafted onto an olive tree. But Orpheus’s impatient animal-like senses. The question of how one represents nature came to the fore in a way that had never been questioned before. One can also find many examples of the linkage of the plant with the oriental. and it is what is most plantlike about him.” Her vegetative nature is the dream-like absorption of her position on the brink of life and death. if. philosophers began to question to what extent the configuration of the organism was to become the template for philosophical thought and scientific order. consciousness. If Rilke is not guilty of simply perpetuating common associations. . The science of life. as a plant. on the contrary. Rilke writes. with what is passive. needlessly decorative. The late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries were a time of great change in the paradigms of natural history.2 The Vegetative Soul so that he is no longer aware of the delicate lyre “that had grown into his left arm. we might inquire into the origin of this multiple metaphorical tension. The plant and the animal were separated and differentiated as the two major divisions of living organic nature. and desire ensure that Eurydice will remain rooted in Hades when he cannot resist the temptation to turn around to see her.” and closed. One might be tempted to say that Rilke is simply following a tradition that equates plant life with femininity and passivity. and the basic unit of that life. he pushes these connotations to their limits and in doing so brings the very oppositional structure they imply into question.” Hades has promised that if she can pass through the gates of Hades without being glimpsed by her husband. her animation will return to her. But Rilke’s figuration does not simply reiterate these tired metaphoric equations.” The poet also describes Eurydice. It is certainly not difficult to find examples of such pairings in the history of literature and philosophy. biology. For it is what is most conscious and most willful in Orpheus that betrays him. Orpheus’s power as a poet and a musician. and the mineral with the mysterious and inanimate. that has given him his identity precisely in allowing him to exceed himself. his lyre. the organism (in its current sense). a power symbolized by the lyre. and in philosophy. “she was already root.

has been carried over into both contemporary evolutionary theory and genetics by conventional scientific language rather than by explicit intention. Philosophers and historians of science are beginning to realize that classical paradigms of the scientific method have frequently assumed the very perspective Nietzsche is criticizing.3 Indeed. the famed “inverter of Platonism. Such a practice leads to obvious anthropomorphisms of nature—think of talking rivers. connected to the world in which it finds itself. that the “vulgar perspective” of our own animal bodies is reflected in almost every thing to which we assign value (HKG 1:3.Introduction 3 In Friedrich Nietzsche’s notebooks written before and around the time of the publication of The Birth of Tragedy. not so much of independence as of dynamic opposition. almost in passing. the science of biology remains entrenched in fundamentally the same linguistic and thus interpretive structures that it has had since Francis Bacon published De Interpretatione Naturae. This is manifestly not what Nietzsche means.2 Keller goes on to specify that the paradigm of biological building block. one that presupposes a radical conception of self. writes: Much of contemporary evolutionary theory relies on the representation of the “individual”—be it the organism or the gene—that is cast in the particular image of man we might call the “Hobbesian man”—simultaneously autonomous and oppositional. In psychological terms we might say that such an individual betrays an idealized conception of autonomy. Such a disparaging statement would seem surprising coming from Nietzsche. finally. and that simultaneously attributes to the relation between self and other an automatic negative valence—a relation. which has been described in terms recalling an aggressive animal fighting against other forces of nature. but primarily by the threat of death and loss—its first and foremost need being the defense of its boundaries. For example.” if one took it out of context and understood by it that somehow Nietzsche was advocating a perspective that would go beyond the bodily and eschew the sensuous in favor of the purely intelligible. Keller goes on to show that although the locus of vital activity in biology has shifted in the twentieth century from the visible organism to the physico-chemical structure of the components of . we do something strange in projecting the particular dimensions and qualities of our own bodies onto every other thing we see or think. 388). mountains with faces. not by the promise of life and growth. a biologist and leading contemporary feminist critic of science. Rather. It is interesting to note that even today. when contemporary physics has radically transformed our understanding of the universe. and trees that walk in Disney cartoons—but it also invites a certain reductionist view of the way in which nature gives of itself. he mentions. he implies. Evelyn Fox Keller.

Such uses of rhetoric. I am interested in a historical period in which paradigms of individuation in nature seemed to be shifting. My contention is that “nature” is always presented as symbolized. I am focusing on the metaphorical use of language to describe political subjects when it is applied to the realm of nature. because of their subtlety. In other words. a description I will refer to as an “animal” metaphor for individuation. and their detrimental potential thereby underestimated. if the organism has been articulated in the past— as we will see that it has—in analogy with a machine. conversely. it is now being projected as the possible product of manipulative techniques whose results rather than actions can be tracked. this change might have the possibility of restructuring or even creating feminine subjectivity in a way that would make a real difference to women. given that the symbolization of nature has traditionally been aligned with terms used to describe the feminine. the language used to describe nature when it is employed to legitimate particular descriptions of human subjectivity and intersubjectivity. terms that have been called “masculine” from their provenance in the description of the Hobbesian man of the state of nature. This is to say. its description in the language of confrontation and selfpreservation.” the eighteenth and nineteenth-century idea of genius as the plantlike relationship of the creative mind to nature as . The congruence is based on the rhetoric of description rather than on any explicit position held by Hobbes or any other philosopher on the status of women. This book examines the relationship between the paradigm of the organism.4 The Vegetative Soul the organism. and that nature and culture both negatively define each other and are the sources for each others’ symbolization. rather than criticizing any particular philosopher’s position on the status of woman and on whether or not she may properly be called a subject. Biology has redefined life itself as a code or cryptogram still understood as a self-defending entity. and the goals of biological science have shifted from observation to intervention or “control that promises effective mastery over the processes of making and remaking life. Thus a change in the symbolics of nature necessarily brings about a change in that of culture. the central figure for biology—the gene—is still conceived of as an individual on a smaller scale. In particular. whose body is configured quite differently than that of the animal. and. to a theory of subjectivity that evolves from what M. here. and the depiction of subjectivity in the same terms. The natural figure that began to attract the attention of scientists and artists alike was that of the plant. but refers. H. are often overlooked. Following Luce Irigaray. Abrams has dubbed “vegetable genius. The term vegetative soul is taken from Aristotle. and how this both reflected and influenced ways of thinking about subjectivity.”4 effectively perpetuating this paradigm on another level.

6 Such metaphysical terms may be called “dead” metaphors. which they strove to master and in the face of which they were extremely vulnerable. the possible configuration of a feminine subject that is neither atomistic nor confrontational. The earliest mythologies were personifications of the forces of nature and allegorizations of natural processes. a transfer slowly took place from raw. characteristics of the vegetative soul resonate with an important facet of recent feminist theory. The metaphor of plant growth for subjectivity is thus constitutive rather than merely decorative or fanciful. in particular of French feminism. Metaphor itself has been described as the result of a slow progression in human cognition from the immediate and the sensory to the abstract and conceptual. Finally.5 The vegetative soul is radically opposed to the figure of organism as autonomous and oppositional. as a result. The story goes something like this: the earliest humans had much more intimate contact with the natural environment. so that the visual arts. and writing were all products of leisure and of a secure and sedentary life. its individuation is much less radically defined.” on the one hand. These non-sensory concepts could only be put into language by referring them in turn to the elements of original experience. are a complicated mixture of names of things that can be ostensively designated and conceptual or metaphysical terms that have lost all contact with the experience from which they were derived. is subject to metamorphosis. natural elements that is unknown to most human beings today. its stance toward the world is characterized by the promise of life and growth. As culture and language progressed. as well as the taming—through a social contract that exchanges certain freedoms for the guarantee of protection—of naturally hostile initial relationships between human beings. music.” on the other. The first civilizations arose as a result of the taming of nature through the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals. not the avoidance of death and loss. but whether in domination or in subordination they had a fundamental relationship with the raw. The nouns of our language. “Culture” itself could not emerge until this initial double mastery of nature and of human nature had reached a stage of some stability. and maintains an identity that transfigures itself over time. has often been conceived of as the locus of the earliest of metaphors.Introduction 5 the place from which it springs forth without individual agency and indeed lacking full transparency to self as to its reason for being. . immediate. sensuous experience to more abstract notions. which explains the etymological derivations of many abstract words whose roots point to sensory experience yet which designate ideas that cannot be empirically presented. and the human creativity that includes the attempt to make sense of that same “nature. Further. The relationship between what we loosely call “nature. namely.

there may be no pure experience of nature. metaphorical language results from the replacement of a primitive language closely bound to nature with a “higher” language of abstract terms that nevertheless can only be articulated with reference to the sensory. One of the most striking metaphorical appropriations of the relationship between nature and human expression in ancient literature occurs at the end of Plato’s Phaedrus. In order to situate this discourse. This is particularly noticeable given that the subject of Socrates’ discussion of rhetoric is precisely the proper organization of discourse. The first two-thirds of the dialogue consist of a dialogue between Socrates and Phaedrus. over the meaning of love and the relative merits of the non-lover and the lover. such a story presumes a unidirectional progression from the natural and the sensory toward the cultural and the intelligible. ostensibly.6 The Vegetative Soul One of the many problems with such a reading of metaphor is that from the outset it presupposes a clear division between nature and culture. it will be instructive to go back in time to the first division between a sensible and an intelligible realm. producing many thinkers—among them. Indeed. Socrates shifts the conversation to the topics of speech writing and rhetoric. and finally to writing and reading. so that. and it further presumes a parallel structure between the opposing terms of this set of contraries. in order for “nature” to appear to us in an intelligible way. Socrates says to Phaedrus. so as not to be headless or footless. since it arrives at no “natural” conclusion. but to have a . Classical metaphysical thinking is inaugurated in such assumptions even before one begins to look at the history of philosophy. with a body of its own. G. and Friedrich Nietzsche—who were acutely aware of this reciprocal relationship between nature and culture. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. between figurative and literal meanings in language. “But I do think you will agree to this. like a living being. who are arguing. Friedrich Hölderlin. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Germany the question of how one articulates nature formed an important part of scientific and philosophical discourse. without taking into account the influence of particular assumptions about culture that already orient the way in which nature is understood. Phaedrus has acquiesced. Although the connection between the various scenes is clear—the entire argument was sparked by the communication of an inscribed speech of Lysias that Phaedrus carries around with him hidden under his robe—the structure of the dialogue strikes one as unbalanced and strangely organized. Hegel. for example. between sensory and non-sensory. as it were. Just when Socrates’ climactic speech has ended. Furthermore. F. it must be signified through a historical discourse. and it seems the dialogue is coming to a close. that every discourse must be organized. W. Immanuel Kant.

a description that could apply to either animals or plants. and. with its perceived qualities of being self-enclosed. with which Socrates began when describing . First. despite the move from animal to plant imagery. has always been the predominant metaphor for organization and unity in both philosophical and nonphilosophical writing. and form a “living” structure. But the choice of image is not arbitrary. torso. The discourse generated in this manner will give birth to “legitimate offspring” (huieis genesious) and have “descendants” (ekgonoi) or “brothers” (adelphoi) (278A-B). Socrates asks Phaedrus whether a “serious farmer” who possesses seeds capable of bearing fruit will plant them in a “Garden of Adonis” in the middle of summer where they will mature rapidly and then die within eight days.9 Socrates thus can draw on the cultural opposites of purposeful activity and amusement. the dialectician. a period that could suggest the development of a human embryo in the womb more readily than an agricultural harvest.” the ideal of “organic unity” in writing certainly plays a role in Plato’s dialogue. the person who plants. In this case. Even though Greek science included no notion of “organism. The animal body. Somehow.”7 Though a “living being” (zoon) might be any type of living thing. Phaedrus agrees that only one who is planting for amusement and not in order to harvest fruit will act in such a manner. and end that fit together into a coherent whole. the words headless (akephalon) and footless (apoun) make a clear reference to the animal body. and impermanence. self-sufficient. Indeed. Plato’s description of serious husbandry employs characteristics usually associated with animal procreation. immaturity. middle. self-propelled. The animal body is perhaps the only organism that has the qualities ascribed to “good writing”: a clear beginning. including the association of women with the gardens of Adonis and men with purposeful harvesting. to a degree. Detienne shows how an entire series of binary oppositions.10 In addition. coherent beginning. The proper mode of planting requires “eight months” to come to fruition (276B). Plato draws parallels between writing and strewing seed carelessly (for amusement).Introduction 7 middle and members. according to Marcel Detienne. can be drawn with respect to the comparison. the plant has been supplanted in favor of the “organic” body with head. a complete semantic framework arose in ancient Greek associating the gardens of Adonis with impotence.8 A little later in Phaedrus. that is. sows words that are “not barren” (akarpoi) (277A) in the minds of others. Socrates projects the unity perceived in a natural entity onto a human activity as an ideal form. and end. composed in fitting relation to each other and to the whole. and feet. and between speech and the deliberate planting of seeds in the earth that a farmer does. middle. which in turn are characteristics projected upon living speech and writing.

as if coherence were intrinsically bound to separation and independence. Animals can move and carry everything they need for sustenance with them. have become entwined to the degree that one is not always sure what is being promoted and what denigrated. to identify a plant as an individual: where does it begin and where does it end? What part of it is “it. there is no point at which a plant can be definitively designated as an individual. Unlike animals. The metaphor gains complexity by the fact that animal and plant husbandry. on the other hand. like speech and writing. as sperm or egg. The plant is in touch with its origin.” that its beginning and its end should be clearly defined and should make sense. For is Phaedrus itself not a series of oxymorons? It is a dialogue that places speech above writing. The animal carries its own metamorphosis within it only as a memory. in many places at many times even as it remains rooted. have discrete organs. they simply grow larger. like the speech of Lysias that Socrates mocks. a work that transformed the science of botany in the late eighteenth century. a plant’s leaf becomes the flower. Animal bodies. a trace of its past existence in the womb. animals do not undergo complete metamorphosis.8 The Vegetative Soul speech. morphological adaptation characterizes vegetative life. adult. such as frogs and butterflies. Metamorphosis. we insist that a work should be complete. as both Goethe and Nietzsche note. the flower the fruit. Animals have a definitively individuated shape from birth onward. Plants do not move on their own from one place to another. unlike those of plants. that is. it can be identified as itself through time. multiple. Other than certain species. It is difficult if not impossible. The dialogue promotes the virtues of an organic animal-like structure. “organic.” and what part its offspring? A plant is dispersed. but they can continue to grow to no specified end. though hidden. in other words. The specialization and differentiation of the animal body as well as its organs lends itself to the notion of an individual. is itself written down. because its history can be read in the sequence of its metamorphoses. always contiguous with both its source and its destination. if only through its bodily appearance. as Goethe describes it in The . The plant does not grow from an essentially formed infant to a larger. seems accessible. and do not transmogrify entirely. whole. yet it has a plant-like body with no clear logic holding its beginning. Yet it is the very separability of the animal body that informs the way we value a work. or as a possibility. and end together. The plant represents that organism whose origin. but which. middle. plants live through a process of metamorphosis and growth. Both of these factors lead to a picture of an animal with an identity: even as it ages.11 Parts of plants evolve into each other: as Goethe wrote in The Metamorphosis of Plants. but essentially and proportionately the same.

The term organic is thus a prime example of a multiple metaphorical structure that can neither be said to “transfer” an observation from nature onto a cultural phenomenon. distant. The original network of meanings surrounding “culture” linked it to the controlled cultivation of plants in an agricultural setting. one strews ink on the page in the way that a flower exposes its pollen to the wind (Phaedrus 276C). Long after Aristotle. “organic” referred to the organs of the animal body in analogy with tools. to a tool or instrument. Friedrich Hölderlin shows his awareness of the cultural assumptions informing the discourse of the organism by using the term organic (organisch) to designate human activity. came into their familiar usage only in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. to Plato. This means that a plant has no strict identity over time in the way an animal does. the employment of the word organon from ergon. the organized reflected principle of spirit and of art in the sense of the Greek techne. by contrast. speech is superior to writing precisely because of its proximity to the living.12 This development parallels the eighteenth-century modification of the way the two sexes were viewed. The meaning of “culture” underwent a transition in the eighteenth century from a noun of process. is mechanical. too.” referred to the opposite of what would now come to mind with the word organic. Writing. from a continuum-based differentiation predicated on the assumption of a basic homology between both the genitals and the roles of men and women. The terms organic and organism in the sense of “having an organized physical structure” as applied to a living being.13 Both developments probably arose from the gradual shift from an agriculture. the same “serious planting” that Plato refers to. is characterized by an alterity inscribed into identity. namely. The word culture. breathing body. In French anatomical studies of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. According to Phaedrus. For Plato. Both thus show the way in which the description of nature can fundamentally change depending on the way in which culture has already been transformed. has a complicated history. nor conversely a cultural image onto nature. to a binary opposition that presupposed the incommensurability of the two. and mediate. but which performs the complicated intertwining of the two realms that is perhaps inherent in every act of language. “Organic” in .to an industry-based economy. the plant’s sexual functioning can be understood in analogy with the artifice and distance of writing. referring to the tending of something (usually a plant or animal) to a usage that designated everything human that did not spring directly from nature. in what was observed to be their mechanical functioning. or “work.Introduction 9 Metamorphosis of Plants.

The shift to the notion of “vegetable genius” . then tracing the form such structuring has taken becomes the focus of philosophical inquiry rather than the establishment of an opposition between ways of approaching nature that violate it. the analogies between the workings of the animal body and the functioning of a machine make the advocacy of a plant figure rather than an animal one not as surprising as it might initially seem. Both mechanistic and organic “models” of literature and science rely on essentially the same “formation” of nature. as Hölderlin put it. or. one is assuming that nature consists of self-enclosed bodies that have interactions with each other. since to approach nature is to transform it. to overcome a distinction that he recognized as fruitless. If nature can never be approached by human beings without being altered. mechanisms that can provide their own motivating force. The ideal of “organic” form as it came into popular usage in the nineteenth century implicitly rests upon the same image that Plato advocates in the Phaedrus: an animal body with head. certain literary and philosophical theories in Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries advocated the unfolding of the plant as the form that literary and philosophical creation and human subjectivity take.14 Distinctions such as mechanistic/organic are mutually informed. Hölderlin understood that every human turn toward nature. In other words. all giving of form to what inherently cannot be captured in form. the form of the human body—which is an animal body—seems to inform both major approaches to nature up until the twentieth century. formed. In reaction to this reductionist understanding of organicity. Whether one considers the “building blocks” of nature or of literature to be atomistic elements or organized wholes whose purpose lies within themselves. given the etymology of “organic. whereas “aorgic” (aorgisch) refers to nature prior to any human representation of it. These emerged in reaction to “mechanistic” theories of science. torso. is in some way an appropriation and thus a transformation of it. The notion of organic form resulted from an analogy of the workings of animal organs with perfectly functioning mechanisms. and feet. The debate that arose in eighteenth-century European literary circles between the relative merits of “mechanical” and “organic” theories of literature is ironic. literature. and philosophy rather than to the limitations of thinking natural form as predominantly animal-like. However.” Hölderlin’s was one of many nineteenth-century efforts to unite mechanical and vitalistic views of nature. each of which can be easily distinguished from the other and whose limits are somehow prescribed and not exceeded. whether as a purportedly “neutral” observing scientist or as an artist.10 The Vegetative Soul Hölderlin’s theoretical work indicates all human projection onto nature. and those that follow its “natural” coming-to-presence.

never exhaustive. The animal body became the privileged figure for the organization of speech (in Plato) and writing (after Plato). as one large animal organism or as a collection of smaller animal forms. The . A plant-like reading might unfold something like this: one may start with an idea. in the broader argument of this book. or something overheard contributes to the reading. One’s final reading will never be final. this will not be put forward as a less aggressive twisting into shape of some preexisting passive reality. the plant moves beyond the opposition of male and female. and it metamorphoses again. as the metaphor of metaphors. A truly philosophical reading can perhaps never be envisaged from the outset. the plant renders the opposition between passive and active superfluous. what was contracted and contained expands and becomes surface.” then. or a poem. A historical change in the conception of nature. for the motivating force of the plant cannot be identified as consciousness or intention. both reflects and engenders a transformation in culture. To see the plant. and what I shall try to do here is examine a small segment of this history at a time when a direct challenge was being made to the dominant form of understanding nature. “plant-like” notion of the organic or of subjectivity. The opposition is between two sets of symbols that reciprocally define each other. refers to that which is symbolized as nature (as opposed to culture). Nature will not be understood as a blank slate upon which a human story will be written. then. when I discuss an alternative. Then a commentary. This is not to suggest that there is some other more “originary” way of approaching nature.Introduction 11 allows one to avoid the description of individuals primarily as selfenclosed purposive centers. such an assumption would simply repeat the traditional oppositional structure between nature and culture. nor as a piece of wax that takes on intelligible form only through the seal of human inquiry. although by virtue of being called “natural” it is sometimes presented as if it were essentially and inevitably figured in a particular way. The plant moves around the opposition of inside and outside. Then the “seed” metamorphoses into a “stem. or start with a very straightforward reading of a text. it is also to emphasize the fact that a plant cannot be specified as an individual in the same way that an animal can. as Goethe was perhaps the most eloquent in declaring. “Nature.” or “leaf. Nature is always a symbolized nature. is to focus on the provisionality of plant morphology and the way in which every form of the plant metamorphoses into another. not between two ontologically distinct realms.” and without any specific intention on the part of the author it begins to transform itself into something else. for in the process of the metamorphosis of the plant.” “node. for both sexes often exist side by side in the same flower. by contrast.

“What I am after.”15 In a later essay on love. of admiration. and feuille all refer to part of a plant and part of a book. Only in giving up the guarantee of survival of . the symbol of incipient innocent love in human culture. of necessity. receptivity. we apply them to wounds. Yet what could be a more blatant sign: what we are actually handing each other are truncated sexual organs. the attendant receptivity of a flower turning its face toward the sun. The flower. to trap and bind it like an animal—so. and inhale plants. clothe ourselves with them. we might say that a plant is monstrous. Martha Nussbaum writes of the fragility of goodness. not its seed or “child”—a fact that Hegel found monstrous and Goethe fascinating. A plant has the comportment of an alert passivity. Whitman writes: “Here the frailest leaves of me and yet my strongest lasting/Here I shade and hide my thoughts. is proffered as a symbol of hesitant hope. In addition. a part of a plant can break off or be cut off from the whole. a kind of human worth that is inseparable from vulnerability. and control. is itself a device to control the topic. In a way. how big it will get. drink. burn. an unloving act?” She continues. One doesn’t know how it will look. how much fruit it will bear. The plant both is and is not an individual. which tendrils will extend farthest.”17 Hölderlin and Nietzsche open themselves up to this absolute fragility. turned toward metamorphosis and toward unspecified growth. In addition to seeing flowers as symbols of beauty. even to write humbly and responsively. The body of a plant is never given in advance. of the etymology of the Greek “arete as plant. displaying its sexual organs in the form of a beautiful flower. in whose value openness. Blatt. it seems. and wonder play an important role. The plant always has one or more open end(s). as Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass makes explicit. and the extent of its metamorphosis can never be predicted. make houses from them. It is interesting to note that the words leaf. a rationality whose nature is not to attempt to seize. Plants are a source of intoxication.”16 The fragility and tenacity of the plant make it an apt figure both for writing and for a reconfigured subjectivity. I myself do not expose them/And yet they expose me more than all my other poems. is a noncontrolling art of writing that will leave the writer more receptive to love than before. we eat.12 The Vegetative Soul reading will always grow beyond the initial frame around which it is structured. Its size is not prescribed. an excellence that is in its nature other-related and social. trap. Nussbaum writes from the perspective of one recently healed after a damaging affair: “Could it be that to write about love. hold. this risky yet productive exposure to utter uncertainty toward which Whitman’s poem and Nussbaum’s account gesture. sprout roots and be replanted as its own “individual”—a seemingly arbitrary part of the plant. in the Nietzschean sense.

Introduction 13 the theoretical performativity of their own texts can their writing can unfold authentically. on the one hand. At the same time. a dialogue of sorts takes place between. of symmetrical opposition. a plant. purposive. even if to be such is ultimately to deny the fragility of the human relationship to the realm of nature. seems to mar the structure of pairing. This technic allows for the subjective conceptualization of nature as an organic. Two parallel crossings thus result. and who ruptured any possibility of binary opposition. as it marks an important transformation in botanical paradigm—from classification to morphology—that gave rise to the new interest in plant growth. or a crystal. This affinity opens up the Romantic and Idealist possibility of describing subjectivity variously in analogy to an animal. Kant and Hegel. with reference to these very questions. Kant connects the critique of assumptions of purposiveness in the natural sciences to aesthetic judgment through an attempted synthesis of nature and art. Goethe appears in this study as an example of one who gave himself the task of attempting an explicitly “plant-like” way of thinking. are determined survivors. While Kant recognizes that introducing final causes into nature is an illegitimate move from the point of view of knowledge. and particularly on what Kant calls the “Technic of Nature” in the Critique of Teleological Judgment. a “technic” (from the Greek techne. Kant and Nietzsche. this rupturing of the possibility of continuity. that is. one between Hegel and Hölderlin. whole by virtue of the organism’s affinity to our own selves and to the constitution of our minds as reciprocally means and ends. Chapter 1 focuses on Kant’s Critique of Judgment. of chiasmic transfer. Kant’s motivation for creating the technic of nature was to allow for the introduction of final causes into systematic or totalizing explanations of nature while proscribing them as constitutive of specific knowledge of nature. or “art”) of nature. the other between Kant and Nietzsche. Kant’s concern with prescribing limits reflects his preoccupation with clear individuation and with the separability of one . Kant’s Critique of Teleological Judgment delineates the limits of purposiveness with respect to the possibility of truly knowing nature in the same way that his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment delineates the limits of human understanding in relation to human reason. Hegel and Hölderlin. like Hegel after him he believes that only in doing so can one provide a satisfactory holistic explanation of natural phenomena. Goethe will be the somewhat neutral yet vital term at the center of these two crossings. conversely. If Goethe seems out of place. Goethe’s work The Metamorphosis of Plants gives crucial content to the figure of plant growth. this is not inappropriate. The readings of Hölderlin and Nietzsche are intended to illustrate this uneven rhythm. and on the other.

In contrast to Kant. and this. a “hinge” chapter that moves from the foundational discourse of Kant and Goethe to the thinkers who were influenced by their rethinking of nature. profoundly influenced literary and philosophical ways of considering human being and human interaction with the natural world. but rather to understand the principles of art to be natural. I argue. Hölderlin’s novel Hyperion traces the life of a human being as a series of metamorphoses that proceed with the rhythm of forward movement and countervalent reversals. but in particular the one that best exemplifies the trope of human subjectivity as plant. which inaugurates Goethe’s method of “objective thinking. Goethe specifies that nature must be understood in terms of the process of formation (Bildung) rather than form (Gestalt). Hyperion can be connected to Hölderlin’s theoretical writings on tragedy. Chapter 4. in his novel Hyperion. Chapter 2 turns to Goethe’s The Metamorphosis of Plants. The caesura relates to the question of the temporality of the understanding of human existence as plant metamorphosis. together with his description of natural genius. which catalyzed the movement in studies of nature from the static categorization and classification of species to the observation of the living organism. Goethe observes metamorphoses in plant development and the phenomena of color and subsequently tries to approach art from the standpoint of metamorphosis. inspired the entire nineteenth-century discussion of the ways in which human subjectivity relates to nature and how different ways of considering subjectivity can result from and influence the ways in which we conceive of nature in general. an existential temporality that evades the notion of time as a continuum that can be divided into uniform segments. particularly with reference to the tragic caesura.” leads to a highly original theory of art and of scientific study that exemplifies what I call a “plantlike” way of reading. Yet Kant’s toleration of ambiguity and even creativity in the question of the ways in which we represent nature when we consider it as a whole.14 The Vegetative Soul kind of explanation from another. and in his effort to write a tragedy. The question of the rhythm of life recurs as a constant theme in Friedrich Hölderlin’s theoretical studies of Greek tragedy. The rather startling notion of somehow “becoming a plant” or letting something like “plant truth” impress itself upon one’s organs. discusses the proximity of Hölderlin’s subse- . The Death of Empedocles. Goethe strives not to fashion nature as art. and more generally to Goethe’s attempt to approach art and the study of nature in a manner he saw as parallel to Kant’s. a figure that encapsulates the contracting and expanding rhythm that Goethe designated the rhythm of life. Goethe called his vision of nature the “rhythm of vital power” (der Rhythmus des Lebenskraft). Chapter 3 examines all these texts.

like Kant’s. it examines the similarities between Hölderlin’s Empedocles and Hegel’s tragic Christ. is never satisfied with withering or coming to a natural end. the other a self-sacrifice—exemplifies the disparity between human life as “plant” and as “animal. and the change in his description of nature. but must take up even death into a larger meaning in order to refer life to a greater end. Chapter 6 is devoted to Nietzsche’s earliest writings.” however. on the one hand. from his notebooks as a university student in Leipzig in 1868 to the plans before. Nietzsche also sustains a critique in his earliest. composed between 1797 and 1800. Nietzsche is interested in the physiology of knowledge and of art. and this interest continued even though the work was never fully carried out. specifically of the “discovery” of the organism and its consequent elevation to the status of the defining trope of scientific knowledge. the sensuous. and advocates a return to the bodily. transcendent meaning that would make the life that is now over into a meaningful individual in memory.” The understanding of human as plant does not attempt to incorporate death into a larger. The Death of Empedocles. The figure of sacrifice is as characteristic of the plant in Hegel’s Naturphilosophie as it is of his Christ who agrees to die for the sake of a higher divine manifestation. the early lecture notes manifest a parallel structure between the transformation in Hegel’s portrayal of Christ. but will omit Kant’s proviso that such explanations cannot ever be the object of knowledge. of the natural science of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. on the other hand. but the difference in their deaths—both willing. but one the result of suicide. By way of transition from Hölderlin’s study of nature and the temporality of human existence to Hegel’s philosophy of nature. after. and including his first published work The Birth of Tragedy. In particular. the change in emphasis from a tragic Christ to a resurrected Christ—the latter further forms the middle term in a dialectical logic— parallels the move away from living and dying nature to a nature that is nothing more than the prehistory of spirit. . on the other. Hegel’s philosophy of nature. unpublished writings. Chapter 5 traces the trajectory of Hegel’s philosophy of nature from the 1803–1804 lecture courses he gave at the university in Jena to the final version that was published and then revised in several editions of the Encyclopedia. a nature that must be left behind in order for “real” philosophy to begin. Specifically. will rely heavily on teleological explanations. when the two friends were both living in Frankfurt. Both historical figures are described in terms of “plant” vulnerability and both ultimately die.Introduction 15 quent work. to Hegel’s contemporaneous writings on Christianity. and the earthly. Nietzsche originally planned to write a dissertation on the notion of teleology after Kant. What I call “animal” individuation. Along with this well-known “reversal of Plato.

and in particular to Luce Irigaray. provides one of the most striking and pervasive examples of such a guiding principle in Irigaray’s work. Nietzsche is a thinker whose concerns begin and end with a consideration of the human being’s place in the natural world. Irigaray’s use of plant figures continues at the level of feminine subjectivity a critique that had as its original focus the relationship between humans and nature. based in turn upon a perspective that takes the animal body as its point of departure. clearly her work does not arise in a vacuum. and Félix Guattari. the perceived form of our own (animal) bodies. Irigaray subverts the plant in its role as a metaphor for passivity and unconsciousness. The conclusion refers to Jacques Derrida. and that seem to perdure through time. while deemphasizing the bodily and the sensuous.” a grobe Perspektiv. Nietzsche read Kant and Goethe on teleology and intended to respond to their views in his proposed doctoral dissertation. Beginning with a reading of Aristotle. Irigaray uses the rhetorical configuration of “efflorescence” to designate a blossoming or blooming forth that cannot be enclosed within the traditional boundaries of embodiment and philosophical discourse.16 The Vegetative Soul Nietzsche points out that “individuation” is a feature of language. Considered from this perspective. Thus. concealed ground of Being. the closest matter. and which may have the possibility of transforming it. If the nineteenth-century exploration of alternative possibilities for the description of nature and subjectivity was . in an attempt to bring to light the contemporary offshoots of the questions this book examines in a historical context. Though I emphasize Irigaray’s work as the contemporary continuation of the brief promise of Idealist and Romantic Naturphilosophie. Irigaray focuses on the redemptive possibilities inherent in the very metaphors that have been used to reduce the feminine to the silent. Nietzsche’s discourse on individuation takes as its point of departure the argument that orients this study. such that it turns into a productive metonymical structure. self-motivated. Gilles Deleuze. Irigaray inaugurates a critique of the way in which women have been aligned with vegetative life in the history of metaphysics. Finally. Nietzsche’s suspicions about the limits of consciousness as a distinguishing human feature belong to a broader critique of anthropomorphism in the natural sciences. proceed from what Nietzsche calls a “crude perspective. Twentieth-century postmodern critique resurrects the “vegetative soul” in the form of the critique of the modern subject. namely that Western philosophy and language. characterized by metamorphosis and indefinite individuation. qualities traditionally associated with the feminine. Western languages obscure the process-like nature of being through a language and an ontology composed of things that are perceived to be self-enclosed. Plant growth.

the world cannot appear in all its possible strangeness. At the same time. As a response. it returns in the form of twentieth-century critiques of the language of science and of the persistent use of masculine characteristics to describe the subject. projected onto it precisely in comparing it to the animal organism. The plant appears as the form of finitude and vulnerability. yet ultimately ill-informed reaction against the growing power of the natural sciences and their paradigms of human being and growth. what I try to show with my detailed outline of Hegel’s Naturphilosophie.Introduction 17 ultimately obviated by a return to the hegemony of the autonomous. is that the seeds of this discontent are sown within the very context that gives rise to the strongest tools for the critique of Enlightenment subjectivity. their philosophies are rich mines for an alternative conception of nature. revisiting their texts on the philosophy of nature from the point of view of the vegetative soul may reveal productive possibilities for feminist philosophy. but distinguishing herself in giving particular emphasis to the alignment of plant subjectivity with the feminine. along with Derrida. self-preserving individual emphasized from Hobbes to Kant. and others. one might equally delve for the places in which possible answers to these problems might be found. In spite of the ultimate triumph of animal form in Kant and Hegel. The plant is not the form of the world but the possibility of . as carrying on this rich tradition. for example. We are accustomed to perceiving the world through a body that is so close that we have forgotten its complexities. I consider her work to be the continuation of the nineteenth-century project I am examining here. enlightened. I see Irigaray. Hölderlin. and this historical confluence is of course not accidental. such as in the portrayal of the plant in the philosophy of nature. and Nietzsche. much in the same way that feminist critiques of science are often dismissed today. as well as of the incorporation of the “liberation” of women within a masculine paradigm advocated by equality feminism. but also of transformation and renewal. I do not mean to suggest that these men were proto-feminists. This alignment is subtly present even in the texts of Goethe. Romantic thought broadly conceived is often portrayed as nothing more than an impassioned. however. What I try to emphasize throughout with the turn to the plant is not the plant’s passivity. and because we project its self-enclosed individuation onto everything that we perceive and think. Deleuze. Irigaray’s philosophical “strategy” is to approach canonical texts from the history of philosophy and to show the non-obvious places in which misogyny is concealed. although one might point to the expectant receptivity of the flower that turns its broadest surface toward the sun. Both because this critique has particular importance for feminist theory and because of Irigaray’s use of figures culled from nature and in particular from plant life.

vigilance (a word with a common root). growth. If we recall once again the ancient story of Orpheus’s death. philosophy. we may perhaps regain some of the wonder that is the condition of all science. wakefulness. and art. to appropriate her. whom he called Apollo. in particular. by taking a closer look at another possibility of bodily formation. In this Apollinian gesture of always trying to make sense of even the most baffling of natural phenomena he loses his beloved and his life. emphasizes rootedness. and thus to the mind or spirit in opposition to the living body. . vulnerability. interdependence. they were returning to the original meaning of the word vegetable. but a bodily thinking that is itself indefinitely individuated and subject to metamorphosis. in contrast to the animated soul. and transformative possibility rather than a separation of soul from body.18 The Vegetative Soul reforming the world. which in Greek refers to wind or breath and in Latin to the soul of self-motivated things. the greatest of gods. we remember that he angered Dionysos’s followers by neglecting to honor the god. Orpheus’s dismemberment at the hands of Maenads may be a fitting counterpart to his sundered state of mind in Rilke’s poem. which in Greek and Latin refers to life. What I here call the vegetative soul. and a stance of aggressiveness and self-preservation. The vegetative soul encompasses a thinking rooted incontrovertably in the body. actualization. and. The words for life that infuse the meaning of the plant contrast with the roots of the word animal. Orpheus performs the classical metaphysical gesture against ambiguity and for totalization or inclusion. Orpheus instead named Helios (the sun). When nineteenth-century theorists considered the vegetative soul. Both in opposing the ecstatic Dionysian religion and in turning around to make sure that Eurydice was there.


The English Garden

For art is only perfect when it looks like nature and nature succeeds only when she conceals latent art. —Longinus, “On the Sublime” We cannot help admitting that [Kant] entirely lacks grand, classical simplicity, naïveté, ingénuité, candeur. His philosophy has no analogy with Greek architecture that presents large, simple proportions revealing themselves at once to the glance; on the contrary, it reminds us very strongly of the Gothic style of architecture. For an entirely individual characteristic of Kant’s mind is a peculiar liking for symmetry that loves a variegated multiplicity, in order to arrange this, and to repeat this arrangement in subordinate forms, and so on indefinitely, precisely as in Gothic churches. In fact, he sometimes carries this to the point of trifling, and then, in deference to this tendency, goes so far as to do open violence to truth, and treats it as nature was treated by old-fashioned gardeners, whose works are symmetrical avenues, squares and triangles, trees shaped like pyramids and sphere, and hedges in regular and sinuous curves. —Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation

The use of vegetative metaphors to describe the form of human intellection and appreciation of nature cannot be separated from the late 19


The Vegetative Soul

eighteenth and early nineteenth-century incorporation of an explicitly aesthetic dimension to scientific inquiry. This project had its roots in the philosophy of Kant and in the aesthetico-scientific project of Goethe. Kant’s Critique of Judgment inspired the philosophical use of organic metaphors to describe human thinking in its relationship to nature conceived as a whole. In The Mirror and the Lamp, M. H. Abrams argues that nineteenth-century conceptions of art were distinctive and revolutionary in that they posed and answered aesthetic questions solely in terms of the relation of art to the artist, rather than to the world or to an audience.1 He describes “German Theories of Vegetable Genius” as having their provenance in the idea that genius is both natural and unconscious, springing forth spontaneously in the mind of one who cannot explain the rule according to which he or she produces a work of art.2 This explanation does not adequately address the implications of the nineteenth-century German philosophical and literary use of vegetative metaphors. While drawing on already existing literary tropes, Kant’s articulation of genius, upon which these thinkers based their understanding of vegetable subjectivity, goes far beyond a description of the provenance of fine art and is not limited to the interiority of the artist. Kant’s third Critique aims not only to explain art, but to use it as a powerful means of binding together the human needs to understand nature (science) and to gain from it confirmation of the power of human freedom, the objects of his first and second Critiques. Abrams traces the genealogy of the concept of vegetable genius from the publication of the English theorist Edward Young’s Conjectures on Original Composition (1759), which was translated into German twice within two years of its publication, to Johann Georg Sulzer’s dictionary of aesthetic terms (1771–1774), to J. G. Herder’s theory of the organic and all-encompassing order of natural growth in “On the Knowing and Feeling of the Human Soul” (1778).3 All of these works share the common claim that genius, the human capacity for intellectual and artistic greatness, is as much a product of nature as are organisms, and that the inability of human beings to account for the origin of genius is due to its plantlike provenance in unconscious blossoming or flourishing. Kant’s understanding of genius plays an important part in his theory of the organism as unconsciously teleological, moving toward a natural purpose of which it is not explicitly aware. His linkage of the theory of genius with his critique of teleological judgment, and thus to the very possibility of delineating an allencompassing philosophical system, led theorists who followed him to describe the relationship of the human mind to the natural world in terms of vegetative growth. For Kant this linkage provides an important regulative principle for judgment, that is, understanding an organ-

The English Garden


ism as a natural purpose is something that guides human investigation into nature by virtue of an analogy with our own purposiveness. Goethe, who was respected both for his contributions to the natural sciences and to art, recognized his own fortuitous proximity to Kant—fortuitous, for, while the two thinkers were writing contemporaneously, neither was directly influenced by the other’s work—when he read a copy of the Critique of Judgment and proclaimed it in exact accord with his own The Metamorphosis of Plants.4 What both Kant and Goethe strove to accomplish in intertwining the realms or “infinite worlds,” as Goethe put it, of art and nature, was twofold: first, to discredit unreflectively ontological eighteenth-century scientific assumptions of final causes in nature, and second, to reintroduce purposiveness in nature as an aesthetic requirement for the creation of satisfactory, that is, systematic, scientific explanations. The use of vegetative metaphors for thinking in post-Kantian philosophical thought assumes the problematic that Kant carefully outlines in the third Critique. Adequately understanding “vegetable genius,” then, requires a comprehensive reading of this work. Kant and many of the philosophers who followed his lead sought to reconcile the laws that bind human conceptual understanding and sensory imagination in the observation of the external world with the freedom of human reason in its potentiality to transcend nature through art. If Schopenhauer’s criticism of Kant’s philosophy in the opening citation initially strikes us as misconceived, it is perhaps because we are accustomed to think, with Derrida, that “a paradigmatics of the flower orients the third Critique,” that “Kant always seeks in [the flower] the index of a natural beauty, utterly wild, in which the without-end or the without-concept of finality is revealed.”5 What could be farther from the beauty of wildflowers than artificially pruned, geometrically shaped hedges? Schopenhauer’s observation is instructive nevertheless, but here the analogy will be revised. Although Kant structures the entire Critique of Judgment around the paradigm of the wild plant, this plant has a unique character in that it is wild only within the strict limits of a gardener’s plan that situates, tends, and prunes it to preserve its appearance of wildness. Kant’s meditation on the purposiveness of nature follows the scheme of the English garden of the eighteenth century. This garden, also known as a “sublime” garden from the tradition of imitating Italian landscape paintings out of which it originated, had the paradoxical quality of being cultivated to look wild; at the same time great care was taken to make sure the wilderness never exceeded predefined limits. For Kant, in the same way, scientific explanations of nature can only be deemed adequate insofar as they are supplemented by or transformed into art. Such an endeavor takes its cue from nature itself, however, projecting onto


The Vegetative Soul

nature as a system or as a whole the perfect (and purposive) form observed in the organism. Because of the rigorous limits prescribed by Kant on what can be deemed knowledge of nature, such an explanation remains part of the realm of art rather than strictly speaking of science. Thus, though he will not use the language of vegetable genius, Kant introduces the framework that allows it to arise. This framework presumes that the complex process of creating satisfactory human descriptions of nature follows the forms observed within nature, and that the aesthetic properties of holistic explanations of nature form the basis for judging those explanations to be better or worse, more or less fruitful. In the first Introduction to the Critique of Judgment, Kant discusses the tension that arises between the attempt to describe the natural world solely in terms of empirical observations, on the one hand, and the need that the human mind feels to classify nature under laws and classes, and ultimately as a system, on the other. Kant determines an exigency of going beyond the classificatory system of the Critique of Pure Reason, which describes the determinate structures of human cognition as the basis for finding regularity and predictability in nature. Such structures describe a formal pattern that explains the uniformity of human experience of the world of natural appearances, but do not lend a systematic wholeness to this pattern, a wholeness that alone will satisfy the human need to find a purposiveness in nature. Kant calls this demand for integrity and totality “artificial” (künstlich) in that it is not derived from ordinary empirical cognition; he goes further to state that “so far as we think of nature as making itself specific in terms of such a principle, we regard nature as art.” This necessity of conceiving nature as constituting a purposive whole is something that judgment carries a priori within it. Kant calls the a priori principle that makes only a holistic explanation of nature satisfactory to the human mind a “technic of nature,” taking “technic” from the Greek word, techne, for art. Kant also claims that certain natural forms have an absolute purposiveness, by which he means that
their shape or inner structure is of such a character that we must, in our power of judgment, base their possibility on an idea. We must do so because purposiveness is a lawfulness that something contingent may have insofar as it is contingent. Insofar as nature’s products are aggregates, nature proceeds mechanically, as mere nature; but insofar as its products are systems—e.g., crystal formations, various shapes of flowers, or the inner structure of plants and animals—nature proceeds technically, i.e. it proceeds also as art. The distinction between these two ways of judging natural beings is made merely by reflective judgment. (KU 217’–18’)6

According to Kant, reflective judgment, unlike determinative judgment, is characterized by a certain freedom of expression in that it

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results from a spontaneity in the play of the cognitive powers whose harmony with each other forms the basis of this pleasure, a spontaneity that makes the concept of purposiveness suitable for mediating the connection of the domain of the concept of nature with that of the concept of freedom (KU 197). Kant privileges the form of the natural structures, and of the organism in particular, as the shape or figure that best manifests the nature of the relationship of human cognition to nature. The human mind, Kant believes, is attuned to and reflects forms of nature such as the crystal, the plant, and the animal, and it is this affinity to these forms that requires human thinking to value and preserve nature as its kin. This observation was to have an enormous influence on the literature and philosophy of the nineteenth century in Germany. Kant privileges organized beings in nature, stating that they have an “absolute purposiveness” (KU, First Introduction 217’). The absolute nature of the purposiveness of the organism has its origin in the human apprehension of it, and not (at least not demonstrably) in itself. Insofar as humans cognize nature on the basis of cause and effect or dissection of its parts, Kant implies, natural explanations can be mechanical ones. As soon as one attempts to make any claims about the whole, however, Kant maintains the absolute necessity of human cognition proceeding technically, making of nature an art in which organisms viewed purposively play a central part. Thus, although ultimately Kant’s conservatism and anthropocentrism will not allow him to transgress the boundaries of subjectivity understood as precise individuation, his critique of the science of his day would have a crucial influence on the Romantic and Idealist reconceptions of the organic understood as the relationship between humans and nature, and of Enlightenment descriptions of subjectivity. This is why Kant must be read as providing the grounding for the “vegetative soul” of nineteenth-century German thought. Understanding the two halves of the Critique of Judgment, namely, the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment and the Critique of Teleological Judgment in a similarly organic way, that is, as interdependent and mutually informing components of an attempt to unify the realms of nature and freedom through art, then, allows for a more complete understanding of the third Critique. Kant’s seemingly odd juxtaposition of critiques of aesthetic and teleological judgment has a strong inner coherence that cannot be sufficiently demonstrated by merely pointing out that both types of judgment are reflective rather than deterministic. Rather, judgments of teleology in nature can be included in scientific explanations precisely and only because these judgments are aesthetic in nature. Teleological judgments’ status as “art” allows Kant to include them in descriptions of nature without

Kant might distinguish between geometry and the practical applications of geometry to illustrate the two levels of the theoretical. while. Our minds can cognize only what is clearly individuated. At the same time. That is to say. Hegel radicalized Kant’s elimination of the natural. but by assuming that nature is purposive the philosopher can resolve a series of antinomies that the human mind could never otherwise overcome. and therefore allows only such principles as do not at any rate make it impossible for any knowledge that we may attain to combine into a system with other knowledge” (KrV A 474 = B 502). Since humans can cognize only by making systems. The circumvention of the natural such a philosophy implies remained a problem that captivated post-Kantian philosophy in Germany. in terms of the principles that ground them. Kant approaches the lacunae inherent in aesthetic and teleological judgments by immediately emphasizing the performative aspect of aesthetic and teleological judgment. nature itself will have to be encompassed by that architectonic. Of course. but imperative nonetheless to do so for aesthetic reasons. that is. Thinkers such as Schelling attempted to return to “nature in itself” rather than to a fiction about nature. romantic. it regards all our knowledge as belonging to a possible system. or “enthusiastic” element to intrude into science without severe qualification or pruning. Teleological judgment can never be matched by a corresponding cognition of the human mind. and in terms of applications of these principles. There are always two levels on which both theoretical and practical philosophy can be understood. For example. the explanation of the constitution of aesthetic judgment must make manifest why judgment cannot be derived from rules or determined by concepts. Kant writes. Explanations that are teleological for aesthetic reasons force judgment simultaneously to address nature and to go beyond it. The Critique of Judgment attempts to provide a reconciliation of nature—as a system of deterministic laws that conform to human understanding—with human reason as a product of that very natural system that possesses a freedom that exceeds it.24 The Vegetative Soul thereby permitting an unreflective. Aesthetic judgment has its roots in sensation. by contrast. “Human reason is by nature architectonic. at the same time. and between the categorical imperative and an actual decision to act . This is what we have referred to as the individuation that is based upon the animal body. In a well-known passage of the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant’s point is that it is impossible to speak of nature as a totality “in itself” in terms of knowledge. Kant clearly recognizes this projection of unity to be a “false” interpretation. This is the aspect of Kant’s philosophy that Schopenhauer is criticizing when he compares Kant’s philosophy to an artificially pruned garden. opening the door to multiple possible conceptualizations of the relationship of the human being to nature.

Reflective judgment is always an act: it consists in deeming something to be beautiful. Kant specifies that he will “also” henceforth use the term “technic” in other cases.The English Garden 25 morally to illustrate the practical. . Humans . The first two. or purposive. “All other propositions of performance. might be called “technical rather than practical.” since these performatives “belong to the art of bringing about something that we want to exist. This is because in such a case the will has no choice but to follow principles according to which the understanding functions. a priori and empirical practical propositions. . but rather directs action in such a way that it can be called a moral precept.7 Reflective judgment. Kant distinguishes between several different types of practical propositions around which rational decisions orient themselves. that which can be reduced neither to the purely theoretical nor to the purely practical. whereas it is merely [the result of] a subjective condition under which we judge that ability” (KU 391. Kant defines the “technic of nature” as “nature’s ability to produce [things] in terms of causes . These judgments are thus based neither in the theoretical nor in the practical insofar as “practical” is understood to imply grounding in freedom. then. or one behaves as if something were what it is not.” such that “we have falsely interpreted the contingent agreement of that ability with our concepts and rules of art . “assert the possibility of an object through our power of choice” and thus always belong to our knowledge of nature and to the theoretical part of philosophy.” In addition. sublime. “Technical” judgments in this specific sense. Kant similarly distinguishes between the proximity of beautiful objects and the relative isolation of beautiful (natural) views whose “distance prevents us from recognizing them distinctly. .” Kant writes. Specifically with reference to nature. “Hence all precepts of skill belong.” we retain it because we have none that better serves to explain nature. to the technic of nature. .” The distance of the view gives the human being a certain leeway to see nature “as if” it were other than it actually is. where we merely judge [certain] objects of nature as if they were made possible through art” (KU 199’–200’). Although the interpretation is “false. The third type of practical proposition has its principle in the idea of freedom and can give us no insight into the possibility of the object. “namely.” rather than reacting to something that already exists. [which is] basically quite identical with the mechanism of nature. Immediately after this Kant writes. as consequences. will always rest upon a kind of sophisticated “wishful thinking” in which one desires something to be what one can never know it to be. manifests only the performative aspect. by contrast. In the transition from the Analytic of the Beautiful to the Analytic of the Sublime in the Critique of Judgment. my emphasis).

and is a regulative rather than constitutive principle. we are. i. we would not find them beautiful (KU 243). These beings.. Kant writes: first give objective reality to the concept of a purpose that is a purpose of nature rather than a practical one. but must follow the demand of reason that “subordinates such [natural] products . and constantly growing. This principle then relies on the peculiarity (Eigentümlichkeit) of human understanding. but also to the creative capacity of . so that if we heard an artificial reproduction of the exact notes (and knew that they were artificial). on the actual fantasies with which the mind entertains itself as it is continually being aroused by the diversity that strikes the eye” (KU 243). Kant says. as on the occasion they provide for it to engage in fiction [dichten]. This principle applies only subjectively as the maxim that “everything in the world is good for something or other. . not because they actually like what is presented before them. Natural purposes. but these are qualities we admire in human creativity that we project onto “nature” as a “false” unity in the sense of falsity indicated above. Kant implies. if we had the anatomy of the bird’s vocal chords before our eyes as we heard its song.e. animated. and which hence give natural science the basis for a teleology. according to Kant (KU 374). for judging its objects in terms of a special principle that otherwise we simply would not be justified in introducing into natural science (since we have no a priori insight whatever into the possibility of such a causality). but because “taste seems to fasten not so much on what the imagination apprehends in that area. Our taste for the beauties of nature is largely constructed on the fictions in which we involve it. The phrase “causality in terms of purposes” refers not only to final causality in contrast to simple mechanical cause-effect relationships. i. in turn. When we find a bird’s song beautiful. namely.26 The Vegetative Soul usually find nature (as opposed to crafted objects) beautiful. that it cannot rest satisfied with purely mechanical explanations. as a system of purposes. nothing in it is gratuitous” (KU 379). form the basis for judging nature as a whole teleologically. we would lose our liking for the sound. Likewise. require a certain distance from the object upon which they are based. to the causality in terms of purposes” (KU 415). from a distance we see nature as alive.. The technic of nature is informed by the notion of “organism” or “organized being” as the privileged individual that underlies Kant’s discussion of teleology. in turn. Kant claims. Nature in itself is not beautiful.e. These fictions. . but only becomes so by virtue of the fictions that humans create about it. projecting our affection for what we consider to be a cheerful little creature onto the song. (KU 376) The perception of organized beings as self-organizing allows them to be referred to as natural purposes. for example.

will sooner permit the imagination’s freedom and wealth to be impaired than that the understanding be impaired.”9 By contrast. He would indeed be the most contemptible of all. however. it grows. at least in the eyes of true wisdom. to draw in sap and grow. man seems to be created as a plant. if there were not a period of full development in store for the forces shut up in him. expressed the contrasting popular view when he wrote in his 1758 manifesto Conjectures on Original Composition that “an Original may be said to be of a vegetable nature.The English Garden 27 the human mind to conceptualize nature according to the metaphysical possibilities that are closest to its own perceived form. For Kant. it rises spontaneously. “If one seeks the cause of the obstacles that keep human nature in such deep abasement. the fact that genius could never know the rules for its own art placed artistic achievement forever below the power of rational thought. Kant explicitly compares the human being to a plant—precisely at that point where human sensuality occludes the possibility of attaining reason: When one regards the nature of most men. Kant explicitly opposed the notion of “plant thinking” or “vegetable genius.”11 Finally.” instead using plant metaphors to characterize what was most sluggish and unresponsive in human thought. Of all creatures he least achieves the end of his existence. In writings preceding the Critique of Judgment. written thirty-five years after the Universal Natural History. it is not made. the human mind rediscovers its animal vigor (a word that Kant uses to describe the sublime) in its fundamental opposition to the forces of nature. In his Universal Natural History (1755). strikingly contrasts with his earlier description of vegetable nature by following this conceit and making genius the unconscious channel for the forces of nature as they provide the closest possible expression of the supersensible in finite form. in the inflexibility of the fibers and sluggishness and immobility of the sap/fluid that should obey its stirrings. from the vital root of Genius. for “judgment. to propagate his kind. and finally to grow old and die. if the hope of the future did not lift him up. Kant’s directive that organic unity may be projected upon products of nature in order to understand them through the subjective a priori principle of reflective judgment ultimately . in the turn toward the ideal and the totalizing power of reason.”10 Kant’s description of genius in the third Critique. because he consumes his more excellent fitnesses for such purposes as lower creatures achieve more securely and decently with less.8 He continues. which in matters of fine art bases its pronouncements on principles of its own. the British literary theorist Edward Young. Kant’s contemporary. it will be found in the grossness of the matter in which his spiritual part is sunk.


The Vegetative Soul

allows the principle of what we have called “animal” form to direct the way in which we judge nature as beautiful or purposive. In her study of Kant,12 Susan Meld Shell observes that in both the Anthropology (X:165) and the Universal Natural History (I:357), as well as in the Critique of Judgment, Kant reworks the traditional divide between the male as active principle (efficient cause) and the woman as passive recipient (material cause) in the sexual act. The obliteration, in Cartesian science, of the traditional Aristotelian distinction between efficient and material causation tended to undermine this hierarchy. Shell suggests that Kant’s description of the predicament of human reason of being hopelessly hindered by sexual desire, physical attraction, and sensory enticements points to a larger problem with generation itself. She writes that the dreaded contingency of “the very act of generation—traditionally the emblem of man’s rational, and formal supremacy—threatens to dissolve into unregulated and hence ‘loathsome’ fecundity.” Against this threat:
only God’s inseminating spirit (which assures, among other things, the eternity of biological species) is proof, while man’s physical generative power descends to the level of the plants. The plantlike passivity traditionally associated with the female principle of generation infects, in Kant’s account, the male principle as well, at least insofar as it remains within the nexus of the physical. It is not in generating, but in resisting generation for the sake of a higher sort of attraction, that man’s spirit uplifts itself.13

The same problem can be seen in Kant’s advice to young men in the Anthropology: “If we want to keep our power of sensing lively we must not begin with strong sensations . . . we must rather forego them at first and mete them out sparingly so that we can always climb higher.”14 Here “animality,” or Stoic individuation, would refer to the deferral of the immediate gratification that Kant seems to associate with the untrammeled growth of vegetative life. Nevertheless, Kant’s description of the involuntary spontaneity of the active, transcendental subject inspired German Idealism’s understanding of Geist, or spirit, as the interdependent relationship of this dynamic spontaneity with the ontological ground of nature, often conceptualized as a plant-like, metamorphosing growth. Even Hegel, for example, writes a passage that strikingly follows Kant’s directive in the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit:
The more rigid conventional opinion makes the antithesis of truth and falsity, the more it tends to expect a given philosophical system to be either agreed with or contradicted; and in an explanation of the system sees only

The English Garden


one or the other. It does not grasp the difference in philosophical systems as the progressive unfolding of truth, so much as it sees contradiction in difference. The bud disappears in the bursting-forth of the blossom, and one could say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way, through the fruit the blossom is demonstrated to be a false existence of the plant, and the fruit now emerges as the truth of the plant in its place. These forms do not just distinguish themselves from one another, they also supplant each another as mutually incompatible. Yet at the same time their fluid nature makes them moments of organic unity in which they not only do not conflict, but each is as necessary as the other; and this equal necessity alone constitutes the life of the whole. (W 3:12/PS, 2)

While Hegel compares the very movement of historical Spirit to the metamorphosis of a plant, Kant restricts his analogy to the consideration of nature as a system or organized whole. Hegel will reintroduce historical purposiveness in no artistic sense in the very place where Kant forbids the determinative use of final causes in the explanation of nature. The danger that Kant foresees is that any discussion of the necessity of a teleology of nature appears to turn the idea of a natural purpose into a principle that is constitutive of natural purpose itself (KU 405). Kant writes, “The universal supplied by our (human) understanding does not determine the particular; therefore even if different things agree in a common characteristic, the variety of ways in which they may come before our perception is contingent” (KU 406). A cognitive power that could proceed synthetically from whole to parts, rather than analytically from concepts to empirical intuitions, would be one of a “complete spontaneity of intuition [Anschauung].” Although such a spontaneous intuition can be conceived of by us only negatively, that is, as not discursive, we can characterize it as a power of cognition something like the one Kant mentions in the Analytic of the Sublime, where he emphasizes that if humans were pure intelligences, there would be no need for judgments of beauty and sublimity (KU 271). According to Kant, the limitations on the possibility of human understanding of nature lead humans to create artworks; the technic of nature is the primary example of this art. Among all the sensory things that humans cognize, it is only with reference to the beautiful, the sublime, and the purposive, though in different ways, that the mind makes no appeal to concepts. The beautiful and the sublime, along with the teleological explanation, reverse the directionality of cognition: the mind begins from the particulars rather than from a universal. The particular has a contingent aspect that is not present in the universal. Thus, the reflective judgment of beauty or sublimity is faced with a predicament parallel to that of the mind when it attempts to unify the manifold in nature. Our understanding achieves cognition only through a harmony


The Vegetative Soul

between natural characteristics and our power of concepts, a harmony that Kant calls “very contingent” (KU 406). Unlike the products of nature, laws of nature are not subsumed under the concepts of the understanding, and thus they are particulars from the point of view of human understanding, since it is unable to determine them. Because the laws are multiple, the mind feels the need to bring them together into a unity (Einheit). The technic of nature is deployed as the answer whenever the mind is confronted with a series of particulars that precede any universal concepts it can provide. This is the fundamental connection between aesthetic judgments and teleology: both begin with particulars and work toward a unity. Kant makes this explicit in the first introduction to the Critique of Judgment, where he mentions formulas that were in vogue at the time, such as “Nature does nothing in vain; Nature makes no leap in the diversity of its forms; Nature is rich in species and yet parsimonious in genera.” Kant calls these formulas the “transcendental utterance of judgment [by which] it stipulates to itself a principle for [considering] experience as a system, and hence for its own needs.” The basis of such an utterance is a “presupposition” that “judgment makes for its own use, for the sake of unifying empirical laws, so that it can always ascend from what is empirical [and] particular to what is more general.” Only by presupposing such a principle can we “engage in experiences in a systematic way” (KU 399). Kant indicates a distinction between the way in which he uses the word aesthetic with reference to science in the Critique of Pure Reason and in the Critique of Judgment by indicating the incommensurability of the “aesthetic intuition” and the “aesthetic judgment” (KU 222’). Although in the Critique of Pure Reason Kant used “aesthetic” to refer to presentations of the understanding (pertaining to sense perception, aisthesis in the original sense of the word), he specifies in the First Introduction to the Critique of Judgment that he will henceforth apply the term aesthetic solely to acts of the power of judgment. The earlier, broader sense of “aesthetic” is defined in the third Critique as one in which “the form is inevitably transferred to the object, though the object only as phenomenon” (KU 222’). In Kant’s earlier works, “aesthetic” always refers to the science of knowledge attained through sense perception. However, Kant specifies that in the Critique of Judgment “aesthetic” will henceforth not refer to a way of perceiving that involves a sensible intuition that allows us to cognize objects, but only to a way of presenting that arouses feelings of pleasure and displeasure (KU 410’). Kant juxtaposes the critique of teleological judgment to his discussion of the beautiful and of the sublime because the discovery of a structural consonance within mechanically derived empirical knowledge of nature (through teleological judgment) results in a feeling of

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great pleasure: “It is a fact that when we discover that two or more heterogeneous empirical laws of nature can be unified under one principle that comprises them both, the discovery does give rise to a quite noticeable pleasure” (KU 187). What Kant designates as the “beautiful” is that which pleases by virtue of its form or its sensuous presence, without reference to anything beyond that presence as beautiful. By “sublime,” Kant means that which moves human judgment out of the realm of nature as it is into the realm of nature as it ought to be. Both of these moments inform the technic of nature: the beautiful reveals the essentially technical (purposive) structure of nature and invites the investigation of how such a form is possible. The sublime makes rational beings look inside themselves for “what use we can make of our intuitions of nature so that we can feel a purposiveness within ourselves entirely independent of nature.” In the combined movements of judgments of the beautiful and judgments of the sublime in nature, the three faculties of the mind come together: in judgments of beauty, the faculties of imagination and understanding cognize the natural scene without bringing it under a determinate concept, whereas judgments of the sublime result from a disruption of the harmony between the understanding and the imagination that flings the imagination toward the ideas of reason. Although the imagination cannot comprehend the magnitude (Größe) of what it is observing, and for this reason the understanding cannot subsume the observation under a concept, the unity of the faculties is nonetheless able to feel the superiority of the human mind (through the faculty of reason) over nature. Kant’s discussion of sublimity forms a transition to the consideration of nature as purposive, specifically with reference to how the technic of nature informs the notion of organism as the privileged individual that underlies Kant’s discussion of teleology. It is in this final relationship of sublime to natural purposiveness that one can most clearly recognize the analogy Schopenhauer makes of Kant’s work to the crafted garden. However, the analogy works best not by comparing, as Schopenhauer did, Kant’s architectonic to the French gardens of Versailles, but rather by seeing the systematic aestheticization of science as akin to the construction of the English garden, that is, as carefully groomed in order to appear perfectly natural. In the technic of nature, nature is conceived as art in an explicit attempt to avoid the mechanistic model of the universe. For this reason, the living organized being, which Kant describes as a “product of nature . . . in which everything is a purpose and reciprocally also a means” (KU 376) provides the perfect figure for a vitalistic conception of nature which at the same time precludes the risky move of actually ascribing a kind of subjectivity or living nature to nature as a whole.


The Vegetative Soul

What Kant means by seeing nature according to an analogy with art (KU 246) stems from the dual human pleasure in observing nature. While on one level the human being takes pleasure in nature as it is (in its beauty), on another level human pleasure results from seeing nature as it ought to be, in terms of morality (KU 179). This “ought to be” is a picture of nature as teleological, moving toward purposes, that is, toward regulative ideas such as the good, human betterment, and God. But we cannot verify any “artistic,” that is, teleological, judgment of nature, since nature as purposive can only be part of the noumenal realm. Therefore, since the technic of nature remains an art—in the sense of a constitutive metaphor—and not an object of knowledge, the mental capacity proper to it is self-reflective judgment rather than understanding or reason. As we have already seen, Kant specifically calls the technic of nature a “false interpretation” of nature as a kind of production that is in agreement with “our concepts and rules of art.” Seeing nature in terms of final causes as a special kind of natural production is “merely the result of a subjective condition under which we judge that ability” (KU 391). At the same time, nature’s revelation of itself as purposive is a priori for us, but the faculty proper to this necessary yet false interpretation is reflective judgment, which, rather than looking at nature in terms of determinate concepts or external conditioning factors, looks back only at itself. Kant specifies what he means by “analogy” (in a qualitative, i.e., nonmathematical sense) in a long footnote in the Critique of Teleological Judgment. The analogical relationship allows human beings to make judgments about things they cannot definitively know based on an identity of the relation between causes and effects in the unknown and a known area (KU 464). Human knowledge is limited, according to Kant, to what we can be directly conscious of, but we can make justified inferences on the basis of analogy. Thus, for example, we can infer aspects of animal behavior based on our conscious knowledge of human behavior, that is, we can understand animal behavior on the basis of an “analogue of reason,” and this understanding can be judged “correct.” Similarly, Kant writes, we can legitimately conceive of the purposiveness of the “supreme world” by analogy with the products of human art, although we cannot thereby conclude that the two types of purposiveness have the same properties. In another note, Kant equates analogy with the indirect presentation of an idea according to its effects or consequences (KU 351). Through analogy with art, that is, in outlining nature in terms of final causes, one can organize nature into the interaction of self-enclosed purposive centers, in other words, what we have called the individuation of animal bodies. Just as we project purposiveness onto animals by analogy with the structure of our own cog-

according to Kant. Human beings are the only natural beings to have the capacity to refer both nature and themselves to a purpose that can be independent of and external to nature. though they form groups. becomes telos in Greek. It also links teleology to culture and art.” “to sojourn.” If nature is regarded as a teleological system. not because this issue is equally pressing in the science or . that is. Animals do not have cultures. Culture. The word for culture or civilization. tilling the land. is a “negative” condition that liberates the will from an entanglement with natural things. making plans and carrying them out. and thus indirectly leads to the production and refinement of art and morality (KU 433). All these words have to do with settling. As with judgments of sublimity. on the other hand. and even war. even if that purpose is not ours” (KU 432). which implies discipline (Zucht) along with skillfulness (Geschicklichkeit). the understanding of the purposiveness of nature can only be formed with respect to culture or civilization (Kultur). to inequality among people. It is important to understand the way in which Kant negotiates the sticky problem of final causes. in addition to culture. meaning “to revolve. that is. meaning the “completion of a cycle. to nondemonstrability. It is skill that leads ineluctably.” or “to dwell. “nature still achieves its own purpose. the quintessential activity that distinguishes humans from all other natural beings. especially in its relationship to the natural world.The English Garden 33 nitive processes.” The root forms the basis of the words cultivate and teleology. comes from the Indo-European root kwel-. kwelos. This movement manifests the privilege given to the perceived separability (at least in principle) of the human from nature. Discipline. Kant designates the human being as “Lord of Nature. forms “the ultimate purpose that we have cause to attribute to nature with respect to the human species” (KU 431–32). Kultur. Kant’s specification of “skill” as a requirement for culture refers us again to techne. Kant implies—keeping the conditionality of the technic of nature intact—then the human being is the ultimate purpose of that system. It is directed toward the progressive elimination of animal characteristics.” whose extended form. we project the relationship between this presumed purposiveness and the body onto all other natural phenomena. In this case. harvesting. In the Methodology of Teleological Judgment. The point of discussing Kant’s opening up of the possibility of ascribing final causes to nature through the trope of a (necessary) aesthetic fiction is to show how this technic of nature can be (and was) further applied to speculations about the nature of human subjectivity. Teleology is thus used to explain seeming injustices that humans cannot otherwise understand. class structures. to the non-natural or technical gathering of human beings.

meaning “joint. but can never cognize it determinately and state it distinctly” (KU 412).” A harmony is a fitting together of . Rather. comes from the Greek harmos. but with the form of the human framing of nature. teleological judgments about nature say nothing about nature itself. Thus. nor to a necessary objective purposiveness inherent in nature (Kant attributes this view primarily to Spinoza). which works its effects only from a distance. Teleological judgment is a human techne. can arise and be legitimated. and even though it may stand in for a deity that cannot be proven. the judgment of purposiveness can be effective only when the as if holds it at bay. like that between understanding and imagination in the judgment of beauty. is called a harmony (KU 407). The word harmony. even if this “rightness” cannot ever be proven. which means that although it may be necessary for the possibility of any other human achievement. but because it can help explain the ways in which alternative conceptions of the subject. Reason has an intimation (Ahnung) that this is the right direction in which to go. but everything about the way in which humans cognize nature. Kant rejects both dogmatic (intentional) and fatalistic (unintentional) interpretations of the notion of the purposiveness of nature from the beginning. primary among all other techne. The relationship between human understanding and the perceived final causes of the particulars of nature (either products or laws). but a foreigner that looks strangely familiar to human reason. which recurs constantly in the critique of aesthetic judgment and the critique of teleological judgment. Like judgments of beauty and sublimity. The words hint and intimation intentionally convey a certain reserve with respect to teleological judgment. It deals not with the content of nature. we will examine Kant’s technic of nature at some length.” and is related to the English words “arm” and “art. Nature itself gives us the hint (Wink) that if we were to use the concept of final causes “we could perhaps reach beyond nature and connect nature itself to the highest point in the series of causes” (KU 390).34 The Vegetative Soul philosophy of nature of today. This principle “is of such a kind that we can only point to it (anzeigen). the justification of the use of teleological judgment can only be indirect. it remains a techne and nothing more. particularly ones that do not presuppose separatedness from nature and atomic isolation. There will be no appeal to a God whose existence can be known. but merely regulative for reflective judgment (KU 396). Teleological judgment is not constitutive of determinative judgment. Like the sublime. Kant calls the concept of natural purposes a foreigner (Fremdling) in natural sciences. which must both be universally communicable—even though they cannot be expressed in the language of concepts—and exemplify a universal rule that we are unable to state.

or the “lawfulness of the contingent. or at least . is necessary for us in addition to the mechanistic picture of nature in terms of natural laws and causes because our understanding proceeds in one direction only.The English Garden 35 parts.” and Kant admits that “for human reason both ways of representing [Vorstellungsarten] how such objects are possible cannot be fused together [zusammenschmelzen]” (KU 414). since we always begin with universals. they must be used in conjunction with each other to the extent that such a practice results in a better understanding of nature. The same implicit assumption is made in terms of the ranking of final causes. entitled “Of the Union [Vereinigung] of the Principle of the Universal Mechanism of Matter with the Teleological in the Technic of Nature” (“Von der Vereinigung des Prinzips des allgemeinen Mechanismus der Materie mit dem teleologischen in der Technik der Natur”). there would be no need to distinguish between mechanistic principles and teleological ones. The technic of nature must specifically reconcile the assumption that every particular in nature can be subsumed under a universal with the obviously wide range of specifics that distinguish one particular from another of the same general kind by explaining the diversity in terms of purposiveness. However. Reason must be disciplined into neither being seduced into a transcendental explanation of pure purposiveness without mechanical causes (“poetic raving”). according to Kant. the union to which he must appeal.” is called purposiveness (KU 404). and for Kant this word always retains its relationship to techne. which then demands a unity (Einheit) in which these particulars can be joined. “the particular. which understands nature as purposive. The union [Vereinbarkeit] of explanations in terms of mechanical causes and teleological accounts lies in “nature’s supersensible substrate. a jointure. contains something contingent. as such. and then by subsuming particulars under it. The technic of nature. nor explaining everything natural only mechanically (“fantasizing”) (KU 410–11).” Even laws of nature can be taken as particulars by the faculty of reason. Kant implies. The relationship of unity or systematicity and final causes is brought to the fore in the final section of the Critique of Teleological Judgment. inasmuch as all divisions in his work up to this point still stand apart in apparent dispersion. Kant rests the reconciliation on a conditional statement: [Human] existence itself has the highest purpose within it. Thus. only then making judgments about particulars. and to this purpose [the human] can subject all of nature as far as he is able. supplied by our understanding.15 This is the union Kant has been waiting for. The principle under which even the contingent becomes law. If our understanding could proceed from particulars to universals. We can cognize natural objects only by beginning with a universal.

e. the chain of mutually subordinated purposes would not have a complete ground. when it is art. The former term of each of these distinctions is also called “fiction” (dichten) by Kant (KU 467). a paradox. or between an objectively empty concept used merely for reasoning (conceptus ratiocinans) and a rational concept that is a basis for cognition confirmed by reason (conceptus rationcinatus) (KU 396). i. meticulously planned and landscaped to look wild.—Now if things in the world. We can never know that nature is purposive. Kant understands the technic of nature in terms of an analogy with human art. therefore.16 A little farther down. require a supreme cause that acts in terms of purposes. Like the sublime English garden of the eighteenth century. in the same section. at least on one level. natural purposiveness. In the third Critique he calls the particular kind of art he is employing “fiction. The notion of fiction that we have referred to above is crucial for understanding the relationship between Kant’s understanding of aesthetics and the principle of natural teleology. Nietzsche criticizes this move of Kant’s.” based on a distinction first made in the first Critique 17 between a being of our reasoning (ens rationis ratiocinantis) and a being of reason (ens rationis ratiocinatae) (KU 468). that is to say.. taste seems to fasten not so much on what the imagination apprehends in that area [Feld]. for it reminds us that in the Critique of Judgment we are always dealing with a conditional. (KU 435. though to behave as if it were is the only way to resolve a series of antinomies that the human mind can never otherwise overcome. which alone enables man to be a final purpose to which all of nature is teleologically subordinated.18 In “fic- . which are dependent beings with regard to their existence. or at least when it is understood in analogy to human art. Kant goes on to distinguish between beautiful objects and beautiful views: “In beautiful views of objects. then the human is the final purpose [Endzweck] of creation. Nature is most “itself” for us when it is most unnatural.36 The Vegetative Soul he must not consider himself subjected to any influence of nature in opposition to that purpose. more than any other aspect of the critique of teleological judgment. as on the occasion they provide for it to engage in fiction [dichten]. and as a system of. human creation. which can never be matched by a corresponding cognition of the human mind. a technic of nature formed around. We recall that in the Critique of Pure Reason Kant defined an “analogy of experience” as “a rule according to which a unity of experience may arise from perception” (KrV A180 = B223). As we have seen. For without the human. on the actual fantasies with which the mind entertains itself as it is continually being aroused by the diversity that strikes the eye” (KU 243). this way of slipping purposiveness in through the back gate. It is this legislation. my emphasis) The “if” is crucial here. the technic of nature is.

as the product of some explicit intention on the part of a divine being. such as a watch.” in this very specific sense. Kant brackets such issues as undemonstrable. can never be established as objective reality (KU 468). It is important to note that in these theoretical sections. By contrasting the structure of an organized natural being with a mechanical human creation. In this sense it is related to the jointure of the word “harmony. but that it will be read as an extension of the human artist-artwork relationship. “We say far too little if we call [nature and the ability it displays in organized products] an analogue of art. or is a rational concept. Kant always uses the verbal form of the word dichten. our reason is unable to prove the objective reality of what it posits. He writes. would be a more appropriate. One should also keep in mind that dichten does not simply mean to write fiction or poetry. we can see the importance of the distance that the “as if” introduces into the analogical structure. which provides closure to an otherwise open-ended system. Kant’s fear stems not from the suspicion that the technic of nature will be understood as an artwork in itself. as opposed to the actual discussion of the art of poetry (Dichtungskunst).The English Garden 37 tion.” “to fictionize” means “to make. can mean “to seal” or “to close tightly. but can only use what is posited regulatively for reflective judgment (KU 396). Kant gives.” which comes from facere. since without it we would not be able to cognize nature at all.” or “to compose”. then. in the literary sense of the word. whether the teleology of nature is a fiction or a rational concept. in the spirit of Descartes. this etymology links “fiction” to techne. then. if awkward. that is. Again. translation for this word. but.” or “to thicken or jell. the notion of spirits that exist in the universe that think but have no bodies. a concept that is a basis for cognition and is confirmed by reason (conceptus ratiocinatus) (KU 396). Kant cautions the reader against understanding the technic of nature merely in analogy to human art. “everything material and yet suppos[ing] that it retains thought”). “to do. for in that case . especially with reference to the technic of nature. The fiction we engage in if we try to think of such things (by taking away. Kant insists that “we do not know whether the concept is an objectively empty one that [we use] merely for reasoning (conceptus ratiocinans). Kant says that we will have to be satisfied with calling it a fiction while we continue to assume that it mirrors the ideas of human reason. The possibility of proving the existence of a god who orchestrates the technic of nature has never been broached. dichten. as an example of an ens rationis ratiocinantis. in German.” In addition. like the Latin root of the word “fiction. Perhaps “fictioning” or poetizing. We can never know.” and Kant may have this double entendre in mind. Kant bases the technic of nature upon the figure of the organism. In the case of considering things of nature as natural purposes.

i. as if the latter were nothing but a huge organism in which we. both in serving its own individual purpose and in working in conjunction with the other organs (KU 376). we must return to the first introduction to the third Critique: When we consider nature as technical (or plastic). warns Kant. and the notion of purposiveness extrapolated from the organization of the organism. because we must present its causality by an analogy with art. not even . Organized being “is not conceivable or explicable on any analogy to any known physical ability . artistic. the whole structure of the Analytic of Teleological Judgment suggests that. To this limited extent.38 The Vegetative Soul we think of an artist (a rational being) apart from nature” (KU 374).. Kant defines the organism as a natural product “in which everything is a purpose and reciprocally also a means. Indeed. . Kant draws a very sharp distinction between the notion of purposiveness within the organism itself. says Kant. . In order to understand the seeming contradiction between this statement and the passages we examined earlier that explicitly described the technic of nature in analogy to art. are interdependent organs. Any natural scientist who has dissected a plant or animal body. we may call nature technical in its procedure. Just as we cannot assign the purposiveness of nature an objective reality in analogy to art (as if God were a supreme craftsman with the intention of crafting the natural world).e. . my emphasis). and in the case of reflective judgment the purposiveness is to be considered unintentional and hence can belong only to nature [but not to art]. as well as all other natural things. This move has no external justification.” in which nothing is gratuitous (purposeless) or attributable to a mechanism” (KU 376). purposiveness has an “objective reality. to human art” (KU 375. . rather than projecting the fiction of the organism . we also cannot assign it objective reality in analogy to the body of an organism. The natural body is also purposive in that it can reproduce itself without aid from external causes. Indeed. even when it is considered apart from any relation to any other thing.” The problem arises when people want to extend the notion of purposiveness from the internal workings of an organism to the natural world itself. The structure of the organism therefore justifies the practice of introducing the notion of purposiveness into natural science in the first place (KU 375). cannot but recognize the inherent purposiveness of its every part. as it were. For we are dealing with the principle of merely reflective and not of determinative judgment (determinative judgment underlies all human works of art). The organism is the sole natural entity whose possibility can be thought only with reference to natural teleology. (KU 251’) Purposiveness cannot be understood in analogy to art when art is linked to intention and to an artist.

So gradually our inner nature split up into manifold powers and with perpetual practice this tendency towards fragmentation intensified. means “tool. manifold connections between them. consider the thoughts of our ancestors about things in the world to be a necessary product. of the universe to its inhabitants. the structure of the architectonic. in his capacity as user of nature (rather than as God’s or nature’s tool ). . in other words. the German Romantic writer Novalis speculates about the beginning of naming and conceptual thought and the influence of this development on the way in which the universe was viewed by human beings. as the primary relationship at that time. . . At the very least one feels certain of a contingent. . Shell explains this phenomenon in the following way: Nature becomes organismlike to—and only to—the extent that man himself. at the level of organic life. We can. Perhaps.” In Die Lehrlinge zu Saïs. and of its inhabitants to it. and we can accept these in particular as the most fitting tools [Werkzeugen] of the observers of the universe. Novalis tends to privilege light and crystal formation rather than vegetative growth. Repetition [Übung] developed this practice. Man himself. a self-representation of the state of earthly nature at that time. but the principle is identical: organic form is a tool that human beings use to systematize and organize the manifold of nature as a whole: It must have been a long time before people started to think of indicating the manifold objects of their senses with common names and of setting themselves over and against them. enacts the form-giving role that had to be referred. if human beings have lost the power to remix these dispersed colors of their spirit and thus to recreate the old simple state of nature at will or to bring about new. it is just due to the pathological tendency of later human beings. mechanical [werkzeugliche] origin of [explanations of nature]. and in ruminating on this phenomenon both explicates and illustrates Kant’s imperative that descriptions of nature most naturally and pleasurably follow organic form. . straddles the otherwise mysterious boundary between mechanism and intentional causation. and even for the despisers of the rule-less creations of the imagination this portrayal is . to the supersensible substrate. and with this development came divisions and articulations that one can readily compare to the refraction of a stream of light.19 As we noted earlier. from which the word organism stems. by virtue of a Tauglichkeit [affinity] that “grows” in him with nature’s help and yet without prejudice to his freedom. . and from this. the Greek organon. for this reason. the fiction of the natural world (the technic of nature) delimits the structure of the organism.The English Garden 39 onto the natural world.

as Kant writes in §35. and in poetry about nature this radiates most brilliantly. and the sublime is that which is large without being measurable or fear-inducing without any immediate threat of danger.” and counterpoises them to the schematism of the aesthetic judgment. the organic. Nature (subjectively) figured as an organized being by analogy with an artist manifests in human cognition characteristics of both symbolic and schematic hypotyposis. as another individuated body—make sense. Hölderlin called the natural world prior to any human imposition upon it the “aorgic”. and does so “without a concept. which. Perhaps.40 The Vegetative Soul meaningful enough. . However. but with a technical that does not presume any specific intention in the sense of an efficient cause. Friedrich Hölderlin used the word organic to refer to the natural world subsequent to human intervention. . . shared this understanding of the organic as being thoroughly stamped by the technical. is a “schematizing without a concept” (KU 36–37). determinative judgment underlies all human works of art understood as intentionally created by an artist (KU 251’). was explicitly aligned with the technical. The technic of nature precedes art as such. For this reason poetry has become the favorite tool of the true friend of nature. There is much in the Critique of Judgment that suggests that Kant. the alpha-privative prefix indicates that which has nothing to do with the organon. Rather. The presentation of nature as organized being is a symbolic presentation in that it manifests itself according to a particular image (that of an organism).” We must keep in mind the close etymological relation of dichten to logos itself. at least for Hölderlin. In “The Sublime Offering. for it dictates the conditions under which such a thing as art can arise. Only within the limits prescribed by the technic of nature (which cannot be traced back to an intention. but at the same time Kant goes to great lengths to demonstrate that no image outside the realm of the organic is possible. the technic of nature is art without an artist. where the beautiful is that which causes liking without interest. thus to an artist) does the conception of artist—an individuated body capable of having intentions that separate it from any other individuated body and allow it in turn to create something outside of itself to stand on its own. not to a biological or chemical classification. contrary to what Abrams claims. and fiction is not to be confused with making something nonimagistic present in the form of an arbitrary and alterable figure.” Jean-Luc Nancy aligns symbolism and fiction in “a logic of representation (something in the place of something else). in the world. fiction seems precisely to take the role of the schema. Kant keeps discussions of fiction and symbolization separate.20 As we have also already noted. Thus. in the spirit of the Critique of Judgment. too. . According to Kant.

then. For we are assured that it is at least possible that objectively. Kant specifies that in this process “[reflective judgment] deals with [given appearances] technically rather than schematically” (KU 213’). which is a product of intentional human techne. in the end. to just the empirical. and in order to investigate nature in a way that harmonizes with natural laws (which are its own laws in turn). and hence to keep them from destroying their claims to necessary validity for everyone” (KU 241’). . aesthetic judgments need it because they “require laborious investigation in order to keep them from limiting themselves . too. Judgment creates the technic for two reasons: in order to reflect in terms of its own subjective law.The English Garden 41 The first introduction to The Critique of Judgment calls the propensity to understand nature as art judgment’s “own concept” (KU 204’). Aesthetic and teleological judgments are reciprocally disciplinary. Kant explicitly calls this performance “artificial” (künstlich) (KU 215’). Both aesthetic and teleological judgments “need” the critique of judgment: teleological judgments need it because “if left to themselves” they “invite reason to inferences that may stray into the transcendent”. for opposite reasons. However. then we can presume that we may confidently investigate natural laws in accordance with both principles (once our understanding is able to cognize [how] the natural product is possible on the basis of one or the other principle) without our being troubled by the seeming conflict that arises between the two principles for judging that product. Here the technic of nature stands in for the schematism as an a priori principle for reflective judgment. The process of reflective judgment is called “technical” when it judges nature purposively. (KU 413) . Kant contrasts techne in the form of a technic of nature with a mechanical instrument because the mechanical explanation of the universe is modeled upon something like a machine. merely one in many possible interpretations of nature. judgment “can neither explain this technic nor determine it more closely” (KU 214’). . can make no definitive claims as to the “nature” of nature in itself (noumenal nature). If the technic of nature. this is not because it is arbitrary. which presuppose a supersensible basis). as a principle of its reflection. both these principles might be reconcilable in one principle (since they concern appearances. so that we must rely also on teleological principles. The concept of the technic of nature is a priori for judgment in order to allow it to investigate nature. Kant stipulates that the teleological is the place to which the mind turns when it is incapable of conceiving the possibility of a natural object through the principle of mechanism alone: All we can do is this: if we happen to find natural objects whose possibility is inconceivable to us in terms merely of the principle of mechanism (which in the case of a natural being always has a claim [to being applied]).

and the portrayal of science as an (at least partially) aesthetic endeavor opened the doors to the possibility of creating new paradigms of nature and consequently of culture. but to which no determinate concept is adequate. The aesthetic idea is a presentation of the imagination which prompts much thought. A rational idea is a concept to which no presentation of the imagination can be adequate. Both types of idea are necessarily mediated by the presentation of the imagination.42 The Vegetative Soul Judgment turns from the mechanistic to the teleological explanation in the same way that within the judgment of the sublime the imagination turns to reason when the imagination is incapable of comprehending the sublime. but still ruled by the “form” of reason. its product. The teleology of nature schematizes human cognition of nature. and from it the conception of the human as technician arises. . . its self-sufficiency. and therefore no language can express an aesthetic idea completely. From Goethe through Nietzsche. an animal whose structure derives from its separability from other organisms. in the end. its autonomy. The impact of each on the other forever changes its direction. every philosopher in Germany will have to confront Kant’s critique. of itself. Kant’s technic of nature sets the scene for a new way of considering nature and scientific study of nature. Nature read as organized being requires human science to mediate its possible flight into fantasies of divine beings and supernatural causes whose existence can never be known. including the cultivation of plant life that grows outside of the confines of a formal garden. A strange materiality emerges from the encounter of the natural and the spiritual. If the technic of nature is a garden. but the quality and quantity of its fruit depends in a great measure on the culture it receives. At one point. and its ultimate security in the face of the power of nature that threatens to overwhelm it.”21 Similarly. Pendant] of a rational idea” (KU 314). and like the English garden it is a studiedly “wild” art. Kant’s technic is a garden that must be cultivated and pruned. There is a mutual interplay between nature and human thinking about nature/creating from nature. in which each determines the other. The Abbé du Bos wrote in 1719 that genius “is . is not a plant but an animal. that without reference to final purposes humans could not make sense of nature at all. what we refer to as “nature. paradoxically. Kant assumes that the teleological principle is the only possible supplement to a purely mechanical world view. a plant which shoots up. Through the technic of nature the notion of the organism. The fiction (dichten) human minds create about nature seems to have something of the same relation to human reason that time has to the understanding. designed to look like untamed nature.” Like a plant. Kant calls the aesthetic idea “the counterpart [Gegenstück. . which becomes. as it were. the technic of nature grows without consciousness.

but there is certainly something naive when the free growth of spreading branches undoes the painstaking work of the topiarist in a French garden. natural.The English Garden 43 At the end of the Analytic of the Beautiful. Ossian’s vast nature. “Who does not prefer to tarry among the spiritual disorder of a natural landscape rather than in the spiritless regularity of a French garden? Who would not marvel at the wonderful battle between fecundity and destruction in Sicily’s plains. and disciplined flower beds. In his essay “Of Gardens. Schiller writes. expounded by architects. rather than admire in straight-diked Holland the prim victory of patience over the most defiant of the elements?”24 In a footnote to “Naive and Sentimental Poetry. and of course unattached to any determinate purpose. yet we find the Works of Nature still more pleasant the more they resemble those of Art. to a Natural wildnesse. innocent.”22 Joseph Addison. Yet if the English landscape garden looked more natural. severely clipped greenery. Kant comments that nature is most agreeable to human taste when it is diverse. It has even been argued that the new congruence between the human mind and nature propounded by thinkers such as Kant and Goethe and developed by writers of the Romantic movement had its provenance in the landscape gardening movement of the eighteenth century. except that it refers only to things that are revealed as fresh. luxuriant. that are more delightful than any artificial Shows. one of the earliest proponents of the cultivated-to-look-wild landscape garden. even if only by contrast. called the landscape garden.” Schiller’s use of “naive” follows Kant’s aesthetic of the beautiful closely. writes.26 We will read this relationship not in terms of the . as much as may be. The German taste of the time followed that of the English garden planners. and essayists from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century in England. nature in Schiller’s understanding of Kant (the account follows the third Critique closely) can be seen as truly natural only with reference to the artificial. The description resonates with theories of the new garden.”25 Thus. poets. “subject to no constraint from artificial rules” (KU 243).” Francis Bacon directs a gardener to have at least a part of the garden “framed. or feast his eyes on Scotland’s wild cataracts and mistshrouded mountains. These French gardens were characterized by angular geometrical lines. “Tho’ there are several of these wild Scenes [of nature].”23 The English garden was designed in explicit opposition to the formal constraints of French classical gardens. it remained equally cultivated. “Nobody would find naive the spectacle of a badly tended garden in which the weeds have the upper hand.” Schiller comments on the necessity of the contrast of art and nature in order for humans to find something “naive.” Friedrich Schiller writes. In “On the Sublime. exemplified by the grounds of Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.

44 The Vegetative Soul linear model of “influence. . we do not assume a preexisting view of nature that somehow shapes philosophical thinking. from which new philosophical thinking gains its character in turn.” but rather as a chiasmic figure. as a natural being. but rather insist that nature itself is created in human thinking about it. Finally. human being itself is profoundly affected by shifts in thinking about nature.

2 GOETHE The Metamorphosis of Plants Kant never took any notice of me. 45 . the Goethean quest for the seeds of eternal growth began. when examining organisms. although independently I was following a course similar to his. Conversations with Eckermann [A]t the exact moment when Kant’s work was completed and a map through the bare woods of reality was sketched. —Goethe. —Walter Benjamin. “The Purpose Set Forth” (from On Morphology ) Up to this point we have concentrated on the importance of form in Kant’s technic of nature. and yet it is entirely in the spirit of his ideas. If we wish to arrive at some living perception of nature we ourselves must remain as quick and flexible as nature and follow the example she gives. purpose. Reflective judgment must proceed. —Goethe. such as system. I wrote my Metamorphosis of Plants before I knew anything of Kant. “Goethe’s Elective Affinities” When something has acquired a form it metamorphoses immediately to a new one. on the assumption that basic organizational frameworks inherited or constructed by natural scientists.

” which is then taken up by judgment and ascribed to nature (KU 187). This shift marks a significant change in the ideology governing the search for a source: while Kant would prefer to ultimately find a single. or purposiveness. Goethe recognizes many of his own ideals in Kant’s work. writing at the same time as Kant. Thus. simple origin.” Kant writes. on the other hand “we are told that a deeper or broadened knowledge of nature based on observation must ultimately meet with a diversity of laws that no human understanding can reduce to a single principle. although the reality behind the form remains open-ended (since unknown). Goethe admits from the outset that the quest for a simple in the sense of singular origin is a fruitless one.46 The Vegetative Soul and order. In aesthetic judgments. or could compare the nature [we know] more broadly with the parts of it we do not yet know. though sought after. will never be found in a unique and irreducible form. the Ur-plant or originary principle of life in any form for Goethe. Kant also expresses sympathy with the desire to find Ur-phenomena and even the Ur-mother (KU §80): “We would still prefer to hear others offer hope that if we had deeper insight into nature. reflection attempts to create a unity out of that which cannot be subsumed under a concept. also eschews the anthropocentric notion of the purposiveness of nature. correspond to empirical reality. as we have seen. “then we will be content with that too” (KU 188). according to a scheme of organized individuation similar to the organization that the pre-critical understanding projects onto nature.” from a location to a process. If. yet as also indispensable) for the purpose of doing natural science. the same feeling one has when one makes an aesthetic judgment of beauty. This is because Goethe reinterprets the very meaning of “origin. yet continues to look for the origin Kant declares we will never know exists. then we would find nature ever simpler as our experience progressed and ever more accordant despite the seeming heterogeneity in its empirical laws” (KU 188). The feeling that results when the unity one has assumed seems to correspond to what one finds empirically is one of pleasure. was to avoid confirming the existence of final causes in nature while allowing them as inevitable procedural assumptions (as contingent. but shifts the focus of the inquiry from the form that both inquiry and .” from a “what” or a “where” to a “how. Kant calls the assumption of unity “an occupation of the understanding conducted with regard to a necessary purpose of its own. unifying. Kant’s aim. sublimity. which must proceed according to the assumption of a progressive order. although this unity cannot be known or proven. Kant has already traced the trajectory of philosophy. although “origin” will have a specific meaning that may initially seem counterintuitive. whether of beauty. since the principle underlying all of natural development is a multiple and self-transformative one: thus. However. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

and Plato—to show that the original meaning of rhythmos is synonymous with skhema. according to the contexts in which it is given. this purposiveness has a form that can be delimited. mobile and fluid. For Goethe. Benveniste notes. as commonly understood. Whether noumenal nature corresponds to nature as we perceive it or not. nature—whether noumenal or phenomenal (for essential reasons. it fits the pattern of a fluid element. successive temporality of development from stem to leaf. of a robe which one arranges at one’s will. designates the form in the instant that it is assumed by what is moving. The problem lies not with the morphological derivation of rhythmos from rhein. of a letter arbitrarily shaped.The Metamorphosis of Plants 47 judgment take to the question of form itself.” but oceans neither flow nor are said to have a “rhythm.2 and has shown that the meaning of rhythm as we understand it today originated not. “rhythm” is a very particular determination of “form. Anacreon. Kant believes that in order to think meaningfully about nature within the limits of human understanding one would at some point have to presume the purposiveness of nature. is always tied to metamorphosis. At the conclusion of his The Metamorphosis of Plants. cite the verb rhein.” However. which Goethe calls der Rhythmus des Lebenskraft. Goethe distinguishes between the regular. for Goethe. from an observation of nature. In ancient Greek. but from the extrapolation that the notion of rhythm had been taken from the observation of waves. Goethe does not make this distinction)—always remains an open-ended question. On the other hand.” one that Benveniste describes in the following way: There is a difference between skhema and rhythmos. rhythmos. form.1 Emile Benveniste has analyzed the linguistic roots of the word rhythm as it was used in ancient Greek tragedy and philosophy. Though Kant questions the correspondence of the technic of nature to a noumenal realm. the form of that which does not have organic consistency.” The terms that describe the movements of the waves are entirely different. but from a particular determination of the original signification of rhythmos. Together the two movements form a kind of natural rhythm. This is perhaps because. or “form. a mystery from which the veil can never be entirely torn. Moreover. skhema in contrast to ekho (“je me tiens”) is defined as a fixed “form. as much of the third Critique demonstrates. Democritus. rivers “flow. Aeschylus. Benveniste cites numerous examples—from Aristotle. . Archilochus. the structure of the technic itself is a priori for reflective judgment. specifically of the ebb and flow of the ocean’s waves. the organism is not part of a system so much as a rhythm of life-forces. and the eruptive emergence of flower and fruit. as we will see. All etymological dictionaries. However. or morphe.” as the root of rhythmos. Leucippus. by contrast. “to flow.” realized and viewed in some way as an object. Herodotus.

only a different arrangement of them produced the difference of forms and objects. in terms. changeable. In other words. We can now understand how rhythmos. including the critique of the Cartesian mecha- . in order to convey the perpetual motion of all natural and particularly organic manifestation. science is not merely a question of the interpretation of a preexisting reality. of mechanism or of vitalism. Thus. the manner of approaching nature cannot be judged simply by its quantitative results (the amount of information gathered. Goethe proposes the substitution of the word Bildung (formation) for Gestalt. since “with this expression they exclude what is changeable and assume that an interrelated whole is identified. and fixed in character. momentary. Such an insistence on the equal importance of both form and force clearly shows Goethe’s awareness that the way one approaches nature cannot be separated from what one thinks nature is. but not with Democritus. one might align Goethe with Heraclitus. since everything was procured from atoms. have accepted. most likely. defined. which Kant could neither predict nor delineate. Form. with Goethe. with one significant specification. the congruence of his depiction of nature with the Kantian outline of a technic of nature in the Critique of Judgment. Goethe understands form as “rhythm” in the ancient sense that Benveniste explicates.48 The Vegetative Soul of a particular state of character or mood.”4 Rather. meaning literally “the particular manner of flowing. a resting point of that which is always on the verge of metamorphosis. for example. the number of phenomena explained). In other words. “reality” is actually created in and reflected by the chosen approach. in terms of the way nature is configured by it. We note. for Goethe. The great debate in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries over the way in which natural history (the term biology was just coming into use) was to be pursued. It is a congruence that Kant himself would not. It is the form as improvised. is nothing but a fleeting manifestation. Indeed. of forces or of isolatable particulars. but must also be questioned qualitatively.” could have been the most proper term for describing “dispositions” or “configurations” without fixity or natural necessity and arising from an arrangement which is always subject to change. Now. Yet the third Critique would leave a strong legacy. Goethe suggests that the use of the word Gestalt (form) in the German studies of natural history of his time is misleading. Rather. Goethe understands nature in terms of form—as rhythm in the sense outlined above—but not in terms of atomic particles.3 This passage could describe the vision of nature that underlies all of Goethe’s studies of natural phenomena. rhein is the essential predication of nature and things in the Ionian philosophy since Heraclitus and Democritus thought that. Here for the first time we encounter what we have named the “vegetative soul” explicitly.

. he is searching for the plant that demonstrates most irrefutably that metamorphosis is the source of all organic development. The natural entity that demonstrates the principle of metamorphosis with greatest clarity. and in color. in plants. who was strongly anti-Newtonian (precisely by virtue of his strong belief that the scientist’s own thinking cannot be separated from his or her observation of phenomena). when Goethe sets out to find the Ur-plant. Goethe goes on to say precisely where he finds the sympathy: “The inner life of art as of nature. the power of aesthetic and teleological judgment mutually illuminated each other. Goethe had already expressed strong criticism of unreflective assumptions of final causes in the study of nature by the time he read the Critique of Judgment. there was much common ground between his own Metamorphosis of Plants and Kant’s Critique of Judgment.”7 Goethe’s approbation of Kant is based on Kant’s discussion of teleological judgment. As Goethe developed his studies of metamorphosis in meteorology. involved more than a switching of metaphors for nature. a phenomenon that depends upon both form and force. their mutual working from within outward. Furthermore. in insects. Accordingly. is the plant. It maintained that the productions of these two infinite worlds exist for their own sake.The Metamorphosis of Plants 49 nistic picture of the universe. and that things that stand beside each other do indeed exist for each other but not purposely on each other’s account. the one work of Kant’s that excited his enthusiasm: “To this book I owe one of the happiest periods of my life. according to Goethe. metamorphosis occurs as a phenomenological event that transforms the scientist or observer as much as what is being observed. to the writings of Kant. Goethe’s advocacy of the metamorphosis of the scientist that must accompany observation of the metamorphosis of nature anticipates the twentieth-century discourse in the philosophy of science of the way in which the collection of empirical data is already shaped in advance by the theory it is supposed to support or refute. It is interesting to note. he came to the conclusion that the principle of all organic nature was metamorphosis. and particularly on the way in which Kant makes room for strictly limited assumptions of the purposiveness of nature while insisting that such assumptions will always remain heuristic fictions that are impossible to prove.5 the reaction of Goethe. as Ernst Cassirer does with great surprise. Here I saw my most diverse interests brought together. the plant that will prove to be the singular origin of all plant life. Goethe writes of the Critique of Judgment. as we have cited Goethe in the final epigraph to this chapter. were clearly expressed in the book. in animal skeletons.”6 In the mind of Goethe. artistic and natural production handled the same way. at least.

whereas Goethe spent much of his life trying to prove that in fact all living beings had originated from a common archetype. and from it even to mosses and lichens and finally to the lowest stage of nature discernible to us. “So many genera of animals share a certain common schema on which not only their bone structure but also the arrangement of their other parts seems to be based. Goethe expresses the difference he sees between crude assumptions of purposiveness and his own assumption of metamorphosis as an explanatory principle of nature: “The teachers of utility would believe they had lost their God if they could not worship the one who . Of course. originary phenomena from which all other life forms had evolved. who did not know Goethe. In a brief passage of the Critique of Judgment. yet still encompass an ideal. it was not published until 1820.” Kant imagines the original womb itself eventually ossifying and being reduced to giving birth to only one determinate species. Kant even seems to refer to one of Goethe’s scientific achievements. Indeed. This whole needed to have a material origin. crude matter. Kant goes on. Although Goethe made this discovery in 1784. a single reference of Kant’s to the possibility of a unique source of all life—the Ur-mother—reminded Goethe of his own quest for Urphänomene. had heard about it. Kant entertains such a thought only as a mental exercise. even the minds of virtually all the most acute natural scientists” (KU 419). The tendency Kant describes in some ways fits Goethe’s project exactly: natural forms in their variety share certain common arrangements of parts that lead one to hypothesize that they may all have been produced according to a common archetype “by a common Ur-mother” (KU 418). the discovery of the a small bone in the jaw that is the same in all mammals including human beings. Kant writes. on occasion.” creatures that in turn give birth to creatures even less purposive in form.8 At the end of this “daring adventure of reason. Nevertheless. Kant considers the tendency to entertain a “daring adventure of reason. so it is unlikely that Kant.” the same words Goethe uses in 1820 in a published paper on comparative anatomy.” as he puts it.” and he refers to this as a “common archetype.50 The Vegetative Soul At the same time. “that has probably entered. from her womb. The notion of a single origin of all plants held such importance for Goethe because he believed that if he could find an origin that conformed to the assumption that the principle of all life is constant metamorphosis he would then be able to unify all of nature into a whole.” The “archaeologist of nature” envisages Mother Earth as a “large animal emerging from her state of chaos” giving birth. manifest the principle of purposes from human beings “all the way to the polyp. The various animal and plant genera. to “creatures of a less purposive form. Forty years after the publication of The Metamorphosis of Plants.

” Kant expresses this noumenal purposiveness of the human being: . and not a source of determinate knowledge. the human being could only be considered to hold the (potential) forms of all the other animals within it by virtue of its physical form. The Ur-phenomenon will not be an origin in the sense of a chronological or ontological cause of life. however. to honor the one whose realm of creativity was so great that after thousands of plants he made one more that contained all the rest in it. Yet Kant seems to make an illegitimate move on his own terms in claiming.e. lacking only certain protective or utilitarian features such as teeth or horns. keeping in mind that this is an artistic or heuristic procedure. does not mean that it or a form of it is not necessary. Permit me.. and after thousands of animals one being. For this reason. science has the right to invoke final causes. by contrast. Kant admits that the nature—or limitation—of human knowledge is such that nature cannot be completely explained according to mechanistic principles. Rather.”10 yet Goethe spent months in Italy looking for the particular Ur-plant. Inevitably. or living habits—led Kant to posit the human being as the creature of highest purposiveness. Kant makes it clear that he is entertaining the hypothesis of the Ur-mother only as an imaginative form of the technic of nature. according to Goethe. however. Goethe finds plants.”9 This understanding of the human being as the result of the development of other animals opposes the poetic image of the original mother as the source of all life. In the section of the Critique of Judgment entitled “On the Final Purpose of the Existence of a World.The Metamorphosis of Plants 51 gave the ox its horns so that it could protect itself. which emerge and then undergo a series of completely transformative metamorphoses. that the human being is the final cause of nature by virtue of its noumenal nature (KU 435). to be clearer indicators of the principle of metamorphosis inherent in all life. the anatomical archetype of animals contains “the forms of all animals as potential. later in the third Critique. Goethe does use the image of the Ur-mother giving birth to a fully formed series of creatures in a poem entitled “Metamorphosis of Animals” (1806). and not simply explain all nature with reference to the human being. such an investigation would be unable to explain organisms fully. This principle is present in animals as part of their history. For Goethe. of Creation Itself. The noumenal status of the human being as end and never as means—not its erect posture. “the particular can never serve as a measure for the whole. developed brain. at this point. that contains them all: the human being. here he emphasizes the fact that animals spring “completed” from the womb. i. it will posit the structural coherence of all nature.11 The fact that the hypothesis is imaginative.” In animals.

but also so constituted that the law in terms of which these beings must determine their purposes is presented by these very beings as unconditioned and independent of conditions in nature. therefore. my emphasis) The conditional nature of this statement is only implicit. which leads to the subjective necessity of creating explanations in terms of final causes. since in fact (at least as far as their own limited cognition permits them to know) they are the only members of the hierarchy: final purpose because the only real purpose. Only in the human. . and to this purpose he can subject all of nature as far as he is able. for example. as a moral being.. It is this legislation. The pre-critical Kant did not have trouble espousing the idea of natural purposiveness. Now about the human. and yet necessary in itself. An organism can never be arrived at in terms of mechanical causes alone. That being is the human being. and yet they themselves must be the final purpose of this natural order.” Using another curious plantlike analogy. we cannot go on to ask: For what [end] [quemin finem] does he exist? His existence itself has the highest purpose within it.e. directed to purposes.” in which he argues that geographically the various races are distributed so that climate and race suit each other as “a precaution of nature. or at least he must not consider himself subjected to any influence of nature in opposition to that purpose.12 Goethe continually reacted against the tendency to see everything in nature as produced for the sake of human beings. yet he approved of the Kantian solution of making purposiveness a product of the power of reflective judgment as opposed to a quality inherent in natural things: . but the human considered as noumenon. (and so about any other rational being in the world). his 1777 essay “Von den verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen. and a strange but silent transfer takes place almost imperceptibly from the natural to the moral world order. (KU 435. i. in. For without the human the chain of mutually subordinated purposes would not have a complete basis. humans have no choice but to judge nature purposively. which are dependent beings with regard to their existence. require a supreme cause that acts in terms of purposes.52 The Vegetative Soul Now in this world of ours there is only one kind of being with a causality that is teleological. . Kant subsequently outlined the position that would become his own in the Critique of Judgment. Kant describes individuals born with “seeds” (Keime) and tendencies (Anlagen) stored within them to meet the particular contingencies of a geographical climate. and even in him only as moral subject. which alone enables man to be a final purpose to which all of nature is teleologically subordinated. do we find unconditioned legislation regarding purposes. In a drawn-out argument with Georg Forster. and since humans necessarily judge reflectively in terms of purposes. then the human is the final purpose of creation. Since human beings are the only natural beings who also have a moral or noumenal being. Now if things in the world. . since purposiveness arises only within ourselves.

powers. which describes a sort of spiritual food chain in which the plant draws in water and earth and refines them. but tended to further embellish this association with an anthropocentric understanding of nature. A whole tradition in the late eighteenth century equated genius with vegetable nature. the animal eats the plant and further refines it into animal fluids. Thus.” equates the human soul with a seed that is unaware of “what impulses. .”15 Goethe rejected the implications of Herder’s essay.”17 . criticized by Goethe. . Why should he not resolve the inner contradictions here with a fiction rather than abandon the claims he holds so dear? Why should he not ignore a plant which is useless to him and dismiss it as a weed. Why. of trying to fit the universe and all of its products into a sort of preconceived scheme or pattern. At all costs. The most well known proponent of the vegetable theory of genius was Johann Gottfried von Herder. Goethe would agree with Kant that a technic of nature is analogous to human art only insofar as “art” does not presuppose an intention on the part of an artist. It lies in the nature of the human condition that man must think of himself as the last stage of creation. then. and the earlier description of the human being as the animal that contains the forms of all other animals within it. vapors of life streamed into it at the instant of its coming into being. . since it really does not exist for him? When a thistle springs up to increase his toil in the fields he blames it on the curse of an angry god or the malice of a spiteful demon rather than considering it a child sprung from all of nature.14 The critique of teleological theories that understand the whole of nature to have been created in the service of human desires and needs recurs in Goethe’s literary work with reference to the relationship between nature and the work of art. The sarcastic criticism here is directed toward purposiveness understood as an intentional relationship of the human being with the rest of nature. . he draws the conclusion that they have been created to serve him. .16 Paul Hazard comments on the eighteenth-century practice in botany. which illustrates a broader practice in science generally.The Metamorphosis of Plants 53 The human being is in the habit of valuing things according to how well they serve his purposes. every compartment must be filled. Discontinuity was excluded a priori. while the earlier passage referred to the internal structure of the human organism. calling it a “Great Ladder of Creation on which not a rung was missing. . and the human transforms both plants and animals into the noblest of stimuli. should he not also believe that he is its ultimate purpose? Why should his vanity not be allowed this small deception? Given his need for objects and his use for them. one as close to her heart as the wheat he tends so carefully and values so highly. who in his 1778 essay “On the Knowing and Feeling of the Human Soul.13 Note the difference between this formulation of the purposiveness of nature.

“[O]n this alternative.” my old resentment began to rise in me. This was the kind of simplistic theory of purposiveness at which Kant took umbrage. the eighteenth-century Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) suggested that herbivores were placed on earth in order to control the plant population. with unmistakable power of comprehension. I collected my wits. There I gave an enthusiastic description of the metamorphosis of plants. I paused. was ideal. he shook his head and said. In other words. That is an idea. predators to limit the herbivores. and read the world as the stage of mutual interactions between human beings—as one type of organized being among others—and the rest of nature: . in a different respect he would hold only the rank of a means” (KU 428). too. Goethe. He heard and saw all this with great interest. or that plants had sprung forth to provide sustenance for animals. “That is not an observation from experience. This led Kant to posit the purposiveness of the human in its nonbodily. writing. to a mere regulator of animal populations. too. who still believed that he could find an actual physical specimen of an Ur-plant. Goethe would object even to this qualified statement of purposiveness. on such an interpretation.”18 Goethe’s approbation of Kant stemmed from his own antipathy toward the assumption of anthropocentric purposes assigned to natural beings. It evoked memories of the views he had expressed in “On Grace and Dignity. the “purpose” of the human being could conceivably be reduced. and with a few characteristic strokes of the pen I caused a symbolic plant to spring up before his eyes. a predator on a higher level. Instead. with this comment he had touched on the very point that divided us. eschewed vulgar expressions of final cause such as claiming that a river was created to provide irrigation for fields. Goethe expresses a constant repugnance toward the very idea of final causes. “Then I may rejoice that I have ideas without knowing it. he ultimately assigned the status of “final purpose of the existence of the world” to the human being. or ideal. Although Kant.54 The Vegetative Soul Positing final causes was also a common practice of the natural science of Goethe’s day. and can even see them with my own eyes. But when I stopped. nature. and human beings to hunt and thus regulate the carnivorous predators. what Kant referred to as determinate purposes.” Taken aback and somewhat annoyed. For example. though man might in a certain respect have the dignity of being a purpose. and not realized or realizable in the phenomenal world. and our conversation drew me in. was told rather bluntly by Friedrich Schiller (himself a Kantian) that the Ur-plant. however. and replied. Goethe recounts the exchange in the following way: We reached [Schiller’s] house.

and that no natural phenomenon should be studied without also taking into account all the other phenomena that are contiguous to it. so that the comparison between mental and physical human capacities is not appropriate. among the objects he will find many different forms of existence and modes of change. When this mutual interaction becomes evident he will make a discovery which. stimulated a philosophical movement in Germany in the direction of a conjunction of idealism and the philosophy of nature. he will at first experience a tremendous compulsion to bring what he finds under his control.The Metamorphosis of Plants 55 When in the exercises of his powers of observation the human being undertakes to confront the world of nature. it is the human mind that would demonstrate a greater tendency toward metamorphosis. if Goethe had made a strict distinction between mind and body. However. in himself. these objects will thrust themselves upon him with such force that he. and the body that is trapped in a completeness and rigidity with which it is born. between thinking and sense perception. Indeed. there is nothing ideal . Goethe understands sense perception and thinking. Metamorphosis is grounded in nature but cannot be contained in any determinate form.”20 Goethe’s scientific work on the metamorphosis of plants and animals (the second work was never finished) and on the theory of color.19 Goethe begins with the assumption that all things in nature work incessantly upon each other. Goethe understands the process of metamorphosis to be the originary phenomenon that escapes the nomenclature of either substance or ideal frame. together with his literary writings that combined scientific discoveries with narratives of human life. The mind is capable of response to the greater nature of which it is a part. What Kant called the “noumenal” nature of human beings does not exempt the human mind from the exigency of openness toward transformation. He writes: “I will go so far as to assert that when an organism manifests itself we cannot grasp the unity and freedom of its formative impulse without the concept of metamorphosis. to be inseparable. on the other hand. in a double sense. a variety of relationships vitally interwoven. Before long. whether conceptual or speculative. however. he will find a potential for infinite growth through constant adaptation of his sensibilities and judgment to new ways of acquiring knowledge and responding with action. is limitless. nevertheless. must feel the obligation to acknowledge their power and pay homage to their effects. a combination that precisely sought to undermine the dichotomy that had been drawn between the realms of the ideal and the natural. in turn. Goethe ultimately became more and more convinced that the only unitary principle that could explain the development and continuation of the natural world was metamorphosis. between the mind and the body.


The Vegetative Soul

about the process of one form changing into another. The Ur-plant, then, would be the plant that manifests most clearly the principle that every part contains the potential to turn into every other, that all form is constantly on the verge of becoming other. What makes the search for an Ur-phenomenon so difficult is that it is not an origin as a single unified location. Goethe objects to Kant’s statement in the third Critique that the human intellect, as an intellectus ectypus (one that requires images in order to understand), is inferior to a possible intellectus archetypus that could first comprehend the whole, and from the whole, the parts (KU 408). Only through the sensuous observation of ever-creating nature, thus through the intellectus ectypus, according to Goethe, can the human being be considered to take part in the eternally ongoing process of nature by virtue of the metamorphosis of its intellect; this cannot be achieved if one posits the human subject standing over and against nature as if “lifted into a higher region” and proximate to a higher essence.21 Having an intellectus ectypus is important for Goethe because it allows the human being to be both a scientist and an artist. Goethe’s objection to two tendencies in the science of the late eighteenth century—first, as we have seen, the uncritical assumption of final causes in nature, and second, the endless search for analogies among the different realms of nature—complicated his quest for Ur-phenomena. Goethe believed in strictly separating the plant, animal, and mineral realms of organic nature for the purposes of scientific study because of the tendency to understand both the plant and the mineral as deficient animals when a continuum of nature was presumed. Against Linnaeus, Herder, and F. W. J. von Schelling, among others, thinkers whose work otherwise influenced him greatly, Goethe objects that the search for analogies only conducts one’s knowledge horizontally, and brings one no closer to an origin. In addition, Goethe warns, when one makes analogies one suppresses difference by emphasizing similarities.22 The primary way in which characteristics of one realm had been projected onto another was the characterization of non-animal life forms as deficient animals, or even more specifically, as distant imitators of humans. For similar reasons, Goethe does not understand the world itself as one large organism: such an assumption implies overt anthropormorphism and fosters the projection of a host of assumptions about the organism as animal onto the realms of both living and non-living, animal and nonanimal.23 This caution accords with the later concern expressed in theories of vegetable genius, namely, the desire to avoid the reduction of all explanations to atomic, self-enclosed, “animal-like” qualities The description of plants as “inverted animals” can be traced back to Plutarch’s report that “Plato, Anaxagoras, and Democritus think that a plant is an animal fixed in the earth.”24 The roots of plants, because

The Metamorphosis of Plants


they are the place where plants take in nourishment, were long thought to be analogous to the heads of animals. Since the flowers of plants contain their sexual organs, plants seem to be simultaneously burying their heads in the sand and displaying their genitals to the heavens in vulgar insouciance. The classification of one group as the “inversion” of the other was a common practice that held sway until the eighteenth century. This included the description of women’s sexual organs as the inversion of men’s, a theory first put forth by Galen that influenced anatomical treatises through the eighteenth century.25 By the nineteenth century, inversion had became a psychological rather than a physiological term, as evidenced in Freud’s discussion of sexual aberrations.26 Ironically, overturning the “inversion” thesis, both in sexual morphology and in the classification of natural species, resulted in a polarization and a hierarchization that had existed to a lesser degree before the divisions were made. Goethe’s intent, for example, was to free plants from the stigma of being considered inferior to animals. However, Hegel and others used the strict division between plants and animals precisely in order to justify a hierarchical schematization of nature. The particular analogy of plants to deformed, deficient, or inverted animals illustrates the overwhelming dominance of animal forms upon the structure of all kinds of thinking and knowledge, even the thinking of other kinds of nature. Goethe specifically rejects the imposition of the form of individuation upon plant life:
Although a plant or tree seems to be an individual organism, it undeniably consists only of separate parts which are alike and similar to one another and to the whole. How many plants are propagated by runners! In the least variety of fruit tree the eye puts forth a twig which in turn produces many identical eyes; propagation through seeds is carried out in the same fashion.27

Although such a statement might seem to be self-evident, the primary method of botanical studies in Goethe’s day, besides identification and elaborate classification of genera and species, was the inference of the anatomical structures and functions of plants by analogy to animal bodies. For example, Linnaeus, against whom Goethe’s mature theory of the metamorphosis of plants is primarily directed, believed that to illustrate the generation of plants, one must understand it from the point of view of animals. Linnaeus had the following to say about plant sexuality: “The calyx is the bedchamber, the corolla the curtains, the filaments the spermatic vessels, the anthers the testes, the pollen the sperm, the stigma the vulva, the style the vagina, the germen the ovary, the pericarp the fecundating ovary, and the seed the ovum.”28 This is carried over to a more general botanical analogy: “The belly of plants is the ground; the


The Vegetative Soul

chyliferous vessels, the root; the bones, the trunk; the lungs, the leaves; the heart, the heat [of plant tissues]; hence the ancients described a plant as an inverted animal.”29 In researching the metamorphosis of plants Goethe also takes a polemical stance against Linnaeus for reducing the study of plants to the cataloguing of their parts, for examining the plant not in its living intercourse with the other natural phenomena contiguous to it, but as a dead and dissected inventory of components. Such a strategy again assumes that plants, or for that matter all living things, are individuals that can be isolated; it tends to treat plants according to an analogy with animal bodies. Kant had already shown that Linnaeus tacitly assumed that nature was purposive by not questioning the possibility of the order and systematizability of natural phenomena.30 For:
it is clear that reflective judgment, by its nature, cannot undertake to classify all of nature in terms of its empirical variety unless it presupposes that nature itself makes its transcendental laws specific in terms of some principle. Now this principle can only be that of [nature’s] appropriateness for the power of judgment itself, [i.e., for judgment’s attempt] to find among things, [despite] their immense diversity in terms of [all the] possible empirical laws, sufficient kinship to be able to bring them under empirical concepts (classes), and bring these under more general laws (higher genera), and so arrive at an empirical system of nature. (KU 215’)

Kant adds in a footnote, “One may wonder whether Linnaeus could have hoped to design a system of nature if he had had to worry that a stone which he found, and which he called granite, might differ in its inner character from any other stone even if it looked the same, so that all he could ever hope to find would be single things—isolated, as it were, for the understanding—but never a class of them that could be brought under concepts of genera and species” (KU 215’). Kant’s critique is devastating because the claim of naturalists of the late eighteenth century was that they were doing purely empirical, that is, observational and descriptive, study, then using the power of their minds to select common characteristics from the diversity in order to classify the different genera and species. What Kant demonstrates is that the attempt to be objective and purely descriptive is informed by a host of assumptions about nature: that nature tends toward ever greater perfection, that everything in nature has a purpose, that kinds are unified and hierarchically structured, that all parts of nature fall into natural divisions under which individuals can be named. Naturalists’ assumptions about natural order shaped their observations, rather than the other way around. Goethe takes this critique one step farther by changing the order in which natural phenomena are usually considered.

The Metamorphosis of Plants


Rather than assuming that plants fall into exactly the same categories as animals, but on a hierarchical lower level, he takes as his point of departure the idea that the simplest and most universal of natural phenomena structure all natural forms. Through his studies of nature Goethe eventually came to reject the possibility of any real natural individual, that is, of a natural entity that is clearly demarcated and can be designated as a unity:
No living thing is unitary in nature: every such thing is a plurality. Even the organism that appears to us as individual exists as a collection of independent living entities. Although alike in idea and predisposition, these entities, as they materialize, grow to become alike or similar, unlike or dissimilar. In part these entities are joined from the outset, in part they find their way together to form a union. They diverge and then seek each other again; everywhere and in every way they thus work to produce a chain of creation without end.31

Goethe understands nature instead as a collection of vital forces that mutually transform one another. This depiction forms the basis of the vegetative soul, and for an alternative plant-like model of subjectivity that others would graft onto Goethe’s theory of nature. The basis of natural growth is the process of formation rather than the substrate of form, so that every natural being is subject to constant metamorphosis. For the human being this metamorphosis takes place, at least as far as we can be aware of it, on a level that might be called spiritual or even magical, intimately involving both the mind and sensory perception. In 1812, after the publication of his Theory of Color, Goethe wrote to Carl Windischmann, who had written a favorable review of the work:
The incredible discoveries of chemistry have already given powerful expression to the element of magic in nature, so that we need not be afraid to approach her in a higher sense, stimulating and encouraging a dynamic, inspired view in all people. We have no need to concern ourselves with atomistic, materialistic, mechanistic approaches, for these ways of thought will never lack for supporters and friends.32

This interest in the magical qualities in nature can be seen not only in Goethe’s scientific studies but also in his literary works. The most well known example is the novel Die Wahlverwandschaften, or Elective Affinities, as the title has been translated. The English title does not attest as well as the German to the scientific origin of the idea around which the narrative is constructed. The word Wahlverwandschaften was a strictly technical term used in eighteenth-century chemistry to indicate substances that when brought together immediately lay hold of and


The Vegetative Soul

mutually affect each other, becoming, in their union, a new substance.33 Goethe was particularly impressed by the way in which apparently lifeless chemical substances would spring into activity when they came into contact, seeking each other out, attracting, seizing hold of, and intimately uniting with each other, destroying one or both of the original elements in the process. Another less often remarked discussion of a natural phenomenon precedes that of magnetism or chemical attractions in Elective Affinities. The novel opens with a scene of Eduard grafting new shoots onto young trees. Goethe uses this image to illustrate his belief that the capacity of plants to graft onto each other is analogous to chemical combination and to magnetic attraction, that parallel natural processes unite the realms of chemistry, physics, biology, and human love. Unlike animals, plants can actually grow together as one when properly brought into contiguity, which further complicates the notion of natural individuality. The theme of grafting thus alternates with that of the union and separation of chemical and magnetic phenomena. Goethe identifies what he considered to be the “two great driving forces of nature” as polarity (Polarität) and enhancement or intensification (Steigerung). Polarity, according to Goethe, is a property of nature insofar as it is thought of as “natural,” and intensification is a property of nature thought of as spiritual. He calls polarity “a state of constant attraction and repulsion” and intensification “a state of ever-striving ascent.” These two forces affect mind and body equally: “Since matter can never exist and act without spirit, nor spirit without matter, matter is also capable of undergoing intensification and spirit cannot be denied its attraction and repulsion.”34 Following, among others, Leibniz, Lessing, Herder, Baader, and Schelling, Goethe regards the phenomenon of magnetism as “originary” in the same sense that the metamorphosis of plants is: neither phenomenon belongs strictly to either the realm of matter or that of spirit, neither fluctuation can be called purely qualitative or purely quantitative. Baader called the “polarity of conjoining [Bindung] and liberating [Befreiung]” the “key” to all nature.35 Goethe ultimately uses the concept of polarity to explain metamorphosis in The Metamorphosis of Plants in terms of expansion and contraction, as well as to explain the theory of color. It is important to remember that polarity signifies, for all of these thinkers, more than simply a material phenomenon. Indeed, polarity was considered to be spiritual, both in the sense that it was significant for understanding human freedom and thinking, but also in that it was a universal explanatory principle for all natural phenomena. Intensification, a continual process through a series of augmenting stages (Steigerung), together with polarity, characterize metamorphosis as Goethe describes it. Intensification refers to a series of stages in the

It cannot avoid taking in poison if it is intermixed with the water that flows around its roots. blossom. Schelling describes intensification in terms of potencies. and the fragment will generate a plant as large as the one from which it came. Intensification occurs through polarity. Not shaped like a container. the roots and stems and leaves of the plant proliferate to allow it to bring in as much moisture. and soluble particles with which it comes into contact. to provide maximum exposure to the sun. Goethe does not simply use his scientific studies to provide colorful metaphors for his literature. fragile. In Elective Affinities Goethe expresses this thought through the Captain. unpredictable. are considered least important. Human art. a plant can be broken off from its origin and replanted.36 The plant holds a fascination for Goethe for some of the same reasons that Hegel ultimately dismisses it: plant parts seem to sustain the broadest possible contact with the world. and Hegel creates out of this conception of potencies the different levels of actuality of the Begriff. It cannot run from danger. Thus. oxygen. to make it grow as widely as it can. The shape of a leaf is spread out. and light as possible.” By contrast. it will be relevant for all the forms that life takes. This more than anything. A plant is. however. contingent. the plant metamorphoses into ever more specialized limbs or members (Glieder) through successive expansions and contractions. Goethe would say) is open-ended. the plant strictly speaking neither excretes nor ingests. but believes that if a scientific principle is worthwhile. leads Goethe to concentrate first and foremost on the realm of vegetable life in his study of nature. gases. tends to shape nature according to the qualities science has attributed to the organism. a plant’s future (like the trajectory of a human life. parts of the plant (to take just one example) that do not change through growth. and possible victim of its immediate environment. such as the root. thin and flat. Whatever most transforms itself manifests the highest spirituality. it simply provides a conduit for whatever fluids. for example. Both Schelling and Hegel also use the notions of polarity and intensification.The Metamorphosis of Plants 61 transformation of one shape or form into another such that the end form might not bear any traces of the beginning. just as he expected that the process that the principle of polarity or magnetism manifested physically show itself equally in human relations and in elemental chemistry. with no limitations prefigured into it. to a greater extent than any animal. conductor. it seems likely. The fact that Goethe carries out such observations primarily “empirically” with reference to plant metamorphosis does not in any way vitiate his conviction that such a process is characteristic of all life. nor refuse to “eat” or “drink. who says that the human being appropriates every other part of nature for itself: “And that is how he treats everything he discovers .

however. In tides of life and storm of deeds. Weave back and forth! Birth and grave. The action of sucking is characteristic. To call this a “form” in any static sense would be misleading. he lends to the beasts. Faust invokes the spirit of the Earth (Erdgeist). who roams the earth and sips from its surfaces. for the Urphenomenon precisely expresses that location where form and content. creative. cannot be separated. who addresses him. Thus. The Earth-spirit then describes its own eternal activity: In Lebensfluten. I well up and descend. his wisdom and his folly. or curious human being is described in terms of the plant: transfixed. as are the strands and their interrelatedness. frame and enframed. The fabric woven out of the opposing forces. but of the plant. demanding. A changing tapestry. Ein ewiges Meer. an alternation of expansion and contraction. Und wirke der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid. Ein glühend Leben. structure and phenomenon. the thoughtful.39 This description of the Earth-spirit is directly based on Goethe’s scientific studies. Here. An eternal sea. im Tatensturm.62 The Vegetative Soul outside himself. Wall ich auf und ab Webe hin und her! Geburt und Grab. as it might have addressed Goethe. not of the animal. with the words: Du hast mich mächtig angezogen An meiner Sphäre lang’ gesogen You pulled me in powerfully Have long been sucking at my sphere38 The word suck conveys the compulsive quality of the search into the essence of organic life. capable of changing what it receives into myriad forms. Goethe seems to invoke the rhythm of the waves that Benveniste declares to be a mistaken derivation.”37 In the opening scene of Faust. the elements and the gods. So schaff’ ich am sausenden Webestuhl der Zeit. in which he concludes that polarity. his will and his caprices. vulnerable. yet the connection to the incipient . is the weaving. was the way in which all organic life appears. And weave the Godhead’s living mantle. the material nature of the organic. An ardent life I create at the whirring loom of time. given here in terms of a metaphor of weaving together two strands. Ein wechselnd Weben. the plants. whose organs for the procuring of fluids probe deep into the soil and remove its fluid through a manipulation of pressure.

while Darwin seeks the origins of variation in singular (and external) causes. on the contrary. Goethe calls irregular metamorphosis “weak and ineffective. and thus non-living factors. Goethe equally objected to the theory of evolution because it credits environmental. inseparable from each other.The Metamorphosis of Plants 63 force of metamorphosis is preserved. Goethe’s goal is to find this element common to all external variability. came up with opposing hypotheses about the origin of plant life. Such a theory contains an implicit assumption of intentional purposiveness. and the reshaping of a human being takes place always only through both growth and retrogression. as described in the work of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (which Goethe reread after noticing a reference to it in Kant’s Critique of Judgment). Regular metamorphosis can also be called “progressive.” and contingent metamorphosis “monstrous. Rudolf Steiner notes that Goethe and Darwin. According to Goethe. with the directive power of shaping organisms. Darwin concluded that there was nothing constant in plant life. a life force that had a generative power and preceded the material formation of organisms. external causes such as pollination through the flight of insects. and contingent. Goethe considers the scientific theories of evolution and epigenesis to be inadequate to explain the origin of organic life. into a kind of artist who brings form forth. adduces from the same observation that what is constant about plant life must lie deeper than appearances. Epigenesis. developed and complex organic life can arise neither solely because of what is contained in germinal form in primitive organisms nor as the result of contingent environmental influences.41 In the introduction to the illustrated German edition of The Metamorphosis of Plants. In The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister. while starting from similar observations of plants. From the fact that all external distinguishing marks of plants are impermanent and constantly changing. expressed in terms of chemical substances that must unite when they are placed in proximity. irregular. The third type of plant metamorphosis occurs through contingent. thus anthropomorphizing force. Goethe understands “force” and “matter” to be concomitant phenomena. the coming of age of a young man is described in the terms of the metamorphosis of a plant.42 Goethe distinguishes three types of plant metamorphosis: regular (regelmäßig). For every forward movement there is a corresponding pull backward.” while the irregular type is retrogressive (rückschreitende). and in terms of plants.40 assumes the existence of a vis essentialis. according to Goethe.” and from the . Goethe. In Elective Affinities this Ur-phenomenon is magnetism or attraction beyond the power of human willpower. which when placed in proper contiguity will grow together like the edges of a wound. Blumenbach’s theory places force prior to matter.

Rather than characterizing plants. who spent many hours a day in the open air. Goethe specifies that a work cannot be written about the contingencies in metamorphosis. but there are also such powers in movement. sometimes sailing in or rowing a boat. it is as if the spirit of God breathes unmediated on humans there.” “eros. exactly how Goethe considers the spiritual effects of particular environments and external influences: Wine contains powers of productivity of a very significant kind. an atmosphere that he calls “rarefied. chartable. contingency or chance. Such powers lie in water. and most particularly in the atmosphere. Orphic” (1817–1818). it is not surprising that Goethe was fascinated with .” Goethe observes the immediate and constant contact plants have with the sun and the open air.” We can see.” that he describes in his poem “Primal Words. However. and a divine power exerts its influence. As the Greek tyche.—Lord Byron.”43 Although Goethe rules out irregularity and contingency here.” and “ananke. it is one of the “Orphic” words.—The fresh air of the open fields is the true place where we belong. In plant life Goethe discovers evidence of a spiritual nature not generally associated with vegetation.44 The section of the poem entitled “The Contingent” begins as follows: Die strenge Grenze doch umgeht gefällig Ein Wandelndes. sometimes bathing in the sea and exercising his bodily strength by swimming. This quality permeates the natural. as many have. in the highest esteem. and what aids one person may harm another. sometimes riding horseback at the edge of the sea. for the completion of such a work would render its subject matter predictable.64 The Vegetative Soul beginning decides to leave any study of these types of metamorphosis to a later date. “in order to reach our aim in the surest way. along with “daimonic. and thus no longer a product of chance. das mit und um uns wandelt The strict boundary obligingly shifts A changeling that plays with us and around us [or: A changeling that alters with us and about us easily circumvents the strict boundary]45 As the poem explicitly goes on to suggest. as “innocent” or “passive. he held Zufall. but it all depends on the conditions and time and hour. was one of the most productive people that has ever lived. There are more distant powers of productivity in rest and in sleep. in a conversation with Eckermann (1828). life can proceed one way and then immediately shift to its contrary.46 Given this understanding of the intimate relationship between atmosphere and organism.

Goethe ascribes the initial development of leaves from the leaf stalk to a growth toward the light from openings that are already present in the seed in the form of potential nodes. “My advice is . so that they become closely packed in a circle. “Anastomosis” refers to the process of expansion and contraction or of diremption and unification in terms of the forms created by this continual process. When the plant is deprived of nourishment. Goethe does seem to relapse into an “animalization” of plants of a sort.”47 Letting the plant (or the mind) lie still without the interference of excessive coarse nourishment allows for the production of “highly purified juices” (höchst reine Säfte) that when present in the plant effect the metamorphosis from leaf to calyx. He tells Eckermann. blood vessels. rather than to the effect of the sun). that the spiritual can have its influence. or sleeping. which have an even more immediate exchange with the environment than animals do.The Metamorphosis of Plants 65 plants. Goethe notes that in cases where plants are frequently nourished (Nahrung—referring to water or fertilizer. In their highly proximate state. or. and “mouths” (the stoma). the environment and the plant are not seen as two separate entities working upon each other. their flowering is hampered. In his discussion of the transition to flowering. in the veins of leaves. In describing anastomosis. However. however. . gases. Goethe ties in this observation of nature to the way in which human genius must be tended. because the plant is too busy drawing off the coarser juices of the immediate nourishment to be able to develop flowers. and rather spend unproductive days and hours doing nothing. “eyes” (the source of nodes from which stems will branch out). the transformation takes place unhindered. but as two inseparable sides of a formative process. a term used to designate the connection of branches in rivers. It is through these openings of various kinds. these extensions out into the world. In other words. and sunlight. this is standard botanical terminology. . as in this case. He explains metamorphosis primarily through the concept of anastomosis (literally: the process of the opening of mouths). Goethe concludes that the relative coarseness of plants growing at lower altitudes or underwater is due to a lack of abundant and rarefied natural gases that causes these plants to grow to a lesser spiritual level. the leaves “anastomose through the influence of the highly purified juices” (MP 36). the outermost protective sheath of the flower that resembles both leaf and petal. He describes plant parts as “wings” (the two initial leaves of the cotyledon). stretching toward water. The calyx is formed through the contraction of already formed leaves around one axis. . rather than wanting to produce something— in which one will later have no joy—on such days. to force nothing.

as well as his entire point of departure as a botanist. it is potentially leaf. it is necessary to take a close look at Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants. the highest degree of purity of vegetal juices would appear white and colorless (MP . so that all three dimensions of time are incorporated into the Ur-plant. The petals of the flower are larger. followed by a contraction (Zusammenziehung) in the development of the calyx.” Goethe writes. or just-having-been-leaf. and more fragrant than the calyx. However. Goethe expressed what he understands to be the treason of Kant’s collapse of the sublime in nature into the architectonic of human reason in ironic terms: “When Ur-phenomena stand unveiled before our senses. it constantly refers back to phenomena of human development. but “leaf” is used in a metaphorical sense.”49 The notion of “leaf” as “Proteus” encompasses the process of metamorphosis. the next to emerge. The plant is always leaf “backwards and forwards. Goethe recognized his own affinity with Kant’s project. more colorful. and that this imbrication both can be viewed in nature and must be described in scientific explanation. as we have seen in the descriptions of the mutual influencing of plants on and by their environment. which Goethe takes as evidence of the corolla’s greater refinement as a stage of metamorphosis. The plant grows through an initial expansion (Ausdehnung) of stem and leaves from the seed.” Goethe calls the leaf the “veritable Proteus” that lies hidden under what we are accustomed to speaking of as a leaf. arrives with her efforts to marry the highest to the lowest. and as we will see in the definitions of terms such as metamorphosis and anastomosis.66 The Vegetative Soul Goethe at times seems to name the leaf as that part of the plant from which and into which all other parts metamorphose. where “metaphor” indicates not a physical mask for a spiritual reality. In his “Italian Journey. as the form of the Ur-plant. but precisely the point at which the ambiguity or confluence of physical and spiritual must be maintained. where the two realms cannot be distinguished. but soon that busy matchmaker. What follows is an outline of the central arguments of that work. Understanding. even anxious. The corolla of the flower.48 Although Goethe’s understanding of the Ur-plant. In his Maxims and Reflections. according to Goethe. softer. “Leaf” does not correspond to either a concept or an object. In order to fully understand Goethe’s conviction that the material and the spiritual are inextricably intertwined. “we become nervous. The sensory person seeks salvation in astonishment. Though the book is presented as a scientific description of the growth of plants. would seem to open him to the Kantian critique of being enmeshed in determinate concepts as opposed to a universal idea.” that is. Thus Goethe relates the phenomenon of plant metamorphosis to cosmic (and universally explanatory) phenomena such as magnetism and polarity. does so through an expansion.

There is no separated and coexisting network of organs. at least for a moment. this time of the petals into the stamens that will bear the anthers. giving it many branches yet only one mouth. which begins with one stream but branches out into a network of capillaries. Anastomosis refers to a process that continues throughout the life of the plant rather than a stage in plant growth. male and female are manifestations of outwardly divided yet inwardly closely related structures. Expansion is followed in turn by another contraction. and the other half rises up colorfully as part of the corolla. at the middle and at the sides. the plant expands and contracts by the branching out of what was once unified (through expansion) and the subsequent reunification of those various strands in a form that differs from their original unity. In so doing. each division leading to a smaller and more specialized organ. Goethe writes. and nectaries become stamens and carpels. for now—are intimately related (both are metamorphoses of the same organ) to the point of being identical. This phenomenon can be observed in the tulip.50 This form provided a model for later Idealist theories of diremption and reunification. each part metamorphoses into the next. as are all the organs of the plant. Some flowers are doubled. Goethe identified the “spiral tendency” in plants as . while others form stamens with anthers.” At least Goethe is inclined to say it does. stems from this fundamental polarity of contraction and expansion. Like a river. “in the belief that. Goethe’s theory that the metamorphosis of plants takes place through the progressive refinement of juices is based on the medical work of Hippocrates and Paracelsus. “we are made even more aware of the alternating effects of contraction and expansion by which nature finally attains its goal” (MP 43). now rolls up or thickens. meaning that some petals remain as petals of the corolla. Thus. that expanded from the initial cotyledon).” by which Goethe explains the sexual reproduction of flowers. In sexual reproduction. rather. although some part of each always remains in excess of the process.The Metamorphosis of Plants 67 42). Thus. to become the stamen. The notion of “spiritual anastomosis. the organs at the top of the stamen that secrete and discharge pollen. Thus. in which half of the petal remains green. Goethe describes with obvious wonder the way in which the same petal that emerged as an expansion of the calyx (itself a contraction of a collection of leaves. at least in a “spiritual” way. Goethe wants to show that the male and female organs—of the plant. this brings the concepts of growth and reproduction closer together” (MP 50). anastomosis occurs “on a spiritual level. seed becomes stem becomes leaf becomes calyx becomes corolla becomes “nectaries” (called “gradual transitions from petals to stamens”). as a part of the calyx. Both male and female are produced by spiral vessels.

Finally. and discovered therein what he called a “pure air” (eine reine Luft). direct these juices into their merged mass in order to nourish and expand it. These pods then merge together around an axis to form the fruit capsule. to recapitulate. and the seed that of greatest contraction. 2) the formation of the calyx through contraction.” Plants have a vertical tendency that controls the upward growth and the resiliency of the plant. Goethe had the interior of a sample of such a distended pod analyzed. they do so out of a momentary overcoming of the expansive force by the contractive force. Goethe goes farther. When male and female parts emerge.68 The Vegetative Soul “the basic law of life. Thus. Through this excess of expansive force. all of which he claimed were simply reconfigurations of already present parts through expansion and contraction. however. Goethe identifies six separate stages of plant metamorphosis. He explains the growth of the fruit through a complex series of metamorphoses that include both contraction and expansion. Goethe writes.” In his discussion of these tendencies Goethe comes closest to anthropomorphizing the plant. drawing juices from the entire plant. 5) the appearance of the fruit through expansion. An excess of expansive force remains. The culmination of the developmental process of the plant in a point of contraction might seem to point to a Hegelian notion of final . fertilize. calling the vertical tendency the “spiritual staff” or the “vital principle” of the plant. which he took to play a part in the engorgement and swelling of the fruit. for example. and when the spiral vessels predominate specialized organs are created. 3) the growth of flower petals through expansion. the plant grows upward and outward. the male stamen and its yearning anther full of pollen move toward the female style. and we can plainly see a parallel to principles of “spiritual” human growth. as it were. 1) the expansion from the seed to the development of the stem leaf. When the sap vessels have greater strength.” Goethe identifies the fruit of the plant as the stage of greatest expansion. They meet. unite. equally stretching forward in the working off of the excess expansion. 4) the shaping of the reproductive parts through contraction. They were.”51 Goethe ascribes the contractive growth of plants to the spiral vessels. The pod containing seeds develops from a leaf folding over and contracting together. but always only “on a spiritual level. When the vertical tendency is neglected. and an axial tendency that provides nourishment and controls the development of nodes and specialized organs. the axial tendency the principle of “eager development. and the expansive growth to the sap vessels. and is released by the squeezing motion. the plant will “lose itself in the rush to develop an excessive number of eyes. the pods. of the formation of the reproductive organs. and 6) the formation of the final seed that disperses through contraction.

an alternation. which refuses to remain as a single individual. Nevertheless. so that not just the seed and the reproductive organs take part in continuing the species. but always on the process. However.The Metamorphosis of Plants 69 interiorization. Indeed. Although the eye. Goethe takes this feature of plants to be anything but monstrous. The seed always remains poised to reexpand. the eyes are responsible for a feature of plant growth that cannot proceed from a simple seed. or other organ diverges from the stem to which it is attached. The only way in which eyes and seeds can be distinguished as origin once a plant has sprouted and grown its own roots. In his Philosophy of Nature Hegel dismisses plants as “monstrous” because of their capacity to break off from the parent and become plants in their own right. it receives “purer juices” from the parent plant (being situated higher up in the metamorphic process) than the seed would directly from the earth. Goethe explains the difference according to the greater purification or rarefaction of juices in annuals. skipping some of the intermediate stages and proceeding directly from stem to calyx. bud. Goethe goes on to hypothesize that the difference between perennial and annual plants lies precisely in this ability to compact various stages into a shorter time span. especially in plants with a less differentiated structure. is by “an act of reason” (MP 63). an annual can fit into the space of a single season. as far as it can go in plant form. as well as equal: one cannot take the other up into itself. multiple blossoms or fruits gathering around a single calyx. those swollen points on a plant where a leaf. The process remains that of a fluctuation. What takes a perennial such as a fruit tree six years to achieve. The eye’s position higher up in the process of metamorphosis than the seed allows growth from the eye to proceed at an accelerated rate. a rhythm. Goethe next turns to the nodes. seeds and eyes are virtually indistinguishable once sprouted. according to Goethe. Thus. The plant becomes both undefined and multiple. and the eye can often produce calyx and flower without needing to go through the prior stage of metamorphosis from seed to stem to leaf. must be considered to be a separate small plant “planted” on the parent plant in the same way a seed would be planted in the ground. The development of eyes—those places that are so similar to ripe seeds in their status as “potential plants”—at the site of the nodes promises the indefinite expansion of the plant. but any random and arbitrary cutting can be replanted and sprout roots. . and closely related. the first stage of metamorphosis itself is contracted or compacted in the second stage of sprouting from an eye. Goethe’s emphasis is never on the final point. This is the formation of composite flowers and fruits. In other words. and the fact that one part metamorphoses out of another means that the two are intimately related.

We can easily foresee the analogies Goethe would be able to draw between plant morphology and human spiritual development. Goethe’s analysis bears on a revised sense of temporality that arose with the positing of the notion of “organism” and the central position it assumed in the science of the eighteenth century. Metamorphosis. in which he cut polyps up into several parts and each part became a fresh polyp: “They are propagated by cuttings. v. and not produce flowers or fruit. A.52 These experiments are particularly interesting for our discussion here. No longer can the whole be regarded as somehow outside of time. fruit. The temporal explanation by means of annual stages has the disadvantage of having to account for every exception to the rule of six years’ growth. stated that when a plant blossomed or produced fruit before the six years were up. A plant in which rarefied (geistigen) juices predominate will bear flowers and fruit (MP 75). Of course. these in turn depending in part on the contingencies of its environment. even though he does accept the stages as those of metamorphosis. this was due to an anticipation of up to six years’ growth. flower. where to speak of six years’ growth seems absurd. seed—as a result of expansion and contraction depending on what type of juices flow into it. normal growth was intended by nature to take six years. stem. A plant that only receives crude juices will be merely a vegetating plant. by contrast. Willey describes Trembley’s experiment. since the question they raised was precisely the propriety of the distinction between plants and animals. states that the basic and only organ of the plant is the leaf. or anticipation. its growth. While Goethe accepts that plants expand and contract at different rates. he took as his point of departure not the tree—which Linnaeus had observed—but the annual plant. according to Goethe. and particularly the proof of the self-reproductive nature of an organism after it has been divided (von Trembley’s experiments with polyps in 1740. Linnaeus wanted to specify a “normal” growth rate and explain all exceptions in relation to this. one year for each of the stages we have mentioned above. and irritability all call for a different conception of the temporality of wholeness. the functions of the organism. and that the leaf undergoes various metamorphoses— into root. Haller’s work in the field of vivisection). .70 The Vegetative Soul Goethe rejects Linnaeus’s theory that even for annuals. reproductive capacity. Goethe bypasses Linnaeus’s explanation based on the flowering and fruit-bearing tree by making the explanatory principle metamorphosis between stages and not the classifiable stages within the life of the plant. In other words. Linnaeus’s theory of prolepsis. Elizabeth Von Thadden argues that the first observations of organic life through a microscope (from 1625 on). led to the establishment of the organism—as an ordered and simultaneously dynamic whole—as the primary metaphor for wholeness.

Scientists believed it was . In response to the compliment.The Metamorphosis of Plants 71 therefore they must be animals. No. He writes appreciatively of the compliment given him by a reader who characterized his scientific thinking as “objective” (gegenständlich) in the peculiar sense of conforming to objects: “He says that my thinking works objectively. “simultaneity” refers to the greatest possible contraction of life forces into a compressed or dense moment. for their truth eventually to manifest itself. rather than an aggressive setting upon nature and attempting to force its secrets from it.”55 Goethe inaugurated the idea of a kind of bodily thinking. flow into my thinking and are fully permeated by it—that my perception itself is a thinking and my thinking a perception. its frank answer to an honest question is Yes! Yes!—No! No!”56 This understanding of the ambivalence of nature’s manifestations when subjected to observation and experiment has lost some of the radicality it must have had when Goethe first put it forth. as a moment where “time contracts and space expands. Newton’s influence had just worked something of a revolution in scientific method. the perceptions of the object. they must be both plant and animal together.” or “all at once. what he describes. we see this occurring in a dual manner: first through growth. in the Kantian or Hegelian manner. in that it puts forth stem and leaves. that the elements of the object.” according to Goethe. Here he means that my thinking is not separate from objects. Goethe focuses on the annual plant because of the contraction and intensification of the successive temporal process he observes there. which culminates in the formation of flower and fruit” (MP 75). however partially.” Goethe calls moments like this “daimonic” when they occur in the context of human existence. The temporalities of the plant’s two ways of “externalizing” or “expressing” life-force are completely different. one from the other. not because he is attempting to regard generation as outside of time. upon it. that won’t do. in his autobiography.”53 This blurring of the distinction between plant and animal precisely on the question of where a body begins and ends intensifies questions of individuation and selfhood. and then through reproduction [Fortpflanzung]. The vegetative growth is a sequence of individual developments occurring successively. The formation of the fruit and flower occurs “simultaneously. Goethe writes. In the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. He writes: “Nature will reveal nothing under torture. Goethe seeks to make this thinking explicit. thinking as vigilant receptivity that waits for the body to be imprinted by the other natural forces about it.54 Goethe goes even farther in trying to adjust the structure of his own thinking to the natural form of things. “If we consider a plant insofar as it externalizes [äußert] its lifeforce [Lebenskraft]. For Goethe.

the student. but rather outlines the method through which its rashness can be mitigated. Goethe’s method of observation is not “objective” in the well-worn.57 This observation sounds quite familiar today. even by those who make it: i. This demand seems odd because it is useless simply to look at something. however.” Goethe observes that the propensity to make connections between isolated phenomena increases in an inverse ratio to the lack of instances upon which the unity is posited. thus it is evident that we theorize every time we look carefully at the world. In the preface to his Theory of Color. Goethe’s proviso that the scientist. deal with what one commentator calls “boundary situations.72 The Vegetative Soul possible to obtain results that were untainted by theological assumptions or “outdated” world views simply through empirical methods. but above all because of their propaedeutic value. but it was written almost two hundred years before the time of Thomas Kuhn. to his own devices in judging it. the subjects of The Metamorphosis of Plants and Theory of Color. finds this tendency to be unavoidable.” contexts in which “it can become immediately evident that all perception is grounded in a realm beyond the split between subject and object. like Kant. because there the contribution of the perceiving sub- . little-reflected-upon sense in which it is often used in contradistinction to “subjective. every act of reflection into the making of associations.. botany and chromatics were valuable not only for the intrinsic interest and dignity of their subject matter. we do not actually see plant growth or light itself.”59 Both botany and chromatics. Every act of looking turns into observation. but rather must construct them out of our knowledge of their structure: “Thus for Goethe. a tendency that he links to the pleasure the human mind takes in projecting coherence onto what appears to be chaotic. Goethe’s two most important scientific works.”60 When analyzing both botanical development and the play of light. must be as open to metamorphosis as the nature he or she is observing admits from the outset that the scientist is as likely to get no comprehensible answer as he or she is to be enlightened by the dominant scientific method of observing—and prodding—nature.58 In his essay “The Experiment as Mediator Between Subject and Object.e.” Rather. Goethe specifies that this tendency “springs by necessity from the organization of our being. leaving the reader. Goethe was well aware of the impossibility of observation without bringing a host of assumptions to bear upon the “facts. Again like Kant. too. he does not specify the conditions under which such a systemization would be acceptable. that empirical data should be presented without any theoretical context. Goethe. every act of observation into reflection. Goethe writes: An extremely odd demand is often set forth but never met. unlike Kant.” the impossibility of “objectivity” as it is commonly assumed.

in Kant’s sense) can only be constructed from the point of view of the observer in his or her capacity as synthesizer. “Goethe’s scientific ideal is to allow oneself to be transformed in following the transformations of the phenomena. the principles of transformation of form were not as immediately evident in these areas. but this whole has none of the implications of stability or endurance in space and time because form is understood as rhythm. writes Goethe.”62 Scientific discoveries in their early stages. flowers. In this sense one would be able to say that he has a style.64 . As the same commentator puts it. “My question to the object is answered by what is in me. Goethe’s method of studying plant morphology consists in both careful observation and expectant waiting. Goethe believes that the only way a human being can have access to the truth of nature was by letting nature imprint itself on the human body.”63 If the scientist and thus science metamorphose along with nature. from the roots up. Thus. studies that also took metamorphosis as their basis. the fruit and the new seeds. In an essay on style. and can paralyze the very progress they hope to set in motion: “Like an architect who enters a palace by the side door and then tries to relate everything in his descriptions and drawings to the minor aspect he encountered first. the fertilization. The method of objective thinking assumes a mutual influencing between natural and cultural development in the very way an organism interacts with its physical environment. the ultimate aim of science is nothing other than the metamorphosis of the scientist. when he observes and reflects upon the successive development of the leaves.”61 Although Goethe also conducted studies in animal skeletal metamorphosis (osteology) and meteorology. Goethe is aware that nature is not independent of the way in which it is approached by the human observer. there can never be only one “natural” way for humans to pursue their knowledge of nature.” thus rejecting a simple opposition between inside and outside. or between subjective and objective knowledge. In the end the notion of a whole (or a totality. what the influence of the various parts are on the thriving and the growth of the plant. but through a proper presentation of qualities he will also set us to wondering and instruct us. Then he will not simply show his taste by choosing among appearances. that we structure nature in turning our thought to it. when he knows. He wrote. conceal as much as they reveal.The Metamorphosis of Plants 73 ject to the construction of the phenomenon is immediately apparent. Unity becomes a purely discursive concept. for Goethe. when he recognizes its identifying characteristics and its reciprocal effects. Goethe stipulates that an artist becomes great and decisive only to the degree that in addition to his talents he is also an educated botanist.

the attribution of innocence to plants is misplaced with reference to Goethe. from Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants in describing vegetable nature) is the thinker who indelibly inscribes the plant with the attribute of “innocence. Hegel (taking much. fate.” in both the Philosophy of Nature and the Phenomenology of Spirit. the issue of lack of self-consciousness may be significant. Goethe’s literary characters almost always have the quality of being strangely unformed. write. though not in the sense to which Benjamin objects. metamorphosis and vulnerability in the face of the overwhelming influence of natural forces can be seen most clearly in plants. However. “that one should strive to know oneself. and this alone makes them commensurable in some way with human experience. and on the question of whether humans can know themselves: “Throughout the ages people have said and repeated. In Elective Affinities. Any person who seems to know and to plan in advance for his or her future will inevitably go astray through circumstances beyond human control. In his brilliant essay “Goethe’s Elective Affinities” Walter Benjamin refers to a commentary on Goethe’s novel by the literary critic Friedrich Gundolf. however.”65 On Benjamin’s view. but the light represents no ultimate good or even a consistent path. that . . They do not themselves know exactly where they are going or how they will reach their goals.” Goethe went on. Goethe never calls the plant innocent. the culpability of the characters is central to the narrative. each of the four main characters is magnetically drawn against his or her explicit will to crosspollinate—this metaphor is not made explicit but is entirely consonant with Goethe’s scientific knowledge and his belief in the interrelatedness of all natural phenomena—with the mate or intended mate of the other. Benjamin objects strenuously to this interpretation on the grounds that “fate . and character. blossom. Gundolf compared the fateful existence of the four characters in Elective Affinities to the life of plants. Even so. These characters are plants that grow and twist toward the light no matter what direction it comes from.74 The Vegetative Soul Goethe himself strove to be “plant-like” in the sense we have been using all along: to wait. it is true. to claim no overarching morality nor any theory that refused the possibility of constant revision. In Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship the protagonist constantly makes plans to leave the squalid theatrical company with which he becomes involved while on a business trip for his father. For Goethe. It is the plant’s visible metamorphosis. listen. aligning seed. and not its lack of consciousness or intention. This is a strange injunction. Eckermann has recorded a long monologue of Goethe’s from April 1829 on the human situation. that distinguishes it. does not affect the life of innocent plants. and fruit with Goethe’s conception of law. a disciple of Stephan George. and then sinks back into it without any reason given for his lack of resolve. .

while Charlotte is like a seed blown toward the Captain. the human is a dark being [ein dunkles Wesen]. the protagonists succumb to nature’s way of perpetuating the plant species. The cause of the chaos. it seems that the project of the garden will be even more properly carried out. Eduard takes great pride in the trees he has planted that have grown up tall and strong and seemingly permanent. a child apparently propagated through a kind of “spiritual anastomosis. is that human beings project their own desires of what nature is to be onto nature. and to make himself of as much service to it as required for his purposes. lovers who were not allowed to marry in impetuous youth. Like Kant in the third Critique.”66 This belief is paramount in Elective Affinities. but he himself is uprooted from his home by his unseemly love for Ottilie. With the arrival of the Captain into Eduard and Charlotte’s lives. and the particular symbol of their successful planning is the extensive gardens—English gardens— they are planting. Yet precisely this situation of an ideal relationship built on long-term love and trust.The Metamorphosis of Plants 75 up till now no one has satisfied. and no one actually should satisfy. their lives are divided into times for worthy occupation and times for pleasure. he knows not whence he comes nor where he is going. Himself he can only know when he enjoys something or suffers. and God must safeguard me from that too. but may also go awry. Eduard spiritually connects with Ottilie. responsibility. and thus he will be taught about himself through suffering or joy. Eduard and Charlotte. I don’t know myself either. and his job is to learn to know it as far as possible. The odd—perhaps monstrous. Goethe implies. complete with paved walkways and a pavilion that claims the most auspicious view of their entire estate. Their relationship is based on open communication and complete trust. but who have come together in calmer middle age after both of their more suitable spouses have disappeared. for the Captain has surveying tools and .” Despite the superbly well-planned gardens that surround them. by the world around him. by some accounts. With all his sense perceptions and drives. through death or divorce. by whatever he seeks for or seeks to avoid. he knows little of the world and least of all about himself. especially that of the character called “Mittler” or “mediator”—flowering of this cross-pollination is a child born of the sexual intercourse between Eduard and Charlotte who nevertheless resembles both Ottilie and the Captain. Goethe criticizes the notion that nature can be tamed into a “standing reserve”—to use a Heideggerian term—that serves the purposes of human beings. the human being is instructed by appearances. Besides. and mature planning erupts into the most chaotic of reversals: each of the spouses falls under the spell of an overwhelming attraction to one of their two long-term house guests. now plan and execute the perfect life together. an act that may proceed smoothly.

It was like chance. To this principle. only now did they really belong to him. but the image is not a “mere” image in the sense of a dispensable mask that may be removed in order to view the reality. It appeared to take pleasure in the impossible alone. by taking refuge. according to Benjamin.”69 A passage from the final section of Goethe’s autobiography. it seemed to play willfully with the necessary elements of our existence.76 The Vegetative Soul map-making skills. not diabolical. behind an image. Goethe “takes refuge behind an image. if anything. it contracted time and expanded space. they are subject to the forces that cultivation claims to have mastered. Eduard sees “his possessions taking shape on the paper like a new creation. still less with one word. for it was beneficent. we want to breathe the air in absolute freedom. and thus could not be grasped with any concept. It seemed to him that only now was he coming to know them. . while it rejected the possible with contempt. for it often betrayed a malicious pleasure. as is my habit. not human. for it gave no evidence of continuity. expresses the essence that Goethe tried to capture in the notion of the Ur-phenomenon and of metamorphosis. for the “daimonic” is another word for the Ur-phenomenon. All that limits us it seemed to penetrate. to a plan with only the appearance of naturalness. however terrifying. The artificial lake drowns the child.” such as the image of the leaf in the metamorphosis of plants. not angelic. it was like Providence. after the example of the ancients and others who had maintained something similar.”67 But the projections on the map lead. while the nature they seek to subdue nevertheless ultimately escapes their domination. As Benjamin puts it. The idea of the daimonic is the idea of fate in Elective Affinities. with soul or without soul—something that manifests itself only in contradictions. Speaking of himself. pavilions. Charlotte speaks like Kant. It was not godlike. Charlotte expresses the ideal of the English garden. Goethe writes: He thought he could discover in nature—both animate and inanimate. for it had no understanding. “At the height of their cultivation . After looking at the Captain’s map. . there should be no evidence of art or constraint. which seemed to intervene between all other principles to separate them and to bind them together. for it suggested coherence.”68 Thus. I tried to save myself from this fearful thing.71 For Goethe this idea signifies the . for it seemed irrational. and the pavilion becomes a grave. above. and artificial lakes: “If we are to enjoy our gardens they have to look like open country. Dichtung und Wahrheit. after months of constructing walkways. even if it may forever prove impotent to curb them. I gave the name of daimonic.70 We have already referred to this passage. beneath it.

particularly in the field of botany. but contains within its very essence the promise of an unending process that brings forth life. Goethe’s scientific-aesthetic project thus supplemented the intense interest excited by Kant’s third Critique. and human thought.”72 Yet the limit becomes the impetus for yet another metamorphosis. while his usage of plant metamorphosis to discuss both nature and subjectivity sparked nineteenthcentury literary and philosophical interest in what we have called the vegetative soul. yet another image in the process of Bildung that replaces the static sterility of the Gestalt. nature.The Metamorphosis of Plants 77 beautiful that “comes forth to the limit of what can be grasped in the work of art. . led to a reconception of human subjectivity and its place within the natural world. The Ur-phenomenon is not a terminus. We will now move to a literary work to see how the project of incorporating new models of the organism.

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dear master. There are many people who know only one side and disregard the other. “Nature is one thing for our enjoyment and our heart.” Klingsohr replied. it makes the body clear or transparent. fire. Human beings are crystals for our souls. “is to our soul [Gemüt] what a body is to light. But one can unite [vereinigen] the two and thereby come out well [sich wohl befinden]. . But even the darkest body can by water. dear master. It is a pity that so few think of this capacity to shift freely and easily within themselves. Generally one [use] hinders the other. one is least able and least willing to say anything about it. [The body] restrains [the light]. and air be made bright and shining.” “I understand you. and when it exceeds the darkness it emerges from it to illuminate other bodies.3 HÖLDERLIN Gleaning “Nature. for the directive ability of our worldly powers. so that through a proper separation they can secure for themselves both the most purposive and the most natural uses of their powers. and a helpless inertia 79 . it kindles on its surfaces or in its interior a light such that when the light equals its darkness. refracts it into particular colors. But tell me. One must be careful not to neglect either one in favor of the other. whether or not I am right: it seems to me that just when one is most intimate with nature. another for our understanding [Verstand]. . . They are transparent nature.” “That depends on how one takes it.” Klingsohr replied.

Schelling). read Kant’s third Critique together and plotted a new union of science and art. whose authorship has to this day not been unequivocally established. Only then can we expect the equal formation of all forces. so that if such people really want to rise up with all their powers. they fall into confusion and conflict. and in philosophical works such as Friedrich Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism and Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Heinrich von Ofterdingen Goethe’s writing provides only one example of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century’s fascination with the trope of plant life. while philosophy must become mythological. from literary criticism to literature itself to philosophy. and the people rational.1 the question of the relationship between philosophy and art. one that might effect in German philosophy a rebirth of the glory of Ancient Greece. or by Schelling. no more the blind quaking of the people before their sages and priests. and nature comes to the fore. while studying at Tübingen Seminary. As with Kant’s third Critique and Goethe’s literary and scientific writings. The author(s) write(s): Mythology must become philosophical. aesthetics and science were assumed to mutually inform each other. in order to make the philosophers sensuous. and everything stumbles clumsily all over itself. This cross-pollination of science and art can be seen in German literary works from Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde to Hölderlin’s Hyperion.” —Novalis. No longer will any force be suppressed. Botanical terminology taken directly from scientific works began to pervade writing. Then eternal unity will prevail among us. the dispute as to its authorship shows the prox- . or by the supreme philosopher of reason. It is interesting to note that the fragment could have been written either by the poet Hölderlin. These three thinkers.80 The Vegetative Soul gradually arises. then universal freedom and equality of spirits will prevail!2 The injunction that philosophy must become sensuous points to the importance placed on including aesthetic judgments in the conceptualization of thinking. science. Whether the text was written by Hölderlin. Hegel (or for that matter by their mutual friend. by Hegel. in particular persons as well as in all individuals. No more the contemptuous glance. In the fragment entitled “The Oldest Program Towards a System in German Idealism” (1796). What is particularly interesting about these thinkers’ appropriation of the plant trope is their refusal to understand metaphor and analogy as purely decorative devices.

Selfknowledge and knowledge of nature implicate each other. The light in turn kindles a glow on the surface or in the interior of the body such that when the light equals the darkness of the body. a contemporary of the three thinkers. as a particular form of knowledge. it first must make the original body (nature itself) transparent. proceeds only out of knowledge of nature. We have seen the importance of the analogical structure in Kant’s Critique of Judgment. too. the protagonist of Novalis’s story. Self-knowledge.3 We open a discussion of Hölderlin by citing Novalis because this strange analogy exemplifies the concern that begins with Kant’s technic of nature in the third Critique and grows into a constant theme in German Idealism. In turn. it restrains and refracts the power of the soul. the body restrains the light and refracts it into particular colors. written by Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg). Nature is to our “soul” what a body is to light. Initially. The analogy expresses a relationship that concords with Goethe’s understanding of the way in which human thinking and the natural environment interact in the creation of philosophy. as is indicated by a reversal of direction in the analogy. nature restrains the human soul and refracts it into particular forms of determinate knowledge. namely. namely the poet Klingsohr. In the same way. the way in which these truths can be best expressed involves an aesthetic dimension. still following Kant. Klingsohr implies. Yet Novalis puts this analogy into the speech of a character who has often been assumed to represent Goethe. the articulation of the position of the human being within and vis-à-vis the natural world. In the 1800 novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The sentence begins with what nature does. namely. But then . it makes the body first translucent and then transparent. However. science. The human being is only to be privileged by virtue of the power of human thinking to manifest truths about nature. each kind of knowledge can be achieved only by virtue of the illumination of the human soul after it has passed through nature.Gleaning 81 imity of the three thinkers’ views with reference to the project of unifying science and art by lending philosophy a sensuous nature and art a philosophical grounding. before the soul can serve to illuminate other things (which occurs when the light exceeds the darkness). as well as the mistrust with which Goethe views the growing popularity of the use of analogy in the natural sciences. and when the light finally exceeds the darkness it issues forth to illuminate other bodies. one encounters a striking analogy in which the relationship between the innermost nature or “soul” of the human being (the German word is Gemüt) and the natural world is compared to the visual interaction of body (Körper) and light. the poet Klingsohr explains to Heinrich von Ofterdingen. the soul is compared to light and nature to a body. including studies of nature itself. and art.

the Gemüt is at times specifically contrasted to the narrower faculties of cognition such as Verstand (Understanding) or Vernunft (Reason). and judgment. will.” or what is “in one’s heart of hearts. “soul” is nothing other than the unity of our inner life.” Novalis equates restraint (zurückhalten) with refraction. on the other. since. human nature becomes manifest to itself only as it passes through nature. the breakdown of a unity into its parts. The passage thus reads “our soul” rather than “our souls.” with the qualification that this word has nothing to do with the Christian implications of the eternity of the soul and its relationship to God.” Hölderlin will refer to something similar when he writes of what is most innig. can arise. cannot be individuated or hence pluralized. “to break. The questioning centers around the constitution of the human mind and its relation to the world of nature conceived both physically . in other words. we could not know ourselves. The passage encapsulates with particularly striking imagery a question that pervades the literature and philosophy of post-Kantian Germany. Because of the importance of the word Geist for German Idealism.” The first two translations are particularly misleading. “soul” is what is common to all human beings. The German for “refraction” is simply brechen. and as such. on the one hand. the unbroken unity of the human soul is transformed into the specific powers of understanding. The human being is limited to knowledge of the refraction of his or her own disposition through nature. since nature was compared to a body. Nature is the crystal through which human knowledge. reason. as Schiller put it. I translate the word as “soul. but must be the reverse. Knowledge of nature and self-knowledge are mutually dependent. Rather.82 The Vegetative Soul what kindles a glow on the surface or in the interior of the body cannot be nature illuminating the human mind. most intimate or intense. Heinrich understands Klingsohr to mean that “human beings are crystals for our soul— they are transparent nature. Without the particular radiance produced by the prism-like quality of nature. and enjoyment of nature. The German word Gemüt means something like “ownmost disposition” or “inner nature. Indeed. we know ourselves only in and through nature.” As human powers of understanding direct themselves against nature. just as white light is refracted into the colors of the spectrum upon striking a body.” this word is also not appropriate.” Yet “transparent” here does not mean selfevident. Gemüt is sometimes translated as “mind” or “intellect” or “spirit. as can be seen here. in a sense that in no way corresponds to what we might think of as an individual’s “spirit. As light bends and separates as it passes through a prism. Since none of these expressions tersely captures what Gemüt means.

At the same time. The prism and the light define and transform each other. In addition. however. Novalis and other German thinkers of his time consider an intimate and direct knowledge of nature to be the sine qua non of knowledge of any other sort. both the distinction between and the mutual interdependence of the relata. The tension between these two potentialities results in a series of complex and compelling deliberations on how to characterize the relationship between the world (both natural and cultural. if such a distinction can even be made— putting this distinction into question was part of the issue) and the human intellect. but in such a way that they remain transformed only when they are together. Friedrich Hölderlin turns to the structure of plant life with its manifold growth and metamorphosis to express this same relationality. as it was for Kant. on the other. as if to reach their greatest unity before inevitably having to diverge. this tension prefigures the reduction of nature to the object of scientific and technological research in the century following it. all these disciplines merge and complement each other to a degree unparalleled before and since then. literature. What is interesting about the analogy is not Novalis’s articulation alone. Alone. the analogical structure is crucial to the articulation of this relationship between human being and nature. By itself. Klingsohr’s vision of human powers united with nature. is invisible and unremarkable until it is refracted into the colors of the spectrum. The period of German Idealism historically coincides with the beginning of the movement to separate the disciplines of empirical science from those of philosophy. too. whatever represents the relationship must be capable of presenting both form and transformation. and toward an overly lyrical relationship with nature that neglects understanding. illustrates the human tendency toward fragmentation. between human disposition and nature—causes both to fundamentally change. the crystal is nothing but a transparent piece of glass. and paradoxically. Novalis chooses the prism or the crystal because it encapsulates a relationality within a particular object. on the one hand. Thus.Gleaning 83 and spiritually. but rather the depiction of an active mutual influencing that cannot be said to be “contained” in any determinate thing or image but is purely relational. as the act of separating out becomes cut off from the original phenomenon of refraction. Kant privileges the form of any natural thing. for Novalis (and for Hölderlin) the choice of the natural figure upon which the analogy is based is crucial. each goes back to its former state. Light. The conjunction of light and crystal—and by virtue of the analogy. Plants manifest the alert receptivity that Hölderlin understands to be the . and art. which at times becomes confusing and seemingly inconsistent. yet prone—through an overabundance of knowledge—to forgetfulness of the source from which all forms of knowledge came.

that is.” which encompasses on one side the human heart and spirit. their flourishing requires both a force from within and nourishment from the environment that actually changes their inner constitution. seeds of imagination. it contracts sharply back into itself. The figure of the crystal still suggests an inanimate substance that is struck or animated by a divine light coming from elsewhere. receptive ground. perhaps as multiple individuals. What does it really mean to understand human nature as plantlike.”4 The “fire of heaven” is not something transcendent. the process continuing until the death of the plant. any attempt to frame or contain it. because of the capacity of plants to break off and form new life when severed from their origin. Thus. perhaps necessary for manifesting it in its particular forms but nevertheless only one among its many forms. the plant trope seems to imply a completely different temporality of thought and a markedly distinct model of human identity. one that understands individuation as something beyond either consciousness or bodily form. but is manifested in the natural world. The kind of intellectual life Hölderlin espouses in Hyperion is one based on the model of the plant and its characteristics of metamorpho- . Hölderlin presents the metamorphosis of plants as a figuration of human life itself.84 The Vegetative Soul role of the human Gemüt within the natural world. Such an articulation makes the human mind part of an essentially interconnected and interdependent nature. Plants. The plant may be mutilated. plant growth can manifest even more clearly than the interaction of crystal and light the relationship between environment and formation. Plants are preferred to animals as symbols because plant life always remains in contact with all its sources of nourishment. the dimension of the divine under whose influence man develops in following the law of succession. Yet at the moment of metamorphosis. and another contraction. will never reach a definite conclusion so that one could say that the plant is now completely developed and all its parts contribute to its identity. The contraction will be followed by another expansion. if only by a tiny tendril. unlike animal growth. continually exceeding. In her study of Hölderlin and tragedy. and yet continue to grow. and because of their growth through metamorphosis. and on the other the “fire of heaven. strong roots. not merely to describe human striving toward an ideal in terms of plant metaphors in the reductive sense (such metaphors are fairly predictable: cultivation. The plant flowers forth. are alive. branching out. but to articulate human identity in an ideal state as plant-like? In his novel Hyperion. Specifically. by contrast. Françoise Dastur describes Hölderlin’s understanding of the relationship of the soul to nature as a “system of receptivity. Plant growth. severed from itself at any point. fertile soil). as Goethe had shown.

time. the gravest threat to reflective human existence is the belief that it understands its own provenance and objective clearly. contraction and expansion.”5 The structure of Hyperion resembles that of Goethe’s fruit-bearing plant: it proceeds in successive stages. Hyperion becomes a meditation on identity. In the novel. Hyperion remarks. Like Novalis. Because this development involves transformation and regression as well as growth and progression. Because of the cycle of constant metamorphosis. Its unconscious source exceeds its conscious agency and renders it always susceptible to the natural context that surrounds it. Hölderlin emphasizes the interaction of human thinking and nature. only to eventually pull back in on itself in order to prepare for a metamorphosis into the subsequent stage. but simply completely indifferent to them.Gleaning 85 sis. since they do not stand in or substitute for some other (supersensible) signification. Images of nature used by Hölderlin do not function as metaphors in a reductive sense. Fate is not for or against human beings. Indeed. and the human mind a part of it. Plants lack self-identity and through their growth embody the simultaneous drives of desire and resistance. Nature is absolute unmittelbare Wirklichkeit. The “I” of the vegetative soul as articulated by Hölderlin is a subject whose vulnerability never evolves into a mastery that would allow it free reign over the realm of nature. but understands it to be the unmediated absolute. as in Greek tragedy. For Hölderlin. for Hölderlin speculation about nature had above all to avoid the implication that the human being was superior to the other components of the natural world. absolute unmediated reality. organizes human development. The question of mastery and of the impossibility of understanding nature as a progressive. the greater the danger of fading away into transience [Vergänglichkeit]. Fate (Schicksal). each of which bursts forth and expands. Fate is not something that can ever be known. that it succeeds best where it separates itself most from its natural origin. a plant cannot come back to itself as itself. In an early version of Hyperion. So do we stand trying to hold on to ever-changing Fate” (H 318/22). in contrast to Hegel. monstrous. “I once saw a child put out its hand to catch the moonlight. a return to “self” as de-formed. and memory. “The higher nature elevates itself above the animal [das Tierische]. Hölderlin does not present nature as a set of cryptic ciphers pointing toward an absolute. and indefinite growth. just as the environment governs the fortuitous growth and reproduction of the plant. Hölderlin writes. . Using the trope of plant metamorphosis to describe subjectivity etches an alterity into identity. but the light went calmly on its way. self-ameliorating teleological process will dominate Hölderlin’s writings and color his lifelong debate with Hegel.

divine state of being.” Hyperion states in a climactic speech.” for the art of genius is limited. These are the moments that we will identify as “plant-like. in Kant’s words. The person who has not “at least once” in a lifetime felt “full. Hyperion’s figuration of human existence as “plant”6 gives less importance to consciousness of purpose than to moments of vision. will have fundamentally altered. introducing “clarity and order” and “guidance. and [hence] fit for being followed by others and fit for an ever advancing culture” (KU 319). The philosopher is thus. is simultaneously 1) a moment of contraction and the signal for metamorphosis. Humans can hope for no more than flashes of pure joy in the face of beauty. In the third Critique. where perception is exposed as fallible. Hyperion. “a boundary is set for it beyond which it cannot go” (KU 309).” bodily speaking. Hölderlin declares poetry to be the originator and the terminator of philosophy. even hypothetically. poetry is “the beginning and the end of philosophical knowledge” (H 367/66).” if “I” can be said. The model for plant “consciousness” is thus deformed in an essential sense. of a plant. Kant separates the philosopher from the genius in making the philosopher the “pruner” who “clips the wings” of the too-enthusiastic poetic genius.” making the ideas of genius “durable. Thus. fit for approval that is both lasting and universal. “springs from the poetry of an eternal. and 3) a distortion of a sort.86 The Vegetative Soul since what it “is. . The artist. 2) a moment of self-reflection by virtue of that moment of contraction. his mind is not even capable of tearing down. but rather a fundamental de-formation and affirmation of open-endedness. the subsequent stage is not a bringing-to-completion of a former stage that lacked something. according to Kant. pure beauty in himself.” For its part. such that each stage of growth in the life of the central character. to be followed inevitably by suffering and lack of comprehension. (H 367/66) The words play of powers are reminiscent of Kant’s description of judgments of beauty. who has never felt the intimate harmony that arises among all things only in hours of exaltation—that person will not even be a philosophical skeptic.” when the powers of his being played interwoven with each other [ineinander spielten] like the colors in the rainbow. which result in a free play of the imagination and the understanding. let alone of building up. and not the reverse. “Philosophy. “far superior to those who merit the honor of being called geniuses. akin to looking in a mirror and seeing a face one does not recognize.” The final chapter of the first book of Hyperion takes a polemical stance against Kant’s Critique of Judgment by castigating German philosophy for privileging reason over beauty. There can be no going out and returning to the same “I.

Gleaning 87 gives the “material” for the products of fine art. (H 368/68) To be human. This becomes a theme that recurs throughout Hyperion: thinking. The ideal or spiritual. The novel unfolds as a series of letters in which Hyperion recounts his life to a distant friend. exemplified in German philosophy and science. and whoever merely picks it. The moment of separation from nature is akin to . in order thus to learn about it. Hölderlin upsets this hierarchy. is not allowed to thrive and ripen in him before he cultivates and develops himself” (H 368/68). are severely limited in Hyperion’s view. after all. not the highest level of human excellence. Hölderlin uses the trope of plant life to criticize the excessive analysis that kills. Hyperion recounts the gradual transformation of his unreflective enjoyment of nature into a fragmenting education about nature that resembles the “refraction” described by Klingsohr.7 rather than genius. to expose oneself to uncertainty. Hyperion describes this change as the feeling of one who awakens from a pleasant dream. Intellect alone simply remains in a state of impoverishment: Intellect is without beauty of spirit. like Nature itself. Intellect and reason (Verstand and Vernunft ). As an adult looking back on his past. but to be safe from folly and injustice is. the oneness of the whole person. must become a self-conscious spirit [selbstbewußte Geist] before one is a human being [Mensch]. Hölderlin calls the novel a delicate plant that will wilt in human hands if treated wrongly: “Whoever merely smells my plant. real thinking. he further intensifies the awakening by comparing it to a nightmare. By putting things in order. requires a kind of life-blood running through it. must be a shrewd man [Mann] before one is a child. in claiming that: “One must be reasonable. to reach for the highest level of excellence.” (H 295/1). Beauty. From the beginning of Hyperion. requires a willingness to make oneself vulnerable. must be treated with reverence by a thinker who is both truly involved in what he or she is examining and not overly inclined to dissect. German philosophy has demanded the reverse. The entire business of intellect is makeshift. it protects us from folly. but the “form” of art can only be provided by an academically trained expert (KU 311). In the preface. This nightmare marks the first metamorphosis of the young Hyperion. The first letters describe his childhood. also does not know it. knows it not. and nails the prepared posts together for the garden that his master intends to plant. from injustice. a vital sap that excessively disciplined and hyperrational philosophy will kill as surely as the superficial glance of an unreflective observer. like a servile journeyman who constructs the fence out of rough wood as it has been sketched out for him. according to Hyperion.

like the warm hand of a friend. like a young sapling in a storm. This enigmatic. as if it were my own shape that I saw. results in terror rather than in a feeling of superiority. the relationship between the human being as individual and nature in both a physical (the warm touch of a friend) and spiritual (the spirit of the world) sense. and not within the dream itself. The modality of the dream is touch. The realization that “one is grasping one’s own finger” when one thought one was being touched by the warm hand of a (spiritual) friend is affectively the reverse of the moment of calm awareness of the superiority of one’s faculty of reason over the realm of sensible nature (as Kant would have it). The human being in Hölderlin’s writing is never completely easy in the world. Hyperion’s “pure joy” is disturbed: “I became so properly rational among you. The earliest phase of metamorphosis takes the soul through refraction into moments of particular knowledge that isolate Hyperion from his (self-posited) origin. namely. the first moment of monstrous mirroring occurs when one believes. it is as if I feel it. With the knowledge he learns in school. for it is not just a separation from the source. the spirit of the world. and the latter is the most abrupt and unambiguous of the senses. Hyperion simultaneously feels a multiplicity and a singularity within himself that is exacerbated by the study of science (Wissenschaft) in school. but then I become afraid again. Hyperion writes. and I am withering in the noonday sun” (H 298/4). Although the story is told as an awakening from a dream (the quintessential philosophical metaphor for the process of enlightenment). Thus. through education. thrown out of the garden of Nature. the nightmare happens as Hyperion awakens. The first part of the passage describes Hyperion looking in a mirror and being shocked at the reflection of someone he does not recognize. but the modality of awakening is vision. learned so fundamentally to separate myself from what surrounds me. The Kantian revolution. which further emphasizes the finitude of the human being. “It is as though I see. that I am now isolated in the beautiful world. where I grew and bloomed. but always remains fragile and vulnerable. but it is even more radical. . Such vaunted wholeness is the contribution of an unreflective practice of natural science such as the post-Newtonian scientific method that Goethe criticizes. yet crucial passage encapsulates the broader question Hyperion addresses.88 The Vegetative Soul the psychoanalytic description of separation from the mother. that the only source of all representations of wholeness is one’s own insignificant self. but I wake up and realize that I am grasping my own finger” (H 300/6). brief. but the moment of realization that what one had taken for a transcendent other is lodged in one’s own imperfect being. The movement from tactility to visibility accentuates the passage from a union with nature to a separation from it.

this activity would be everything. There is within man a striving into the infinite.9 This passage recalls. too. in more theoretical terms. yet the restriction of this activity. not imperfect.8 At the outset. and both presume an infinite striving (streben) as source. and taught that it is merely a fallacy on the part of natural consciousness to believe that being is imposed upon by outside objects. then nothing would exist outside of us. with the retrospection of one who has become an artist. This is not a coincidence. free. “we only have concepts of that which once went bad and then was made good again. therefore. Children.” In rejecting such an illusion. Hölderlin’s objection to Fichte’s philosophy begins with the words “yet the restriction of this activity. this drive to infinite activity is restricted.10 This primary “illusion” is the belief that an external non-ego imposes itself upon the “I. In a letter to his brother. Here Hölderlin follows Schiller. since naiveté presupposes a victory of nature over art. Again. Hyperion’s childhood. too. does Hyperion understand what it means to “turn back into the All of Nature in blessed self-forgetfulness” (H 297/3).Gleaning 89 Only as a mature person. although at the same time it fundamentally alters Fichte’s position. then. Hölderlin links the formation of concepts and a particular kind of naming to destruction and death. who in his account of the naive and the sentimental claimed that a child could not really be considered naive. Hölderlin seems to be responding to the third Critique. Fichte tries to show that consciousness imposes . Hyperion writes. is necessary for a conscious being. in recognizing that his childhood was the only time when he unreflectively enjoyed the bounty of nature. independent. an activity that indeed does not allow him any permanent barrier. Klingsohr’s analogy of Gemüt to light. our activity did not suffer any resistance from the outside. and we would know nothing. for if the activity were not restricted. of childhood and innocence we have no concept” (H 298/4). can be innocent but not naive.” Fichte defined consciousness and being in terms of pure freedom and pure activity. but strives to become increasingly widespread.” as Fichte calls it). Hölderlin is also responding to the neo-Kantian philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte. both Hölderlin and Novalis sat in on Fichte’s lecture courses in Jena in 1794. is necessary for a conscious being. Hölderlin provides a clear account of the Fichtean-inspired philosophy that informs his novel. the infinite drive to unrestricted activity is necessary to the nature of a conscious being (of an “I. can only be described in recollection. who have no real knowledge of art. which allows nature to be approached only as science or as art. written just before the publication of Hyperion. Both require a restraining force in order to come to full manifestation. we would have no consciousness. no stagnation. and nothing would exist outside of it. if.

Fichte’s description of moral activity is. it is an aiming by the finite ego at a pure and always ideal unity that forces it to consider the non-ego as an obstacle. which is really a passivity inherent within itself. The theme of the necessity of both expansion and contraction— or of unbridled desire tempered by restraint—as ontological principles. even the hopefulness toward the ideal of unification displayed in Hyperion will wane in Hölderlin’s later works. Nature is no longer the pure negative of the absolute ego. can be found through the figures of eros (Hem- . and not in an external world. the character in Hyperion who advocates a violent overthrow of the current order. called Vereinigungsphilosophie. does Fichte find the possibility of transcending the limitations of natural consciousness.11 In its effort to become pure activity. for without the outside world there could be no consciousness at all. then. the deduction of the ontological status of the “I” and “not-I” is not possible at a theoretical level. and inhibition (Hemmung). he always makes clear that this action originates in the absolute ego. Alabanda.”12 According to Wilhelm Dilthey.” Hölderlin in effect rejects the notion of the absolute ego that is the source of all being. as we will see. Consciousness can then be explained as the infinite drive coming up upon the limitations of human existence. no longer merely a permanent and illusory obstacle to pure activity. he accords no priority to pure activity. nature becomes a resource of humanity. where it will always be confronted with the not-I as an apparently incontrovertible fact. Hölderlin shifts the locus of the infinite back to desire. the “I” wages a constant battle against what is perceived to be the passivity of the not-I. much more violent than Kant’s: “Moral action is. resistance (Widerstand). Hölderlin rejects the possibility of a pure unification of human consciousness with nature. for Hölderlin. At the very foundation of consciousness there must be. a mutual reciprocity of passivity or receptivity and activity or spontaneity.13 In emphasizing the finitude of the “I” and the “necessary restriction” that must “come from the outside. can be seen in the major authors of German Idealism. following Kant. Passivity is not something to be overcome. Instead. However. as well as in Goethe’s nature philosophy. some sort of terror. is based on Fichte. since activity will never be able to achieve infinity. Indeed. In claiming that limitation or restraint in addition to infinite activity is necessary for conscious being. however. against which violence is constantly required.90 The Vegetative Soul what is perceived to be the not-I upon itself. In a revival of Neo-Platonism. Johann Gottfried Herder and Franz Hemsterhuis argue that the proper articulation of this movement between individuation and union. Only at the practical level of moral action. especially in the later parts of the Science of Knowledge. Although Fichte insists on the role of limitation (Einschränkung).

then its concept could never be detached from its individual empirical existence. and out of that. saying that “philosophy is more than the blind demand for a never-ending progress of the unification and division of a possible substance” (H 369/68).15 . but they must also grope in the dark for moisture. incorporate the dynamic of expansion and contraction. too. written only a year after the publication of the second volume of Hyperion: Dissolution as necessity. If any living thing were eternal or infinite. For Hegel restraint is intimately linked to naming. this duality of principle is introduced within the sphere of human activity. They can seemingly expand indefinitely. For Hegel. Hölderlin links sublimity to time and death in his essay Das Werden im Vergehen (“Becoming in Passing Away”). but a “ripening” that occurs as experience in both success and suffering. “You would never have known the equilibrium of beautiful humanity so purely if you had not lost it to so great an extent” (H 373/72). as the explanation and the unification of the hiatus and the contrast that occur between what is new and the past. and the restraint that allows for the emergence of consciousness. and the science and history that are based upon them. as Goethe’s The Metamorphosis of Plants shows. The “equilibrium” (Gleichgewicht) is the balance struck between the two poles of an “eccentric orbit. language. based on the Platonic eros. becomes as such the ideal object of a newly unfolded life.14 In Hyperion. Schelling and Hegel. Hölderlin criticizes the simplistic form of Vereinigungsphilosophie without referring to anyone in particular. grows through a series of expansive and contractive movements that are very different from the formation of an animal. Plants strive for the sun. As Hyperion’s beloved Diotima—named after the spokeswoman of Eros in Plato’s Symposium—tells him. from the viewpoint of ideal memory.Gleaning 91 sterhuis) or friendship (Herder).” between infinite desire and resistance. the memory of the dissolution can follow. a look back at the path that had to be traversed from the beginning of the dissolution up to where out of this new life a memory occurs of the dissolution. or “inhibition. Hemmung. Hyperion’s life moves back and forth between the extremes of utter exposure and complete withdrawal. For Schelling. if it never died or had no limit in space. The way a plant grows parallels Hölderlin’s discussion of the movement between human striving for the infinite without barriers. but they are limited by the presence of the natural elements that arrive only contingently.” is the way in which natural products are brought forth out of the expansive infinite unfolding desire that is nature’s original tendency. A plant. rather than referring to a world-creating force. It is not a balance struck by Hyperion himself.

Hölderlin describes her as part of the plant world in order to emphasize her imminent dissolution within the narrative of Hyperion’s life. Hölderlin understands the central struggle of Greek tragedy to occur between the conflicting drives of the “organic”—understood as the peculiarly human activities of “self-action” (Selbsttätigkeit).” described in the language of plants in the original preface to Hyperion. The organic.” in other earlier versions of the work). Diotima manifests more than any other finite human being the irreversible path toward passing away. the unlimited” (GE 574/54). a destiny that becomes clear only after her death. again in an early preface that did not appear in the final version of the published Hyperion. . “two ideals of our existence. literally means “moving out from a center. In life.” defined as the “unconceivable. The novel traces the memory of a dissolution. from its root word organon.” The other ideal is the “condition of highest development” that humans are capable of giving themselves. and reflection—and the “aorgic. The terminology of “aorgic” and “organic” refers to the polemical forces of infinite drive and encapsulating figuration.” Like a plant. The aorgic is the unrepresented manifestation of nature. “plant happiness” or “plant life. a condition that Hölderlin calls the “organic” in those same essays. “Eccentric. on the other hand. disappointment) be explained and unified. refers to the realm of nature only insofar as it is structured through human thought and activity. a life that will unfold only after the novel ends.92 The Vegetative Soul This passage describes the trajectory of Hyperion exactly. human subjectivity is shaped by both a constructive or expansive effect of positive ideals. a harmony found in the “simple life of nature. before one realizes the separation from nature that growing older entails.” without any contribution from human individuals. the dissolution of Hyperion’s beloved Diotima’s life and of everything that Hyperion has ever projected.16 The first ideal is the “condition of highest simplicity” (called a Pflanzenglück or Pflanzenleben. Diotima becomes the ideal object (in memory) of Hyperion’s newly unfolded life. the unfeelable. Hölderlin calls nature prior to any human intervention (even in the sense of philosophizing) “aorgic. In her death. art. as two points between which the “eccentric orbit” (exzentrische Bahn) of all human life essentially runs.” from the Greek ekkentros. There are two levels to this union and dissolution. and a corrective or contractive reverse effect of negative or painful experience. heroic aspirations) and what was always already to have been (dissolution. In his theoretical essays on tragedy. and to connect her with the “plant happiness” of youth. Only in recollection can the hiatus between what was (a love affair. Hölderlin refers to both ideals. which develops from a seed and continues to move outward in indefinite metamorphosis and development.

and the unweeded powers exhausted themselves to no avail” (H 301/7). . Hyperion calls himself the “reverberation of [Adamas’s] silent inspiration [Begeisterung]. and not in nostalgic memories . whose story is told in the Old Testament and the Koran. . or in plant terms. Arabic. Hyperion’s first encounters with the world beyond his home country immediately result in a profound dissonance. “the melodies of his being repeated themselves in me” (H 302/8). Animal figures provide the shadows to make the world of verdant nature stand out more vividly. In describing Hyperion’s unease. “[I]t seemed to me . and Farsi. or “earth. created by God out of earth. Hyperion says of Adamas. and the wild tendrils spread themselves aimlessly about on the ground”(H 301/7). Hölderlin juxtaposes animal images with those of corrupted plants. only for the moment. The image of the wild plant is tied to the temporality of the moment. . he “grasped at everything.” He immediately reinforces this image with that of an unkempt garden or ungleaned fruit: “As everywhere. the being that lives only for itself without thought of future or past. and stretches its small arms towards the infinite heavens” (H 299/5). Various people in the narrative who believe that one should live completely in one’s own time. Hyperion recalls. but . and comes originally from the Hebrew adhama. Both descriptions work against the common theme of coming of age as a process of individuation. Hyperion compares humans to “animals that howl when they hear music”. they “laugh when the talk is of the beauty of the soul and the youth of the heart”. was grabbed by everything. when it opens itself to the morning sun. and with an expansion or desire that meets with no resistance. they are wolves that run away from fire when they “turn their backs like thieves” at the appearance of “a spark of reason” (H 310/15). Adamas provides the soil for the seed that is the young Hyperion. When Hyperion first begins to mentally “awaken. .Gleaning 93 In Hyperion the tension between the aorgic and the organic ideals is played out between youth and maturity. Before finding an older mentor. between initial wild growth and eventual decay. Ruing the contemporary lack of interest in the past. The name of Hyperion’s first teacher. means “man” in Hebrew. Adamas. as if human nature had disintegrated into the multiplicities of the animal world.” It is also the name of the first man.” and adds. Hyperion expresses his own impossible task as “seek[ing] grapes in the desert and flowers in the ice field” (H 311/16). Hyperion describes his youth in terms of a wild plant: “I grew up like a vine without a post.” his heart is “like the young plant. “Like a plant whose peacefulness soothes a striving spirit and returns a simple sufficiency to the soul— thus he stood before me” (H 302/8). Hyperion says. here too men were particularly overgrown and rotten” (H 310/15).

” quoting Sydenham quoted by Sauvages: “He who observes attentively the order.”17 Although it may seem an exaggeration to compare this analysis to Hyperion. of heat. Hölderlin. the time. Hölderlin seems to mourn the transition to giving things their (“proper” is implied) names. and yet thoroughly classifiable as a type. will have as many reasons to believe that this disease is a species as he has to believe that a plant constitutes a species because it grows. replacing a perception of disease as a strange locale of a sometimes fantastically imagined natural order of disease superimposed upon the natural order of things. Michel Foucault puts forth the thesis that a “mutation in discourse.” a “semantic or syntactical change” took place. and where—at the most fundamental level of language—seeing and saying are still one.”18 The relegation of disease to the individual body conceived of as an autonomous. Foucault makes no judgment of the relative merits of the two approaches. associated with the ascendancy of a new “empirical” way of doing science. but providing. like an echo. discussing the contrast between diagnoses and treatments within roughly a one-hundred-year period. But upon his return to his homeland. from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. flowers. In The Birth of the Clinic. the hour at which the attack of quart fever begins. Each thing in nature has become separate and singular: “Now I no longer said to a flower. parallels the move to situating truth in the presence of a subject to itself. albeit much more implicitly. I faithfully gave each thing its name” (H 330/33). Foucault refers to the older order of disease as one based on a “botanical model. of which the particulars of the beginnings of contemporary medical science were one part. you are my sister! and to the springs. a means of manifesting beauty. Foucault calls the older manner of perceiving disease “a region where ‘things’ and ‘words’ have not yet been separated. through its language. is making a similar point here. and dies always in the same way. Here “naming” refers to a reductive nominalism. in a word all the symptoms proper to it. mock Hyperion’s idealism.94 The Vegetative Soul of the past. self-enclosed. in which the individual body became the site of subjective symptoms. . By contrast. bestowing names as artificial and arbitrary symbols to things in order to refer to them. Hölderlin compares the contemporary preoccupation with the present to a “howling northwind” that “runs over the blossoms of our soul and buries them as they are budding” (H 304/9). the phenomena of shivering. we are of one kind! now. Interestingly. Hyperion finds he can no longer live as one with nature. Hyperion’s prior tendency to call the flower his sister and the spring “of his kind” coincided with a vision of the human being as persisting on the same level as all other forms of nature. and understanding universals and ideals simply as products of language.

One cannot help but picture the child. where the harvest ripens without the midday sultriness. The rudder has dropped into the tide and the ship. Unlike an animal. sees with sudden lucidity the inevitable dissolution of their union. Hyperion. being flung against a cliff in an improbable but strikingly visual evocation. Hölderlin implies that the human being outside the trellis of nature is . and the vision of spring flowers blooming makes us mindful of the seasons. its feet grasped by a violent adult. . .”19 Hyperion and Diotima enter a kind of new Eden in which they are given the chance to name every natural thing anew in a way that will reflect the interrelatedness of all nature.” or. as a flower will droop if its petals are fingered. where one knows nothing of anything but the eternal spring of the earth. We are taught to see nature as something objective that we can study and from which we can distinguish ourselves. and we named the sky the infinite garden of life” (H 341/43). and the sweet grapes flourish . The image again provokes a nightmare. she begins to wilt. are so familiar that a newly-cut flower exudes the inevitability of wilting. where no willow leaf mirrors itself in the water. whose death is not visible on its countenance until extreme old age. an invitation. in their infinite interconnectedness. Only through Diotima does Hyperion feel reunited (through love) with both the human realm and the beauty of the natural world. in the original significance of the word heißen in Sanskrit (which Heidegger does not provide). resistance. “Like a river flowing past arid banks. From the very moment that Hyperion and Diotima kiss for the first time. ostensive designations: “We named the earth one of the flowers of the sky. the human recognizes this calling in giving things names. Hölderlin writes that the moment of meeting Diotima is itself “like a peaceful Arcadia. Diotima as flower (a comparison Hölderlin explicitly makes) must bear the brunt of the confluence of desire. The names they give link different parts of nature together under the trope of vegetation.Gleaning 95 Just after this description of the transformation in naming.20 If the divine calls things into being. where blossoms and shoots sway in the eternal still air. a “letting-reach. as if nature were an object over and against human understanding. the world flowed past me untouched by beauty” (H 330/33). In an earlier version of Hyperion. Hyperion writes. Hyperion describes the moment in terms of a shipwreck: “I see. rather than remaining singular. Hölderlin reacts against the tendency to separate the human mind from the rest of nature. like a child caught by the feet. Naming is a “calling” (heißen) in Heidegger’s sense. the short life of a flower. and love. I see how it must end. at the height of love. Here “naming” refers not to a reductive nominalism but to a letting-things-appear as they are. its fleeting moment of flourishing. is seized and flung against the cliffs” (H 362/62).

as the human” (H 330/33). the divine. until now the human race lies there infinitely disintegrated. In a letter to Hyperion. fruit. but beauty flees from the lives of humans upward into Spirit. and when the tree is withered and weathered all the way up from the bottom. what nature was. as its trunk once did in its days of youth. and grew until they ripened. and stem or trunk—have a darker counterpart in the roots. and turns green in the sunshine. . The human’s privileged position as the possessor of self-consciousness also makes it the most vulnerable of natural beings. catastrophic time. nothing so profoundly wither away. the human being effects its own destruction. are under it . Humans are inverted trees with respect to history. like a Chaos that seizes all who still feel and see with vertigo. what was nature.” and “the dead now go above. (H 350/51) Fermentation leads to Chaos. Hölderlin may also be making a veiled reference to Aristotle’s De Anima. There is no escaping this fate. just as the plant is absolutely subject to the contingencies of its environment. The trope of fermentation appears again and again in Hölderlin’s poetry. The fragility of human being and happiness is manifest in the image of dessicated roots choking in air and green leaves losing their color and freshness in the smothering soil.21 While the “same” trees persist. for to be a human being is to be spiritually vulnerable. ferments or decays. however. becomes ideal. and further: “What is the human? I could begin. “Nothing can grow.” (H 410/107). . Diotima writes that the plant that was Athens has now been turned upside down. on the earth. that is like a chaos. that the roots are now in the air and the flowers in the ground. Ideal is. time gone sour or rancid. which hide underground in the darkness and thrive on rot and excrement. where the roots of plants are said to correspond to the heads of . that is.” The beautiful parts of a plant—its leaves. that there is such a thing in the world. among the ruins at Athens. Hyperion mourns. a fresh crown still emerges from it. “becoming in passing away. that “the leaf has turned itself. most often as die gährende Zeit. human beings and their creations break and die.96 The Vegetative Soul isolated. like a rotten tree. from that point on they have fermented ceaselessly. but also the time of das Werden im Vergehen. the fragmentation of what was once whole. In plant terms. this decay is called fermentation: Humans began and grew up from the happiness of plants. and never flourishes to ripeness? How does Nature endure this sour one among her sweet grapes?” (H 332/35). how is it. for example. and Chaos to disintegration. from inside and out. flowers. and that only through love can it truly become an individual. and the living. Precisely in separating itself off from the rest of nature. re-enter the natural world as a part that significantly contributes and relates to the whole.

to conceive of each human being as isolated and identified primarily by the aggressive defense of its own perceived boundaries is to kill the natural open-endedness of human subjectivity and its vulnerability. the element of the soul. . its intimate relationship to the natural world and to other human beings.Gleaning 97 animals. If Hölderlin is making reference to this passage. so that the growth of plants is completely heterogeneous to that of animals (416a1–10). then perhaps modern humanity is being called the inversion of the natural human order. which Aristotle says is the case “if we are to identify and distinguish organs by their functions. Empedocles had explained both the erect head of animals and the upward growth of plants by appealing to the natural upward direction of fire. Thus.” then plants are always inverted with respect to humans. If plants’ “souls” are in their roots.

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In early writings. although in some respects Hegel’s logic seems to follow the contours of the vegetative soul. Hegel surprisingly brings up many of the same themes that we have been discussing with reference to Hölderlin.4 FIGURES OF PLANT VULNERABILITY Empedocles and the Tragic Christ The genuine philosophical act is suicide. 99 . —Novalis. albeit on the grandest of scales. the direction in which all the needs of philosophical devotees go. ultimately. nothing seems more distant from the tragic insights of Hölderlin than the optimistic philosophy of Hegel’s dialectic. his work embraces animal individuation. We will ultimately characterize Hegel’s method as a repudiation of the vegetative soul. In contrasting Hegel’s obsession with Christ with Hölderlin’s equal enthusiasm for the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles—both of whom are described by these thinkers as figures of plantlike vulnerability—one sees most clearly where the two thinkers began to take separate paths. and only this act corresponds to all the conditions and distinguishing marks of transcendental action. this is the real beginning of all philosophy. These paths diverge in the nuances of the motif of self-sacrifice as opposed to that of suicide. Fragment (1797) Initially.1 Thus. a replacement of the unconscious vulnerability of the plant trope by the cognitive vigor and aggressive self-preservation of the animal. however.

100 The Vegetative Soul This chapter will serve to mark the contrast. while Hegel’s Christ becomes a Greek. In his 1910 essay on Hölderlin. near Frankfurt. so that in the end neither figure resembles its historical counterpart so much as it testifies to the themes that lie at the heart of German Idealism. Hölderlin’s Empedocles takes on more and more of the characteristics of Hegel’s Christ. Through a chiasmic transference. Hölderlin completed the second and third drafts in Homburg. Wilhelm Dilthey was the first to show the connection between Hölderlin’s Empedocles and Hegel’s depiction of Jesus Christ in the early essay that has been posthumously entitled “Der Geist des Christentums und sein Schicksal. During the two years that Hegel and Hölderlin both lived in Frankfurt they spent most of their time together. the philosophical encounter between the two friends culminated in a new thinking of the phenomenon of beauty as a tragic process.3 In 1797 and 1798. arising from the closest of proximities. Letters exchanged between the two friends bear witness to the great joy they took in each other’s company.and law-governed religion. In 1797 Hölderlin had already been serving as a tutor to the Gontard family in Frankfurt for two years when through his connections he found Hegel a similar post with another family there. The historical figures of Christ and Empedocles share many characteristics that Hegel and Hölderlin emphasized: both Jesus and Empedocles proclaimed themselves to be divine or intimate with the divine. According to Pöggeler. Hölderlin as a tragedy about the philosopher Empedocles. and their thoughts recorded at the time are remarkably similar. Jesus through a willing self-sac- . and both met untimely deaths. Hölderlin arguably influenced Hegel’s conception of the historical Christ in an equally significant manner. tradition.5 At this period in his life Hegel came to consider Jesus to be a tragic down-going figure in the same way that Hölderlin described Empedocles. which was subsequently never completed. although Hegel presented his ideas as a study of the historical Jesus and Christianity. between the embrace and the rejection of the vegetative model of individuation and subjectivity. both had a small loyal following but a greater antagonistic resistance in the form of the power of a positive.”2 Christoph Jamme’s study “Ein ungelehrtes Buch”: Die philosophische Gemeinschaft zwischen Hölderlin und Hegel in Frankfurt 1797–1800 elaborates on this connection in the work of Hegel and Hölderlin. Hegel composed the fragments later collected by Hermann Nohl under the title “The Spirit of Christianity and its Destiny” (1799)4 and Hölderlin wrote the first version of a tragedy entitled The Death of Empedocles. and it has been argued that in particular the third draft shows the influence of Hegel on his work. when both Hölderlin and Hegel were living in Frankfurt.

outside of some of his lyric poetry never directly addressed Christian themes. the image of self-sacrifice endures and becomes the emblem of the dialectical method. In fact. “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate”). that will set the tone for the sharp divergence of Hegel’s and Hölderlin’s philosophy in later years. forms the basis for so much of the philosophical discourse in Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. as a product of a dynamic between unity and separation. so the transition from Christ as tragic to Christ as triumphantly resurrected parallels Hegel’s transition to the dialectic that originated in the Jena Logic (1804–1805). is understood.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 101 rifice at the hands of the government. (3) the nuances of the difference between suicide and self-sacrifice. but can be found throughout. as well as the fragment known as “Love. These themes. for the sake of ease of reference. Both Hölderlin and Hegel expressed a strong dissatisfaction with Christianity as it was then practiced.” all of which are dated from 1797 to 1799. we will refer to under Nohl’s title. death. (2) the description of the tragic figure. and resurrection is the figure of the logical Aufhebung. not least among them Hölderlin’s pointed choice of a pagan figure in contrast to his seminary-colleague’s portrait of the historical Christ. (4) the way in which individuation. considering that both Hölderlin and Hegel had been brought up in pious Christian homes and had attended theological seminary together. as we have already seen. The parallels between Hegel’s description of Jesus and Hölderlin’s description of Empedocles are striking. who. in this case either Empedocles or Christ. Empedocles as a (rumored) suicide. Hegel takes up Hölderlin’s plant metaphorics as a way of describing . Hegel consistently attempted to redirect the orientation of the contemporary study of Christ and Christianity. the nexus of life. although the differences. and finally. however. Although Hegel was later to abandon his understanding of Christ as a tragic figure. which do not follow particular divisions in any of the texts. Most commentators agree that Vereinigungsphilosophie was the focus of much of Hölderlin and Hegel’s discussion during the two years they spent together in Frankfurt. The progressive “graecification” of Hegel’s portrait of Christ is in many ways more remarkable than the Christology of Hölderlin’s Empedocles. are (1) the question of bondage and mastery. It is precisely the differences between these two figures. that of the cosmic alternation between unity (Vereinigung) and separation (Trennung). and marks the beginning of his detachment from Hölderlin. which is bound up with a particular understanding of positivity. Several themes appear repeatedly in Hölderlin’s three drafts of The Death of Empedocles and in Hegel’s fragments on Christianity (which. must not be overlooked. The last theme. but unlike Hölderlin.

returns to the condition of separability. The child is only a punctual unity. The seed turns ever more and more toward opposition and commences. from the most united [Einigste] it goes through the animal to human life—the separable. to annul this possibility [of separation] as mere possibility. The united ones [die Vereinigten] will separate again. oppose to itself. “[The seed] becomes plant. the separated [die Getrennten]. everything through which the newly created child is a manifold can have an existence. to unite [vereinigen] even the mortal element.” This fragment. and not in the sense of Hegel’s later dialectic. Here. but in the child the union itself [die Vereinigung selbst] remains undivided. The child represents the effort to nullify death. the reunited [das Wiedervereinigte]. like a seed: The lovers cannot allocate [the child] in such a way that a manifold will be present in it. this does not imply an actual separation. considers the relationship between love and human mortality. it is free of all division. Hegel goes on. writes Hegel. To say that lovers are independent of each other. In this sentence. Like Hölderlin’s passage in Hyperion. it must draw into itself. (L 381/307) The version of this essay included in the collection edited by Hamacher includes a sentence referring to the seed. which Hegel later struck from the paragraph. generally thought to be at the inception of Hegel’s dialectic. where Hyperion writes that he and Diotima were unified in love as male and female are conjoined in the calyx of a flower (H 347/49). for in their union no opposition is worked out. too. to make it immortal (L 380/305). aufheben is understood simply as the removal of the alien or the external understanding. however. But love strives to annul [aufzuheben] even this distinction [between the lover as lover and the lover as physical organism].6 In the same way: To say that salt and other minerals are part of the makeup of a plant and that these carry in themselves their own laws governing their operation is an alien reflection and means no more than that the plant may rot.102 The Vegetative Soul unity in difference in the fragment “Love. And so now is: the unified [das Einige]. Hegel writes. means only that each of them may die and thus they can think of the possibility of being separated through death. in order to recapture on its own the entire realm of life. Hegel. inserted immediately after the first mention of the seed. each stage of its development is a separation. .” to describe the lovers’ attempt to overcome their mortality through the creation of a child. in “Love. describes love in terms of the plant. and unify with itself.7 Hegel continues with the plant metaphor.

” however. Hegel writes: “Every reflection annuls love.” Hegel presents Jesus as the incarnation of love. The image of the vessel (Gefäß) is repeated in Hölderlin’s theoretical essay “The Ground for Empedocles. and with objectivity we are once more on the territory of restrictions. restores objectivity. In “The Spirit of Christianity and its Destiny. Hegel writes. Hegel’s understanding of organic life will comprehend far more than a summary of the current scientific research.” composed in order to explicate his effort at writing a third version of his tragedy The Death of Empedocles (GE 570–83/53–61).” Representative thinking is restrictive and thus even to think “love. There is nothing un-biblical about this characterization. “[T]o love God is to feel oneself in the ‘all’ of life. if the feeling arose out of a sense of duty. Love produces no imperative. and Christian morality is described as a version of the categorical imperative. all points at which one had touched the other. “the infinite cannot be carried in this vessel [Gefäß]” (L 302/253). having never known separation.”8 Aside from the cryptic significance of the rest of the sentence. In “The Spirit of Christianity and its Destiny.” or “God. giving the law to oneself. Love itself is incomplete in nature. Love provides a particular contrast to duty because one would never want to call a feeling love if it had been commanded. The comparison strikes one particularly when one reads Hegel’s “The Life of Jesus” (TJS 73–136). mortal) vessel in which love is for a moment contained. the production of the seed—from plant to animal to human prefigures Hegel’s mature philosophy of nature. in which the practical philosophy of Kant is put into the mouth of Jesus. or had been touched by the other. is not. the spirits are exchanged. the passage—within the expression of love.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 103 but the spirits [of the lovers] become more united than before. in other words that had felt or thought alone. as precisely what love.” in contrast. Hegel names the Kantian doctrine of morality. as he explains in the case of Empedocles: .9 Empedocles as tragic figure resembles Diotima in Hyperion insofar as both are victims. Here Hegel understands love precisely in contradistinction to duty: “‘Love has conquered’ does not mean the same as ‘duty has conquered’“ (L 296/247).” which are infinite. but Hegel’s description contrasts with his earlier Kantian interpretation of the teachings of Christ. is in Hölderlin’s eyes as necessary as it is inadequate. and that which was still separated from determinate consciousness is completely shared. written only three years earlier. that is. and thus Christianity. Diotima becomes the temporally and spatially limited (transitory. This “vessel. is to restrict them. with no restrictions. are reconciled. in the infinite” (L 296/247). Sounding very similar to Hölderlin in Hyperion. The plant is here understood as “the most united” but also as that which cannot experience love.

although it is love for and from a whole people. man. if only provisionally. but that this vessel must be chosen explicitly for its foreignness. Only this distance will allow for the momentary presentation of what otherwise could not be brought to language. But love is not mentioned in the second or third versions. you loved one! then die.” Only in this stark contrast can “destiny” express “its secret most clearly” (GE 572/52). and thus bear witness to yourself. so that the one who seemingly resolves destiny most completely also presents himself most clearly in his transitoriness. In the first version of The Death of Empedocles. (GE 578/57) Hölderlin wrote three unfinished versions of the Empedocles tragedy. as in a vessel. within a vessel. Pausanias. cites love as the reason he might be required to denounce his master: “No! By your magical spirit. the son-like disciple of Empedocles. in the progress of his attempts. do not want to revile you. Along with the notion of concealing oneself in the foreign. as well as the progressive frustration Hölderlin was feeling in the question of the possibility of writing a “Greek” tragedy at the turn of the nineteenth century in Germany. who in their characters and utterances are all more or less attempts to solve the problems of destiny. in the progression of which one can trace the growing influence of Hegel on his thinking. 520). of principal character. temporary one—as is the case with more or less all tragic personas.104 The Vegetative Soul Thus Empedocles was supposed to become a victim of his time. Hölderlin writes that Empedocles will gain perspicacity in losing consciousness “when he is less with himself [bei sich] and insofar as he is less conscious of the fact that with and for him the speechless . Love is also the restrictive vessel in which Empedocles ultimately cannot be contained. and. except in the case that their role. If it must be” (TE 1. in a striking way.” The writer “conveys” his sensibility into the vessel of the foreign matter and preserves it there. He insists that it must be a “foreign” subject matter. The problems of the destiny in which he grew up were to appear to resolve themselves within him. as a victim. and then moving away from any linkage to one’s own self. then moves away from his own subjectivity (Ich-heit) entirely and expresses only the “deepest intensity. far from one’s own mood and world. Hölderlin describes the tragic writer’s choice of alter ego. having first safeguarded one’s sensibility within it. their character and its utterances present themselves as something transient and momentary. and this solution was to present itself as an apparent. I will not. not a single lover. even if the necessity of love bade me do so. and all of whom negate themselves [sich aufheben] to the degree that they are not universally valid. Hölderlin de-emphasizes consciousness. yet “sufficiently analogical” to be able to “preserve” the writer’s own sensibility “as in a vessel [Gefäß]. Hölderlin seems to suggest that somehow the infinite can be captured.

. or of two thinkers mutually bringing their thoughts closer together. Hölderlin writes. 1798. Hegel’s later fragment. Hölderlin recognizes above all the human tendency to try to straighten things out. and Hegel’s description of love will be structurally similar to Hölderlin’s first outline of Hyperion in the journal Thalia. “[t]here is indeed a hospital where every unhappy poet of my kind can flee with dignity—philosophy.”11 Art requires both the proximity of devotion and a certain distance: it may be tragic for Oedipus to go mad. “Now what mostly takes up my thought and my senses is what is living in poetry. and I would rather perish without recourse than to part from the sweet company of the muses.” is closest not to Hölderlin’s third draft of The Death of Empedocles. however. For this reason Hölderlin chooses to be a poet and a novelist rather than a philosopher.” But. . those “experiences” are transformative. Hölderlin begins to emphasize the themes that also predominate in Hegel’s analysis of the history of Christianity and the relationship between Jesus and Judaism. “Human beings ferment [gären]. When Hölderlin puts his thoughts into Hyperion’s “recollections” or into Empedocles’ thoughts before committing suicide. and yet my entire soul aches for it and it often seizes me in such a way that I have to cry like a child. Finally. In letters to his brother and his friend Neuffer. . Hölderlin contrasts the efforts of philosophy and poetry. Rather.”10 Philosophy. “Love. it is merely sad. but to the first. I can feel so deeply how far I still am from it. . yet he resists the safety of this effort. But I cannot leave my first love and the hopes of my youth. As we have already intimated. he continues. In his letter to Neuffer of November 12. . this is not a straightforward case of one thinker influencing another. for only in art can the essential deformation that humans undergo through resisting nature be reproduced. that with and for him the universal. the positivity of tradition and the master/slave relationship inherent in both religions. In early writings Hegel’s proximity to Hölderlin strikes one doubly in view of the transformation (in light of Hegel’s more wellknown philosophical writings) we now know it will take. he writes.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 105 gains speech.” (GE 574–75/54–55). to make the world intelligible. according to Hölderlin. like everything else that ripens. . . To his brother Karl. written in 1798. . and the only thing that philosophy needs to concern itself with is to make that fermentation proceed in a way that is as neutral and passable and short as possible. namely. The plant as an organism without consciousness becomes an appropriate figure for this displacement. . in the second and third drafts of The Death of Empedocles. Moreover. but when Hölderlin does. it cannot create joy or even reproduce passion. the less conscious gains the form of consciousness and particularity . can only neutralize suffering. like the plant that only returns to itself as other.

Ogden takes Hegel’s great interest in Hölderlin’s work during the Frankfurt years to be evidence of the Christianity inherent in Hölderlin’s work. The fact that Hölderlin’s last major work was the translation of Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus. For example. In what sense they should be valid for each person his free will must decide” (WB 1: 440). over the course of three versions. Hegel’s Christ. one might argue that the second two versions of The Death of Empedocles bear the mark of the Hegelian concerns of positivity and servitude much more than the first.” however. Such a thesis does not explain why Hölderlin chose. the changes in the Empedocles drafts do suggest a turning in the way Hölderlin was thinking of Empedocles. and the epitaph on Loyola’s tomb: non coerci maximo. as simultaneously the representative of religion. reverts from being an advocate of the categorical imperative to the stance of a tragic figure who had to die because of his opposition to the same kind of tradition and law. testifies to the limits of this thesis.12 Indeed. The second stance is one of total servitude or bondage. all-subjugating. takes on in a more and more exaggerated fashion the role of the spokesperson of tradition and the law. most beautiful condition they are capable of attaining. as the highest. even after long discussions with Hegel. In Hegel’s revised understanding . In the Thalia-Fragment. It has already been argued many times that the third version of The Death of Empedocles marks a definitive turning point away from the Greeks and toward Christianity for Hölderlin. Certainly. Hölderlin identifies two overwhelming desires of human beings that manifest what is worst and what is best about human life: “The human being would like to be in everything and above everything. a desire to be above everything. changes from a beloved but misunderstood and perhaps hubristic individual into an aggressive opponent in a fight with tradition. to present his ideas under the aegis of Greek tragedy. contineri tamen a minimo can mean as much the all-desiring. on the other hand. Hegel’s “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate” is organized around a similar distinction. as Hölderlin would put it. The first stance is a desire to dominate. The third stance is that of love. and that Hölderlin’s commentaries on these works return to the same themes that are expressed in “The Ground for Empedocles. dangerous side of humans. the result of a positive religion. the priest Hermokrates. Hegel distinguishes three stances that define the fundamental relationship between human being and world within a religion.106 The Vegetative Soul Hölderlin’s Empedocles. or. the first published preface to Hyperion. particularly in the revised description of Jesus. Mark Ogden argues that even Hyperion is latently more Christian than Greek in emphasis. and tries to show that both Diotima and Empedocles are Christ figures. but one can also argue convincingly that Hegel’s writing of this period took on a decidedly Greek bent.

The only difference lies in the fact that in the Old Testament spirit. that of servitude or bondage (Knechtschaft) to be epitomized in Moses.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 107 of Jesus. At the same time. unquestioning adherents to a religion make themselves slaves to a lord external to themselves. which Hegel calls “an ‘is’ that is the complement of possibility. while the Kantian listens to his own command of duty. As a historical person. who went in quest of a land where they might be free and love. the terror of physical force” (GCS 253/195). This marks a sharp departure from Hegel’s earlier adherence to Kantian morality and his former depiction of Christ. by which term Hegel means that which has a determinate content. the demand of moral duty is seen to be insufficient. which Hegel identifies as unconditional submission to the stronger. namely. and thus carries his lord in himself. Unlike Cadmus and Danaus. Christ preaches pleroma. Hegel describes the relationship of human beings to nature in the Old Testament prior to Abraham as a desire for mastery or domination. The law does not remain an opposition . Christ embraces both morality and human weakness. wanted to be free by not loving” (GCS 246/185). In Christ there is a unity that goes beyond a promise or a demand that can be concretely realized. however. and contrasts Noah to the Greek Deucalion and Pyrrah. Abraham “wanted not to love.” or an “is” that is the synthesis of subject and object. who retreats from Egypt with his people in order to “vanquish without fighting. Hegel follows Kant in linking the oriental and the passive. Hegel considers the second attitude. Both are slave mentalities (GCS 266/211).” raised himself above morality (GCS 266/212). to the law of God. Noah set himself over and against nature as something to be tamed. the fulfillment of the law. Abraham “snaps the bonds of communal life and love” (GCS 185/246). However. that is. Hegel connects this attitude to Kant’s practical reason. in Hegel’s post-Kantian “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate. In “Christ. the history of Christianity has developed into something merely positive.” Hegel sees an analogy to the Greek concept of beauty. Jesus.” Such a stance manifests “thoroughgoing passivity” with respect to the world and destiny (GCS 252/194). and thus his relationship to the world was characterized by hostility: “Against the hostile power [of nature] Noah saved himself by subjecting both it and himself to something more powerful” (GCS 244/182). Hegel calls such an attitude “orientally beautiful” in that it relinquishes itself to the threat of the loss of all pleasure and all fortune: “He brought before the slavish spirit the image of itself. Pleroma indicates a correspondence of one’s inclination to act with the command of the law. defending himself even against the rage of God. With Abraham appears the beginning of the “fate” of the Jewish people.

The law is rendered superfluous by the love that reconciles the dominant. and man stands over against it as a power fighting against it. punishment is a hostile power. implies the human being who fights against it to exactly the same degree that law implies a particular bowing in obedience to it. Christ does not struggle against fate in this desire to himself gain the upper hand. because the law is only a rule. In the hostile power of fate. positive content with the possible action: “In reconcilability the law loses its form. For example. a reality. for it can only put forth an “ought” or a “should. there is such a cleavage. Nevertheless.108 The Vegetative Soul between a particular subject and a universal command such that the particular is mastered by the universal. from which it acquires its force. The concept of fate. an individual thing. the concept is displaced by life” (GCS 269/215). the “is” of loving virtue. equally to imply the paradigm of slavishness: Punishment represented as fate is of a quite different kind. rather. as the inverse of servitude. is opposed to the human or to his inclinations as the particular. by contrast. The characterization of Jesus as tragic. under the influence of his discussions with Hölderlin. such a commandment is limited. Law. and needs an opposite. In other words. The trespass of the man regarded as in the toils of fate is therefore not a rebellion of the subject . something thought. chose to present Jesus as a tragic figure rather than as a commander of duty. and thus can be instituted with the categorical imperative. oppositional stance.” whereas what Jesus did was to replace the “ought” with a higher modality. Fate is just the enemy. universal is not severed from particular in the way in which the law.” This. far from casting him in a stronger role. is “life and love” (GCS 268–69/215). on the contrary. however. as a universal. is lord of the particular and has subdued this person to obedience. The relationship is one of identity in difference. its deficiency is immediately apparent in contrast to a congruence of law and inclination that does not imply such a positive. for Hegel understood domination. law and inclination are no longer distinguishable. in which universal and particular are united in the sense that in it there is no cleavage between command and its execution. and saw in this transformation the difference between law and pleroma. In fate. However. It is thus a thoroughly Greek rather than a Hebraic concept. Since a command implies an opposition between a commander and something resisting the command. the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” can be recognized as valid for the will of every rational being. as universal. when law is in question. and thus is called “fulfillment” rather than “correspondence. Hegel showed that laws only gain their force by assuming a particular that must bow to their commands. For this reason Hegel. Hegel asserts. makes him all the more vulnerable. it also presents Jesus as one who attempts to reconcile rather than one who commands subjugation to the law.

to unite his spirit with his people’s. but Hegel interprets this retreat as a “loss of life. and before he acts there is no cleavage. he withdraws into himself when touched. since subservience to a determinate law does not remain an option. In describing fate. It is aroused even by guilt without crime. Hegel obviously refers not to a Christian. that of the possibility of renouncing everything in order to keep himself intact. whether family or larger community. with the same description he later uses to characterize the “beautiful soul” in the Phenomenology of Spirit: “Like a sensitive plant. and Hölderlin’s life was one of the targets of the “beautiful soul” critique in the Phenomenology of Spirit (W 3: 464f/PS 383f). mother. and everything in order to avoid entry into a league with the profane world and so into the sphere where a fate becomes possible” (GCS 286/236). (GCS. to bear its necessity and share its joy. in the former case he would . Rather than make life his enemy. much less a mastery. over and against the most exalted form of guilt. no opposition. and particularly an Oedipal. but to sacrifice his own beauty. the guilt of innocence. the slave’s flight from his master. for the person is alive. and hence it is implicitly stricter than punishment. liberation from subservience.26] required his friends to forsake father. but submit to a life undeveloped and without pleasure in itself. (GCS 283/232–33) When the struggle against fate becomes overwhelming. his connection with the divine. not a revivification out of a dead situation. he flies from life. sensibility: But fate has a more extended domain than punishment has. Its strictness often seems to pass over into the most crying injustice when it makes its appearance more terrible than ever. stems from a conscious recognition of necessity. but to a Greek. 280/228–29) Fate differs from punishment for not following a law precisely because it metes out its suffering without regard to guilt or innocence. and reconciliation is impossible. like that of Empedocles. This would be Hegel’s ultimate criticism of Hölderlin himself. Hegel refers to Jesus in this position as a plant.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 109 against his ruler. Jesus [Luke xiv. In neither event would his nature be fulfilled. Hegel’s portrait of Jesus’ fate could apply equally to Hölderlin’s Empedocles: The fate of Jesus was that he had to suffer from the fate of his people. Hegel describes Jesus explicitly as “fighting against fate” in these passages. Jesus possesses the highest freedom. either he had to make that fate his own.” for it implies renunciation of all larger social and political ties. rather than rouse a fate against himself. Hence. The death of Jesus. the tragic hero has no choice but to withdraw in unhappiness. or else he had to repel his nation’s fate from himself.

that only strives by way of opposition” (GE 581/60). he becomes a tragic figure. no art. Hegel’s critique returns again and again to what he regards as the most ignoble of positions.” Hölderlin writes something similar of Empedocles: “He was not capable of the negative violent spirit of renovation that moves against the defiant anarchic life that will tolerate no influence. the words in italics are a footnote that Hölderlin wrote to the text) Here we can see that Hölderlin perceived the tragic problem of Empedocles to be very close to Hegel’s depiction of the struggle of . the severance of his nature from the world. Now. gives up the attempt. In “The Ground for Empedocles. Hegel’s denunciation of Judaism rests entirely on the law-centeredness of that tradition. Jesus chose the latter fate. . .110 The Vegetative Soul sense only fragments of it. the less he could bear it calmly. (GE 582/60. Hölderlin explains the tension that exists between Empedocles’ expectations and the limited understanding of the people he tries to convince: They must see the unity between them and the man. too. that he had been as one with them. . He does [this] with love and reluctance (for the fear of becoming positive must naturally be his greatest. his fight was pure and sublime because he knew the fate in its entire range and had set himself against it. in the latter. though he would know its shape only as a splendid shadow whose essence is the highest truth. if these extremes consist in the opposition of art and nature. now they believe everything to be completed. precisely at the point where it is most inaccessible to art. He withdraws and their feelings toward him cool. The illusion under which he had lived. acting merely out of unquestioning obedience. . out of the sense that he will the more surely perish the more truly he expresses what is most intense). yet how can they? In that he complies with them to the utmost degree? yet in what? At the point where they are most doubtful about the union of the extremes in which they live. Empedocles. that of bondage with respect to a law or tradition. and even these would be sullied. now ceases. . . and he required the same from his friends. He recognizes them in this. and his actions issued from his nature’s spirited reaction against the world. he would bring it fully into his consciousness. the sensing of that essence he would have to forgo and the truth would not come alive in act and in reality. seeks a unity that is not simply the inverse relation to opposition. He does not seek to lead the people so much as to become one with them through a demonstration of the way in which art and nature can be reconciled. even if what one does is virtuous. then he must reconcile nature with art before their very eyes. Both sides of the relation of domination and of slavishness rest upon this positivity understood in terms of blindly following the law. But the more deeply he felt this severance. (GCS 329/286) Because Jesus’ life itself is not fulfilled.

The first version includes a scene in which Empedocles. and the direction of their development can never be prescribed or predicted. they will simply be repeating the gesture of positivity that they are opposing. Both sides speak aggressively.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 111 Christ. they are only in the process of their metamorphoses. they will become slaves. with the subsequent drafts it becomes a more and more prominent theme. Hegel makes the same comment about Jesus’ disciples after his death. Empedocles. or laws that have been inscribed. 533). having determined that he will leave Agrigento and go to throw himself into Mt. This is meant in a double sense: not only will they be returned to a life of servitude that they had never experienced in Empedocles’ household.” This is the same difficulty that Hegel perceived in the practice of Christianity. laws. translated into statements. The moment a vision is transformed into a determinate doctrine.” literally ab-Gott. telling them to disperse and not to seek to follow him. determinate entities that can ever be fully described. from the beginning of the drama. a positive understanding of religion identifies truth with events that have already occurred. like the growth of the plant. but in taking a determinate stand (as “disciples”) with Empedocles against the prevailing authorities. was the possibility of its movement beyond an exceedingly fragile balance between unconcealment and discourse. Hölderlin sets up a much more immediately recognizable opposition between Empedocles and the priest Hermokrates. or love. not concerning the question of the unification of nature and art. Etna. In the second version of The Death of Empedocles. Rather than perceiving faith as an open-ended process that needs to be constantly renewed. What both Hölderlin and Hegel considered to be the greatest danger facing a doctrine of truth. Both beauty and love are autonomous. an “idol. it loses its “intensity” (Innigkeit). We recall that Hegel thought love to be the Christian analogue to the Greek notion of beauty. “away from God” (TE 2. for if they join him in opposition to the organized religion of the priests. determinate content. If Christ or Empedocles becomes a leader with a doctrine of positive. then his followers become slaves. but the perception of positivity as the greatest danger.13 What Hölderlin calls “the fear of becoming positive” is the belief that “everything is completed. liberates his servants. Hermokrates calls Empedocles an Abgott. too. was reluctant to perform acts that would make the people believe in him for fear that the act (of reconciling art and nature) would be considered accomplished for all time. Whereas in the first version. beauty. definitions. rather. They carry on the rituals without preserving what the life represented. Although the discourse of servility (Knechtschaft) is already present in the first draft of The Death of Empedocles. the people first agree to take Empedocles back among .

the new savior [who] calmly seizes the rays of Heaven. so that his departure appears to be a selfwilled act (though it may be commanded by the gods). . 528). He breaks his own good fortune. as they did before. . And so that. Between the gods and humans he mediates And they again live nearby. Hölderlin puts Jesus’ words (Luke 22:24). Empedocles’ disciple. here appears on the scene. Manes asks Empedocles. and says that Empedocles is too powerful (TE 2. so that they may not feed too richly on the light” (TE 2. 559–60). “Father! I will thank you. In his turn. .” but in response to Empedocles’ “Who are you?” answers “I have told you many things. Manes. 536–37). Are you: .112 The Vegetative Soul them. an “illusion. Alone! Alone! Alone!” (TE 2. 527). Empedocles berates the gods for forsaking him: “Where are you my gods? Woe! You have left me now like a beggar. Already. In a negation of the Old Testament divine proclamation (Exodus 3: 14). when the bitterest is once more taken from me” (TE 1. final. in the second version he is presented as a perceived enemy of the people. . the Oriental opposition to Empedocles’ Greek (as for Hegel the Jewish Moses contrasted to the occidentalized Christ). The anachronisms forward and back can be explained by the words “everything recurs [es kehret alles wieder]” (TE 3. As if to emphasize this point. the idol of his time. In the first version. In the second version. Manes calls Empedocles a Trugbild. 560). the strange Doppelgänger of Empedocles. makes the role of tradition and religion with respect to the people explicit: “Thus we tie a blindfold around human eyes. “O tell me who you are! and who am I?” (TE 3. And the strife of the world is mollified. however. having appeared. too happy for him . . 521). into the mouth of Pausanias. questions of identity merge with the power struggle. 562). Manes is an Egyptian. and likewise unfinished version. my emphasis). 557. the voyage Empedocles urges Pausanias to take rather than sacrificing himself along with him ranges from the Italy of the Roman empire to a visit to Plato. on the distant Nile” (TE 3. then beg him to stay. both time and space have entered a realm of confusion. Empedocles tells Pausanias “I am not the one I am” (TE 3. In the third. So he turns aside. the son shall not be greater than the parents Nor the holy spirit of life remain bound Forgotten over him. speaking to Mekades. Hermokrates. and lovingly takes what is mortal to his breast. the singular.

unlike Goethe. and at the same time retains his origin and his destiny. Are you the man? the same one? are you this? (TE 3. but into the very earthly Father Aetna. who insisted that no plant can be called an individual.14 and foreshadows Hegel’s philosophy of nature. but every “son” of the tree. and does not take into consideration the fact that the plant may become fragmented or multiple through cuttings or seeds that could isolate themselves from the origin. every branch (and also its other “children. First.Figures of Plant Vulnerability So that through a pure hand the necessary may happen for the pure And returned what he possessed. he both encompasses the entire unity in himself. to the elements That had glorified him. not into the arms of a heavenly Father. If a tree is set in the ground upside down it will put forth leaves out of the roots in the air. Yet Manes the omniscient’s words are significant. And it is just as true to say that there is only one tree here as to say that there are three.” comparing the Trinity to a tree: A tree that has three branches makes up with them one tree. as lord over the world. for the conversation between Manes and Empedocles at the end of the unfinished draft attests to the fundamental ambiguity Hölderlin felt about the possibility of redemption. yet he clearly privileges the unifying gesture over that which would take each branch to be one of a multitude. Hegel makes a similar observation in “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate. The fibers bringing sap to the branch from the stem are of the same nature as the roots. Hegel recognizes the ambiguity of definition.” . and the boughs will root themselves in the ground. Hölderlin has Empedocles set to cast himself. Hegel presumes the unity of the tree (although he chooses it for its simultaneous capacity to be both one and many). also called the “dark Mother. particularly when he foresees that Empedocles (or Christ) must “turn aside” in order that the following of the “son” shall not acquire a positivity on Earth that would make him appear greater than his parents. (TJS 309/261) However. for as human he is only one (Einzige). purified.” leaves and blossoms) is itself a tree. Hegel insists that it is “just as true” to say that the tree is one as three. 562) 113 Empedocles berates Manes for “tempting” him (recalling Satan’s three temptations of Christ in Matthew 4) into thinking of himself as a savior. and thus the possibility of unifying what has become multiple. This marks a clear distinction between Hölderlin and Hegel even in this most “Christian” or “Hegelian” of the Empedocles drafts.

The friends of my youth. Empedocles tells Manes that the very positivity of Manes’ description of the savior itself has prevented Empedocles from being able to carry out his suicide: Manes: Empedocles: Manes: Empedocles: Manes: Empedocles: Manes: Empedocles: How is it with us? Do you see so clearly? You ask me that? You who can see all things? Let us be silent. Have you not told me everything? O no! So now you are going? I am not going yet. That now live in distant Hellas’ happy cities. O old one. whether physical or theoretical).” He refuses to commit suicide “without joy. that moment when the organic discards its I-ness [Ichheit]. (TE 565) Empedocles is uneasy with the description of one who “turns aside” so that the “necessary may happen” and the pure “may return. infinite” (GE 715/53). all human working upon nature. However. but to a temporary deferral of death. Through the interaction of nature and art (that is. its particular existence that had become an extreme. except that Hölderlin specifies that at the same time “the aorgic must increasingly concentrate against the extreme of the particular and must gain a middle point and become the most particular” (GE 716/54). nature becomes “more organic. purified to the elements. too. universal. who cursed me. today learn from me. And I still want to think on past time. The brothers. You taught me in the past. “there lies the struggle and the death of the individual. o son! and always learn. through the forming.” This sounds suspiciously like a Hegelian moment of transition from particular to absolute. so it had to be. “in the middle. when the sun goes down over there You will see me again. cultivating man. the dear ones. the movement is more of a turning inside-out . In “The Ground for Empedocles. the reference is not to a second birth.” Hölderlin explains tragic struggle in terms of the inevitable struggle between nature and art that will result if humans try to attain knowledge of nature (GE 715/53).” writes Hölderlin. specifically. Leave me now. Though he promises that he will be seen again.” The suicide is not an act in the interest of a final result.” whereas simultaneously humans become “more aorgic. From this good green earth my eyes should not depart without joy. Empedocles is not sacrificing himself for the sake of a higher unity. In other words.114 The Vegetative Soul Second.

in order to increase” (GE 718/55). lends itself less and less to the possibility of determination and thus becomes more and more universal. at least in terms of history). a culture that appreciates art or philosophy—or recognizes prophecy—more. Hölderlin writes of the most intense. the hero “exposes” himself to “transitoriness” in the highest degree. to unorganized nature (the aorgic). but is not separable from it by means of. and this is equally true of Hyperion. In effect. to be accompanied by sadness or pity.” the . However. presumably. has to dissolve. there seems to be another resonance of this passage. the sensibility of the hero is somehow compelled not to deny “the true temporal and sensuous relations.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 115 or a looping of endpoints back to a midpoint than a progression. Hölderlin writes that insofar as Empedocles becomes more conscious of the fact that what is being spoken becomes “unspeakable or not-to-be-spoken. narrative event: in Empedocles. Diotima perishes. however. death simply confirms this event. this intensity is what will make the hero stand out from everyone else (seeming to assure his longevity. or intimate (innig) sensibility (Empfindung). Hölderlin understands the tragic hero to be out of joint with time. a crossing takes place in tragedy: that which is most conscious (the individual human) loses consciousness. which implies his destruction as individual in any event. and “unconscious. while in Hyperion. succession) is sometimes precisely what is needed for art. that everything becomes in passing away (“das Werden im Vergehen”). which suggests that the denial of the laws of time and space (causality. Hölderlin writes in parentheses at the end of the statement that it is also lyric law to deny the true temporal and sensuous relations. though. On the one hand. that is. and in doing so lends speech and consciousness to that which is normally mute and unconscious. but he also understands that time is ever out of joint with heroics. Hölderlin writes of Empedocles. “[H]is fate presents itself to him in a momentary union which. Yet this is not a pathetic observation. In not denying these relations.” which are. if “intensity as such can be maintained there [in the denial] less profoundly and hence more easily” (GE 572/52). say. that is. which is the sensibility of the tragic hero: “The most intense sensibility is exposed to transitoriness [Vergänglichkeit] precisely to the degree to which it does not deny the true temporal and sensuous relations” (GE 572/52). he himself is most subject to the laws of transience (in despair flinging himself into the abyss. The life of the most intense is the most vulnerable. On the other hand. At the same time. he becomes the sensibility itself. The vulnerability comes through exposure to temporality and becoming. Hölderlin presents the death of the individual as a real. ineffable. precisely since it is the most intense sensibility. for example).” that is. the philosopher throws himself into Aetna.

and so.” one who “seeks to solve the problems of the time in a different. In it all severances. as determinate. Its external shape may be modified in infinite ways. but appears. In fact. Just as virtue is the complement of obedience to law. to a point of separation (Scheidepunkt) that keeps them facing one another in a clear and controlled manner. only with the exception that the contending forces inside him are tied to a consciousness. disappear. Its expression will never be able to afford a rule. too. He is misconstrued after his death. Hegel’s chief concern in describing the historical development of Christianity in “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate” was to distinguish between the original message of love Jesus preached and the positive doctrine created by the church over the years. it will never have the same shape twice. He is destiny itself. untorn and unitary. and fails in completing his task because of the opposition he finds in already established religion. it does not set up a determinate virtue for determinate circumstances. since it is the living interrelation of men in their essential being. set apart from the dead unity of a concept: A living bond of the virtues. since it never has the force of a universal opposed to a particular. is quite different from the unity of the concept. however. more negative way”: “His virtue is understanding. this passage testifies to the discussions Hegel and Hölderlin must have been having before and around this time. his goddess necessity. all exclusivenesses. so love is the complement of the virtues. Hegel mourns Christianity as the possibility of a living religion. a living unity. Where could there be room for determinate virtues when no right remains to be surrendered? (TJS 246) Through the death of Christ this possibility evaporates for Hegel. From the ashes of the tragic life of Christ.116 The Vegetative Soul contraries—organic and aorgic. particular and universal—come together in him and unite (GE 576/55). consciousness and unconsciousness. however. are annulled.” Hölderlin describes the opponent of the tragic hero as “tied to consciousness. The positivity Hegel describes in the Christian religion results from the disciples “forgetting” once they no longer have the man among them. too singular. the limitations on the virtues cease to exist. Here it seems that Hölderlin could be describing either Kant or the later Hegel. for he is “too intense. that ties them to a (negative) ideality and gives them a direction” (GE 583/61). conscious individual. a doctrine Hegel thought made it resemble the Judaism it originally diverged from more closely than the teachings of Christ. in the process Empedocles himself. There are no longer any virtuous sins or sinning virtues. By it all one-sidednesses. The tragic Christ Hegel describes lives and dies on earth. must perish. even in the most variegated mixture of relations. all restrictions. However. all restricted virtues. Hegel ultimately .

as a failure. Unlike the fragility of Hölderlin’s plant tropes. will sacrifice itself for the sake of the birth of spirit—yet in a manner altogether alien to the pre-suicidal reflections of Hölderlin’s Empedocles. concrete existence to the abstract form of metaphoric metamorphosis. the proximity of Empedocles and plant and Jesus and plant is not simply fortuitous. in order to be able to exist with all the ethical implications of a full life.Figures of Plant Vulnerability 117 retrieves the structure of resurrection. just as Christ is the middle term of the Trinity. In doing so. only Hegel takes this trope to a further possibility that redeems the tragic moment and gives the negative a function and an end toward which to move. . The plant. Parallel to the development. The movement from tragic Christ to resurrected Christ in Hegel’s thought marks the transition to the dialectic. the plant (and thus the human as plant) goes from a living. If early German Idealistic speculation is based on the model of tragedy. even in its manifestation in the philosophy of nature. Indeed. The life of Hegel’s plant. In the logic of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. Hegel’s symbols will ultimately retain their metamorphosing form while gaining the hardiness and tensile strength of the structure of resurrection. the plant is the middle term. Hegel regards Jesus’ life on earth. from an emphasis on the historical Christ to a retention of Christ purely as a structure of Aufhebung as resurrection. too. in its tragic nature. Jesus was not able to overcome the positivity of the religious tradition of his time. is valued for its structure and not for its earthly existence. like that of his Christ. it will take on the unyielding configuration that we have called animal individuation. he was not able to form a community or have a family. which. together with the phenomenon of spirit manifesting itself externally. becomes the fundament of dialectical logic. in Hegel’s thought.

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flee. Come here! The word tears him free of his instinct and forces him back to his master. Come to me! You [du] circle me from a distance. You [du] scream at the blows: obey the commands of the master. we are his point of return. he must— Have you all [Ihr] never seen what Must means? Here you [Ihr’s] will see it. he spots me. But a bitch pulls him off to the right again. and soon gambols toward me. Stop! Come back! He doesn’t hear. The stick awaits you [deiner]. 1798) He runs in wide circles on the plain.W. —G. The hunter becomes the hunted. But see. They tease.F. He searches in the earth. now they’ve run too far. He is slinking back along the hedge. and search each other out. Hegel 119 . wagging your tail. his bad conscience slows his steps. He can’t do otherwise. I don’t see him any longer.5 HEGEL The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant ON A PET POODLE (December 19. Now where is he? He has found playmates.

his face either calm and smiling or red with righteous indignation.”1 On this account. Hegel somewhat excuses him: “He cannot do otherwise.” Yet as soon as he speaks directly as master to the . instinctual. we are his point of return. determined to teach through pure force what could not be communicated rationally. always returning to the master who is walking with his friends. in order that he may learn to obey his master. indicates that when he asks. The poem describes a dog that runs about on a flat open space outdoors. inviting them to learn a lesson from his actions. at the time of the poem’s composition Hegel had broached neither the philosophy of nature nor the dialectical method. the blows of the stick teach him the superiority of reason over pure natural impulse. nor the innocence of some of his more lyrical nature poems. and awaits the dog with a stick. Though the dog cannot understand the words. intensifies the uneasy feeling the poem creates in the reader: in the moments when Hegel speaks of the dog as “he. But the dog. is distracted by other dogs. human. cycle of the master that Hegel indicates is higher than the natural. rather than the familiar du with which he addresses the dog. One of Hegel’s biographers describes the poem as an interplay of “playful freedom. Perhaps it is not frivolous to see in this “playful description” an ominous sign of what would become Hegel’s attitude toward nature in general in his mature works.” he (Hegel) is distant and descriptive. and the natural drive pulls him away again. “Do you see what ‘Must’ means? Now you see it. sexual cycle that tempts the dog away. Both the poem and the explanation certainly have a foreboding ring of what is to come. estrangement of self and return to self. One cannot help visualizing a patronizing young Hegel.” In spite of this. a mere animal without language or rationality. but he is weak.” dedicated to Hölderlin. if utterly anthropocentric: “He runs in wide circles on the plain. by a female dog who pulls him away from the spiritual.” Hegel is speaking to his companions. the dog is beaten. the description of Hegel’s interaction with his pet poodle could almost encapsulate the dialectical method for which Hegel would later become famous.120 The Vegetative Soul The poem with which we open is one of Hegel’s lesser known literary efforts. in particular. It has none of the poignancy of “Eleusis. The “Must” Hegel refers to is the necessity of nature. repeatedly beating his dog with a stick “for his own good” for not realizing that heeding the master is spiritually higher than indulging in the pleasures of the senses. The plural pronoun Ihr. Because the dog acts according to nature. and. The master shouts “Stop!” and “Come back!” The words “tear [the dog] loose” from mere instinct. The master shouts. Hegel addresses his friends. though probably the result of carelessness rather than explicit poetic intention. The alternation of perspective within the poem. natural necessity.

namely to the human being.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 121 dog he becomes shrilly insistent upon the necessity of the lower animal’s obedience and subservience (“You scream at the blows: Obey the commands of the master”). Hölderlin believed that examining the human relationship with nature can illuminate fundamental truths about human existence. then the “self” of the dog is understood only in its relationship to a higher level of nature.2 Hegel’s philosophy of nature exhibits the imbrication of descriptions of nature with assumptions about the nature of human being and thinking and its place within the natural world. and return to self. natural necessity. together. they form part of nature as the history of spirit. as Mueller puts it. by contrast. first published in 1817.” With Goethe and other contemporaries such as Novalis and Schelling. If. As we will come to see. Hegel finds a value in studying nature only as a means of understanding the history of spirit. of understanding a spiritual history or ancestry of life forms leading up to the creation of the human being. a progression that culminates in human subjectivity understood to be gained at the price of its natural origin. Christians and non-Christians within both history and contemporary politics. Hegel’s lectures on nature thus provide important insight into his understanding of subjectivity. it is difficult to understand the leap from the essays on Christ as a tragic figure that Hegel wrote while still in Frankfurt to the philosophy of nature outlined in the Encyclopedia. Europeans and non-Europeans. the philosophy of nature lectures ultimately provide implicit justification for spiritual hierarchies ranking the place of men and women. At this moment the pet dog becomes a metonym for nature itself. that is. that is. These are the three stages of organic development that Hegel describes in the short section of his Philosophy of Nature entitled “Organic Physics. Hegel’s mature philosophy of nature ultimately subordinates all of nature to the progression of spirit. into human thought and action. estrangement of self. this poem illustrates the cycle of freedom. but each manifests a lesser degree of (at least potential) spirit. Purportedly providing a neutral description of nature and its processes. In the hierarchy of Hegel’s philosophy of nature animals are higher than plants and minerals. . without examining the early philosophy of nature found in the lecture courses Hegel gave in Jena in the years following his departure from Frankfurt. this is indeed the case with every level of organic nature as Hegel describes it in the later versions of the Encyclopedia. nature has a value only in the process of understanding the primitive beginnings of what will evolve into spirit. and that human being can be understood only in conjunction with nature. and the relationship of master and dog can serve as an analogy to the way in which Hegel will approach nature. For Hegel. However.

such that each is the “truth” of the one that precedes it. . It is not only that in nature the play of forms has unbounded and unbridled contingency. Innocence remained an attribute linked to the plant even after the influence of Romantic literature had waned. but none of these characteristics is to be confused with freedom. (W 9: 28–29/PN 1: 209–10) Hegel repeatedly describes plants as “innocent. Hegel’s attribution of innocence to plant life has broader implications than might seem immediately obvious. Nature cannot control the erratic birth of misshapen or monstrous exceptions to the general pattern. as we will see when we examine the degree to which his characterization of nature influenced his interpretation of human culture. This does not mean that he believes in a strange evolution in which plants are actually created out of stone or . but as a merely natural idea life is given over to the irrationality of externality. Plants are naïve and innocent. with animals. “intermediate and defective forms” (W 9: 36/PN 1: 216). Stones are obdurate and ignorant. Hegel calls nature the Abfall. but subject to irrational changes of form that are the result of chance rather than freedom.” the result of “sensuous and unphilosophical thinking” (W 9: 35/PN 1: 215). . and women. the very worst of its imaginings. of spirit (W 9: 28/PN 1: 209). because that which errs is still spirit. Hegel calls this identification of natural caprice with freedom a “confusion.3 In this introduction Hegel emphatically contrasts nature with the products of human reason and genius: Every product of the spirit. In the introduction to the “Philosophy of Nature” in the Encyclopedia. Nature is characterized by caprice and disorder. and this is what excludes it from a place in the present progression of spirit. because they do not even possess the possibility of life. the capriciousness of its most arbitrary moods. necessarily bound by the laws of physics and biology. respiration. or the innocent life of the plant. a mere word. that which goes astray is still infinitely superior to the regular movement of stars.” presumably because though they share a lack of consciousness with other organic entities. Life is the ultimate that nature in its existence drives toward. all of nature is both necessary and contingent. Spirit is destined to be the master of nature. irrationality and the impossibility of being conceptualized. or the refuse. are all better evidence of God’s being than any single object. and reproduction. pagan religions. and as such will be compared to and symbolize the Orient. natural forms develop in a system of stages (Stufen) that proceed one from the other. According to Hegel. but that each shape by itself is devoid of the concept of itself.122 The Vegetative Soul According to Hegel. they share life and practices such as nourishment. . If spiritual contingency or caprice goes forth into evil.

and animal. indeed. since . For Schelling (as for Goethe). so that these genera and organs are only reorganizations of the form of one and the self-same type. such as a plant or a butterfly. Schelling’s positive choice of plant as symbol is given for reasons that are nearly identical to Hegel’s reasons why plants can have no true subjectivity: For the plant. but whence. Hegel insists that the progressive model of nature is not one that occurs in time. difference is inadequately emphasized (W 9: 33). metamorphosis is an account that relies on merely quantitative change. then. Hegel identifies three distinct stages of stone.”6 referring to the impossibility of knowing nature without contrasting it to the negative of spirit. merely logical. cannot be a principle of development but is limited to that existent individual alone. and gives importance only to the way in which nature appears from the point of view of spirit. Hegel discounts natural time and natural development. since it is a spiritual. for every plant is a symbol of the intelligence. forming three hierarchically distinct units in the development of nature that correspond to the three moments of dialectical logic. rather than a biological model. Unlike Schelling. or “logicizing. Indeed. the material that it appropriates or incorporates into itself under a particular form is already preformed in the natural environment. Hegel criticizes Goethe for making metamorphosis the central explanatory principle of nature for the reason that.”7 Ironically. the vacuity (as Hegel saw it) of understanding nature itself to be the absolute. and nature remains pure exteriority with reference to it. Hegel argues. Metamorphosis in an individual natural entity. The concept (Begriff) is the substratum that persists through these changes. In his Philosophy of Nature.4 Hegel specifies that metamorphosis can have value as an explanation only with reference to the concept. since “only its alteration is development” (W 9: 31/PN 1: 212). Hegel’s own account of nature. Hegel understands metamorphosis as “a single idea which persists in the various genera and in the same way in each particular organ. the organic world exhibits the same combination of finite product and infinite progression that human intelligence does: “One may say that organic nature furnishes the most obvious proof of transcendental idealism. plant. then. This kind of thinking led to Schelling’s criticism that Hegel’s philosophy gives up any claim to knowledge of real existence and becomes purely negative. according to Hegel.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 123 animals out of plants. emphasizes the qualitative leap that is accomplished in each of the three stages he identifies in organic nature. is the material to come to the intelligence. In other words.”5 Hegel in turn sarcastically criticized Schelling’s picture of nature as “a night where all cows are black.” In the notion of metamorphosis.

ranging from Aristotle to Paracelsus. not in analogy to human thinking. history. but as nature. from Jakob Böhme to medieval alchemical theories. and finally to human-based deities.8 Indeed. only to be approached through the assumption that it has already been filtered through the human understanding. for Schelling. In this sense. therefore. a manifestation of a power of reason that is not limited to human consciousness. and thinks itself. but rather that the growth of a plant exhibits the kind of intelligence that nature is. is based at least partly on a plant model.9 Nature itself is a visible manifestation of the ideal. a metaphysics of the compounded human knowledge of nature. effect. Although Schelling’s ideas catalyzed Hegel’s interest in nature. insofar as it is the produced. Hegel’s account covers an astonishing range of scientific theories and speculations. mirrored by a parallel development in religion from deities of light to deities of plant. it is the absolutely organic. that of Christ as God born in human form. Hegel presents the progression from stone to vegetable to animal. concentrating instead on topics that concerned human nature— religion. Schelling is very close to Goethe.11 Hegel’s emphasis on speculative natural philosophy. and alchemy reflects his approach to nature. it produces the material no less than the form from out of itself. I will argue that Hegel’s philosophy of nature . which never pretends to be a strictly empirical or scientific one (in the way many scientists today would understand that term).10 Schelling named intelligence something that preceded and was a condition for the possibility of conscious human understanding. nature itself is intelligence. conceptualized nature. has appeared in almost every archaic religion under the form of the god of the harvest (some of its manifestations are Dionysos and Adonis). however. Hegel’s dialectic. Until he joined Schelling at the University of Jena in 1801. its ultimate symbol. Hegel would ultimately take his philosophy of nature in quite a different direction. mysticism. Schelling does not claim that the human intellect works in the way that a plant grows. insofar as it produces.124 The Vegetative Soul it is absolute and alone? Since. dying and being reborn spiritually. cause. animal. Hegel had not concerned himself with the philosophy of nature in general. from Goethe to Schelling. as a hierarchy. Hegel’s philosophy of nature in its mature form might be called. In the original succession of presentations it appears to us as an activity which is unceasingly at once both cause and effect of itself. ethics—which would remain his priority throughout his life. to an enormous number of contemporary scientific theories. rather than a metaphysics of nature. but rather seeks to understand nature always from the way in which it has been taken up by humans. For Hegel nature remains a known.

from dependence to freedom. the difference between plant and animal will be less something purely biological or purely spiritual than part of the story of the gradual transition from matter to spirit. This movement. from multiplicity to oneness. from plant to animal. particularly. from rigidity to fluidity. and. more importantly. Indeed. plant. from weight to lightness. from passivity to activity. For Hegel. the form in which spirit unfolds ultimately rejects the open-endedness and indeterminacy of the plant form in favor of the incorporation of the animal. nature. Although the first part of the Phenomenology of Spirit explicitly works against an animal-like understanding of desire. for Hegel. from positivity to negativity. provides an apt figure for the transformation of the attempt at a “vegetative” subjectivity back into the more familiar Enlightenment (masculine) model that ultimately prevailed after the decline of German Idealism’s influence. and the sacrifice of nature as a whole for the sake of spirit. and animal is only one metonymic name for a structure that reappears in almost every area of spirit that . In Christianity. a movement from one term to another of a whole series of bipartite distinctions: from distance to proximity. such as the cult of Dionysos.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 125 develops in a way that parallels his movement from an emphasis on a tragic Christ to the formal logic of resurrection. from female to male. the small. from fragmentation to wholeness. even in his own corpus. in turn. As the Jesus who failed his mission and died succumbs to the Christ who is reborn after death. will follow the all-important move from the open-endedness of desire to the encapsulation of desire in an end. In other words. by religions that worshipped a transcendent god. the plant succumbs to the animal. has an importance only as the determinate existing reality that provides a basis for a transcendent structure. from oriental to occidental. Hegel’s story of nature is a fable presented as science. Hegel’s reconfiguration of Kant’s teleology of nature illustrates the move from a Hölderlinian plant-like nature that moves with the human being in a constant rhythm—a rhythm of expansive desire and contractive recognition of finitude—to a containment of desire within a definitive structure. from mere oscillation to movement in time. This progression follows the same pattern that Hegel discerns in the replacement of religions that worshipped powers of nature. the open-ended form of plant metamorphosis will be incorporated by the assimilating power of the animal organism. a fable that ends in the self-sacrifice of the plant for the sake of the animal. necessary. The division into rock. but hidden tail of the trajectory of spirit. the natural and living are transformed into spirit as the symbolic and the (resurrected) dead. Hegel’s tripartite philosophy of nature does not remain. the development of Hegel’s philosophy of nature. however unintentionally. Thus.

of passivity and as yet unalleviated ignorance. to be freed only by the melting power of thought.126 The Vegetative Soul Hegel examines. both in terms of outward form and inward development. The vegetable becomes the form of woman. a formal model that represents an eternal past in mute hieroglyphics that can only be freed from its ossification through recognition [Erkennen]. by living rather than acquiring knowledge. of onion domes and stylized lotus carvings. Time and again Hegel sees history repeating itself through these basic forms. but non-Christian and non-European “orientals” will be placed on the side of the stone and the plant. of Judaism and Islam and Hinduism and the East in its most blatantly generalized shape as Other. a lump of lava or amber in which spirit is preserved. But it is particularly powerful because it is taken to be the description of a natural order. The same technique will be used to delineate the history of art and the history of religion. and can only be brought out by the understanding mind that penetrates and melts the rigidity of what is merely contingent in itself. nature prior to the penetrating force of human thought somehow resembles the realm of earth before anything that grows has sprung from it. The progression of rock-plant-animal will provide the model. When women hold the helm of government. is attained only by the stress of thought and much technical exertion. Once. Not only women. from primitive to advanced. the state is at once in jeopardy. by contrast. because women regulate their actions not by the demands of universality but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions. Hegel commented that it was “an immobile exhibition. from ignorant to enlightened) of spiritual forms. . while women correspond to plants because their development is more placid and the principle that underlies it is the rather vague unity of feeling. The difference between men and women is that between animals and plants. Women are educated—who knows how?—as it were by breathing in ideas. Thus. the hierarchy will then permeate other hierarchies and provide their “natural” justification. Men correspond to animals. for the progression (and progression is always a progress. looking at the starry sky. The following passage demonstrates that for Hegel the plant provides an irreducible metaphor in the sense of juxtaposing the natural and the cultural in such a way that one not only illuminates the other but also provides its implicit warrant and foundation.12 Hegel employs the structure of nature as he has outlined it to justify “naturally” (and thus incontrovertably) the hierarchies he draws in human realms.”13 The spirit of nature is hidden. Hegel conceives of nature prior to the intervention of human understanding—perhaps because he began by studying geological nature—as a congealed mass. The status of manhood.

This structure follows the unfolding of God-Christ-Holy Spirit. Hegel is almost exclusively concerned with space. followed the tripartite movement Hegel had already studied in human accomplishments. figures for the externalization of an implicit concept.14 If we understand every instance of the tripartite structure to repeat. however distantly. The 1803–1804 lecture notes contain a section on organic nature entitled “On the Organic and the Philosophy of Spirit. “earth” is always the starting point of organic nature in order to retain the tripartite structure that is necessary according to Hegel’s logic. if it could be shown that nature. the most developed. in the section that addresses the question of whether life can properly be called a category of the science of logic. time. Of these. and the philosophy of spirit . the event of immediate presence/incarnation/resurrection. since both Christ and plant—which Hegel describes between mineral and animal nature— are middle terms. and movement. then the figure of the plant parallels the figure of Christ. from the beginning. the second determination is the exteriorization of the first and its recognition of an other. in itself. In the Science of Logic. a fact that explains why Hegel did not include a section on geological nature within the study of organic nature until the later Encyclopedia. life is the process of the living implicit within itself. nature itself is the middle term of externalization between logic and spirit. In his earliest lectures. On another level. the 1805–1806 collection is the most complete.” Here.” the “process of the material” and “physics. The science of geology was just beginning to form at this time. Three sets of note fragments from Hegel’s Jena lectures from the years 1803 to 1806 have been compiled. plants.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 127 Indeed. much of Hegel’s early philosophy of nature has to do with the sun and the earth as systems. self and other. and the third determination is the unity of the first and second. and with more abstract notions within physics and chemistry such as the breakdown into forces and elements. Nevertheless. Hegel explains his principle of division in the following way: in its first determination. Hegel seems to consider earth and rock to be inorganic nature. and.” the “Earthly System. While the 1803–1804 lectures contain references to plant and animal life. the formation of masses or bodies.” but the notes on minerals. apparently manifesting it as a natural order. Moreover. what remains of the 1804–05 notes mention only sections dealing with the “System of the Sun. too. this would strengthen the dialectical thesis. and animals are combined. The need to divide organic nature (as well as everything he studied) into three parts stemmed from Hegel’s growing conviction that the dialectical method not only could be “applied” to nature but also actually manifested the structure inherent in all natural and historico-spiritual progression or development. as might be expected.

and “the flowing is the absolute communication of that which itself. .” Hegel begins by calling the earth a “jelly” in which nothing is distinguished. In the 1803–1804 fragment “So allgemein abgesondert von der Erde . for Hegel. but not the seed of any determinate life. . and the linkage between “animal individuation” and subjectivity. contain fluids within them. while the animal literally ingests the plant in order to achieve a relative self-sufficiency the plant can never attain. It has the “seed of life” in it. has its simplicity as existing” (JI 210). For Hegel the term Äusserung always indicates contingency and limitation. Within the presentation of nature. because of its self-enclosed (beschlossen) interior of circulating fluids (principally blood) that do not pass from it into either the earth or the air. to the object. From the characterization of earth as jelly. This explains why Hegel uses the language of melting to describe the transition from nature to spirit. can it be considered as part of the necessary history of the progression of spirit. Spirit is referred to as “the liquid” or “the flowing” (das Flüssige). and the philosophy of spirit on the other—nature itself is in Hegel’s terms always the externalization or alienation (Entäusserung) of the concept. an “absolute having-flowed into one” (JI 210). the plant is this middle term or exteriorization: if the earth is inert. Only after nature has been elevated into the realm of spirit. . Thus. refers to the rigid and the determinate. This relationship is already clearly presented in Hegel’s first lectures on organic nature. points to the greater spirituality of their existence. whereas the animal holds this universal element within itself as a part of itself (JI 211). according to its nature as a beingoutside-of-itself. the plant is the first externalization of what cannot even yet be called potential in the earth. in which the absolute concept realizes itself and in its absolute opposition.128 The Vegetative Soul soon overtakes them in emphasis. The universal fluid merely flows through and then outside the plant. that is. It is “permeated by the absolute concept” (JI 210).” and thus does not have a unity of its internal and external world (JI 211). as the most congealed form of nature. The 1803–1804 lecture notes already show the direction the 1805–1806 lectures will take. The animal. “implicit” nature (an sich). As the middle term in every presentation—between logic on the one hand. which occurs only when it essentially burns. nature. Hegel immediately goes on to identify the chief distinguishing feature between the plant and the animal as the fact that the plant “cannot retain this fluid in itself. unlike stone. by contrast. carries the spiritual liquidity within itself. Here we see explicitly the parallel drawn between self-enclosedness and spirituality. the fact that plant and animal. The 1804–1805 lecture notes as they remain contain no mention of the organic. whereas spirit is the realm of freedom.

plants yearn for the light in the way that solitary human beings yearn for the companionship of lovers and friends. immediate sense. and air. We recall that Hegel’s principal objection to Hölderlin (and to Christ seen as tragic) was that “beautiful souls” withdrew from society rather than becoming part of an ethical community. but it cannot be considered an individual because it is never opposed to itself. Even the plant’s relationship to the earth is an indifferent one—Hegel notes that plants can be nourished chemically and grow equally well without their being sown in the earth. The plant is a specific kind of its own (Gattung). earth in itself is potency.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 129 In the 1805–1806 lecture notes. into minerals that nourish the plant (JIII. Hegel believes that plants get no real nourishment from the earth. Plants as seeds are thus simply the “power of the earth. but only from water and the air. the moon. Whereas “prior to” the emergence of organic nature—earth seems to occupy a preorganic realm that is situated between the inorganic and the organic—the earth tended toward the formation of autonomous. for the first time earth is as subject. although the extensive study of botanical work such as that of Goethe and of Linnaeus that characterizes the description of plant life in the Encyclopedia is missing. singular bodies. 132). but not in a determined. it remains a singular thing. 129. in nurturing the seeds of plant life the earth is sublated into mere elements. the earth here seems to serve the plant. the plant is nothing more than the process of these elements that pass through it along with light. Hegel describes the moment of germination from the seed in terms of a pagan mysticism: . At the same time. Thus. In the course of time between the first and the third series of early lectures Hegel strengthens his argument for the deficiency of the plant by expanding the description of the plant structure in detail. note 3). such as the sun. Just as the plant will serve the animal. Since. Rather. however. however. the first transition to “life” (JIII. The emergence of the plant marks the first time that the earth opens itself up to the growth of something higher than it is. water. completed. and the comets. rather. The seed of the plant is essential power. Hegel expands the commentary on vegetable nature considerably. 131). From experiments such as these. 130). The plant is nothing more than an organic extension of the earth. 129). the earth cannot be said to be for the plant. the earth is still immediately one with the plant (JIII. 129).” giving the earth the potential for growth (JIII. The beautiful soul is thus something like a potato in a dark cellar that starts to sprout eyes at the sight of the tiniest crack of light coming through a window high above (JIII. as an aggregation rather than an integrated whole (JIII. The plant in conjunction with the earth becomes pure possibility. since even collections of plant “individuals” remain indifferent to each other. This introduces a famous passage included in the additions (Zusätze) to the Encyclopedia.

letting the seed [fall] in the earth is this mystical act. and baptism is precisely this solemn recognition of fellowship in the realm of spirit. like a rusty lamp that when rubbed produces a genie. an empty receptacle for a constant streaming-in (Einströmung). a growth. Thus. It cannot regulate or oppose this constant stream both in and out of it. 131–32). the power that flourishes when the seed is placed in the sympathetic environment of the earth. which has no possibility of bringing forth life on its own. The earth itself cannot be possibility in this early version of the philosophy of nature. the seed. a thing that is tiny and seems insignificant and can be crushed easily between one’s fingers. the magician who gives this seed that I can crush in my hand an entirely other significance—a sense like that which makes of a rusty lamp a mighty spirit—is the concept of nature. but is in itself the power of reason.15 the seed is the force that conjures the earth to serve it with her power (JIII. [the recognition] that there are secret powers in it that still slumber. The . 131. something quite other than this thing [dies] that cannot speak or do anything rational. but expresses a pure relationality between earth and seed. The “magician” is the negating power of seed in conjunction with earth. Hegel explains that every part of the plant could serve as every other: for example. its parts indefinitely repeated. that in truth it is something other than this thing [dies] that is just there.17 However. Using Herder-like analogies. Nature is the “magician” who provokes the transition from inorganic to organic nature through the invocation of the seed. So putting. as Hegel puts it. the root of a plant is nothing but an inverted tree with its branches planted in the earth (JIII. 131). for Hegel equates organic life with possibility. is a relation of negation. W 9: 396/PN 3: 68). cf. and as yet he does not consider anything other than plants and animals to be organic. The seed is. is never merely “this thing that is just here. 131). unlike any inorganic form. Yet the “magician” is no personification.16 The seed (in the earth) is to the plant as the (baptized) infant is to the adult. thus Hegel calls it an “unmediated” relationship to the external world (JIII. Hegel does not understand the metamorphosis of plants to be anything other than an “increase” [Vermehrung]. The relation between a seed. the force that allows the earth to bring forth life. Hegel emphasizes immediately that the plant’s capacity to actualize this potentiality is limited. and earth. Unlike Goethe.130 The Vegetative Soul This safeguarding of the seed in the earth is therefore a mystical. The plant is a simple structure.” pure potentiality (JIII. magical act—as the infant is not just this helpless human form that gives no indication of reason. “essential power. 137). a getting-larger (JIII. It always exceeds the realm of simple ostensive definition and thus has something mystical about it.” merely existing in its present form.

The process of reflection with regard to nature refers literally to physical contact. it both takes in and exudes water and the gases of the air. and there is never a time when one can say that a plant has reached its full growth. 137). or even geological formation “one”. says Hegel.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 131 only “negativity” in the sense of oppositionality in the plant is the fact that it has a dual directionality. among others. in which combustion is digestion. Unlike Hölderlin (as well as. There is no scientific basis on which to call soil. relates to the observation that plants cannot come back to themselves as themselves. different organic beings. Self-movement might be a criterion for individuation. However. We will soon see that there is another. Hegel differentiates the plant from the earth and from the animal in terms of individuation. who saw in the inclusion of the male and female within the flower’s corolla evidence of a higher spiritual union. Fire marks the extreme of natural proximity to spirit. for it. thus. stone. not be ignited accidentally and externally. there can only be a real sexual encounter between male and female when one has a “doubled being. too. Hegel calls the reproductive process of plants “only a representation [Vorstellung] of the sexual relationship” (JIII. Parts of plants can be broken off and replanted. the plant could go over into stone (in dying) as easily as it could burn. Hegel insists that the partners must be able to separate . The plant is not permeated by sexuality. according to Hegel. teetering between spiritless stone and spirit-receptive animal. The complete organic being reflects itself in action and reaction to other. the excitability of its fever. but fire must come from within. the potential flammability of the plant (dead plants. there is no meaning to the word individuation. with their crystallized sugars. Friedrich Schlegel in Lucinde). According to Hegel. In the realm of earth and stone.” two separate bodies (JIII. inner opposition. 139–40). the divisions we make are purely arbitrary. But. Reflection. or in some detachable part of it. 139) because one cannot say that an individual plant has contact with other individual plants through the reproductive process. but plants are incapable of this. The case is similar for the plant. This. Hegel will say. The process of sexual reproduction provides the ultimate test of the possible spirituality of the different realms of organic life. burn) marks its position on the verge. is arbitrarily individuated (JIII. less literal process through which plants can also become part of the cycle of fire: their conversion into food for animals. but has it only as its surface. for heat is the product of conflict. combines sensitivity (which distinguishes organic from inorganic life) and reactivity to other elements of organic life. The animal carries fire within itself in the heat of its blood. of course. The plant also generates no warmth within itself. which alone will lead to spirit. for the term self becomes superfluous in light of the lack of individuation.

“the fruit is not the maternal body” of the seed (JIII. whether within an animal stomach or in the preparation of human food and drink. Nevertheless. For this reason. the reproductive organs of the plant are a system that is a part of. vinegar. for Hegel. to be eaten. the reproductive functions of plants must be seen as being as much digestive processes as much as they are sexual. Just as Christ was born of a virgin.” but rather an all-too-natural dissipation of the possibility of true contact. but also its uplifting. Hegel sees the flower as a high point of plant development. 145). bread and wine. like Christ. Suicide. yet cannot be thought of separately from the animal in which they exist. poppy (red)” (JIII. the color. are the symbols of the Eucharist. But all these qualities are only for others. In the process of fermentation. Thus. is an act of desperation or perhaps of atonement. 141). This is its downfall.” the curriculum vitae of the dead. 143). including death itself. The plant gives itself in sugar. so the plant itself can be a manifestation of spirit only—and thus. the flower. In the same way. 144). lays its life down for the sake of something. the plant finally gives off its own heat and transforms light into fire (JIII. The first signs that the plant has manifested the concept can be seen only with the emergence of the fruit. cornflower (blue). nor can it be said to be “for the flower” in terms of pleasure. and the reproduction of a plant are for others. Self-sacrifice implies the offering of oneself for the sake of the progression of a larger whole. Just as the scent. Bread and wine allow Christ to be resurrected through their ingestion. The animal’s digestive organs work together as a coherent whole. which occurs with the demise of the flower and indicates the self-sacrifice of the plant: “Plants offer themselves as food to higher organisms. into a higher unity. is no “spiritual anastomosis. This is their vocation” (JIII. Hegel’s figure of the plant comes more and more to resemble the resurrected Christ as opposed to the tragic Christ. Even the products of the fermented plant.18 What we have called an animal metaphorics of subjectivity implies this completion—this integration of all loose ends. nor can they be considered to permeate every aspect of the animal body. but does not expect to achieve specific results. Similarly. 146). The dissemination of pollen. “or perhaps even more so” (JIII. never for the plant itself. on the contrary. Hegel writes. There is a fundamental difference between the figure of self-sacrifice that Hegel describes in both cases and Hölderlin’s examination of suicide. wine. truly is only—in giving itself over in death to be eaten by a higher organism. The fruit of the plant .132 The Vegetative Soul physically in order to come together. and bread. it becomes part of “der Lebenslauf der Toten. at least for Hölderlin. the plant. but does not permeate. The color and the smell of the flower manifest fire in its most ethereal form: “Colors of fire: cornfield yellow.

and even Christ insofar as he is God in the body of a man.” and as such “only the corpse of the understanding. the latter the subsistent [bestehenden]. The identification of nature with the Dionysian clearly indicates that Hegel relegates any importance of nature to the deep past of spirit. the watery. the sugary. this spirituality is the highest degree to which the plant can come into itself [höchste Selbstigkeit]. is only one preparation among others for the manifestation of Christianity. the non-Christian. among . nature is not “as” the son. in the manner of “a Bacchic god unrestrained and unmindful of itself” (W 9: 25/PN 1: 206).19 Just as the Dionysian. The juxtaposition of the two images of Bacchic reveler and corpse seems strange only until one recalls the scene of Euripides’ Bacchae to which Hegel is surely referring. is ripped apart by ecstatic worshippers. for example. Nature is spirit which has “let itself go” (ausgelassen). In his introduction to the Philosophy of Nature in the Encyclopedia. the former the one that has most come into itself [selbstigen]. winey. He calls nature (as an indirect manifestation of spirit) a Dionysian entity. In the following sentences Hegel identifies nature—as an area to be examined by philosophy—with a human appropriation of nature. becomes fiery. Hegel calls nature “spirit estranged from itself. the mealy. 146) The equation of plant and the feminine as necessary for the progression of spirit (as virgin. nature is only a preparation for spirit. Nature is to spirit what the son is to god insofar as nature is the pure exteriority of the concept. the latter the bodily. Neutrality. the oriental. Hegel always remains in the logic of resurrection. where to be reborn spiritually is to lose the body. to the prehistory or the coming-to-be of spirit. and specifically to the moment when Pentheus. Hegel’s articulation of the subject excludes woman from the state unapologetically. Thus. the skeptic who does not recognize the divinity of Dionysos (or Bacchus).” Here Hegel explicitly draws the parallel between nature as middle term and Christ: “In Christ the contradiction [of the Idea in its infinite freedom and in the form of individuality] is posited and overcome. as. however. not as the Son. the sticky—the potable and the edible—the former the spiritual. since it abides in otherness and never gets taken up into spirit. The register of terms that get aligned with the plant includes the feminine. the living artwork. viewed from the point of view of spirit. here we see its natural justification. passion. but this coming-into-itself does not become the blood of the plant. as His life. namely with a religion that deifies nature.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 133 has the doubled principle in itself. (JIII. and resurrection: Nature is the son of God. but only its death—intoxicating drinks. unadulterated matter) without herself being incorporated into it is implied. but as abiding in otherness” (W 9: 25/PN 1: 206).

but absolute. The knowledge of death as death (as my death) is what allows the human being to see itself as a singular and irreplaceable being. having (thus) disposed of it. the life of spirit is not that life which is frightened of death. the continuation of this same passage places the responsibility for the reanimation of the corpse on a more Christian notion of resurrection through the human intellect: Nature is. Thus. (W 3: 36/PS 19) Death is called an “unreality” because Hegel refers here not to the bodily death of the philosopher contemplating spirit. This prolonged sojourn is the magical force [Zauberkraft] which transposes the negative into Being. but God does not remain petrified and dead. Impotent beauty hates this awareness. and Schelling therefore called her a petrified [versteinerte] intelligence. because understanding makes this demand of beauty. others even a frozen intelligence. but that life which assumes death and lives with it. death differs fundamentally from all other negativities in that it is not determinate. in which the other is only momentary. no. infinite actuosity.134 The Vegetative Soul them his own mother. a requirement which beauty cannot fulfill. as Hegel states explicitly in the passage cited from the Philosophy of Nature. Most human beings rarely face death until it becomes an unavoidable “reality” for them or someone that they know. which would effectively bring an end to any investigation. It is not that (prodigious) power by being the positive that turns away from the negative. and to uphold the work of death is the task which demands the greatest strength. as when we say of something: this is nothing or (this is) false and. In “Hegel. (W 9: 25/PN 1: 206) . activity [Tätigkeit]. only implicitly [an sich] the Idea. remaining implicit within the unity of the idea. and spares itself destruction. spirit is that power only to the degree to which it contemplates the negative face to face (and) dwells with it. Now. the very stones cry out and lift themselves up to spirit. where dismemberment is also the key image: Death—if we wish so to name that unreality—is the most terrible thing there is. because it is itself this totality of the idea. but rather to the recognition of the inevitability of death as what individuates humans and sets them apart from the rest of nature. The transformation of the human from a natural to a spiritual being occurs with a direct confrontation with this recognition of absolute finitude. however. God is subjectivity. this time in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Death.”20 Georges Bataille points us toward another passage in Hegel. Although dismemberment (Zerrissenheit) would seem to point directly to the Dionysian or Bacchic. and Sacrifice. pass from there to something else. Spirit attains its truth only by finding itself in absolute dismemberment.

like many of his philosophical writings. Such cultures remain so entirely identified with the primitive past of humankind that Hegel regards them as fossils. from ancient Eastern civilizations such as those of China. contain the first glimmers of a symbolism that goes beyond a deification of the potencies of nature. In another surprising juxtaposition. . nature as a whole will appear as a fossil in relation to spirit. literature. and Egypt (all of these are generally treated as a whole) to the civilization of the ancient Greeks to that of Christianized Western Europe. Hegel’s fascination with and ultimate dismissal of what he will call “plant religion” and “plant nature” is linked to the widespread preoccupation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the rebirth of interest in—and commitment to—ancient Greece and its art. and this Light-being [Lichtwesen] directed his imagination inward onto himself and became evil: that is the moment of difference. or geological nature.” “light. In the same way. Jacob Boehme says that God’s first-born is Lucifer. it is only with the description of plant life that Hegel begins to make the series of normative binary distinctions we referred to above. and Arabian cultures together in a time that parallels the presentation of stone. India. and philosophy. according to Hegel. Chinese. especially in its pre-Greek “Asiatic” history. (W 9: 30/PN 1: 211) Such conceptions are called “wild” and “oriental. however. Much of the vocabulary of plant development is mystical and specifically refers to the Dionysian religion.” “oriental. the fact that Hegel took up the philosophy of nature after already having sketched out a philosophy of history and human development takes on a more and more prominent role in his articulation of the structure of nature itself. The ground and meaning of such conceptions.” and it is interesting to note that Hegel will call plants. in addition to performing the structure of Aufhebung as resurrection. is to be found in the negative nature of nature [Natur der Natur]. beings of light. Hegel’s mapping out of the transition from stone to plant to animal nature. Hegel next compares nature to Lucifer: Nature is the negative because it is the negative of the Idea. Although Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. Hegel effectively dismisses the history of humanity until the time of the Greeks by regularly gathering Indian. in human history. mirrors Hegel’s description of the movement. “wild.” and “plant” all have connections to the Dionysian as well. Indeed. will imply the death of nature. is tripartite in structure.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 135 What Hegel calls coming to life. too. which occur wildly in an oriental style. Plant nature characterizes the transition from Eastern into Greek civilization. Greek art and religion. of otherness held fast against the Son who is otherness within love. In other words.

all of these together. which merely cease to live and never have truly mated. it cannot propel itself. All three of these capacities imply a finite entity that in some way reaches out to others of its kind in a relation of desire. immediate stage of subjective vitality” in which “the objective organism and its subjectivity are still immediately identical” (W 9: 371/PN 3: 45).” which can fall from it. however. or even become independently growing plants. the plant “is only able to maintain itself in the face of its mutation by leaving what changes in a state of indifference” (W 9: 437/PN 3: 110–11). according to a seemingly arbitrary pattern. The plant. along with the necessity of sexual opposition. and reproduction. the roots. but cannot be truly differentiated from other individuals. Thus. and possesses sensation. a potential that is related to the possibility of death by virtue of the three moments that characterize life. for speculation subsists in the resolution of contradiction. defined as the “faculty of finding oneself within oneself” (W 9: 341–42/PN 3: 13–14). or perhaps in the subsidiary nodes? The plant has “no power over its members. as individual. Hegel calls plant life the “realm of water. irritability or reactivity. The animal kingdom. namely sensitivity.” though he also refers to it as dependent on light. and it is not divided from other stones as other. The division between geological nature and plant nature is based on this difference. fire. but cautions that this life form “is only the first. by contrast. nor can one really say where a plant. it resembles a skeleton. air. Hegel distinguishes between the three realms of organic nature in terms of their potential for self-reflective subjectivity. The stone possesses none of these characteristics.” vulnerable to falling victim to an external power rather than capable of dying. Hegel regards the plant . Hegel bases the first division of his hierarchy between the three realms of organic nature on the capacity to die in the bodily sense. the stem. stones do not possess an internal contradiction that is capable of destroying them. Even the solar system is merely a “mechanical organism. and resolution cannot occur when there is no interior contradiction or opposition (W 9: 338/PN 3: 10). that privileges animate over inanimate nature and even over plants. die. is the “realm of fire. begins or ends: in the leaf. The section on “Plant Nature” in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature begins by contrasting the plant’s body “articulated into parts which are separate and distinct” with the uniformity of rock. completely self-animated.” a domain in which the individual is easily separable from the group. particularizes itself in a sense. Hegel refers to geological nature as “the realm of earth” with reference to the four Aristotelian elements of earth.136 The Vegetative Soul In his mature philosophy of nature. and water. Although geological formations perdure immeasurably longer than do the lives of individual plants (and animals). It is the possibility of sickness and death.

The insufficiency of this primitive “desire” to make the plant (or any system based upon it) truly subjective (inwardturning or reflective) is obvious in Hegel’s description. Nevertheless. indifferent to each other . As we have seen. it is pulled to light by a sheer necessity that has nothing to do with desire. the physical environment: “This outer.) rather than having a “subjective unity of members [Gliedern]. as a collection of singularities rather than as an individual.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 137 as something whose oneness is only a composite of a number of different “individuals” (bud. It can have no true subjectivity because it does not and cannot come back to itself after departing from itself toward an other that it recognizes as not-itself (as the animal will be able to do): “The growth of the plant is an assimilation into itself of the other. The differences of organic parts existing within the plant are merely the result of a “superficial metamorphosis. this assimilation is also a going-forthfrom-itself. and conversely” (W 9: . in the same way that the human seeks humans” (W 9: 374/PN 3: 48). physical self of the plant is light.” like the beautiful soul. The plant’s striving for self is “rather being-drawn-out-of-itself. The self-sufficiency of the plant’s expansion through metamorphosis—its strength in the eyes of Goethe. the plant can only relate to an other that is identical to itself. It is not a coming-to-self as an individual. so that its return into itself is a perpetual going-forth. Schelling. the plant manifests the beginnings of spiritual life: the plant in its growth through “unrest” (Unruhe) foreshadows the category of desire that will determine the animal and be the defining characteristic of the human. The individuals remain a separated plurality. in The Phenomenology of Spirit. Because of this. The plant has no relation to itself as itself because its only relation is to an absolute other that has complete power over it.” and of the oriental in general.” (W 9: 374/PN 3: 47). towards which it strives.” in other words. the plant comes closest to spirituality when it symbolically takes the place of the human body and blood in the forms of bread and wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist.” according to Hegel (W 9: 371/PN 3: 45). but as a self-multiplication. . but a multiplication of individuality. A human only attains self-consciousness in the struggle for recognition (from other human beings). to another part of itself. Here Hegel’s description of the plant resembles that of Abraham in “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate. stem. and Hölderlin—renders it a mere series of (qualitatively identical) repetitions for Hegel. but the plant is not commensurate with its environment in that its striving for light is blind. of the primitive “flower religion” as “innocent. so that the one individuality is only the superficial unity of the many. namely. . etc. namely. Hegel takes the fact that animals feed on and incorporate dead plants to be evidence of the provisionality of this religious stage.

Perhaps Hegel’s obsession with intestines (among all the animal organs he most frequently specifies the viscera. for Hegel plants can never be used as symbols of intelligence or of spiritual development.21 The animal “transcends its shape. Hegel contrasts his own view to that of Goethe in The Metamorphosis of Plants. It cannot move to a new place. die Eingeweide) is linked to the fact that the length of the animal digestive process. the coils and chemicals along the way. Hegel objects that these seemingly curved lines do not develop “inwardly into a rounded shape. Contingency and interruption are the conditions of possibility for subjectivity and spirituality. as a self. a relationship of desire that is satisfied or frustrated in the outer world. giving it time to think and to have a feeling of lack (and thus desire). If one examines the interior organs of animals they are all rounded. The “shape” of the mineral sphere is crystalline. A plant is incapable of cutting off its own relationship to earth. and cannot will itself to change place. only if. allow the animal to rest between periods of ingestion and excretion.138 The Vegetative Soul 374/PN 3: 48). elliptical” (W 9: 393/PN 3: 65). and not time (W 9: 375/PN 3: 48). The “shape” of the plant is a mixture of the two. this metamorphosis is “only a development of shape” and thus “stands midway between the crystal of the mineral sphere and the free. combining the straight line of the stem with the honeycomb of the cells and the spiral fibers. water. the innards. and this is also the form of the trajectory of self-consciousness. a willing one. Thus. The claim about the superficiality of plant metamorphosis is .” and does not have to “interrupt its growth in its digestive and sexual process” (W 9: 437/PN 3: 110).” To Hegel. to refuse nourishment. Its motion and its place are never contingent in the sense of being free.” and that “in the leaf.” writes Hegel. on the most fundamental level. but always determined by the environment. This relationship is. leading to a relationship with itself. “The relationship of the plant to the outer world. surface predominates” (W 9: 393/PN 3: 65). “could be an interrupted relationship only if the plant existed as something subjective. For Goethe the fact that a plant exhibits a miraculous multiplicity of metamorphoses while remaining fundamentally identical both in idea and in nature is evidence of its unity as a “spiritual conductor (geistige Leiter). it cannot refuse to take in water or light. it had a relation to its self” (W 9: 377/PN 3: 50). manifests its relation to itself. even to kill itself. dominated by the straight line. it cannot even temporarily halt its infinite process of taking in and releasing. The plant’s relationship to the external world can never be interrupted. whereas the animal capacity to delay eating. and light. The plant is rooted to one spot. its element is space. however. animal shape” (W 9: 393/PN 3: 65). while the “shape” of the animal is “oval.

for itself. The plant’s relationship to space is “merely abstract” since it has no mastery over the placement of its parts in space. When the process of developmental specification is turned outward instead of inward. it must not be able to feel.” only the beginning of self-movement that is never contingent. color. In the process of the formation of the plant. during which processes they give off heat. The new individual is an other to the plant. and thus of positing itself purely in time. that is. However. with no essential curvature backward. for past and future emerge with the subjective representations of memory and fear or hope. utter contingency and open-endedness. although in a later passage Hegel will call the circulation of sap within the plant a “quivering of vitality . can become another individual. its development is purely external. its unity comes only from space. . Hegel also objects that the “collection [Zusammennehmen] of self-preservation in a unity is not a merging [Zusammenschließen] of the individual with itself. since it cannot entirely cut itself off from the sensuous. Indeed. taste. directed only outwardly. comes only from an external source. rather than . but since the plant has no digestive organs. and smell. In the animal. from light. As such.” cannot “venture into conflict with other individualities” (W 9: 378/PN 3: 52). plants can generate heat and thus become spiritual products such as bread and wine. . the time of nature is essentially only in the present (from a human point of view. The “individualization” of plants. restless [unruhige] Time” (W 9: 404/PN 3: 76). The human has the possibility of willfully “annihilating” (vernichten) its place. and “it is not yet pure time within itself” (W 9: 375/PN 3: 49). this development would lead to the visceral process. according to Hegel. nature has no time). and therefore has no self-feeling either. for Hegel. Once again. Since the plant has no relationship with itself as pure soul. This signifies. A plant’s structure can lead it anywhere. a stem can sprout roots even if it is plucked from the top of the plant. In dying.22 Hegel associates sensation or feeling (Empfindung) with the internal bodily processes that generate heat. namely their sap.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 139 defended with reference to its physical structure. that is. Since the plant is unable to generate heat for itself. it does not return into itself. but rather the production of a new plant-individual. not a part of itself. Plant movement is mere “oscillation. There is no contingent determination of place. and thus cannot “tolerate itself as other. Hegel will later go so far as to say that it is only in decaying and fermenting. that plants approach a passage to spirituality. the bud” (W 9: 394/PN 3: 67). The plant attains the threshold of spirituality only in sacrificing itself. A part of the plant changes into another. and thus no absolute necessity for it to come back to itself. time only is where humans are.

Death is not possible for the stone—it already is death. again. the . setting boundaries. can sense a deficiency or an excess. we might say. also in relation to Hegel. since alleviation is always a lightening in the sense of trimming the excess. Hegel compares this process to “the diremption of the individual in the past into vital activity as such [Lebenstätigkeit] that is external to it and into the system of organic formations constituting the material substratum and residuum of the process” (W 9: 408/PN 3: 80).140 The Vegetative Soul the formation of specialized organs that would mediate the organism’s relationship with the external world. is a sign of progress rather than deterioration when considered from the point of view of life in general. in that it sets up an opposition between itself and Being” (W 9: 408/PN 3: 80). which posit a unidirectional overflow from the divine into nature without the return back into the ideal. At the same time. The process of selfdestruction. defining the individual by excluding its other. and regulate their intake accordingly. if poison is anywhere in its immediate environment. “the plant . In animals this gradual “suicide” is the formation of the skeletal system. . every moment of Aufhebung is an occidentalization. in that it is a change effected from within rather than as a result of external influences. which is “combustibility as potentiality of fire without itself being heat” (W 9: 408/PN 3: 80). “subjectivity always produces itself in a moment of occidentalization. The plant is regarded as deficient because of its unmediated relationship with the environment. Nature is nothing more than the “residuum” of this process. this process can never be deferred. Hegel compares nature to a skeleton or a corpse. perpetually kills itself. if “death” as residuum is the “calcareous” within the plant or animal. negates. Like the animal. A plant cannot but poison itself. Hegel writes. Nevertheless. there is simply a multiplication of individuals. Hegel calls emanationist models of nature. This distinction will have important implications for Hegel’s criticism of Dionysian religion and the “oriental” tendency to overflow limits and collapse in languidity. the plant becomes wood. However. and assimilates [zum Seinigen macht] what comes to it from outside” (W 9: 395/PN 3: 67–68). “conceptions that proceed from wildly orientalizing tastes” (W 9: 30/PN 1: 211).”23 Or. the plant does possess what Hegel calls “an essential side of [the] organic process” in that “it infects. In death. whereas animals feel need. Hegel links the division of plants and animals into rigid structure and fleshy surface to the cosmic process by which pure activity and materiality are separated. Thus. and in the end the plant is always at the mercy of the immediate environment. . As Derrida puts it. as potentiality of a union-withself without itself being the satisfaction of union. all of which are equally vulnerable to the elements. whereas in plants it is the buildup of woody tissue. that is.

the external counterparts of sense perception taken as qualities. so that its being is determined solely by something external to it. symbolizing the process of subjectivity defined as “selfrelating in the face of externality” (W 9: 435 /PN 3: 108).” It cannot become light. Since the plant’s relationship to light takes the place of its relationship to itself. but feeds solely on lower organic forms. However. becomes merely color. disease and health. Both are susceptible to disease. which will render them progressively more rigid. both the plant and the animal are on the way to spirit. hearing. allows for a clear distinction between interiority and exteriority. making of the rest of nature an object for the purposes of its own existence. active or passive. as “I. the center of nature” (W 9: 435/PN 3: 108). It no longer depends upon inorganic nature. subjective universality over and against externality. Interestingly. the animal is capable of individually encapsulating this capacity and carrying it around with it.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 141 plant is described as indirectly “satisfied” or “realized” when the animal digests it. unlike the plant’s body. Because of its structure. it cannot unite with the universal. since vitality and activity will be attributes of spirit. Hegel links this inability to return to self with the lack of sense perception. light. The lack of a self-like character means that what in an animal would be sight. For Hegel. of the vitality that will no longer have anything to do with life in the biological sense.. the superiority of the animal over the plant is its possibility of a return-to-self after the process of going outside itself in order to satisfy desire. life and death. it cannot understand itself as self. The animal organism. The animal appropriates . as plant. carry death within them. attached and detached.” as an animal can. resulting in a notion of self as inner. forms that have already assimilated the inorganic into themselves. but becomes in the light. By contrast. that is. not matter. as well as a distinction between what is essential and inessential (assimilation and excretion). the essential exteriority of nature. by contrast. of spirit. recapitulates the whole of organic nature. the plant in its woody substructure. the animal body makes the rest of nature revolve about it: “the animal organism is the microcosm. to the greatest degree possible within nature. Yet by virtue of their capacity to maintain the tenuous equilibrium between rigidity and fluidity. Only the structure of the animal body—which.” It cannot even desire the “not-I. the self of the plant “does not maintain itself” after going outside itself (W 9: 412/PN 3: 84). It merely “fashions itself into a light-plant. Both the animal and the plant. Its capacity for spontaneous movement and its self-enclosed body allow it to experience. at which time the plant becomes heat or energy. etc. It becomes the subject of an isolated existence. transported or left behind—allows the animal to be the symbol of subjectivity. then. the animal in its skeleton. and shape in the plant.

and unfolds into subjective animation. Aufhebung is always a figure of sacrifice. sheds light on the strange transition from plant to animal read as a kind of inevitable self-sacrifice.142 The Vegetative Soul nature as exteriority into something “for itself. is a philosophy of death in that it is death alone that separates spirit from nature. Humans pass from sensation to conception only by inhibiting their natural impetus. in the Hegelian sense. is its [the plant’s] ruin [Untergang]” (W 9: 429/PN 3: 101). which. fuel.” Nothing else in nature— other than its own instincts. Even more specifically. a self-immolation in the form of food. Bataille argues.”27 Hegel’s philosophy. the realm of fire. Bataille writes. excerpted from a study on the thought of Alexander Kojève. fermented. Plants. The animal is characterized by the presence of drives (Triebe). are too open to everything. withstanding the impulse. sexual activity. the human carries an incomparable negativity within it. The moment of passage from stone to plant was a moment. shelter. writes Bataille. .26 Hegel’s final words are unambiguous: “The plant is a subordinate [untergeordneter] organism whose destiny is to proffer itself to the higher organism in order to be consumed by it. . and death—is capable of resisting it. thus the animal becomes a kind of analogue to a “subject” over and against nature as an object.”28 This is because through knowledge of its (animal. The human animal possesses. for as fruit ripens it assures its own death. combusted. Nevertheless. their lack of resistance leads to the impossibility of subjectivity. Death alone. . interrupting the natural thrust. other animals. at least of unconditional surrender: “It [the geological organism] overcomes [aufhebt] its rigidity. though it causes it anguish. Georges Bataille’s study of the figure of sacrifice in Hegel’s work. which is higher than that of the plant. The fruit is a sign of the downfall of the plant. “assures the existence of a ‘spiritual’ or ‘dialectical’ being. The processes of being digested. bodily) death. it excludes this animation from itself. beyond these natural pressures.25 The freedom of movement of animals is their counterpart to human freedom. wine. which is an inhibition of its own at the outset. contributing in an indirect way to the animal realm. or distilled represent the only means by which plants can generate heat. “The problem of Hegel is given in the action of sacrifice. and oil.24 Hegel calls resistance the condition of subjectivity. also allows . the conclusion of the section on vegetable nature in the Philosophy of Nature makes it clear that Hegel regards the culmination of vegetable nature to be the plant’s capacity to lay itself down for the sake of animal nature. The moment of passage from plant to animal is even more decisive. literally “pressures” that push it in the direction of food. and surrenders it to other individuals” (W 9: 361). or strife. Indeed. the possibility of suppressing the pressures. if not of self-sacrifice. as we have seen. [The] animal process.

separate humans from the totality. and its possibility rests on the capacity for language. These elements (this tree.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 143 it to negate nature and in so doing see itself as somehow separate from the totality of all natural things. the consciousness of being separated. And so. to consume itself like the phoenix in order to come forth from this externality rejuvenated as spirit” (W 9: 538/PN 3: 212). but only to an abstract concept. As we have seen. Indeed. that is. since if anything existed outside of time or eternally. is the necessary condition of knowledge of any kind. this stone) are in fact inseparable from the whole.29 Kojève cites Hegel (in a way that both clarifies and considerably simplifies Hegel’s language) in the Phenomenology of Spirit as saying that all conceptual thinking is equivalent to murder. for . plant. Any kind of human understanding is thus a form of (self-)sacrifice. Thus. too. are animals.”32 Humans gain knowledge by sacrificing the animal in themselves. with reference to the realm of nature. sensuous existence. and animal to make the human a final stage of natural development. discourse) should have had the force (an incomparable force) to separate its constitutive elements from the Totality. Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature as a whole concludes with a scene of sacrifice. that the human can be terrified by death and thus know itself as the one who can die: “The only true death supposes separation and. For it is only as a separate and irreplaceable being. human beings are animals. This separation. of course. we may understand the plant’s self-sacrifice as following this prescribed pattern.”31 Only language has the “monstrous force of the understanding” that can negate nature. as the object of its own knowledge. Hegel does not go beyond the tripartite division of stone. its concept would be that thing and not its counterpart in language. Bataille sees sacrifice as the key to understanding dialectic. Bataille makes the point that humans can never be revealed to themselves fully if one takes Hegel’s point to its natural conclusion.30 Only that which is finite can be detached from its concept. Yet although humans possess the ability to negate nature in this fashion. they cannot avoid the consequence that in so doing they also negate themselves to the extent that they. and give things names. it is both fundamental and altogether worthy of astonishment that human understanding (that is. predicated on death. nature must “become an other to itself” in order to “recognize itself as idea”: “The goal of nature is to kill itself [sich zu töten] and to break through its rind of immediate. or natural beings. in order to make the transition to spirit. Bataille’s observation takes as its basis Kojève’s linkage of language and death in Hegel. in a nonconscious manner. However. since language cannot refer to a determinate living entity. this bird. Bataille writes in a similar vein: “For Hegel. through the discourse which separates. language.

he . one in spirit with the sacrificial weapon. visible no less in the formation of mountain ranges than in the orderly succession of plant-life and of the animal races. that there is an inward necessity inherent in the conceptual articulation of its divisions. In other words. classical. Beauty depends. a progress subject to laws of thought. He writes: “When confronted with the variety of the external presentation in each of these realms. the sense-perception surmises a controlling unity intelligible to mind. he would have to die. death itself would have to become (self-)consciousness at the very moment that it annihilates the conscious being. animal body that will allow for this revelation. Hegel.”36 Hegel thus takes Kant’s technic of nature one step farther. However. historically and across cultures. Indeed. Beginning with the architecture of India and Egypt. Hegel discusses the possibility of finding beauty in nature. but he would have to do it while living—watching himself ceasing to be. and do not confine ourselves only to the purely imaginative conception of it as a world conforming on its exterior side only to a final end. in the section on architecture in his lectures on the philosophy of art. He divides the history of architecture into three successive stages: symbolic. In the sacrifice. Hegel uses the stages of nature as justification for the progression of art. Rather. is the highest development of organic nature. For example. human beings cease to be at the death of their bodies: “In order for man to reveal himself ultimately to himself. Hegel employs natural forms again and again as evidence of the parallel unfolding of human development. and concludes that nature itself cannot be beautiful. in a certain way. on a presupposed conceptual unity.”35 We may conclude from the existence of the three realms of nature. only by understanding it as the “sensuous manifestation of the concrete Begriff ” can nature be considered beautiful. Bataille argues.144 The Vegetative Soul in theory it is the death of the natural. by means of the practice of sacrifice.”34 In his lectures on fine art. in Hegel’s construction of nature. and even. as might be expected. Hegel gives the example of the division of organic nature into three realms. just as the animal realm. “as already foreshadowed by its truth regarded as a process rising from plane to plane. the ones who perform the rite identify themselves with the animal that is killed: “And so he dies in seeing himself die. and romantic. To illustrate exactly what he means by this perception of a unity that is presupposed.”33 This has been accomplished. by his own will. asserts that the beauty of the animal marks the culmination of the possibility of beauty in nature. The division of nature into three realms is necessary not only transcendentally in conformity with its preconceived logical structure (in concordance with a subjectively presupposed final end) but immanently in the way in which the movement from stone to animal unfolds. then.

As Derrida has observed. whose natural organic form is the tree. is not in immediate unity with its nature.40 Hegel delineates a similar progression in The Phenomenology of Spirit with regard to the history of religion. Hegel writes: The silent essence of self-less nature in its fruit [Frucht] attains to that stage where. In his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. it offers itself to life that has a .” but then “submits to the uniformity and scientific precision of form.”39 in the same way that spirit emerges out of the ashes of nature. and remarks particularly on the column. it has to work its way through its infinite dualism or division. the flower. This is by no means a state of reconciliation which is there from the outset. “originates in the natural form. bread. Herder. a progression. the truth rather is that in order to attain to the return to itself. The “unity” of the plant. a stem. Hölderlin. self-prepared and digested. growing out of the roots of unconscious inspiration. . are really nothing but crystals.41 First. from the worship of light to religions with plant and animal deities. the shape of an onion. “plant life generally. on the contrary. and this true unity is attained to by spirit only by separation from its immediate character. The spiritual. the innocent flower religion gives way to the warring animal religion. Finally. Then animal religion is followed by Bacchic cults that imbibe the fermented fruit. the symbol of Christ’s body. in this case. but Hegel most likely addresses his critique to the general popularity of such a notion. Hegel addresses the popular characterization of genius as plant-like. a thin stalk which strives upwards in a vertical direction. . The column. plant self-sacrifice repeats itself precisely three times in the history of the progression of religion as chronicled by Hegel. . as we have seen. is one that is never broken or interrupted: Plants are in this condition of unbroken unity. despite all the wonder they arouse of their own accord.”37 He then proceeds to the description of the development of architecture toward the classical style. Goethe.”38 Eventually these plant forms are entwined with shapes of animal and even human figures. Hegel’s chief objection to the description of genius as plant-like is that spirit can be attained only as a result of a diremption followed by a unification of the opposing forces. and to win the state of accomplished reconciliation by wrestling for it.The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 145 writes: “The Pyramids. which emerges out of these imitations of nature.” Other plant forms can be found in the decoration of Egyptian architecture: the ear of corn. a “reed-like efflorescence of leaf from the bulb. and Schelling are the best-known adopters and adaptors of this view. wine becomes the symbol of Christ’s blood along with that other product of fermented plant life.

” It is really not possible to say anything more monstrous. Whereas Hegel complained of the deficiency and irrationality manifest in the deformities of nature.” while Goethe saw in the same an endless creativity manifesting the infinite. Hegel deplored the plant-like “leakage of nature into singularity [Einzelheit]. its self-driven nature. wrote in a letter to Eckermann: By chance a passage from the preface to Hegel’s Logic 43 came into my hands. What was for Hegel a mindless combination of accident and necessity. too. seems to me unworthy of a rational man. like Hölderlin. the “masculine” principle that can impel itself recalls the distinguishing mark of the animal.”45 What Hegel saw as the contingency and conceptlessness of the physical world. in which they not only no longer struggle against each other. Goethe insisted that the rule and its exception are intimately related. powerful [selbstkräftigen] substance. in the same way through the fruit the blossom is revealed as a false existence.146 The Vegetative Soul self-like nature [dem selbstischen Leben]. was for Goethe evidence of an infinite volition within the realm of law. distinguishes—but in the spaces between them. it takes its place. but their fluid nature makes them.44 Goethe.46 . The digestion of bread and wine by human beings marks the attainment of the highest possible stage for plants. Goethe emphasized that what he strove for was “to linger at the points where the different realms meet each other and appear to turn into each other [ineinander überzugehen scheinen]. was interested not so much in the differences between the three realms of nature—which he. upon reading Hegel’s description of plant life. at the same time moments of organic unity. These forms suppress each other as incompatible with each other. but one is as necessary as the other. In its metamorphoses. Goethe (and Schelling) understood as the willfulness and freedom of nature. To want to destroy the eternal reality of nature through a poor sophisticated game [schlechten sophistischen Spaß]. the Earth-spirit [Erdgeist] has developed. It goes as follows: “The bud disappears in the bursting forth of the blossom. partly into an autochthonous.42 Of course. In its usefulness as food and drink it reaches its highest perfection. for in this it is the possibility of a higher existence and comes into contact with spiritual being-there. The reference to the Erdgeist comes from Goethe’s Faust. the self-impelling force [sich treibenden Kraft] of self-conscious being-there. and as its truth. in the other the masculine principle. partly into a spiritual fermentation [geistigen Gährung]: in the first case it is the feminine principle of nourishment [weiblichen Prinzip der Ernährung]. and one could say that it was refuted by it. Goethe. and this same necessity first creates a life out of the whole.

a body whose temporality. . . loses sight of its connection to the life-anddeath rhythms of nature and its provenance in the unconscious. in particular.” Schelling. has become a good deal more monstrous than the preceding philosophy ever was . writes: However commendable one must find Hegel’s impulse to recognize the merely logical nature and significance of the science which he found before him. in On the History of Modern Philosophy. one must yet admit that his philosophy. retrospectively. real significance).and future-lessness of a scientific object. as it is really carried out (precisely because of the pretension to objective. insofar as it believes it can overcome its plantlike fragility.47 What made Hegel monstrous to Goethe and Schelling and presumably to Hölderlin was his conception of nature as nothing more than an incarnation of the Begriff. to a body whose metamorphoses have been duly tracked and noted down. .The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant 147 Goethe was not the only thinker to find Hegel’s philosophy of nature “monstrous. however commendable it is. Human subjectivity. This is a monstrous incarnation in that it reduces nature to a passing moment of spirit. that he revealed as logical relationships the logical relationships which previous philosophy concealed in the real. is locked in the past.

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individuation. —Friedrich Nietzsche.e. Nachgelassene Fragmente It might initially seem surprising to include Nietzsche in a discussion about the philosophy of nature and its effects on historical conceptions of subjectivity. and all of these themes play important roles in the broader examination of the relationship between studies of nature and of the human being. Nachgelassene Fragmente We are dizzy at the thought that perhaps the will. and the place of the human being. Yet Nietzsche is as well known for his critique of the ego and of the primacy accorded to consciousness as for his indictment of modern science and of uncritical assumptions of teleology in nature.6 NIETZSCHE The Ivy and the Vine The human being knows the world to the degree that he knows himself. Furthermore. stars. in order to come to art. his work is a fitting culmination to the consideration of the vegetative soul. poured itself out in these worlds. its depths unveil themselves to him to the degree that he is astounded by himself and by his own complexity. 149 . Nietzsche in fact did study Kant’s Critique of Teleological Judgment and consider it with reference to Goethe’s philosophy of nature. atoms. bodies. —Friedrich Nietzsche. For these reasons and because Nietzsche provides probably the most radical nineteenth-century attempt to rethink subjectivity. i.

it is essentially edification. for example. and familiar with Kant only through Schopenhauer. an attempt that Nietzsche immediately and decisively evaluates as “unsuccessful” (HKG 1:3. as well as the province of “absolute truth. one cannot deny the impact Kant must have had on Nietzsche from early on. is not entirely accurate. it depends on art. cites the following letter from Nietzsche to Paul Deussen in 1868: The realm of metaphysics. such that “the thingin-itself takes on one of its possible forms” (my emphasis). even though they would most likely have disapproved of the extremes to which he takes their views. when you receive my doctoral dissertation at the end of the year. From now on.1 Although Nietzsche eventually gave up the dissertation topic on the idea of the organism in Kant as unsuitable for a philological project. Nietzsche employs the language of force in order to counter atomistic or mechanical world pic- . Nietzsche’s critique of the centrality of the organism in the natural science of his day.” have been irremediably lowered to the ranks of poetry and of religion. or the thing in itself” than religion or art. one of the needs of the soul.” half philosophical. Indeed. Metaphysics may be. I have chosen as my subject “The Idea of the Organism in Kant. half natural science.” written some time between October 1867 and April 1868 attest to Nietzsche’s early critical stance toward Schopenhauer. the organic-centered philosophy of Kant and Goethe. 118). perhaps surprisingly agrees with and extends. “The errors of great men are worthy of respect. 353). since they are more fruitful than the truths of smaller ones” (HKG 1:3. he later adds. a set of notes and drafted paragraphs entitled “Zu Schopenhauer. notably the art of the composition of ideas. you will find in it numerous passages where this question of the limits of knowledge will be explicated. on the other hand. However. whoever wants to know something will have to accommodate himself to the relativity of all knowledge: thus. Nietzsche’s biographer. I have almost finished my preparatory work. all the great naturalists. a subject Schopenhauer hardly mentions in The World as Will and Representation—shows us that the wellknown picture of the early Nietzsche as entranced by Schopenhauer.150 The Vegetative Soul Curt Paul Janz. for some. Besides. The choice of Kant as the subject of a dissertation at a time when Nietzsche had already discovered and read Schopenhauer—and precisely the notion of the organism in Kant. In these notes Nietzsche criticizes Schopenhauer for attempting to explain the world according to only one very particular assumption. and the resulting anthropomorphism of scientific depictions of nature. It turns out that metaphysics has no more to do with what one calls “the true. rather than attempting to refute.

For Nietzsche. nor can the constitution of the human mind be thought of as prior to the forms that it perceives. Nietzsche agrees with Kant that it is the constitution of the human intellect. (KSA 9. “organism” for Nietzsche does not coincide with “individual” in the sense of the animal body. the organization of forces most conducive to survival. is an objectivized fiction. for example: we can assert the eternal value of no “law of nature. but called this capacity a weakness and a limitation of human cognition: We must always remain skeptical with regard to all of our experiences. we perceive things as interrelating objects. The organism itself is a name for the most fortuitous coincidence of excess and individuation. names that developed historically out of a need for survival. The understanding of nature against which Nietzsche aims his critique still characterizes some contemporary scientific standpoints. that gives the impression of discrete objects that perdure in space and time. such as the organism. for. no living thing is really an individual. In addition. in the sense of there being no definitive individual. This caveat works both spatially. or. he uses Goethe’s scientific writings as a way of adapting Kant’s view to his own perspective. something like a “thing in itself” cannot be thought of as the condition for the possibility of human cognition. the gene. “form” and “individuation” are other names for “energy” or “excess” perceived in particular ways.The Ivy and the Vine 151 tures that reduce being to a collection of present-at-hand entities and to explain how it is that in a world composed of fluctuating energies. 554) Although from his earliest notes on nature on Nietzsche’s critique takes Kant’s Critique of Teleological Judgment as its point of departure. citing Goethe against Kant. For Nietzsche. and temporally. the categories of the understanding and the forms of intuition. Nietzsche would argue that each of the “building blocks” of biology. The tree is something new at every moment: we assert form because we are incapable of perceiving the most precise absolute movement. Nietzsche writes in . and say. we are not finely tuned enough to see the supposed absolute flow of becoming: the perdurant is there only thanks to our unrefined organs which summarize and display that which really does not exist at all. whether one describes natural becoming as the coincidence of force and restraint such that neither implies an originary source or a priority over the other. or the strand of DNA. in the sense of the tree being something new at every moment. alternatively.” assert the eternal persistence of no chemical quality. Specifically. as Nietzsche notes early on. the debate that Nietzsche sets up centers around the question of whether one chooses to understand nature traditionally in terms of a kind of hierarchical progression that ranks different stages as organic forms or broad categories that encompass qualitatively different contents. for example.

can be included in a more general category of substance. He invokes a metaphorical register that links madness. the fiction of the organism. reflects strategic priorities. plays itself out in his later thought in multiple and nonsystematic ways. for there is no inner and no outer” (KSA 7. . which he alternately blames for its creation and perpetuation of a subject-centered metaphysics and excuses for merely manifesting the effects of an already existing conception of subjectivity based on the form of our animal bodies. Thus. 465). we must never believe ourselves capable of leaping beyond Goethe. understood as the natural individual par excellence. One of the passages in the notebook reads. In 1873. The critique of teleology and the organism in Kant.” as much as culture. but must rather. both as an idea of self-regulating purposiveness and self-sufficiency that regulates the way in which we desire and indeed. like him. For Nietzsche. caring little that individuation as a philosophical issue predates any discussion of the organism. but also Goethe’s writings on natural science. he rose higher than any other German. A notebook dating from the summer and fall of 1873 contains many references to Goethe. to which we require the natural world to conform. however. On Nietzsche’s view. formed the basis of the modern account of how consciousness developed and the subsequent belief in the substantiality and individuality of the human ego. 686). From the beginning Nietzsche links the Western metaphysical history of the doctrine of individuation (both physical and spiritual) with the perception of organic form. what we describe as “nature.152 The Vegetative Soul 1872. As a stylized person. One reads Eckermann and asks oneself if ever any person has come so far into a noble form in Germany. or atomism. or any doctrine that divides the world up into self-enclosed forms. . plant growth. always begin anew” (KSA 7. Organism. is exemplary: tempestuous naturalism that gradually becomes rigorous dignity. specifically the Conversations with Eckermann. “[T]here is no form in nature. and as an obstacle to a force-centered ontology of will to power. in Kant’s sense. and Goethe’s name appears in the second . and the feminine as transgressive figures for individuation. . Nietzsche continues to be fascinated with the idea of the organism. From there to simplicity and greatness is indeed a bigger step. On the one hand. for Nietzsche. then. In addition to criticizing the unreflective conflation of the self-enclosed form of the animal or specifically the human body with individuation. Nietzsche spent some time studying Goethe. which he had begun to read as a student in Leipzig. Nietzsche’s critique of the organic and of teleology cannot be separated from his discussion of consciousness and of language. Nietzsche proposes alternative figures for more accurately conceptualizing individuation in order to avoid reification. “Goethe. in typically Nietzschean fashion.

In 1871 Nietzsche’s notebooks are full of references to Goethe. That is our most truthful artistic feeling. 741). The discourse of modern science is a quantitative one that seeks always to increase the number of natural phenomena that it can explain. the more we believe in it” (KSA 7. truly a necessary truth. among a series of seemingly unconnected notes: “The sense of history: a metamorphosis of plants. particularly when Nietzsche is remarking on the power of particular representations of nature. for through it they will have to educate themselves. a power that Goethe above all possessed: “The cult of nature. Goethe embodied the capacity to see nature simultaneously with the eye of the philosopher and with the eye of the artist. For Nietzsche. That is the simple truth. and that indeed with full knowledge” (KSA 7. Despite the proliferation of “knowledge” about natural phenomena. In a notebook written in from late 1873 to early 1874. and in opposition to themselves moreover. on plants themselves. In his notes for a proposed dissertation in 1868.The Ivy and the Vine 153 Untimely Meditation as well. Nietzsche is always concerned with the representation of nature. however. Nietzsche uses Goethe to argue against Kant. or perhaps as a result of this plethora of data. Nietzsche grants the greatest power to the capacity to see nature aesthetically. “We are all thoughtless naturalists. Nietzsche laments. God guard me from myself. (KSA 1. we tend to think less and less about the way in which we represent nature. The more powerfully and magically nature is presented. which in turn informs the way in which human beings look at themselves and their position in the world. on anthropomorphism in studies of nature. For the most part this is an unreflective process.2 Nietzsche writes. my italics) . and on individuation in general. if the necessary lie were for once countered with a necessary truth: the truth that the German possesses no culture because his education provides no basis for one. as the Platonic state would have crumbled away. that our first generation must be educated. on consciousness. to a new custom and nature and out of an old and first nature and custom: so that they could say to themselves in old Spanish: Defienda me Dios de my. on the organic. Nietzsche’s respect for Goethe’s insights into nature can be seen over the years in passages quoted from Goethe’s scientific writings. The will to knowledge in the form of science increasingly cuts the human being off from its history. 485). of his kind of culture: and yet this belief would crumble away. Tracing the background of such a note necessitates an examination of Nietzsche’s comments on metamorphosis. they will certainly suffer the most from it. a coarse and unpleasant truth. 305). that is to say from the nature already educated into me. It is in this necessary truth. 328/119. He wants the flower without the root and the stem: consequently he wants it in vain. both natural and cultural: Now this is how the modern German believes in the aeterna veritas of his system of education. Example” (KSA 7.

Nietzsche does not suggest a search for origins here. however. “God guard me from the nature already educated into me. it could well be called the “twice-born. In the cool season of the year the vine lies as though dead and in its dryness resembles a useless stump until the moment when it feels the renewed heat of the sun and blossoms forth in a riot of green and with a fiery elixir without compare. Knowing a flower without taking its root and stem into account resembles addressing a disease by attacking its symptoms rather than its cause. Otto describes the Dionysian plants in the following way: The vine and the ivy are like siblings who have developed in opposite directions and yet cannot deny their relationship. a second kind of shoot appears which grows upright and turns toward the light. the ascendant tendrils with the well-known lobed leaves. Both undergo an amazing metamorphosis. Like Dionysos. and cultural factors that affect the ways in which nature is described. In praying. of subjectivity. however. He accepts Kant’s dictum that “things in themselves” cannot be known. the ivy. After reading Goethe’s scientific writings in 1869.3 indicates the potential of human knowledge to conceal as much as it reveals. the mask. “does not seek truth. Walter F. The leaves are formed completely differently. Nietzsche invokes the prayer to God to protect me from myself as an act that must constantly remind one of the provisionality of any explanation of nature or of culture. Rather. Later. Nietzsche links the structure of metamorphosis to the separation of the concept of growth. social. but rather the metamorphosis of the world in human beings” (KSA 7. First it puts out the so-called shade-seeking shoots. Nietzsche adopts the terminology of metamorphosis. and now the plant produces flowers and berries. 494). development. Nietzsche writes.”4 In a passage entitled “Goethe’s Attempt. following Goethe.” the philosopher.” from his 1868 dissertation proposal.154 The Vegetative Soul The old Spanish saying. which echoes a passage from Meister Eckhart’s sermons that Nietzsche also esteemed. What happens to the ivy is no less remarkable. Its cycle of growth gives evidence of a duality which is quite capable of suggesting the twofold nature of Dionysos. whose symbols. Dionysos is the god of metamorphosis. he enjoins the scientist to become aware of historical. as is more plausible here. The overwhelming presence of the god Dionysos in all the notebooks written around the time of The Birth of Tragedy and beyond attests to the importance of the idea of metamorphosis for Nietzsche. and the vine. The root and stem of the flower represent the historical context that informs the way in which knowledge is represented. and transformation . all exhibit the plant-like characteristics of indefinite sequentiality and unpredictable transformation. or.

Socrates took away an essential wonder from the description of the human condition. Socrates embodied the same explanatory power that Oedipus and Prometheus did. the principle of metamorphosis. “[T]his precisely proves that it is the correct human path” (HKG 1:3. in initiating the first modern tragic philosophy. Using Kant’s language from the third Critique. 380). Metamorphosis as Nietzsche understands it improves on the Kantian technic of nature in that it circumvents the issue of source by positing a constant transformation of everything into everything else. Kant. Through him a new mirroring of both representations was inaugurated” (KSA 7. 228). The following fragment makes this explicit: . carried through the final implications of that truthfulness “against” modern science. namely their tragic nature. Nietzsche writes in a notebook: “The philosopher’s description of nature: he knows insofar as he poetizes or fictionizes [dichtet]. Nietzsche recognizes the power of the drive to ascertain origins and the need that science and philosophy have to account for the emergence of beings. but with a completely different tonality. Oedipus before he solved the riddle of the Sphinx and Prometheus before he stole the fire have none of the mythic and tragic proportions they took on after each of the experiences for which they became known. all reflect the register of self-overcoming values that Nietzsche evokes in his discussion of the organism since Kant. “Socrates is at the same time Prometheus and Oedipus. whereas Oedipus and Prometheus perished in the reinforcement of that mythology. This is to say. the eternal recurrence of the same.The Ivy and the Vine 155 from the idea of an originary source. From early on Nietzsche assumes that each individual existence is a transformative mask for the manifestation of an eternally repeating temporal becoming. and Oedipus before he solved the riddle of the sphinx. Nietzsche uses Goethe to approach and modify Kant’s position. a wonder of which Oedipus and Prometheus are not proponents so much as victims. but Prometheus before he stole the fire. Nietzsche writes that the theory of metamorphosis derives the organism from a cause that is undiscoverable. Nietzsche writes. 156). Nietzsche follows Kant in the conviction that such an explanation reflects the structure of human inquiry rather than any essence of being. Kant inaugurated what Nietzsche refers to as “tragic philosophy” in forever cutting the knower off from the thing-in-itself. Nietzsche emphasizes what Socrates lacked that Prometheus and Oedipus possessed. Like Kant. and poetizes insofar as he knows” (KSA 7. and the provisionality of any theory of individuation. and adds. Socrates imposed the law of truthfulness and singularity upon a multiple mythical nature. A passage from an early notebook states that “every hero is a symbol of Dionysos” (KSA 7. This perennial self-transformation of becoming. 439). For example.

These later notes reflect those in the draft of Nietzsche’s dissertation proposal. 459). Nietzsche was aware of the prevailing practice in eighteenth. and more daimonic than his contemporaries did” (KSA 7. If the universe has nothing to do with us. for the fact that he was not only a scientist but also and at the same time an artist. Nietzsche notes with appreciation that “Goethe took the place of human beings in nature and surrounding nature itself to be more mysterious. then we want to have the right to despise it” (KSA 7. nymphs in trees—now. Kant still insisted that the entire universe conform to the laws of human cognition and bend to the imperatives of human morality. but in creating lies our recuperation. In the most elevated of appearances. Nietzsche entitles the draft “Teleology since Kant. as is indi- . Nietzsche admired Goethe for both his acquiescence in the mysterious and impenetrable in nature. natural grounds full of wisdom in horses. sometime in 1868. masquerades. who denied the possibility of knowing the truthfulness of nature as thing-in-itself. he knew of both Kant and Goethe’s critique of teleological science’s tendency to trace all purposes back to utility for the human being’s needs. coverings-up. gods in bulls. Nietzsche sides with Goethe against Kant in the attack on anthropomorphism. during his student years in Leipzig. The imperative to “save” knowledge in the face of the limitations Kant placed upon it strikes Nietzsche as the modern-day version of a Christian injunction to love one’s neighbor despite his or her contemptibility or pettiness.156 The Vegetative Soul The person who doesn’t believe in the truthfulness of nature. also believes in the truthfulness of nature against him. 482) In this veiled reference to Kant. having forever severed human knowledge from the real essence of being. (KSA 7. Nietzsche rejects the moral imperative that Kant’s imposition of the human law of understanding onto nature nonetheless implies: “Not in knowledge. While Goethe recognized the radicality of Kant’s efforts to limit the anthropomorphic aspirations of teleological natural scientists of the day. even though Goethe understood his own position to be very close to Kant’s. not in having assigned purposes to natural things that serve human beings. and for Goethe’s self-reflective complication of Kant’s anthropocentrism.”5 A twenty-page series of notes and drafts of paragraphs shows that Nietzsche did read Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Nietzsche ultimately judges Kant the most anthropomorphic of all scientists. composed. as we have already noted. in the noblest of confusions lies our greatness. if he himself imposes the law of truthfulness. 684). in addition. but rather sees overall metamorphoses. but in something much larger: in that. more puzzling.and even nineteenth-century studies of nature to assign purposes to natural things.

but we have no right to judge it as either a higher or a lower reason. he says. where modern science is linked to post-Socratic “Greek cheerfulness. 371). Apparently the Critique of Teleological Judgment was of primary interest to the young Nietzsche. Nietzsche speculates that the Greeks became more and more optimistic and superficial with the dissolution of their culture.” the next section. the most we can conclude is the existence of reason. The first section. After an introductory set of paragraphs. He then proposes an “Empedoclean point of view” in which the purposive is just one case among many.” begins with the observation that optimism and teleology go hand in hand. “On Teleology. Nietzsche writes in 1868. 373). Nietzsche begins “Teleology Since Kant. Even if we can assign purposiveness to a thing.” In the published work. Nietzsche abruptly switches to a polemical mode: “There is no question that is necessarily solved through the assumption of an intelligible world” (HKG 1:3. as well as Kuno Fischer’s commentary on Kant (HKG 1:3. or to . and that the components of nature are erratic and arbitrary impulses that can only sometimes be interpreted as rational purposes. The initial reading list includes Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Judgment. The sole weapon one could wield against the doctrine of purposiveness. Nietzsche begins with a reading list.” Nietzsche accepts Kant’s conclusion that purposiveness is part of the human understanding of (specifically organic) nature rather than anything objectively inherent in nature itself. by quoting Kant’s assertion that the purposiveness of the organic as well as the lawfulness of the inorganic are brought to these phenomena by human understanding rather than inhering in nature. What Nietzsche most objects to is the hierarchizing of purposes. even if it can occasionally be represented as rational (HKG 1:3. This theme resurfaces in The Birth of Tragedy. since another reading list. 372). But.The Ivy and the Vine 157 cated by a full bibliographical reference and page numbers as well as numerous direct quotations from the text. and that there is thus room for multiple lesser “reasons. “Empedoclean” science will presuppose that any underlying “truth” about nature will remain hidden from human understanding. Among other things. the purposive being the exception rather than the rule. he pairs logic and science in general to the equation of knowledge with progress. 372). presumably one he had read prior to what he wrote. would be the discovery of a proof of something that is not purposive. The truth of nature thus reveals itself as fully irrational. This discovery would prove that even the highest reason (Vernunft) has been only sporadically effective. with the heading “to be read” follows the unfinished essay. the existence of things that are not purposive demonstrates that there is no unity in the teleological world (HKG 1:3.

Even insofar as it appears to us to be an individual. the root of purposive explanations. life. This Nietzsche sees as implied in Kant’s critique of teleological judgment when Kant makes the illicit move toward ranking purposes. In other words. it remains a gathering (Versammlung) of living being (Wesen) (HKG 1:3. Kant makes a leap. fortuitous encounters of forces). Nietzsche writes. 378). as well as the elimination of countless accidental details in order to reach the simplicity of the unified and self-enclosed individual. Kant denies that life could have originated out of mechanical forces. Nietzsche then quotes Goethe to the effect that every living thing is no individual. Nietzsche says. In reality there are no individuals. commenting on Nietzsche’s later work. and that this in itself is enough to set Kant’s definition aside (although not enough to embrace a mechanical picture of becoming or any other definitive explanation of the meaning of the organism and of life). arose as a particular case of the possible. evolved as one configuration out of infinite mechanically composed constellations or possibilities of constellations (what Pierre Klossowski might call. but. and that for this reason metamorphosis must be the correct explanation of nature (HKG 1:3. The purposive.158 The Vegetative Soul appeal to a purposiveness that is beyond sensibility. In the section entitled “Goethe’s Attempt” Nietzsche writes. as we have already noted. 379). following Kant. but rather a multiplicity. thus. Thus. In terms of our own organization the only knowledge that we are conditioned to understand would indicate a mechanical origin of all things. or rather. What lies beyond our concepts (Nietzsche. While delegitimatizing claims of purposiveness in nature. 376). One does not try to seek the final cause . Nietzsche argues. in proceeding from the definition of the organized body as that thing whose parts are purposively connected with each other to the notion of the organism as a purposive being per se (HKG 1:3. What Kant claims. what we can know is only the mechanical. Nietzsche argues that mechanism linked with causality could provide the same explanation for the organism. Kant begins with an implicit judgment that already ranks the organism highest in terms of purposiveness. Kant nevertheless continues to privilege the thing-in-itself. What we call “individuals” are actually multiplicities. he does only out of his prior conviction that there is nothing comparable to the purposive relationship of the organism. even if our understanding organizes itself according to purposiveness. Nietzsche writes. that metamorphosis sees the organism deriving from a cause that is undiscoverable. “individuals” and “organisms” are nothing but abstractions. according to Nietzsche.6 among which countless others could have been capable of life (HKG 1:3. the purposive explanation involves a creative leap. considers concepts to be “mechanical”) is fully unknowable by Kant’s own claim. 380).

equally severe towards inorganic and organic children. as we have already noted. through concepts. To derive the general origin of organic life from observing nature’s means of providing for and preserving organisms would not characterize the Empedoclean way of doing science. and which allows for an end-point in the endless process of dividing matter. in which a whole can be derived from a sum of parts. atom.. . Organisms manifest only forces that work blindly. whether it is just a mere principle of order and form (as with the tragedy). Face to face with the unknown. to “blind forces”). Nietzsche’s line of reasoning proceeds as follows: The question is precisely. on Nietzsche’s view.”7 In inorganic nature. It is. “individuals” do not exist except as abstractions. everything can be traced to the inorganic (i. 381). 385–86) This passage both echoes and reverses the fragment “Die Natur” that was thought to have been written by the young Goethe. or whether it is something entirely different: against this it must be conceded that within organic nature in the relationship of organisms to each other no other principle exists that does not also exist in inorganic nature.The Ivy and the Vine 159 of inorganic nature because here one can see no individuals. (HKG 1:3. By “blind forces” Nietzsche here refers not to anything determinately inorganic (since “force. organism.e. 383). law. too. one can no longer believe in purposes. individual. she is an impartial mother. things that appear to be purposive are only appearances. This applies equally to the notions of force. This means that since. Since in nature only inorganic forces prevail. however. but upon her favorites she lavishes much and for them she sacrifices much. Nietzsche writes. but these concepts can only bring us to a collection of apparent qualities that will not ever make the leap to a living body (Leib).” too. This fragment contains many passages like the following: “[Nature’s] children are without number. The method of Nature in the treatment of things is equal.” that is. human beings have no recourse except to invent concepts. will be called a fiction—although a privileged one—imposed by human understanding onto the fundamentally unknowable) but to what cannot be individuated except “mechanically. 381).” then the organism.” Nietzsche is referring to the atomic understanding of being. the Epicurean way. Such an understanding takes an isolatable body (what we have called an “animal” form) as its point of departure. only forces. What is capable of life is formed only through “an endless chain of failures and half-successful attempts” (HKG 1:3. and their purposiveness is “our idea” (HKG 1:3. If Nature is equally severe toward her inorganic and her organic “children. substance. is a fiction created to explain life purposively in a way that will allow human beings to feel important. and final cause (HKG 1:3. By “Epicurean way. From none does she withhold all gifts. what “life” is.

one is acting purposively but not rationally. life has as many different purposivenesses as forms (HKG 1:3. rather.” This reductive notion of rationality cannot even begin to touch on the expla- . that purposiveness is brought to nature by human understanding. Nietzsche objects to the assumption that the form organisms have taken follows a singular purposiveness. 386–87). when one wants to travel all over the world and follows any old road. not one overarching teleology. However.” multiple possibilities for understanding nature’s tendencies. but this whole has none of the implications of stability over time. what is “organism” other than formed life? But if the organism’s parts are not necessary to it. one also does not want to say that the organism is mere life without form. then. Nietzsche concludes. Empedocles posited a cosmic vortex. we say that he is acting rationally. Nietzsche got his idea of “multiple purposivenesses. purposiveness is not reducible to form.160 The Vegetative Soul Nietzsche now returns to the question as to whether the force that creates the thing is identical to the force that preserves it. who was already aware that nature is not independent of the way in which it is approached by the human observer. “the contrary of ordered movement” (KSA 7. can only be constructed from the point of view of the observer in his or her capacity to synthesize. In this claim Nietzsche follows Goethe. that we assume that nature was created in the best possible way (even if one admits that this assumption is only a structure of our way of thinking about nature). which Nietzsche agrees with. The notion of a whole. he asks. On the other hand. if forms other than the organic can be thought of that would equally support life. Goethe had insisted that scientific discoveries conceal as much as they reveal. “In human life we make a progression in the purposive: we only call it ‘reasonable’ [vernünftig] when a very narrow choice is available. In the same way. Thus. Nietzsche objects to “rationality” defined as the principle of sufficient reason—the greatest possible narrowing down of a field of possibilities. He writes. To elaborate on what he has characterized as an “Empedoclean” way of understanding nature. When a person finds the only purposive way in a complicated situation. This relates to Nietzsche’s perception of Empedocles’ doctrine of movement. then one cannot argue that the essence of the organic lies in its form. given Nietzsche’s understanding of the relationship between space and time. but there are as many types of purposiveness as forms. Life is possible under an astounding number of forms. Each of these forms is purposive in a sense. ordered progression of forms. the organism cannot simply be the result of a single. linear. and advocated a metamorphosis of the scientist parallel to the observed metamorphosis of natural phenomena. in the end. The polemic against Kant is directed not toward Kant’s ultimate conclusion. 552). in other words. from reading Goethe.

then what in nature brought about human existence? Did a lack of self-consciousness cause the concept of “life” to arise? Was the notion of life conducive to the formation of self-consciousness. like Goethe. He ends the passage with a question: If “life” as a concept is linked to human consciousness. nothing can be. and the subsequent demand for an explanation that arises from such an examination. We do not need final causes to explain the life of a thing. there are unities only for our intellect: “Every individual has an infinity of living individuals in itself” (HKG 1:3. but objects along with Goethe to the assumption that purposiveness is the only form under which humans can cognize nature.9 Nietzsche’s statements here are very similar to later claims that he makes at the time of writing The Gay Science. 387) This observation is taken directly from On Morphology. then. 388–90). However. The scientific grasp of life rests ultimately on nothing but static forms conceived as unitary and monolithic individuals. did it induce human beings to reflect on their position? Humans are unable to approach “life” in general from anything other than a human perspective. Nietzsche asks whether human beings need final causes to explain that something lives. for as Kant showed. In other words. 387). “Forms” are analogous to “individuals. Even the organism that appears to us as individual exists as a collection of independent living entities. where Goethe writes: “No living thing is unitary in nature: every such thing is a plurality. such as the one with which we began.”8 Here Nietzsche also explicitly links the notion of individuation to the perceived unity of the animal body: “It is merely an unrefined [grobe] perspective. 388). These forms do not comprehend the “eternally becoming” (ewige Werdende) that life is. in which it wants to appear” (HKG 1:3. in analogy to human life.10 Nietzsche.The Ivy and the Vine 161 nation of life: “When we speak of purposive concepts and causes. but only to justify it. purposiveness is no absolute notion. perhaps first taken from the body of the human being” (HKG 1:3. we only mean: out of a living and thinking thing a form is intentionalized [intentionirt]. arises out of human observation of what is similar to and alien to the human being.” Moreover. “form” always implies a reduction or abstraction of life.” for both words are used to describe organisms conceived as unities in the sense of purposive centers. that we can shed no further light on through final causes. Finally. but only relative to perspective (HKG 1:3. nothing more coherent and cohesive exists naturally than self-motivating and self-regulating organism. Nietzsche thus agrees with Kant that purposiveness lies only in human reflective judgment. will ultimately privilege the figure of the plant for the ramifications it introduces into the facile notion of organism as individual. If the organism is not an individual. The division into organic and inorganic. He concludes that teleology is not necessary to account for life.11 . for “‘life’ is something that is entirely obscure.

” yet which explain the evolution of human beings as the pinnacle of nature. The quest to explain the origin of the human species struck Nietzsche as humorous given the utter lack of attention paid to its possible demise through apathy and cynicism. in pursuit of the great and the impossible. to what end “humankind” exists. the individual. He stands high and proud upon the pyramid of the world-process. 319) In a notebook he used from late 1870 to early 1871. not even in dreams. and if you can get no other answer try for once to justify your existence as it were a posteriori by setting before yourself an aim.” an exalted and noble “to this end.” Perish in pursuit of this and only this—I know of no better aim of life than that of perishing animae magnae prodigus [careless of life]. a goal. Nietzsche’s continuing concern . as he lays the keystone of his knowledge at the top of it he seems to call out to nature all around him: “We have reached the goal. on the other hand. 313) All the hidden implications for the importance of the human being as the purpose of nature strike Nietzsche as what is insidious about theories that purport to approach nature “neutrally. his gaze trembles at that even more astonishing miracle. even in the profoundest depths of the sea the universal historian still finds traces of himself as living slime. we are nature perfected. but also. exist. who is capable of surveying this course. the modern human himself.162 The Vegetative Soul In the second Untimely Meditation Nietzsche again addresses the issue of the purposiveness of nature directly and in a way that recalls Goethe’s diatribe against the teleologists of the early nineteenth century: To what end the “world” exists. gazing in amazement. (KSA 1. a “to this end. as at a miracle. Nevertheless.” (KSA 1. we are the goal. Nietzsche advocates an attentive anthropocentrism that does not reduce the human being to self-evident platitudes rather than suggesting that it is possible to practice science without being anthropocentric. Nietzsche quotes Goethe: “the human never grasps how anthropomorphic he is” (KSA 7. for now the history of mankind is only the continuation of the history of animals and plants. and particularly at the growing popularity of the theory of evolution. at the tremendous course humankind has already run. Nietzsche’s barbs are not aimed solely at contemporary popular philosophy in this respect. ought not to concern us at all for the moment except as objects of humor: for the presumptuousness of the little human worm is the funniest thing at present on the earthly stage. again. which he took to be the height of anthropomorphic fantasy: Contemplation of history has never flown so far. 103). do ask yourself why you. at the natural sciences. In the year 1872–1873.

yet they are an inevitable characteristic of any human explanation of nature by virtue of the very obvious fact that they are produced by humans. is an anthropomorphic mythology that sees all of nature solely in its connection with the human being. All natural science. and the unified. 456). to humans. in order now to proceed to a critique of knowing. subjective projection. assumes from the outset the self-evident nature and the explicability of the human being. leads to an equal neglect of the question of the meaning and the complexity of the position of the human being in the natural world. 456–57). An excessive focus on singular origins that tends to privilege the unambiguous. Knowledge in the service of the best life. however. One must oneself want the illusion—therein lies the tragic. always to return. For the tragic philosopher the fact that metaphysics only appears anthropomorphically completes the image of existence. 428) .e. what you are’”(KSA 7. The drive to knowledge. its depths unveil themselves to him to the degree that he is astounded by himself and his own complexity” (KSA 7.The Ivy and the Vine 163 with the critique of the self-serving implications of research into nature is reflected in the following note: “All natural science is just an attempt by humans to understand the anthropological: or. This revised anthropomorphism involves the recognition of the necessary use of masks in explaining any natural phenomenon. i. The notion of objectivity is simply one of many metamorphoses of the human story about nature. at least in Ovid’s sense. 449). then. Such an effort. is just a garrulous method of describing the human being. to be more correct. by contrast: “The human being knows the world to the degree that he knows himself. turns itself against itself. Another notebook entry lists all the pre-Socratic philosophers as having an anthropomorphic explanation of being (KSA 7. theological assumptions. and Nietzsche also recognized that metamorphosis itself. ‘you are. For Nietzsche. not the attempt to do away with masks or a lapse into despair: The philosopher of desperate knowledge will be absorbed in blind science: knowledge at any price. after vast detours. The inflation of humans to a macrocosmos in order to say at the end. at the end. Here is a concept to create: skepticism is not the goal. Nietzsche advocates a transformed anthropomorphism that would recognize the complexity of this being called human as well as the utter impossibility of coming upon a single universal explanation of what we are. and the like through carefully controlled observation and strictly empirical methods. Nietzsche mocked natural science’s belief that it can circumvent world views. having reached its limits. In this sense Nietzsche is very close to Kant: teleological explanations are never demonstrable. the individual. (KSA 7. He is not a skeptic.

This is because what Nietzsche criticizes in the privilege accorded to consciousness is the same anthropocentric teleological ideology he sees hidden within it that privileges the human being as the final purpose of the organic. Nietzsche’s critique of consciousness predates The Gay Science. and it is good if for that time it is heartily tyrannized! Thus consciousness is properly tyrannized—not least by our pride in it! One thinks that it constitutes the kernel of the human being. what is abiding. however. conscious but not selfconscious organisms (animals). The passage goes on to say that the importance humans accord to conscious thinking has the advantage of hindering a precipitous development of consciousness (since it is assumed to already have reached the height of its powers). yet these discourses form parallel critiques. and most original in it. without the former. . and if it did not serve the whole as a regulator. . functions as a protective mechanism in the development of the organism. as Nietzsche understands it. is well known. of its consciousness. If the conserving association of the instincts were not so very much more powerful. One takes consciousness for a determinate magnitude! One denies its growth and its intermittences! Takes it for the ‘unity of the organism’! (KSA 3. Here he writes: Consciousness is the last and latest development of the organic and hence also what is most unfinished and least powerful. is the classification that distinguishes between non-living organic material (minerals). . The illusion of unity. such a restraint effects the appearance of unity. combined with an acknowledgment of the need for masks in order for what would be otherwise ineffable to come to representation. living but unconscious organisms (plants). 382–83/GS 84–85) Nietzsche uses the vocabulary of “tyrannization” (tyrannisiren) to indicate the imposition of a unified structure upon something that is not inherently a unity. rather. humanity would have to perish of its misjudgments and its fantasies with open eyes. in turn. eternal. ultimate. and self-conscious organisms that possess the capacity to articulate their self-consciousness (humans). Nietzsche’s critique of the primacy accorded to consciousness is much more well known than his discussion of teleology and the organism. The basis of this hierarchy within the organic.164 The Vegetative Soul Here. published in 1882. “wanting the illusion” refers to a complicated recognition of the provisionality of all individuation. humanity would have long disappeared! Before a function is fully developed and mature it constitutes a danger for the organism. Nietzsche’s critique of consciousness in The Gay Science. Nietzsche’s notes from both before and after the publication of The Birth of Tragedy show that consciousness was an early target of cri- . of its lack of thoroughness and its credulity—in short.

specifically with regard to the distinction between the Apollinian and the Dionysian aesthetic impulses. and that they thus must be derived simply in opposition to the world of representation. since for Kant the move to describing the thing-in-itself would be illegitimate. According to Schopenhauer. the meaning of “I” changes with reference to the aspect of being to which one is referring. which he calls the seat of the “greatest equivocation” (WWR II. Schopenhauer’s discourse on the problematic nature of the word I (connected with consciousness). Schopenhauer believes that depending on which way one looks at “I” one either understands bodily death to be one’s complete end. and the human will is distinctive precisely (and only) in that while it. or one realizes that one’s personal phenomenal appearance “is just as infinitely small a part of my true inner nature as I am of the world” (WWR II. not in the consciousness. Much of this aspect of the Apollinian/Dionysian discourse originally stemmed from Nietzsche’s reading of Schopenhauer in a way that amplifies Kant’s technic of nature through a consideration of those aspects of human thought that are not present to consciousness. is subordinate to the unindividuated Will (Schopenhauer’s thing-in-itself). “I” belongs to the phenomenal realm. Thus. was one of his most long-lasting legacies in Nietzsche’s thought. like all things. of the unindividuated Will. according to Kant. that is. the meaning of “I” is irreducibly ambiguous rather than limited to these two determinate possibilities that define themselves solely in opposition to each other. What we refer to as “I” is equivocal by virtue of its position between two distinct senses of self. Indeed.The Ivy and the Vine 165 tique. As Nietzsche makes explicit in certain passages. Schopenhauer pinpoints the locus of human perplexity as the traditional placement of the “I” or “ego” in consciousness. but merely the edge that is accessible to human cognition. in that “I” is insolubly linked to individuation (to the “I think” of Kant). Knowing this (self-consciousness) is not the apex of being. Nietzsche has a better grasp of Kant than Schopenhauer does. For Nietzsche. 224). for Nietzsche this process characterizes all of human cognitive activity.13 . Nietzsche complains that the predicates that Schopenhauer attributes to his will are too determinate for something that is supposed to be unthinkable and unknowable. Here. it can know itself to be so. 491). the real essence of human nature lies in the unconscious will. according to Schopenhauer: on the one hand.12 While the unconscious force of nature passes through the human being only in the form of vegetable genius. For example. “Dionysian” refers to the chaotic mass of impulses that only come into some semblance of order and possibility of articulation through the intervention of “Apollinian” forms of imagistic representation and language. but at the same time it experiences itself as a part of the noumenal realm.

the possibility of becoming excessive with reference to the physical individual. whose death entails the death of the corona. The corona. by contrast. the plant. like Kant. transforms. but because the plant. would define the “I” as indifferent only in the sense of pure potentiality. perennial. . the corona the intellect. the “I” of the artistic genius is analogous to the organic body. belongs to both. then. The “I” would be the mediating structure between the representation and the realm of the unrepresentable: We can consider the plant as such a symbol of consciousness. and produces. For Schopenhauer. and the latter up into brightness. Again. does not manifest itself as an individual. This identification of the will with the root as “what is essential. moisture and cold. that which has sprouted forth. This possibility of excess derives from the impossibility of ever definitively representing or giving determinate qualities to the Dionysian. original. the former reaching down into darkness.” Nietzsche. In other words. that which passes away without the root dying. on the other hand. The human intellect. Nietzsche would object that such a characterization gives the will determinate characteristics by simply describing it in opposition to the corona. namely the collum. (WWR II. is the ostensible. . The root represents the will. then as the point of indifference of the two poles where they part from each other close to the ground. the collum or root-stock. Such an opposition perpetuates the traditional equation of the plant with the “inverted animal. would be the I. becomes a privileged metaphor not because it is half revealed and half concealed. and the point of indifference of the two. and thus by virtue of its capacity for both unity and multiplicity with reference to the separate realms of the noumenal and the phenomenal.” and the corona with what is merely “ostensible” uses the figure of the plant to perpetuate a metaphysical distinction into sensible and intelligible by playing on the root’s concealedness to explain the connection between the two realms. but in a more specific way: “Only the genius . root and corona. it is therefore the secondary. 202. it is therefore primary. the potential to become multiply other while remaining itself. unlike the animal. the “I” is the point of indifference by virtue of belonging both to the will and to the intellect.166 The Vegetative Soul Schopenhauer attempts to avoid this oppositional structure by describing the “I” of consciousness in terms of a plant metaphor. perennial. The root is what is essential. dryness and warmth. is like the organic body that assimilates. my emphasis) For Schopenhauer. as their common extreme point. As we know. with the concealed half responsible for the life of the whole. for Nietzsche. it has two poles. For . would be nothing but the mediating structure between the phenomenal and the noumenal realms. which.

Schopenhauer explicitly links nourishment with life. Nietzsche. has been designated as other than the individuated thing itself. The animal organism. Plants are images of parasitism because of their connection to the source from which they receive nourishment. educated and cultured by his predecessors and their works. 235). it has been excluded from a necessary role in the perpetuation of the embodied entity. which must excrete waste in order to regulate itself. 388). Plants live in constant contiguity with their own excess. to a certain degree. but can never digest it”(WWR I.The Ivy and the Vine 167 he is.e. manifests decay and waste as much as grace and beauty. but only by life and the world itself is he made directly productive through the impression of what is perceived. indeed. Of course. are like “parasitic plants” that “suck their nourishment from the works of others. which naturally include both excretion and death. yet criticizes the human tendency to limit that unification to the crude outlines of its own body. and because of the traditional equation of the vegetative with the passive. as Schopenhauer had demonstrated in great detail. on the contrary. We recall the passage cited above in which Nietzsche criticized the organic feeling of unity as coming from a “crude” or “unrefined” perspective. For Nietzsche. The imitators in art. originating out of the human’s proximity to its own body (HKG 1:3. by contrast. 235). When material is excreted. and excretion with death. Nietzsche echoes Kant’s claim that the human being most effectively and aesthetically unifies its conception of itself through reflective judgment patterned after the form of the organism. 446). Nietzsche was still thinking about the limitations of seeing the organic as the central metaphor for science and for art in 1881: . does the concept of excess come into play. 509–10). and the animal is superior to the plant because it can leave its excess (i. Schopenhauer was concerned with the self-regulating functions of the organism. the same is true for animals—and Nietzsche’s point is that no organism is an individual—but the analogy is less striking. In a later notebook. profoundly mistrusts the equation of the “I” with the individuation of the organic. a reification of any particular set of boundaries that defines itself in opposition to excess or waste is problematic.. perhaps taking it in again in other forms. The organic is superior to the inorganic because it can get rid of excess. its death) behind. 277). as Nietzsche observes in a much later notebook (KSA 9. therefore the highest culture never interferes with his originality” (WWR I. Nietzsche writes tersely: “The I—not to be confused with the organic feeling of unity” (KSA 9. in opposition to the part of the food that has been assimilated within the cells of the living being. Here. Only with the notion of an organism.” or even “like machines that take what is put into them and mince it very fine and mix it up. claiming that they differ only in degree from each other (WWR I.

over many thousands of years.168 The Vegetative Soul I am always astounded when I think about going out into the open air. etc. light. This kind of feeling other must have. They composed and fantasized—but the decision as to whether particular compositions and phantasms should remain alive was made through the experience of whether one can live with them. perhaps a time before language was inscribed. was there a time. and that there is no confusion and oversight and hesitation in us with respect to our sensations. from the plateau on which it rests. (KSA 9.. one let the exception fall to the side and perish. We come to life entangled in it. it is completely impossible unless it recognizes the “average human being” as the highest “measure. or “master. and we believe that these delimitations are universal. The word herrlich contains the root Herr. in which the boundaries did not exist. The mountain is seen as separate from the valley. eliminating everything that somehow “felt other.” We see things as bounded into individuals based on the perception of our bodies as self-enclosed things as opposed to other self-enclosed things. when the limits between things were mutable and unfixed? The perception of objects as perduring in space and time gradually arose as a shield against the abyss. We think of a forest as an entity—but where are the lines drawn that bound its beginning from its end? We perceive things as separate. or whether they destroy one. Nietzsche wonders. (KSA 9. and science too cannot disengage us. just as he speculates that the absolute becoming of the world occurs at a rate . And yet at one time it must have been somehow chaotic and utterly unsettled. people who felt essentially differently about spatial distances.”—Science is perhaps only a continuation of this process of excretion. from which it rises up. 537) Nietzsche posits a slow evolution of our representations of space and time. One no longer understood. Errors or truths—if only life were possible with them! Gradually an impenetrable net has formed. but. a flux that is moving at a rate too slow to be perceived. how everything acts upon us with such marvelous [herrlichen] determinateness. The passage continues: A monstrous cruelty has existed since the beginning of everything organic. begun to be perceived as “madness” [Verrücktheit] and avoided. only over immense stretches of time can everything be bequeathed so definitively. color. 531) The “marvelous determinateness” with which everything acts upon us is the consequence of a selective imposition of boundaries based on the notion of the organism as individual and in the imperative notion of sustaining the life of the individual. when the world was chaotic.” to be preserved by every means.—We live in the remnants of the sensibilities of our ancestors: likewise in the petrification of feeling. were forced out and could only reproduce with difficulty. the forest thus and the mountain thus.

and ultimately knowledge. irrational will and ordered representation. involved intoxication. which. It is the between. and a feeling of unity with nature. Nietzsche tries to think the thoughts of people who “feel essentially differently about distances in space. in this state the Dionysian worshipper experienced a relaxation of . and tone to make these things somehow mysterious and prominent. prediction. waste—and thus the delimitation into things that are selfenclosed on the one hand. Organic unity is the origin of the notion of otherness. which is fundamentally provisional. plant. never manifests itself as pure lack of boundedness. In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche uses the word “lunacy” (Wahnsinn or Wahnvorstellung) to indicate a fundamentally other way of looking at individuation. who plays with perspective. ecstasy. This understanding of madness has its origin in the relationship he describes in The Birth of Tragedy between Apollinian and Dionysian aesthetic forces. and madness. and whatever overflows or is not necessary to the whole on the other—possible.” This is the vocabulary of the artist. Nietzsche equates “madness” with a radical transformation in one’s way of looking at spatial distances. Representation. must present itself as constant and coherent to be the basis of knowledge. Perhaps reflecting Schopenhauer’s division of being into chaotic. ecstatic possession by the god Dionysos. light. This understanding of madness has its origin in the Dionysian celebration. who pulls us out of the ordinary way of seeing things to make the ordinary uncanny. It is the selective process of the organism that makes the notion of excretion. One might cite the differences between languages that give many words for what in another tongue would be named as one thing. and color. This notion of otherness extends within the category of the organic to the subdivisions of animal. light. color. shading. separability. and calculation. and mineral. excess. Specifically. and color. etc. Nietzsche also refers to this otherness that is the condition of possibility for individuation. hierarchy. light. as a “madness” at the very edge of representation. the fundaments of survival. as is well known. the border at the edge of individuation. or that gather together under one name what another language would name as distinct entities as evidence for the adaptation of individuation to environment. the transformative force that most easily can be understood with reference to the phenomena of intoxication. Nietzsche describes “madness” not as mental illness but as an essentially different way of considering spatial distances. though it is associated with a relaxation of the borders of individuation.The Ivy and the Vine 169 too fast for our unsophisticated organs of sensation to perceive. a possibility that is at the very origin of the emergence of determinate or enduring ways of perceiving. physical experiences that allow human beings to recognize the provisionality of individuation. The Dionysian.

it is very likely Nietzsche used this word in full understanding of its etymology. means ohne. then. The first sense of madness is mania as Plato discusses it in dialogues such as Ion and Phaedrus. though it may only come to consciousness as represented. plants.”15 As a philologist. When he talks of “madness” he refers to that which cannot be fully grasped by or explained with reference to consciousness. 163) Nietzsche associates consciousness with a shattering of unity into representation. The second sense of madness refers to the forgetting of the process of coming into representation such that the provisionality of the representation becomes concealed in its seemingly static nature. However. made the mistake of understanding individuation as the product of consciousness (KSA 7. according to Nietzsche. a “mad representation. whether in animals. The organs of cognition. wana. Much of the discussion of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy centers around the description of this process. whereas the “higher” form refers to a Dionysian awareness of the provisionality of sensory individuation. Literally all conscious representation. as Nietzsche articulates in a rather bizarre fragment: In the highest forms of consciousness unity is restored: in the lower [forms] it constantly shatters. The “lower” form of consciousness is what we ordinarily refer to as consciousness. or “without. Nietzsche understands the evolution of individuation to be a process that has nothing to do with consciousness. the madness that inspires poets and other artists. Here is the solution: lunacy [Wahn] commands as the means of seeing the intellect. Both Kant and Schopenhauer. a Wahnvorstellung would be that which is “without representation. Nietzsche meditates on the nature of this madness.” and its weakening. the original root of Wahn. Nietzsche uses Wahn in two senses: both as the “elevation of consciousness.—Consciousness. such as the categories of the understanding. 111). is only a medium for the continuing existence of individuals. on the other hand. or people “are only the organs of conscious cognition” (KSA 7. is mad.170 The Vegetative Soul the ordinary bounds of individuation. He begins by distinguishing between “higher” and “lower” forms of consciousness. and the madness evoked by the worship of Dionysos.” that to which no representation can be commensurate. Each representation is engendered by a Wahnvorstellung.” in that it is the result of the suppression of countless equally viable possibilities. The higher form of consciousness recognizes both the provisionality of individuation and its necessity. .14 As Martin Heidegger notes in his essay on the poetry of Georg Trakl. In a series of (sometimes fragmentary) notes from 1870 to 1871. (KSA 7. Elevation or weakening of consciousness is thereby = individuation. Thus.

however. that is. it becomes a part of conscious thought. .” This is an individuality that is opposed to the forms of consciousness and of history heretofore. The refitting of the Dionysian after it has been subjected to fragmentation results in an individual that is always open to the indeterminacy of the future. a possibility that is no longer given any credence. Education is a continual exchange of one madness for another.” It recognizes that it. appearance. in naming it. which thus can never be determinate. and that can never be re-subsumed under previous forms of unity and universality.” Nietzsche also calls madness “the (self-) revelation of instinct in the form of conscious spirit” (KSA 7. “Madness” also refers to excess. it is only in the fleeting forms of interpretation. belonging to a larger generality. individuation. . Eventually. as remaining outside the limits of ordinary cognition. i. and insofar as it does. neither subsumed under a concept nor fixed in language. 117) In this sense the Wahnvorstellung somewhat resembles a Kantian reflective judgment. except. Whatever consciousness of “real individuation” there could be would have to be recognized as a Wahnvorstellung with respect to ordinary cognition. it is perpetually exposed to an unknown future: “If the Dionysian finds deliverance from the affliction of individuation. new forms must be created in the logic of metaphoricity that Nietzsche outlines in “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense. “it too is subject to the principle of (dis)articulation. and at that point the will must create another: As soon as the madness is resolved as such.”16 . one can only call it “mad” or “without”). is always on the verge of dissolution. it gives rise to determinacy. the will—if it wants us to continue differently—must create a new one. yet again.e. . which creates a singular universal out of a particular. In “Disgregation of the Will. “Madness” names the possibility of a different way of dividing up consciousness. As soon as a Wahnvorstellung is recognized as such.The Ivy and the Vine 171 111). in particular to a plant-like blossoming that exceeds the bounds of “organic” unity. our “motives” in thinking become ever more spiritual. too. (KSA 7. Another trope for the Nietzschean transformation of the ordinary understanding of individuation is the reconstitution of Zagreus after his dismemberment by ecstatic Maenads.” Hamacher expresses this phenomenon as the “disunity of unity and the possible but neverachieved unity of the differentiated. and therefore. “art is the form in which the world appears in the madness [Wahnvorstellung] of its necessity” (KSA 7. perhaps. 98). Nietzsche continues. and even outside the limits of language (which is why. nobler one. 98). in the realm of art.

Likewise.” e. but continues to be present as a claim in a notebook dated from 1887 to 1888. the desires have learned to obey and to be useful. . Nietzsche’s critique is directed equally at assumptions about the knowledge of nature as pursued by the sciences. The passage continues: But all self-expansion. “What does a plant strive after”—but here we have already invented a false unity that does not exist: the fact of a millionfold growth with its own and quasi-its-own initiatives is concealed and denied if we posit a crude unity “plant. Although the formulations have changed from the earliest notes for his proposed dissertation. and at truisms about human nature. This comes directly from his dissertation proposal. Nietzsche still considers the way in which natural science and human endeavor have mutually influenced each other and created unreflective axioms that have come to be taken for the truth. and he uses the plant to illustrate this claim. motion is essentially tied up with conditions of displeasure. the formula must apply equally well to trees and plants as to animals. master over his own savagery and licentiousness. and how Goethe’s plant becomes a trope for a new conception of individuation. incorporation.172 The Vegetative Soul A passage taken up into the collection The Will to Power illustrates how the question of the priority of organic unity and its linkage to consciousness relate to Nietzsche’s critique of individuation. what kind of striving and tension life is. supposedly distinct from human projections upon it. that their sphere of power is continually changing—that is the first thing that becomes obvious.” That the very smallest “individuals” cannot be understood in the sense of a “metaphysical individual” and atom. growth is a striving against something that resists [etwas Widerstehendes]. that which is here the driving force must in any case desire something other if it desires displeasure in this way and continually looks for it—for what do the trees in a primeval forest fight each other? For “happiness”? —For power! The human has become master over the forces of nature.g. Nietzsche continues to insist that even the smallest of atomic particles cannot be understood in terms of a “metaphysical individual” but must be taken as a useful fiction.—what in that is true? In order to understand what “life” is. but does each of them strive after “happiness” when it changes in this way—? (KSA 13:52/WTP 704) Nietzsche clearly considers no organism to be a unity. The themes come together in the meditation about power as that which is common to both nature and culture: How does it happen that the basic articles of faith in psychology are one and all the most arrant distortions and counterfeits? “The human strives after happiness.

Blind Tiresias as seer. and Cassandra. in a move from the organism understood as a self-enclosed. he perceives that the organic can best be used against itself. Individuals [Einzelnen] should be the mothers of a new generation of individuals. In order for woman to complete the state. it is a sign of the “individual” [“Einzelne”]. the passive and easily cultivated or the source of necessary nutrition. what is the status of this linkage of the feminine with a new sense of individuation. its resistance to the language of isolation and self-enclosure. through language. the encapsulation of the excessive through a provisionary. All three characterizations remain imbricated in various notes. will. Antigone. as it most often has. The plant can represent. that is. The question arises out of Nietzsche’s observation that “the . metamorphosing individual? What does it mean to assign the delimitation of individuals to the “mothers” of being? In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche names these “mothers” as madness (Wahn). In a note from 1870–1871. but also as feminine. Pythagoras Lycurgus as symbol: originally properly Apollinian births. in spite of Dionysos?” (KSA 7. The body of the plant expresses the recalcitrance of the natural. (KSA 7. self-regulating contained form to the organism as metamorphosing and self-overcoming. and woe (Wehe). Nietzsche now describes this transformed individual not only in terms of madness. Pythia. where this ability arises elsewhere. 146). In the highest sense. 147–48) This note occurs in the context of the discussion of Wahnvorstellung. Evidence that one feels this: one builds shrines to Sophocles (as the genius of healing). Nietzsche calls for a cultural transformation in the form of a “new generation of individuals” that will redefine the individual as transgressive of its own apparent bodily form. perhaps referring to Pythia. If we are to understand madness as the very attempt to disclose what is beyond determinate representation precisely through representation. Using Goethean science.The Ivy and the Vine 173 The human in comparison with a pre-human—presents a tremendous quantum of power—not an increase in “happiness”! How can one claim that he has striven for happiness? (KSA 13:52/WTP 704) To contest the organic individual statically conceived Nietzsche employs the language of individuation continually under the threat of being overcome by excess. she must have the power of divination. the impossibility of capturing all phenomena within the vocabulary of determinate individuation. In the same notebook Nietzsche goes on to ask: “Why did culture not become feminized?—in spite of Helen. namely. but it can also symbolize the beauty of finitude and the wonder of metamorphosis. or as a plant.

Nietzsche regarded Sophoclean tragedy as the highest point that Greek tragedy reached (KSA 7. and in that she translates what is essentially not commensurable to human understanding into language). by contrasting it to the individual as determined by its place within a human hierarchical structure such as the state. provides divine answers to questions that cannot be answered by human beings. Such an individual. however. so that Antigone embodies the integration of the Dionysian into the Apollinian. and Pythia. Woman. In defying the logic of affiliation to the laws of the state. in this structure. drama. Antigone transcends ordinary individuation. Helen’s abduction disrupts the political history of the Greeks and provides one of the great narratives by which subsequent history defines them. Here is the higher possibility of existence. for example. namely. . the human as work of art. as the mouthpiece for the gods. (KSA 7. Both Helen and Pythia disrupt a linear structure.174 The Vegetative Soul voice of nature speaks out of [women]” in ancient Greek culture. as described. a mass of individuals [Individuen] melted together. historical and social conditions such that no genuine force of determination can be attributed to the individual by which it might distance itself from the teleological movement dictated to it. however. . Antigone represents the Apollinian individual. by Hegel. the contemporary political counterpart to the overarching universal that gave the medieval individual its identity. Nietzsche aligns the mad and the feminine in their transgressive power: “The madness of women is other than that of men: culture has something masculine or feminine to it according to which of them dom- . Nietzsche here suggests a new understanding of individuation beyond this division: The individual [Einzelne] of the state’s purpose—now. comes the individual of the world’s purpose. 148) Because Dionysian worship involved an ecstatic overcoming of bodily individuation and a feeling among the worshipers of fusion with the rest of nature. Hegel ascribes the political status that allows for self-determination to man alone. 81). also in the destruction of the state. would be thoroughly determined by the totality of its logical. the priestess of the Delphic oracle (and the prime example of one who speaks in “mad representations. music. He gives as evidence the name Pythia. Nietzsche takes it to be exemplary for his transformed description of art. Antigone stands for another way of understanding the tragic individual. At the same time. as a clear spokesperson for the law of the family that leads her to defy the state. .” the madness of her speech resulting both from the fact that she is possessed in mediating the oracle. has no voice other than as the mouthpiece of the family or divine law.

” He continues.” because it turns consciousness away from “reality” and toward “illusion” or the mask. “[W]oman has to bear children. “[T]he correct position of women: dismemberment of the family”. contingency.18 When the Dionysian breaks the spell of individuation “the way lies open to the Mothers of Being [Müttern des Seins]” (KSA 1. then it concerns itself with the reproduction of the same: to which purpose it employs a highly artistic mechanism between the animal. . in Euripides’ Bacchae. The plant is put forth in analogy to the “mad representation” and to the feminine because of the fleeting nature of its bloom. and yet at the same time what he calls its “excess of power” symbolized by its beauty and its tenacity for survival in the face of existence: The plant. (KSA 7. . Nietzsche seems to choose the plant for the same reason he speaks of the possible feminization of culture: for its fragility and vulnerability. Dionysos is placed on the side of the feminine. it is to the detriment of human existence. Yet how does bearing children lead to a “dismemberment of the family”? Nietzsche always aligns the figure of the mother with Dionysos. 103). and thus is there for the best vocation of human beings. which thereby is deprived of nature’s true voice. only speculate as to what Nietzsche means in these admittedly sketchy notes. Nietzsche points to the feminization of culture and links it to the beauty of the plant in ways that will only be fleshed out in subsequent philosophy.and plant-world. 167–68) One can. . and Nietzsche allies this image with that of the plant. who aided in the dismemberment of her own son. Recall Agave. 108).The Ivy and the Vine 175 inates in upbringing [Erziehung]. looks at us with the sudden eye of beauty after it is relieved of this struggle through a fortunate disaster. Yet clearly Nietzsche links madness. Nietzsche implies. If culture has not developed in a feminine way. femininity. embodying “power” in the sense of the “possibility” that fulfils the highest vocation of human existence. when it is a matter of perpetuating a single flower.17 is not a straightforward one. Dionysos is called the “eternally creative primordial mother [Urmutter]. and vegetative growth in a metaphorical register that is intended to destabilize the rhetoric of the philosophy of nature and of individuation heretofore. “Living as a plant” indicates a passive yet fecund existence. in The Birth of Tragedy. to the extent that one recognizes its provisionality it also turns . that in ceaseless struggle for existence only brings forth blossoms that will wilt. then. eternally impelling to existence” (KSA 1. Pentheus. Nature exerts itself to come to beauty: if this is somehow achieved. to live as a plant” (my emphasis). The image of the mother. yet since the representation is arbitrary. Any representation is “mad. as Derrida has shown. of course.

i. Nietzsche speaks of both a “double art. the new individual requires a conducive atmosphere in order to flourish. We can say nothing about the thing-in-itself because we have pulled the perspective of the one who knows. but the most extreme triviality. what then is the quality? What things are. Nietzsche is responding to Kant here.” which refers to ancient Greek tragedy. i.e. out from under our own feet. Their qualities in themselves only concern us insofar as they have an effect upon us.’” (KSA 7. The relationship between beauty and death that we see in nature should provide insight into the nature of art. 333–49). 468) The vocabulary of measuring and adequation or commensurateness (Angemessenheit) is familiar from Kant’s Critique of Judgment. and implicit in Kant’s tragic philosophy in general. for us. is quite true. from the reference to the “thing-in-itself” and the impossibility of knowledge of things independently of their relationship to a measuring subject.” Nietzsche calls the “double genius” a “mysterious connection between state and art. Nietzsche emphasizes the act of measuring. In a short piece that Nietzsche calls “Fragment of an expanded version of the ‘Birth of Tragedy. however. This absolute finitude corresponds to our knowledge of the world. the question of how the human came to be the sole measuring being to which knowledge is calibrated. Now we have to ask: how did such a measuring being originate? The plant is also a measuring being. Nietzsche takes up the question that Kant brackets. that is. for we are tied to a limited perspective: “For the plant the whole world is plant. (KSA 7. human” (KSA 7. although it is to Kant in general and not specifically to the third Critique. but Kant withdraws from the implications of his own description. and this departure can be seen in the naming of the plant as a measuring being. and evidently.176 The Vegetative Soul consciousness toward the awareness of the inadequacy of the mask and the impossibility of naming anything “behind” it. 469). or no subject without an object and no object without a subject. is only to be proven through a measuring subject placed next to them. and not the measurement. If we take away the mass. He departs from Kant in his reinterpretation of measure and of organism.e. is commensurate [angemessen] to us. This insight is present in the Critique of Judgment. Nietzsche echoes Kant while substituting “measuring subject” for “knowing subject”: The statement: there is no knowledge without a knowing subject. the one who measures. Like a plant. A quality exists for us. and to a “double genius.” The ancient Greeks cultivated the right atmosphere for the birth of genius through alternating periods of war and peace: . an insight that humans prefer to overlook.

the absolute openness to its future.” power becomes concentrated in a particular spatiotemporal configuration. in the natural bellum omnium contra omnes. it also leads to fierce warfare. as only a few know. but also that it is preceded and will be succeeded by a flow of forces that will always exceed its boundaries. This “productivity” lies closer to the qualityless freedom described by Meister Eckhart than to the economically informed notion of productivity by which we judge “individuals” in the technological age. Thus. in vegetative growth that does not know its why. (KSA 7. Nietzsche refers to this notion as a saying in old Spanish. we recall. In the second Untimely Meditation. cultivate the seeds of wrath. one rejects the reductiveness of assigned qualities in favor of the openness of ambiguity. One can act like a gardener with one’s impulses. But with the creation of the “state. vanity. we understand by “state.The Ivy and the Vine 177 With this mysterious connection between state and art.” one appeals to the overthrow of determination. “the effects of conflict that have been inverted and compressed are given enough time to germinate and ripen.” and in praying to “God” to rid me of “God. this time from The Dawn: What remains free for us. deep thought. 328). in another passage. between political craving and artistic creation. 344) While the formation of a stable community is a prerequisite for the coming-into-being of art. one can also let nature . in the intervals between wars. It is in a receptivity to this excess. that the productivity of the individual lies.19 Nietzsche describes this freedom in terms of the cultivation of a garden that is very different from the sublime English garden. the brilliant blooms of genius will be allowed to sprout forth” (KSA 7. this means not only that its formation is beyond its own control. of which we have a presentiment here. between battlefield and artwork. to be as fecund and profitable as a beautiful fruit on a trellis. again.” as we have said. or “God guard me from myself” (KSA 1. Here genius is explained through the fortuitous encounter of favorable forces that results. in a French or an English or a Chinese style. and it is this power that is required for the creation of art. so that as soon as there are several warmer days. 533). and. In asking “God” to protect “me” from “myself. Defienda me Dios de my. as it were. a welcoming of its indeterminacy. 344). one can do this with the good and the bad taste of a gardener. society cannot put down roots in greater units and over and above the sphere of the family. sympathy. If every individual is the result of a chance encounter. This is another formulation of Meister Eckhart’s “I pray to God to rid me of God” that Nietzsche cites in The Gay Science (KSA 3. when power has time to accumulate. no more than the iron shackles that compel the process towards a society: while without the state.

let them fight out their own battles—yes. etc. appearances generated by a momentary encounter of forces. The word for a quality emerges from the word for an action—and this relationship. with their doctrines of the unalterability of character? (KSA 3. Even our bodies are nothing more than fictions.” is also sometime translated as “possessiveness. including “good works” such as helping the poor. at least for Nietzsche. Nietzsche writes that human beings believe that their qualities (Eigenschaften) lead to action. This would extend.” Nietzsche is very vigilant in keeping the original meanings of words in mind. at the limit of determination: “It knows no other and recognizes no God who could betoken its determinate destiny. donating money. meaning “own. The figure of Dionysos. one can take pleasure in such a wilderness and can will precisely this pleasure. which includes the word eigen.’ then ‘face’” (KSA 7. It is interesting to note that Meister Eckhart also considered actions. if one gets what one needs from it. as a kind of scarecrow. it will always remain on the verge of metamorphosis. because of the etymology of the word.”22 The organism is the primary example of the place where the individual is in most danger of being reified.20 For Meister Eckhart and other medieval mystics. an ontology of objects rather than events. We assume that there are qualities because we see actions in a determinate way. to the words me and myself. carried over to all things. This word. which can be translated as “qualities” or “properties. All of this remains free for us: but how many of us know that it remains free for us? Don’t most people believe in themselves as faits accomplis? Haven’t the great philosophers still left their seal on this prejudice. finally.. not as a freedom to do something but freedom as indetermination. is what we call causality: “First ‘seeing. In a notebook from 1872–1873. one can also let the plants grow up according to naturally favorable conditions and hindrances. first there is an action that we subsequently link to a quality. to give “God” determination even to the extent of bestowing the name of “God” was to reduce the divine to the level of a conceptually accessible entity. as he/she most often was. when in fact it we infer qualities from actions. and without any knowledge or reflection. to be “qualities” that had no meaning in and in fact hindered the relationship to the divine.” especially in Meister Eckhart. Thus. 326) Nietzsche uses the word freedom here in Meister Eckhart’s sense. Nietzsche speculates on the origin of the notion of Eigenschaften. This leads to a language of being and not becoming.178 The Vegetative Soul prevail and only look after them here and there for the sake of a little decoration and cleansing. as mask. .21 The individual’s orientation toward an uncertain future means that as language. represented. and of the human tendency to see itself as the ultimate individual. 483). and so his critique of Eigenschaft has resonances for his critique of subjectivity.

Walter Otto describes the mask of Dionysos in the following way: “The mask is pure confrontation—an antipode. in other words. symbolizes the monstrous individuality that Nietzsche finds under the rubric of tragedy. In Getting Back Into Place. that which is completely absent—both in one reality. It is the symbol and the manifestation of that which is excruciatingly near. Edward Casey calls the garden that place with the greatest “capacity to exhibit a range of relations between the naturally given and the intentionally cultivated. we have come full circle. are characterized by both “liminality and transitionality. . to let the plant spread where the environmental conditions are favorable. without knowing in advance what direction its growth will take. It has nothing which might transcend this mighty moment of confrontation.The Ivy and the Vine 179 a column with clothes wrapped around it and topped with a mask that hides what has always already just slipped away. Nietzsche’s project mirrors Kant’s deformatively.”25 at the border between nature and culture. It has. from the constraints of the English garden that exhibits itself to be wild and naturally growing within the constraints laid down by a skillful gardener. It has no reverse side—‘Spirits have no back. like the plants that grow in them. no complete existence either.’ the people say.”24 Gardens. to the vigilant receptivity of the tender who knows that he or she is free to let the undetermined remain ambiguous.”23 Thus. and at the limit of their mutual transformability. and nothing else. turning the imperative toward totality and unity into an open-ended vegetative growth. yet which continues to hold the constant promise of being reborn under another metamorphosis.

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builds indirectly on Kant’s critique and the massive reworking of metaphysics into an organic. EFFLORESCENCE The Legacy of the Vegetative Soul in Twentieth-Century Thought The rose is without why. using a plant metaphor. asks not whether it is seen. which starts explicitly with Nietzsche and continues through the philosophical schools of phenomenology.Conclusion DISSEMINATION. The twentieth-century critique of subjectivity. living growth by German Idealism. RHIZOMES. —Angelus Silesias Nineteenth-century German literary and philosophical thought sowed the seeds of the displacement of binary metaphysical oppositions and the questioning of the atomistic conception of the subject that became such important focal points for twentieth-century Continental philosophy. and French feminism. among others. Martin Heidegger for example. writes: 181 . The concern that links these movements is a search for the assumptions or presuppositions that underlie classical metaphysical tenets. particularly modern metaphysics. which grounds truth in the rational self-transparent subject. it blooms because it blooms It pays no attention to itself. genealogy. deconstruction.

182 The Vegetative Soul Descartes.”3 Heidegger goes on to interpret the fragment as saying that “humans. does not “insert itself in between its blooming and the grounds for blooming. thanks to which grounds could first be as grounds. Clearly there is no one model for plant growth. At the same time that they trace the assumptions that metaphysics makes. and others question is the assumption that this ground can be found in the metaphysics of presence. without grounds. which states that nothing is without a why. and clearly one might challenge the metaphor of plant growth on the basis of the tree. The aspect of modern metaphysics that Heidegger. as we can deduce the causal mechanism at the origin of its blooming—and be without why—insofar as it does not explicitly take itself into consideration.” the rational subject. to be a self-sufficient individual in the same way that an animal is. enters and lives in the roots that support and nourish the tree? What is the basis and element of metaphysics? What is metaphysics.2 Heidegger’s interest in this line from a poem occurs in the context of his study of Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason. a tree.” in the words of the seventeenth-century mystic and poet Angelus Silesius. viewed from its ground?”1 Here. observed: “Thus the whole of philosophy is like a tree: the roots are metaphysics. to philosophy considered in its entirety. heeding and uncovering this concealed ground of human . Yet Heidegger’s point is to ask about the surrounding environment upon which the tree is dependent and in which it is fixed. which appears. concealed in the ground. who translated the Principia Philosophiae into French.”4 For Heidegger. in the concealed ground of their essential being. we ask: In what soil do the roots of the tree have their hold? Out of what ground do the roots—and through them the whole tree—receive their nourishing juices and strength? What element. This is certainly where Descartes found the roots of metaphysics to be securely grounded. whose boundaries are known to itself and defensible. displacing the fiction of this origin is one of the things the plant-like reading seeks to achieve. the unspoken assumptions that make it possible. especially as Descartes describes it.” Sticking to this image. and in particular in the animallike configurations of the thinking “I. writing to Picot. the critiques of these thinkers do not seek an alternative univocal origin. Derrida. which must remain enclosed by a concealed ground in order to allow the rest of the plant to flourish. Foucault. however. first truly are when in their own way they are like the rose—without why. the trunk is physics. and the branches that issue from the trunk are all the other sciences. which is “without why. Heidegger speaks of the “groundless ground” of Being with reference to the rose. is likened to an individual. a form of plant. Heidegger considers how a rose can simultaneously be grounded—insofar as it becomes an object for human cognition. reflect the silent ground that metaphysics rarely questions. The roots of a plant in this image. Irigaray.

and Nietzsche. is philosophy’s task in confronting the hegemony of the modern subject which has been characterized in just such ways. ivy-like growth. untraceable to singular or determinate origins. Derrida draws our attention to the metaphorical register in the history of philosophy that encompasses Nature conceived as a book. and Irigaray’s trope of efflorescence all explicitly perform what we have called a plant-like reading. As Jacques Derrida writes in “Otobiographies. Such a reading would kill a plant. It resists totalization and subverts any attempt to master a reading definitively. A straightforwardly hermeneutical reading seeks to uncover univocal roots of meaning of a work. An interpretive decision does not have to draw a line between two intents or two political contents. as a straightforward heritage linking bodies of work. phallic reading.Conclusion 183 essential being. I believe. To trace a linear history of influence between the thinkers whose work we have been considering and what has been called postmodern critique would be to configure the history of thought in the manner we have called animal lineage. that which is prior to calculative thinking. while subverting and transforming the tradition with a metamorphic. envisions texts and interpretations as vegetative growth. and the . In the preface to Dissemination. Our interpretations will not be readings of a hermeneutic or exegetic sort. if indeed a text is a plantlike growth. and human action considered in terms of explicit conscious agency. Luce Irigaray. the notion of logos spermatikos. This is the way it has always been—and always in a singular manner—5 Here Derrida refers to the appropriation of Nietzsche’s work for both fascist and anti-fascist purposes. A disseminating reading of texts recognizes that interpretation is always productive or fecund rather than simply investigative and analytical. causal determination. The transformative style of thinkers like Derrida. disseminating and productive rather than reducibly polysemic and analytic. has been disseminated in twentieth-century Continental philosophy and feminist theory in a manner that more resembles vegetable growth. Deleuze and Guattari’s articulation of the rhizome. but rather political interventions in the political rewriting of the text and its destination. and to a lesser extent Goethe and Hölderlin. as political intervention and transformative interpretation. Derrida’s notion of dissemination. to analyze its origins and codify its meaning. The thought of Kant. A rhizomatic reading emphasizes nonlinearity and a genealogical refusal of unique unified sources or meanings. by contrast. Efflorescence complicates the notion of the atomistic subject and the singular. and the same argument might apply to his own appropriation and transformation of Heideggerian critique. Hegel. bound to decide.” his reading of Nietzsche: We are not. and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

roots are taproots with a more multiple. purposive insemination of animals. articulated retroactively as the origin of all its diverse forms. explicitly seen in Descartes’ analogy of metaphysics to the roots of a tree. understood as the multiple. and what is signified about completedness as such by the fact that Novalis never finished this Encyclopedia. and the rhizomebook. a program that cannot be formalized .184 The Vegetative Soul equation.8 True to the vision of the nineteenth-century vegetative soul we have been considering. .”9 Deleuze and Guattari expand upon the various kinds of “plant structures” that different kinds of philosophical and literary efforts employ. [which] does not take a form saturated with self-presence in the encyclopedic circle. antisystematic fecundity that occurs when seed is blown to the wind rather than the reductive. conceived by medieval thinkers to be God’s book. In “Rhizome. Deleuze and Guattari sketch three general figures of a book: the rootbook. We might add that this root-structure. written in such a way that it is representative and true. of writing with strewing seed.”7 The “great Book” is Nature.10 The root-book. as the One that becomes two. lateral. when it is what presides over the very division between world and book. but .” the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus.”6 Aligning itself most explicitly against Hegel. and circular . nature and art?”11 The root-book or tree-book constitutes itself as the reflection of nature. Derrida then turns to Novalis. . an ordered totality that gives the reader a structured idea of the seemingly chaotic logos scattered like seed among its forms. exemplified in the world of plants by the tree. speech with animal insemination. is the method of individuation based on the animal body as well. Deleuze and Guattari argue that “in nature. but also against the onto-theological project of the history of metaphysics in general. who. most explicitly articulated by Plato. traces the image of the world. in his philosophical fragments entitled “Pollen” (Blüthenstaub) envisioned an Encyclopedia that would “complete” Nature as it inscribed it. the radicle-system or fascicular root-book. the roots of the book imitating the “world-tree. .” Deleuze and Guattari ask. . Derrida calls dissemination a resistance to the “effacement of seminal difference through which the leftoverness of the outwork gets internalized and domesticated into the ontotheology of the great Book. of self-fertilization with no limen. is described by Derrida as “the heterogeneity and absolute exteriority of the seed” which “constitute[s] itself into a program. Dissemination. Derrida speculates that the Novalisian Encyclopedia signifies that which goes beyond the “always-already-constitutedness of meaning and of truth within the theo-logico-encyclopedic space. Derrida asks how one can think the identification of Nature with a Book if the book is what completes it. “How could the law of the book reside in nature.

When the principal root of a plant has been aborted or its tip destroyed. Such a structure does not really break with the root: “The world has become chaos. or at least the promise of unity remains since its structure is a fragmentation of a former whole. in Deleuze and Guattari’s introduction. Linnaeus based his theory of prolepsis on the immediate flourishing of the plant that resulted as the tree bore blossoms and fruit very quickly. computer technology and information science. undergoes a metamorphosis. This system of classification lay at the heart of botanical research. according to Deleuze and Guattari. Think of the family tree. and also plant-type. epitomized by the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus). in which a young tree was placed in a pot that was too small for it. This phenomenon also resembles the gardens of Adonis described in Plato’s Phaedrus. is that of the rhizome. an indefinite multiplicity of secondary roots appear on it. Binary logic rules the classical book. on the way: “When a multiplicity of this kind changes dimension. they may spread with the wind and cover any amount of ground. literature and philosophy. the charts of families of languages. and so secondary. is that of the fascicular root. and still dominates psychoanalysis. rather than a dichotomous one. which begin at point X and proceed by dichotomy. but are always in the middle. annual and perennial plant. Joyce’s shattering of the linear unity of language. since they grow outward rather than upward.”12 The rootbook opens upon all classification according to binary logic: nature and culture. but the book remains the image of the world: radicle-chaosmos rather than root-cosmos. They .”13 The third book-type. They give the examples of William Burroughs’s cut-up method (folding one text into another). The second figure of the book. or radicle system.”14 Rhizomes have no territory.Conclusion 185 system of ramification. and the plant as a result undergoes an intensified growth. This description parallels an experiment performed by Linnaeus that Goethe describes in The Metamorphosis of Plants. of course. long before its usual six years of development. putting out a multiplicity of small roots and shoots without any one central root or stem. in the time of Goethe. linguistics. The theory posits that the plant anticipates many years of development at once by compressing the successive stages through time. and have no identifiable beginning or end. Rhizomes connect any point to any other point. In Deleuze and Guattari’s terms. and. smaller roots took over the process of nourishing the plant. Rhizomes grow horizontally rather than vertically. Obviously the smaller pot would not allow the primary roots to expand to their normal degree. in this case the primary root’s unity still subsists in the form of potentiality: its past or future may be unified. natural reality and spiritual reality. and Nietzsche’s aphorisms. structuralism. it necessarily changes in nature as well.

a metaphor that plays into the depiction of the plant as homologous to an animal. the fact that a brokenoff part can reattach itself and from the point of adaptation take up further stages of metamorphosis: “[A] new rhizome may form in the heart of a tree. the Turkish “language of flowers. of the traditional binary oppositions Detienne traces in The Gardens of Adonis between “superficial. In spite of the fascinating analogies Deleuze and Guattari draw between the different kinds of plant growth and various styles of writing. . in terms of approbation. nonhierarchical. who wrote. Goethe’s observation seeks to refute the metaphor of the seed as self-enclosed and purposive. like Goethe and Hölderlin. Deleuze and Guattari also connect the arboreal structures of technical production with the West.”17 Hegel calls this ability of the plant a kind of monstrosity. not monstrosity. it seems necessary to question any pairing that relies—as Deleuze and Guattari’s account ultimately does— on the traditional definition of metaphor as a lively description that illuminates the structure of another reality that lies behind it. in this case. . a casting aside or bracketing of animal raising. the crook of a branch. the description of plants that stands in for the description of writing. . “Things . lightweight plants” with no roots and no fruit.186 The Vegetative Soul are acentered. and “serious. rather than forest and field.”15 Deleuze and Guattari cite the diary of Franz Kafka. emphasize the adaptability of the transplanted shoot of a plant.”16 Deleuze and Guattari. and his West-Oestlicher Divan (1819) has much to say on this theme. the former associated with women and the East. and thus a deficient animal. the latter with men and the West. “all manner of beginnings. solemn. let someone attempt to seize a blade of grass and hold fast to it when it begins to grow only from the middle. The “language of flowers” came to signify any secret code of writing that did not follow the rules of ordinary discourse. but Goethe counters that such an adaptation manifests flexibility. In Europe in the nineteenth century. the hollow of a root. . in precisely the sense of the multiple significations and nonlinear branchings-out described by Deleuze and Guattari. occur to me . which is confined to closed spaces or pushed out onto the steppes of the nomads.19 seized the popular imagination.” used to pass secret messages between lovers. not from the root up but rather only from somewhere in their middle. and rhizomatic growth patterns with the East: “The East presents a different figure: a relation to the steppe and the garden (or in some cases. rooted” plants. the desert and the oasis). Goethe was deeply interested in the plant culture of the East. and in spite of the obvious value of challenging the received understanding of the proper way of writing. Let someone then attempt to seize them. cultivation of tubers by fragmentation of the individual. nonsignifying.”18 This account is a reversal. .

or stands in for. metaphor allows for the reconstitution of the originary unity of all beings. supplements and fulfills the provisionality of the metaphorical bond.Conclusion 187 Instead. and Politics to indirectly bolster. claims about the role of women in . The vegetative soul reappears in discussions in the Nicomachean Ethics. of course. In De Anima Aristotle introduces the notion of the vegetative soul as one component of the irrational part of the soul. At this level metaphor is founded on the ontological unity of life represented by Dionysos. here metaphor might be understood as an intertwining that reads two things in terms of one another in such a way that no priority can be drawn. among other things. namely that component responsible for simple growth and alteration. This soul. As Sarah Kofman puts it in her study of Nietzsche and metaphor: On the one hand there is no metaphor without a stripping away of individuality. creating the impression of living growth (physis) that Aristotle declared to be the quality of the best metaphors. metaphorical speech supplements nonmetaphorical discourse. symbolized by the dismemberment of Dionysos. must be the other. The nutritive or vegetative soul is also associated with reproduction. it does so in such a way as to still remind one of the provisionality of such a juxtaposition and the space between the terms of the juxtaposition. rather than one particular reading or representation. While a productive metaphor brings two things together.20 This understanding of metaphor allows the possibilities of representation itself. unlike the sentient soul (the other part of the irrational soul). hence its name. rather than being a plenitude which. To be able to transpose. no implication that one figure represents. the hiatus between the terms. to come to presence. though unknown. particularly with the womb and fetation. Beyond individual separation. the other. The difference between a “living” and a “dead” metaphor would lie in the fact that one still experiences the rhythm of the new metaphor. adding interest and liveliness rather than content. The “loss of the proper” is an absolute loss. which is indecipherable and of which man can have only representations which are quite improper. one must be able to transpose oneself and one must have conquered the limits of individuality: the same must partake in the other. Generation of Animals. is shared by both plants and animals. Irigaray uncovers a less generous reading of plant growth in Aristotle’s theory of the soul.21 For Aristotle. without the possibility of recuperation. symbolized by the resurrection of the god. On the other hand metaphor is linked to the loss of the proper understood as the essence of the world. But if there is metaphor it is because this unity is always already in pieces and can only be reconstituted when symbolically transposed into art. without masquerade and metamorphosis.

In “How to Conceive of a Girl. on the other.” might be couched.” Irigaray considers Aristotle’s analogy of women to plants. Once and for all. Irrationality is thus directly linked to the perceived primacy of the reproductive capacity in women via the vegetative soul.23 Woman is supposed to have an essence that defines her as woman. Irigaray’s project of performing a subversion of a traditional metaphor such that it turns into a productive metonymical structure takes the German nineteenth-century discourse on vegetable genius as its productive ground. In works spanning her intellectual career. cannot move. she attempts to move beyond simple historical critique. Irigaray uses the rhetorical configuration of “efflorescence” to designate a blossoming or blooming forth that cannot be enclosed within the traditional boundaries of embodiment and philosophical discourse. The part of the argument that concerns us here rests on the claim that since the vegetative soul predominates over the rational soul in women by virtue of their capacity for bearing children. and in this sense can do no more than assist or ground man in the actualization of his subjectivity. In doing so. like that of any (female) being. and even more explicitly in Elemental Passions. both to criticize the negative way in which it has traditionally been used to characterize the ontological status of woman. Critique does not exhaust the philosophical scope of Irigaray’s effort. Efflorescence—a figure that implies metamorphosis and indefinite individuation—forms the positive facet of Irigaray’s cri- . the ontological status assigned to it. She is relegated to the status of nature or matter.188 The Vegetative Soul political life. or move beyond. In The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger. as important as this activity is. Irigaray takes up the metaphor of the plant again and again. She writes: The substance of the plant. on the one hand. It is not capable of any less or any more. women by nature are not suited to rule. and. toward a positive feminist philosophy. once and for all. increasingly to subvert the traditional metaphor in the productive notion of efflorescence. as opposed to a “concept of femininity. Western philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel have repeated the analogy of men to animals and women to plants by virtue of their (perceived) respective characteristics of activity and rationality. and passivity and lack of rationality. Irigaray gives an indication as to the language in which a feminine subject.22 The explanation of the Aristotelian vegetative soul— which gained force in its adoption by medieval Scholasticism—contributes to an argument dispersed through various works of Aristotle justifying the inferior political status of women.

Irigaray’s use of the trope of efflorescence reminds us that the flowering subject is always a sexed subject. could be predicated of the fiction of the (masculine) subject. By “real change” I mean that such a restructuring would not merely manipulate the existing conception of subjectivity in order to make room for women. a multiple subject. She does not assume. Her politics of subjectivity. and passage into subjectivity are thought. but would make room for sexual difference. and deconstruction. self-preservation. motivated by an interest in the ethical and political empowerment of women. a title we must recognize that she might well not wish to claim. In doing so Irigaray is not suggesting that a return to unmediated nature—in itself an impossible task—would bring about a meaningful change for women. Irigaray transforms the negative association of woman with plant into a positive possibility. and thereby to effect a real change for women in the cultural order. Irigaray’s work stands out among other twentieth-century critics of the history of the way in which subjectivity has been configured in that she envisions the possibility of another kind of subjectivity. Irigaray proposes a feminine model of subjectivity. Among other contemporary feminist critics of the articulation of subjectivity in the history of metaphysics. one that returns to a close connection to the philosophy of nature. Rather. and thus must be left behind. does not rest content with dissecting and critiquing the history of metaphysics. This distinguishes her philosophy and makes her the heir to nineteenthcentury Naturphilosophie. as others upon whose work she builds do. she implies that a return to and reworking of the symbolics of nature might be a place from within the social or symbolic order from which to retroactively restructure the ways in which women’s embodiment. Irigaray stands out in her attempt to reconsider the Enlightenment conception of the atomistic subject (the Hobbesian man) through her use of specifically natural. and strict identity over time. phenomenology. natural role. qualities that among other philosophical constructs. thereby leaving its implicit masculinity intact. and in particular to the figure of the plant. first by recalling pre-patriarchal cultures where goddesses were associated with the vegetable world: . that the subject qua subject necessarily is constituted according to the model of the animal. and a subject-in-becoming. but grafts a positive vision onto the destructive insights of psychoanalysis. Yet Irigaray herself explicitly links women to the vegetable world. yet nonhuman and even non-animalistic forms to think sexual difference and feminine subjectivity.Conclusion 189 tique of Aristotle and of the history of metaphysics. especially given her critique of Hegel’s philosophy of nature and its link to his treatment of the feminine. This critique can be read as aimed at the primacy of traditionally “animalistic” metaphors that emphasize self-enclosedness.

Her so-called passivity would not then be part of an active/passive pair of opposites but would signify a different economy. For Irigaray. Could it be that in this proximity there lies an accurate explanation of her relation to passivity? Woman’s receptivity would not be restricted to her relation to man alone but would extend to the natural economy. is not a pre-symbolic.190 The Vegetative Soul One might well wonder if women are closer to the vegetable world than to the animal world. becoming is not cut off from life or its placing. In which case. A matter. in different ways. in her view. as we have emphasized in other contexts. includes an occlusion of the bodily and its intimate relationship to the spiritual. a different relation to nature and to the self that would amount to attentiveness and to fidelity rather than passivity. much in the way these figures have traditionally been linked. untouched realm to which one can retreat. more explicitly. As Margaret Whitford analyzes it. on to women. At the same time. or which one can symbolize at will. and particularly by female cultures. nature is not an essentialized. especially the cosmic one. although. relational. with which her equilibrium and growth are more closely associated. there is a grave danger in the fact that nature has been appropriated by an approach that seeks to harness and utilize it without recognizing the loss such a process involves. the forgetting of the rich ground of possibility in favor of the certainty of the actual and the conceptual. but is part of a hierarchized system (as we have seen most clearly in Hegel’s philosophy of nature) that is legitimized by virtue of being presented as natural and inevitable. as was claimed by certain ancient philosophers. fixed nature attached to a sex. for Irigaray. not of pure receptivity but of a movement of growth that never ultimately estranges itself from corporeal existence in a natural milieu. it is “those parts of himself that the male imaginary has split off and projected—into the world. The narrowly scientific and technological world view leaves no room for nature as excess. It remains attentive to growth: physiological. an excess that guarantees the possibility of change in the depiction of sexual difference.24 Irigaray associates plantlike growth and the feminine with nature. one might add. but. is that which is symbolized as nature (as opposed to culture or the symbolic). it is true. I would argue that for Irigaray “nature” also represents the possibility of transformation of that order through a restructuring of the feminine imaginary (thereby effecting the possibility of a feminine subjectivity) by way of reworking the symbols of nature. but with a different agenda. This loss. It is not extrapolated from the living nor founded in a dead character. however. nature.”25 Nature. For Irigaray.26 Whitford quotes Irigaray in saying that according to Hegel. women remain in the plant world rather . therefore. from which one flees. as that from which human beings arise and over which they ultimately have no absolute control. spiritual.

Plant growth provides one of the most striking and pervasive examples of such a guiding principle in Irigaray’s work. becoming. in spite of its privilege. signifies the exhilarating possibility that ideas and traditions may be either recouped or transformed. A metaphor for metonymy would repeat its displacing function endlessly.29 . Irigaray writes in Sexes and Genealogies: “Once the natural. her development is subject to definitions coming from an other. as part of the “in itself” rather than “for itself. and in herself. she goes on to write: The plant may indeed conform to her own purpose. the very nature of plant metamorphosis would make it impossible for this figure for femininity to take over as a metaphor for woman in a substitutive logic that would simply replace the phallus with veiled lips. so that. or. Rather. is sacrificed. and individuation. Rather than simply pointing out the flaws of traditional philosophy’s linkage of the feminine with the earth or nature. just as a “plantlike” reading transforms its textual object in a metamorphic growth. Thus. as the metaphor. familial. which I believe is precisely what she is doing with vegetal figures as well. in other places Whitford shows how Irigaray uses existing symbols of femininity to transform the symbolic order. moreover. as a philosopher.” interpreting this as merely a claim that women need to move beyond the “natural” into the “social.”27 A tendency toward metonymical profusion (itself characteristic of vegetative growth) rather than either blind conceptual language or metaphorical substitution characterizes Irigaray’s strategy of transformative mimesis. nocturnal spirit.” then. or the measured and autonomous animal with the interconnected and vulnerable plant. the underlying structure of language that metaphor presupposes. the dark rootedness of nature is rejected in favor of a sightless era of concepts. but an other has to certify this. female. if you like.”28 But in a stranger turn. Irigaray focuses on the redemptive possibilities inherent in the very metaphors that have been used to reduce the feminine to the silent. unconscious destruction of our senses. “Nature. She may be fully herself. as it were.” However. Irigaray criticizes Aristotle for allowing everything he says about nature to be “already co-opted by prescriptions that direct or interpret his findings. the figure of efflorescence provides support for Irigaray’s imagining of a feminine subject through an open-ended inquiry into and transformation of thinking about language. but as a privileged figure in Irigaray’s work.Conclusion 191 than acceding to the animal. This sightlessness seems to consist in the unconsidered. And that other must speak. for metonymy. and speak. The figure of efflorescence functions not simply as one of many poetic figures. but an other has to declare that this is the case. concealed ground of Being.

in the context of critiquing “science” (always placed in scare quotes) for its neglect of fluidity in favor of the study of solids. and it is what makes metaphor possible. which restricts woman to a prescribed category defined in terms of an other that alone can be actualized and affirm her purpose in her place. ground upon which metaphor depends and indeed is grounded. such that the critique of the philosophy of nature becomes a critique of the architectonic of philosophy. Jane Gallop suggests a metonymic or “feminine” reading of Lacan which. relies too heavily on metaphors.”31 which. metonymy’s role has historically functioned in a way that strikingly parallels Irigaray’s critique of the role of the feminine in the history of philosophy.32 Gallop warns against the “temptation” of “misreading” Lacan’s text as a straightforward neglect of metonymy (and of the feminine). latent. and this shift in vocabulary is significant. put this way. that “metonymy is there from the beginning. yet not explicitly combined. and metonymy with horizontal contiguity. drawn from Roman Jakobson’s linguistic theory. in a way that recalls the contrast of tree and rhizome. insofar as it has been a part of philosophical discourse and formulated as part of an ontological struc- . which is fluid. Her argument persuasively shows that although to read the tradition as perpetuating a straightforward neglect of metonymy would be to misread it. the plant moves from an analogy to woman to a metonym for woman.”33 Irigaray’s claim is that the feminine. links this neglect with psychoanalysis’ neglect of feminine sexuality. In an essay entitled “The ‘Mechanics’ of Fluids.192 The Vegetative Soul Without any specific declaration on Irigaray’s part. in a very Irigarayan manner. I have repeatedly used the word metonymy rather than metaphor to characterize Irigaray’s use of figurative language.” Irigaray.30 Irigaray’s critique is aimed at Jacques Lacan’s discussion of metaphor and metonymy in “The Agency of the Letter. privileges metaphor over metonymy in much the same way that phallocentrism neglects the feminine. for example. Lacan’s understanding of metaphor and metonymy. Lacan writes. She writes: And if anyone objects that the question. it is easy to reply that the question in fact impugns the privilege granted to metaphor (a quasi solid) over metonymy (which is much more closely allied to fluids). she implies. aligns metaphor with the vertical substitution of one signifier for another. by “supplying a whole context of associations” that are present in the text. and observes instead. that metonymy functions in the manner of a dark. nevertheless. form an argument in favor of aligning the privilege accorded to metaphor with the hegemony of the masculine in psychoanalytic theory.

Antigone’s defiance of the law of the state. at least in Hegel’s interpretation. masculine) conception of subjectivity. “[T]he other is nothing more than the assimilation of the mourning of the other. but in such a way that a making actual of feminine possibility paradoxically involves its own negation. The mourning of the other Irigaray refers to here resonates with her discussions of Antigone and of the story of Demeter and Kore-Persephone. . but that also signifies the possibility of transformation.Conclusion 193 ture. but her own transgression results in a burial that has no immediate positive outcome. Polynices.’”34 By reviving metonymy Irigaray seeks to avoid the substitutive logic of metaphor. much in the way that the concealed ground feeds the roots of the tree. though both also provide a silent (unacknowledged) propagating force. whereas the animal holds what Hegel calls the “universal element” within itself as a part of itself (JI 211). refusing to erect feminine metaphors in the place of overturned masculine metaphors of subjectivity. fluid in itself. she receives this status only thanks to an assimilation into a masculine conception of subjectivity. and thus his subjectivity. This explanation informs Hegel’s analogy of woman to plant and man to animal: woman can be. . but who nevertheless marks the possibility of another kind of subjectivity. if only in memory. exemplified in Antigone’s burial of her brother. fruitfulness. As Irigaray puts it in The Forgetting of Air. at most. upsets the feminine configured as spiritualizing force. She buries her brother to assure his entrance into the public realm of memorial. of source. yet it is her very annual appearance at the end of this exile that provides for the blossoming. We recall that Hegel distinguished between the plant and the animal by noting the fact that the plant “cannot retain . just as the feminine provides the spiritualizing capacity for the masculine. The universal fluid merely flows through and then out of the plant. . To the extent that woman is granted an autonomous identity. the animal carries spiritual liquidity within itself. Because of its self-enclosed interior of circulating fluids. has always played the role of ground. relegated to a silent subterranean existence. and harvest upon which human life depends. the in-itself and not for-itself. projected into the ‘free. Kore’s ingestion of pomegranate seeds ensures the necessity of her remaining underground for the winter months of every year.” so that it is incapable of maintaining a unity between its internal and external world (JI 211).35 Both Antigone and Kore are entombed under the earth. the unconscious vessel of subjectivity. of that which is to be contained. that seems merely disruptive. a vessel through which spirit flows and which nourishes the animal. The feminine in both cases can be interpreted as a vehicle for blossoming forth who does not herself achieve the liberation and autonomy presupposed of a (Western.

But it might be possible to have another peace: that of living plant growth. its resistance to ownership.36 The difference Irigaray notes between “living plant growth” and the plant that is associated with death recalls the logic of sacrifice according to which Hegelian nature unfolds in its progression from plant to animal. Irigaray subverts . Hegel’s model remains that of Deleuze and Guattari’s tree-book. The ensemble of the Hegelian system. He is no longer internally split. the dead man is the one who finally finds peace. apart from a few errors and uprootings. The split between body and spirit that results.” Irigaray begins with two epigraphs from Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. Such a connection is at first consideration not at all self-evident. it is exigent for feminist philosophy not just to reveal and dismantle these metaphors. it seems that one can escape from singularness only through the order of death or of the dead man. but. one that contrasts strikingly with Irigaray’s own intertwining of the two. according to Hegel. as it unfolds on the conscious level. Hegel clearly draws a connection between the feminine and the vegetative.37 Irigaray’s implicit argument seems to be that if the very phallogocentricity of the tradition perpetuates itself through concealed metaphorical structures. Irigaray notes the problematic aspects of the (Hegelian) discourse. a tree that does not consider its nurturing ground. yet reads it beyond its intention. precarious in its very proximity to the tradition it seeks to critique and transform. in what Elizabeth Grosz calls the “viscosity” or superabundance of the text. She consistently draws a connection between the philosophy of nature and Hegel’s discussion of Antigone in the Phenomenology of Spirit. within the system. The scientific and philosophical tradition has prided itself on being separate from rhetoric. epitomized in the discussion of the plant that in laying itself down ferments into communion fare of bread and wine. as we have seen.194 The Vegetative Soul Irigaray recognizes the precariousness of her chosen metonymics of vegetative growth. Could the secret model for his philosophy overall be the plant? But. In her famous discussion of Hegel’s Antigone in Speculum of the Other Woman. “The Eternal Irony of the Community. in fact resembles this. but in which she nevertheless discerns redemptive possibilities: Clearly. but also to engage and displace them productively according to the logic of metonymy. has defined itself in denigrating “literary” language. no longer in constant polemos. reminds us that despite his own description of his system as a metamorphosing plant. This idea or conviction seems linked to the split of body and spirit that is established following the sacrifice of the female to the State and man’s access to citizenship and to a neutered culture.

in a way that echoes Goethe. In a continuation of the critique of Hegel in which she contrasts the Hegelian. though concerned with the future. She .”41 This process draws on the rhizomatic displacement of metonymy rather than the substitutive logic of metaphor. it is possible to subvert traditional metaphors productively while retaining a connection to their source. as she is quick to remind us. Irigaray makes a statement against the politics of assimilation which masks phallogocentrism with the veneer of neutrality. Yet the imaginary is a structural and not a developmental or chronological stage. In refusing to simply reject metaphors that have historically been associated with women. “The feminine utopian moment. because there is an excess. Irigaray recognizes that one must not naively believe that it is possible to simply start anew. However. as if it were easy to reach a vantage point outside of the symbolic order. does not erect the ‘feminine’ as a new transcendental signified. that has traditionally been associated with the devalorization of women. the universality of nature is complex.”40 Imaginary and symbolic are contiguous. As Patricia Huntington explains in Ecstatic Subjects. Irigaray focuses on the imaginary of the history of metaphysics. Change in the imaginary must bring about change in the symbolic and vice versa. that is. . unacknowledged foundation in the unsymbolized maternal-feminine. . This sharing is indeed more universal than a single death. globally peaceful in its achievements. “Metaphorical transference entails evoking new images of women’s autonomy from the ‘surplus of meaning’ of the metaphor ‘Woman’ as represented in patriarchy. Whitford emphasizes that Irigaray’s work deliberately takes on male metaphors that describe femininity in order to effect “a possible restructuring of the imaginary by the symbolic which would make a difference to women. Obviously. .Conclusion 195 traditional metaphors as a rhetorical weapon against the tradition that has worked to exclude and at the same time to assimilate women. that of the plant. in which we cannot understand one without the other. As Whitford puts it.” Irigaray writes. and Irigaray chooses to strategically address the imaginary by echoing and transforming existing symbols of femininity. finished and open.”38 However. its repressed. because this excess is that which will always exceed any finite symbolic system. but it is ceaselessly a figure both complete and changing.” a figure like that of the plant. by sharing in the universal natural rhythm. or surplus of meaning onto which the imaginary opens up. This explains why Irigaray chooses a metaphor. so that “symbolic and imaginary form a system.”39 It is important to note that the “new” images that are invoked are culled from the “surplus of meaning” of the metaphor “Woman” as represented in the patriarchy. sacrificial use of plant metaphors with “living plant growth. “In fact it is possible to go beyond singularness by obeying growth.

with undifferentiated origin. Irigaray’s claim is that the possibility of a different relationship to the transcendental can only emerge if the feminine is granted its own specificity in its relation to language. This is where the individuation characteristic of plant metamorphosis (never completely inside. Irigaray asks a question of a presumably masculine interlocutor: [D]o you want the flower to open only once? The unveiling of the opening would then belong to you. permanent dawn. . . intact. would “reject all closure or circularity in discourse—any constitution of arche or of telos. Proposed and exposed in one definitive blossoming. must render any attempt to co-opt it into predetermined structures of “neutral” subjectivity problematic. As Irigaray writes in The Forgetting of Air: She.196 The Vegetative Soul goes on to critique the Hegelian sacrifice of nature to spirit: “Because it refuses any debt to nature.”45 The articulation of a feminine subject. “The paradigms of masculine transcendency. With neither the defined contours of a completed development nor the gaping openness of a chaos from which everything can issue. never open. A passage never completed between inside and outside. nor completely outside) becomes important for Irigaray.”44 Such a specificity. night and day. . she-of-ever. which is sometimes considered neutral or bisexual. midnight and midday. likewise.43 The opposition of atomistic individual versus undifferentiated exterior itself must be subverted. older and newer than every history.”42 Not content with a simple destruction of the concept of subjectivity. she joins these in the portal chink of her awakening. Inborn infancy. Ever being born: the living female one. a feminine universal. she is equally not to be associated with a kind of indefinite fusion or chaotic origin. although the feminine subject is not to be understood in terms of atomistic or self-preservational identity. In Elemental Passions. must be modified in order to establish a feminine transcendency. its flooding back into itself . or a feminine subjectivity to be a central part of displacing the way in which women’s desire as well as interpersonal relationships among each other have been historically mediated through the masculine. She is never closed. The beauty or truth of the opening would be your discovery. stays within beginning’s awakening. As Irigaray writes in the preface to the Japanese edition of Elemental Passions. However. the return to nature can only be of the order of death. The nightly closing of the flower. like the organism of the plant in contrast to that of the animal. Irigaray considers the invocation of a feminine transcendental. To posit the feminine subject as formless would be to leave the traditional equation of the feminine with matter.

“If multiplicity is to be celebrated.46 Here Irigaray seems to be discussing reading and interpretation as much as fixation in an essentialized identity. Thus.”47 We tend to dismiss flowers as rhetorical flourishes.Conclusion 197 would not take place. for Irigaray. The flowering must not. Irigaray writes: Indefinitely open and closed. The “return to the shadows” is as necessary a facet of the metaphor of growth. have a temporal existence. which always destabilizes in advance the possibility of fixing its ground. That never abandons the body that gives it life.48 The horizontal efflorescences combat the vertical. Here again Irigaray makes a plea for an understanding of nature that does not ultimately refer back to an atomistic subject or self that controls. In The Forgetting of Air. be assimilated into a dialectic that would make it constantly available. . through metaphors of grounding and rootedness.” as part of the historical metaphorical register that includes. We have seen that vegetative imagery has been used to connote exactly the contrary of the kind of reading promoted here. At the same time. . in particular the human animal. it has to be after sexual difference and not . unfold and then withdraw. metamorphosis. Its “unveiling” is not a definitive. the ideal flowering for you. the contours wed each other in overflowing growth that never quits the medium that gives rise to it. Either it would not yet know the sun and would be in the oblivion of sleep. by simply bypassing it. Its becoming would be arrested when you revealed it by day. A flower opens up more than once. episodic. an ideal flowering that reflects the solidity of metaphorical appropriation. or you would already have unveiled it and it would never return to the shadows. as Whitford reminds us. a structure that mimics the erect posture of the tree or the animal. and blossoming as is expansion and disclosure. . Growth suspended in ecstasy. in other words. as we have seen. both “plant” and “nature” in its range. Never set out. univocal one. That does not set itself up with the haughty affirmation of a form that draws its vigor from that from which it parts. but is periodic. To appropriate this unveiling would be to freeze blossoming into an eternal present. but Irigaray is doing more than decorating her text. Real flowers open and shut. It rather abides in the delicate entwining of all dimensions: horizontal efflorescences. subdues. “Woman. marks that moment that cannot be decided. and ultimately kills or fixates its natural movement. This is why Deleuze and Guattari are so careful to distinguish between different kinds of “plant” readings. hermeneutical reading style that seeks to expose the root. she unfurls this strange world where outside and inside unite in a light embrace.

Irigaray follows the third Critique by taking the product of reflective judgment. one that by virtue of its very open-endedness forecloses the possibility of a stable grounding. and efflorescence to refer to a feminine blossoming that overcomes the ontological status assigned to it by the history of metaphysics.52 which she associates with Heidegger’s work. By using metaphors of plant growth Irigaray emphasizes the indefiniteness of individuation and the possibility of multiple. between necessity and freedom. the figure of the plant conceived out of the observation of metamorphosis. the feminine as it has been figured in the history of metaphysics. between conditioning rule and conditioned or determined situation. Efflorescence privileges the gesture of an opening at the very source of philosophizing. In identifying the purposive with the human mind’s interaction with nature. she also uses the language of “blooming” to indicate a certain masculine usurpation of the feminine ground for the sake of its own fecundity. Kant gave the history of philosophy an invaluable means of complicating the simple binary distinction between universal and particular. She asks: “Do the installations put into place by man to position himself as man cloak the fact that he makes his own nature bloom only at the price of squaring up and masking nature?”49 And further: “Must letting-be be understood as letting man’s thinking be unfolded/deployed. that is.198 The Vegetative Soul at the same time that Irigaray uses positive images of efflorescence to connote what she in other places calls a “sensible transcendental. she uses the French verb s’épanouir to indicate this tumescent. In The Forgetting of Air. advocating movement over stasis. simultaneous origins. and perennial fecun- . the unconscious ground of nature for which Heidegger himself searched fruitlessly. temporalizing over eternity or timeless origins. The expansion of the concept of physis as bring-forth. the “whole” (gendered feminine). but rather a subversion of that rhetoric’s privileged metaphorics in a way that will reveal the strength of the concealed feminine within. “Saving” this ground from oblivion involves not a total rejection of the rhetoric that has structured it.” a kind of Kantian universal in the sense of reflective judgment that arises out of and cannot be separated from the sensuous particular. appropriative blooming. What Irigaray here calls a “forgetting of air” is a forgetfulness of the silent ground out of which all conceptualization arises. or as letting nature bloom?”50 This secondary blooming is a source that conceals the ground from which it arose. to render the distinction between physis and techne problematic. is akin to the expansion of masculine subjectivity to make room for the feminine in a process of assimilation. grafting. Efflorescence opens up roots and routes.51 The secondary source comes about only by the masculine appropriation of the feminine into what Irigaray calls a creation of physis out of techne.

which is also the divine law and hence the law of nature insofar as it pertains to human beings. woman is described as acting “unconsciously. Rather than negating difference. silent ground. In his discussion of Antigone Hegel aligns the masculine with subjectivity. by constituting her purpose from a particular rather than subsuming a particular act under a law. or to a negating force. Irigaray views Antigone as neither a free citizen who refuses to submit to the law of the state nor an unconscious vessel for the divine law. blind adherence to the divine law. and the feminine with the family. efflorescence is productive of difference. because she follows the law of the family.” in the sense of the genius. but from her incapacity to articulate her reasons in terms of a decision. the polis. Antigone’s position is somewhat different. and freedom. and Irigaray focuses on her as a woman who stands between the two laws. as the basis for a provisional universal that enunciates the importance of sexual difference for grounding any ethics. Antigone is unconscious. which. but rather as the very moment of the possibility of transformation or displacement rather than dialectical subsumption of this binary opposition. For Irigaray. the private sphere. by proposing. As such. Yet Antigone does not withdraw. colonizing power of hegemonic philosophical narratives. language. Irigarary reads through Hegel’s appropriation of it in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Her proscribed intervention into the political marks the withdrawing ground of sexual difference. identity. and the repetition of the cyclical time of reproduction. such as the Hegelian one. Irigaray thus complicates her reading of the place of the feminine configured as silent ground in the history of metaphysics by emphasizing efflorescence as both a non-originary or nondeterminate origin (an . Irigaray reacts against the totalizing. whose unconscious channeling of nature’s forces makes her unable to articulate the rules for the production of her art. and order. an alternative structure of alterity in metamorphosis and germination. Irigaray critiques Hegel’s reading as manifesting Western metaphysics’ tendency to reduce the feminine to the unconscious. or the purely unconscious artist in the tradition of vegetable genius. according to Hegel. unlike the “beautiful soul” criticized by Hegel. as we have already noted. as Hölderlin had. that make every outside an inside. In transgressing Creon’s edict Antigone expresses Kant’s reflective judgment. This break might be seen in Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone. efflorescence marks the break that inaugurates. Her lack of consciousness stems not from her refusal to question the authority of the law of the family. She marks the fragile possibility of a third path between the absolute determinism of law and the unreflective conception of freedom presupposed by the discourse of rights.Conclusion 199 dity. every other the same. but cannot be reduced to. symbolics.

Contemporary Continental philosophy. we must also concede that the form of that subjectivity has little in common with the atomistic subject found in Descartes and Hobbes. and to suggest that the figure of vegetable genius transformed into the “vegetative soul” might provide a fruitful alternative to the recently much-denigrated figure of the modern subject. As indefinitely individuated and often dually sexed. resists an end that will never come.200 The Vegetative Soul origin that withdraws from articulation). however. As particular. and efflorescence. and as that which inaugurates subjectivity. with its figures of dissemination. It is interesting to me that the critique of the configuration of the subject was already in place as early as the nineteenth century. since that is what a plantlike reading does. It is appropriate to conclude with a suggestion toward another beginning. . the plant represents the claim that the subject is sexed and finite and thus the impossibility of conflating masculinity with neutrality or universality. rhizomatic growth. Books do come to an end eventually. another opening. the metonym works productively to multiply readings and significations. Its signature precludes the temptation to closure. clearly has discerned the possibilities in the language of vegetative growth. What this study has sought to do is both to investigate a facet of nineteenth-century Naturphilosophie and its antecedents that has been too little studied except as a literary trope. and that even though we might want to insist that German Idealism remains a metaphysical system based on the primacy of the subject. As such. it resists any possibility of recuperation in a single mode. among others.

M.. Phaedrus). Evelyn Fox Keller. 1914). 8. 6. Secrets of Death: Essays on Language. ed. trans. animals) from the point of a nonspecialist. Ibid. and Science (New York: Routledge. P. Ibid. I am not suggesting that a botanist could not find counterexamples to every description of plants I include here. Fowler. 116. 1953).” in The Gardens of Adonis. its “members” and its “tools. 48–53. 9.” not for its materiality and its sensuality. In The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. 107. Janet Lloyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press. In Plato I (Euthyphro. Secrets of Life. 1989). trans. Stephen Mitchell (New York: Random House. trans. ed. G. 264C. H. Crito. 209–71. Goold (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Ibid. Gender. 4. 201 . 11. Abrams.. Alan Bass (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 7. The Loeb Classical Library. those observable characteristics of plants that lend themselves to being incorporated into metaphors of vegetative growth. 1982). “The Seed of Adonis. In Margins of Philosophy. one must introduce the caveat here that the animal body valued by Plato is admired for its compactness and self-sufficiency.NOTES Introduction 1.” Jacques Derrida discusses this description of the relationship between metaphor and metaphysical language with reference to Anatole France’s The Gardens of Epicurus (210–18). for that matter. In “White Mythology. 93f. Of course. 5. Marcel Detienne. Phaedo. and trans. 3. Apology. 10. H. The Mirror and the Lamp (New York: Oxford University Press. 1994).. 2. 96–97. 102. 1992). Hereafter cited by section number in parentheses within the text. N. It should be noted that in this statement and what follows I am referring to the perceived qualities of plants (and.

1981). 198–204. Walt Whitman. 8. 9. 1985). For more on this debate. . Martha Nussbaum. 37. Kritik der Urteilskraft (Ak. Abrams. (Ak I). 1953). Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett. and the Self in Western Thought (Stanford: Stanford University Press..” in The Truth in Painting.” in Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy. 1999). All references to the first. See Ludmilla Jordanova. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 875/“The Influence of Modern Philosophy. 184–225. “The Psychology of Literary Invention: Mechanical and Organic Theories. 2. 13. 3. H. Ibid. Werner S. Generation.” GA 16. 20. The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. introduction that Kant wrote for the third Critique. 262. This introduction can be found in Volume 20 of the Akademie edition of Kant’s works. 15. 201–13. “Einwirkung der Neuern Philosophie. Ibid. 1990). 17. ed. Ibid. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Poetry and Prose. Kant: The English Garden 1.§50. 1968).. 1989). 6. Individuality. 1987). see M. V)/Critique of Judgment. “Conjectures on Original Composition. Chapter 1. Geoffrey Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 4. The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit. 14. See KU 197’f. trans. 356/Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens. James Nichols (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung. 10. The Mirror and the Lamp . 1921). and Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Immanuel Kant.” SS. “Love and the Individual: Romantic Rightness and Platonic Aspiration. trans. 12.202 The Vegetative Soul 12. Leaves of Grass (New York: The Modern Library. Immanuel Kant.” Chapter 3 will address Hölderlin’s figuration of nature. “The Sans of the Pure Cut. an introduction that is not included in many standard contemporary German editions of the Critique of Judgment. 7. Edward Young. 1987). will be indicated by a prime after the page number. 16. Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. longer. 11. 1986). 552. trans. Edmund Jaki (Edinburgh: Scottish Academy Press.” in The Complete Works. 85. 5. Martha Nussbaum. 188–89. See Thomas Laqueur. especially chapter VII. 29. 110. Jacques Derrida.

Werke. 90. 21. 1978). See.. No. Kant allows that an ens rationis ratiocinatae is posited “only problematically . 32. 204–5. but rather the assumption that everything in nature was created for a specific purpose. 141.” see Edward S. 16. 26. ed. In the Critique of Pure Reason. The authors argue that the English garden was both a result and expression of a new relationship between man and nature. John Dixon Hunt and Peter Willis (Cambridge: The MIT Press. Kant is concerned with deducing causation from pure a priori principles. trans. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (The Hague: Nijhoff. From The Spectator. John Dixon Hunt and Peter Willis. on English landscape gardening. 22. 18. Getting Back Into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 39. an actual merging (Vereinigung) of the two principles. 1748). 1988). the distinction is a negative one. 1993). and Music. Introduction to The Genius of the Place. not the deduction of the necessity of causality in general. Schiller. I have retained the translation of dichten by “fiction. In the Critique of Pure Reason. . 17. for example. Critical Reflections on Poetry. as I have attempted to show above. 20. 25 June 1712. Band 1: Das dichterische Werk Tagebücher Briefe (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag. 15. Ibid. 42. The question here is of the legitimacy of the assumption of final causes. 19. hence. Abbé du Bos. Ibid. with the emphasis on the as if. Casey. This volume gathers theoretical writings on gardening of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. II. in order that we may view all connection of the things of the world of sense as if they had their ground in such a being [a divine being]” (KrV A 681 = B709). usually for the sake of some human activity. Kant is not discussing the limits of causality in general. Tagebücher und Briefe.Notes 203 13. . 24. 55. 23. 414. 203–4. (X:165). becoming a sym- .. On the second sense of dichten as “thickening” or “thick-ing. 258.” as rendered by Pluhar. 25. There is no question of a struggle between conflicting forces that will then become reconciled with each other. See the epigraph to the next chapter for a similar description from Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen. In the third Critique. On the Sublime. in particular. In the Critique of Judgment Kant uses the “being of reasoning” in the latter. Pluhar’s rendering of the title as “How the Principle of Universal Mechanism and the Teleological Principle can be Reconciled in the Technic of Nature” is quite misleading. Later. “Of Gardens” (1625). Gregor. and shows the influence of Burke’s concepts of the beautiful and sublime. 14. Kant first makes the distinction between conceptus ratiocinati (rightly inferred concepts) and conceptus ratiocinantes (pseudo-rational concepts) (KrV A 311 = B 368). positive sense. In Novalis. Painting. is at stake. Thomas Nugent (London. 253–54. 1974). English translation by Mary J. in The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden 1620–1820. the drive towards unification. 69–70. Embodied Reason. Reprinted in The Genius of the Place. Rather.

for this account.” Chapter 2. G. Paul Oskar Kristeller. “Einwirkung der Neuern Philosophie. Kant.” GA 16. SS. trans.” in Sämtliche Werke. 1945). of course. 281–88. §75. §113. 1995). 63. 175–76. 6. Rhythm thus understood “suggests measure and order rather than the uninterrupted and unpunctuated flux of the Heraclitean panta rhei” (62). (Princeton: Princeton University Press. very much in the same spirit that animated Kant’s Critique of Judgment. 226–27/ “Toward a General Comparative Theory. See for example KU.” SS. Lunar Voices. “Die Absicht eingeleitet. 13–14/“The Purpose Set Forth.” SS. 4. “Versuch einer allgemeinen Vergleichungslehre. 2. 223.” 61–98.” Interpreting Nature. Rousseau. 205. Mary Elizabeth Meek (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press. James Gutmann. The Eighteenth Century Background (New York: Columbia University Press. §82. Goethe: Two Essays. Heidegger praises Georgiades for translating rhythmos as “coinage. argues against all naïve teleology. I am indebted to James L. too. See also James L. 9. Cited by Abrams in The Mirror and the Lamp. the accounts of Thrasybulos Georgiades and Heidegger discussed in David Farrell Krell. Emile Benveniste. Ernst Cassirer. Abrams. Larson’s discussion in “The Scale of Diversity. 204. 16. MP. SS. and John Herman Randall Jr.” “imprint. Benveniste. mind and nature. 8. Goethe: The Metamorphosis of Plants 1. Cassirer’s comments on the relationship between Goethe and Kant are treated in the second essay of this book. Cf.” GA 17. 459. “The Notion of ‘Rhythm’ in its Linguistic Expression. 14. 13. chapter 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 11. 53. 118. 85–91. 7. J. 1971).204 The Vegetative Soul bol for a harmony between inward and outward.” GA 17. 118–19. “Vom Erkennen und Empfinden der menschlichen Seele. 3. Ibid. Ibid. Herder. trans. 57f. SS. 181–82. 29. 5. 12. 1941) for an excellent description of the eighteenth century in England. particularly the first chapter entitled “The Turn of the Century.” or as chains and fetters such as those that bind Prometheus to his rock. 285–86. Herder. Larson. 10. GA 24. See KU. See also Basil Willey. 226. Kant. 15. Interpreting Nature: The Science of Living Form from Linnaeus to Kant (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. VIII. 1994). 875/“The Influence of Modern Philosophy. “Goethe and the Kantian Philosophy. .” Problems in General Linguistics.” from On Morphology.

20. 6. 22. see “Kant and the Critique of Teleology. 39. 174–76/SS. and zoologist who wrote Über den Bildungstrieb (On the Formative Impulse. 1971). 170–82.” in Larson. 11/“The Enterprise Justified. 37.” in SS. Peter Salm (New York: Bantam Books. 32–33. “Erläuterung zu dem aphoristischen Aufsatz ‘Die Natur. physiologist. 64. “Die Absicht eingeleitet. Elective Affinities (London: Penguin Books. For a detailed account of this argument. J. trans. anthropologist. 1993). 878. 149. 110. 61. Goethe und der deutsche Idealismus. 14/“The Purpose Set Forth. Blumenbach was a German anatomist.” GA 17. See Laqueur.” SS. 867–68/“Fortunate Encounter. . European Thought in the Eighteenth Century: From Montesquieu to Lessing (New Haven: Yale University Press. 28. Ibid. 1962). “Anschauende Urteilskraft.” GA 17.” SS. 1932). Sexes of Plants [1760].” GA 17. Faust (bilingual edition). Cited in Ritterbush. von Goethe. See Elizabeth von Thadden. “Bildungstrieb. Goethe’s own essay “Bildungstrieb” (“The Formative Impulse. 11. 137–38. See Johannes Hoffmeister. Translator’s Introduction to J. 1962). F. 40. Interpreting Nature. Hollingdale. 29. 1954). 34. 36. “Das Unternehmen wird entschuldigt. 64. Erzählen als Naturverhältnis—“Die Wahlverwandschaften”: Zum Problem der Darstellbarkeit von Natur und Gesellschaft seit Goethes Plan eines “Roman über das Weltall” (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.” from “On Morphology. “Glückliches Ereignis. Ibid. Goethe und der deutsche Idealismus: Eine Einführung zu Hegels Realphilosophie (Leipzig: Verlag von Felix Meiner.’” SS. See KU. 54–55. 925/“A Commentary on the Aphoristic Essay ‘Nature. 23. 30. “The Sexual Aberrations. 2–7. 1781). See Hoffmeister. 1965). See Johannes Hoffmeister. 1820) (GA 17.” from On Morphology.” in Plutarch’s Moralia.” GA 16. Sigmund Freud.” SS. Linnaeus.” in SS. Sandbach (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 39/Elective Affinities.” GA 17. 32. quoted by Douglas Miller in the introduction to SS.” in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (New York: Harper Collins. Paul Hazard. R. 28–29. 35–36) criticizes Blumenbach’s theory of epigenesis. 424. 26. GA 9. aphorism 146. 33. 19. 36.’” GA 16. GA 19. H. 38–43. “Causes of Natural Phenomena. 25. 176/“The Formative Impulse. x–xi. trans. 20–21. 18. 15/“The Purpose Set Forth. 24. sections on Schelling and Hegel. 38. “Die Absicht eingeleitet.. 686/Letter to Carl Windischmann (1812). aphorism 147. 31. 50. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. 35. W. 13. 21. 27.” GA 16. 1–24.Notes 205 17.

57. GA 24. 43. Paul Hazard. 202. “The Metamorphosis of the Scientist. ed. 58. GA 16. ed. See Rudolf Steiner. 45. “Einfache Nachahmung der Natur. 62. Manier. 44.” GA 17. 139. 65. 218. 61. 307. GA 13.” GA 16. . 14. 50. “ SS. 29/Elective Affinities. 63. 869–71. Saine (Columbia. W.” GA 16.” Zur Farbenlehre.. 154/“The Spiral Tendency in Vegetation. 59. 67. Maxims and Reflections. 39. 202. “Bedeutende Fördernis durch ein einziges Geistreiches Wort. Volume V. 840. GA 11.” GA 17.” 307. W.” Theory of Color. 1990). 54. 35–36.” in Goethe Yearbook. 1744. . 303. 844–55/“The Experiment as Mediator between Object and Subject. 413.206 The Vegetative Soul 41. 523. 42. 1996). Maxims and Reflections. 879/“Significant Help Given by an Ingenious Turn of Phrase. J. See Rudolf Steiner. SC: Goethe Society of America.” in GA 16. 1992). See also Walter Benjamin. von. Einleitung in Goethes Naturwissenschaftliche Schrifen (excerpt) in Goethe. 680. 11–17. I am referring. GA 24. 66. 48. in Selected Writings Volume 1 (1913–1926). “Der Versuch als Vermittler von Subjekt und Objekt. 68. thanks to David Krell for pointing out the alternate translation. Dichtung und Wahrheit. 21. Frederick Amrine. 52.” trans. Stanley Corngold. 47. “A General Observation. SS. 159. von Goethe. SS. 50. 194.” SS. Stil” (1789). J.. Thomas P. Walter Benjamin. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. “Über die Spiraltendenz der Vegetation. From Abraham Trembley. 60. 46. European Thought in the Eighteenth Century. 40. SS. to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and the revolution that this work generated in the philosophy of science in the 1970s. 11/Preface. See also “Erfahrung und Wissenschaft.” SS. 359. 66. Ibid. Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen (Stuttgart: Verlag Freies Geistesleben. “Goethe’s Elective Affinities. 106. “Goethe’s Elective Affinities. Erzählen als Naturverhältnis. note to MP. 49. Ibid. GA 1. For a discussion of the contrast between the time of nature and the time of art in the late eighteenth century. 56. 64. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press.. . The double reading is probably intentional. Italienische Reise III. “Bildungstrieb. of course. MP. GA 9. Mémoire pour servir à l’histoire d’un genre de Polypes d’eau douce .” SS.” SS. . 55. GA 10. 198/Elective Affinities. see Von Thadden. 174–76/“The Formative Impulse. 51. “Vorwort. 53. 681. 42. GA 9. Ibid.

The fragment is written in Hegel’s hand. 341. Novalis. 58f. Naive and Sentimental Poetry. Friedrich Hölderlin. IL: Waveland Press. it has variously been attributed to all three writers. ed. Elias (New York: Felix Ungar Publishing Co. trans. the question of transience comes to the fore. My account of Fichte’s philosophy here is indebted to Jacques Taminiaux’s article “The Young Hölderlin. 8. See. The Death of Empedocles. 1970). 128–29. 1966). Ibid. Owl of Minerva 17:1 (Fall 1985): 8–13. 91. 1: 237–413/Henry von Ofterdingen. Essays and Letters on Theory. of composing a hymn to audacity. 7. 1992). Speculation. GA 10. 1964). Françoise Dastur. Ibid. 94. Friedrich Hölderlin. Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre) with First and Second Introductions. and Judgment. 840. This interpretation could be contested with reference to a letter from Hölderlin to his friend Neuffer in September 1792. Indeed. Hölderlin: Gleaning 1. 12–13. 9. Tagebücher und Briefe Friedrich von Hardenbergs. 1978). but contains ideas more often associated with Schelling or Hölderlin. In Hyperion Hölderlin uses Vernunft (Kant’s “Reason”) and Verstand (Kant’s “Understanding”) interchangeably. (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag. 1993). 4. 304. Peter Heath and John Lachs (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. 2.. where Hölderlin expresses some of the vegetable associations we have discussed above in the following line: “You will laugh that the idea came to me. 71. 422–23. In Hölderlin’s later work. and not the result of the imposition of something external. Hölderlin: Tragédie et Modernité (Paris: Encre Marine. Friedrich Schiller. Michael Gendre (Albany: State University of New York Press. 72. 3. here in my plant-life. 10. Translated as “The Oldest Program Towards a System in German Idealism” by David Farrell Krell.” in Poetics. Benjamin. Benjamin. Julias A. 11. 3 vols. the Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre.Notes 207 69. Palmer Hilty (Prospect Heights. 6. Volume 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Johann Gottlieb Fichte. “Fragmente von Hyperion” (WB 1: 442). 316. “Letter to His Brother (April 13. where Fichte engages in a lengthy polemic against other philosophers of his day for not recognizing that finitude and restriction are attributes of the reflecting self. trans.. Werke. ed. Translation modified. 70. a psychological riddle!” (WB 2: 807). The English translation is based on that of John Oxenford in Goethe: The Autobiography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Chapter 3. 1795). 5. with some modifications.. trans. for example. and trans. 93–110. 1974). . Hans Joachim Mähl and Richard Samuel.

” in Poetry and Experience. A. Christoph Jamme. not by Hölderlin himself. xi. 21. see also Dieter Henrich. “Hegel and Hölderlin. See Dieter Henrich. 1983). ed. Knox (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. The Nohl edition not . 360f and 367f. Wilhelm Dilthey. Hegel im Kontext (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. 13. but it belongs to the dead to bury the dead. Fire.” Clio 15:4 (Summer 1986): 359–77. trans.M. only asserts itself in the absolute nothingness of every determined being. M. Early Theological Writings. 102. 9–16. 1948). Wilhelm Dilthey. Knox in Hegel. 1985). In addition to other sources cited. 1985). “Das Werden im Vergehen. 117. Hegel im Kontext (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. 89. A reminder that all citations from these fragments are taken from Herman Nohl. 1995). See also Christoph Jamme. Friedrich Hölderlin. 1956). 1931). “Fichte. S. The ashes testify that there was a struggle. ed. 17. Johannes Hoffmeister. ed. Volume 5 of Selected Works. Martin Heidegger. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper & Row. Hegels theologische Jugendschriften (Frankfurt a. 1973). “Friedrich Hölderlin. 19. “Ein Ungelehrtes Buch”: Die philosophische Gemeinschaft zwischen Hölderlin und Hegel in Frankfurt 1797–1800. Taminiaux also quotes a passage from Jules Vuillemin. 20.” Jules Vuillemin. 15. 18. On the Soul. Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Paris: Mazenod. Aristotle. Rudolf Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi (Princeton: Princeton University Press. J. 3. Sheridan Smith (New York: Vintage Books. 1971). 1966). M. “Das Thalia-Fragment. Ibid. 340.” in Les philosophes célèbres..” WB 1: 439–60.” WB 1: 439–40. Chapter 4. Ernst Cassirer. ed..” WB 2: 643. Hett (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. a preeminent twentieth-century commentator on Fichte: “Moral action in Fichte is the fire that devours the moments of time and individuals. Ibid. T. “Hölderlin und der deutsche Idealismus” in Idee und Gestalt (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Loving nature and finitude does not devolve on us. which is pure act and ungraspable [element].208 The Vegetative Soul 12. Rudolf Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Volume 5 of Selected Works. The title was given to this essay by a publisher. 1971). trans.: Minerva. 7. Michel Foucault. M. 1968).” Hegel Studien 23 (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag. 14. 2. “Fragment von Hyperion. Friedrich Hölderlin. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. “Friedrich Hölderlin. W. Being is in the ashes remaining after the struggle. 4. Figures of Plant Vulnerability: Empedocles and the Tragic Christ 1.” in Poetry and Experience. T. trans. What Is Called Thinking?. Hölderlin und Hegel (Tübingen: Mohr. 1971). 16. trans.

Hegel: The Man. For ease of reference. hereafter TJS with pages first from the German. Hegel received a small inheritance. 1. Jamme contends that the third version of The Death of Empedocles reflects Hegel’s influence on Hölderlin. enough to go to Jena and enlist the help of Schelling. Chapter 5. “Ein Ungelehrtes Buch. Pleroma. Hegel: The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant The epigraph is cited in Karl Rosenkranz. thus probably after the composition of the second version. 83. Hamacher. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegels Leben (Berlin. M. We will be examining the first and third sets of these notes. 1966). omitting the second since there are no remaining notes to indicate that Hegel lec- . 2. 5. 9. fragments of which have been preserved from Hegel’s own manuscripts and those of his students and put together as the Jenaer Systementwürfe. WB 2: 877–78. “Letter to his Brother. 379/305. Gustav Mueller. 364–65. Ogden argues that all three Empedocles drafts are inherently Christian in orientation. My translation. the choice of tragic figure still divides Hegel and Hölderlin irrevocably. Upon the death of his father. 10. 1968). 1844). 13. together with previously unpublished fragments from the Frankfurt period.” 354f. especially with reference to the question of art.: Verlag Ullstein.” 4 July 1798. 7. WB 2: 880. 8. Hegel taught three lecture courses as a Privatdozent from 1803 to 1806. It is not as though one could be substituted for the other. Beißner and Schmidt date the essay as written the earliest in August or September 1799. TJS. a set of distichs. who was already a professor there. This is also the view of Pöggeler in Hegels Jugendschriften 146f. Otto Pöggeler. and just before beginning the third version. to become a Privatdozent at the university. we will cite from Nohl’s edition. 11. Referred to by Jamme in “Hegel and Hölderlin. Of course. 6. then the English translation. 12. Heidelberg. Rosenkranz assumes from the form that Hegel meant this strange piece to be a poem. Hegels Jugendschriften und die Idee einer Phänomenologie des Geistes (Habilitation. “Letter to Neuffer.” 12 November 1798.Notes 209 only groups together fragments under a title not chosen by Hegel. See Jamme. 14. The fragments in their original form are collected along with a booklength commentary by Werner Hamacher in Pleroma—zu Genesis und Struktur einer dialektischen Hermeneutik bei Hegel (Frankfurt a. 1978).” 363. 1991). but also does not distinguish between the first and second versions of the writings. In The Problem of Christ in the Work of Friedrich Hölderlin (London: Modern Humanities Research Association. Yet both figures were healers and soothsayers whose followers eventually turned against them and precipitated their deaths. His Vision and Work (New York: Pageant Press.” 275. See “Ein Ungelehrtes Buch. giving the impression that they are a planned whole rather than a collection of unfinished pieces.

” in Hegel und die Naturwissenschaften. Philosophy of Right. trans. 15. 134.” See the “Introduction” to the System of Transcendental Idealism by Michael Vater. Andrew Bowie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1987). 9. ed. W. On the History of Modern Philosophy. Hegel. 5. F. the path from the individual consciousness to the objective social order. The fact that the article of “Natur” is in the genitive case seems to indicate “the concept of nature. Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 64. 1932). what he sought to perform in the System was the clarification “of that which is utterly independent of our freedom. at least thematically. 12. Michael John Petry (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog. W 3: 22/PS. Goethe und der Deutsche Idealismus. 14.” in Goethe und der deutsche Idealismus: Eine Einführung zu Hegels Realphilosophie (Leipzig: Verlag von Felix Meiner. Knox (Chicago and London: Encyclopedia Brittanica. “Hegels Naturphilosophie. the System elucidates a methodology that Hegel was to perfect in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Petry translates “Abfall. Schelling. trans. M.” euphemistically and evasively. so it seems not unfair to contrast Schelling’s views at this point with those of Hegel between the Phenomenology and the Encyclopedia. he lived and worked closely with Schelling. W. System of Transcendental Idealism. 1978). as nature’s “falling short of itself. der Natur” is somewhat ambiguous. From his Jena period onward Hegel orients both his attention and his critique toward the Schellingian philosophy of nature. Of course. Peter Heath (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. 62. written while Schelling was still strongly under the influence of Fichte. See Nicolai Hartmann. The editors note that the meaning of the phrase “der Begriff. 381. 11. J. 4. See Vittorio Hösle. J. Goethe und der Deutsche Idealismus. 79. 1952). xi–xv. 72.” For further commentary. G. W. F. 3. 9. From the preface of the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) to the mature “Philosophy of Nature” in the Encyclopedia. cited in Hoffmeister. through a process in which the self sees itself develop through a necessary but not consciously observed act of self-positing. Addition to §166. what Hegel actually said is unclear. “Pflanze und Tier. . 485. so although the editors chose the former meaning. Hegel is manifestly extricating himself from what he considers to be the lack of rigor of Schelling’s views. is nature. 7. 133. prior to 1801—was a result primarily of his association with Schelling. T. trans. 6. See Hoffmeister. 8. Ibid. After Hegel moved to Jena in 1801 and began lecturing at the university. Hegel. 1994).. see Johannes Hoffmeister. In Schelling’s own words. 1960). Ibid. 13. the presentation of an objective world which indeed restricts our freedom. Schelling. Nevertheless. it is important to remember that the System is an early work. 122..” but the comma between the two terms could indicate a meaning such as “is the concept.210 The Vegetative Soul tured on organic nature. 10. Ibid. F.” The student notes from which this was taken were corrected from die to der. it is generally assumed that Hegel’s turn to the philosophy of nature—an area of philosophy that had not concerned him.

1958). 4 (Spring 1997): 219–28. Plato writes. for the Earth-spirit is but one being with the upper. Litt. John P. Boehme writes in chapter 3 of this work. 1986). 20. trans.” ed. Rolf-Peter Horstmann and M. trans. 25.” Jacob Boehme. 24.” in Six Theosophic Points and Other Writings. 17. and causing insatiate appetite. “So that when I see a herb standing. which. Georges Bataille. outward powers. J. Cf. and round about therein they coiled the structure of the entrails. See Hartmann. as a supporting structure of the text. and regard it as their child. 1986). 527/PS 437–38). 25. and earth in “On the Divine Intuition. plant. G. In this paragraph I follow Jacques D’Hondt. attains genuine actuality in it—now roams about as a band of frenzied women. 191.” Philosophy Today 41: 1. the cryptogam signifies a pervasive growth and a decay that Hegel cannot prevent from setting in. 22. and disobedient to the most divine part we possess. For a discussion of the importance of the symbols of bread and wine in Hegel’s philosophy. Glas. 438). 26. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. whereby the whole kind by reason of its gluttony would be rendered devoid of philosophy and of culture.” in Hegels Philosophie der Natur: Beziehungen zwischen empirischer und spekulativer Naturerkenntnis. Jonathan Strauss.’ as it is called.” Plato. however. 239. In Glas. “The moving impulse is. The cryptogam sheds its spores throughout the text without ever appearing. 1929).D. a growth that will ultimately bring down the columns to their tombs. organic life and spiritual life. Thanks to David Farrell Krell and Niklaus Largier for their help with this translation. This passage bears a striking similarity to. 23. and therefore was probably heavily influenced by.” trans. to prevent the food from moving through quickly and thereby compelling the body to require more food quickly. “On the Divine Intuition. Menexenus. 19. Yale French Studies 78 (1990): 9–28. chez Hegel. 198. trans. Rather. see John Sallis. The Rev. Leavy and Richard Rand (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. 21. then. as soon as it is released from its abstract being. “Hegel. See also the Phenomenology of Spirit (W 3: 527/PS. Derrida writes: “Heating signifies life in general. Natural life destroys itself in . in which the upper powers rejoice. I may say with truth: This is an image of the Earth-spirit. R. surrendering itself to self-consciousness. “Bread and Wine. “Le Concept de la Vie. Glas. 489. 138–50. Epistles. 18. on the surface. the consuming destruction of life. Derrida creates columns that oppose the arborescent logic of Hegel to the cryptogammic structure of Genet’s literature. Critias Cleitophon. to serve as a receptacle for the holding of the superfluous meat and drink.Notes 211 16. Jacob Boehme’s account of the relationship between seed. Petry (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. 73A. first enters into the objective existence of the fruit. Jacques Derrida. Bury. Timaeus. Death and Sacrifice. Translation modified. Plato’s Timaeus. John Rolleston Earle (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. “The gods set the ‘abdomen. In Glas. the many-named light-being [Lichtwesen] of the sunrise and its tumultuous life. See Derrida.” For example. the unrestrained revelry of nature in its self-conscious form” (W 3.

just because of this. Ibid. Nichols Jr. and J. E. On the History of Modern Philosophy. G. The Philosophy of Fine Art. 36. 27. 1974). Kojève refers very generally only to Chapter VII of the Phenomenology of Spirit. a fervor when religion interiorizes or spiritualizes itself. Death and Sacrifice. Hegel. F. F. CC. trans. 30. the death that the fruit signals also signifies a preparation for selfsacrifice in the interest of the production of spirit. spirit raises itself. 12. . See Hoffmeister. 34. and the pure or non-actual spirit of mere thinking has become actual” (W 3: 571/PS 476). Ibid. quoted in Curt Paul Janz. Speirs. Inc. 239. 35. (New York: Basic Books. (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag). Cited in Hoffmeister. b. Ibid. 33. Phenomenology of Spirit. relieves itself. 43. 31. 28. from the second German edition by the Rev. G. 29.. W. Letter to Paul Deussen. “Hegel. Ibid. 81–82. Vol III. The translation is that of the translators of Glas. Cited in Hoffmeister. 44. I assume Goethe means the Phenomenology of Spirit. Ibid. Schelling.. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. See Derrida. idealization—the relief. with modifications. 136. trans.. 1969). 61. 16. early May 1868. 46. trans. B. Vol. interiorization. Burdon Sanderson. James H. Ibid.. 1975). 19. 234. Hegel. VII B. Glas.D. 59. but the following passage at the end of the section “The Revealed Religion” seems to be the exact place that he is interpreting Hegel: “The death of the mediator as grasped by the self is the supersession of his objective existence or his particular being-for-self: this particular being-for-self has become a universal self-consciousness. Ibid. 82. Alexandre Kojève. digestion.212 The Vegetative Soul order to relieve itself in(to) the spiritual life. fermentum) in nature and in natural religion. 53. B. in producing itself as self-repetition. Nietzsche: The Ivy and the Vine 1. 233–34. Ibid. Death and Sacrifice. 40. 39. New York: The Humanities Press. Hegel. W. Osmaston (New York: Hacker Art Books. Thus. 37. 41. Bataille. 47. and like gas or effluvium holds itself in sublime suspension above the natural fermentation” (235). 42. F. “Hegel.. 178–79. ed.” 14. Friedrich Nietzsche: Biographie (3 volumes). 1. Bataille.. B. Allan Bloom. P.. 43.. in three volumes (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Chapter 6. 45. 140f. nutrition. 32. 279. 4 Volumes. I. Heating permits assimilation. In coming back to itself in the heat. Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. The Aufhebung is a fermentation (fervere. 38.” 18.

so as to participate in such conversations as Goethe conducted with Eckermann and thus be preserved from all and any up-to-date instruction from the legionaries of the moment. actually written by Georg Christoph Tobler. Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux. 153–54. and Nietzsche.” as no later than May 1868. The reading list for the future that follows Nietzsche’s essay on teleology includes Schopenhauer’s essay “Über den Willen in der Natur. 244. 6. The Historisch-Kritische Gesamtausgabe editors give the date of the unfinished essay. Commentaries.A.” Schopenhauer “allows human (and thus not at all transcendental) characteristics to characterize the unity of the will wherever he feels like it” (HKG. KSA 13. “Ich bitte Gott. “Aesthetics in Kant.” declares that it is “riddled with contradictions. 371–93). 921. 7. around the time of his very first reading of The World as Will and Representation. 925). 12. 1:3. 1991). Schopenhauer emphasizes and develops it. 352–61). into a notebook found in GA 16. Robert B. “Die Teleologie seit Kant. GA 17. and Defense. Nietzsche continues. an essay “Zu Schopenhauer” composed some time between October 1867 and April 1868. Palmer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 5. which goes through Easter 1868. although he comments that it “reflect[s] accurately the ideas to which my understanding had then attained” (GA 16. trans. Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons. 4.S.” in Nietzsche and Modern Thought. Treatises. Dionysus: Myth and Cult. 106). and Bernard McGinn (New York: Paulist Press. 310/UM1. and Schelling’s System des Transcendental Idealismus. trans. 3. and obscures the thought of the unconscious.” and states that Schopenhauer “[t]akes predicates from the world of appearances to describe the will rather than leaving it indeterminate. with his eighty-two years. Otto. See in particular notebook M III I (KSA 9. O. In relation to such dead. Nietzsche’s own account of his student years in Leipzig. in Sermon #52.Notes 213 2. 1965). Pierre Klossowski. marginalizes. 14/SS. “the errors of great men are worthy of reverence because they . Cf. Thus. 704. 52f. 64. 202. 13. calls Schopenhauer’s work a “failed attempt. Goethe outlived himself: yet I would gladly exchange a couple of Goethe’s ‘outlived’ years for whole cartloads of fresh modern lifetimes. 441–575). does not mention the work. 11. Schopenhauer. ed. 1981). Walter F.” See Nick Land. Goethe copied the passage. In 1828 Goethe rediscovered the fragment and could not recall having written it. 8. Nietzsche’s earliest writing on Schopenhauer. It is unclear whether Nietzsche ever read Schelling after this. although he notes a study on Schopenhauer that comes immediately before the teleology essay in the volume. “Where Kant distorts. “We have recently been informed that. how few of the living have a right to live at all!” (KSA 1. Keith Ansell-Pearson (New York and London: Routledge. 9. the notes on Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft and the unfinished essay were probably written sometime in the spring of 1868 (HKG 1:3. Edmund Colledge. dass er mich quitt mache Gottes!” (I ask God to rid me of God). 52/WP.” Schelling’s Ideen zu Einer Philosophie der Natur. 10.

as Sallis argues. in The Ear of the Other: Otobiography. 202. 1959). ed.” trans.” one who has chosen another path. Treatises. C. 1991). 53. 353). 1986). and Defense. Commentaries. 177ff. Werner Hamacher. and “Otobiographies: The Teaching of Nietzsche and the Politics of the Proper Name. 60ff. As the third Untimely Meditation shows. See Meister Eckhart’s Sermon #52 in Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons. However. 1986). 21. Translation. Martin Heidegger gives this etymology. trans. This concords with Nietzsche’s understanding of the mad representation as one that articulates in language what cannot be captured in determinate form by indicating its own provisional nature. This is also the spirit in which Robert Musil named his master work The Man Without Qualities. and D.” The “madman” is the one who has “departed. Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 666). and thus the work is not thoroughly determined by Schopenhauerian metaphysics. Sermon #2. Barbara Harlow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. See Heidegger. According to Hans Vaihinger. die nie ohn’ ein’gen Wahn gelingen” (KSA 7. Nietzsche also quotes Goethe on nature in a notebook: “Gesetzt es wäre wahr—dann fehlt der Wahn: bei grossen Dingen. For more on this topic. 19. See Meister Eckhart. . above. 20.’” Musil-Studien 4 (1973): 325–47. namely the attribution of human characteristics to the will. see John Sallis. 114. Wellbery (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 14. 1988). 18. These notes. 16. 17. “Die Bedeutung der Formel ‘Mann Ohne Eigenschaften. 1978). Richard Wagner. “Die Sprache im Gedicht: Eine Erörterung von Georg Trakls Gedicht. demonstrate conclusively that even at the time of the composition of The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche was critical of Schopenhauer. T.214 The Vegetative Soul are more fruitful than the truths of the little ones” (HKG 1:3. Schopenhauer et la force du pessimisme (Monaco: Éditions de Rocher. Nietzsche continued to value Schopenhauer for having revealed his own vocation to him and as the model of an educator. It is unclear why Nietzsche repeats some of the errors he accuses Schopenhauer of. Sosna. For an account of Nietzsche’s early sustained critique of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics. M. not because he agreed entirely with the content of Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Heller. in The Birth of Tragedy. Transference. We recall that Kant used the same expression (Urmutter) in the Critique of Judgment to describe the limits of the teleological fantasy. See Spurs. Christie McDonald (New York: Schocken Books. see Dietmar Goltschnigg. 15. Avital Ronnell. was an important one for Musil. and relates “without” to being “away. ed. in Die Philosophie des Als-Ob (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag.” in Unterwegs zur Sprache (Stuttgart: Verlag Günther Neske. who read Nietzsche as very close to medieval mysticism. the discourse on madness comes directly from Wagner’s theoretical writings. which yet is the necessary form under which human understanding must approach nature. The passage from The Dawn. 1985). embracing it as an Urmutter who gives birth to all the various individual species (KU §80). but perhaps it was designed to appeal to the ardent Schopenhauerian.” Reconstructing Individualism. “‘Disgregation of the Will’: Nietzsche on the Individual and Individuality. See also Michel Haar. E.

we can see the glimmerings of the idea of the rhizome-book. 6. 25. Ibid. Ibid. 169. 5. 10.. Ibid.. 35ff. 265. despite the most various determinations it may experience. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.. Ibid.” 6. 7. 24. 5. Jacques Derrida. 1981). 168.. Dionysus: Myth and Cult. Ibid. 52. Ibid. 13. Dissemination.. 32.” 128. 45.” 23. 21. 1987). 23. 17. 9. 1975). 18. “Otobiographies: The Teaching of Nietzsche and the Politics of the Proper Name. Max Brod.. 1991). 19. Edward S. open to all futurity and withdrawn from the constatation of the propositional discourse” (128–29). Ibid. Ibid. 91. trans. Different flowers as well as their positions or various other manipulations were assigned meanings. Cited in “Introduction: Rhizome. 3. trans.. from invitation (“come tonight”) to question (“Is your husband . Ibid. 14. 4. ed. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.” in The Ear of the Other: The Teaching of Nietzsche and the Politics of the Proper Name. 12.. “Introduction: Rhizome. 2. trans. “Introduction: Rhizome. Jacques Derrida. 3–25. 15. in Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. Walter Kaufmann. trans. 53. 12. 11. In “The Way Back into the Ground of Metaphysics. so that a bouquet sent to a lover would have a signification. Ibid.. 20. My suspicion is that in Goethe’s writings on botany and his impatience with the botanical classification system of his time. Dissemination. ed. 38. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis and London: Minnesota University Press. Conclusion. Reginald Lilly (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 53. Hamacher goes on: “Indeterminate it remains. Hamacher. “‘Disgregation of the Will’: Nietzsche on the Individual and Individuality.” trans. Casey.. The Diaries of Franz Kafka. 18. Efflorescence 1. Walter Kaufmann (New York and London: Penguin Books. The Principle of Reason.” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Joseph Kresh (New York: Schocken. Martin Heidegger. 8. Getting Back Into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World. 37. Rhizomes.Notes 215 22. 16. 1948). the book that would not follow the slow-growing tree with clearly observable stages of growth and clearly distinguishable organs. Ibid. Ibid.. 15.

Whitford’s aim is admittedly to bolster her cogent argument that Irigaray’s apparently biologistic remarks about the female body and about nature are in fact statements about the adequacy or inadequacy of the symbolic order and the place allotted therein to women. Luce Irigaray. “The ‘Mechanics’ of Fluids. I Love to You: Sketch of a Possible Felicity in History. for good reasons. The Culture of Flowers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993). since. Indeed. Alison Martin (New York: Routledge. 12. Sexes and Genealogies. Nietzsche and Metaphor. trans. 1985). Le Séminaire III: Les Psychoses (Paris. to clarify an argument she is making about Irigaray’s philosophy.. 27. 129. in particular. 162–63. Jane Gallop. Margaret Whitford. she draws much more often on Hegel. Lacan. Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine (London and New York: Routledge. trans. 1996).W. In the final chapter of Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine. specifically the philosophy of Rousseau. Gillian C. 146–78. 128ff. (crits: A Selection. 1991). Reading Lacan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. See “The Secret Language of Flowers in France. trans. symbolically..” in Speculum of the Other Woman. 38–39. “How to Conceive of a Girl. Luce Irigaray. 28. Jacques Lacan. Politics (1254a 35–1254b 15) and (1260a 5–30). I am not sure it is even conceivable to reconcile Irigaray’s conception of the feminine subject with social contract theory. assimilating social order and symbolic order. 26. 29. Duncan Large (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 23. She argues that Irigaray’s philosophy can be conceptualized as saying that “women are still. 20. . 1977). it seems to me. Generation of Animals (736a 25–737a 30) and (787a 26–30). 259. 33. Cited in Gallop. Norton & Co. trans. Ibid. “How to Conceive of a Girl. 1981). Rhetoric 1410b. 32. Gill (New York: Columbia University Press. 24. Aristotle. In France. 109–10. Nichomachean Ethics (1102a 33). who is an anti-contract theorist. 113. 1985). 21. Sarah Kofman. as Whitford acknowledges.” in Jack Goody. 14. 22.” 163.216 The Vegetative Soul home?”) to affirmation (“You are beautiful”). conceptualizing the difficult synthesis of the terminology of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian dialectic used by Irigaray in terms of social contract theory does render it considerably clearer. Gill (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Luce Irigaray. in the ‘state of nature’ and need to be brought into the social contract” (170). 1993). I nevertheless find it problematic to describe Irigaray as a contract theorist. many treatises “explaining” this practice were published in the nineteenth century. 95. 163. 1985). 1993). trans. most prominent among them the problematic status of the subject and its relation to the social order in social contract theory. 30. Seuil. Gillian C. Alan Sheridan (New York: W.” in This Sex Which is Not One (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 31. Goethe’s West-Oestlicher Divan includes poems on secret writing using flowers and fruit. See De Anima (415a 15–416b 30). Luce Irigaray. 25. Whitford uses the language of social contract.



34. Luce Irigaray, The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, trans. Mary Beth Mader (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999), 23–24. 35. See, for example, The Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. Gillian C. Gill (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 110–16; Sexes and Genealogies, 110–15; “The Eternal Irony of the Community,” in Speculum of the Other Woman, 167; and “How to Conceive of a Girl,” 214–26. 36. Sexes and Genealogies, 112–13. 37. Elizabeth Grosz, “Irigaray and the Divine,” in Transitions in Continental Philosophy, ed. Arleen Dallery et al. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 118. 38. Patricia Huntington, Ecstatic Subjects, Utopia, and Recognition: Kristeva, Heidegger, Irigaray (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), 127. 39. Ibid. 40. Philosophy in the Feminine, 76. 41. Ibid., 89. 42. Sexes and Genealogies, 112–13. 43. The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, 107–108. 44. Luce Irigaray, Elemental Passions, trans. Joanne Collie and Judith Still (New York: Routledge, 1992), 4. 45. “Questions” in This Sex Which Is Not One, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 153. 46. Elemental Passions, 31–32. 47. Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine, 84. 48. The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, 106. 49. Ibid., 18. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid., 44. 52. Ibid., 87.

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as realm of fire. digestive process. plant morphology/spiritual development. 20. 128. 136. 189. individuation in. The (Goethe). 124. 47 Analogy. purposiveness projected onto. humans as result of development of. dominance of. determinative judgment and. self-propelled qualities of. creation of. 28 Anthropomorphism. The” (Lacan). 199 Apollo. 4. self-preservation of. 33. 2. 174. as center of nature. 141. 173. 194. 67. 138. 54. 124 Allegory: of natural processes. 137 Abrams. warmth generated by. 74 Architecture. 28. 8. of composition of ideas. 51. 141. 192 Alchemy. 7. 56. 70. 47 Agave. procreation and. 4. 36. 150. as decorative device. 144–145 Aristotle. 56 Animal life: activity and. 199 Antigone (Sophocles). 47 Addison. 57. spiritual. of nature. Joseph. 201n8. 37–38. self-sufficiency of. 184. double. 97. 162 Anthropology (Kant). 43 Adonis. 38. 8. 187. 7. 81. 142. 1 Anacreon. children and. 47. 153. 96. 105. as fiction. 99.. 128. freedom of movement in. specialization in. 2. 136. 128. 36. 132 Anaxagoras. purposiveness and. 175 “Agency of the Letter. 191 Art: analogue of. 40 Achilochus. 51. 32. 32. 32. 63. 188. of art and technic of nature. metaphysics/tree roots. 156. origin in womb. 81 Anastomosis. 75. human. inference and. 131 Anthropocentrism. emphasis on similarity in. 89. masculinity and. 9. use in natural science. 11. 150. 124. 38. 80. 193. indirect presentation of ideas and. 186 Aeschylus. M. 36. 65. as symbol of subjectivity. differentiation in.H. of experience. self-enclosed aspect of. 32. human creation of. 156 Antigone.INDEX Abraham. suppression of desire by. 38. 18 Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister. 32. as privileged figure of organization of speech. 5. 233 . distance and. culture and. 176. spirituality of existence of. 107. 8. 142.

89. particulars in. development of. tragic. 176. of nature. 76 Benveniste. power of. 210n9. 30 Conceptus ratiocinantes. 48. 140. 29–30. metaphysics and. 203n17 Conjectures on Original Composition (Young). 32–44. imperfect. 72 Boundaries: of embodiment. Georges. 80. 33. 36. “I” of. material. foundation of. Walter. 28 Chaos: disintegration and. physiology of. 173. 29. 34. individual. directionality of. 90. 124. 132. 48–49 Causality. 56. ego and. The (Foucault). 45. 211n17 . 31. elevation of. mothers of. 29. 80. existence of. Enlightenment conception of. nature and. 168. 29. 114. determinate structures of. 144 Beauty: death and. forms of. 166. 26. 41. 26. 169. fermentation and. 175 Blumenbach. 40. individuation and. final. 37. 191. through making systems. 63 Boehme. human. 152. 165. 102. technic of nature and. 133 Bacon. 26. 24. temptations of. 43 Bataille. organized. 74. notion of resurrection in. 105. resurrected. 170. 171. 203n17 Conceptus ratiocinati. Jacob. 38 Benjamin. 132 Christianity: history of. 170. 47. “wild. 54. 14. 3. 142. 96. 34. 144. 5. 132. 62 Bildung. teleology and. 125. in views. 29. 152. groundless ground of. progression of. 111. union with science. empirical. 155. Francis. 104. principles of. 90. natural. 109. 48–49. conscious. 46. 101. 159. 124. 28. ordinary. 144. 132 Aufhebung. lack of. 21. structure of nature and. 135. 113. 170. 89. 163. reconciliation and. 30. 105. death of. judgment of.234 The Vegetative Soul Bondage. in objects. 15. 3. 15. 144. 108. 22. science and. 164. 16. 96 Christ: comparison to Empedocles. 125. as God in human form. 15. 189 Atonement. reason over. 100. 142.” 42 Atomism. 52. Emile. noumenal. 27. refinement of. 157. fictions of. proximity of devotion and. distance and. 144. 168. portrayal by Hegel. 150. 144. 173 Cassirer. 53. 81. 99–117. concealed ground of. anthropomorphic explanation of. 89. 117. 176. Art (continued) 29. 167. 173. 134 Chromatics. 72 Cognition: achieving. 31. inner life of. conscious. 52. 188. 51. judgment of. Ernst. 13. emergence of. 14 Casey. 23. 94 Birth of Tragedy. 27 Consciousness: de-emphasis on. Edward. 176. 42. 179 Cassandra. moral. 38. 134. 77 Birth of the Clinic. 37. unity and. 22. 31. 32. love and. 24. state and. knowledge of. 48. Johann Friedrich. 143. annihilation of. in nature. 14. unity and. 54. 107. 15. rational. 88. The (Nietzsche). 170. 21. 169 Caesura. 28. 36. 22. 20. 26 Cause: efficient. 48–49. 147 Being: absolute ego and. self-sacrifice of. 33. 154. imitators in. 36. 35. defining. morality and. 86. 101 Botany. imposition of. 36 Begriff. 111. 36. 182. 211n26 Bacchus. of natural objects.

20. 144. Wilhelm. 41. 141 “Disgregation of the Will” (Hamacher). 6. 45. 91 Dawn. 111 Disease: botanical model. open-endedness of. 186 Deussen. 75. Gilles. 189. 100 Dionysos. 182. 9. as self- 235 conscious. as death. 63 Dastur. 186. 80. 26. 185. 89. 20 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant). dissolution of. 6. 175. 94. 157. defining. 170. 27. René. 101. 112 Deconstruction. 20. as last development of the organic. 94. human. 40. 182. 15. 51. 146. 143. 65. 125. 157. 81. 142 Destiny. 125. 136. 155. organization of. plant. 3 Deleuze. philosophical. 164. 91. 89. 11 Darwin. of plant life. 86. 22. susceptibility to. 16. 21. 211n21. 17. 100. 185. 48. of servility. 84 Das Werden im Vergehen (Hölderlin). 47. 86. transcendence of. 187. relationship with nature. pre-patriarchal. skill as requirement for. The (Nietzsche). 33. of the individual. 134 Death of Empedocles. sublimity and. 56 Derrida. 36. 177–178 De Anima (Aristotle). the not-I in. teleology and. 187 Death: beauty and. 33. philosophical. Françoise. 183. 33. 90 Conversations with Eckermann (Goethe). quantitative. containment of. 24. 104. 94. 36. 90. realms of organic nature and. 134. 176. defining nature. as infinite drive on limitations of existence. deferral of. 25. 153. 184. 171. 133. emergence of. 153. of science. 22. 111. 157. Abbé. 51. 13. 140. 24. 197 Demeter. Marcel. 90. 5 Creon. perception of. 167. suppression of. 173. Greek. realm of. 124. 136. 105. recognition of inevitability of.Index individuation and. 67 Discontinuity: exclusion of. levels of. 50. 76 Dilthey. 176. 11. 183. 103. Paul. 107 Detienne. 89–90. 9. 188 du Bos. as unreality. 23. 145. Charles. 14. 48–49. formation of concepts and. 170. primacy accorded to. 15. 170. 200 Desire. 175. 157 Dichtung und Wahrheit (Goethe). 42 . 203n17 Culture: animal life and. 203n26 Critique of Practical Reason (Kant). 170. 114. 157. losing. 211n26 Descartes. self-sacrifice and. 203n16. 3. 199 Critique of Judgment (Kant). 115. 28. 94. 91. nature and. 86. 150 Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hume). limits of. 171 Dismemberment. 16. 15. natural. Jacques. 201n6. threat of. 17. 16. 175. nonmetaphorical. encapsulation of. 154. 136. 53 Discourse: mutation in. The (Hölderlin). 21. 134 Dissemination. 7. 33. 30. discipline and. of purpose. natural order of. 189 De Interpretatione Naturae (Bacon). possibility of. 184. 90. 164. excretion and. representation and. feminine development of. 125. technic of nature growth without. 125. 169. transformations in. 37. 152 Creativity. 4. of the organism. of Christ. madness and. 64. 38. 179 Diremption. 42. 183–184. 134. 5. 96–97. 193 Democritus.

198. plant life and. 126. 39. 48. comparison to Christ. 54. 36 Epicurean way. principle of nourishment.236 The Vegetative Soul Faust (Goethe). 154. 126. as resting point. 173. 126. 90–91 Eucharist. indefinite individuation and. 159. 175 Eurydice. as plant metamorphosis. The (Irigaray). 109. 188. 63 Equilibrium. 188. 195 Efflorescence. purposiveness of. Georg. irrationality and. teleology of nature as. limitations of. 132. madness and. 75 Elemental Passions (Irigaray). 52 Eckhart. The” (Goethe). 2. natural. rhetorical configuration of. 39. 152. 161. 36. 17. 36. 36. energy and. 92. blind. 161. 193. unity of. highest purpose within. punishment and. 36 “Experiment as Mediator Between Subject and Object. 129. final purpose of. alignment with private sphere. 109. Kant on. doctrine of movement. 188 Ego: absolute. 105. placid development of. 146 Fear. 90. 144. possibility of life under. 90. 63 Existence: eccentric orbit in. implication of metamorphosis. system of stages in. reduction to silent. 174. linked to earth. configured as spiritualizing force. 145 Euripides. struggle against. transformation of individual and. of organisms. 37. 61. 183. 28. 188. 62. 127. 188. 188. 3. 122 Formation: as basis of natural growth. 177. positive images of. 121. 199. 123. 209n2 English gardens. critique of. 60. 165. 14. 63. 196 “Eleusis” (Hegel). 152 Einheit. 146. of the organism. as blossoming. 90. 137. 38–39. 35. 178 Ecstatic Subjects (Huntington). 52 Experience: analogy of. symbols of. 59. substantiality of. 188. 131. 160 Encyclopedia (Hegel). 139 Feminine. 133. 131. 188. 198 Form: as analogy to individual. of the natural world. 140–141 Fischer. the. 189. 63. 173 Feminist theory. 42. 191. 96. role of ground in. 203n26 Ens rationis ratiocinantis. Kuno. 85. 183. 19–44. neglect of sexuality of. individuality of. art as. 192–193. knowledge of. 157 Force: anthropomorphizing. 72 Fate. 16. 108. of god. 160. about nature. Johann Gottlieb. Meister. 89. 36. 161. 59. 152. 109 . static. creative. 139 Fichte. negative. 133. subjectivity and. 208n12 Fiction. 196. 22. individuation and. origin of. as passive recipient. 108. potential flammability of plants and. 160. 120 Empedocles. 37 Fire: natural proximity to spirit of. consciousness and. 28. 192. 92. 5 Fermentation. 191. productive notion of. organic. 30 Elective Affinities (Goethe). 100. 191. 175. spiritual. 159 Epigenesis. function of. purpose of. 101. 92. 39. 63. 91 Eros. 40. 160 Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger. 122. 16. 1 Evolution. preserving. vegetative soul and. matter and. 197. 16. 151. 16. ideals of. 152. 63 Forster. 159. 179. 37 Ens rationis ratiocinatae. 74. inorganic. 193. 149. defining. 160. 99–117.

Versailles. 20. 20. 27. love of. 54. 20 Gestalt. 53 “Hegel. 39. Death. 114 Growth: basis of. 37. 107. Johann Wolfgang von. 21. 183. 13. purposiveness and. 68. as relationship of creative mind to nature. 74 Hardenberg. 69 Guattari. 178. on human superiority. as channel for forces of nature. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. law of. 43. 80. 65. 57 Gallop. 162. 145. tendency toward. 199. atti- . 56. 77. Stephan. 10–11. on magnetism. origin of. 34 Hazard. scientific method of. 195. 91. 46. 94. 14. 183. 84. 73. 57 Friendship. 20. 186 Gay Science. 14. liminality of. 57. on art. 56. 145. equated with vegetable nature. 72. 237 on anthropocentric purposes. 83 Freedom: human. 166. 46. 4–5. 161. 89 Genealogy. 185. scientific achievements of. French classical. and Sacrifice” (Bataille). 177 Geist. 4 Genius: artistic. Félix. Friedrich. 181 Genetics. 142. defining. principles of art and. 179. 128. 1. Jane. organic-centered philosophy of. on meaning of origin. in natural science. on metamorphosis. 6. 186. 158 Grafting. 42. 203n26. 82 Gemüt. English. 27 George. 192 Garden: artificially pruned. alignment of masculine with subjectivity in. 45–77. Michel. 103 Goethe. 13. 195. 150. Elizabeth. The (Nietzsche). 24. sublime. 179. 209n2. 60. 14. 4. 50. 154. 86. 179. 59. 11. 203n26. on purposiveness of nature. 147. 14. 193. objective thinking and. cultivated-to-look-wild. 16. literary works. 17. realm of. 19–44. on noumenal nature of humans. 28. spirit and. of movement. 183. 194 “Ground for Empedocles. 182 Fragmentation: individual. See Novalis Harmony. vegetable. 45. 128 Freud. views of Linné. 11. 197 Gundolf. landscape. 146. 55. 14. Kant on. 43.Index Foucault. 103. theory of nature. 43 Gardens of Adonis. 56. 186. 39. 59. mistrust of use of analogy in science. animalization of plant life by. 66. foundational discourse of. separation of realms by. of imagination. 45–77. Friedrich von. poetic. 19–44. 60 Grosz. rhythm of vital power and. 42. on plant life. 22. crafted. 81. as plant-like. technic of nature as. 54. 82. 31. on observation. 14. 67. 21. transitionality of. 8. 43. 119–147. 51. natural. 20. 59. 134 Hegel. 46. 91 Galen. 21. Sigmund. 28. on final causes. 27. process of formation in nature and. The (Detienne). influenced by Kant. 53. 164. 74 “German Theories of Vegetable Genius” (Abrams). 57. 7. as indetermination. Paul. imposition of individuation and. 58 “Goethe’s Attempt” (Nietzsche). inseminating spirit of. emphasis on process of growth. 21. 59. plant life. 69. 3. The” (Hölderlin). 23. See also Form God: existence of.

83–97. 103 Heidegger. 51. on Christianity. 145 Hermes. noumenal status of. art. description of love. natural: pursuance of. 95. on polarity. 86. 121. 99. as dark being. 61. 20. 183. 119–147. 96 Hume. rhythm of life and. 104. 92. on death. 204n2 Heinrich von Ofterdingen (Novalis). 74. 198. 123. 100. 85. 31. 127. 24. 173 Helios. 81. 75. . 39. 188 Human: ability to recognize inevitability of death. 122. on relationship of soul to nature. trope of fermentation and. isolation of being outside nature and. 140. on subjectivity. 95–96. 47 Hippocrates. 103. 48 Hobbes. 121.238 The Vegetative Soul 87. 28. 21. 81. 67 History. 121. reason. criticism of Goethe. 143. 101. 38. 129. 56. 134. Martin. criticism of excessive analysis in science and philosophy.” 33. 81 Helen. as last stage of creation. 15. as result of development of other animals. relationship with Hegel. repudiation of vegetative soul by. 51. 96. 182. portrayal of Christ. 60. 102. 142. 52. 99. position within natural world. subjectivity. 54. interest in Empedocles. 48 Herder. 26. on poetry. creation of art. as final purpose of existence of the world. 32. 100. understanding of organic life. 105. limits of consciousness and. 16. domination and. as final purpose of organic. 90 Heraclitus. 99. 1 Herodotus. on plant life. Thomas. 79–80. mature philosophy of nature. 181. 134–135. on systems of receptivity. 42. 15. 104. 157 Hegel. 84. 82. 101. 18 Hemsterhuis. 9–10. 55. metamorphosis as figuration of life. creativity. as irreplaceable being. nature and. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (continued) tude toward nature. 99. as final cause of nature. 85. 200 Hölderlin. 139. 29. denunciation of Judaism. 13. 134. 6. 100. on structure of plant life. 110. 11. on innocence of plants. 84. 20. projection of own desires. 127. 84. 114. in individuation of plant life. Friedrich. 17. as final purpose of creation. 84. 121. 109. 170. 131–132. use of “aorgic. capacity for language. 15. 16. 51. 79–97. dialectical method of. knowledge. selfknowledge. 51. relationship with Hölderlin. dissatisfaction with Christianity. action. as users of nature. identity. philosophy of nature. place in world. 90. on natural time and development. freedom. 84. interpretation of culture. on sexual function. 93. judgment.” 40. interpretations of teachings of Christ. debates with Hegel. David. Johann Gottfried von. as creature of highest purposiveness. 75. Franz. use of “organic. 36. 105. on plant deficiency. 138. 20. 131. on fate. dissatisfaction with Christianity. 53. capacity for greatness. as “Lord of Nature. as technician. 164. 16.” 40 “How to Conceive of a Girl” (Irigaray). 74–75. 145. 147. 103. relation of soul to natural world. 14. thought. 100. on discourse of the organism. 183. obsession with intestines. 108. intellectual life. on sensation. 123. debates with Hölderlin. vulnerability. 120. 51. 52.

31. organism and. 93 Imagination: apprehension of. 54. 83. organized. 38. 158. power of. designation of beauty by. 27. 32. 36. of art. 24. feminine symbolization of nature. anthropocentrism of. 105 Idealism. energy and. 45. judgment of beauty and. 156. 110 Judgment: aesthetic. 41. reflective. 32. 21. 170. metaphor for. 24. 42. 4. 33. 187. metaphysical history of. 32. 29 239 Inversion: in classification systems. 4 Intuition: aesthetic. end of. 41. 42. 107.Index Huntington. provisionality of. discussion of fiction. 161. 131. 23. 183. 190. 86. 42. 28. 52. analogical relationships and. 4. 101. Christoph. German. on politics of assimilation. 46. 30. 29. technic of nature and. Franz. 199. elimination of . 46. overcoming bodily. 31 Impotence. politics of subjectivity of. 93. 56. 195. describing natural world. 169. 195. borders of. 195 Hyperion (Hölderlin). determinative. 135. 71. 158. 17. 42. consciousness and. 42. 150 Judaism. 24. 82. 136 “Italian Journey” (Goethe). organic. thinking about. 99. adaptation to environment. 139. 34. cognition and. of nature. 100 Janz. transcendental utterance of. 48–49. 17. self-reflective. transcending. 86. 170. as sublimity. 30. 191. 23. unifying empirical laws and. 151. 58. 31. lunacy and. 38. 16. 34. 174. 15. 41. 131. 41. articulation of genius. 5. 87 Intellectus ectypus. roots in sensation. 84.” 15. teleological. 23. 93. vegetative model. 103. 152. linking of women to vegetable world. 186 Kant. 90. necessity of. critique of. the feminine and. 90. 151. arbitrariness of. evil and. 32. of purposiveness. plant life and. 101. doctrine of morality of. 117. sensory. 169. beyond consciousness. Roman. 90. 41. 169. 26. 34. 88. understanding and. 29. 2. 41. mechanistic. 155. understanding. indefinite. 14. union and. 170. 42. critique of natural sciences. 13. 170. on nature. 24. 32. 7 Individuation. 38. 5 Inhibition. 31. making. 91 Innocence. 23. 81. 198. unity and separation in. madness and. 85. self-movement and. 87. 182. subject to metamorphosis. comprehension of sublime by. of beauty. 170. derivation of. of vegetative soul. defining organism by. 31. 152. 34. human. 27. Curt Paul. 24. 31. 80. evolution of. 24. 40. 169. Luce. 100. 23. 28. 92. 128. 22. 161. aorgic. 30. 164. technical. 31. 22. 90. “animal. on determinate purposes. Patricia. 25. on culture. 183. reason and. 100–117. 66 Jakobson. spontaneity of. 192 Jamme. 22. 13. 31. freedom of. of the sublime. 170. otherness and. understanding observances. 30. 20. 56 Intersubjectivity. 152. 189–190. 41. 34. 189 Irritability. 57 Irigaray. 47. 200. 30 Kafka. 174. 188. 89 Intellect: limitations of. 84. unity of animal life and. 30. presentation of rational ideas and. images of efflorescence in. 29. 25. sensory. 183. 80. Immanuel. 13. 6.

natural beauty and. 57. 81. 24. potential to conceal. 42. of self-preservation. of God. 158. on symbolization. 30. 35. 173. 6. Evelyn Fox. universals as products of. divine. 156. 158 Knowledge: at any price. on propositions of performance. figurative. 83. 150–151. 13. 24.240 The Vegetative Soul tific. expression of. 6. Thomas. deliberate planting of seeds and. on purposiveness of natural forms. of time and space. 21. 51. 35. 124. 60. of “blooming. 156. scientific. of self-enclosure. 107. mechanical. 32. 128. pleroma and. rhythm of. 3 Klossowski. dominance of animal life on. 27. describing nature. 108. transcendental utterance of judgment and. 115. 160. 153 Kofman. 80. literal meanings in. 192 Language: of abstract terms. limits of. subjective. 201n6. 21. 41. human. 10 Logic. 96. 90 Linnaeus. 15. 4. 86. See Linné. of force. 20. 20. 187 Kojève. 123. 19. metaphorical use of. and crystal. of metaphor. 80. 15. 30. progress and. of vegetable genius. 193. 185. Kant. superfluous. imagistic. 30. 115. metaphysical. 173. 183–184 Longinus. 145 Leibniz. Immanuel (continued) the natural by. 81. 104. 143. on nature as system. 110. linear unity of. of isolation. judgments of beauty by. drive to. 14 “Life of Jesus. 5. 106–107. 58. fulfillment of. determinate. of melting. 211n30 Kuhn. of art. primitive. will to. 41. 30. Carl von Linné. 176. 150. of nature. 14. 34–44. of flowers. 192. expression of aesthetic ideas and. on rational decisions. 182 Leucippus. 163. 108. 143. 46. 157. 150. 83 Limitation. human freedom and. 169. Carl von. 58. foundational discourse of. physiology of. nature as thing-in-itself and. liking for symmetry. transcendental. 15. 108. 185 Literature: mechanistic models. 191. on teleological judgment. 193. conventional scien- . saving. 25. capacity for. dialectical. 22. 81. of nonsensory concepts. organic-centered philosophy of. of nature. conceptual. 11 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (Hegel). impact on Nietzsche. 83. 22 Law: bondage and. 150. Jacques. 143. 54. 57. philosophy of nature. on natural purposes. systems of. use of organic metaphor by. 6. thinking about. 34. 4. of science. as series of metamorphoses. 25. 10. 154. 15. 40. beauty and. 22. 3. 157. of the state. 129. philosophical. 14. 128. 20 Keller. on genius. 194. 7. final causes and. binary. 82. 4. entry to natural world and. of sacrifice. judgment. 70. 149. 193 Logos spermatikos. 14. 6. 185. 94. 32.” 198. of confrontation. 19 Love. 142. 191. 29. 36. 111. 34. 56. 24. natural. unifying. 82. 30 Leaves of Grass (Whitman). 40. 80. 103. Sarah. of self. 33–34. representation and. understanding of aesthetics. The” (Hegel). substitutive. 165. in The Death of Empedocles. inclination and. 117. understanding of organic. 163. 86. Carl von. duty and. Alexander. 6. 17. 186. technic of nature and. 4. 89. empirical. organic models. representation of nature by. of transience. 72 Lacan. 103. 199. Pierre. 107. 47 Life: end of. 103 Light.

192. 150. metaphor for. meaning of. 5. 193. 16. extent of. 7. 45–77. 107. 191 Mirror and the Lamp. 102 Moses. 66. 189. 48–49. 134 Lucinde (Schlegel). organisms and. importance of leaf in. polarity and. 63. 7. 33 Mortality: creation of child and. as phenomenological event. mortality and. love and. 193. 63. 73. 185 Metaphor. 68–69. 71. superficial. 63. 187. 66. for individuation. as self-revelation of instinct. 50. early. existence as. Jean-Luc. reworking of. stages of. 5. for woman. 187. 124 “Naive and Sentimental Poetry” (Schiller). 45–77. 80. 192. defining. 187. 60. 84. history of. 107. vegetative. 17. development of natural world and. 51 Metamorphosis of Plants. The (Goethe). the: as active principle. mania and. 169. superfluous law and. 8. redemptive. constant. 170. of subjectivity. 123. understanding. “dead. 9. incomplete in nature. 173 Magnetism. 102. 60. 184. terminology of. 189. 125. 60. 80 Madness. 138–139. wonder of. 102. 201n6. 11. 124. correspondence to animal life. 102. retrogressive. 112 Mysticism. 138. irregular. as decorative device. 85. 64. of intellect. of love. contingent. 169. quantitative change and. 126. Christian. 155. 191. 102. 5. 181 Meteorology. 11. 138. 91. for unity. 90. 14. pro- 241 gressive. the Feminine and. 63. 63. 50. 94. 158–159. 20. 55. as development of shape. as explanatory principle of nature. organic. 80. 61. 19 Metaphysics. constitutive. 63. 65. subversion of. plant life and.” 5. 70. 67. for metonymy. The (Abrams). 170. 103. cosmic phenomena and. 170. 32. 113. conscious representation and. for passivity. 63. simultaneity and. 137. 16. 40 . science and. 139 Metamorphosis: alterity inscribed into identity in. analogy to tree roots. 192 Memory. 48–49. nature of. absolute truth and. 28. 69. 154. understanding. male. 191. 171. 70. rhythm of. 6. 56. 95 Nancy. 112. expansion/contraction and. 32. grounded in nature. for organization. 195. 187. 191 Mimesis: transformative. 188. 173 “Metamorphosis of Animals” (Goethe). 60. 64. 66 Manes. regular. 61. 146 Mastery. of presence. 150. 104. 105 Lucifer. self-conscious being-there. science as. 6 “Mechanics of Fluids” (Irigaray). 21. 152. 108 “Love” (Hegel). living. 8. as restrictive vessel. 103. 72. 20 Morality. 66 Meaning: of “I. productive juices and. 71. of metaphors. 67. as correct explanation of nature. 14. 171. 101 Maxims and Reflections (Goethe). 73 Metonymy. 174. intensification and. 43 Naming. 114 Masculine. 4. 55. 11. 9. process of. 48–49. feminine. 103. multiplicity of. overcoming. 66. 13. defining.” 165. inability to be contained. metaphysical language and. refinement of. 86. 55.Index of God. individuation subject to. animalistic. 85. 91. 182. undiscoverable cause and. 65.

42. race and. 159. cognition and. 105. critique of natural science by. 82. 81. alternative conceptions of. 153. 36. 15. 176. resistance to. as spirit estranged from itself. 51. 32. studies of. 100 Nature: allegory of. 27. 149. 14. 41. laws of. 41. 159. transition to spirit. 59. 128. 2. spirit and. 152–153. 149. 149–179. 22. 3. 32. poetry and. 114. as system. 15. as other to itself. 107 Nohl. condition of highest development in. 125. 26. representations of. 15. 6. 185. magic in. as prehistory of spirit. 123. necessity of. 59. 83. 23. technical structure of. on Apollinian/Dionysian aesthetic impulse. inner life of. 6. metonyms for. 150. as object of research. Hermann. knowledge of. subjective conceptualization of. pure experience of. 160. 33–44. 31. 57. 165. 92. assumptions about. culture and. 48–49. 5. 13. 39. 151. final causes in. 89. 13. superiority of human mind over. references to Goethe. 82. 156. 13. 23. 34. 162. 22. 13. critique of consciousness. 42. human projection onto. 120. defining organism. 14.242 The Vegetative Soul view of. 10. 3. 15. 149. symbolized. technic of. 9. classificatory system and. truthfulness of. 31. 152. 17. 152. irrational changes in. 31. 139. 52. on art. 71 Nietzsche. 41. 169. madness and. 124. 2. caprice and. 15. 90 Newton. 26. human framing of. 32. organic. 88. teleology of. 36. human understanding of. 47. 4. 170. 121. 87–88. 10. dominant form of understanding in. geological. 54. 25. 122. as resource of humanity. 82. mechanisms of. 46. 46. 158. anthropomorphisms of. 149. 10. 169. 123. 13. fascist/anti-fascist uses of work. art and. 48. 31. 30. 153. mechanical views of. speculation about. form and. 85. 34. 92. 183. transformation of. 151. 79. on purposiveness. 51. 32. as “great Book. as morality. 48–49. origin of. on subjectivity. 11. 154–155. 13. 164. on form. 122. 81. Hegel on. 111. articulation of. 83. 48–49. 8. anthropomorphisms of nature and. taming of. on plant life. 153. 124. 22. 152. 6. 174. 56. 25. on consciousness. 183. 48–49. simplicity of. changing descriptions of. on perspective of animal body. 21. 149 Noah. 143. 37. 90. 190. 187. Isaac. 35.” 184. as organized being. nature of. 203n16. 29. 122. 96. 151. 40. on Schopenhauer. 52. beauty in. 17 Neo-Platonism. 133. 22. 58. 156. 80. power of. 13. 3. 32. 21. noumenal. 1. 122. inability to explain completely. on Epicurean way. Friedrich. indictment of science. transparent. 33. on metamorphosis. 34. critique of ego. 35. condition of highest simplicity in. 4. 121. continuum of. 15. inner. 46. 3. subjectivity and. predictability in. metaphor and. 56. progressive model. 15. union with. 152. 127. 46. as reality. 51. separation from. 92. cult of. 39. hierarchical schematization of. observations of. reductionist . 80. relationship with creativity. 135. 50. purposiveness and. 94. 33. 22. 157. 5. time and. on physiology of knowledge. 10. 36. 120. 85. 172. 213n13. 47. 144. 30. on individuation. 11. metaphysics of. 11. 136. 21. 58. unification of. 124. 6. regularity in. contingent. 88 Naturphilosophie (Hegel). Kant on. 22. 29.

152. 169. 179 Ovid. 175 Pentheus. 160. 167. 9–10. 164. purposiveness within. 185 Phallocentrism. 194. 80 On the History of Modern Philosophy (Schelling). atomism and. 172. 161. self-regulation and. 127 “On a Pet Poodle” (Hegel). 8. 40. 30. 158. 13. 80. 143. 43 “On Truth and Lies in an ExtraMoral Sense” (Nietzsche). discovery of. 36 Persephone. beginning of. 151. 105. 171 Organic: consciousness as last development of. as formed life. 189 Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel). 38. technic of nature and. 183. 154. 8 Organism: as abstraction. 155 “Of Gardens” (Bacon). 164. 192. 175 Perception: sense. 119 “On the Sublime” (Longinus). 67. 181. 2. 147 “On the Knowing and Feeling of the Human Soul” (Herder). 24. 70.Index Nominalism: reductive. transcendent. 134. 164. as coincidence of excess. principles of. invention of. 155. 107. 39. 9. 73. 88 Otherness. Continental. 81. as human activity of selfaction. 79–80. Walter. 161 “On the Organic and the Philosophy of Spirit” (Hegel). as thinking. temporality and. 151. visible. 199. 63. 18 Osteology. 63. form. 37. 9. 39 Oriental: linked to passive. 48. 109. discourse of. 81. 39. components of. 137 Orpheus. 145. 20. 167. 10. 193 Phaedrus (Plato). 152. Martha. 28–29. undiscoverable cause for. 2. 188. 107. 70. neutralization of suffering by. of nature. 195 Phenomenology. 40. material nature of. 9. 3 Organon. humans as final purpose of. plant life and. 99. 95 Novalis. 1. configuration of organism and. reductionist view. establishment as primary metaphor for wholeness. unity. development of. 38. 10. hyperrational. functions of. 3–4. 167–168. 163 Oedipus. 62. formation of. 209n2. shaping. 19 “On the Sublime” (Schiller). 55. 2. wholeness and. 121. 38. 9. sensu- . as stamped by technical. 39. 87. 209n2. individuation and. 48–49. 2. unity of experience and. 43 “Oldest Program Towards a System in German Idealism. 83. 124 Passivity. 211n30 Philosophy: architectonic of. 27. 158–159. 193. 71. 6. 7. designating human activity. in natural world. 7. 48–49. 169 “Otobiographies” (Derrida). 39. change in. nature as. as individual. levels of. creation of. relation to self and. 121 Objectivity. 9. 23. The” (1796). 152. 125. individuation and. metamorphosis 243 and. 121. feminist. mechanistic views of. 99. in Greek science. 167. 183 Otto. 53 On Morphology (Goethe). 10. as metaphor for science and art. 92. 47. rhythm of life-forces and. perpetual motion of. structure of. 28. 210n9. 15. 70. 94. 24. 169. 137. need to account for emergence of beings in. 16. defining. 184 Nussbaum. 3. 133. 163 Paracelsus. 11 Obedience. interaction with environment. defining. 192. 73 Other: asassimilation of mourning of the other.

56. 10. as beings of light. metaphysics and. 122. 39. speculative natural. as friend of nature. consciousness of. 60. oriental links. 60 Positivity. unity of. as realm of fire. 140. 194 Plant life: actualization of potentiality in. 135. unfolding of. spiritual nature of. metaphor of growth for subjectivity. 17. 17. 86. 125. 142. moment of flourishing in. 127. 132. 47. 11. 129–130. of judgment. vulnerability of. 11. 69. 121. open-ended future of. 9. . 46. 6. 80. trajectory of. 50. as metaphor of metaphors. lack of warmth in. 131. 129–130. 142. 47. 150. 136. 122. 61. classifications. 145. lack of resistance in. of spirit. passivity and. 68. 126. extent of metamorphosis in. 47. 133. 66. 131–132. origin of. 42. fragility of. 91. 119–147. growth of. receptivity of. 185. 2. 15. cognitive. 129. as aggregation. 167. 8. 69. interiorization in. 2. 67–68. 7. 11. 137 Plato. 113. 175. 131. 69. shape and. animalization of. 142. 120 Polarity. 131. of concepts. lack of consciousness with other organic entities. transformative metamorphoses of. 16. 155. 108 Plutarch. 57. 129 Plant religion. 185. temporality of development in. grafting capacities. nature. 63. spiritual nature of. multiple models for. movement beyond sexual opposition. 140–141. 61. 138. 99–117. root systems. relation to environment. 132. 128.244 The Vegetative Soul 48–49. 145. capacity to form new life. 111. 142. seed as essential power. 17. subjectivity and. 28. 51. 135. sexual function. 186. compression of stages of growth. 74. innocence of. pagan mysticism and. 8. 147. 167. “monstrosity” of. of nature. 185. 139. 56 Poetry. 135. 51. 142. 75. 28. 142. 145. 2. 137. 123. 143. 8. 68. morphological adaptation in. 185. transformative possibility of. 63. 80. comparisons to animal life. regular/eruptive emergences of. 57. 11. yearning for light by. 201n8. 136. 69. 137. of the Philosophy (continued) ousness in. 107. 175. 86. 182. 67. 46 Philosophy of Nature (Goethe). 137. 60. 11. perpetuation of. 65. metamorphosis and. 9. as inferior to animal life. axial tendency of. 11. role of earth in. tragic. 142. 96. spiral tendency of. 16. changes in inner constitution. 124. as realm of water. truth and. intelligence and. 30. evolution of parts in. 123–124. passage to animal life. tenacity of. 29. 138. 133. 134. 11. 64. 11. 101. 211n21 Pleasure. individuation and. perennial/annual. feminine nature of. fruit as sign of downfall of. 105 Power. images of parasitism in. 5. 124. 14. 69. potential flammability of. 129. 62. 60. generative. 186. 130. 61. 81. relationship to external world. provisionality of morphology in. 66. lack of differentiation in. lack of consciousness in. 105. 95. Eucharistic symbols and. 8. 128. 2. botanical terminology and. 63. fragmentation in. 125. loss of. self-sacrifice and. 107 Pleroma. 71. 84. danger of. 185. as collection of singularities. 84. 56. 83–84. 65. 56. lack of individuation in. 30. 15. 136. as beginning and end of philosophical knowledge. 67. of tradition. 137. 57–58. intensification and. 176. 70. 11. 29.

unity/final causes. interiorization of. 165. 52. spontaneity and. 70. as “our idea. spatio-temporal configuration. 32. 139. 25. 92. 23. self-enclosed. 174. 58. 32. 90. 35. 23. 32. of freedom. of organisms. 174 Race. a priori. being of. 23 . plant. 47. Goethe on. 136 245 Reason: analogue of. 106. 28. 136. of waves. 160. 113 Reductionism. 160. 64 Principia Philosophiae (Picot). 32. nature/human thinking. Rainer Maria. 48. 66. 4. analogy and. 16. 25. transgressive. 24. 166. 211n26. 31. 2 Rock-plant-animal progression. sufficient. 126. superiority of human mind and. 21. 91. 145 Representation: consciousness and. limitations of. beauty/death. 135. 13. 152 “Primal Words. plant/space. imagination and. 158. 85. 7 Prolepsis. of nature. 107. of form. 32. 83 Religion: history of. 136. spiritual. 158. 25. 22. ideal. hindered by sexual desire. art/artist. 46. 187. 47. 185 Prometheus. 54 Pythia. 157. 6. Goethe/Kant. 185. 140 Romanticism. 63. 150. 204n2 Propositions: empirical. 10 Reflection. 102. philosophy/art/science/nature. 23. 24. metaphysics and. 173. The” (Goethe). self-regulating. knowledge and. 21. cause/effect. 64–65. 128. 177. 27. 36. 81. 80. 36. 42. totalizing power of. nature/culture. love/mortality. 87. 23. 46. 83. as determination of form. noumenal. 183. 142. world/intellect. 157. 31. 166. 45 Purposiveness: absolute. of fire. reflection of. natural. 38. 84. 85. 4. 137. 81. 126. 164 Resurrection. 161. 31. atmosphere/organism. architectonic. as lawfulness of the contingent. will to. 155. 35. over beauty. 145. 34. 20. 128. 28. 42. reductive notion of. 75. soul/nature. 170. 160. theories of. 38. 37. 26–27. relation to perspective. 131 Relationships: analogical. 185. existence of. 211n26. 53. 160–161 Reactivity. human. natural. 48–49. natural.” 159. 21. Orphic” (Goethe). projected onto animal life. independent of nature. 160. 182 Procreation: characteristics of. 6 “Rhizome” (Deleuze and Guattari). multiple. of earth. 151. 184 Rhizomes. 91. 142 Restraint. 38. 182. phenomenal. 80. 185 Realm: of creativity. intentional. judgment of. 47. 136 Reality: creation of. 34. 27. nature as. of metaphor. 161. as part of human understanding of nature. 165. 51. meaning of. of thinking. 160. 169 Resistance. 186 Rhythm: defining. as case of possible. 52. 86. 48. brought to nature by human understanding. 62 Rilke. 127. 204n2. 138. space/time.Index soul. 182. 135. 152. human/world. cognition/nature. 24. 33. objective. 23. 32. 176. human/nature. moral precept. 136. 160. 3. 52 Rationality: as principle of sufficient reason. 162. 47. understanding in relation to. reflective judgment and. 41 “Purpose Set Forth. 117 Rhetoric. 13 Redemption. as intentional relationship of human to nature. of water.

J. 11. 194 Schelling. 97. 165 Self-destruction. nature and. observation of living body in. transition to. 155. expansion of. 81. von. 17. 10. 19. 80. 163. 115. 109. union with art. as continuation of process of excretion. 28. relation to other and. theory of. inversion theory in. art and. rejuvenation as. 42. 7. as unity of inner life. Angelus. 127. 17. logic of. nature as passing moment of. 3. 136 Separation: from mother. in humans. 72. 131. 89 Schlegel. 182 Simultaneity. The” (Goethe). 156 Science. 74. 150. 67. 21. elements of. unity of. conscious. 87–88. 143 Self-sufficiency. metamorphosis and. inseminating. botanical: classification in. 209n2 Schiller. 9.W. 199 Soul: comparison to light. 83. 81. 147. 124. 80. quantitative discourse of. 54. 56. 13. 88. 10. 87. 9. 57. 188 Schopenhauer. morphology in. 152. revolution in method. 31. 34 “Spiral Tendency in Vegetation. mechanistic models. as flowing. 9 Spinoza. 139. 131 Self-organization. 37. 88 Sexes and Genealogies (Irigaray).246 The Vegetative Soul Self-preservation. degrees of. 29. 150. as unreflective practice of. 125. 87. medieval. 82 Self-movement. 71 Slavishness. 17. 110. 2. of plant life. metaphorical. final causes and. as garrulous method of describing the human. bodiless. 143. 144. 99. 187. progression of. 82. 128. Earth. language of. 187. 167. 139 Speculum of the Other Woman (Irigaray). organism as focus of. 194 Speech: animal body as privileged focus of organization. utility for human needs and. from the source. 153. 81. 127. 21. 101. 46. 24. 94. 136. 121. 88. 140 Self-knowledge. Friedrich. from nature. 181. 3 Self-consciousness. use of analogy in. 128. 3. 18. 155 Sophocles. 132. 143. 15. 37. 15. 3 Self: conception of. prehistory of. 103 Sacrifice. 28. 91. transformation into. roles in. 188. 6. 13 Science of Logic (Hegel). 60. 62. as master of nature. 142. centrality of organism in. natural. Baruch. 2. 134. 31. fire as proximity to. 192. need to account for emergence of beings in. 72. 82. 21. thinking. 191 Sexual function. 163. 128. Friedrich. 24. 165. 71. 121. superiority to writing. 80. biological. 168. 189 Self-sacrifice. 192. 169 Science: aesthetic dimension of. 81. 80 Scholasticism. 54. organic models. neglect of fluidity in. 155 Sensitivity. 26 . 128. self-conscious. humans as crystals for. 28. 127 Science. 145. in realm of freedom. rational. 141. 43. F. 121. laws of. 123. 138. 81. 88. 161. 201n8 Self-transformation. transition from nature. 96. creation of. purposiveness in nature and. refraction and. 99. 22. 4 Science. 1 Spirit: animal life as symbol of. 171. as interdependent relationship. classificatory system and. 82 Space. 28 Shell. historical. 111 Socrates. 166. empirical. critiques of. 39 Silesius. 80. Susan Meld. Arthur. as masculine. 81 Scientific method. feminist critiques of. 20. blind. 71. 147. 61. plant relationship to. philosophy of. 122. systematic aestheticization of. 146.

form in. 29. 55. 161. natural. natural. 31. 42. historical conceptions of. feminine. production of self in. 32. 16. 63 Subjectivity. 11. 145. 156–157 Temporality: existential. 55. 23. 171. calculative. objective. self-reflective. 35. 161. purposiveness and. 149. 4. 149 “Teleology Since Kant” (Nietzsche). 32. beginning of. 137. human. 71. 126. 113 Universal Natural History (Kant). 82. 136. 22. 23 Steiner. 40. of plant life. 33. 103 Spontaneity: in cognitive powers. judgments of. of the tree. 39 . 81. interruption and. 189. occidentalization and. pure. absolute. of inner life. 25. 103. 5. 142. 142. 36. mechanistic model of. 116 Trakl. growth without consciousness. of feeling. 123. 46. 17. 141. 191. 189. 171. 80 Technic of nature. 13. vegetative model. 30. 149.Index “Spirit of Christianity and its Destiny. 90. 88 Tragic hero. 164. 81. contingency and. a priori concept of. nature and. as viewed by humans. ontological ground of nature and. 90. 92. equivalence to murder. 114. 4. 128. about individuation. 14. 127. 42. 23. 4. 107. 199. 80. punctual. about becoming. modern critique of. 123–124. 29. 55. eternal. 115. 132. 28. 41. 40 Suffering. resistance as condition of. disunity of. 92. conscious. Rudolf. laws of. of the differentiated. relation to nature. 17. 41. 45. rethinking. 37. doctrine of morality and. theory of. conceptualization of. for intellect. 100–117. 39. 36. 140. harmony and. 28 Universe: Cartesian picture of. The” (Nancy). Enlightenment. 39. 33. 14 Theory of Color (Goethe). organic. 101. 23. Urmother and. 143. art and. 73. as continuum. dominance of animal life on. 81. breakdown of. 199. conceptual. 125 “Sublime Offering. as garden. ideal. 10. 99 Symposium (Plato). judgment and. as perception. 140. 27. 7. of chemical substances. human. power of. politics of. 165. 25. as genuine philosophical act. positive ideals and. 121. 57. observations of. individuation and. 138. 150 Unity: beauty and. Georg. 51 Teleology: art and. 91 System of Transcendental Idealism (Schelling). as discursive concept. 73. masculine conception of. animal life as symbol of. 72 Thinking: aesthetic judgments and. 109 Suicide. 63. depiction of. sense perception and. metaphor for. reflection and. contraction of. of spirit. 48–49. 181. 170 Truth. as vigilant receptivity. 80. 4. 169. 147. as false interpretation of nature. 193. defining. 113. 36. 80. 27. 172. 36. 139. 191. 115. speculative. 33. 32. 71. 17. 31. injustice and. cyclical. metaphors of. in natural entities. nature of. 53. 138. of intuition. 39. 103. 25 Time. 82. as paradox. critiques of. 191. of plant life. final causes and. 102. justification 247 for life and. about language. describing. 183. alignment with masculine. 34–35. 193. The” (Hegel). 23. nature as is/ought to be. sublimity and. 91 Touch. 80. 121. 101. 137. 100. 14. 59. 7. science and art. 33. wishful. of experience. 71. 144. 143.

23. “I” of. 166. vegetative soul in. 162. 48–49. 152. unindividuated. in women. metonym for. 195. 189. 189. 18. interdependence and. See also the Feminine World as Will and Representation. 56. 50 Urphänomene. 59 Women: alignment with vegetative life. 16. 101 Vernunft. irrationality and. Aristotelian. 10–11. representations of. 18. 54. 187. 2. Edward. to knowledge. 18. 4. 190. autonomous identity of. 177 Ur-mother. transformative possibility and. 11 Wholeness: metaphor for. 16. 4. 187. 76 Ur-plant. 85. characteristics of. 188. 4. 27 Vegetative soul: appearance of. The (Schopenhauer). 197 Whitman. 59. Walt. 82 . 5. 153. 52 Von Thadden. 150 Writing: strewing of seeds and. as theory of subjectivity. 50 Ur-phenomenon. unconscious. 165. in modern thought. Elizabeth. in political life. 5. 188. 7 Young. 188 Vereinigungsphilosophie. 181–200. 27 Untimely Meditation (Nietzsche). 22. grounding of. 70 Whitford. 5. change in cultural order for. reproductive capacity in. nature as collection of mutually transforming vital forces. devalorization of. The (Nietzsche). 56. Margaret. predomination over rational soul in women. 46. 193. critique of modern subject. 70 Will: human. empowerment of. 188. to power. vulnerability and. essence of. 195. identification with root. 51. 192. 82 Verstand. Carl. 172 Windischmann. 188. 165 Will to Power. 165. 63. 188. as component of irrational part of the soul. 88. temporality of. 66 Vegetable genius. 191. 182. 21. 70. 165. promise of life and growth in. 20. 188. 188. 90–91.248 The Vegetative Soul “Von den verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen” (Kant). individuation of.