Kraft (Force)

Main Article Content

Gabriel Trop

Abstract

The lexeme Kraft (force) is a foundational concept for Goethe that expresses the dynamism essential to his thought. Its tendency to move between operations of particularity and generality, polarity and intensification, differentiation and dedifferentiation, potentiality and actuality, norm and deviation, rationality and irrationality, and cognition and creativity together lend it a characteristic mobility, multiplicity, and diffusion. The discursive tensions and blendings of the concept during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—which extend between the obscure aesthetic construction of force in Karl Philipp Moritz and Johann Gottfried Herder and its scientific construction in Kant and Newton as the condition of possibility of knowledge—also manifest themselves in Goethe’s concept. As a grounding and ungrounding at one and the same time, Kraft thus serves as a material condition for the genesis of knowledge, on the one hand, and a metaphysical index of something absolutely unconditioned (das Unbedingte), on the other. When Goethe conceptualizes force as unconditioned, rather than as a condition of this or that individual being, he configures it in a number of ways. These include force as movement in processes of transformation and becoming, as potential, as a capacity for trans-discursive drift or blending, and as a non-discursive resistance to integration into normative, cognitive, and representational modes of thought. Certain scenes in Goethe's literary works—including most prominently, Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809; The Elective Affinities), Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (1821/29; Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years), Pandora (1807/08), and Faust(1808/32)—can be read as thought experiments that offer ontological conceptions of force in order to explore its informing oppositions of movement and metamorphosis, potentiality and actuality, as well as trans-discursivity and non-discursivity.

Article Details

How to Cite
Trop, G. “Kraft (Force)”. Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts, Vol. 1, no. 1, Jan. 2021, doi:10.5195/glpc.2021.36.
Section
Entries

References

Anglet, Andreas. "Entelechie," in Goethe-Handbuch, vol. 4/1: Personen, Sachen, Begriffe. Dd. Hans-Dietrich Dahnke and Regine Otto. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1998. 264-65.

Aristotle. Metaphysics, Volume I: Books 1-9. Translated by Hugh Tredennick. Loeb Classical Library 271. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933.

Bataille, Georges. The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone, 1991).

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Sämtliche Werke nach Epochen seines Schaffens. Edited by Karl Richter with Herbert G. Göpfert, Norbert Miller, and Gerhard Sauder. 21 vols. in 31. Munich: Carl Hanser, 1985–98 (= MA).

-- Sämtliche Werke: Briefe, Tagebücher und Gespräche. 2 parts. 40 vols. Edited by Hendrik Birus, Dieter Borchmeyer, Karl Eibl, Wilhlem Voßkamp, et al. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1985–2003 (= FA).

-- Werke: Weimarer Ausgabe. Edited by Gustav von Loeper, Erich Schmidt, et al., im Auftrage der Großherzogin Sophie von Sachsen. Four parts, 133 vols. in 143. Weimar: Hermann Böhlau, 1887–1919 (= WA).

--Conversations of German Refugees—Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years or The Renunciants, ed. Jane K. Brown, trans. Jan van Heurck and Krishna Winston (Princeton UP: Princeton, 1994).

-- Scientific Studies. Ed. and trans. Douglas Miller. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1995.
Goldstein, Amanda Jo. Sweet Science. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2017.

Förster, Eckhart. Kant's Selbstsetzungslehre. In Kant's Transcendental Deductions: The Three Critiques and the Opus postumum. Ed. Eckart Förster. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1989. 217-238.

Kant, Immanuel. Opus postumum. Ed. Eckart Förster. Trans. Eckart Förster and Michael Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993.

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Die Philosophischen Schriften. 7 vols. Ed. C. J Gerhardt. Hildesheim: Olms, 1978

Leidner, Alan C. "A Titan in Extenuating Circumstances: Sturm und Drang and the Kraftmensch." PMLA 104.2 (1989): 178-189.

Menke, Christoph. Force: A Fundamental Concept of Aesthetic Anthropology. New York: Fordham UP, 2013.

Nicholls, Angus. Goethe's Concept of the Daemonic. After the Ancients. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2006

Peirce, CS. Collected Papers. Ed. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss. Vol. 5. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1934.