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Taking Appearance Seriously

The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought

January 2013
More details
  • Publisher
    Floris Books
  • Published
    15th January 2013
  • ISBN 9780863159275
  • Language English
  • Pages 208 pp.
  • Size 6.25" x 9.25"

The history of Western metaphysics, from Plato onward, is dominated by the dualism of being and appearance. What something really is (its true being) is believed to be hidden behind the “mere appearances” through which it manifests. Twentieth-century European thinkers radically overturned this way of thinking. “Appearance” began to be taken seriously, with the observer participating in the dynamic event of perception.

In this important book, Henri Bortoft guides the reader through this dynamic way of seeing, exploring issues of how we distinguish things, how we find meaning, and the relationship between thought and words.

Expanding the scope of his previous book, The Wholeness of Nature, Bortoft shows how Goethean insights combine with this dynamic way of seeing in continental philosophy, to offer an actively experienced “life of meaning.”

Taking Appearance Seriously will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the contribution and wider implications of modern European thought in the world today.

Henri Bortoft

Henri Bortoft (1938–2012) was an independent British researcher, teacher, lecturer, and writer on physics and the philosophy of science. He is best known for his work The Wholeness of Nature, considered a relevant and original recent interpretation of Goethean science. His book Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought was published in 2012. Bortoft completed his studies at the University of Hull, UK, and then did postgraduate research on the foundations of quantum physics at Birkbeck, University of London, where theoretical physicist David Bohm introduced him to the problem of wholeness in quantum theory. Subsequently, Bortoft worked with John G. Bennett on Bennett’s Systematics (also known as “multi-term systems”), which was Bennett’s methodology for assisting the systematic and progressive understanding of systems, complexity, and wholeness, and on efforts with Bennett and with Kenneth W. Pledge to develop a formal language that was rigorously descriptive of scientific activity. Those efforts were published in Systematics: The Journal of the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences. Bortoft taught physics and philosophy of science at Schumacher College within the framework of the program in Holistic Science. He lectured widely and led seminars in Great Britain and the United States on the scientific work of Goethe and the development of modern science.