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In Context #17 (Fall, 2007, pp. 9—10); copyright 2007 by The Nature Institute

Stepping Out of Old Ruts
Craig Holdrege

Bookcover of
Goethe's Science of Living Form

Nature Institute director, Craig Holdrege was invited to write the foreword to a new book by Nigel Hoffmann, an Australian scientist currently living in Switzerland. Hoffman’s book, Goethe’s Science of Living Form: The Artistic Stages, was published this year by Adonis Press ( We offer below the text of Craig’s foreword.

Having just celebrated, on August 28, 1786, his thirty-seventh birthday with friends in the spa city of Carlsbad, Germany, Goethe stole away in the middle of the night, incognito on a postal coach. His goal was Italy. Goethe had already gained fame as a writer and poet. He had served for ten years as a minister in the Dukedom of Weimar. And he had carried out an array of scientific studies. But he needed a change; he felt stifled. His answer was to gain fresh experiences and let the world breathe new life into him.

He crossed over the Alps and arrived in northern Italy, where he wrote in his journal:

I console myself with the thought that, in our statistically minded times, all this has probably already been printed in books which one can consul