Goethe's World View
Preface to the New Edition, 1918
In 1897 I undertook to describe in this book the Goethean world view; I wanted to draw together what the study of the Goethean spiritual life over the course of many years had given me. The “Preface to the First Edition” gives a picture of what I felt my goal to be back then. Were I writing this preface today I would not write it any differently with respect to content but only with respect to style. But since I see no reason to change anything essential in the rest of the book, it would seem to me dishonest to take a different tone today in speaking about the feelings with which I sent the book into the world twenty years ago. Neither what I have been able to follow in the Goethe literature since its publication nor the findings presented by recent natural scientific research have changed the thought I expressed in the book. I believe I am not without understanding for the great advances of this research in the last twenty years. But I do not believe that it gives any reason to speak differently at present about Goethe's world view than I did in 1897. What I said about the relationship of the Goethean world view to the situation then with respect to the generally accepted ideas about nature also seems valid to me with respect to the natural science of our day. The stance of my book would not be any different had I written it today. Only some additions and expansions which seemed important to me in many places distinguish this new edition from the old one.
In the epilogue to this new edition I have expressed the fact that what I have published in the last sixteen years about spiritual science also cannot cause me to make any essential change in content.