Simon L. Frank on J.W. Goethe’s Spiritual Personality

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The paper treats the character and significance of J.W. Goethe’s personality in Simon L. Frank’s interpretation. The study is based upon principles of historicism and development; it uses the methods of the unity of historical and logical, comparative-typological and textual methods. The paper demonstrates why the Russian philosopher turns to examine the works of the German thinker and the role of Goethe’s ideas in becoming of Frank’s philosophical system. It clarifies Georg Simmel’s influence on methodological approach to the definition of spiritual personality with respect to the conceptual distinction of objective and subjective culture. The paper also analyses Frank’s distinction between two types of genii - “pure genii of life” and “purely objective genii”, - and applying that method with respect to understand Goethe’s spiritual personality. Frank was very far from idealising the Goethe’s particular personality, but he had rather found in what he called the ‘Goethe’s type’ an aspiration for the harmonious unity of personal and sobornoye (catholic, universal, communal - Russ.) being. Accomplishing of such a type - as far as he had been capable - was considered by the Russian thinker not only the life purpose of any spiritual personality, but as well as a peculiar prescription against the crisis of the contemporary culture. The paper also reflects on Frank’s participation (publications and lectures) on occasion to 100 years anniversary, since Goethe’s death. In appendix, there are lecture notes of Frank’s lecture 1932, dedicated to Goethe’s spiritual personality that are published for the first time. The conclusion is made that considering Goethe’s impact on Simon Frank - as well as any influence, caused by not a systematic philosopher, but an artist-thinker in general - one should take into consideration not only the reception of separate ideas and concepts, but significance of the personality as a whole. It is said about the unique synthesis of living personal development and the objective creative work results.

About the authors

Tatyana N. Rezvykh

St.Tikhon’s Ortodox University

Author for correspondence.
Candidate of Sciences in Philosophy; Associate professor Moscow, Russian Federation


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