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     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

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Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses


27) ... Dann hat er die Teile in der Hand ...

  MEPHISTOPHELES:   MEPHISTOPHELES
Wer will was Lebendigs erkennen und beschreiben,
Sucht erst den Geist heraus zu treiben,
Dann hat er die Teile in seiner Hand,
Fehlt, leider! nur das geistige Band.
Who'll know aught living and describe it well,
Seeks first the spirit to expel.
He then has the component parts in hand
But lacks, alas! the spirit's band.
     

If you want, you can interpret these verses in a philosophical way. Goethe shows from the beginning that as well as in nature as also in the history there is power, that pushes, a sole principle that presents itself in thousands of different ways. Only this natural power of the metamorphosis of the plants is to be seen in the poem. For Hegel this power was the spirit of the world that wants to recognize himself in the world. Therefore this spirit creates qualities, and only these qualities show progress. A science like astronomy was for Hegel only a collection of numbers without any qualitative result.

Evidently one cannot explain the fascination that these verses have for many people. Often they are quoted in a philosophical context. But these verses are also often used, when people get lost in unimportant details, not seeing the important aspect of it all.
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