Alberto Bonchino

The "Dark Abyss of the Earth". Werner and the Romantic Philosophy of Nature (1788-1799)

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Keywords: Earth Sciences; German Romanticism; "Naturphilosophie"; Freiberg Mining Academy; Mysticism.

During the early phase of the so-called German Romanticism the geological sciences attracted unusual interest not only among naturalists and natural philosophers, but also among intellectuals in general. At the same time the Freiberg Mining Academy became a cosmopolitan center of technical training, where a new kind of "philosophical mining" emerged. The moving force behind all this was A.G. Werner. His course on geognosy made a particularly strong impression on many of his students, including future leading Romantic philosophers of nature such as Baader, Novalis, Humboldt and Steffens. The present study suggests an affinity between Werner and the Romantic inclinations, and attempts to answer to the following question: why did students of the earth sciences become Romantic philosophers of nature?

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