Sean Kean nsIn human chemistry, Sean Kean (c.1980-) is an American science writer noted for []

In 2010, Kean, in his The Disappearing Spoon, chapter fourteen “Artistic Elements”, attempts to deride and derogate the scientific intellectual competence of German polymath Johann Goethe, particularly in the area of chemistry, and in particular the chemical theory contained in his 1809 novella Elective Affinities, commenting (in regard to his novella) that:

“Goethe would have been better off cutting out the science.”

This statement, possibly more than any other statement made in the last centuries, belies the growing ignorance among the learned culture, particularly in American, wherein education has been homogenized to the point of becoming Wonder Bread. Kean goes on to compound his scientific naivety by stating:

“Goethe would have been crushed after his death in 1832 to learn that its science and philosophy would soon disintegrate and that people now read his work strictly for its literary value.”

Such ineptitude in depth is very puzzling, particularly for someone writing a book on chemistry; although this blindness may be due to the fact that Kean has no educational background in chemistry and in particular chemical thermodynamics (his main field being physics), which is the language one needs to understand Goethe's 1799 human elective affinities theory.

Kean continues his tirade (which perhaps is bluff to camouflage his misapprehensions?), referring to Goethe as someone who uses clout to “bully” his way into scientific discourse, describing him as having “about as much competence as a dilettante” (this in spite of the fact that in the same breadth he acknowledges that in modern times Goethe is seen as the "last man who knew everything"), and in regards to his 1809 novella Elective Affinities (Goethe's self-described "best book"), attempts to pass off his human elective affinities theory as a failed science: referring, e.g., to his premise that marriages work like chemical reactions as a “spurious idea”, among other inanity, which is akin to a claim that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to humans and in particular human affairs and all-in-all endemic of the non-nonchalant and shallow ignorance that grips the world's educational system (and in particular America's), one far adrift in the expanding sea of the two cultures.

Kean also devotes some text to Johann Dobereiner (Goethe's personal chemist) and his affinity-based triad grouping theory, which was the first clue to the existence periodic table. [1] Kean incorrectly alludes to the notion (in his end notes) that Goethe gained his understanding of chemical affinity (and hence the inspiration for the title of his 1809 novella) from attending Dobereiner's lectures, which is erroneous by account that Goethe did not know Dobereiner until 1810.

Kean completed an undergraduate degree in physics and English in Minnesota and a master’s degree in library science (somewhere). He has since worked as a science writer.

The following are noted quotes:

“In the late 1700s, Goethe devised a theory of how colors work, to refute Isaac Newton's theory; except Goethe's relied as much on poetry as science, including his whimsical thesis that "colors are the deeds of light, deeds and sufferings." Not to huff like a positivist, but that statement has absolutely no meaning. He also laded his novel Elective Affinities with the spurious idea that marriages work like chemical reactions. That is, if you throw couple AB into contact with couple CD, they all might naturally commit chemical adultery and form new pairs: AB + CD → AD + BC. And this wasn't just implied or a metaphor. Characters actually discuss this algebraic rearrangement of their lives. Whatever the novel's other strengths especially its depiction of passion), Goethe would have been better off cutting out the science. Goethe would have been crushed after his death in 1832 to learn that its science and philosophy [See: Goethean philosophy] would soon disintegrate and that people now read his work strictly for its literary value.”
— Kean (2010), The Case of the Disappearing Spoon; an example of secular delusion par excellence (see: affinities confustion)

1. Kean, Sean. (2010). The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (txt) (Goethe, pgs. 239-54, 367). Little, Brown and Company.

External links
‚óŹ Sam Kean (about) –

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