Narrative Self-Experimentation: Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s Methodology as an Alternative to Objectivity
This paper considers the preface to Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s Fragmente aus dem Nachlasse eines jungen Physikers in conjunction with Ritter’s own scientific practice. As in the case of self-experimentation, in the preface Ritter takes on the role of both the narrating subject and the narrated object of his biography. The inward-directed nature of this literary and scientific approach suggests a scientific ideal contrary to modern ideals of objectivity in which one aspect of the self must be suppressed. Ritter’s work, on the other hand, demonstrates a continuous engagement with the various aspects of the self, which, instead of precluding the possibility of scientific investigation, proves to be fundamental for scientific inquiry.
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