Bauernregeln: Aus meteorologischer Sicht (German Edition)

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The case of weather lore demonstrates that knowledge, as such, does not necessarily oppose or annihilate aesthetic enjoyment, in particular if one adopts a broad concept of knowledge. In any case, the representation of order and causality weather sayings are based upon lacks the abstraction and mathematical formalization of modern meteorological models and, as I will show later, it has to be understood on the background of a holistic worldview. If it is true that aesthetics should find the way back to the initial meaning of a theory of perception Gr.


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In this respect they are no less aesthetic than, for example, the descriptions of skyscapes in the realistic literature of the nineteenth century. Given the strong cognitive bias of weather proverbs, and the striking absence of aesthetic investigations in this field, one may begin by examining the possibility of carefully transferring theories from the aesthetics of science to weather lore.

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According to him, the aesthetic dimensions of science refer to the cultivation of perceptual discrimination, without or with the aid of special instruments; the design of experiments; and conceptual formalization. Thus aesthetic aspects permeate the research process, the structure, formulation, and presentation of the research results, and the styles of different scientific disciplines. It is worth mentioning that Krohn spares no critique regarding the invention and use of observation devices, since these not only enlarge the spectrum of the perceivable but, one might add, as in modern weather forecasts compared to weather lore, they also bring about a problematic involution of our natural sensorium.

In spite of obvious differences between weather sayings and meteorological prognoses in their instruments of observation, terminology, and the significance of measurements, there is no doubt that both activities require an attentive examination and the effort to translate its results into accurate, verbal descriptions.

The detailed description of skyscapes and weather phenomena represents a basic dimension of the aesthetics of weather rules, if not its most important. From the point of view of aisthetics, there is a mutual enhancement between observation and enjoyment that becomes manifest in contemplation. Existing compilations of weather wisdom, especially in English, provide a large number of examples of such a genuine enjoyment experienced in immediate perception. The descriptions of the colors of the sky and the forms of clouds, in particular, are amazingly diverse.

Regarding their textures, weather sayings mention clouds that are fleecy like cotton, woolly, like curly wisps or in blown-back pieces. As expected, weather sayings pay particular attention to the ongoing changes in the cloudscapes; these float, fly, drive over the zenith, gather around, sink, open and close, disperse, rise above, bank the moon around, and so on.


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  • And the examples may be continued regarding the characteristics of rain or wind, the latter being crucial for mariners, and even the colors of the moon. Nowadays meteorologists provide scientific explanations for some of these inferences that weather sayings established merely inductively, for example, between a red sky at dawn and a coming rain. Finally, both perception and imagination are powered by a cognitive hedonics. It is well-known that details in a landscape become perceptually salient through knowledge, in general, and that the cultivation of perception is a cause of relish.

    If taking note of something in the environment conditions the aesthetic experience and represents a primary source of sensuous enjoyment, this does not ipso facto imply the expectation that weather sayings would also mention the subjective effect of atmosphere on its perceivers. The pleasure taken in perception is not the same as enjoying the weather. As pointed out before, the relevance of weather sayings for everyday aesthetics is not restricted to such evaluations, some of which are explicitly aesthetic.

    In particular, the appreciations may be relative to human activities. Weather that is right for farming or fishing may neither be fine for wandering or sunbathing nor what Frenchmen call temps de demoiselle. This continuity between pre-modern, or early modern, and late modern aesthetic subjects, in spite of all other differences between them, allows for claiming a relative autonomy of the aesthetic value of weather and the possibility to escape a chaotic relativism in this field. Finally, related to the aforementioned pre-Romantic attitude, let us remark on the striking absence of atmospheric values, in the sense of moods one would be attuned to.

    Instead, we should rather presume that the strongly subjective dimension of moods made them irrelevant to be transmitted from generation to generation as useful rules. It lies beyond the scope of the present approach to review the long list of definitions of imagination in the history of aesthetics but one cannot ignore the observation made by Ronald W.

    Already mentioned examples refer to earthly analogies for the form and texture of cloud formations. Others associate celestial with worldly and human phenomena regardless of their order of magnitude.

    However, one may rightly object, such analogies do not transcend the physical realm into the metaphysical one. In other sayings, the simultaneous rain and sunshine suggest witches dancing, fairies baking, or a sailor going to heaven E But should we speak here rather of imagination or of belief? Needless to say, without proper historical knowledge all the previous examples would fall altogether into the category of fictions produced by imagination. Does this imply that historical knowledge would be indispensable for any proper aesthetic experience?

    Personally I prefer a weaker form of this statement, namely that historical knowledge sometimes turns out to be a precious asset for the enhancement of the aesthetic experience because it allows modern subjects to reach a deeper poetical level and illuminates associations that, prima vista, appear to be nonsensical or unexplainable superstitions. This is undoubtedly similar to how hermeneutics helps better decode art and literature. In addition to this, finding the sacred, irrespective of its name in systems of collective beliefs, behind or rather within physical landscapes fills subjects with awe and prompts a paradoxical union of calm and excitement.

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    Correspondingly, in order to enjoy these fantasies, the modern subject does not have to retrieve past religious beliefs and be exposed to certain embarrassment in our present scientific milieu. In a similar way, myths were degraded into fictions, and fairy-tales were acknowledged as literary genres on the eve of modernity. Environmental ethics frequently tends to a somewhat simplistic view of the aesthetic experience of nature, regarded mainly as a positive emotional experience.

    Without denying this dimension of it, the adequate understanding of the experience related to weather lore requires to also take into account the fact that all comparisons and imaginative projections used in it actually form fragments of distinct world views. Isolated successful attempts taken by paremiologists to track the evolution of some weather sayings back to their sources, in Europe mostly to the Bible and Greek-Roman antiquity, confirm the intuition that their background world views differ, to some extent, from ours. This may result in surprising deviations from the modern, standard aesthetic preferences for particular weather events, like in the case of the rainbow.

    Still more important are the features of those life-worlds that produced weather sayings.

    Geoparemiologists assume that weather lore is the creation of a primitive, magical mentality, for which long-term predictions of the weather were possible by getting a sort of insight into the fluidity of time and by becoming aware of analogies and recurrences of natural rhythms. Recent research by meteorologists confirmed that some animal species can be trusted as weather prophets in nature: swallows flying low, geese that stand on one foot, hens, cows and bats, even lower species, like earthworms, beetles, spiders or ants, are natural barometers.

    It certainly would be exaggerated to conclude that this holistic view would assimilate the universe to a work of art. On the contrary, the idea of a harmonious Weltbild , in which the microcosm communicates with the macrocosm, is more elementary than the application of the idea of harmony to art. Once again, it would overshoot my target to claim one would be able to reconstruct this world view in terms of a clear and specific metaphysical, whether religious or philosophical, articulation. They well knew that it is not the thunder itself that curdled the cream and that no syrup can creep into the earth like a frightened animal but they kept in mind that humans and their works build a link, even if a special one, in a vast chain of being, and anticipated that their liberty depends on their understanding of natural necessity.

    Eventually, the authors of weather sayings not only knew how to acquire observation skills and refine their causal reasoning but also how to gain wisdom from engaging themselves with the environment. Indeed, weather lore is also called weather wisdom, even if some paremiologists strictly distinguish between weather sayings and weather proverbs.

    While weather sayings, in general, contain empirical rules with allegedly predictive function and prove a knowledge of nature, some were converted into proverbs and testify to a more specific knowledge of human nature. Maxims, with references to weather, primarily express general truths on the human nature or the course of life, being based upon extrapolations from nature to society and, respectively, life in general. Both extrapolations operated by weather proverbs, on one hand, and personifications of nature, on the other hand, take for granted the existence of correspondences between different realms but the direction of their analogies is contrary.

    The paremiology classifies the weather proverbs according to their topics: God and the world, house and farm, wealth and poverty, friend and enemy, health and disease, joy and pain in love, eating and drinking, ruse and cleverness, good and bad, industry and idleness. Frequently, the knowledge of the context is indispensable in order to determine whether weather proverbs refer to natural phenomena or are used rather metaphorically.

    In spite of its transcultural constants, wisdom is still far from achieving the character of universal knowledge. Weather wisdom, in particular, was identified from a historical and sociological viewpoint as the collective and anonymous product of a rural, pre-capitalist, and predominantly sedentary society of peasants and animal breeders.

    The importance of the feminine element in weather lore deserves a separate analysis, which would also include the chain of parallels between women, vegetation, and the influence of the moon on the tides, at least in French and other Romance languages. For the present purpose, it suffices to remark that proverbs have exerted a strong influence in Europe for a long time and still benefit from a wide circulation in large parts of the world. Vielen Dank! Sprache: Deutsch Gewicht in Gramm: 18,6 x 11,6 x 1,2 cm, Taschenbuch.

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