Entropy and Constructed Worlds: Paul Kammerer’s “Law of the Series”

Thursday Dec 6 @ 4:30pm
Kirk Wetters
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures,
Yale University

Entropy and Constructed Worlds: Paul Kammerer’s “Law of the Series”

Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer’s controversial 1919 work Das Gesetz der Serie argues for a privileged ontological and epistemological status of anomalies, claiming that so-called “coincidences” reflect an underlying universal principle of the series that always reflects ordered lawfulness, regularity, and cohesion. This talk argues that Kammerer’s “series” may function better in constructed or literary worlds, which are premised on the idea that every anomaly and ambiguity can be recuperated as meaningful or symbolic. Reinterpreted as a hermeneutic-philological model, Kammerer’s law may thus prove useful as a sourcebook for “ways of worldmaking” (N. Goodman) – i.e., for designing and understanding rule-based constructed worlds.


Feuersalamander, Salamandra Maculosa, Image #13 in Das Gesetz der Serie (1919)


Princeton University
German Department
Fall 2018 Lecture Series
Curated by Thomas Y. Levin & Johannes Wankhammer

All lectures will take place in East Pyne 205, followed by a reception in East Pyne 207.
Unless otherwise noted they will be given in English and are free and open to the public.