Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Barfield admired the scientist, playwright, novelist, and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1789-1832), the titanic figure of German Romanticism, who not only wrote one of the greatest works of world literature (Faust) but made substantial contributions to color theory and to botany, almost as much as his countryman Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Goethe's age, Barfield recognized, had great need of him:

 For a student of the evolution of consciousness, it is particularly interesting that a man with the precise make-up of Goethe should have appeared in that precise moment in the history of the West. By the middle of the eighteenth century, when he was born, original participation had virtually faded out, and Goethe himself was a thoroughly modern man. Yet he showed from his earliest childhood and retained all through his life an almost atavistically strong remainder of it. It breathes through his poetry as the peculiar Goethian attitude to Nature, who is felt as a living being, almost as a personality, certainly as a "thou" rather than an "it" or an "I." It is almost as if the Gods had purposely retained this sense in Goethe as a sort of seed-corn out of which the beginnings of final participation could peep, for the first time, on the world of science. Perhaps it was an instinctive understanding of this which made him so determined to keep clear of Beta-Thinking.
Barfield is especially indebted to Goethe for his understanding of systematic imagination.
A systematic approach towards final participation may . . . be expected to be an attempt to use imagination systematically. This was the foundation of Goethe's scientific work. In his book on the Metamorphosis of Plants and the associated writings descriptive of his method, as well as in the rest of his scientific work, there is the germ of a systematic investigation of phenomena by way of participation. For his Urpflanze and Urphanomen are nothing more or less than potential phenomena perceived and studied as such. They are processes grasped directly and not, as hitherto since the scientific revolution, hypotheses inferred from actual phenomena. (SA 137-38)
Though well aware of the "common objection that Goethe's method ought not to be called 'scientific,' because it was not purely empirical," Barfield recognizes the charge to be the result of the very mindset Goethe sought to overturn:
we have seen that the major part of any perceived phenomenon consists of our own "figuration." Therefore, as imagination reaches the point of enhancing figuration itself, hitherto unperceived parts of the whole field of the phenomenon necessarily become perceptible. Moreover, this conscious participation enhances perception not only of present phenomena but also of the memory-images derived from them. All this Goethe could not prevail on his contemporaries to admit. idolatry was too all powerful and there were then no premonitory signs, as there are today, of its collapse. (SA 138)
See in particular "Goethe and the Twentieth Century" (RCA 164-183), Saving the Appearances, Chaps. XX.
1"I have managed things cleverly, my boy: I have never thought about thinking."