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RE: [steiner] Goethe's Writings on Organic Development

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  • Durward Starman
    Great post, Matthew. Here is some more on Goethe s ideas and their important difference in relation to science, specifically about the one-sidedness of
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 14, 2007
      Great post, Matthew.

      Here is some more on Goethe's ideas and their important difference in
      relation to science, specifically about the one-sidedness of Darwinist
      thought and how it leads to preventing any true understanding of Life:

      From Steiner�s commentaries on Goethe�s scientific works, published in
      English translation as GOETHE THE SCIENTIST:

      �...scientific endeavors... of the 18th century... separated the totality of
      knowledge into two extremes that no one felt the need to unite. On one side
      was the philosophy of Christian Wolf (1649-1754), which moved wholly in an
      abstract realm; on the other side, the individual branches of the sciences,
      which were lost in the external describing of endless details, and wholly
      devoid of any effort to discover a higher principle in the realm to which
      the objects of their research belonged. That philosophy could not find its
      way out of the sphere of general concepts into the realm of immediate
      reality, of the individual existence... On the one hand, there was a system
      of knowledge dealing with principles which lacked a LIVING SUBSTANCE, a
      loving absorption in the immediate reality; and on the other, a system of
      KNOWLEDGE void of PRINCIPLES, which lacked the substance of IDEAS....

      The concept, therefore, which exponents of these extremes could least
      of all grasp developed for Goethe as the very first; THE CONCEPT OF LIFE.
      When we reflexively observe a living creature in its external manifestation,
      it exhibits a great number of details which appear as its members or organs.
      The description of these... might constitute the content of an extensive
      treatise... But the MECHANICAL construction of any INORGANIC body could also
      be described the same way... in the case of the ORGANISM, one must keep
      clearly in mind most of all the fact that here the external manifestation is
      determined by an INNER PRINCIPLE, that in every ORGAN the TOTALITY is
      active. That external...can be observed also after the destruction of the
      life; it continues for a certain time. But what confronts us in a DEAD
      organism is, in reality, NO LONGER AN ORGANISM. That PRINCIPLE has
      disappeared which permeated all the individual parts. AGAINST THAT WAY OF

      �Whereas Darwin considered that the whole nature of the organism was, in
      fact, comprised in these characteristics [external ones], and came to the
      conclusion, therefore, that there IS nothing constant... Goethe went deeper
      and drew the inference that, since those characteristics are NOT constant,
      what IS constant must be sought in something ELSE which lies BENEATH
      changeable externalities. To give form to this latter element became
      Goethe�s goal, whereas Darwin�s efforts were directed toward searching into
      and explaining in detail the causes of that changeableness.�

      �His [Goethe�s] mode of observation is far more comprehensive; it embraces
      two aspects: 1. the Type---that is, the ENTITY OF LAW manifest in the
      organism, the animality in the animal, the life evolving out of itself,
      which has the power and capacity, through the potentialities existing in it,
      to evolve in manifold external forms (species, genera); 2. the reciprocal
      action between the organism and inorganic nature, and between organisms
      among themselves (adaptation and the struggle for existence). Only the
      latter aspect of organics was developed by Darwin.�

      �[Darwinian theory] views only those facts which cause the world of living
      entities to evolve in a certain way, but NOT THAT �SOMETHING� UPON WHICH
      THOSE FACTS ACT DETERMINATIVELY.... A simple comparison will make the matter
      clearer. Take a piece of lead, reduce it to a fluid by means of heat, and
      pour it into cold water. The lead has passed through two successive stages
      in its state of existence: the first was brought about by a higher
      temperature, the latter by a lower. How the two stages take form depends,
      not only upon the nature of heat, but essentially ALSO upon the nature of
      the LEAD. A different substance, if caused to pass through the same media,
      would manifest quite different conditions. Organisms likewise are subject to
      being influenced by the surrounding media; they likewise take on, under the
      influence of these, various states of existence, and this occurs, indeed, IN
      ACCORDANCE with their NATURE, with that essential being which makes them
      organisms. This essential being is found in Goethe�s ideas. Only one who is
      equipped with an understanding of this ENTITY will be in a position to
      understand why organisms respond (react) to specific influences IN A

      �Darwin�s view assumes that external influences, like mechanical causes,
      work upon the nature of an organism and modify it accordingly. To Goethe,
      the single alterations are various expressions of the archetypal organism
      (Urorganismus),which POSSESSES WITHIN ITSELF the capacity to take on
      manifold forms, and which at a particular time takes on that form which is
      best suited to the conditions of the external environing world. THESE
      TO COME TO MANIFESTATION IN A SPECIAL WAY. These latter alone are the
      constructive principle, the creative element, in the plant.�


      >From: "Mathew Morrell" <tma4cbt@...>
      >Reply-To: steiner@yahoogroups.com
      >To: steiner@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [steiner] Goethe's Writings on Organic Development
      >Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2007 02:21:24 -0000
      >Goethean Science
      >by Rudolph Steiner
      >The Nature and Significance of Goethe's Writings on Organic Development
      >At first the whole plant, in all its potential, rests, drawn together
      >into one point, in the seed (a). It then comes forth and unfolds itself,
      >spreads itself out in leaf-formation (c). The formative forces thrust
      >themselves apart more and more; therefore the lower leaves appear still
      >raw, compact (cc'); the further up the stem they are, the more ribbed
      >and indented they become. What formerly was still pressing together now
      >separates (leaf d and e). What earlier stood at successive intervals
      >(zz') from each other appears again in one point of the stem (w) in the
      >calyx (f). This is the second contraction. In the corolla, an unfolding,
      >a spreading out, occurs again. Compared with the sepals, the petals (g)
      >are finer and more delicate, which can only be due to a lesser intensity
      >at one point, i.e., be due to a greater extension of the formative
      >forces. The next contraction occurs in the reproductive organs (stamens
      >(h), and pistil (i)), after which a new expansion takes place in the
      >fruiting (k). In the seed (a) that emerges from the fruit, the whole
      >being of the plant again appears contracted to a point. [ 37
      >te37> ]
      >The whole plant represents only an unfolding, a realization, of what
      >rests in the bud or in the seed as potentiality. Bud and seed need only
      >the appropriate external influences in order to become fully developed
      >plant forms. The only difference between bud and seed is that the latter
      >has the earth directly as the basis of its unfolding, whereas the former
      >generally represents a plant formation upon the plant itself. The seed
      >represents a plant individuality of a higher kind, or, if you will, a
      >whole cycle of plant forms.
      >With the forming of every bud, the plant begins a new stage of its life,
      >as it were; it regenerates itself, concentrates its forces in order to
      >unfold them again anew. The forming of a bud is therefore an
      >interruption of vegetation. The plant's life can contract itself into a
      >bud when the conditions for actual real life are lacking, in order then
      >to unfold itself anew when such conditions do occur. The interruption of
      >vegetation in winter is based on this.
      >Goethe says about this: "It is very interesting to observe how a
      >vegetation works that is actively continued and uninterrupted by severe
      >cold; here there are no buds, and one only learns now to comprehend what
      >a bud is." [ 38
      >te38> ]
      >The plant's life is maintained by metabolism. With respect to this, an
      >essential difference sets in between those organs closer to the root
      >� i.e., to that organ which sees to the taking in of nourishment
      >from the earth � and those organs that receive the nourishment which
      >has already passed through the other organs. The former appear directly
      >dependent upon their external inorganic environment; the latter, on the
      >other hand, upon the organic parts that precede them. Each subsequent
      >organ thus receives a nourishment prepared, as it were, for it by the
      >preceding organ. Nature progresses from seed to fruit through a series
      >of stages in such a way that what follows appears as the result of what
      >The ideas presented here are the elements inherent in the being of the
      >archetypal plant � inherent in a way that conforms, in fact, only to
      >this archetypal plant itself, and not as these elements manifest in any
      >given plant where they no longer conform to their original state but
      >rather to external conditions.
      >In the case of the plant, the whole plant is in every organ, but the
      >life principle exists nowhere as a particular center; the identity of
      >the organs lies in their being formed according to the same laws. In the
      >case of the animal, every organ appears as coming from that center; the
      >center shapes all organs in accordance with its own nature. The form of
      >the animal is therefore the basis for its external existence. This form,
      >however, is determined from within. The way an animal lives must
      >therefore take its direction from those inner formative principles. On
      >the other hand, the inner development in itself is unrestricted, free;
      >within certain limits, it can adapt itself to outer influences; but this
      >development is still determined by the inner nature of the typus and not
      >by mechanical influences from outside. Adaptation cannot therefore go so
      >far as to make an organism seem to be only a product of the outer world.
      >Its development is restricted to certain limits.

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