MAN OR MATTER
by ERNST LEHRS Ph.D.
Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature
on the Basis of Goethe’s Method of Training Observation and Thought
The chapters are stages on a road which has to be travelled, and each stage is necessary for reaching the next. It is only through thus accepting the method with which the book has been written that the reader will be able to form a competent judgment of its essential elements.
Part I: SCIENCE AT THE THRESHOLD
The author’s search for a way of extending the boundaries of scientific understanding.
A meeting with Rudolf Steiner, and with the work arising from his teachings.
II. WHERE DO WE STAND TO-DAY?
The self-restriction of scientific inquiry to one-eyed colourblind observation.
Its effect: The lack of a true conception of ‘force’.
III. THE ONLOOKER’S PHILOSOPHIC MALADY
Thought – the sole reality and yet a pure non-entity for the modern spectator. Descartes and Hume. Robert Hooke’s ‘proof’ of the non-reality of conceptual thinking. The modern principle of Indeterminacy – a sign that science is still dominated by the Humean way of thinking.
IV. THE COUNTRY THAT IS NOT OURS
Electricity, man’s competitor in modern civilization. The onlooker in search of the soul of nature. Galvani and Crookes. Paradoxes in the discovery of electricity. ‘Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.’
Part II GOETHEANISM – WHENCE AND WHITHER
V. THE ADVENTURE OF REASON
Kant and Goethe. Goethe’s study of the plant – a path toward seeing with the eye-of-the-spirit. Nature a script that asks to be read.
VI. EXCEPT WE BECOME …
Spiritual kinsmen of Goethe in the British sphere of human culture. Thomas Reid’s philosophic discovery, its significance for the overcoming of the onlooker-standpoint in science. The picture of man inherent in Reid’s philosophy. Man’s original gift of remembering his pre-earthly life. The disappearance of this memory in the past, and its re-appearance in modern times. Pelagius versus Augustine. Wordsworth and Traherne. Traherne, a ‘Reidean before Reid was born’.
VII. ‘ALWAYS STAND BY FORM’
Ruskin and Howard – two readers in the book of nature. Goethe’s meteorological ideas.
His conception of the urphenomenon. Goethe and Howard.
VIII. DYNAMICS VERSUS KINETICS
The onlooker science – by necessity a ‘pointer-reading’ science. The onlooker’s misjudgment of the cognitive value of the impressions conveyed by the senses. The Parallelogram of Forces – its fallacious kinematic and its true dynamic interpretation. The roots in man of his concepts ‘mass’ and ‘force’. The formula F=ma. The origin of man’s faculty of mathematical thinking.
IX. PRO LEVITATE
(a) ALERTNESS CONTRA INERTNESS: Limitations of the validity of the concept ‘inertia’. Restatement of Newton’s first law. Introduction of the term ‘magical’ as opposed to mechanical. The phenomenon of the rising arm. Introduction of the term ‘alertness’ as opposed to ‘inertness’ (inertia). Van Helmont’s discovery of the gaseous state of matter. The four Elements. The old concept of ‘Chaos’. Young and old matter. The natural facts behind the ancient fire rites. The event on Mount Sinai.
(b) LEVITY CONTRA GRAVITY: The Contra Levitatem maxim of the Florentine Academicians. Ruskin’s warning against science as an interpreter of its own observations. How man’s inner nature and the outer universe interpret one another. The Solfatara phenomenon. The super-physical character of Levity.
X. THE FOURTH STATE OF MATTER
The need of raising scientific inquiry to nature’s upper border. The laws of Conservation, their origin and their validity. Joule and Mayer. Extension of the field-concept from the central to the peripheral field-type. Natural phenomena brought about by the suctional effect of the earth’s levity-field. The different conditions of matter seen in the light of the levity-gravity polarity. Heat, the fourth state of matter. Procreation of physical substance – a natural fact. The case of Tillandsia. The problem of the trace-elements. Homeopathy, an example of the effect of dematerialized matter. The meteorological circuit of water. The nature of lightning.
XI. MATTER AS PART OF NATURE’S ALPHABET
The origin of the scientific conception of the chemical element. Study of some prototypes of physical substances in the light of the levity-gravity polarity. The functional concept of matter. The complete order of polarities – cold-warm, dry-moist – in the doctrine of the four elements. The position of sulphur and phosphorus in this respect. Vulcanism and snow-formation as manifestations of functional sulphur and phosphorus respectively. The process of crystallization. Carbon as a mediator between sulphur and phosphorus. The alchemical triad.
XII. SPACE AND COUNTER-SPACE
Geometrical considerations required by the recognition of levity. The value in this respect of projective geometrical thinking. Geometrical polarities of the first and second order.
XIII. ‘RADIANT MATTER’
Electricity and magnetism as manifestations of interacting levity and gravity. Electricity – a product of disintegrating matter. Modern physics, no longer a ‘natural’ science. Eddington’s question,’ Manufacture or Discovery?’ Man’s enhanced responsibility in the age of physical science.
XIV. COLOURS AS ‘DEEDS AND SUFFERINGS OF LIGHT’
Goethe’s Farbenlehre – the foundation of an optical science based on the colour-seeing faculty of the eye. The modern physicist’s view of the Newtonian interpretation of the spectrum. A short history of Goethe’s search for a satisfactory conception of Light and Colour. His discovery of Newton’s cardinal error. First results of his own studies. The ‘negative’ spectrum.
XV. SEEING AS ‘DEED’ – I
Goethe’s way of studying the totality of the act of seeing. The ‘inner light’.
XVI. SEEING AS ‘DEED’ – II
Extension of Goethe’s inquiry to a pursuit of the act of seeing beyond the boundaries of the body.
XVII. OPTICS OF THE DOER
Purging optics from its onlooker-concepts. The role of foregone conclusions in the physical conception of light. The true aspect of the so-called velocity of light.
XVIII. THE SPECTRUM AS A SCRIPT OF THE SPIRIT
Evaluation of the foregoing studies for a new understanding of the prismatic phenomenon. The secret of the rainbow. Intimation of new possibilities of experimental research guided by the new conception of the spectrum.
Part III TOWARDS A NEW COSMOLOGY
XIX. THE COUNTRY IN WHICH MAN IS NOT A STRANGER
(a) INTRODUCTORY NOTE: From Goethe’s seeing with the eye-of-the-spirit to Spiritual Imagination. Levity (Ether) as revealed to Spiritual Imagination.
(b) – (e) WARMTH LIGHT SOUND LIFE: The four modifications of ether. Their relation to the four elements.
XX. PRO ANIMA
(a) THE WELL-SPRINGS OF NATURE’S DEEDS AND SUFFERINGS: The sentient (astral) forces of the cosmos as governors of the various interactions between levity and gravity. The astral aspect of the planetary system. Its reflexion in earthly substances. Beginnings of an astral conception of the human organism in modern physiology.
(b) HEARING AS DEED: A Goetheanistic study of acoustic phenomena and of the sense of hearing. From hearing with the ear-of-the-spirit to Spiritual Inspiration.
(c) KEPLER AND THE ‘MUSIC OF THE SPHERES’: Goethe’s view of Kepler. Kepler’s third law – a revelation of the musical order of the universe.