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Anthroposophy and Science - Rudolf Steiner - Observation, Experiment, MathematicsAnthroposophy and Science
Observation, Experiment, Mathematics
8 lectures by Rudolf Steiner

In Anthroposophy and Science, Rudolf Steiner examines the underlying precepts of the modern scientific approach and its current tools of observation of nature, experimentation, and the use of mathematics to establish quantitative relationships which are then framed as laws. Nature is understood in this way as a myriad of lifeless forces which somehow give rise to the entire phenomenal universe including the human being who is striving to understand the world and himself.

Steiner doesn't criticise the validity of this method of scientific approach but only its scope and realm of application. The examining consciousness of the human being is the first refutation of the validity of this as an all encompassing approach to knowledge. Its application certainly shows validity in the realm of lifeless space and form - whether we describe the world in terms of Newtonian mechanics, Einsteinian relativism of flexible space and time, or the probability mathematics of quantum mechanics. This type of thinking, which is essentially static and quantitative, is appropriate to arriving at accurate descriptions (not necessarily causes) of physical phenomena in the purely mineral world - i.e. without consideration of living organisms.

To approach the study and understanding of the living world - the plant, animal and human realms, different cognitive processes are required. Here Steiner brings us to view human consciousness itself, and the development and use of faculties which contemporary science does not recognise or dismisses out of hand as being personal and subjective. He describes the development faculties, which like our physical senses and conceptual thinking, are part of our developing evolution as human beings - the 3 higher cognitive states of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. These are not to be confused with the usual understanding of these words but as heightened perceptual and cognitive states which will progressively develop in our struggle to understand who and what we are as well as the world around us.


Introduction by Georg Unger

Lecture I, Stuttgart, March 16,1921
The three forms of science. Observation of nature, experiment and mathematical penetration of nature. The nature of the experiment. The certainty of mathematical knowledge. Psychology then and now. Growth in boys and girls. The customary cognition of nature. The philosophy of David Hume. Mathematical cognition as an inner constructive activity. Spiritual cognition as an inner activity encompassing reality.

Lecture II, March 17,1921
The membering of man into nerve-sense system, rhythmical system of feeling and metabolic-will system as described in the book Riddles of the Soul. The inner nature of vision, arm-movement and walking in relation to the three dimensions of space.

Lecture III, March 18, 1921
The possibility of explaining nature out of itself and the supersensible world. Normal and mathematical nature knowledge. The application of mathematical cognition to the mineral, dead world; attaining an apprehension of the plant world through imaginative cognition. The two kinds of clairvoyance. The theory of the subjectivity of sense perception. The duality of the eye as a physical apparatus and an organ streamed through by life. The discovery of the etheric body through imagination. The application of this view to the whole human being. The longing for an expansion and a deepening of our cognition.

Lecture IV, March 19,1921
Imagination as mode of cognition for the world of life. Gustav Theodor Fechner. Acquiring the imaginative method. The nerve organization as synthetic sense-organ. Concerning the intellect. Memory and Imagination. Love as help in strengthening the capacity to forget. Self-discipline as enhancement of cognitive powers. The image character of mental representation. The flowing of reality into the mental image through Inspiration.

Lecture V, March 21,1921
Modern sense-physiology and the twelve senses. The neurologist, Meynert. Controversy in the Giordano Bruno Association concerning mental imaging. Theodor Ziehen's psychology. Analytic and synthetic (projective) geometry. Moriz Benedikt and mathematics. Inspirational cognition of the rhythmic system. The Yoga system. The nature of symbolism. The psychological origin of cultic action. The modem intellect. Earlier cultic activity and modern scientific experiment.

Lecture VI, March 22,1921
The memory picture and its transformation in Imagination and Inspiration. The intellect in modern natural science and in Goethe. The phenomenon and the archetypal phenomenon. The enhanced activity of forgetting as experience of inner freedom. From the nature of memory to the cognition of the inner aspects of the human being: liver, kidney. St. Theresa, Mechthild von Magdeburg. The formation of the nervous system. Lectures about "Anthroposophy" in 1909 and the book "Anthroposophy. A Fragment." The correspondence of one upper and one lower organ in man. Spiritual psychology and therapy.

Lecture VII, March 23,1921
The nature of Intuition. Tumour formation and its healing. Intuition as an inversion of sense-perception. Indefinite perception and dark belief. Life before birth and after death, repeated earth lives. Falling asleep and waking up. The method of writing history. Dante, Luther, Constantine, Julian the Apostate. Concerning the experience of the forces active in history which are not described. Verifying supersensible facts. The experiment and its consequences for the scientific experience of modern man. Spiritual scientific knowledge as a fructification of the other sciences.

Lecture VIII, March 23,1921
The picture of anthroposophy as the light illuminating a space. The scientific nature of anthroposophy and the social question. The Waldorf School and other institutions originating out of anthroposophy. The necessity of the uniformity of all knowledge. The verification of anthroposophical knowledge. Concerning opponents. Confidence in the academic youth. Admonition to the youth: "Open the shutters!"

Mercury Press
8 lectures, Stuttgart 16-23 March 1921, GA324
143pp; paperback
ISBN: 1-929979-21-4

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