Goethe's Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature

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David Seamon, Arthur Zajonc
SUNY Press, Apr 2, 1998 - Philosophy - 324 pages
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Though best known for his superlative poetry and plays, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) also produced a sizable body of scientific work that focused on such diverse topics as plants, color, clouds, weather, and geology. Goethe s way of science is highly unusual because it seeks to draw together the intuitive awareness of art with the rigorous observation and thinking of science. Written by major scholars and practitioners of Goethean science today, this book considers the philosophical foundations of Goethe s approach and applies the method to the real world of nature, including studies of plants, animals, and the movement of water.

Part I discusses the philosophical foundations of the approach and clarifies its epistemology and methodology; Part II applies the method to the real world of nature; and Part III examines the future of Goethean science and emphasizes its great value for better understanding and caring for the natural environment.

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Now possible to update and revive the "abandoned" topic of GS (it needed a wider purview)
This book was part of a GS resurgence in the early 2000s. By 2005 it had died. This book makes pretty
clear why GS was going to be abandoned and become unsustainable as a topic outside the circle of Waldorf upper-grades science teachers.
A new more fruitful way forward appears to be here. It carries these earlier efforts forward outside the narrow world of Anthroposophic Goethe studies into the larger sphere of holistic health, holistic healing, and especially, Energy Medicine. GS seems to have more affinities with Anthroposophic Medicine than with plant and color studies!
I've made a beginning on this topic in the following article. It’s posted among 150 more article like it at HealingToolbox.org. This article will be available in an audio podcast at iTunes if I can ever iron out all the tech challenges.
The author of the review and the following is a Waldorf-trained teacher and sometime Steiner scholar in the fields of the Fifth Gospel and Etheric Formative Forces. See his 15 books on Best Practices in Energy Medicine at Amazon-Kindle.
:) :) :) Goethean Science turns out to be the more natural foundation for all holistic health and healing, compared to Cartesian-Newtonian scientific materialism.
GS is NOT right brain science even tho Cartesian-Newtonian science at its worst is only left brain. To appreciate GS and what it can do for our post-2012 world, the best vantage place is whole-brainedness. GS is very allied with whole-brained thinking.
2014: We use THREE kinds of science daily. We have to face up to facts and the facts are radical.
The middle, most familiar science is what is characterized now as scientific-materialism, the un-evolved science of Descartes and Newton from the 1600s. This is the science of our conscious-waking self.
We use TWO additional sciences every day. First-order science is best-characterized as “cell level intelligence” which we can and do access consciously by way of dowsing and all forms of muscle testing. This is the science of our immune-system-self.
Third-order science is best-characterized as “whole-brained thinking;” also, "What is for the highest good of all concerned, for seven generations? What constitutes the “commons” and what constitutes “private property”? This is the science our high self enjoys and encourages.
Another angle on why conflict exists between holism and science, Descartes –Newton vs. Goethe-Steiner
A really excellent short history of the split between holism and scientific-materialism is HERE:
It comes complete with humanistic ideas about this tragedy and how “curiosity” is the bridge between the two. Hopeful as this article is, I think I’ve found a more useful angle on this conflict that also leads naturally to a big tent where both sciences can feel honored and at home.
To do this we have to return to the ground of the human being. The Three Selves is our best model. Consider: three sciences, one for each of our three selves
We use three orders of science daily, one for each of the three selves in our psyche.
The Romantic Era (1800-1850) was the first understanding of the looming excess rigidities of Cartesian-Newtonian science, founded in the 1600s.
Complicating how to reframe science usefully, is Hegel: Thesis > anti-thesis > synthesis We think this way; yet, this is still too small a frame for what's organic and natural for human beings.
Alternative-holistic science is not going to "replace" Cartesian-Newtonian science because BOTH are useful.
We have to face up to facts. The facts are radical: we use THREE orders of science daily.
The middle, most familiar and muscular science we can call ‘second order science’
This science, represented by 2 + 2 = 4, is only the middle third of Three Sciences. It is, however, the most


Goethe and the Science of His Time An Historical Introduction
The Metamorphosis of the Scientist
Goethean Science
Goethe Science and Sensory Experience
The Idea in Nature Rereading Goethes Organics
Transformations in the Foliage Leaves of Higher Plants
The Unity of Science and Art Goethean Phenomenology as a New Ecological Discipline
Seeing The Animal Whole The Example of the Horse and Lion
Flowforms and the Language of Water
Light and Cognition Goethean Studies as a Science of the Future

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About the author (1998)

David Seamon is Professor of Architecture at Kansas State University. He is the editor of several books, including most recently Dwelling, Seeing, and Designing (SUNY Press) and Dwelling, Place, and Environment, and is the author of A Geography of the Lifeworld. Arthur Zajonc is Professor of Physics at Amherst College and has lectured widely on quantum physics. He is the author of Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind and coauthor, with George Greenstein, of The Quantum Challenge: Modern Research on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics.

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