From quantitative science to qualitative science

Modern science has increased our knowledge of the external world a great deal, but even it has reached the point where it finds it impossible to exclude ourselves from the picture.

Modern natural science is the science of the quantitative, Goethean science is the science of the qualitative.

This does not mean that Goethe did not value the qualitative approach.
Here is Steiner on Goethe:

…he says: — “Even where we do not require any calculation, we should go to work in such a manner as if we had to present our accounts to the strictest geometrician. For it is the mathematical method which on account of its thoroughness and clearness reveals each and every defect in our assertions, and its proofs are really only circumstantial explanations to the effect that what is brought into connection has already been there in its simple, single parts and in its entire sequence; that it has been perceived in its entirety and established as incontestably correct under all conditions.” Goethe wishes to understand the qualitative in the forms of plants with the accuracy and clearness of mathematical thought.

E. F. Schumacher likens quantitative science to a “one-eyed, color-blind observer,” because it treats our experiences such as perceiving colour as subjective and its practicioners would like only to deal with the purely objective. But if we think about it, when we imagine a scene from say, the cambrian era, we see it as a world full of colour and sounds. In other words we see it from the perspective of a modern human and not from the colourless, silent world of objective, quantitative science.
Stephen Harrod Buhner, in “The Secret teachings of Plants,” writes:

The primary mode of cognotion that the practitioners of science have used during the past century – analytical, linear, reductionistic, determininstic, mechanical – has begun to reach the limits of its assumptions… There is, however, another mode of cognition, one our species has used as our primary mode during the majority of our time on this planet. This can be termed the holistic/intuitive/depth mode of cognition.

The difference being that in the past this type of knowledge was more instinctive and less conscious. We are now in a position to begin to aquire this holistic outlook in a fully conscious way.

Buhner quotes Masonobu Fukuoka:

In nature, a whole encloses the parts, and yet a larger whole encloses the whole enclosing the parts. By enlarging our field of view, what is thought of as a whole becomes, in fact, nothing more than one part of a larger whole. yet another whole encloses this whole in a concentric series that continues on to infinity.

He then writes:

The Subjectivity of Science Any measurement of Nature that smooths out its irregularities in order to allow measurement is not objective. It is, in fact, highly subjective. The observer, by determining the degree of measurement (or magnification) that will be used, and thus how the lines will be smoothed out, interferes with what is being measured. The observer intervenes in any resultant description of Nature by subtly altering its description, a description that depends on a preference for one level of magnification over another. It is an error that is not rectifiable – not correctable – because the error comes from the way of thinking itself. It comes from applying a linear, static mode of cognition to a nonlinear, always changing and flowing reality.

In the lecture, The Position of Anthroposophy among the Sciences Steiner says:

<blockquote>“In the moment when I learnt to know the inner meaning of what is called modern or synthetic geometry.” You see, when one passes from analytic to synthetic geometry — which enables us, not only to approach forms externally, but to grasp them in their mutual relationships — one starts from forms, not from external co-ordinates. When we work with spatial coordinates, we do not apprehend forms but only the ends of the co-ordinates; we join up these ends and obtain the curves. In analytical geometry we do not lay hold of the forms, whereas in synthetic geometry we live within them. This induces us to study the attitude of soul which, developed further, leads us to press on into the super-sensible world.</blockquote>


Analytical geometry moves away from the actual forms to coordinates and algebra goes one step further in abstraction by replacing the actual forms with symbols which can be manipulated without regard to the forms themselves.


Our modern way of thinking has encouraged us to regard the objects around us as real and the concepts we hold in our minds as representations of this reality. I see it the opposite way. The objects of sense are the representations and the concepts give us the reality.

39 Replies to “From quantitative science to qualitative science”

  1. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Anthroposophic woo hugging Goethe the fox.

  2. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Anthroposophic woo hugging Goethe the fox.

    Thanks for your input. Any criticism of substance would be welcome.

    (I’m afraid I published this before it was quite ready, But the tidying up I I still had to do was purely cosmetic. It would have made no difference to the message)

  3. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Yeah, cosmetics won’t help anthroposophic woo. Oh, Annie Besant with Steiner. Great company!

    This is what has led you to call yourself a “heretical Christian,” was that how you phrased it CharlieM?

    Steiner is perhaps even worse than the DI with their IDism, in trying to make a ‘science’ of non-scientific topics. It’s a mirror of scientism of things ‘spiritual’ – something must have driven him away the Catholic Church. The Nestorianism in “The Christian Community” is indeed a heresy, if that’s what you’re referring to. Steiner is just about anything but coherent theology, largely esoteric, mainly self-centered spiritual gymnastics.

    Blavatsky stares at you coldly, CharlieM & you smile shyly at her ‘knowledge’, teetering on the occult. Time to embrace her, or turn away for good?

  4. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Self-label: “a heretical Christian with a leaning towards pantheism” – CharlieM

    Well, a heretic technically is not a Christian. Are you aware of that?

    Why not then just drop the ‘Christian’ to be accurate, if you’ve willingly embraced heresies via Steiner, Goethe, & perhaps others?

    Otherwise, I’d recommend working on yourself to ditch the heresies. A healthier option. It would allow you to drop the anthroposophism woo too.

  5. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Yeah, cosmetics won’t help anthroposophic woo. Oh, Annie Besant with Steiner. Great company!

    This is what has led you to call yourself a “heretical Christian,” was that how you phrased it CharlieM?

    Steiner is perhaps even worse than the DI with their IDism, in trying to make a ‘science’ of non-scientific topics. It’s a mirror of scientism of things ‘spiritual’ – something must have driven him away the Catholic Church. The Nestorianism in “The Christian Community” is indeed a heresy, if that’s what you’re referring to. Steiner is just about anything but coherent theology, largely esoteric, mainly self-centered spiritual gymnastics.

    Blavatsky stares at you coldly, CharlieM & you smile shyly at her ‘knowledge’, teetering on the occult. Time to embrace her, or turn away for good?

    Neither Blavatsky nor Beasant had any part in Anthroposophy. Regarding the Catholic Church I’m not sure about the extent of your knowledge of Steiner’s involvement or lack of involvement with it. And the Christian Community, which I have never been involved with, was founded by Friedrich Rittelmeyer, albeit inspired by his acquaintance with Steiner. Steiner inspired many people from various walks of life in how they developed their interests. In areas such as education, agriculture, architecture, economics and other activities.

    Here I am more interested in the direction science, especially the life sciences, is taking. For example how the latest findings in biology are convincing thinkers that they need to look in other directions to that which neo-Darwinism has led up ’till now.

  6. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Self-label: “a heretical Christian with a leaning towards pantheism” – CharlieM

    Well, a heretic technically is not a Christian. Are you aware of that?

    Why not then just drop the ‘Christian’ to be accurate, if you’ve willingly embraced heresies via Steiner, Goethe, & perhaps others?

    Otherwise, I’d recommend working on yourself to ditch the heresies. A healthier option. It would allow you to drop the anthroposophism woo too.

    Maybe you and walto could get together and come up with a suitable, alternative path for me to follow 🙂

  7. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t agree at all with the jazz about science is thios, that, or the opther thing.
    there is no such thing in the universe as science. God doesn’t do science.
    All there is IS human beings using intelligence to figure out Gods already existing intelligence as far as revealed in the universe.
    Its just about INTELLIGENCE. The more imtelligent people did the more science.
    the less intelligent did less science.
    all that remains is about conclusions that have been proven.
    the scientific method was invented to make rules before conclusions were announced.
    it doesn’t work. no one agrees on the method or when it has taken place.
    Evolutionism was never proven but said to be. its said to be science. proof positive science methodology is a flop.
    Intelligence leading to accurate conclusions is all there is in Gods universe.

  8. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM,

    “For example how the latest findings in biology are convincing thinkers that they need to look in other directions to that which neo-Darwinism has led up ’till now.”

    Should have addressed ‘neo-Darwinism’ in the OP then, instead of the holistic Steiner ‘spiritual science’ woo.

    Calling it the ‘modern evolutionary synthesis’ would help. The Third Way also moves past ‘Darwinism.’ But going backwards & into heresy with Steiner, Goethe isn’t helpful.

    Again, if you’re going to embrace heresy, then it’s wrong to call yourself a Christian. Why not fix that?

  9. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Robert Byers:
    I don’t agree at all with the jazz about science is thios, that, or the opther thing.
    there is no such thing in the universe as science. God doesn’t do science.
    All there is IS human beings using intelligence to figure out Gods already existing intelligence as far as revealed in the universe.
    Its just about INTELLIGENCE. The more imtelligent people did the more science.
    the less intelligent did less science.
    all that remains is about conclusions that have been proven.
    the scientific method was invented to make rules before conclusions were announced.
    it doesn’t work. no one agrees on the method or when it has taken place.
    Evolutionism was never proven but said to be. its said to be science. proof positive science methodology is a flop.
    Intelligence leading to accurate conclusions is all there is in Gods universe.

    I would say that the scientific method came about because Christians wanted to understand what they thought of as God’s creation.

    Observing and thinking about stars and galaxies tells us that we live in an evolving, dynamic universe. Observing and thinking about earthly life tells us that it is dynamic and evolving. Observing and thinking about individual organisms tells us that development (which is an evolution of parts within the whole organism) is dynamic. Observing and thinking about ourselves tells us that consciousness evolves and develops. As Above, So Below.

    In “A Guide for the Perplexed,” Schumacher gives a list of quotes in which we are advised to “Know Ourselves”:
    Sorates in Phaedrus:

    I must first know myself, as the Delphinian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous

    Philo Judaeus (late 1st century BC):

    For prey do not…spin your airy fables about moon or sun or the other objects in the sky and in the universe so far removed from us and so varied in their nature, until you have scrutinised and come to know yourselves.

    Plotinus (AD 205?-270):

    Withdraw into yourself and look.

    Theologica Germanica (ca AD1350):

    Thoroughly to know oneself, is above all art, for it is the highest art.

    Paracelsus (1493?-1541):

    Men do not know themselves, and therefore they do not understand the things of their inner world.

    Swami Ramdas (1886-1963):

    “Seek within – know thyself,” these secret and sublime hints come to us wafted from the breath of Rishis through the dust of ages.

    Azid ibn Muhammad al-Nasafi (7th 8th centuries AD):

    When ‘Ali asked Muhammad, “What am I to do that I may not waste my time?” the Prophet answered, “Learn to know thyself”

    Lao-tse (c 604-531 BC): He who knows others is wise:

    He who knows himself is enlightened.

    There is wisdom in these words. No animal can do this, but humans can.

    Surely if God has given us the tools and attributes to help us to understand the universe, life and ourselves, then we should use these tools and attributes.

  10. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    CharlieM,

    Should have addressed ‘neo-Darwinism’ in the OP then, instead of the holistic Steiner ‘spiritual science’ woo.

    Calling it the ‘modern evolutionary synthesis’ would help..

    I wasn’t using the term to be inclusive of all modern, reductionist evoutionary theories, it was but an example. I used the term “neo-Darwinism” as an example of the quantitative, reductionist science that IMO needs to be superceded by a qualitative, holistic science, an example of which would be Goethean science. I could have used the term, ‘modern evolutionary synthesis’ as the example, but it would have made no difference to the point I was making.

    The Third Way also moves past ‘Darwinism.’ But going backwards & into heresy with Steiner, Goethe isn’t helpful.

    stephen-talbott who is a contributer to thethirdwayofevolution.com would disagree. That website gives the views of a wide variety of people ranging from those who think that neo-Darwinisn just needs to be extended somewhat, to those who think that it is leading nowhere and should be replaced.

    Again, if you’re going to embrace heresy, then it’s wrong to call yourself a Christian. Why not fix that?

    Wrong in whose eyes? Officially I am a Christian in that I have been baptised in the Church of Scotland. My beliefs may be heretical to Orthodox Christianity, but the C of S don’t seem to mind, they embrace all sorts including sinners like myself 🙂

    Christ and the consequences of His deeds cannot be monopolised by any one religion, denomination or sect. As it is written in the New Testament, He ‘died for all.’

  11. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM,

    Please link to Talbott supporting Steiner &/or Goethe. Otherwise, the point stands & your distraction is noted.

    Yes, there’s a variety of views at Third Way. So what?

    “I used the term “neo-Darwinism” as an example of the quantitative, reductionist science”

    Drop the ‘neo-Darwinism’ claim then & just speak about reductionist science. Scientific reductionism is much different than ethical reductionism, after all. Natural scientists simply must ‘reduce’ the # of variables they use in order to gain results according to basic methodological & experimental parameters.

    “My beliefs may be heretical to Orthodox Christianity…”

    Well, then I’d suggest you discover whether they just “may be heretical” or actually are heretical. Do you know how to find that out? If not, I suggest you do some asking to the right people.

    The cult of Rudolph Steiner is not an improvement. It offers a kind of Teilhard de Chardin heresy of watered-down woo, parading as ‘Christian’, yet without devotion or fear of God. If you’ve fastened your allegiance to heresy, rather than orthodoxy, I’d suggest turning back. But you seem to actually want to embrace heterodoxy, don’t you CharlieM?

    “Christ and the consequences of His deeds cannot be monopolised by any one religion, denomination or sect. As it is written in the New Testament, He ‘died for all.’”

    It’s not an issue of ‘monopoly’ claims. It’s rather about proper teachings & understanding the Christian religion by living it, rather than departing from it. Pray for forgiveness, willful heretic! Your ‘holistic’ woo isn’t helping either yourself or the conversation.

    Yes, “died for all”. Amen. So that they would come to Him, not so that you could put Steiner & foxy Goethe in front of Jesus to speak on your behalf for self-centred woo apologetic purposes that most likely won’t trick anyone.

  12. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Please link to Talbott supporting Steiner &/or Goethe. Otherwise, the point stands & your distraction is noted.

    Here are some quotes and links:

    Talbott

    Can there be a qualitative science?
    My work on the meaning of organisms is part of a broader project: From Mechanism to a Science of Qualities. The project aims to begin characterizing the terms of a new, qualitative science. Of course, for those scientists who identify with Galileo’s commitment to a strictly quantitative science, which excludes qualities from consideration by definition, the phrase “qualitative science” will sound like a simple contradiction. And yet, in reality, there can be no science that is not qualitative; mere quantity does not give us any material content. Without qualities we have no world to try to understand. And if we must deal with qualities, then it’s far better to be aware of what we’re doing than to smuggle those qualities into our work in an undisciplined fashion while pretending we have nothing to do with them…
    I also have a collection of miscellaneous papers and addresses, several of them unpublished. These cover diverse topics, including computers in the classroom, orality and literacy in the electronic age, Goethean science, the thought of Owen Barfield, and the limitations of a technological understanding of the human heart.

    Talbott has written a review of the book, ‘Goethe’s Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature’ (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1998) here
    Here is a list of Talbotts writings. His links to Anthroposophy is obvious. Although he he may have been inspired by Anthroposophy but he has moved on from Steiner to write about his own research and discoveries. Which is a good thing IMO.

  13. T_aquaticus
    Ignored
    says:

    If your instincts and intuitions were accurate then we wouldn’t need the scientific method. Given the success of science over previous eras that lacked it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

  14. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Drop the ‘neo-Darwinism’ claim then & just speak about reductionist science. Scientific reductionism is much different than ethical reductionism, after all.

    I don’t want to get bogged down with definitions. I just see neo-Darwinism as an example of reductionist science,

    Here is what Denis Noble had to say about it, although he says that he doesn’t always distinguish between it and ‘the modern synthesis.’

    I start with a clarification of the relationship between neo-Darwinism, the Modern Synthesis and the selfish gene idea. Neo-Darwinism (a term introduced by the physiologist Georges Romanes (1883)) and its development (see Pigliucci & Muller, 2010a for the relevant history) into the Modern Synthesis (Huxley, 1942) as a gene-centred view of evolution can of course be stated without reference to the selfish gene idea. Neo-Darwinism is the term popularly used, even today, for the synthesis between Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and the assumption that the variations on which selection acts are produced solely or primarily by gene mutations, though the term Modern Synthesis is more correct since Romanes coined the term neo-Darwinism before Mendel’s work on genetics was rediscovered. The Modern Synthesis adds discrete (Mendelian) inheritance to neo-Darwinism.

    I have no problem with replacing the term ‘neo-Darwinism’ with ‘the modern synthesis’ in what I wrote originally.

    Natural scientists simply must ‘reduce’ the # of variables they use in order to gain results according to basic methodological & experimental parameters.

    Of course it’s legitimate for them to do this. But then they must realise that they are no longer looking at reality, they are looking at simplified models. Genes as sequences of nucleotides stretched linearly as depicted in diagrams are very far from the reality within the cell. But this has been so often depicted as real and it surprises me that people show surprise when it becomes obvious that things are ‘more complex than at first thought’

  15. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Well, then I’d suggest you discover whether they just “may be heretical” or actually are heretical. Do you know how to find that out? If not, I suggest you do some asking to the right people.

    Why should I care whether or not others find my beliefs heretical? I know my own beliefs and I know why I think they are justified beliefs. Why should I have any creed dictated to me by others?

    The cult of Rudolph Steiner is not an improvement. It offers a kind of Teilhard de Chardin heresy of watered-down woo, parading as ‘Christian’, yet without devotion or fear of God. If you’ve fastened your allegiance to heresy, rather than orthodoxy, I’d suggest turning back. But you seem to actually want to embrace heterodoxy, don’t you CharlieM?

    I actually want to embrace what I believe to be the truth. You’ve spelled his name wrong by the way.

  16. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:

    “Christ and the consequences of His deeds cannot be monopolised by any one religion, denomination or sect. As it is written in the New Testament, He ‘died for all.’”

    It’s not an issue of ‘monopoly’ claims. It’s rather about proper teachings & understanding the Christian religion by living it, rather than departing from it. Pray for forgiveness, willful heretic! Your ‘holistic’ woo isn’t helping either yourself or the conversation.

    Yes, “died for all”. Amen. So that they would come to Him, not so that you could put Steiner & foxy Goethe in front of Jesus to speak on your behalf for self-centred woo apologetic purposes that most likely won’t trick anyone.

    If you want to start another thread to discuss religion, feel free.

  17. T_aquaticus
    Ignored
    says:

    Of course it’s legitimate for them to do this. But then they must realise that they are no longer looking at reality, they are looking at simplified models. Genes as sequences of nucleotides stretched linearly as depicted in diagrams are very far from the reality within the cell. But this has been so often depicted as real and it surprises me that people show surprise when it becomes obvious that things are ‘more complex than at first thought’

    That definition still works fine for the vast majority of biology. Contiguous pieces of DNA sequences are what have function, and can be considered as a single unit that selection is acting on. This is true for transcription factors, promoters, active RNA transcripts, and proteins. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is still very limited, and the primary unit of inheritance is still DNA sequence.

  18. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    T_aquaticus:
    If your instincts and intuitions were accurate then we wouldn’t need the scientific method.Given the success of science over previous eras that lacked it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    Observation and thinking, which are the tools of science, are the perfect tools to use in coming to understand the world.

    But as long as the life sciences remain so heavily influenced by physics all that we are going to understand is physics as it is applied to living systems, we will not understand life for its own sake.

  19. T_aquaticus
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Observation and thinking, which are the tools of science, are the perfect tools to use in coming to understand the world.

    But as long as the life sciences remain so heavily influenced by physics all that we are going to understand is physics as it is applied to living systems, we will not understand life for its own sake.

    Observing and thinking is what philosophers did before modern science, and it got us nowhere. It wasn’t until we applied Empiricism that we started to gain real knowledge. Empiricism replaced Rationalism, and we are the better for it.

  20. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    T_aquaticus: Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is still very limited, and the primary unit of inheritance is still DNA sequence.

    The primary unit of inheritance is the single cellular organism.

    Quoting Goethe:

    The things we call the parts in every living being are so inseperable from the whole that they may be understood only in and with the whole.

  21. T_aquaticus
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: The primary unit of inheritance is the single cellular organism.

    That’s a good point. However, alleles and genes can be modeled independently of single organisms as a part of population genetics. This is especially true for diploid organisms where genetic recombination shuffles alleles.

  22. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    T_aquaticus: Observing and thinking is what philosophers did before modern science, and it got us nowhere.It wasn’t until we applied Empiricism that we started to gain real knowledge.Empiricism replaced Rationalism, and we are the better for it.

    Steiner in Goethean Science: X: Knowing and Human Action in the Light of the Goethean Way of Thinking

    Both paths, ordinary empiricism and rationalism, are for Goethe certainly transitional stages to the highest scientific method, but, in fact, only transitional stages that must be surmounted. And this occurs with rational empiricism, which concerns itself with the pure phenomenon that is identical to the objective natural laws. The ordinary empirical element — direct experience — offers us only individual things, something incoherent, an aggregate of phenomena. That means it offers us all this not as the final conclusion of scientific consideration, but rather, in fact, as a first experience. Our scientific needs, however, seek only what is interrelated, comprehend the individual thing only as a part in a relationship. Thus, seemingly, our need to comprehend and the facts of nature diverge from each other. In our spirit there is only relatedness, in nature only separateness; our spirit strives for the species, nature creates only individuals. The solution to this contradiction is provided by the reflection that the connecting power of the human spirit, on the one hand, is without content, and therefore, by and through itself alone, cannot know anything positive; on the other hand, the separateness of the objects of nature does not lie in their essential being itself, but rather in their spatial manifestation; in fact, when we penetrate into the essential being of the individual, of the particular, this being itself directs us to the species. Because the objects of nature are separated in their outer manifestation, our spirit’s power to draw together is needed in order to show their inner unity. Because the unity of the intellect by itself is empty, the intellect must fill this unity with the objects of nature. Thus at this third level phenomenon and spiritual power come to meet each other and merge into one, and only then can the human spirit be fully satisfied.

    Goethean science goes beyond both rationalism and empiricism. Pure empiricism can do nothing but catalogue what is experienced through perception. Pure rationalism makes hypotheses about, and simplifies causes and interralationships, and infers into nature what is not actually there.

    Goethe practised rational empiricism:

    My thinking is not separate from objects; the elements of the object, the perceptions of the object, flow into my thinking and are fully permeated by it; my perception itself is a thinking, and my thinking a perception.

  23. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: I actually want to embrace what I believe to be the truth.

    Yet ‘heretical’, as you defined yourself, means “of, relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standard.” There seems to be something involved here about wanting a ‘scientific’ solution to faith & belief that has led to your departure. Are you departing from what you believe to be untrue ‘because of science’ or is it just the Church of Scotland?

    “Why should I have any creed dictated to me by others?”

    Why so defensive? To openly & willingly share a creed with others, though, is of course a different situation. That is why you coming to orthodoxy is needed, as we don’t have Vladimir exhorting us into the Dnieper nowadays as loyal subjects.

    To actually be a heretic or believe in heresy & know it & embrace it; that’s what fascinates me about what you’ve said here. As if ‘heretical’ is comfortable, cool & ok as a ‘search tool’ that you are now trying out Steiner with.

    Can I ask: what is ‘orthodoxy’ that you are so against it? Not just in science, of course, as you seem to want it here.

  24. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Pure empiricism can do nothing but catalogue what is experienced through perception.

    In that case, science is not pure empiricism.

    Pure rationalism makes hypotheses about, and simplifies causes and interralationships, and infers into nature what is not actually there.

    Also, science is not pure-empiricism + pure-rationalism.

  25. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Yet ‘heretical’, as you defined yourself, means “of, relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standard.” There seems to be something involved here about wanting a ‘scientific’ solution to faith & belief that has led to your departure. Are you departing from what you believe to be untrue ‘because of science’ or is it just the Church of Scotland?

    I haven’t really departed from anything. I have never been what you’d call an active member of the Church. I have always believed in Christ but have never found any branch of official Christianity to be consistent in their beliefs or interpretation of what it means to follow Christ..

    Why so defensive? To openly & willingly share a creed with others, though, is of course a different situation. That is why you coming to orthodoxy is needed, as we don’t have Vladimir exhorting us into the Dnieper nowadays as loyal subjects.

    I don’t mean to be defensive. But if, after giving it some thought, I cannot accept as true any one part of a creed or teaching then I would be a hypocrite to embrace it. If you believe in a creed then sharing it with others would be the correct thing to do.

    To actually be a heretic or believe in heresy & know it & embrace it; that’s what fascinates me about what you’ve said here. As if ‘heretical’ is comfortable, cool & ok as a ‘search tool’ that you are now trying out Steiner with.

    Can I ask: what is ‘orthodoxy’ that you are so against it? Not just in science, of course, as you seem to want it here.

    To give one specific example I cannot accept that God retains absolute power. So I cannot with hand on my heart say I believe in an almighty God.

    I hope this answers your question.

  26. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Does Feser’s Thomism count as qualitative science?

    Stage 1 of Feser’s Argument from Motion
    Stage 1 has 15 steps!

    BTW, I picture these bloggers as much older when I listen to the podcast.

    Much older.

  27. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert:

    CharlieM: Pure empiricism can do nothing but catalogue what is experienced through perception.

    In that case, science is not pure empiricism.

    I would say it is all to do with our views on the fundamentals. Does our knowledge of the outer world come purely from our senses or do we have built in knowledge over and above what our senses reveal to us? So do you believe that we can gain knowledge from anywhere else but through the senses?

    Pure rationalism makes hypotheses about, and simplifies causes and interralationships, and infers into nature what is not actually there.

    Also, science is not pure-empiricism + pure-rationalism.

    That’s true. The scientific method would not get very far if it did not try to make connections and unify the separate sensations provided by our senses.

    When we are studying inorganic nature Steiner says:

    Scientific satisfaction from a view comes to us only when this view leads us into a totality complete in itself. Now the sense world in its inorganic aspect, however, does not show itself at any one point to be complete in itself; nowhere does there appear an individual wholeness. One process always directs us to another, upon which it depends; this one directs us to a third, and so on. Where is there any completion? In its inorganic aspect the sense world does not attain individuality. Only in its totality is it complete in itself. In order to have a wholeness, therefore, we must strive to grasp the entirety of the inorganic as one system. The cosmos is just such a system.

    But organic nature requires a different approach:

    When he (Haekel) demands of all scientific striving that “the causal interconnections of phenomena become recognized everywhere,” when he says that “if psychic mechanics were not so infinitely complex, if we were also able to have a complete overview of the historical development of psychic functions, we would then be able to bring them all into a mathematical soul formula,” then one can see clearly from this what he wants: to treat the whole world according to the stereotype of the method of the physical sciences.
    This demand, however, does not underlie Darwinism in its original form but only in its present-day interpretation. We have seen that to explain a process in inorganic nature means to show its lawful emergence out of other sense-perceptible realities, to trace it back to objects that, like itself, belong to the sense world. But how does modern organic science employ the principles of adaptation and the struggle for existence (both of which we certainly do not doubt are the expression of facts)? It is believed that one can trace the character of a particular species directly back to the outer conditions in which it lived, in somewhat the same way as the heating of an object is traced back to the rays of the sun falling upon it. One forgets completely that one can never show a species’ character, with all its qualities that are full of content, to be the result of these conditions. The conditions may have a determining influence, but they are not a creating cause. We can definitely say that under the influence of certain circumstances a species had to evolve in such a way that one or another organ became particularly developed; what is there as content, however, the specifically organic, cannot be derived from outer conditions. Let us say that an organic entity has the essential characteristics a b c; then, under the influence of certain outer conditions, it has evolved. Through this, its characteristics have taken on the particular form a’b’c’. When we take these influences into account we will then understand that a has evolved into the form of a’, b into b’, c into c’. But the specific nature of a, b, and c can never arise as the outcome of external conditions.

    One must, above all, focus one’s thinking on the question: From what do we then derive the content of that general “something” of which we consider the individual organic entity to be a specialized case? We know very well that the specialization comes from external influences. But we must trace the specialized shape itself back to an inner principle. We gain enlightenment as to why just this particular form has evolved when we study a being’s environment. But this particular form is, after all, something in and of itself; we see that it possesses certain characteristics. We see what is essential. A content, configurated in itself, confronts the outer phenomenal world, and this content provides us with what we need in tracing those characteristics back to their source. In inorganic nature we perceive a fact and see, in order to explain it, a second, a third fact and so on; and the result is that the first fact appears to us to be the necessary consequence of the other ones. In the organic world this is not so. There, in addition to the facts, we need yet another factor. We must see what works in from outer circumstances as confronted by something that does not passively allow itself to be determined by them but rather determines itself, actively, out of itself, under the influence of the outer circumstances.

    But what is that basic factor? It can, after all, be nothing other than what manifests in the particular in the form of the general. In the particular, however, a definite organism always manifests. That basic factor is therefore an organism in the form of the general: a general image of the organism, which comprises within itself all the particular forms of organisms.

    Following Goethe’s example, let us call this general organism typus. Whatever the word typus might mean etymologically, we are using it in this Goethean sense and never mean anything else by it than what we have indicated. This typus is not developed in all its completeness in any single organism. Only our thinking, in accordance with reason, is able to take possession of it, by drawing it forth, as a general image, from phenomena. The typus is therewith the idea of the organism: the animalness in the animal, the general plant in the specific one.
    One should not picture this typus as anything rigid. It has nothing at all to do with what Agassiz, Darwin’s most significant opponent, called “an incarnate creative thought of God’s.” The typus is something altogether fluid, from which all the particular species and genera, which one can regard as subtypes or specialized types, can be derived. The typus does not preclude the theory of evolution. It does not contradict the fact that organic forms evolve out of one another. It is only reason’s protest against the view that organic development consists purely in sequential, factual (sense-perceptible) forms. It is what underlies this whole development. It is what establishes the interconnection in all this endless manifoldness. It is the inner aspect of what we experience as the outer forms of living things. The Darwinian theory presupposes the typus.

    The typus is the true archetypal organism; according to how it specializes ideally, it is either archetypal plant or archetypal animal. It cannot be any one, sense-perceptibly real living being.

    In the organic world the creative cause is not to be found in any external influence on the evolving organisms. It is to be found in the overarching form of which the individual organism is just a single manifestation.

    Goethe claimed that he could picture this form as an inner perception. This picturing is empirical in that it is a higher experience within experience. It is not something he added to the physical plant in a speculative fashion, it is something that belongs to the plant’s nature which revealed itself to him.

  28. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Does our knowledge of the outer world come purely from our senses or do we have built in knowledge over and above what our senses reveal to us?

    It depends on what you mean by “knowledge”, what you mean by “our senses” and what you mean by “built in”.

    The idea that knowledge = justified true belief — that’s an absurdity.

    All knowledge is built-in. That’s the nature of knowledge. But it can be built-in because we built it in ourselves. We should not take “built-in” as implying “innate”.

    There’s a lot of double-speak about “our senses”. Part of the time, people write about our senses as if that term means sensory receptors, such as retinal cells. But, at other times, the write as if “our senses” means the full result of perception. There’s a failure to understand the creativity of our perceptual systems. One of the reasons that people have trouble understanding consciousness, is that they take perception for granted. So they want consciousness to be explained in terms of something in addition to perception. But perception itself is the core of consciousness.

    Many folk declare themselves to be anti-Cartesian, presumably because the disagree with dualism. But they swallow whole the Cartesian view that perception is passive. And they thereby ignore the creativity of perception.

  29. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS:
    Does Feser’s Thomism count as qualitative science?

    Stage 1 of Feser’s Argument from Motion
    Stage 1 has 15 steps!

    BTW, I picture these bloggers as much older when I listen to the podcast.

    Much older.

    IMO Feser’s Thomism counts as metaphysical philosophy and not as qualitative science.

    Goethe wanted to refrain from speculating about what was behind the natural world that he studied. He was concerned with careful observation and concentrating deeply on these observations in order to understand the essence of the beings he was studying.

    Making an argument for the existence of God is a perfectly legitimate pastime, but it is not science.

  30. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert,

    I fully agree that it is difficult to convey what we mean because of the ambiguity of language. I will reply with more substance when I find the time.

  31. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert:

    CharlieM: Does our knowledge of the outer world come purely from our senses or do we have built in knowledge over and above what our senses reveal to us?

    It depends on what you mean by “knowledge”, what you mean by “our senses” and what you mean by “built in”.

    Knowledge is that which we gain through experience. Our senses are the means by which we become conscious of the world. By built in knowledge I mean a priori knowledge as in Kant.

    The idea that knowledge = justified true belief — that’s an absurdity.

    All knowledge is built-in.That’s the nature of knowledge.But it can be built-in because we built it in ourselves.We should not take “built-in” as implying “innate”.

    So we agree that we do not have a priori knowledge, knowledge is gained through experience?

    Our sense experience gives us an unconnected chaos which we learn to comprehend by making connections through the act of thinking. Thinking allows us to learn by experience. It is not the act of seeing a tennis player serving that tells us that on leaving her hand, the ball as she bounces it, is not going to carry on moving downwards through the ground, or when she throws it up it is not going to carry on its upward journey and disappear out of sight. It is through experience, memory and thinking that we grasp the reality of the processes involved. We make connections from the chaos received through our senses.

    There’s a lot of double-speak about “our senses”.Part of the time, people write about our senses as if that term means sensory receptors, such as retinal cells.But, at other times, the write as if “our senses” means the full result of perception.There’s a failure to understand the creativity of our perceptual systems.One of the reasons that people have trouble understanding consciousness, is that they take perception for granted.So they want consciousness to be explained in terms of something in addition to perception.But perception itself is the core of consciousness.

    I agree that perceiving allows us to become conscious. But knowledge comes from forming concepts and grasping ideas. A toddler may have may have better functioning sense organs than an old man but the man will have gained much more knowledge than the toddler.

    Many folk declare themselves to be anti-Cartesian, presumably because the disagree with dualism.But they swallow whole the Cartesian view that perception is passive.And they thereby ignore the creativity of perception.

    We never at any time experience pure, passive perception, it is always accompanied by our acts of feeling and/or thinking so that is another point we agree upon.

    In short:

    Through the act of knowing the world around us reveals itself to be much more than that which is provided through our senses. We make connections through reason. If we received reality in its totality through the senses then we would have no need to acquire knowledge. We would at once know in the perceiving.

    The mistake is in thinking that we have the world of our perceptions (outer world) and our concepts and ideas are copies of this world (in our heads). In truth the ideas are that part of the world which we apprehend by inner means but this does not make them any less objective. In thinking we perceive ideas.

    Sense perception gives us the particulars, inner perception gives us the general, and the combination of the two gives us reality.

  32. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “I have always believed in Christ but have never found any branch of official Christianity to be consistent in their beliefs or interpretation of what it means to follow Christ.”

    Sounds like an excuse to not look further. Since you cannot follow Christ, it is others who are to blame. A living model of such ‘consistency’ in your life you surely must be CharlieM in order to to think that.

    Have you been to Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch or Constantinople/Istanbul? Comfortable USAmerican & British ‘sanitised protestant Christianity’ isn’t the best role model here, imho. ‘Make us great again,’ they seem to be saying to themselves for encouragement. Other churches don’t self-estrange this way. You might consider digging deeper than that.

    “if, after giving it some thought, I cannot accept as true any one part of a creed or teaching then I would be a hypocrite to embrace it.”

    Yes, that’s an obvious ‘if.’ The same holds, ‘if’ you’ve accepted Steiner’s ‘spiritual science’ approach & his Nestorianism, then you are willfully embracing heresy. If so, you would be a hypocrite to call yourself a Christian, according to the teachings of the “holy catholic & apostolic church’ that you reject in your own mind & heart. Do you disagree? Sometimes personal decisions regarding important teachings can make a big difference. Do you know what ‘anathema’ means?

    I’ve never met a Steiner follower who doesn’t have some highly individualised, often heretical views. They’re ‘creative’ indeed, but also usually highly imbalanced with their fetished views, some of which, admittedly, are half-right & seem to be appealing on the surface.

    If your admitted “departure from accepted beliefs or standard” is blamed on others, e.g. on ‘institutional religion’ like many people nowadays do, then I suggest checking to see if yourself might be the problem, rather than blaming others or churches around you.

    “I cannot accept that God retains absolute power.”

    Omnipotence is difficult to fathom, especially by finite & limited minds as we creatures are. I hope you see how gentleness with heresy isn’t a wise strategy. Expunge it. Cleanse it. Lift it up in prayer as you fight your own demons. Get rid of it in yourself, otherwise, perhaps over many years, it will tear you apart & you are not strong enough to mend it. Good wishes, CharlieM.

    That’s it for me on this thread.

  33. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Knowledge is that which we gain through experience. Our senses are the means by which we become conscious of the world. By built in knowledge I mean a priori knowledge as in Kant.

    I’m okay with that, provided that a priori is not taken to imply innate.

    So we agree that we do not have a priori knowledge, knowledge is gained through experience?

    I don’t agree with that. At least as I use the terms, mathematical knowledge is a priori but still gained through experience. It is a priori, because the truth of mathematical statements does not depend on experience. But the knowledge of mathematics does still depend on experience.

    Our sense experience gives us an unconnected chaos which we learn to comprehend by making connections through the act of thinking.

    It’s not just thinking. It requires organizing the world in such a way as to make sense experience less chaotic.

  34. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Good wishes, CharlieM.

    That’s it for me on this thread.

    As you do not wish to continue with this discussion, I won’t prolong things by responding to your questions.

    And good wishes to you too. No doubt we’ll bump into each other in other threads 🙂

  35. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert:

    So we agree that we do not have a priori knowledge, knowledge is gained through experience?

    I don’t agree with that. At least as I use the terms, mathematical knowledge is a priori but still gained through experience. It is a priori, because the truth of mathematical statements does not depend on experience. But the knowledge of mathematics does still depend on experience.

    Mathematical truths may be present without the need for us to experience them. But is our knowledge of them attained without having been experienced in some way by us? And would you say that mathematical truths are objective?

    It’s not just thinking. It requires organizing the world in such a way as to make sense experience less chaotic.

    How do we organise the world without the use of thought? Is it instinctive? Can we carry out an act of will without thinking about it in some way?

  36. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM,

    Thanks. After that, I think I’ll take another break from TSZ. It’s a sink on time & there really is very little inspiration to find here among skeptics, atheists & agnostics.

    Qualitative ‘science’ is something I’ve done quite a bit (now moving back towards quantitative again), yet that isn’t what most people here are interested in or wish to speak about, it seems. And frankly, I don’t find that particular dichotomy very helpful in terms of science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse.

    You prefer Steiner? Try Solovyev or Sorokin. At least they didn’t invite heresy upon themselves as they knew better & could find their place within the Tradition & Company, rather than intentionally pushing away from it to the margins & sometimes over them & out of the picture.

    Good wishes seeking a way out of heterodoxy. The statement “I have always believed in Christ but…” isn’t encouraging as framed. Hanging on to power for yourself isn’t going to go over well for you when it’s all over, if you must answer to your Creator. Excuses about institutions aren’t going to fly very far. Individualistic faith is a licence to be happy with your own pollution. Become part of the social solution, rather than individualising the problem as if valiantly avoiding hypocrisy that you don’t seem to understand on the inside.

  37. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Mathematical truths may be present without the need for us to experience them.

    Agreed. And that is all that I take a priori to imply.

    But is our knowledge of them attained without having been experienced in some way by us?

    Our knowledge comes from using the concepts, and that is a kind of experiencing.

    And would you say that mathematical truths are objective?

    I see them as objective. But people disagree on the meaning of “objective”.

    How do we organise the world without the use of thought?

    Our perceptual systems do pretty well, in ways that are prior to thought. Yes, we then use thought to extend beyond what perception provides.

    Can we carry out an act of will without thinking about it in some way?

    That depends on what you mean by “act of will”.

    Primitive organisms — too primitive for us to consider them capable of thought — are behaving pragmatically. We would probably not consider such behavings to be acts of will. But we also should not consider them to be purely mechanical.

  38. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    CharlieM,

    Thanks. After that, I think I’ll take another break from TSZ. It’s a sink on time & there really is very little inspiration to find here among skeptics, atheists & agnostics.

    Qualitative ‘science’ is something I’ve done quite a bit (now moving back towards quantitative again), yet that isn’t what most people here are interested in or wish to speak about, it seems. And frankly, I don’t find that particular dichotomy very helpful in terms of science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse.

    You prefer Steiner? Try Solovyev or Sorokin. At least they didn’t invite heresy upon themselves as they knew better & could find their place within the Tradition & Company, rather than intentionally pushing away from it to the margins & sometimes over them & out of the picture.

    Good wishes seeking a way out of heterodoxy. The statement “I have always believed in Christ but…” isn’t encouraging as framed. Hanging on to power for yourself isn’t going to go over well for you when it’s all over, if you must answer to your Creator. Excuses about institutions aren’t going to fly very far. Individualistic faith is a licence to be happy with your own pollution. Become part of the social solution, rather than individualising the problem as if valiantly avoiding hypocrisy that you don’t seem to understand on the inside.

    I’ve had a look at Solovyev and Sorokin and I’ll look some more when I get the time.

    Here’s a couple of quotes:

    Pitirim A. Sorokin:

    Among others, N.F. Fedorov (a little-known Russian thinker who notably influenced Dostoievsky and Leo Tolstoi), and under his influence V.Solovyev, have especially well developed and analyzed this ontological “energy” of love. They have shown that only through love, in cooperation with truth and beauty, can man rise from the level of a moral biological organism to that of a conqueror of death and master of inorganic, organic, and sociocultural forces; that only in this way can man realize his truly devine nature and become “God-Man” (Bogotschelovek); that only thus can man fulfill his mission and redeem his historical existence; that only through such a real immortality are all the other values of humanity preserved, instead of becoming meaningless and perishing in vain.

    In this ontological conception, according to Solovyev, love is the power that counteracts the dark evil that permeates the world of raw nature…
    To love anything is to act freely, without compulsion or coercion.

    Steiner:

    The evil was the sub-soil into which the light of love was able to shine; but it is love that enables us to grasp the meaning and place of evil in the world. The darkness has enabled the light to come into our ken. Only a man who is free in the real sense can become a true Christian.

    Possibly they are aiming for the same goal but following different paths.

    I think we should each follow our own path as individuals. Good luck wherever your path leads you.

  39. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: Primitive organisms — too primitive for us to consider them capable of thought — are behaving pragmatically. We would probably not consider such behavings to be acts of will. But we also should not consider them to be purely mechanical.

    I think that these organisms are acting in conformity to a greater whole. They are equivalent to the individual cells in our bodies. These cells are full of purposeful activity because they belong to the greater whole which in our case is the individual, physical organism. The difference is that the physical bodies that these “primitive” organisms are a part of are not so condensed that we can see them as belonging to one unit as we do higher organisms such as ourselves. The organisms they belong to are much more diffuse in space.

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