The Goethean method as a complement to conventional science

Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

As translated from Maurice Merleau-Ponty in  L’Œil et l’Esprit

 

“Science manipulates things and gives up living in them. It makes its own limited models of things; operating upon these indices or variables to effect whatever transformations are permitted by their definition, it comes face to face with the real world only at rare intervals. Science is and always will be that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking whose fundamental bias is to treat everything as though it were an object-in-general – as though it meant nothing to us and yet was predestined for our own use.”

 

Introducing the Goethean method brings back the connection between the investigator and the subject under investigation.

This review by Bo Dahlin investigates science education in relation to a phenomenological approach.

An example of the two approaches to investigation can be seen in the contrast between Newton and Goethe in their methods of studying colour. There has been much debate about the rights and wrongs of these approaches with sides being taken. Would it not be more fruitful to look at both, not as competing theories but as two different ways of looking at the phenomena. Newton is trying to exclude the investigator from the processes while Goethe is trying to understand how things stand in relation to the investigator. They are not investigating the same thing. Goethe was studying colour while Newton was studying optics.

With the advances in knowledge brought about by modern science we can now apply the Goethean participatory method to the world around us with added wonder. By including the pole of Goethean science, modern science is rescued from its one-sidedness and we get science which is unified in its polarity.

104 thoughts on “The Goethean method as a complement to conventional science

  1. Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

    That’s what might be said by somebody who does not understand science. Your quote from Merleau-Ponty does not seem to support that summary statement.

    What you describe as a contrast between Newton and Goethe seems better described as a contrast between the study of the physics of light and the study of the psychology of human perception. One wonders how you could see those as the same.

  2. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

    Neil Rickert: That’s what might be said by somebody who does not understand science.

    No doubt there is some truth in what you say but t would help if you were a bit more specific if I am going to take your criticism seriously.

    Neil Rickert: Your quote from Merleau-Ponty does not seem to support that summary statement.

    From the quote he says science, “comes face to face with the real world only at rare intervals”.

    It might be said that it is in danger of becoming a study of artificial abstractions, touching reality only at brief intervals.

    Neil Rickert: What you describe as a contrast between Newton and Goethe seems better described as a contrast between the study of the physics of light and the study of the psychology of human perception. One wonders how you could see those as the same.

    As I said, “They are not investigating the same thing”.

  3. CharlieM: It might be said that it is in danger of becoming a study of artificial abstractions, touching reality only at brief intervals.

    This is where it misunderstands science.

    Yes, science uses abstractions. But scientists spend a lot of effort with testing how well those abstraction work.

    Ohm’s law: V=IR
    Newton’s law: f=ma

    Mathematically, these are identical — just different labels for parts of the same equation. Yet the physics that comes from one is very different from the physics that comes from the other, because scientists do care very much about the real world.

    As I said, “They are not investigating the same thing”.

    Scientists investigate both — just not the same scientists.

  4. Perhaps CharlieM, or anyone else, could give a really clear example of how the Goethean method has/could/may give a better result than the current one.

    It gets a bit annoying to hear the philosophers moaning about the limitations of that dastardly materialistic science but not proposing any improvements.

    So, give us a really really specific example of where we are going wrong, and how we could do better.

  5. I can’t help thinking of a quote attributed to Einstein, that “everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler.” Sure, Occam’s razor applies in physics, where the goal is to identify variables that contribute little or nothing to a system, so as to test systems in a form as simple as possible (but “no simpler” meaning do not omit necessary variables.)

    The question then becomes, are human perceptions, interpretations, understandings, and thought processes generally, susceptible to this sort of reductionism? Human grasp of complex systems may well have too many variables, each of them dynamic and changing and all of them impossible to omit, to model effectively.

    Like econometric models, calibrated against past patterns and trends and fiendishly complicated, which nonetheless do a rather poor job of predicting the market. The field is full of books about “the coming recession” published just before boom times, and vice versa. But these models have thousands of variables, and if we omit any one of them, we can’t even reliably “predict” the past.

    Even something as “simple” as consciousness is regarded as a hard problem. Maybe science is simply the wrong tool to explain why 78% of Republicans still think the 2020 election was stolen, despite demonstrably no evidence. Could science explain why even when a flagrantly partisan “audit” can do no better than ratify the election’s accuracy, nobody’s mind is changed? Looking at brute facts is clearly barking up the wrong tree.

  6. Flint:
    are human … thought processes … susceptible to this sort of reductionism?

    They are currently not susceptible, but not because we have angels in our brain, or something, but because of limitations of our knowledge of the brain.

    But I dont think we will ever understand the Republican brain.

  7. Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

    … says the guy who claimed there was such a thing as the “etheric life principle” and “astral bodies” in a previous thread. So far I am seeing only one person severed from reality.

    As for your other complaints about modern science: If those “artificial abstractions” were really severed from reality, they couldn’t be succesfully used as predictive tools. Yet many of them are. If the outcomes of controlled experiments were strongly dependent on the researcher they couldn’t be reproduced thus not subjected to independent verificiation. Yet that is key to the success of the empirical method. If the modern scientific method were devoid of wonder and its treatment of topics meant nothing to us, people wouldn’t be interested and unwilling to learn about it in popular scientific media. Yet they do.

    +1 for graham2’s request to show an example where the Goethean method adds something that wasn’t already there.

  8. Flint:

    “Even something as “simple” as consciousness is regarded as a hard problem. Maybe science is simply the wrong tool to explain why 78% of Republicans still think the 2020 election was stolen, despite demonstrably no evidence. Could science explain why even when a flagrantly partisan “audit” can do no better than ratify the election’s accuracy, nobody’s mind is changed? Looking at brute facts is clearly barking up the wrong tree.”

    Well if the ‘scientists’ here agree with Flint and the 22% of republicans that believe the 2020 election was hunky-dory, then science is doomed I say, doomed!

    How does that work? Well, simple. The audit showed that Biden in fact picked more votes and Trump lost more votes. But, but, the ‘scientists’ have no interest in the 50K+ invalid votes (that without doubt will be shown to have been for Biden. It didnt happen because the democrats said so.

    Its just another in a long string of head fakes like the climate change fraud and the COVID-19 plandemic.

    Climate dooomdayers told us emphatically that we have 12 ( now 10) years left to survive if of course we are lucky enough to avoid vaccine pusher’s killer CO\/id remdisivir/ventilator one-two punch protocol.

    78% of republicans have been following the small ‘s’ science which Jovan Pulitzer has brought to the table. He’s been killing it with the science. Its glorious and sweet revenge. Goliath’s Big Science vs. David small ‘s’ science.

    In the context of this article and Flint’s post, I’d say the overwhelming circumstantial evidence in favor of mass fraud is complemented nicely with Pulitzer’s forensic analysis; two completely different ways of arriving at the same conclusion.

  9. But I dont think we will ever understand the Republican brain.

    True statement! The republican brain is too large and complex to understand. So we should all stick to mapping the simpler liberal brain. It is just a straight forward study in hyper-projection.

    When a liberal accuses you of racism, know that they dont give a shit about racism . It just that you are actually doing something that is bringing races together which will defeat their attempts to control the black population’s political opinions and voting habits. Cant have that now.

    If a liberal claims you are an anti-vaxxer, know that they dont give a shit about vaccines. They dont like that you figured out Vitamins D3, K, C +zinc and Quercetin flowing through your veins provides a high degree of protection and Ivermectin and HCQ actually do work well and are cheap to boot. You are preventing them from wielding control over society and the boost it gives their stock portfolio.

    If a liberal accuses you of climate denial , know that they don’t give a shit about climate change. Like vaccines, they love the control it gives them to tell you how to live and it also just happens to be a convenient cover for their attempts to manipulate the energy markets in their favor.

    the simple yet devious liberal brain.

  10. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: It might be said that it is in danger of becoming a study of artificial abstractions, touching reality only at brief intervals.

    Neil Rickert: This is where it misunderstands science.

    Yes, science uses abstractions. But scientists spend a lot of effort with testing how well those abstraction work.

    Ohm’s law: V=IR
    Newton’s law: f=ma

    Mathematically, these are identical — just different labels for parts of the same equation. Yet the physics that comes from one is very different from the physics that comes from the other, because scientists do care very much about the real world.

    Yes, and these equations are perfectly adequate and justified when applied to machines. But these type of equations are insufficient for an understanding of living systems. Mechanical force and voltage are both considered to be pointwise forces and in this way they are amenable to measurement and calculation. But with living systems peripheral forces cannot be ignored. And the process of measurement that is so suitable for pointwise forces cannot be applied to peripheral forces. This can be seen if we compare Euclidian geometry with projective geometry. The former uses measurements and number, they cannot be thus applied to the latter.

    CharlieM: As I said, “They are not investigating the same thing”.

    Neil Rickert: Scientists investigate both — just not the same scientists.

    Yes, they specialize.

    And any decent scientist no matter what they are studying will be involved in using the Goethean method even if they do not call it such.

  11. graham2:
    Perhaps CharlieM, or anyone else, could give a really clear example of how the Goethean method has/could/may give a better result than the current one.

    It gets a bit annoying to hear the philosophers moaning about the limitations of that dastardly materialistic science but not proposing any improvements.

    So, give us a really really specific example of where we are going wrong, and how we could do better.

    I haven’t accused any scientist of doing things wrong.

    From this article, Specialized Science:

    As the body of scientific knowledge in a discipline increases, there is pressure for specialization. Fields spawn subfields that then become entities in themselves that promote further specialization. The process by which scientists join specialized groups has remarkable similarities to the guild system of the middle ages. The advantages of specialization of science include efficiency, the establishment of normative standards, and the potential for greater rigor in experimental research. However, specialization also carries risks of monopoly, monotony, and isolation.

    What gives these people the right to moan about science in this way? 🙂

  12. Flint:
    I can’t help thinking of a quote attributed to Einstein, that “everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler.” Sure, Occam’s razor applies in physics, where the goal is to identify variables that contribute little or nothing to a system, so as to test systems in a form as simple as possible (but “no simpler” meaning do not omit necessary variables.)

    The question then becomes, are human perceptions, interpretations, understandings, and thought processes generally, susceptible to this sort of reductionism? Human grasp of complex systems may well have too many variables, each of them dynamic and changing and all of them impossible to omit, to model effectively.

    Like econometric models, calibrated against past patterns and trends and fiendishly complicated, which nonetheless do a rather poor job of predicting the market. The field is full of books about “the coming recession” published just before boom times, and vice versa. But these models have thousands of variables, and if we omit any one of them, we can’t even reliably “predict” the past.

    Even something as “simple” as consciousness is regarded as a hard problem. Maybe science is simply the wrong tool to explain why 78% of Republicans still think the 2020 election was stolen, despite demonstrably no evidence. Could science explain why even when a flagrantly partisan “audit” can do no better than ratify the election’s accuracy, nobody’s mind is changed? Looking at brute facts is clearly barking up the wrong tree.

    I agree with you that, even if it were possible, it won’t suffice to reduce everything to numbers which can be manipulated by mathematics.

    But the scientific method of very careful observation and unbiased thinking about these observations is, I think, the best way of gaining an understanding. This should transcend the practice of measuring all that can be measured.

    What Goethe would object to is the setting up of artificial conditions and making generalizations from this. He accused Newton of doing this and I have no doubt that he would have criticized Richard Lenski’s LTEE for doing the same thing.

  13. CharlieM: But the scientific method of very careful observation and unbiased thinking about these observations is, I think, the best way of gaining an understanding. This should transcend the practice of measuring all that can be measured.

    The second sentence there completely contradicts the first.

    My overall summary: woomeisters, such as Goethe and CharlieM should specialize in poetry and let the scientific minded folk specialize in science.

  14. Neil Rickert: My overall summary: woomeisters, such as Goethe and CharlieM should specialize in poetry and let the scientific minded folk specialize in science.

    That’s a little harsh on the man (Goethe I mean, not CharlieM). Goethe developed some important insights into the concept of homology, which is still used in modern evolutionary biology.

    It is the legacy of Rudolf Steiner that I doubt left us anything useful whatsoever, at least from a scientific point of view.

  15. Corneel:
    CharlieM: Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

    Corneel: … says the guy who claimed there was such a thing as the “etheric life principle” and “astral bodies” in a previous thread. So far I am seeing only one person severed from reality.

    If we study the differences between living and non-living systems, that would be an observation of the etheric life-principle, and likewise if we study the differences between vegetative living systems and systems which reveal their inner feelings then this is the ‘astral body’. You don’t have to add any additional meaning to these terms than this.

    Corneel: As for your other complaints about modern science: If those “artificial abstractions” were really severed from reality, they couldn’t be succesfully used as predictive tools. Yet many of them are. If the outcomes of controlled experiments were strongly dependent on the researcher they couldn’t be reproduced thus not subjected to independent verificiation. Yet that is key to the success of the empirical method. If the modern scientific method were devoid of wonder and its treatment of topics meant nothing to us, people wouldn’t be interested and unwilling to learn about it in popular scientific media. Yet they do.

    I haven’t complained about modern science apart from saying that it can become a bit one-sided. I was pointing out possible dangers in the same way that the writers of the article I linked to did.

    CharlieM: +1 for graham2’s request to show an example where the Goethean method adds something that wasn’t already there.

    The Goethean method includes self transformation. I learn a lot about myself by studying nature and I learn a lot about nature by studying myself.

    People get quite defensive when they think that something they hold dear is being criticized. I don’t think I’ve said anything harsh about science. It is there for individuals to use and abuse as they see fit.

  16. Neil Rickert: What you describe as a contrast between Newton and Goethe seems better described as a contrast between the study of the physics of light and the study of the psychology of human perception. One wonders how you could see those as the same.

    Except that Goethe is describing the psychology of human perception from the first-person standpoint — he isn’t doing a third-person or objectively valid psychology, but describing the changes in his own conscious perception.

    So it would be more precise to say that what Goethe is doing isn’t psychology but phenomenology: the careful description of the contents and structures of consciousness.

    This is what Merleau-Ponty was doing as well in >Eye and Mind and throughout his texts.

    In my view, the great error is to say that phenomenology is “Goethean science”. It is not any kind of science, at all, and calling it one is sheer confusion.

  17. Neil Rickert,

    Thanks. There’s also a question here about whether phenomenology can contribute anything to science, or if scientists can safely ignore phenomenology.

    I know that in philosophy of cognitive science, there’s been some interest in what’s called “neurophenomenology”. The idea is to fine-tune the correlations between consciousness and its neural correlates by (for example) running patients through an MRI while doing a mental imagery task, then training them in phenomenology, and then recording them while they do phenomenology of their mental imagery.

    I don’t think the results have been conclusive, but still promising.

    I don’t know of anything like that for any other science.

    In biology, the phenomenology of life developed by Hans Jonas has certainly influenced some biologists to think in a more holistic way, but that’s inconclusive.

    Phenomenology doesn’t have a monopoly on holism, and in fact I think the forms of holistic thought developed independent of phenomenology are more useful to scientists.

  18. Kantian Naturalist: There’s also a question here about whether phenomenology can contribute anything to science, or if scientists can safely ignore phenomenology.

    I’m inclined to think that phenomenology is a mistake.

    We don’t start with phenomena, and use those to find what the world is like. Rather, we interact with the world. We push and shove, and the world pushes and shoves back. The phenomena arise from our experience of interacting. So they aren’t the starting point that phenomenology takes them to be.

  19. graham2:
    Is Steve a plant ?

    Alas, internet posts don’t convey tone of voice or facial expression, but my guess is that Steve is engaging in some heavy-handed satire. I think this because he has dragged out every knuckle-dragger trope in the OANN playbook. Especially the technique of arguing by silly unsupported assertion.

  20. Flint: Alas, internet posts don’t convey tone of voice or facial expression, but my guess is that Steve is engaging in some heavy-handed satire. I think this because he has dragged out every knuckle-dragger trope in the OANN playbook. Especially the technique of arguing by silly unsupported assertion.

    Well, living in Taiwan I woudn’t know what OANN is reporting.

    But you all are clever enough not to take the bait.

    1. A racist is living in the white house. What? You want a racist comparison matrix done between Biden and Trump? Doable.

    2. Ivermectin as a first choice therapeutic- being successful in 30% of the world population kills the ‘we need 98% of the population vaccinated before we can return to normal” narrative. You’ve got Ivermectin, HCQ, and regeneron all working against this lie of a narrative.

    3. Climate change – the name tells you all you need to know. Its all elaborate storytelling, similar to the evolution narrative.

    4. 2020 election fraud – Arizona is not recounting ballots. I repeat , Arizona is not recounting ballots. They have AUDITED the ballots and shown numerous instances of fraud. ’nuff said.

    This is not rocket science. If it walks like a duck……..

    psst. I sound more like Breitbart and TGP.

  21. Alan Fox:
    graham2: Is Steve a plant ?

    Alan Fox: No, I think he’s an animal.

    Plant, animal, human; he is all of these creatures. 🙂

    His plant nature was most prominent when as an implanted embryo he drew his sustenance from his mother just as a plant draws sustenance from Mother Earth.

    His animal nature came to the fore when after birth he began to make his inner feelings known vocally.

    We are aware of his human nature because, through his posts,. we can read examples of his rational thinking.

  22. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: But the scientific method of very careful observation and unbiased thinking about these observations is, I think, the best way of gaining an understanding. This should transcend the practice of measuring all that can be measured.

    Neil Rickert: The second sentence there completely contradicts the first.

    For me to know my wife it takes so much more than knowing her weight, height, bra size, shoe size, BMI, hair colour. If I had knowledge of all such statistics that can be measured, would that be sufficient in your opinion?

    Neil Rickert: My overall summary: woomeisters, such as Goethe and CharlieM should specialize in poetry and let the scientific minded folk specialize in science.

    I’ve worked with machinery since I was old enough to wield a spanner, so I see myself as more of a grease monkey than a woomanizer. 🙂

    For a bit of light entertainment here is a tale from my childhood.

    My engineering career began early. I lived next door to my best friend. We were beginning to outgrow our tricycles so we came up with the idea of combining them to make a pedal powered go kart. A boy along the street had one and we were in awe. With a vague plan in our heads and a vision of the glorious machine which would be the envy of the neighbourhood, we set to work.

    We raided my father’s tool store for hack saws, hammers, and anything else that might be useful. We got as far as the dismantling process which gave us our go kart in kit form. Then it all went wrong. We had a big argument and he stormed off home taking his pile of scrap metal with him. And that was the end of our dream in being the proud joint owners of a go kart, and the end of our trikes.

  23. Kantian Naturalist:
    Neil Rickert: What you describe as a contrast between Newton and Goethe seems better described as a contrast between the study of the physics of light and the study of the psychology of human perception. One wonders how you could see those as the same.

    Kantian Naturalist: Except that Goethe is describing the psychology of human perception from the first-person standpoint — he isn’t doing a third-person or objectively valid psychology, but describing the changes in his own conscious perception.

    Have you read his “Theory of Colours”? Have you tried any of his colour experiments to see if they are objectively valid?

    Kantian Naturalist: So it would be more precise to say that what Goethe is doing isn’t psychology but phenomenology: the careful description of the contents and structures of consciousness.

    This is what Merleau-Ponty was doing as well in >Eye and Mind and throughout his texts.

    In my view, the great error is to say that phenomenology is “Goethean science”. It is not any kind of science, at all, and calling it one is sheer confusion.

    I agree it is an error to say that phenomenology is “Goethean science”. That would be like saying naturalism is reductionism. Phenomenology is not Goethean science, but Goethean science is a systematic rational phenomenology.

    Here Prof. Peter Heusser gives a talk on the question, “do colours and sounds exist in the world?” I ragard Heusser as a scientist who uses the Goethean method.

  24. CharlieM: For me to know my wife it takes so much more than knowing her weight, height, bra size, shoe size, BMI, hair colour. If I had knowledge of all such statistics that can be measured, would that be sufficient in your opinion?

    You miss the point entirely.

    To know your wife is to measure her — not with ruler and such, but with your ways of judging her. Yes, weight and bra size are not something that you see as very important, compared to the other things that you judge.

    You cannot dismiss all measurement, because some are not important to you. For science, measurement is important. But the scientists are going around measuring everything. They mostly measure what is important for what they are studying.

    Then it all went wrong.

    Maybe you failed to do the important measurements.

  25. graham2:
    Charliem: Could you provide some real-world example of the The Goethean method in action ?

    The work of the person I mentioned above is an example. See here

  26. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: For me to know my wife it takes so much more than knowing her weight, height, bra size, shoe size, BMI, hair colour. If I had knowledge of all such statistics that can be measured, would that be sufficient in your opinion?

    You miss the point entirely

    Then I will qualify my use of the word “measurement” here by changing it to “mathematical measurement”, which is what I meant in the first place. Does that help?

  27. CharlieM: Does that help?

    Maybe it helps you. But measurement is not mathematical. It might make use of some mathematical methods, but that does not make it mathematical.

    Measurement is just a method of judgement. And you make judgements all of the time, whether or not you call them measurements.

  28. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: Does that help?

    Maybe it helps you. But measurement is not mathematical. It might make use of some mathematical methods, but that does not make it mathematical.

    Measurement is just a method of judgement. And you make judgements all of the time, whether or not you call them measurements.

    But I was using it in the mathematical sense. How about if I wrote “this should transcend the practice of expressing in numbers all that can be expressed”, instead of “this should transcend the practice of measuring all that can be measured”.

  29. CharlieM: But I was using it in the mathematical sense.

    There isn’t any mathematical sense of measuring.

    Measuring is just a way of judging and describing. We can give names such as “red” and “blue”. Or we can give names such as “3” and “4”.

    Science does a lot without using numbers. Biologists don’t normally use numeric digits to name their species. And if we were to use numbers for species names, we still would not be able to put those into differential equations. The world doesn’t work that way.

    What makes the difference in physics, is that the physicists assign their numeric names in a highly systematic manner.

    Perhaps I should put CharlieM down as being opposed to using systematic methods, and favoring more chaotic approaches to everything.

  30. Steve:
    [Omit litany of the usual lies]
    This is not rocket science. If it walks like a duck……..

    If it didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second time either.

  31. CharlieM: Have you read his “Theory of Colours”? Have you tried any of his colour experiments to see if they are objectively valid?

    I have read it, and I’ve tried his experiments myself. They certainly reveal something important about how we perceive color. But how that’s related to the physics of light or the physiology of color processing in the retina and brain is another story entirely.

  32. CharlieM: If we study the differences between living and non-living systems, that would be an observation of the etheric life-principle, and likewise if we study the differences between vegetative living systems and systems which reveal their inner feelings then this is the ‘astral body’. You don’t have to add any additional meaning to these terms than this.

    Given your previous statements, I doubt that you take “the etheric life-principle” to be merely a descriptive term for the difference between living and non-living things. During several previous discussions you have clearly expressed vitalist ideas, ascribing “life-force” and “inner activity” to organic molecules. Such a thing does not exist.

    CharlieM: I haven’t complained about modern science apart from saying that it can become a bit one-sided. I was pointing out possible dangers in the same way that the writers of the article I linked to did.

    I can spot several gripes, but let’s focus on the one you bring up here. You say that modern science has become fragmented with people specializing into narrow fields of expertise. You claim that the Goethean method is capable of unifying science again “in its polarity”. I strongly doubt that. Specialization is a consequence of the total body of knowledge having grown too large to master in a single scientific career. There is nothing in the “Goethean method” that will change that, as far as I can tell.

    CharlieM: Me: +1 for graham2’s request to show an example where the Goethean method adds something that wasn’t already there.

    Charlie: The Goethean method includes self transformation. I learn a lot about myself by studying nature and I learn a lot about nature by studying myself.

    That is wonderful, but unless you have recently published on that, it has nothing to do with science.

    CharlieM: People get quite defensive when they think that something they hold dear is being criticized. I don’t think I’ve said anything harsh about science. It is there for individuals to use and abuse as they see fit.

    You misunderstand: In science you are supposed to criticize each other’s work. The hypotheses and ideas that are able to withstand such skeptical scrutiny are the ones that win out and eventually become established theory.
    Now, you are promoting “Goethean science” by suggesting something is lacking from “conventional science” which “Goethean science” can provide. That’s fine, but I haven’t seen you produce anything that convinced me that is actually true.

  33. CharlieM: This is my last try at this … can you provide an actual, real-world, specific example of the Goethean method in action, ie: actually being applied to produce results.
    Please dont just give a link to a person, try to make the small effort to describe some activity in your own words.

  34. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: But I was using it in the mathematical sense.

    Neil Rickert: There isn’t any mathematical sense of measuring.

    What!

    Measuring quantities does not involve arithmetic?

    Neil Rickert: Measuring is just a way of judging and describing. We can give names such as “red” and “blue”. Or we can give names such as “3” and “4”.

    How does one measure a protein gradient or the wavelength of light without using numbers?

    Neil Rickert: Science does a lot without using numbers. Biologists don’t normally use numeric digits to name their species. And if we were to use numbers for species names, we still would not be able to put those into differential equations. The world doesn’t work that way.

    What makes the difference in physics, is that the physicists assign their numeric names in a highly systematic manner.

    Perhaps I should put CharlieM down as being opposed to using systematic methods, and favoring more chaotic approaches to everything

    I am not saying that all scientific endeavours involves mathematics, only that it plays a big part and most papers I read contain some mathematics. Mathematics is an essential tool of science and in order to apply it quantities have to be measured.

  35. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM: Have you read his “Theory of Colours”? Have you tried any of his colour experiments to see if they are objectively valid?

    Kantian Naturalist: I have read it, and I’ve tried his experiments myself.

    Good. So you will be familiar with the dark spectrum which is the polar opposite of Newton’s light spectrum.

    Kantian Naturalist: They certainly reveal something important about how we perceive color. But how that’s related to the physics of light or the physiology of color processing in the retina and brain is another story entirely.

    Here is a video which relates to this.

    “Green conference: Olaf L. Müller – Green Shadows, Goethe, Ritter and Ørsted on the Polarity of Green and Purple”

    In the video he explains how all of Newton’s experiments with the light spectrum can be replicated exactly with the dark spectrum. He tells us how Newton was interested in astronomy and so he set up his experiments to study beams of light on a dark background conforming to what he could see through his telescope.. If Newton had concentrated more on biology than astronomy then he would have been used to seeing small dark bodies on a light background by looking through a microscope. Things might then have turned out differently.

    In Newton’s day it was easy to set up an experiment in a totally darkened room but not so easy to obtain a totally light filled room. The upshot is that he ignored an important half of the possible experiments.

    Müller goes on to say that it is now possible to set up accurate experiments using light backgrounds and these confirm the polarity ignored by Newton.

    Below is an image of the comparisons obtained when measuring the temperatures in both spectrums. He had a bet with a physicist about the findings of this experiment which he won. The dark spectrum produced results which were equal and opposite to the light spectrum.

    So it can be argued legitimately that rather than darkness being just the absence of light, dark rays produced coloured effects when transmitted through a prism.

  36. Corneel:
    CharlieM: If we study the differences between living and non-living systems, that would be an observation of the etheric life-principle, and likewise if we study the differences between vegetative living systems and systems which reveal their inner feelings then this is the ‘astral body’. You don’t have to add any additional meaning to these terms than this.

    Corneel: Given your previous statements, I doubt that you take “the etheric life-principle” to be merely a descriptive term for the difference between living and non-living things. During several previous discussions you have clearly expressed vitalist ideas, ascribing “life-force” and “inner activity” to organic molecules. Such a thing does not exist.

    Dynein “motors” walk along microtubules carrying their cargoes. Where is the external control of this movement?

    CharlieM: I haven’t complained about modern science apart from saying that it can become a bit one-sided. I was pointing out possible dangers in the same way that the writers of the article I linked to did.

    Corneel: I can spot several gripes, but let’s focus on the one you bring up here. You say that modern science has become fragmented with people specializing into narrow fields of expertise. You claim that the Goethean method is capable of unifying science again “in its polarity”. I strongly doubt that. Specialization is a consequence of the total body of knowledge having grown too large to master in a single scientific career. There is nothing in the “Goethean method” that will change that, as far as I can tell.

    Can you see the difference between “has become” and “in danger of becoming”?

    The Goethean method seeks to understand through detailed observation in preference to gathering vast amounts of information. It isn’t necessary to give up conventional scientific practices in order to follow the Goethean method. I’d think that any decent scientist will be using Goethean practices in some way whether instinctively or deliberately.

    CharlieM: Me: +1 for graham2’s request to show an example where the Goethean method adds something that wasn’t already there.

    Charlie: The Goethean method includes self transformation. I learn a lot about myself by studying nature and I learn a lot about nature by studying myself.

    Corneel: That is wonderful, but unless you have recently published on that, it has nothing to do with science.

    So in order to use the scientific method I am required to become a scientist and start publishing papers? So there is one advantage of the Goethean method, it can be practiced by anyone. 🙂

    CharlieM: People get quite defensive when they think that something they hold dear is being criticized. I don’t think I’ve said anything harsh about science. It is there for individuals to use and abuse as they see fit.

    Corneel: You misunderstand: In science you are supposed to criticize each other’s work. The hypotheses and ideas that are able to withstand such skeptical scrutiny are the ones that win out and eventually become established theory.
    Now, you are promoting “Goethean science” by suggesting something is lacking from “conventional science” which “Goethean science” can provide. That’s fine, but I haven’t seen you produce anything that convinced me that is actually true.

    What about me following Goethe’s lead in my criticism of the Newtonian understanding of light and colour?

  37. CharlieM: Mathematics is an essential tool of science and in order to apply it quantities have to be measured.

    But you mostly misunderstand that.

    Measurement itself is not mathematics. Measurement is observation.

    Mathematics is very useful in science, because science is systematic. Numbers are used, because numbers provide a systematic way of naming what we observe. And if the systematic structure of the names matches the systematic nature of the observations, then mathematics will be useful.

    Maybe you had a bad experience with mathematics and that is confusing you. However, it still the systematic nature of science that is important here. And you criticize the use of mathematics because you do not understand that.

    Should science be done systematically? Or should it be done haphazardly? That’s really what you should be asking.

  38. Corneel:
    CharlieM explains to Neil how the scientific method can be improved: For me to know my wife it takes so much more than knowing her weight, height, bra size, shoe size, BMI, hair colour. If I had knowledge of all such statistics that can be measured, would that be sufficient in your opinion?

    Corneel: Are you doing science when you get to know your wife intimately? Do you mind if your peers try to reproduce your findings?

    Very amusing. But if they were to try to love and respect her then physical intimacy would be out of the question.

    The Goethean method has to include a love and respect for the world and nature.

  39. graham2:
    CharlieM: This is my last try at this … can you provide an actual, real-world, specific example of the Goethean method in action, ie: actually being applied to produce results.
    Please dont just give a link to a person, try to make the small effort to describe some activity in your own words.

    Charlie?

  40. CharlieM: So it can be argued legitimately that rather than darkness being just the absence of light, dark rays produced coloured effects when transmitted through a prism.

    Except that physicists have discovered photons but not “skotons“.

  41. Kantian Naturalist,

    And Dear Prof Olaf L. Müller promised to generate purple photons within two years…
    It’s been very quiet.
    Charlie’s musings on optics are, in a word, wrong. On the other hand, I am enjoying his “No True Scotsman” bit — claiming that any decent scientist is in fact practicing Goethean science, even if they don’t realize it.
    graham2 is right to insist upon an example of the practical benefits of the Goethean approach.
    This too, has been rather quiet.

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