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.

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

  1. CharlieM: Because a triangle is a two dimensional plane figure and the perimeter has just one dimension.

    You have thus shown that your concept of triangle is different from mine. This supports my view that concepts are personal.

    Case closed.

  2. Corneel:
    CharlieM: And this ego you recognize as having more permanence than the substance of your body?

    Corneel: You mean do I believe in an afterlife? No, I don’t.

    No, I don’t mean that. The material substance of your skin will be entirely replaced every few weeks. This is an example of what I mean.

    CharlieM: Rain is a process within the water cycle, within the effects of gravity, within the earth’s atmosphere. Without the water cycle, gravity, and the atmosphere rainfall would not exist.

    Corneel: Where is the rain, Charlie? What is it that is using gravity, water, thermodynamics and weather systems to make stuff wet?

    CharlieM: Raindrops are individual volumes of water which also exist within these things. So what is the difference between these two things? Rain is a collective term and raindrops are the particulars but both consist of the same substance, water.

    Corneel: Rain does not “consist of water”. Raindrops consist of water, but gravity, the “states of matter”, thermodynamics and all the other stuff you said was involved do not.

    From Wikipedia

    Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth.

    And snow is solid ice in the form of crystals

    CharlieM: Brain processes and consciousness cannot be compared in the same way because unlike rain and raindrops, there are not of the same substance. Electrical activity is amenable to measurement consciousness is not.

    Corneel: It is perfectly fine to compare consciousness to rain for making the point I was trying to make. Rain does not consist of water, digestion does not consist of stomach acids and consciousness does not consist of electrical activity.

    Stomach acids are used in the process of digestion, and brain activity is used in being conscious. But, let’s agree, digestion is not the same thing as stomach acids and consciousness is not the same thing as electrical activity

  3. Corneel:
    CharlieM: Personally my children had all the vaccinations that were recommended by the health service.
    Corneel: Very good. So I suspected, which is why made the argument.

    But are anthroposophists not relying on Steiner’s endorsement of the Goethean method when they make their medical decisions?

    I would hope anthroposophists are individuals who make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances.

  4. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: Because a triangle is a two dimensional plane figure and the perimeter has just one dimension.

    Neil Rickert: You have thus shown that your concept of triangle is different from mine. This supports my view that concepts are personal.

    Case closed.

    But you haven’t described your concept of a triangle to me. You have given me partial information. You have told me that it has a perimeter, that’s a start. We both agree on that. I said it is an area enclosed by three non-colinear points. Do you agree with that?

  5. CharlieM,

    He doesn’t need to, Charlie. You have just demonstrated that your concept of triangle differs from his (and my) concept of triangle. Thus such concepts are personal.
    I was going to try for the same result by asking you whether Glasgow was inside the Bermuda Triangle but, with your help, Neil got the to QED much quicker.

  6. CharlieM: The material substance of your skin will be entirely replaced every few weeks. This is an example of what I mean.

    Ah, I see. Yes I believe my ego has more permanence than the individual cells that make up a tissue.

    CharlieM: Me: Rain does not “consist of water”. Raindrops consist of water, but gravity, the “states of matter”, thermodynamics and all the other stuff you said was involved do not.

    Charlie: From Wikipedia

    Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth.

    And snow is solid ice in the form of crystals

    From some random bloke on the internet:

    “The concept of rain involves more than just water drops. It includes states of matter, the water cycle, gravity, thermodynamics, surface tension, the atmosphere, weather systems among other things.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Are you really just talking about the collection of water drops in a shower? Did I dream that at some point you were trying to make a case that rain is a process?

    CharlieM: Stomach acids are used in the process of digestion, and brain activity is used in being conscious. But, let’s agree, digestion is not the same thing as stomach acids and consciousness is not the same thing as electrical activity

    Certainly not, but let’s also agree that we do not need to postulate some mysterious “digestion soul” to explain digestion. Why would conscious thought be any different?

  7. CharlieM: I would hope anthroposophists are individuals who make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances.

    They *may* have been a wee bit influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner. Do you think this is relevant to the subject at hand?

  8. Rudolf Steiner:“What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can do no more than draw our attention to the fact that we have concepts. ”

    Neil Rickert: “For me, concepts are not describable.”

    Hey, you agree with Steiner. That doesn’t look good; would you like to retract your statement? 🙂

  9. DNA_Jock: CharlieM,

    He doesn’t need to, Charlie. You have just demonstrated that your concept of triangle differs from his (and my) concept of triangle. Thus such concepts are personal.
    I was going to try for the same result by asking you whether Glasgow was inside the Bermuda Triangle but, with your help, Neil got the to QED much quicker

    The two of you may not be able to put into words what your concept of a triangle is, but you should be able to give me some examples of how your thoughts that are exclusive to triangles differ from my thoughts. Or can you not think of anything that is exclusive to triangles?

    If someone told you that a ship had disappeared within the Bermuda triangle, you might ask, “Where about in the Bermuda triangle?”. If they replied, “In the Firth of Clyde”, you might reply, “But that’s not in the Bermuda triangle”.

    You have questioned their logic, but you haven’t asked them what they mean by “triangle”. Why not? Because you already hold the concept, “triangle” so you have no need to question it? Even if they describe the area to you and you reply, “That’s not a triangle” This belies the fact that you know the concept.

  10. CharlieM: The two of you may not be able to put into words what your concept of a triangle is, but you should be able to give me some examples of how your thoughts that are exclusive to triangles differ from my thoughts.

    I’ll try:

    …If someone told you that a ship had disappeared within the Bermuda triangle, you might ask, “Where about in the Bermuda triangle?”. If they replied, “In the Firth of Clyde”, you might reply, “But that’s not in the Bermuda triangle”.

    ROFL. Thank you for demonstrating our point yet again. No, I would NOT reply “that’s not in the Bermuda Triangle”. Rather, I would reply, “Oooh, I see what you did there! Very cute!”

    You have questioned their logic, but you haven’t asked them what they mean by “triangle”. Why not? Because you already hold the concept, “triangle” so you have no need to question it? Even if they describe the area to you and you reply, “That’s not a triangle” This belies the fact that you know the concept.

    Completely and utterly wrong. I have recognized that they are using a mathematician’s concept of ‘triangle’, and not Charlie’s concept of triangle. QED.

  11. Corneel:
    CharlieM: The material substance of your skin will be entirely replaced every few weeks. This is an example of what I mean.

    Corneel: Ah, I see. Yes I believe my ego has more permanence than the individual cells that make up a tissue.

    So your ego which is non material has more permanence than your material cells?

    Me (Corneel): Rain does not “consist of water”. Raindrops consist of water, but gravity, the “states of matter”, thermodynamics and all the other stuff you said was involved do not.

    Charlie: From Wikipedia

    Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth.

    And snow is solid ice in the form of crystals

    Corneel: From some random bloke on the internet:

    (CharlieM)“The concept of rain involves more than just water drops. It includes states of matter, the water cycle, gravity, thermodynamics, surface tension, the atmosphere, weather systems among other things.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Are you really just talking about the collection of water drops in a shower? Did I dream that at some point you were trying to make a case that rain is a process?

    I can conceive of rain as a transient process in which water in the form of droplets falls towards the earth under gravity.

    CharlieM: Stomach acids are used in the process of digestion, and brain activity is used in being conscious. But, let’s agree, digestion is not the same thing as stomach acids and consciousness is not the same thing as electrical activity

    Corneel: Certainly not, but let’s also agree that we do not need to postulate some mysterious “digestion soul” to explain digestion. Why would conscious thought be any different?

    It’s not. Consciousness is our direct experience. It is because we are conscious that we can explain digestion and brain processes. Through consciousness we become conscious of ourselves and the world. You would not say that through digestion we digest ourselves and the world.

    Isn’t this fun? 🙂

  12. Corneel:
    CharlieM: I would hope anthroposophists are individuals who make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances.

    Corneel: They *may* have been a wee bit influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner. Do you think this is relevant to the subject at hand?

    It may have some relevance but working in the spirit of Goethean science does not revolve around whether or not someone makes a decision to accept vaccination.

  13. DNA_Jock:
    CharlieM: The two of you may not be able to put into words what your concept of a triangle is, but you should be able to give me some examples of how your thoughts that are exclusive to triangles differ from my thoughts.

    DNA_Jock: I’ll try:

    Good 🙂

    CharlieM: …If someone told you that a ship had disappeared within the Bermuda triangle, you might ask, “Where about in the Bermuda triangle?”. If they replied, “In the Firth of Clyde”, you might reply, “But that’s not in the Bermuda triangle”.

    DNA_Jock: ROFL. Thank you for demonstrating our point yet again. No, I would NOT reply “that’s not in the Bermuda Triangle”. Rather, I would reply, “Oooh, I see what you did there! Very cute!”

    The point is that you know what they mean by “triangle”.

    CharlieM: You have questioned their logic, but you haven’t asked them what they mean by “triangle”. Why not? Because you already hold the concept, “triangle” so you have no need to question it? Even if they describe the area to you and you reply, “That’s not a triangle” This belies the fact that you know the concept.

    DNA_Jock: Completely and utterly wrong. I have recognized that they are using a mathematician’s concept of ‘triangle’, and not Charlie’s concept of triangle. QED.

    When I defined a triangle in terms of points and planes, these are mathematical concepts are they not? Do you have any concept of what a regular tetrahedron is?

  14. As Plato was among the first to realize, geometry does not and cannot tell us anything about what concepts are and how they work, because geometry tempts us into thinking of concepts as a very weird kind of object — an object “seen with the mind” rather than one “seen with the eyes.” Despite the prominence of this view in Plato’s more commonly read texts, he came to realize that it must be abandoned.

    I don’t know why you guys are talking about triangles, but doing so definitely won’t help clarify any philosophical issues.

  15. Kantian Naturalist:
    As Plato was among the first to realize, geometry does not and cannot tell us anything about what concepts are and how they work, because geometry tempts us into thinking of concepts as a very weird kind of object — an object “seen with the mind” rather than one “seen with the eyes.” Despite the prominence of this view in Plato’s more commonly read texts, he came to realize that it must be abandoned.

    I don’t know why you guys are talking about triangles, but doing so definitely won’t help clarify any philosophical issues.

    The concept seen with the mind does not belong to the mind. In the case of external objects it belongs to the object seen with the eyes.

    The triangle is simple and easy to comprehend.

  16. CharlieM: The concept seen with the mind does not belong to the mind. In the case of external objects it belongs to the object seen with the eyes.

    Concepts aren’t objects, and treating them as a weird kind of object leads to endless paradoxes — which is why Plato abandoned the theory of forms and why Aristotle completely transformed it.

    The triangle is simple and easy to comprehend.

    I don’t see how a geometrical concept like “triangle” is any easier to comprehend then empirical concepts like “apple” or ethical concepts like “justice”.

  17. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM: The concept seen with the mind does not belong to the mind. In the case of external objects it belongs to the object seen with the eyes.

    Kantian Naturalist: Concepts aren’t objects, and treating them as a weird kind of object leads to endless paradoxes — which is why Plato abandoned the theory of forms and why Aristotle completely transformed it.

    Who said anything about concepts being objects?

    CharlieM The triangle is simple and easy to comprehend.

    Kantian Naturalist: I don’t see how a geometrical concept like “triangle” is any easier to comprehend then empirical concepts like “apple” or ethical concepts like “justice”.

    It is easier because there are far less related concepts to consider. The concept “apple” as in the fruit would be meaningless without concepts which are essential to its existence. Concepts such as organism, colour, plant, tree, growth, skin, and flesh.

  18. CharlieM: Who said anything about concepts being objects?

    If one considers the difference between concepts and sensible objects to be that the latter are seen with the eyes but the former are seen with the mind, then one is considering concepts as a weird sort of object.

    It is easier because there are far less related concepts to consider. The concept “apple” as in the fruit would be meaningless without concepts which are essential to its existence. Concepts such as organism, colour, plant, tree, growth, skin, and flesh.

    It is correct that a full and complete articulation of the concept apple would involve articulating the inferential connections between apple, organism, colour, plant, tree, growth, skin, flesh, and many more besides.

    But in just the same way, a full and complete articulation of the concept triangle would involve articulating the inferential connections between triangle and angle, line, straight, plane, point, edge, vertex, polygon and many more besides.

    So I still don’t see why you think that “triangle” is any easier than “apple”.

  19. CharlieM: So your ego which is non material has more permanence than your material cells?

    I think I specified individual cells quite clearly. My ego relies on there being physical cells present, so it won’t outlast all of them.

    But seeing how you use “non material”, do you concede that all your talk about the soul is immaterial?

    CharlieM: I can conceive of rain as a transient process in which water in the form of droplets falls towards the earth under gravity.

    As far as I know transient processes do not consist of water.

    Rain laying in puddles on the side walk consists of water, but rain as in “the descent of rain drops” does not. You are using a lot of equivocation, I might add.

    CharlieM: Consciousness is our direct experience. It is because we are conscious that we can explain digestion and brain processes. Through consciousness we become conscious of ourselves and the world. You would not say that through digestion we digest ourselves and the world.

    Yes, we tend to use different words to convey different meanings. That is the most convenient way to communicate.

    So what is your point?

  20. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM: Who said anything about concepts being objects?

    Kantian Naturalist: If one considers the difference between concepts and sensible objects to be that the latter are seen with the eyes but the former are seen with the mind, then one is considering concepts as a weird sort of object.

    Our eyes allow us to have a visual experience, the world of external objects is revealed to us through them. Through thinking we grasp concepts and ideas. I am using metaphors of sight and touch to convey a process by which we become receptive to the essence of things. As we say, “I see” when we mean, “I understand”. I can say I know what an apple is or I know what a triangle is, not just because I have been taught to associate a particular word with a particular perception, but because I have an understanding of its essence.

    CharlieM: It is easier because there are far less related concepts to consider. The concept “apple” as in the fruit would be meaningless without concepts which are essential to its existence. Concepts such as organism, colour, plant, tree, growth, skin, and flesh.

    Kantian Naturalist: It is correct that a full and complete articulation of the concept apple would involve articulating the inferential connections between apple, organism, colour, plant, tree, growth, skin, flesh, and many more besides.

    But in just the same way, a full and complete articulation of the concept triangle would involve articulating the inferential connections between triangle and angle, line, straight, plane, point, edge, vertex, polygon and many more besides.

    Good point! Although most of these (including “point”) are mathematical abstractions.

    Kantian Naturalist: So I still don’t see why you think that “triangle” is any easier than “apple”.

    I have been asking myself that too. I think it has to do with the fact that when someone can point and say that is a triangle or that is an apple they have the concept of the outer appearance of these objects. To gain a fuller concept takes a dedicated commitment. Goethe had to make a lot of effort before the idea of plant-life was revealed to him.

    In order to study triangles in the same way, I can do that from the comfort of my own mind with perhaps some drawing equipment. Goethe was not as lazy as I am! 🙂 Another point that springs to mind, the essence of a triangle is as a geometrical figure. It is legitimate to treat an apple as a geometrical figure but it will not get near to its full reality.

    I gave a definition of a triangle in terms of points on a plane. I could just as easily have given it in terms of intersecting lines. And this brings in the concept of polarity.

  21. CharlieM: It may have some relevance but working in the spirit of Goethean science does not revolve around whether or not someone makes a decision to accept vaccination.

    So how do we evaluate the Goethean method, if not by considering the actions of the people who adopted it?

  22. Corneel
    :CharlieM: So your ego which is non material has more permanence than your material cells?

    Corneel: I think I specified individual cells quite clearly. My ego relies on there being physical cells present, so it won’t outlast all of them.

    You’re welcome too that belief.

    Corneel: But seeing how you use “non material”, do you concede that all your talk about the soul is immaterial?

    Yes, its immaterial in the same way that your thoughts and feelings are immaterial. 🙂

    CharlieM: I can conceive of rain as a transient process in which water in the form of droplets falls towards the earth under gravity.

    Corneel: As far as I know transient processes do not consist of water.

    Rain laying in puddles on the side walk consists of water, but rain as in “the descent of rain drops” does not. You are using a lot of equivocation, I might add.

    If you look out of your window and it’s raining do you understand that atmospheric water vapour has condensed into a liquid and is falling to the earth.

    CharlieM: Consciousness is our direct experience. It is because we are conscious that we can explain digestion and brain processes. Through consciousness we become conscious of ourselves and the world. You would not say that through digestion we digest ourselves and the world.

    Corneel: Yes, we tend to use different words to convey different meanings. That is the most convenient way to communicate.

    So what is your point?

    You become conscious of an external world (and your body also belongs to this external world. How much of this perceived world is objective and how much is a product of your mind? For instance do you think colours are on the objects or in your mind?

  23. Corneel:
    CharlieM: It may have some relevance but working in the spirit of Goethean science does not revolve around whether or not someone makes a decision to accept vaccination.

    Corneel: So how do we evaluate the Goethean method, if not by considering the actions of the people who adopted it?

    By going straight to the work of the man himself without having to rely on second hand information.

    The subject of anthroposophists and vaccination has to do with them following Steiner, not Goethe.

  24. Henri Bortoft gave a lecture on holistic science in 2010. The video is one and a half hours long but lesson one is slightly over half an hour long.

    He traces its development through phenomenology and its relation to Darwinism in which was experiencing renewed popularity in the 1950s.

    Brian Goodwin began to argue against the prevailing view that evolution was driven by external influences such as natural selection. He proposed that the main driver of evolution came from within organisms. Self organisation is an example of internal non-linear dynamics influencing the development of organisms. Bortoft explains how there were three aspects to Goodwin’s ideas on holistic science, morphogenetic fields, non-linear dynamic systems and his interest in Goethe’s methods.

    He then goes on to explain that there is no such thing as science. There are the various sciences which all work in their own way. There was an attempt to reduce all sciences to physics but it just didn’t work. He believes the way in which any science will advance is through creative disagreement.

    So I would encourage those here who wish to argue against Goethean science to keep up the good work 🙂

  25. CharlieM: You’re welcome too that belief.

    Sure and you are entitled to your beliefs. But that is besides the point. The point was that since neither of us can present empirical evidence to further this issue, “soul” and “spirit” have no place in scientific explanations. They belong to the realm of religion and spirituality.

    CharlieM: If you look out of your window and it’s raining do you understand that atmospheric water vapour has condensed into a liquid and is falling to the earth.

    Duh! Now, do YOU understand that without your brain cells firing you are incapable of thought? So does that mean that the substance of thinking and consciousness is electrical impulses?

    CharlieM: You become conscious of an external world (and your body also belongs to this external world. How much of this perceived world is objective and how much is a product of your mind? For instance do you think colours are on the objects or in your mind?

    You believe that your own body belongs to the external world? That’s an interesting perspective.

    Colours are the way that I become aware of different wavelenghts of light. And why not; It has to be presented some way. For example, people with chromesthesia associate visual sensations, such as colours, with certain sounds. In a sense. they are “seeing” sounds. Does that mean that it is impossible for them to objectively establish that this sound is present?

  26. CharlieM: Me: So how do we evaluate the Goethean method, if not by considering the actions of the people who adopted it?

    Charlie: By going straight to the work of the man himself without having to rely on second hand information.

    If only the actions of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe could demonstrate the virtue of the Goethean method, then why do other people need to adopt it?

    CharlieM: The subject of anthroposophists and vaccination has to do with them following Steiner, not Goethe.

    Well, the reason you are pushing the Goethean method here is because of you following Steiner, not Goethe. Fair game, I’d say.

  27. Corneel:
    CharlieM: You’re welcome too that belief.

    Corneel: Sure and you are entitled to your beliefs. But that is besides the point. The point was that since neither of us can present empirical evidence to further this issue, “soul” and “spirit” have no place in scientific explanations. They belong to the realm of religion and spirituality.

    The ego exists while body cells come and go. What scientific evidence do you have that entitles you to claim that the ego ceases to exist when the last of your body cells have died?

    CharlieM: If you look out of your window and it’s raining do you understand that atmospheric water vapour has condensed into a liquid and is falling to the earth.

    Corneel: Duh! Now, do YOU understand that without your brain cells firing you are incapable of thought? So does that mean that the substance of thinking and consciousness is electrical impulses?

    How can you be so sure that without my brain function I am incapable of thought? You are just asserting that it is so.

    CharlieM: You become conscious of an external world (and your body also belongs to this external world. How much of this perceived world is objective and how much is a product of your mind? For instance do you think colours are on the objects or in your mind?

    Corneel: You believe that your own body belongs to the external world? That’s an interesting perspective.

    Do you believe that the external world is composed of the elements of the periodic table? Do you believe that your body consists of the elements of the periodic table? Would you say that the body of CharlieM is part of the external world but this is not so for the body of Corneel? If the body of Corneel is not a part of the external word then what is it part of?

    Corneel: Colours are the way that I become aware of different wavelenghts of light. And why not; It has to be presented some way. For example, people with chromesthesia associate visual sensations, such as colours, with certain sounds. In a sense. they are “seeing” sounds. Does that mean that it is impossible for them to objectively establish that this sound is present?

    Synesthetes have a wider perceptual experience than most people. If people with chromesthesia are having a colour experience along with hearing a tone then this colour experience is not being produced by the “waves” of light.

    It is a commonly held belief that the Pythagorean “Music of the Spheres” was purely symbolic, but what if it was an actual experience?

    You do not become aware of wavelengths of light. You become aware of colours and you attach the concept of wave-like movements to your experience of colours. Goethe chose to remain within the experience and studied that without speculating on what lay behind the experience.

  28. Corneel:
    Me (Corneel): So how do we evaluate the Goethean method, if not by considering the actions of the people who adopted it?

    Charlie: By going straight to the work of the man himself without having to rely on second hand information.

    Corneel: If only the actions of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe could demonstrate the virtue of the Goethean method, then why do other people need to adopt it?

    Nobody needs to adopt it, but some people might wish to adopt it.

    Why do you think courts dismiss second hand evidence as hearsay, only allowing the direct evidence of witnesses? By gaining direct knowledge of the works of Goethe a person is in a better position to judge what others have to say on the subject.

    CharlieM: The subject of anthroposophists and vaccination has to do with them following Steiner, not Goethe.

    Corneel: Well, the reason you are pushing the Goethean method here is because of you following Steiner, not Goethe. Fair game, I’d say

    A person can follow what Descartes says about geometry without abandoning Euclid. It would be idiotic to exclude either. Descartes made further advances on the works of Euclid and both men are relevant if anyone wants to study geometry. Steiner built on the works of Goethe.

    And nobody should take what either of these men said as gospel.

  29. CharlieM: What scientific evidence do you have that entitles you to claim that the ego ceases to exist when the last of your body cells have died?

    I never claimed to have any. You probably missed that I said “neither of us”.

    CharlieM: How can you be so sure that without my brain function I am incapable of thought? You are just asserting that it is so.

    People without any brain function are not usually on the talkative side. That’s why medical doctors tend to declare them dead. So let’s agree that, while we are alive, we need brain function to have thoughts.

    CharlieM: Would you say that the body of CharlieM is part of the external world but this is not so for the body of Corneel?

    That is precisely my point of view.

    CharlieM: If the body of Corneel is not a part of the external word then what is it part of?

    It is part of me. We must be using this word in a different way. You probably take the external world to be everything but your thoughts and feelings, right?

    CharlieM: You do not become aware of wavelengths of light. You become aware of colours and you attach the concept of wave-like movements to your experience of colours. Goethe chose to remain within the experience and studied that without speculating on what lay behind the experience.

    That is why we learned about electromagnetic radiation through Newton’s method, not Goethe’s.

  30. CharlieM: Why do you think courts dismiss second hand evidence as hearsay, only allowing the direct evidence of witnesses? By gaining direct knowledge of the works of Goethe a person is in a better position to judge what others have to say on the subject.

    CharlieM: A person can follow what Descartes says about geometry without abandoning Euclid. It would be idiotic to exclude either. Descartes made further advances on the works of Euclid and both men are relevant if anyone wants to study geometry.

    Am I allowed to study the work of other mathematicians using Eucledian and/or Cartesian geometry to evaluate their respective usefulness or is that considered “second hand information”? Would it be admissible in court?

    This is all getting very amusing, I must say.

  31. Corneel:
    CharlieM: What scientific evidence do you have that entitles you to claim that the ego ceases to exist when the last of your body cells have died?

    Corneel: I never claimed to have any. You probably missed that I said “neither of us”.

    I’ll go along with that. Neither of us can demonstrate that the ego perishes with the body.

    CharlieM: How can you be so sure that without my brain function I am incapable of thought? You are just asserting that it is so.

    Corneel: People without any brain function are not usually on the talkative side. That’s why medical doctors tend to declare them dead. So let’s agree that, while we are alive, we need brain function to have thoughts.

    Let’s not agree. Neural activity is necessary for speech so obviously the brain is a vital component of talking. Also thinking which depends on the senses or idle daydreaming requires brain activity. But pure thinking has no need of neural activity.

    CharlieM: Would you say that the body of CharlieM is part of the external world but this is not so for the body of Corneel?

    Corneel: That is precisely my point of view.

    Would you say that you possess a body?

    CharlieM: If the body of Corneel is not a part of the external word then what is it part of?

    Corneel: It is part of me. We must be using this word in a different way. You probably take the external world to be everything but your thoughts and feelings, right?

    I would say that my body is something which I possess more intimately than any other material entity.

    CharlieM: You do not become aware of wavelengths of light. You become aware of colours and you attach the concept of wave-like movements to your experience of colours. Goethe chose to remain within the experience and studied that without speculating on what lay behind the experience.

    Corneel: That is why we learned about electromagnetic radiation through Newton’s method, not Goethe’s.

    Newton believed light to be particulate and not wavelike.

    Newton believed “white” light to be composite, Goethe believed it to be a unity. Newton thought that the prism split light into its component parts, Goethe thought that the colours were just the effect of the light being weakened by passing through matter. Looking at light through darkness produces colours at the red/yellow end of the spectrum and looking at darkness through light produces colours at the blue/violet end.

    Light and darkness are polar opposites and colours are produced through their interaction.

  32. Corneel:
    CharlieM: Why do you think courts dismiss second hand evidence as hearsay, only allowing the direct evidence of witnesses? By gaining direct knowledge of the works of Goethe a person is in a better position to judge what others have to say on the subject.

    CharlieM: A person can follow what Descartes says about geometry without abandoning Euclid. It would be idiotic to exclude either. Descartes made further advances on the works of Euclid and both men are relevant if anyone wants to study geometry.

    Corneel: Am I allowed to study the work of other mathematicians using Eucledian and/or Cartesian geometry to evaluate their respective usefulness or is that considered “second hand information”? Would it be admissible in court?

    This is all getting very amusing, I must say.

    If you know the works of all of the mathematicians involved then making comparisons would not be second hand information. You would not be engaging in hearsay you would be judging relationships.

  33. CharlieM: I’ll go along with that. Neither of us can demonstrate that the ego perishes with the body.

    This is so silly.

    “The ego” is an abstraction. Abstract entities don’t really exist, so they don’t really cease to exist. This is all much ado about nothing.

  34. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM: I’ll go along with that. Neither of us can demonstrate that the ego perishes with the body.

    Neil Rickert. This is so silly.

    “The ego” is an abstraction. Abstract entities don’t really exist, so they don’t really cease to exist. This is all much ado about nothing.

    It’s so disappointing to find out I have been interacting with abstractions all this time. 🙁

    “I” have a “mind” to complain but “I” suspect that no”body” will listen. 🙂

  35. CharlieM: I’ll go along with that. Neither of us can demonstrate that the ego perishes with the body.

    … nor that it persists after death. That is why the soul can be no part of scientific explanations.

    CharlieM: Neural activity is necessary for speech so obviously the brain is a vital component of talking. Also thinking which depends on the senses or idle daydreaming requires brain activity. But pure thinking has no need of neural activity.

    Luckily, this is something you could present empirical evidence for. So, which neuroimaging studies demonstrated that “pure thinking” proceeds without neural activity?

    CharlieM: Would you say that you possess a body?

    I’d say that I have a magnificent body, yes.

    CharlieM: I would say that my body is something which I possess more intimately than any other material entity.

    Then you are a mind-body dualist. I am not. I cannot persist without my body: My body is me.

    CharlieM: Light and darkness are polar opposites and colours are produced through their interaction.

    We discussed that previously, but your arguments didn’t really convince me. Phenomenology simply is not the most useful approach when one is studying nature through empirical methods.

  36. CharlieM: If you know the works of all of the mathematicians involved then making comparisons would not be second hand information. You would not be engaging in hearsay you would be judging relationships.

    So let me get this straight: You are saying that the only way to reliably judge the virtue of a methodology is to become part of its circle of practitioners?

    In this light, do you perhaps wish to retract some of the statements you made about “conventional” science in your OP?

  37. Corneel:
    CharlieM: I’ll go along with that. Neither of us can demonstrate that the ego perishes with the body.

    Corneel:… nor that it persists after death. That is why the soul can be no part of scientific explanations.

    I agree it cannot be part of explanations given by conventional science. But the Goethean method as furthered by Steiner opens the door to investigating the soul and the spirit. This is a major aspect of the complimentary nature of Goethean science. Conventional science should, justifiably, remain silent on these things, But Goethean science, in the spirit of scientific investigation can legitimately study this area.

    CharlieM: Neural activity is necessary for speech so obviously the brain is a vital component of talking. Also thinking which depends on the senses or idle daydreaming requires brain activity. But pure thinking has no need of neural activity.

    Corneel: Luckily, this is something you could present empirical evidence for. So, which neuroimaging studies demonstrated that “pure thinking” proceeds without neural activity?

    This study confirms that here the mind is affecting the brain.

    Results also show that meditation practice induces functional and structural brain modifications in expert meditators, especially in areas involved in self-referential processes such as self-awareness and self-regulation. These results demonstrate that a biological substrate underlies the positive pervasive effect of meditation practice and suggest that meditation techniques could be adopted in clinical populations and to prevent disease.

    To obtain reliable results of brain states during pure thinking activity would be nigh on impossible. Even studying experienced meditators is full of difficulties as this extensive study shows.

    Our findings call into question the assumption that research which is based on subjects meditating in a supine position during an fMRI/MRI procedure is truly representative of those subjects’ normative experience. Specifically, our data highlight the real possibility that the neural imaging process itself (high dB noise, lying down, and possible claustrophobia) may noticeably influence the neurophysiological activity being measured and thereby confound the results of the study. Under these circumstances, we question how researchers can be confident that they are looking at brain activity normally associated with meditation under non-laboratory conditions.

    It’s a bit like trying to get a pound of flesh without spilling any blood.

    CharlieM: Would you say that you possess a body?

    Corneel: I’d say that I have a magnificent body, yes.

    I’m sure you do. 🙂 But I notice you didn’t say “I am a magnificent body”.

    CharlieM: I would say that my body is something which I possess more intimately than any other material entity.

    Corneel: Then you are a mind-body dualist. I am not. I cannot persist without my body: My body is me.

    No I’d say I am a pluralist/monist. CharlieM basically consists of physical (matter), etheric (life), astral (sentience) and ego (self-awareness).

    And it is these four principles that are being referred to in the lines of the Lord’s prayer:

    Give us this day our daily bread (matter).
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us (life).
    And lead us not into temptation (sentience);
    but deliver us from evil (self-awareness).

    I am a unity consisting of these four aspects. And I could not have this mind of mine without these four principles.

    CharlieM: Light and darkness are polar opposites and colours are produced through their interaction.

    Corneel: We discussed that previously, but your arguments didn’t really convince me. Phenomenology simply is not the most useful approach when one is studying nature through empirical methods

    Would you agree that Newton set up an artificial experiment and in doing so virtually ignored the dark spectrum?

  38. Corneel:
    CharlieM: If you know the works of all of the mathematicians involved then making comparisons would not be second hand information. You would not be engaging in hearsay you would be judging relationships.

    Corneel: So let me get this straight: You are saying that the only way to reliably judge the virtue of a methodology is to become part of its circle of practitioners?

    In this light, do you perhaps wish to retract some of the statements you made about “conventional” science in your OP?

    I own a few prisms and I’ve done a few experiments with them. So do I qualify as one of Newton’s fellow practicioners? Likewise I have practiced Euclidean geometry and I have worked with Cartesian coordinates.

  39. CharlieM: […] the Goethean method as furthered by Steiner opens the door to investigating the soul and the spirit. This is a major aspect of the complimentary nature of Goethean science. Conventional science should, justifiably, remain silent on these things, But Goethean science, in the spirit of scientific investigation can legitimately study this area.

    That is indeed the synthesis between science and spirituality that Rudolf Steiner envisioned. Let me know when this research program becomes productive. So far it hasn’t.

    CharlieM: This study confirms that here the mind is affecting the brain.

    … which strongly suggests that thinking is a physical activity.

    CharlieM: To obtain reliable results of brain states during pure thinking activity would be nigh on impossible. Even studying experienced meditators is full of difficulties as this extensive study shows.

    That is unfortunate. And you were so close to proving that pure thinking requires no brain activity.

    CharlieM: I notice you didn’t say “I am a magnificent body”.

    Yeah, I thought that was your point. Frozen expressions aside, my mind has never been separated from my body yet.

    CharlieM: Would you agree that Newton set up an artificial experiment and in doing so virtually ignored the dark spectrum?

    Yes, that is the point of most experiments: to isolate the phenomenon you are interested in and remove disturbances by nuissance factors. The subtracted primaries in the inverted spectrum are certainly very cool, but history vindicated Newton’s description of the underlying physics, not Goethe’s.

    Once again: darkness is the absence of light: There is no such thing as skotons.

  40. CharlieM: I own a few prisms and I’ve done a few experiments with them. So do I qualify as one of Newton’s fellow practicioners? Likewise I have practiced Euclidean geometry and I have worked with Cartesian coordinates.

    I dunno Charlie. Do you really want to be a member of an exclusive club?

  41. Corneel:
    CharlieM: […] the Goethean method as furthered by Steiner opens the door to investigating the soul and the spirit. This is a major aspect of the complimentary nature of Goethean science. Conventional science should, justifiably, remain silent on these things, But Goethean science, in the spirit of scientific investigation can legitimately study this area.

    Corneel: That is indeed the synthesis between science and spirituality that Rudolf Steiner envisioned. Let me know when this research program becomes productive. So far it hasn’t.

    You can only speak for yourself in that regard.

    CharlieM: This study confirms that here the mind is affecting the brain.

    Corneel:… which strongly suggests that thinking is a physical activity.

    Thinking is not a physical activity, but the vast majority of thinking that goes on is accompanied by physical activity. Sense perception involves physical activity, willing involves physical activity. The former from the world towards me and the latter radiating out from me to the world.

    CharlieM: To obtain reliable results of brain states during pure thinking activity would be nigh on impossible. Even studying experienced meditators is full of difficulties as this extensive study shows.

    Corneel: That is unfortunate. And you were so close to proving that pure thinking requires no brain activity.

    In keeping with the scientific method, I’m not trying to prove anything.

    CharlieM: I notice you didn’t say “I am a magnificent body”.

    Corneel: Yeah, I thought that was your point. Frozen expressions aside, my mind has never been separated from my body yet.

    And I wish you many more years of this intimate connection between these two wonderful possessions you, like me, are privileged to have.

    CharlieM: Would you agree that Newton set up an artificial experiment and in doing so virtually ignored the dark spectrum?

    Corneel: Yes, that is the point of most experiments: to isolate the phenomenon you are interested in and remove disturbances by nuissance factors. The subtracted primaries in the inverted spectrum are certainly very cool, but history vindicated Newton’s description of the underlying physics, not Goethe’s.

    But darkness was essential for Newtons experiments, so why did he virtually ignore the dark spectrum?

    Corneel: Once again: darkness is the absence of light: There is no such thing as skotons

    This shows a misunderstanding of the nature of the polarity between darkness and light. A photon is just the minimum amount of light that can radiate outwards. But darkness has an enclosing peripheral quality. Light shines out whereas darkness closes in.

    You might think of a photon as a fundamental particle but it is no particle. It is a mathematical expression for the minimum quantity of light, it is pointwise. As darkness is peripheral and planewise it is “pointless” to deal with it as if it were light.

  42. CharlieM: You can only speak for yourself in that regard.

    Judging from the feedback you received so far, I *believe* this sentiment is more widely shared.

    CharlieM: Thinking is not a physical activity, but the vast majority of thinking that goes on is accompanied by physical activity. Sense perception involves physical activity, willing involves physical activity.

    Right, it is all “accompanied” by physical activity. For decorative purposes I suppose. Gives the people at the neuroimager something pretty to look at.

    CharlieM: In keeping with the scientific method, I’m not trying to prove anything.

    Just as well, because also in keeping with the scientific method, I remain unconvinced that thinking without brain activity is actually possible.

    CharlieM: You might think of a photon as a fundamental particle but it is no particle. It is a mathematical expression for the minimum quantity of light […]

    Why does a “mathematical expression” have a minimum quantity?

    The fact that the energy from electromagnetic radiation is quantized doesn’t strike you as significant at all?

  43. Corneel:
    CharlieM: I own a few prisms and I’ve done a few experiments with them. So do I qualify as one of Newton’s fellow practicioners? Likewise I have practiced Euclidean geometry and I have worked with Cartesian coordinates.

    Corneel: I dunno Charlie. Do you really want to be a member of an exclusive club?

    I wouldn’t mind being a member of Newtons inclusive club. 🙂

    ­Sir Isaac Newton is considered one of history’s great polymaths, having contributed to the fields of mathematics, physics, astronomy, theology, chemistry and biblical history.

    On the other hand specialization can lead to problems

    Crossing disciplinary boundaries is unusual – and crucially important. In 1998, ground breaking thinker and eminent biologist EO Wilson cautioned against scientific overspecialization, warning that thought silos “…must be torn down in order for humanity to progress.” Socio-biologist Rebecca Costa argued in 2010 that “the more fortified and numerous silos become, the further away humankind strays from a unified, systemic approach to our greatest threats.”

    So I’m not alone in thinking that there are pitfalls in increasing specialization.

    And a reading of Jacques Maritain’s writing, “Education at the Crossroads” from over half a century ago, argues that specialization in education dehumanizes.

  44. Corneel:
    CharlieM: You can only speak for yourself in that regard.

    Corneel: Judging from the feedback you received so far, I *believe* this sentiment is more widely shared.

    Yes, but even if the majority agree with you, you cannot just appoint yourself as their spokesperson. Have you had permission to speak on their behalf?

    CharlieM: Thinking is not a physical activity, but the vast majority of thinking that goes on is accompanied by physical activity. Sense perception involves physical activity, willing involves physical activity.

    Corneel: Right, it is all “accompanied” by physical activity. For decorative purposes I suppose. Gives the people at the neuroimager something pretty to look at.

    Of course it’s not just decorative. If it were not for brain activity we would not be able to interact with the world, to learn, to become self-conscious.

    CharlieM: In keeping with the scientific method, I’m not trying to prove anything.

    Corneel: Just as well, because also in keeping with the scientific method, I remain unconvinced that thinking without brain activity is actually possible.

    How deeply have you looked into this? There are many people of science who have been convinced. A few examples:

    Dr. Bruce Greyson had a conversation with a patient in which she related events that he thought would be impossible for her to know. This launched him on a mission to explore the relationship between consciousness and the body which he says that after 45 years he is still trying to figure out.

    Dr. Sam Parnia gave a talk at the UN in which he discusses NDEs (he prefers the term “after death experiences”) and he gives three possible explanations as to how someone can be conscious when there is no electrical activity in the brain. First, the experience did not happen and people may be just making them up; secondly the experience is taking place just before or just after the brain has ceased to function, and thirdly views about the relationship between mind and brain need to be readdressed.

    The neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander had a personal experience of this state which he relates in this video. This experience changed his views on how consciousness and the brain are related.

    CharlieM: You might think of a photon as a fundamental particle but it is no particle. It is a mathematical expression for the minimum quantity of light […]

    Corneel: Why does a “mathematical expression” have a minimum quantity?

    What other terms do you have to define or describe a photon? In fact how would you describe light in general? You can describe a photon in terms of light, but then you are faced with having to explain what light is.

    Corneel: The fact that the energy from electromagnetic radiation is quantized doesn’t strike you as significant at all?

    If light is electromagnetic energy why does it sometimes act as if it were particulate? Even single photons have been shown to have a wave/particle duality. A photon is movement but what is it that’s moving?

  45. CharlieM: he gives three possible explanations as to how someone can be conscious when there is no electrical activity in the brain. First, the experience did not happen and people may be just making them up; secondly the experience is taking place just before or just after the brain has ceased to function, and thirdly views about the relationship between mind and brain need to be readdressed.

    Odd that he ignores what seems to be the most obvious explanation: that neurochemical activity continues at a level that our current instruments are unable to measure.

    CharlieM: What other terms do you have to define or describe a photon? In fact how would you describe light in general? You can describe a photon in terms of light, but then you are faced with having to explain what light is.

    Or one could explain visible light in terms of photons and then describe photons in terms of their fundamental physical properties: absence of mass, absence of electrical charge, spin, angular momentum, etc.

  46. CharlieM: Me: Judging from the feedback you received so far, I *believe* this sentiment is more widely shared.

    Charlie: Yes, but even if the majority agree with you, you cannot just appoint yourself as their spokesperson. Have you had permission to speak on their behalf?

    “Dear TSZ members. Can I please have your permission to tell Charlie that Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science has been an utter failure? Thank you.”
    Seriously, you are continuously making up excuses that allow you to criticize “conventional” scientists but shield your own view from any criticism. No, I do not need the permission of other TSZers to point out that they have been telling you on a public forum that Steiner is full of woo.

    CharlieM: So I’m not alone in thinking that there are pitfalls in increasing specialization.

    Have you asked Thomas S. Bateman’s and Jacques Maritain’s permission to act as their spokesperson? You can’t just speak on their behalf, you know.

  47. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM: he gives three possible explanations as to how someone can be conscious when there is no electrical activity in the brain. First, the experience did not happen and people may be just making them up; secondly the experience is taking place just before or just after the brain has ceased to function, and thirdly views about the relationship between mind and brain need to be readdressed.

    Kantian Naturalist: Odd that he ignores what seems to be the most obvious explanation: that neurochemical activity continues at a level that our current instruments are unable to measure.

    He spent a lifetime monitoring brain activity so I’d be very surprised if he hadn’t considered that.

    Anyway, you are asking me to believe that greatly reduced brain activity can lead to heightened consciousness. Yes I can believe that. 🙂

    CharlieM: What other terms do you have to define or describe a photon? In fact how would you describe light in general? You can describe a photon in terms of light, but then you are faced with having to explain what light is.

    Kantian Naturalist: Or one could explain visible light in terms of photons and then describe photons in terms of their fundamental physical properties: absence of mass, absence of electrical charge, spin, angular momentum, etc.

    Light is super-sensible, is is not visible, but in its polar relationship with darkness it is the means by which everything we see is made visible to us. If as you say photons have no mass then why does light bend round massive bodies? What you mean is that they have no rest mass. But are photons ever at rest?

    In his book “Catching the Light”, Arthur Zajonc has this to say about photons:

    When we set up to see interference fringes, we see them, even with single photons. When we set up to see which single path the photon has taken, we find out. The problem is not with the phenomena, but with the inadequate thoughts we bring to them.

    …the distinguished physicist John Archibald Wheeler has reminded the physics community that the quantum ambiguity demonstrated by single-photon interference experiments is even more serious than it first appears.

    He goes on to describe the thought experiment. The wave like nature of photons means that light can be reduced indefinitely without limit. This contradicts the belief that limit of the quantum of light is in fact a justifiable limit.

    Zajonc continues:

    Goethe was right. Try though we may to split light into fundamental atomic pieces, it remains whole to the end. Our very notion of what it means to be elementary is challenged. Until noe we have equated smallest with most fundamental. Perhaps, for light at least, the most fundamental feature is not to be found in smallness, but rather in wholeness, its incorrigible capacity to be one and many, particle and wave, a single thing with the universe inside.

    Light in its wholeness is fundamental not single photons.

  48. CharlieM: Anyway, you are asking me to believe that greatly reduced brain activity can lead to heightened consciousness. Yes I can believe that.

    Not even close to what I actually said, but consistent with the level of reading comprehension and reasoning ability I’ve come to expect at TSZ.

  49. Corneel:
    CharlieM: Me: Judging from the feedback you received so far, I *believe* this sentiment is more widely shared.

    Charlie: Yes, but even if the majority agree with you, you cannot just appoint yourself as their spokesperson. Have you had permission to speak on their behalf?

    Corneel: “Dear TSZ members. Can I please have your permission to tell Charlie that Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science has been an utter failure? Thank you.”
    Seriously, you are continuously making up excuses that allow you to criticize “conventional” scientists but shield your own view from any criticism. No, I do not need the permission of other TSZers to point out that they have been telling you on a public forum that Steiner is full of woo.

    Dear Corneel, as a member of the TSZ community, you have my permission to give us your opinions, informed or not. 🙂

    CharlieM: So I’m not alone in thinking that there are pitfalls in increasing specialization.

    Corneel: Have you asked Thomas S. Bateman’s and Jacques Maritain’s permission to act as their spokesperson? You can’t just speak on their behalf, you know.

    I’m not speaking on their behalf. I provided a link to the words of Jacques Maritain himself, and I think he had a point worth repeating.

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