Natural science

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Natural sciences are all those sciences that are dedicated to the study of animate and inanimate nature. Their main disciplines are: Physics, chemistry, biology and geology. Methodologically, the contemporary natural sciences strive to capture nature as quantitatively as possible and to represent it by means of a mathematical model, while largely stripping away the directly experienceable qualities of the senses.

The Goethean natural sciences propagated by Rudolf Steiner, on the other hand, strive for a purely qualitative explanation of the lawful interrelationships of the natural phenomena given directly to the senses. More complex phenomena are either traced back to directly observable fundamental primordial phenomena or are transformed into one another through metamorphosis. Prime examples of this are Goethe's theory of colours and his theory of metamorphosis. His method was first called Goetheanism by the Swedish diplomat Carl Gustaf von Brinkman (1764 - 1847) in a letter to Goethe in 1803 to characterise his worldview as a whole. Through Rudolf Steiner, the first editor of Goethe's writings on natural sciences, including his estate (Lit.: Goethe 1891-1896), the term was increasingly used from 1915 onwards for the method underlying Goethe's studies of nature, without limiting it to this alone. In fact, the Goethean method can be fruitfully applied in practically all areas of life.

Natural Science and Spiritual Science

„So it cannot be a question of making a break with the usual sensuous empirical science and founding a spiritual science from spiritual cloud cuckoo land. It is not at all like that in relation to the empirical sciences, that is to say, that which is called empirical science today, which I would like to call sensuous-empirical science here. It is not like that at all. For example, if you do research in the spiritual science, you can't come up with the same thing that you research with a microscope. You can take someone who wants to teach you to believe that he can find the same thing out of spiritual science that you find under the microscope as a charlatan. That is not so. That which gives empirical research in the present sense exists. And in order to make science complete in the sense of spiritual-scientific Anthroposophy in any field, it is not permissible to do away with the sensuous empiricism, but it is absolutely necessary to reckon with this sensuous empiricism. Nowhere will anyone who, if I may use this expression, is an expert in anthroposophical spiritual science find anything else than that by doing spiritual science one must all the more deal with the phenomena of the world in the sense of the sensuous empiricism“ (Lit.:GA 314, p. 81)


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may find at Rudolf Steiner's Complete Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - books, lectures and articles by Rudolf Steiner online (Jim Stewart). - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Steiner's complete works for free download as PDF.