Physical Condition of Form

From AnthroWiki

The term physical (from the Greekφύσις physis) is used in Anthroposophy to describe the respective middle, fourth Condition of Form that is passed through during a round or a Condition of Life. Each planetary stage of world evolution is divided into seven such Conditions of Life or rounds, and these in turn into seven Conditions of Form.

In the physical Condition of Form, one is dealing with spatial forms, but these do not necessarily have to be sensually visible and palpable. In fact, pure physical form is supersensuous in nature, and only form filled with earthly substances becomes sensually visible. The supersensible physical form of the physical body is also called phantom, and it is meant when the resurrection of the body is spoken of.

It should be noted that the terms physical and mineral are not synonymous. The mineral, the middle of the seven Conditions of Life, develops through all the Conditions of Form, of which the physical state is only again the middle one.

In ancient Greece, the term "physical" was initially still referred entirely to the living growth of plants. The oldest surviving evidence of this is found in Homer's Odyssey[1]. The term was translated into Latin as natura (from Latinnasci "to come into being, to be born"). At that time, people still had a feeling for the fact that the physical, which we today regard as completely dead, actually emerged from a living formative process.

„The inner experience of the soul must first be preceded by the creation of this life. For nothing can be experienced that has not first come into existence. If secret science calls the inner experience the soul, it calls the creative the spiritual. The [physical body] perceives through organs; the soul experiences itself inwardly; the spirit creates outwardly. Just as the seven stages of consciousness are preceded by seven experiences of the soul, so these experiences of the soul are preceded by seven kinds of creative activity. The dull experience of the substance corresponds in the realm of the creative to the bringing forth of this substance. The substance flows into the world in an indifferent way. This region is called the region of formlessness. At the next stage the substance is subdivided and its members enter into a relationship with one another. Here we have to do with different substances that combine and separate. This area is called the area of form. On the third level, substance no longer needs to relate to substance itself, but the forces emanate from the substance, the substances attract and repel each other, and so on. We are dealing with the astral realm. On the fourth level a material appears, shaped by the forces of the environment, which on the third level merely regulated the outer relations and which now work into the inner being of the beings. This is the realm of the physical. A being on this level is a mirror of its environment; the forces of the latter work on its structure. - The further progress consists in the fact that the being not only structures itself in such a way as it is in the sense of the forces in the environment, but that it also gives itself an outer physiognomy which bears the imprint of this environment. If a being of the fourth level represents a mirror of its environment, one of the fifth level expresses this environment physiognomically. This level is therefore called the physiognomic level in the secret sciences. On the sixth level, physiognomy becomes an emanation of itself. A being that stands on this level forms the things of its environment in such a way as it has first formed itself. This is the stage of shaping. And on the seventh step, forming passes over into creating. The being that has arrived there creates such forms in its environment that reproduce on a small scale what its environment is on a large scale. This is the stage of the creative.

The development of the spiritual is thus divided into the following series of stages:

  1. Formlessness
  2. the shaping
  3. the incorporation of force
  4. the shaping in the sense of the forces of the environment
  5. physiognomic expressiveness
  6. the formative power
  7. the creative faculty.“ (Lit.:GA 89, p. 38ff)


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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  1. ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας πόρε φάρμακον ἀργεϊφόντης ἐκ γαίης ἐρύσας, καί μοι φύσιν αὐτοῦ ἔδειξε. (So said Hermeias [in the original: Argeiphontes, and gave me the medicinal plant, which he snatched from the ground, and showed me its nature: Its root was black, and milk-white blossomed the flower). Odyssey 10.302-4. Translation by Johann Heinrich Voß, digibib (German) and Wikisource (Greek).