Sense of taste

From AnthroWiki
Revision as of 22:10, 2 May 2021 by Odyssee (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

The sense of taste or gustatory sensation, is one of the twelve physical senses Rudolf Steiner spoke of in his theory of the senses. However, what is commonly referred to as the sensation of taste is a complex interaction of the actual sense of taste and the sense of smell together with tactile and temperature information from the oral cavity.

The sense of taste is closely related to the intellectual or mind soul and to an interaction of feelings:

„The sense of taste works in its way because in it the etheric body is worked upon by the intellectual or mind soul. This soul pours out the astral currents through the organ of taste and sends them towards the substances on the tongue. - [...]

Just as in the sense of smell what pours out is of a volitional nature, so in the sense of taste what flows out to meet the food is of a feeling nature, and what flows in is also of a feeling nature. So here, in tasting, feeling interacts with feeling. Everything else about it is merely maya, merely an external sign. Here a feeling effect shows itself as sense, namely the tasting is felt as pleasant, unpleasant, adverse and so on. However, one is not dealing with the feeling itself, but only with corresponding interactions of feelings.“ (Lit.:GA 115, p. 42f)

Aesthetic-moral taste

„When one speaks today of taste in the artistic and of taste in the cucumber or the roast veal, one no longer feels the necessity which led men to assign the one and the other the word taste. But take the fact that when man savours bitter things - that which in the enjoyment of food or drink is called bitter, the quite ordinary materially bitter - he then places the business of providing for him the sensation of the bitter on the back part of his tongue and on the palate, so that, therefore, at the moment when bitter passes from your mouth into your oesophagus, and you have the experience, the quite material physical experience of the bitter, in this matter your palate is engaged in connection with the tongue and the back part of the tongue.

Now you can also enjoy sourness, that which brings you into the experience of sourness. There again you mainly put on the edge of your tongue the obligation to convey the sensation of sourness for you; it is busy while you have the experience of sourness. And if you have the sensation of the sweet, then the tip of your tongue is preferably busy. Thus we see how the relation to the outer world regulates itself strictly according to the laws of the organism. We cannot somehow make friends with the tip of the tongue in such a way that it imparts to us the sour or bitter; it remains inactive with the sour or bitter, it already has the characteristic peculiarity of being active only when we let something sweet pass through our mouth.

Now we really do not transfer the expressions sour, bitter, sweet to moral impressions without reason. We even speak in a very determined way of the sour, the bitter, the sweet in moral impressions. I say in a decided way for the reason that, for example, in the case of another person, we will not always be led to see something sour in the words he utters. But we already speak of a sour face in his facial expressions out of a quite natural instinct. We will not easily find a sentence sour, but we will find a face extraordinarily easy to find sour.

Now, you see, that which causes us to call a face sour stimulates exactly the same regions back there, where it already goes towards the throat, in the tongue to be somewhat more spiritual, but still active, just as when we swallow vinegar. It is an inner relationship that instinctively asserts itself in the human being. And the unconscious knows at this moment quite exactly the relationship between the vinegar and the face. But vinegar has the peculiarity that it claims the more passive small organs of the tongue for itself. The face of the 'aunt' on certain occasions has the peculiarity that it claims the more active parts of the same region.“ (Lit.:GA 282, p. 224f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.