Nature’s Open Secret: Introductions to Goethe’s Scientific Writings (CW 1)
The holistic paradigm, Gaia, deep ecology, and new alchemy all have a hidden ancestor: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832).
At the youthful age of twenty-one, Steiner was chosen to edit Goethe’s scientific writings for the principle Goethe edition of his time. Goethe’s literary genius was universally acknowledged; it was Steiner’s task to understand and comment on Goethe’s scientific achievements. Steiner recognized the significance of Goethe’s work with nature and his epistemology, and here began Steiner’s own training in epistemology and spiritual science.
This collection of Steiner’s introductions to Goethe’s works re-visions the meaning of knowledge and how we attain it. Goethe had discovered how thinking could be applied to organic nature and that this experience requires not just rational concepts but a whole new way of perceiving.
In an age when science and technology have been linked to great catastrophes, many are looking for new ways to interact with nature. With a fundamental declaration of the interpenetration of our consciousness and the world around us, Steiner shows how Goethe’s approach points the way to a more compassionate and intimate involvement with nature.
1. Introduction by John Barnes
2. The Origin of Goethe’s Concept of Metamorphosis
3. The Origin of Goethe’s Thinking on Animal Morphology
4. The Nature & Significance of Goethe’s Writings on Organic Morphology
5. Goethe’s Way of Knowing
6. Concluding Remarks on Goethe’s Morphology
7. The Arrangement of Goethe’s Scientific Writings
8. From Art to Science
9. Goethe’s Theory of Knowledge
10. Knowledge & Action in the Light of Goethe’s Ideas
11. Goethe’s Way of Thinking Compared to Other Views
12. Goethe and Mathematics
13. Goethe’s Fundamental Geological Principle
14. Goethe’s Meteorological Ideas
15. On the Subjectivity of Sensory Perceptions
16. Goethe As Thinker & Researcher
17. Goethe versus Atomism
18. Goethe’s Worldview in His Verses in Prose
Essay by John Barnes: “Participatory Science As the Basis for a Healing Culture”
Nature’s Open Secret is a translation of Goethes Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften, Einleitungen, (1884-1897).
Previous translations were titled Goethe the Scientist and Goethean Science.
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
John Michael Barnes, after teaching at Waldorf schools for twenty-five years, is working as a publisher and author, focusing on his lifelong interest in Goethean, phenomenological science.