Nature’s Open Secret

Introductions to Goethe’s Scientific Writings

by Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophic Press, 2000
ISBN 0-88010-393-0
320 pages; hardcover; $35.00



This book includes an introduction and a concluding essay by John Barnes on Goethe, Steiner, and Polanyi entitled “Participatory Science as the Basis for a Healing Culture.”

One thing that distinguishes Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) from other explorers of the human psyche is the success of his pioneering work in practical fields such as education, medicine, and agriculture. Steiner was at home in the realm of science and practical life as well as in the world of the human spirit. For him, spiritual experience had become concrete and practical; practical, physical experience had revealed its spiritual dimension.

The unity of these realms was not initially given to Steiner, however. It was, rather, the result of an arduous search involving rigorous self-development. Steiner’s penetrating study of Goethe’s science played a pivotal role in this process. His introductions to Goethe’s scientific works, which comprise the main content of this volume, can be seen as the foundation of his later work: They establish the epistemological basis for a science that reveals the essential, spiritual nature of the sense-perceptible world.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Origin of Goethe’s Concept of Metamorphosis
  3. The Origin of Goethe’s Thinking on Animal Morphology
  4. The Nature and Significance of Goethe’s Writings on Organic Morphology
  5. Concluding Remarks on Goethe’s Morphology
  6. Goethe’s Way of Knowing
  7. The Arrangement of Goethe’s Scientific Writings
  8. From Art to Science
  9. Goethe’s Theory of Knowledge
  10. Knowledge and 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 and Researcher
    1. Goethe and Modern Science
    2. The Archetypal Phenomenon
    3. The System of Natural Science
    4. The System of Goethe’s Color Theory
    5. Goethe’s Concept of Space
    6. Goethe, Newton, and the Physicists

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

  1. Participatory Science
  2. The Crisis of Objectivism
  3. From Monism to Dualism
  4. Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge
  5. Goethe’s Scientific Approach
  6. Art and Science
  7. From Goetheanism to Anthroposophy
  8. Applied Goetheanism