Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain
Newsletter – September 1999
#Design in Nature and Purpose in Language, by Don Cruse
#Counterspace and Organisms, by Nick Thomas
Book reviews: #Science Between Space and Counterspace, Nick Thomas
#Morphologie von Kristallformen und symmetrischen Polyedern , Renatus Ziegler
#Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge., Edward O. Wilson
Peter Gschwind informed us in his editorial in issue 197 of Mathematisch – Physikalische Korrespondenz of the sudden death of Georg Unger on Friday 11th June 1999. Peter Gschwind writes: “…After he had taken his wife to the Ita Wegman Clinic, he himself wanted a check-up at the Lucas Clinic. He had been troubled with bronchitis for some time. But the doctor admitted him because of a suspected lung inflammation. On the Wednesday evening Georg Glöckler and I had visited him in hospital, where he spoke optimistically of his early recovery. All the more unexpected, therefore, was his death on the Friday evening.
Georg Unger had already chosen the contributions for the summer issue of Korrespondenz, so it was easy for us to take over. We plan a commemoration of Georg Unger in the autumn issue. We would like to encourage friends of the Korrespondenz to participate in this with short contributions (1-2 pages).
The landlord of the premises of the Mathematisch-Physikalisches Institut has already let me know that they will be sold in summer 2000 and the rooms will be put to another purpose. The Mathematisch-Physikalisches Institut cannot therefore continue in the form it has had hitherto. At the same time, our long-serving and much valued secretary, Frau M Staub will retire.
Whether the Mathematisch-Physikalische Korrespondenz will continue, of course depends on the interest of its friends and their active participation in anthroposophical-scientific discussion. All issues concerning the Korrespondenz, especially the future editorship, must be resolved in the next six months. Whatever happens, the Verein für Mathematisch-Physikalische Forschung will continue and make available funds, albeit reduced in size, for further research.”
For contents of the latest issue of Korrespondenz please see the ‘Publications’ section of this newsletter.
Science Group Web Site at http://www.sciencegroup.org.uk
The Science Group made its appearance on the net at the above URL in April 1999. The site includes details of the Group and its affiliations, publications, a book list, articles, details of related organisations etc. The page design is deliberately very basic for ease of editing/updating the site. Contributions or suggestions for additional material should be sent to the site’s editor, David Heaf. Where necessary, papers will be referred to specialists in the subject for an opinion as to the suitability for publication. Starting in March 2000 the full text of future newsletters will be published on the site as downloadable Rich Text Format files. Authors submitting material to the newsletter who do not want it to appear in the Internet version should let the editor know at the time of submitting.
So ran the headline of Robert Matthew’s item in the Edmonton Journal (15.3.99). The story goes (went) that the peppered moth (Biston betularia) existed in the predominantly white form before the industrial revolution and a mutant dark form gradually replaced it in industrial areas of the UK. This is the account put forward as supportive of evolution by natural selection in many textbooks. Then in the 1950s the lighter form appeared to be on the ascendancy, in parallel with the enforcement of Clean Air Acts – further appearing to confirm the theory. But Bernard Kettlewell’s experiments to test the theory in the 1950s using dead peppered moths of both dark and light forms pinned to tree trunks have now been called into question. Matthews writes, ‘Most damning of all, despite 40 years of effort, scientists have seen only two moths resting on tree trunks.’
The following comment picks up from thoughts on this thread mentioned in earlier issues, particularly in response to Robert Rose’s suggestion in the last issue concerning the relation of the Science Group to the Science Section of the School of Spiritual Science.
My circumstances are probably unique, but if not I represent a minority. I am very much missing the regular contact with members of the science and physics groups, which I can no longer attend due to phenomenal travel costs. I am also not a member of First Class [of the School].
As a one-time committee member I would propose the following: that all non-Class Members who are on the Science Group mailing list be sent a questionnaire, asking them whether they feel the need to continue the Science Group in its present form. The Newsletter could continue to be sent to all subscribers, as at present, and maybe the Science Section could invite non-Class Members to certain parts of its meetings on occasion. There should be a statement from the Science Section detailing what persons wishing to become Members need to do, and including a means of contacting the closest Class Reader. Bruce Jackson
…and this item is self explanatory:
David Heaf reported (Sep 1998 issue) the cancellation of the conference At the frontier of a way of thinking, and expressed surprise that Waldorf teachers seemed not to attend such conferences, although he implies that the problem is restricted to France and the UK.
I believe there are two reasons why teachers, and we are by implication talking about science teachers, cannot attend the conferences David Heaf refers to. One is the immense workload of preparation and correction, and the other is the number of conferences offered. I personally try to attend one conference or refresher course each holiday, and that strains my private life sufficiently for me not to undertake anything additional.
For those readers who are not familiar with the workload of a Waldorf teacher, a brief synopsis: It is Christmas Day. I finished school 3 days ago, and since the last holidays (autumn holidays here in Germany) I have given 3 main-lessons and 2 physics practical blocks. I have 5 piles of books to correct. In the period before the next holiday. I have a further 3 main-lessons and 3 physics practicals to give. I also give maths subject lessons which need preparation, but above all correction. I am not suggesting that we are worthier, or less to blame for cancellation of conferences, than non-teachers. It is also necessary to squash the myth that teachers have enormous vacations and therefore time to spare.
The other factor: the enormous number of conferences on offer. I attend the upper-school refresher-week in Kassel in Holy week. In the summer I look for something different, this year the big reunion in Emerson College. In the autumn the teachers conference in Stuttgart, or wherever, and at Christmas an annual Study group in Kassel. There are also pedagogical conferences in Hamburg, the courses at the Goetheanum, and numerous subject courses throughout the year which tempt one.
I think the idea of Henry Goulden to seek an interest before going firm on his Eclipse conference is a wise one. Today there is so much on offer one can no longer assume an audience if one puts on something good.
Alas this is not only true of science conferences. We book The Rose Theatre here in Rendsburg, and sadly have to admit that it is a waste of time putting on a public performance – no-one would come. The RSVP on Wedding and Birthday invitations is becoming ever more necessary. It is a sad reality that those who offer things are providing too many things for us partakers to chose from. At the moment it is a buyers market! The “sellers” must lose out. Bruce Jackson
Ecological awareness arises from a sensitivity to the natural world in all its wonder and immense complexity. Everywhere in nature the sensitive observer apprehends what can only be termed a more-than-physical reality, but science tells us that we are mistaken. And yet it is that very sensitivity to a ‘higher reality’ that causes us to place a correspondingly higher value on nature than could ever result from the ‘mechanistic’ world view traditionally espoused by science. This fact alone puts all ecologists at least potentially at variance with the Darwinian theory, which purports to explain nature’s complexity to the modern mind by telling us that it is all only the outcome of physical cause-and-effect combined with workings of chance. And further insists that nothing mental has played any role whatever in nature’s genesis. Natural design, we are told, is not the work of a Designer.
There are, to be sure, numerous examples of what might be interpreted as accidental design in nature: the weathering of rocks into Hoodoos, the wave-sorting of pebbles on a beach according to size, the ice crystals that ‘Jack Frost’ leaves on a window pane are only three of many such examples. What these and the other examples have in common, however, is that they are all confined to the inorganic realm and are fully explainable in terms of what we already know about the workings of natural law. In Darwinian and neo-Darwinian argument much is made of these and related examples in establishing the claim that nature is capable of “design without a Designer,” indeed much of the theory’s claim to credibility is based upon such examples of inorganic natural organization.
Design in nature, however, goes far beyond the inorganic, and is at its most remarkable in the organic realm. The Darwinian argument does not see this boundary and claims that where natural organization is concerned nothing of importance changes when we pass from the inorganic to the organic realm, except for the ‘degree of complexity.’ It can be demonstrated, however, that in making this claim something of the utmost importance is being overlooked, and further that if we closely examine this oversight the theory begins to crumble.
It is in the organic realm that we are first confronted with the phenomena that we call ‘death,’ which differs from the mere ‘cessation’ of a natural inorganic process, in that death involves a loss of function, of complete organisms and of their integral parts. An inorganic process will cease, when the conditions that produce it change or the energy supplying it is exhausted, but cessation is not the same as a failure of function. Functional failure in an organism is analogous to that which happens in a broken machine, which is why we so often use mechanistic analogies to explain it. When we say that a machine has broken-down, we mean that it can no longer serve the purpose for which it was designed. Indeed, we can say with complete assurance that a machine can only fail in relation to its purpose, i.e. in relation to the purpose given to it by its designer, otherwise we could never know that it had failed.
There is no need for us to call upon the concept of purpose to explain the appearance and disappearance of ice-crystal patterns on a window, they appear under certain temperature and moisture conditions, and disappear when those conditions no longer obtain; they serve no discernible function. In relation to living organisms, however, the concept of purpose is unavoidable, because each part of the organism has a function, which it must perform in service to the whole. In animals, for example, the lungs have a different function/purpose from the digestive system, which is different in turn from the nervous or blood circulatory system, etc., and if any one of these systems break down the animal will likely die as a result, because each such system has a clear but different purpose to fulfil in keeping the creature alive.
In Darwinian thought the often immense complexity of organic design, as distinct from inorganic, is made sense of by using mechanistic analogies. Machines are man-made, and we understand how they work, so it helps to view what nature does as being somehow analogous to what we do. There is a problem with this analogy, however, because when we create a machine we do so for a reason, and in so doing we give the machine a purpose, which is not arbitrary, but is manifest in the arrangement and functioning of its often complicated parts. If a complex machine later breaks down, we may try to repair it, and to be successful, especially if we are not its designer, we must obtain an understanding of the designer’s original purpose, i.e., of what the machine was intended to do and exactly how it was intended to do it. The concept of ‘mechanism,’ therefore, is inescapably tied to the concept of a designer’s intention or purpose. In the human sense at least, a machine that does not have a purpose is not a machine; even if its purpose is whimsical it is still a purpose.
This means that if we use mechanistic analogies to explain the way in which nature works, they must inevitably bring with them the concept of purpose. Yet according to the Darwinian argument nature has no purposes of any kind. Everything that has occurred in the course of evolution has happened, or so we are told, without any conscious intention or purpose on nature’s part. Because the Darwinian theory states, as its most fundamental premise, that nature is entirely without purpose, to attempt to use mechanistic analogies in its defence, is to unconsciously insert the very opposite of that premise into the argument, which must logically invalidate it in the most fundamental way possible. This can only mean that in order not to deceive ourselves mechanistic analogies must be completely avoided in Darwinian explanations.
But are they in fact avoided? No, they are not! Indeed the situation is even more problematic, because not only does Darwinian argument make use of mechanistic analogies at almost every level, it also makes copious use of what is called ‘intentional’ language, which is the language we use when we are referring to mental activity of one kind or another, i.e., it includes words like ‘design’ ‘select’ ‘engineer’ ‘create’ ‘manufacture’ and countless others. It must follow, therefore, that using intentional language together with mechanistic analogies in pro-Darwinian argument, has the effect, albeit unconscious, of falsifying the argument in its entirety. If on the one hand we state that nature has no purposes, and on the other we employ purposive analogies and purposive language to demonstrate that this is supposedly the case, we are in so doing profoundly deceiving and contradicting ourselves. Yet if we take intentional language (which broadly must include all mechanistic references) away from Darwinian argument, on the grounds that it leads to logical contradiction, we shall quickly find that there is no argument left.
This would appear to indicate that somewhere within the deeper substratum from which language arises, there is a reality at work, which profoundly opposes Darwinism. This possibility, and all that it implies, is one that science must at least remain open to. Understanding the nature and origin of language without preconception is also science’s task. Whether the source of language is spiritual, or whether it evolved upwards out of animal grunts, is a question still not resolved. That fact that language cannot be rationally used to prove the latter thesis, suggests that the former might be true.1
There is a precedent, of sorts, in the recent history of science for what I am claiming. The discovery of quantum phenomena in particle physics, made necessary the development of quantum physics, which is sometimes referred to as the New Physics and differs from the old in that consciousness (the consciousness of the observer) is taken seriously into account as never before. What I am proposing, if it cannot be refuted, will necessitate a change in the scientific approach to biology, one in which consciousness again is elevated in importance. But this time it will be the workings of a creative consciousness within nature that must become our focus, and, thanks to Darwinism, this may now be possible without religious bias or preconception. The end of materialism is not, as many fear, the end of science, but could well mark its elevation to a higher cognitive discipline.
Before closing, let me summarize this contradiction once more.
Accidental design resulting from the operations of natural law is one thing, and it may be claimed to have a legitimate place in the inorganic realm. Accidental purpose, however, is an oxymoron, and can have no place in rational debate of any kind. That in the organic realm nature does have purposes is very clear, otherwise we would not require mechanistic analogies to make sense of what happens there. If natural law alone (the non-mental, immutable laws of physics and chemistry) sufficed to explain all of nature, there could still be design of a sort, but not purposive design, and without internal purposes everything would be fail-proof, i.e., mineral and not organic, because failure or break down, illness or death, can only occur in relation to a purpose. That life exists, and that living organisms can be legitimately compared to man-made mechanisms, can mean only one thing. It means that evolution of living organisms must result from the operations of Intelligence or Intelligences that are analogous in their workings to human creativity. You cannot, in rational argument, have one without the other. You cannot borrow from human creativity (intentionality) to explain how what you contend is a non-mental process in nature works, and then pretend that in doing so you have done nothing contradictory. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. This conclusion is not just a statement of belief on my part, but is completely unavoidable on grounds of logic, and its consequences can be avoided only if science, having once become aware of it, is willing to defend Darwinism by consciously promoting irrationality.
Some philosophers have argued that science only uses intentional language “as if” it were true, while knowing all the time that it is not. The logical equivalent of “as if” intentionality would be that a logician be allowed to claim that he was entitled to argue in favour of thesis ‘A’ (Darwinism/materialism) by employing the principle argument contained in its antithesis ‘B’ (spiritual/mental causes) but that he was entitled to do this because otherwise he could not prove the truth of ‘A.’ I cannot imagine a more total logical contradiction than this.
Sooner or later science must come to terms with these concepts. Science cannot continue to blur the issues, which arise from using intentional language and mechanistic analogies to “prove” Darwinism. This practice has involved a degree of subliminal self-deception, so scientific integrity is also on the line! When we speak of an organism as having ‘evolved,’ we mean that it has progressively ‘adapted’ itself to its environment. If there is in fact a higher reality behind this process, if natural design results from a mental/spiritual process going on behind the scenes, so to speak, this does not imply that evolution has not happened, but only that it is an intelligently- guided process. It also will not mean the end of science, but rather its renewal. Only a science that embraces the sacred can truly serve the environment.
Don Cruse, 9850-154 Street, Edmonton, AB, T5P 2G6, Canada. Phone: (780) 489-09 19; Fax: 483-5886; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. See Owen Barfield’s Poetic Diction, Faber and Faber, London, 1952. In which the grounds for language being spiritual and not physical in origin are explored. It also bears the inscription “To C.S. Lewis ‘Opposition is true friendship’”
I have long been interested in Schwenk’s studies which follow the cycle of the constellations in the changes of drop-pictures and flow-patterns in general. Soon after I took over the Section leadership at Christmas 1963, the opportunity arose for Renate Schmidt, a Section co-worker, to repeat and evaluate Ludwig Kremling’s experiments. (These involved patterns arising in solidifying resin.) So I decided to set up a drop-picture laboratory for her in the Kepler Observatory (Dornach). The experiments are still not evaluated. Then after an interruption a longer period of work was undertaken by Charlotte Fritzsch who carried out many constellation experiments. With these a problem arose that some of the changes in the pictures in connection with rising and setting of constellations, or conjunctions of planets etc could be seen, but to verify this by repetition ran into extraordinary difficulties. Of course! – one could say, because, in the interaction of many planets, no single aspect is like another. But we must be very careful to avoid drawing premature conclusions – something I call the scientific ‘deadly sin of ad hoc hypothesising’. Charlotte Fritzsch became very ill and died. Her conscientiousness and selflessness as an elderly person with a chronic illness which eventually overcame her was deeply moving to behold. – An interesting turn of destiny played a part in the search for a successor: a young friend, Stephan Baumgartner, who had repeated the Hauschka weighing experiments at the Mathematisch-Physikalisches Institut, while attending a conference on questions on the periphery of science, met a young Russian named Natascha, whose report from the group led by Professor Schnol in Puschtino had interested him. At a similar conference later on in Vienna there was another Natascha, Dr Natalja Budrova, a friend of the first and from the same working group, who was investigating experimentally the relationship between sun spots and magnetic storms and other phenomena using physical, chemical and biological methods. Stephan Baumgartner was aware of my quest for a successor for Charlotte Fritzsch and asked her if she would like to come and spend some time at Dornach. At first she came for three months and then for a total of four and a half years. She settled into the work well and was a thoroughly pleasant, responsible and conscientious co-worker. She got on well with the friends at Herrischried, the Institut für Strömungswissenschaft, where the drop-picture method was developed in an exemplary manner (although at the moment unfortunately no longer astronomically because of lack of funds) and worked part time at the Institut Hiscia.
A Russian friend of hers, now her husband Dr Nikita Iroshnikov, heard of our problem of trying to discover how we could statistically ‘control’ certain effects, and from his specialist knowledge of the area he suggested a mathematical image transformation, for which he wrote the full computer program. It is not so easy to describe the details of this, but suffice it to say that in the round drop-pictures occur not only radial but also angular rhythmic components. These can be made visible in other images by a suitable so-called Hankel-Fourier transformation; in a way similar to a prism transforming a beam of light into a spectrum. – In passing, it is worth noting that we had massively to ‘reinforce’ our computer which was originally bought as a word-processor in order for it to cope with the amount of data in a convenient time period. – Then it was a matter of determining certain values from the spectra and analysing them statistically. Natascha’s stay has now unfortunately just come to an end, because she no longer has a work permit, just at a time when many of her drop-pictures should have received a further systematic treatment.
The end result can be summarised thus: we can distinguish visually similar pictures from one another according to their hidden rhythms and we can document group similarities. What we cannot (yet) manage is, so to speak, the main issue: to draw conclusions from longer series of pictures in relation to the underlying cosmic aspects. To conclude, under pressure to meet a deadline we have submitted a report.1 This report admits that critics of picture-creating investigative methods are right in that these methods frequently escape statistical treatment. It is necessary to make this clear with the required objectivity. It is a negative result. Many scientific facts comprise such negative results.
One more small addition: some partial results are certain, but they contradict one another. This is not new. The task is then to improve the question that is asked of the investigation.
One final point is that for some time Christine Picariello has been working on the photographs and experimental procedures of Charlotte Fritzsch and has also been involved with the experiments, which at the same time have been set up independently at Herrischried. This will be reported on in due course. Georg Unger
From Mathematisch-Physikalische Korrespondenz (Nr. 196 – Easter 1999, 22-24). Translated by David Heaf.
1. Natascha Budrova, Nikita Iroshnikov & Georg Unger (1998) Zur analytischen Bearbeitung der Tropfenbilder. Elemente der Naturwissenschaft 68 (1), 21-30
A possible way of applying counterspace, discovered by Rudolf Steiner and geometrically characterised by George Adams (Ref. 1), has been described in Refs. 2 and 3. The essential idea is that an object existing in both spaces at once may suffer strain and stress as it cannot always obey the laws of both spaces simultaneously. Many ideas familiar to us in ordinary space do not apply in the same way to counterspace, for example there are parallel planes in space but not in counterspace. One finds parallel points there instead. Perhaps the most radical difference concerns our notions of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. If we have a sphere then in ordinary Euclidean space we refer to the inside as that region enclosed by its surface. Enclosure here implies a point-wise way of thinking for we can imagine points that cannot be moved to infinity without crossing its surface: they are ‘enclosed’. Planes that do not intersect the surface lie ‘outside’ the sphere, and cannot be ‘enclosed’. Thus for counterspace the situation is quite different, and we use the idea of infinity to guide us.
As explained in Refs. 2 and 3, a point plays the role of infinity for counterspace, and is like an infinite inwardness, an unreachable location inwardly. We look inwards from the cosmic periphery with a different kind of consciousness and watch a plane turning about a line, for example, and getting ever ‘further away’ as it does so until it vanishes into infinity when it lies on the infinite point. If our sphere now has that infinite point (say O) at its centre then we see that planes which do not intersect its surface cannot contain O, and such planes are ‘enclosed’ by the sphere in counterspace. Enclosed planes cannot ‘go to infinity’ (move until they lie in O) without intersecting the surface. The counterspace volume of the sphere, which we call polar volume, consists of the ordered assemblage of all such ‘enclosed’ planes. This notion, although somewhat simplified, leads to an interesting way of thinking about organisms as we shall see.
When we think about life in relation to counterspace we have a fully metric linkage (c.f. Ref. 3), which at first is difficult to reconcile with the rigid quality of fully metric transformations. If, however, we note the importance of surfaces for etheric forces we are reminded of the importance of membranes in living organisms. Organs are surrounded by and often contain many membranes, the skin itself is a membrane, important membranes in the brain protect it from poisons unless damaged by drugs, and every cell is contained in its plasma membrane. Such membranes are semi-permeable and selectively transport substances into or out of a cell in the case of the plasma membrane. Inside the cell we find further membranes such as those surrounding the mitochondria, the nucleus (for eukariotic cells) and organelles like chloroplasts. Membranes are not rigid yet they certainly relate to metric processes such as rates of diffusion, so we see that if aspects of the life ether manifest through their surface form and action we solve the ‘rigidity’ problem.
If we regard the plasma membrane as a surface linking space and counterspace then the counterspace inside (as we shall write it, in contrast to the spatial inside) is what from a spatial perspective is outside. Thus we find the ‘machinery’ of a cell is outside for counterspace while all the other cells of the organism are inside it. This is what makes the assemblage an organism, for every cell contains all the others. There must be a remarkable synergy for all the cells to co-exist and co-operate in this way. Any damage or illness upsets this synergy and since all cells are involved in the resulting imbalance we begin to see why and on what basis the organism heals again.
We may capture the notion of synergy mathematically with the aid of fractals. In Ref. 3 the idea of a population of counterspace infinitudes (CSIs) is postulated such that each infinitude is an image in ordinary space of a single primal counterspace. Each chemical element may be regarded as such a population, and at a higher level each cell of an organism likewise. Then a primal counterspace for an organism will have a complex structure which unfolds into its cellular structure as it grows. The whole is then inwardly contained in every cell, reminiscent of Goethe’s ideas. That every cell contains all the others is an expression of this. The fractal idea comes in because each cell or CSI is an ‘eye’ of the primal counterspace, its particular ‘viewpoint’ depending upon its specialisation and position in the organism. Just as a fractal is scale-invariant so in a sense is an organism, which is most clearly illustrated by its capacity to grow. A mathematical result called the Collage Theorem enables forms such as those of fern leaves, and various kinds of “sieve” to arise which are self-similar at (in principle) all magnifications (Figure 1).
No point can lie in the largest inverted triangle, nor in any of its smaller images. In this example three similar transformations (translations and contractions) co-operate in the process such that only those points exist in the fractal which belong to an image of it at all magnifications. Such points are in synergy with the whole assemblage. This only needs developing to allow distinct but related transformations to interwork in a similar manner. Then we can pass from the rigidly self-similar quality of a fractal to one which is more organic. This kind of idea lies behind our concept of how distinct CSIs relate to one another, but we imagine the synergy imposed by a species or specimen to be more complex than that of simple fractals.
The essential idea that strain may arise leading to stress here manifests at the edges, or when the form is disrupted in some way. In three dimensions we may have similar structures e.g. a fractal tetrahedron, or more complex forms when rotations are included. The strain will then appear at the outer surfaces, decreasing inwards. This kind of synergy readily gives rise to plant-like forms as is well known. Polarity and inversion can
then be included (going beyond the Collage Theorem) to arrive at other kinds of synergy. The polar process in two dimensions (working with fractally related lines instead of points) gives rise to the following kinds of form:
To show three-dimensional versions of these is scarcely possible, certainly not here.
For a living organism we envisage a fractally distributed metric linkage, but as remarked before it will involve more subtle transformations. An important feature of the relation between space and counterspace developed in Ref. 3 is that radial displacements in counterspace are related to time, whereas tangential ones concern frequency and rhythm. Thus the unfolding of the primal counterspace structure into space will involve radial growth and tangential spatial rhythms. That, however, is only a first approach to what needs much more development to encompass the enormous variety of flora and fauna.
Recent work indicates that cosmic forms invert into what is usually thought of as atomic structure, although the material concept of atoms is not thereby postulated. In line with Rudolf Steiner’s research, where we normally think there are atoms actually the cosmos works in towards infinitudes in a structured manner, so that the structures that have been discovered through much patient research (e.g. polymers) are valid but their materialistic underpinning is not essential. That is not to say there is no matter but rather that whatever it is (does anyone know?) it does not have to be regarded as “made of material atoms”. It seems that where atoms are postulated holes in the ether are to be found instead, turning Democritos on his head. The life ether controls these structures so that they are exactly suitable for the genesis of living forms. This also seems to be in line with Brian Goodwin’s work on the role of chemistry in the genesis of organic forms (Ref. 4).
Nick Thomas, 163 Toms Lane, Kings Langley, WD4 8PA, UK. Email: nct@ cix.compulink.co.uk
1. “The Plant Between Sun and Earth”, Adams and Whicher, Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1980.
2. “Rethinking Physics”, Nick Thomas, Articles Supplement to the Science Group Newsletter, 2, pp1-11, September 1996.
3. “Science Between Space and Counterspace”, N.C. Thomas, New Science Books, London 1999. [Reviewed below – Ed.]
4. “Tip and Whorl Morphogenesis in Acetabularia by Calcium-Regulated strain Fields”, B.C. Goodwin and L.E.H. Trainor, Journal of Theoretical Biology (1985) 117, 79-106, Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd.
In our last issue we published a review by Ron Jarman of Nick Thomas’ latest book. Here is a second review of it which also includes a detailed synopsis and many quotations.
Nick Thomas’ new book, Science Between Space and Counterspace, contains ideas that are highly original. The author proposes interactions between space and “counterspace,” considered in a mathematically rigorous framework built on a foundation in projective geometry. The interactions lead to far-reaching results, offering new approaches for understanding the phenomena of gravity, light, chemistry, and, the basis of life. The work is far from complete; however, it appears that a significant start has been made in the new direction given by Nick Thomas.
It is noteworthy that the author considers at several key points the research of Rudolf Steiner, not dogmatically, but as serious reports either indicating directions of inquiry or providing items of comparison. It was Steiner’s reports on perceptions of a space polar to our own that led G. Adams and L. Locher-Ernst to develop a description “formally as a polar-Euclidean space with a different kind of metric basis from ordinary space.”1 Nick Thomas builds on the work of Adams especially, and goes much further in the development of physics that makes a strong attempt at building a bridge between the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the work.
The book may generally be divided in two parts: first, a review of the mathematics of counterspace and the development of mathematical “tools” and, second, the presentation of the author’s ideas regarding the “linkages” between space and counterspace and the related phenomena. The first part is in itself significant, for it lays a foundation for all of the later work and covers new ground in several key places. For example, as foundational, a great deal of the results obtained in the second part depends on the very nature of counterspace and its polar relationship with Euclidean space, the space of contemporary physics. The author takes great care in developing the stepping stones in going from purely projective space into, on the one hand, Euclidean space and, on the other, counterspace,2 both metric spaces. The stepping stones involve affine and polar-affine spaces. At each point along the way, care is taken to be clear on what is and is not possible from the standpoint of measurement and directional comparisons, and what is or is not invariant in transformations. These have crucial importance in the type of phenomena and “linkages” between spaces to be discussed later.
By itself, the first part of the book gives a satisfying picture of the symmetry between the levels of space and polar-space and the importance of the principle of polarity.3 The latter is most evident in the nature of the infinite in counterspace: the infinitude of counterspace is infinitely “inward” (or, intensive) and as such is dual to the “outward” (or, extensive) infinite of Euclidean space. For most of the phenomena later considered, the author takes the concept of the counterspace infinitude a step further than that of Adams4 in establishing a fractal relationship between a “primal” counterspace infinitude and its copies, or “CSIs.”
Nick Thomas emphasizes that it is a matter of consciousness how one chooses to define distance in counterspace: he, following Adams, has chosen to be consistent in dualizing point and plane. Thus we are given definitions of the polar measures in counterspace: “turn” and “shift,” which are the duals of distance and angle in Euclidean space. Roughly speaking, in counterspace, turn is the polar-distance between planes and shift is the polar-angle between points, and they obey metric expressions similar to those of Euclidean space. Examples are then given of the calculations of polar area and of polar volume. These are quite necessary for the quantitative aspects of light, fluids and gases presented in later chapters.
The second part of the book begins with a chapter discussing the central thesis of the work, which considers how space and counterspace are linked. As a first example, the case of a cube existing simultaneously in both space (i.e., Euclidean space) and counterspace is considered, in that it is linked to both spaces at its vertices and planes. By performing a simple translation of the cube in either space or counterspace, one can immediately find that the cube cannot obey both metrics at once. The first aspect of the central thesis is thus:
“An object linked to both space and counterspace suffers strain when subjected to a transformation.”
The strain, a change in size or shape of the linked object, may occur in either of the spaces. Resulting from the strain is a reactionary field of force, i.e. stress, which may be taken as a transition from geometry into physics, leading to the second aspect of the central thesis:
“An object linked to both space and counterspace suffers stress as a result of an imposed strain.”
Linkages are expressed mathematically as affine, “special” affine, or metric transformations, and their polar correspondents. The author has worked iteratively to develop a complete picture of phenomena and the appropriate linkages. It presently identifies the linkages for heat, gases, liquids, solids, light, chemistry, and life. Depending whether space or counterspace is “dominant,” the associated strain will occur in the polar space. For example, if we are concerned with phenomena involving solids (such as gravity), the interaction between space and counterspace is such that strain results in counterspace (space “dominant”) and metric linkages will apply. General characteristics of an affine linkage include its indefiniteness in terms of measurement comparisons of, for example, non-parallel distance and shape. This plays a strong part in several of the considered phenomena as to what is generally described as “indeterminacy” in quantum physics. (Significantly, in the case of light, indeterminacy is also found in a metric linkage.) Another characteristic of affine transformations is the equivalency of polar areas for certain geometric entities, most importantly, cones sharing an axis and cross-sectional radius. Such cones are also significant for understanding the counterspace properties of light.
The author also proposes, in line with the counterspace-dominant linkages, associations between the phenomena of heat, light, chemistry and life and the four ethers (of similar names) described by Rudolf Steiner. For the space-dominant linkages, associations are proposed between the classical four elements and the phenomena of heat, solids, liquids and gases.
An immediate consideration is how the relationship between stress and strain may be expressed mathematically. The author takes the simplest approach and proposes that the stress is proportional to the rate of change of the shift-strain. He then proceeds to test his thesis by exploring the phenomena of gravity5 and finds that, assuming a fractal linking of CSIs of two distant objects, he can derive the inverse square law for the force of gravity between them. This is a compelling result since it has been derived from first principles.
The work on gravity leads to an exploration of the significance of mass. It is interesting to note that mass is not assumed to be present in the square-law derivation. The author concludes that mass is related to the “scaling” between the distinct metrics of space and counterspace. Indeed, further considerations of scaling have far-reaching consequences as well for the other phenomena described in the book.
Nick Thomas proceeds to derive the Ideal Gas Law and some qualitative properties of the behavior of liquids considering CSIs as following affine linkages between space and counterspace (space dominant.) One sees how the nature of the affine linkage provides for a new picture of a gas:6
“In the purely affine state it is difficult to say where the linked CSIs are since length is not an absolute invariant. We suggest that this affine quality replaces the atomistic picture of little massive atoms flying about with a mean free path. Indeed we go further and suggest that the kinetic theory works because it pictures in a materialistic manner what is really an affine state.”
Scaling in this case is related to temperature. Further, there is an indication of quantum measurement phenomena in the very nature of the linkages:
“…at the walls of a container interactions occur which “metrize” the gas there, just as a measurement forces its object into a measurable state…” Thus measurement can be regarded as forcing a transition from the affine to the metric.
Another significant area of progress is Nick Thomas’ treatment of light. The tensor characteristics of light are considered in detail and, along with the research of R. Steiner indicating ether as two-dimensional, lead to the postulate that7 “a photon is a linkage between space and counterspace which is a contravariant bivector in counterspace and a covariant bivector in space.” Consistent with these vectors, the photon is referred to as a cone or, in the most general sense, as a cylinder defining “all possible cones with the same polar area.” What is quite remarkable is that the photon thus contains the indeterminacy so evident in quantum light phenomena. Here, the linkage for a photon in uniform media is an affine one with counterspace dominant. However, in an interaction with matter, e. g., at a boundary, “the bivectors may change quality since in three-dimensional Euclidean space vectors and bivectors are indistinguishable.” The vectorial character is “metrized” into a type corresponding to the phenomena, be it diffraction, reflection, refraction or absorption. Consistent with the vectorial character is a measure, e.g., polar area, which is invariant in the interaction. Considering these invariants, the author is able to derive the fundamental laws of reflection and of refraction, and indicates directions for approaching the phenomena of diffraction, polarization, and spectroscopy. While Nick Thomas does not treat color in detail, he indicates that there may be a connection between color and polar area, “but a simple identification is out of the question both philosophically and scientifically.”8
Perhaps most significant is that “light does not travel in the way a material particle does,” i.e., the velocity of light is only an apparent one. This follows from the author’s finding that the scaling requires time to be inversely proportional to radial turn.9 Considering the case of two planes, one for a light source and the other for an observer (or detector), if r is the (Euclidean) distance between the two planes and if t is the radial turn of the observer’s plane with respect to the plane at infinity, then rt = constant, which then leads to the relation, r/t = constant. It is also implicit in this result that, for the same scaling, the apparent velocity is the same for all observers regardless of their motion—a result in common with the theory of Special Relativity. However, what is existent between the source and observer is the “metrized” photon cone, in “an instantaneous relationship between source and observer.” As Nick Thomas points out:10
“This may help us to understand the experiment by Alain Aspect in connection with Bell’s Inequality in quantum physics, for the problem it raises is an apparent conflict with Relativity since two greatly separated photons must change their quantum state simultaneously….”
This necessitates, as one may now expect, a chapter on the nature of time. The author proceeds from the point of view of the central thesis of this work, exploring strain related to time. For example, looking at the turn of the planes of a photon cone as seen from two linked CSIs, the author finds strain, which, if minimized with respect to its radial and tangential components, leads the photon cone to align its axis with the line joining the CSIs. The photon will then either instantaneously evolve into a cylinder or minimize its polar area. In the latter case, which is characteristic of light interacting with matter, this manifests as a frequency. Further:
“We now see that frequency only arises when light is intimately related to matter or ‘darkness’. Such a contraction removes the ‘light’ of the photon cone as the polar area has been ‘emptied out’, and so a cone acting as a bond…is no longer ‘light’. We begin to approach what might underlie the conventional view that the electromagnetic force is mediated by photons… Steiner referred to electricity as ‘fallen light’, which our considerations begin to approach since the light has fallen in a way, from a complete filling of the polar area to a frequency-based set of tangent planes. This would interpret Steiner’s finding as relating to the active or bonding aspect of electricity rather than to the static view of it as charge.”
The chapter on time introduces the idea that a CSI must “retreat inwards” after an interaction with light in order for time to elapse (since the radial turn with respect to the plane at infinity would decrease.) This relates to the conventional “collapse” of the wave function, but now seen from the counterspace perspective. The idea of a self-polar surface (SPS) is presented, which relates to a CSI’s structure, and is the “Gauge Strain Threshold” (GST) at which scaling becomes time-dependent. That is, the CSI provides a boundary at which “inside” (Euclideanly outside) the scaling is constant, and “outside” ” (Euclideanly inside) the scaling is time-dependent.
Having considered radial time-invariant transformations and light and, briefly, the concepts of SPS and GST, it follows that we now take up (in the chapter on chemistry) invariants on surfaces, primarily, those on a sphere. Seeking transformations of vector fields in a surface that leave radial components invariant (so that changes must be tangential,) the author demonstrates that spherical harmonics have the desired properties.11 He shows that “this approach gives the analogue of standing waves in the surface, the amplitude of the wave being the magnitude of the turn…and that they are longitudinal waves.” Furthermore, these are time-invariant transformations yielding the rhythmical and numeric properties of the “tone” ether consistent with R. Steiner’s research. The linkages in this realm are “polar special-affine,” and involve tri-vectors which have volume or polar volume as the basic invariant magnitude. It is indicated that when “linked to metric space…this ether may give rise to quite complex configurations.” No specific chemistry is developed, but one can see that at this point in the book, having taken up bound photons and surface spherical harmonics, a direction for how to consider at least two of the four basic bonding types has been given.
Due to its title, the chapter “Life” may be misleading at first. However, the author quickly points out that “we do not expect to derive any of the living forms of nature from this ether, but rather the processes it provides to support their appearance.” This chapter and the one following on quantum physics are the most dependent on earlier work, drawing together much of what has gone before. The discussion is primarily qualitative but still firmly based in the properties of light, chemistry and counterspace developed earlier.
The importance of surfaces for life is developed out of thinking about complex processes in living organisms, which often involve membranes. Indeed, the “membrane seems to be a phenomenological expression of the significance of surfaces.” Considering the membrane as a space / counterspace boundary, a projective polarity lends itself to linking what is outside the surface for counterspace and what is inside for space:
“In space the membrane establishes an environment inside itself, which is outside for counterspace. Thus we see an inversion is required if the counterspace inside is to be related to the spatial inside. This suggests that a polarity is operative so that the planar structure of the ether may relate to the pointwise activity inside the membrane…”
There are many types of membranes and many levels of nesting. With the counterspace perspective, it is now possible
“…to see what makes an organism an organism: it is inside every cell for counterspace so that each cell relates to the whole organism just for that reason.” (Thomas’ italics)
Time enters into the picture, once again as a radial activity, in the phenomena of diffusion across a membrane. Indeed, the action of polarity is to transform the time component in counterspace into a force in space; however, there is no strain in this case since the polarity is a strain-free transformation. Since the activity of the life ether involves integrating substances into a living organism, a function for which the chemical aspect alone is inadequate, the radial time factor is thus added to the chemical one which is tangential.
We thus see “…the way life ether relates to surfaces, its nested approach to organization, and its conversion of time intervals into force…We postulate that the life ether imparts to the structure of a counterspace a definite surface with metric properties…[The] structure may include nested surfaces with similar properties. We find that we are very close indeed to the kind of picture attributed to hypothetical atoms, but we must stress that we envisage a cosmic structure in the ether which is imaged in CSIs, we do not envisage assemblages of material particles as is normally conceived.”
Cosmic relationships follow: the radiative processes at the surface of the Sun are seen to relate to those at the surfaces of membranes.
The proposed structure involving CSIs as imaging a primal counterspace brings a cosmic character to the mineral realm itself. In this view, there is no need to add a “vital principle over and above the substances.” For “life does not change the laws governing substances when they are incorporated in organisms, but rather it is integral in their nature in the first place.” Indeed, “the life ether establishes the metric structure of elements in accordance with the requirements of organisms.” This makes it possible to see how the “holistic aspects of the world have a real basis, in the ethers, rather than being mere epiphenomena.”
In considering the various shapes arising from the metric surface transformations, the author also gains further insight into the nature of trapped photons and electricity and how they relate to electrical polarization, ionization and crystal structure.
Nick Thomas’ chapter on Quantum Physics presents a number of “pointers” for a fresh look at the subject. Here, the author adds the perspective gained in the earlier chapters to such topics as the wave-particle duality, the uncertainty relationship, the wave function and its collapse, orbitals, spin, Bose-Einstein statistics, and non-locality and fields. There appears to be a great deal to gain in the resolution of the paradoxes of quantum physics. For example, in the phenomena considered so far, the wave-particle duality does not appear with the photon cone and its holistic properties. Also, the apparent necessity for the coincidental placement of bosons may well indicate a non-physical placement, which the concept of the CSI handles quite readily. In the author’s view, the “conventional paradoxes arise because of the attempt to understand everything only in physical terms.” However, he concludes:
“In suggesting a new basis we are not resorting to nebulous unquantifiable mysticism but to an aspect of the world that has its own well-defined and quantifiable laws, but is not physical.”
In the last chapter of Science Between Space and Counterspace, Nick Thomas brings this admittedly unfinished work to conclusion. After a brief summary he points out that the work is best regarded as a possible basis for a research program. There are, after all, many unanswered questions raised in the course of the book and there are many details of the approach, which obviously are not worked out. The intention of this work is no doubt in its response to the demand of science for a “thought-context” or paradigm and the attempt to “lay some foundations for such a context [in] a spiritual approach to science.” The approach based on the examination of a strain-stress relationship between space and counterspace “can be a bridge to a spiritual view as it is quantitative, even if the quantities involved are unfamiliar.” Further:
“The spiritual aspect of the work lies in the role of consciousness that is implied, and the idea that force is exerted by beings rather than abstract laws. This may seem superstitious to some, but our own direct experience of force is our only justification for speaking about it at all. The strain between space and counterspace for linked objects or entities only implies stress if there are beings which suffer that stress and act to sustain what we abstractly refer to as laws. The work presented is intended to show that the idea is not mere nebulous mysticism but has quantitative aspects, which give us access to such ideas in a scientific manner. That non-quantitative facets may then follow is expected, but a bridge is needed between the two so that the scientific ground given us in thought by the quantitative may be extended to the non-quantitative. This may be found when the role of thinking as a non-physical activity, which underwrites the confidence we have in the quantitative, is realized.”
If modern scientists have difficulty considering a spiritual dimension involved in earthly phenomena, Nick Thomas takes up the work directly. Throughout this book, we are invited into a challenging realm of imagination based on clear thinking. The envisioning of counterspace and its interactions with space as we know it engage the very principle that we cannot truly understand the material world without contemplating and, ultimately, experiencing the complementary spiritual realms. Indeed, the effort to construct and imagine this new science, as it appears to this reviewer, is itself a pathway to the experience of those very realms.
1Quotations in this article are from “Science Between Space and Counterspace,” by N. Thomas, Temple Lodge Publishing, London (1999).
2The author distinguishes between polar-Euclidean space and counterspace in that, strictly speaking, the latter may at some point need to take on non-Euclidean properties. For now, however, counterspace is treated as polar-Euclidean in the sense that its metric quadric is an imaginary cone.
3 In order to understand this work fully, a familiarity with the concepts of projective geometry is necessary. The author lists several references that are quite useful in this regard.
4See, for example, Whicher, O., “Projective Geometry,” (1977).
5The strain is manifested as shift-strain in counterspace. The stress, i. e. the rate of change of the shift-strain, is proportional to the (gravitational) force and manifests in space.
6 The following two quotes are from the chapter on gases.
7The quotes in this and the next paragraph are found in the chapter on Light. Note that the radial dimension of counterspace is related to time through “radial turn.”
8As a further point of interest, “Heisenberg acknowledged this distinction when discussing Goethe’s theory of color.”
9 Consistent with Steiner’s statement that the etheric realm is “two dimensional,” time is involved with the third (i.e., radial) dimension of counterspace.
10In the Chapter on Quantum Physics, the author points out that the “non-locality is in counterspace, not in space.”
by Renatus Ziegler. Reviewed by Nick Thomas.
Mathematisch-Astronomische Blätter, Neue Folge Band 21, ISBN 3-7235-1003-5
Renatus Ziegler has compiled a very comprehensive account of the laws of crystallography. The book is soft-bound and roughly A4 in size to accommodate the many excellent black-and-white diagrams adorning it. It brings together several different approaches to crystallography: the standard metric approach based on the fundamental theorems of small integer relationships between ratios of plane coordinates (e.g. the Miller indices), the use of projective geometry, and the symmetry operations of group theory. Each approach is carefully introduced and related to the others, and there is a brief introduction to projective geometry. Initially the reduction of the manifold real crystal polyhedra possible, e.g. for quartz, to a single bundle of planes and lines in a point is shown. This forms the basis for classifying crystals, and then the empirical laws concerning small integer relationships are described and related to each other and to the intersection of the fundamental fourflat to the Möbius net in the plane at infinity. This is then related to the seven standard types: cubic, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, triclinic, hexagonal and rhombohedral (referred to in the book as “trigonal”).
A comprehensive account is given, with tables and perspective diagrams, exhibiting the various types that arise from the 7 systems and 32 classes that are possible, which forms the bulk of the book (242 pages in all). Towards the end of the book the 5 possible topological classes of regular polyhedra are introduced together with the theorem that they are isomorphic to the metric ones. Then the projective and affine approaches to them are treated likewise, together with the perhaps surprising fact that they introduce no new classes beyond the topological. Then the projective approach to symmetry and polyhedra is illustrated in detail with many fine diagrams of the relation of polyhedra to their corresponding nets in the plane at infinity. Finally it is shown that projective geometry allows all the symmetries of real crystals to be derived, affording a holistic approach to the subject that stands on its own and explains crystal forms in a non-additive manner. This is not to deny the value of standard metric approaches, but rather to demonstrate that a classification based on polyhedra that pack in lattices so that a crystal may grow locally is not the only possible approach. This is summed up finally in a diagram relating the point-wise and planar approaches, and a crystal formation principle based on harmonic nets in relation to convex polyhedra.
A useful bibliography is given together with summaries of the symbols used and a list of equivalent German and English names of polyhedra. Altogether an excellent reference book on crystallography which is accessible with a minimum of mathematical expertise, provided of course the reader knows German.
Wilson’s book is an attempt to demonstrate the unifying potential of natural science, particularly of modern biology, as a general paradigm for all of science, on the grounds that all live activities are ruled by information in the genes. This attempt has found wide praise for proposing a coherent conception to obviate the prevailing world view of specialization and fragmentation, and moreover for being beautifully written. To what extent does this claim hold, where does it not, and what is required to bring the unifying endeavor to a conclusion? Besides supplying a commented overview of the book’s content, this review inquires into the validity of the claim, emphasizing the methodological basis. The book will appeal to economists to the extent of their interest in this foundational level.
Chapter 1 “The Ionian Enchantment” briefly introduces the reader to Wilson’s biography, under the auspices of his gradually developing personal Ionian enchantment (vision of Unity of Science).
In chapter 2 “The Great Branches of Learning” Wilson proposes his vision of the key to unify all sciences: “The only way either to establish or refute consilience is by methods developed in the natural sciences – not, I hasten to add, an effort led by scientists, or frozen in mathematical abstraction, but rather one allegiant to the habits of thought that have worked so well in exploring the material universe” (p 9). Wilson admits his scientism, indicted by philosophers, yet holds that [natural] “scientists are equally qualified to judge what remains to be discovered, and why” (p 11). “We have the common goal to turn as much philosophy as possible into science” (p 12); nevertheless his view of the brain as ‘the agent, actor, producer’, delegating this crucial activity to a material instance, ultimately eludes personal responsibility for one’s own thoughts – which is not material, but an idea, one that real philosophy aims at and social science must require for secure order.
Chapter 3 “The Enlightenment” locates the dream of intellectual unity’s first full flower in that age and its failure in the vain debates of philosophical history, of which only the idea of “inevitable progress” survived. Wilson holds that only natural science took up this lead, while philosophy got lost somewhere between order and chaos and is decaying into postmodernisms.
Chapter 4 “The Natural Sciences” elevates these and their expanding technical instrumentation to the token of having escaped confinement and prodigiously extended human grasp of phenomena. The question is not discussed whether more data automatically mean more clarity on the categorical level of interpretation – a point to doubt. Calculability is taken for ‘having understood’ (p 49ff), with “the cutting edge of science is reductionism … breaking apart of nature into its natural constituents” and “love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science” (p 54). The magic agent is “discovery”, different addictions leading to the “tribes of science”.
Wilson believes in objective truth under the criterion of empirical investigation (p 60); he does not discuss the fact that this excludes the essence of singularities, as repetitivity is not given there; in fact he excludes all essences, seeing only “self-assembly”. But why would anything in the universe assemble in clusters operating in a relatively autonomous way, after all? With Wilson, the ultimate agents of life remain mysterious, dissolved in hypotheses.
Chapter 5 “Ariadne’s Thread” commends the potential of these hypotheses for research on all levels of existence. It construes genetic structures into producers of motivational origins in phenomena like archaic dream symbols, boldly generalizing this idea. “An organism is a machine, and the laws of physics and chemistry … are enough to do the job, given sufficient time and research funding” (p 91). Mind is seen as a mere product of the brain, emotion as mere modifications of neural activity. Is it a good idea that moves Wilson, or his chemistry, in the last resort? He views concepts as nodes of reference points in long-term memory, some labeled by words. He admits pure theorems in mathematics, but not pure thoughts that discover them. The fact that strict mathematical infinity cannot be grasped and processed correctly via any representation, but only by thinking it actively in a totally clear (‘pure’) way, seems to escape Wilson; this realm cannot exist for him.
Chapter 6 “The Mind” approaches its topic only in an evolutionary perspective. The underlying assumption is that processes follow laws by coercion – implying that laws are always linked to an activating force (p 99), hence confusing the two (under such assumptions anything can be ‘proved’ through some observed regularities). Mapping the mind is taken for understanding its functions, and meaning for merely a linkage of neural networks; that these are maybe more a result of repetitive impression – and thus meaning – than its cause, is not discussed. Subjective experience is admitted to be inaccessible to this approach (p 116); Wilson tries to side-step the problem by ‘objectivating’ the cognition process and reducing it to perception. But in the way he construes his interpretation it implies that cognition happens in the terms used by our natural science – as if we saw wavelengths when seeing ‘blue’ or ‘Peter’. And where would the brain, ‘swimming in the sea of representations’, find the criteria to be sure about a correspondence between a given representation and a given fact? The relativity of representation is not discussed. Having left thinking to ‘the brain’, free will must be discussed as a question of states of all neurons under the auspices of chaos theory; beyond the fact that this does not describe freedom of will, but real mental action, this procedure conflates the map (theory) with the landscape (mind), forgetting moreover that the laws depicted in the differential equations of chaos theory are not chaotic, but totally fixed (only parameters vary), so these laws cannot account for the real ‘chaos’. On such paths, free will can finally appear only as a belief – even though it is a stringent precondition for inventing such theories – while the assertions sound as if this theory has now explained the existence of free will in this sense.
Chapter 7 “From Genes to Culture” and Chapter 8 “The Fitness of Human Nature” approach their topic out of one same perspective: the “epigenetic rules” (p 127f), held responsible for all the cultural superstructures of mankind – even though methodologically the same applies as for laws in (the differential equations of) chaos theory. These laws are then construed – in the same conflation of law and force as in chapter 6 – as the “impersonal force” (p 129) that drives evolution. The fact that culture is not only a coercive corset as a mere product of behaviour, but makes real sense only if it sets people free to find new ways, and thus requires also other ideas than the ones encompassed in this particular evolutionary perspective, must be left in the dark by such a view. The mythical impersonality acts also in communication: “complex information is thus organized and transmitted by language composed of words” (p 135). As if meaning moved alone to make itself heard (maybe such teleguided people do exist?). The genes “prescribe” what the physiological systems should do (p 137) in this “gene-culture coevolution”. Culture seen this way appears then as a mere hotbed for the genes to find their evolutionary path and develop the “genetic leash” (p 157ff) on which mankind toddles along. So let’s wait until the genes solve our problems? And how could a gene-determined culture know which path to favour? Especially since “no bias-free mental development has yet been discovered” (p 167), which however describes only the past. But with a prospect of gene control we would have nothing but the past in us…. as it appears for instance in the “predictions” of gender behaviour, ruttish vs. coy (p 170), like old ghosts coming alive again.
Chapter 9 “The Social Sciences” discusses anthropology, sociology, economics and political science. Wilson charges that “problems became intractably complex, partly because the root causes are poorly understood” (p 181). Fair enough. But is Wilson’s basis any better? To him, advanced social theorists seem “happy with folk psychology” (p 183), and he argues that only the molecular paradigm can be of any help. Sociology to him is even worse; as disciplines to bridge the gaps he proposes: cognitive neuroscience (brain science), human behavioral genetics, evolutionary biology, environmental sciences (p 192). “The enterprise within the social sciences best poised to bridge the gap to the natural sciences, the one that most resembles them in style and self-confidence, is economics … But its similarity to ‘real’ science is often superficial and has been purchased at a steep intellectual price” (p 195). The reasons for this “can be summarized in two labels: Newtonian and hermetic” (p 197). Economic theory “lacks a solid foundation in units and processes” (p 201). Wilson would like us to accept that we make choices not depending on “childhood, social interaction and cultural influence”, but on his idea of “hereditary epigenetic rules” (p 204). “The full understanding of utility will come from biology and psychology by reduction to the elements of human behavior followed by bottom-up synthesis, not from the social sciences by top-down inference and guesswork based on intuitive knowledge” (p 206). Brave New World? In chapter 10 “The Arts and Their Interpretation”, and chapter 11 “Ethics and Religion”, Wilson attempts to roll out his basic assumptions also into these realms. What he grasps and discusses is aspects of myth, believing this to cover all of Art. Similarly, the dimension he can reach in religion is merely naive worship, believing this is all there is to it. This does not look like we are nearing the end of the 20th century, and he does not discuss worshipping science.
Chapter 12 “To What End?”: he again reveals the fact that the material matrix is the ultimate and only basis and thus reality – not clarifying the fact that it is of little use to confuse conceptually ‘car’ and ‘driver’, or ‘bed’ and ‘sleeper’, in the way human beings find themselves resting on, but not totally dependent on material structures. So again his answer is of very partial validity only: pull the humanities into natural science. The fact that all of measurement (as the basis of natural science) is ultimately necessarily determined in a qualitative way (unit or act of reference), not quantitatively, and can thus never be self-constitutive, is not discussed. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom” (p 269); which of them is Wilson’s consilience? The image of Man he draws is just as valid for highly intelligent animals; he offers no clear criterion for distinguishing. Freedom appears as the ability to follow one’s whims, encouraged by technology – forgetting that this is not freedom, but compulsion; yet this freedom is the only one Wilson proposes (p 276f).
He discusses at length the need to care for our environment, as we depend on it. Even though his topic ultimately is thus life, claiming consilience and thus completeness, he does not discuss its necessary condition for not getting stuck: the principle of death, which no being fears – as opposed to the process of dying, which is painful exactly to the degree of being inflicted from outside. This concerns us ultimately insofar as we cling to ideas about life and survival in proportion to our understanding of death, creating or solving problems correspondingly – e.g. ending up with ‘needing’ technocracy and consumption as a surrogate for not-understanding, with ensuing ‘needs’ to plunder resources for all the senseless gadgets, in an economy that believes it can exist only in a state of eternal, yet palpable growth.
Summing up, “The definitive quality of a good [social] theory is predictiveness” (p 198). But [social] life can, by its intrinsic principles involving degrees of autonomy, not be predictive in exactly the same way as processes in inert matter. Wilson forgets that the “Ariadne’s thread of causal explanation”, which he holds for universal in the way natural science understands it, is twisted in another way in live structures than physics and chemistry can know. The consilience that Wilson can offer is a selected one, a partial one only. It is always possible to take the world and intuitively shape stories about it so they fit to a high degree. He even declares his motive: “Find a paradigm for which you can raise money and attack with every method of analysis at your disposal” (p 157).
The intuition of unifying all of science is a very valuable one, and highly necessary in our times. It is Wilson’s merit to dare approach this topic.
Yet it poses a question in systematic methodology: on what path can this objective be fulfilled? To this the answers given by Wilson are misleading, because they are presented as truths, while their foundation is superficial – despite beautiful rhetoric and amazing scholarship. The underlying theory, outlined by Eigen, Küppers etc., tapered off by Dawkins, certainly has its validity and corresponding merits in many specialized fields. But through the step of generalizing it into a paradigm for all fields dealing with the question of life, as Wilson does, it becomes (a) factually and (b) logically inconsistent. Summing up the basic reasons: the theory of genes held for determinative in all organic processes, including our thoughts, is factually untenable, out of incompleteness: ultimately, through the chosen categories and concepts, our actual physics and chemistry can give no fully determined answer in the single micromolecular case, but only statistical images – whereas human thought can react fully to the single case, its degree of grasping abstraction and transcendence depending only on the categories and concepts used in that view. The gap produced conceptually in quantum and relativity theory (out of thinking first in separable systems, later separable attributes) ‘between’ complementarities and ‘within’ non-locality is not a domain without consequences, and even less proved to be non-existent by these physical theories through nothing more than their conceptually not encompassing it. This gap cannot fully be counterbalanced by summing up images ‘around’ it. Understanding what, for instance, an electron is as such is not accessible by any amount of calculating its interactions in time and space, but only by grasping its intrinsic interactional laws. And ultimately, understanding fully a human “I” itself is not possible out of any third-person ‘objective’ perspective, regardless of the number of views.
A theory of genes held for totally determinative is logically untenable, out of self-contradiction: if the genes are fully determinative, as is certainly the case for many biochemical reactions, this theory is of no help in understanding full and ultimate reality, as then the theory would itself be the result of something we would not fully be able to gain insight into, but could only accept in belief, which would leave us with merely one more religion (in this case one form of scientism). Watering down the alleged line of influence through near-infinite lines of descendance, as for instance Wilson proposes, is a twist to make us lose track of the lack of logic in the steps of cause and effect. This is maybe fit for the credulous, but not a real proof. And if the genes are not fully determinative, as the results of the biochemical sciences themselves show more and more – the epigenetic problem grows stronger every day, not weaker – we must abandon this theory for a truly more comprehensive one. One example for a way out of the maze could be the new theories of genes as parts of the complex interactive developmental system ‘organism-plus-environment’ (as presented by Goodwin, Hubbard / Wald, Ho, Jablonka / Lamb, Oyama, Rehmann, Wirz, etc.).
The real way out of science’s fragmentation, beneficial to all the participants, will not be found through the hegemony of a partial view. It rather requires clarification of the foundational concepts towards making them universally applicable in a strict way – for instance as long as we confuse the law aspect and the force aspect, strict universal applicability will not be possible. Total clarity is the bridge. We are not there yet, but the more thoroughly we think and discuss it, the better will be our chances of attaining it.
Alec A. Schaerer, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Dept. XB (Environmental Sciences) Zürich, Switzerland.
From In Context, the Newsletter of The Nature Institute, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1999
What, you ask, is The Nature Institute? Good question. We’ve made repeated attempts to write the definitive, once-for-all mission statement, and somehow the essence of the thing always slips through the gaps between the words. This, of course, isn’t really surprising, since The Nature Institute is a living, developing enterprise. As long as this remains true, it will escape every effort we make to capture it “once for all.”
Nevertheless, the effort to catch the vision as best one can is a healthy one. What follows is certainly not a definitive statement. It is merely the first of what will probably be a continuing series of reflections in which we look at The Nature Institute’s commitments and activities from different angles.
Entrenched Habits: Throughout this past century many have sought a new, more contextual, holistic, and participative science, in which the observer is cognitively and ethically united with the object of observation. This desire to overcome the alienation inherent in a fragmented, mechanistic view of the world has turned up everywhere from systems science to complexity studies to “new age” endeavors, and has spawned countless interdisciplinary programs at colleges and universities. The rhetoric of wholeness confronts us on all hands.
And yet, the alienation from nature and community runs deep in our culture. The massive funding, agenda-setting, and research institutions of mainstream science continue to pursue a compartmentalized and one-sidedly quantitative knowledge aimed at little more than effective manipulation of the world. The overwhelming testimony of science and technology, borne in upon us from all sides, is that we and all other living organisms are mechanisms, suitable to be tinkered with in the name of abstract, quantitative “values” such as efficiency.
Clearly, achieving a new science will not be an easy task, even if the world’s health and survival depend upon it. Among other things, the habits of thought we have acquired over the past several hundred years stand in the way. They encourage us to seek effective manipulation rather than understanding – in other words, blind power. They substitute analyzable fragments for contexts and wholes. By narrowing our awareness to matters of instrumentality, they make us subject to unconscious and destructive drives. They blind us to the qualities of our own lives and the qualities we are imparting to the world.
It was with the challenge of these habits of thought in mind that the founders of The Nature Institute articulated the following statement:
Nature around us is whole and interconnected.. Though we are part of nature, we do not yet fathom nature’s depths, and our actions do not embody her wisdom. A fundamental shift in our way of viewing the world is necessary, if we would contribute to nature’s unity rather than dissolution.. At The Nature Institute we seek ways of knowing and doing that are fashioned after nature’s own wholeness. Science becomes a participatory dialogue with nature, wherein each phenomenon finds its unique, contextual expression.
A New Practice: At The Nature Institute we believe that science can evolve toward a genuine holism. The demands this places upon the researcher, however, are exceedingly great:
An attention to qualities. To read nature, rather than merely to manipulate it, is to reckon with its qualities. It is through their qualities – not the mutual exclusiveness of their abstracted “elements” – that things declare their distinctive nature and relate to each other. While measurement can be automated and made easy, the reading of qualities cannot. The scientific researcher must gain the sensitivity and discrimination of an artist.
The exploration of context. If nature around us is whole and interconnected, then every investigation opens outward without predefined limit. The expressive qualities of things – like the words in a sentence – mutually interpenetrate and influence each other. They are each an expression of an encompassing whole, and therefore can lead one back to the whole from which they arose. Every phenomenon can only be understood in its context.
An inescapable ethical commitment. A nature that is qualitative, expressive, and whole is a nature ensouled. It is a nature that addresses us, a nature we must engage in conversation. As in all conversation, the ethical element is always present, and is not something just tacked on at the end by asking, “What shall we do with the result of this conversation!” The conversation itself — in field and laboratory – expresses our ethical respect or disrespect for nature.
A new kind of objectivity. Every scientist must learn to be rigorous and objective in his or her judgements. But this is not so easy once we have rediscovered our ties of kinship with, and responsibility for, nature. It is always tempting to yield to mere sentiment or wishful thinking, and to mistake one’s own soul for the soul of nature. So the demands for clear judgement and knowledge of self are much greater for the holistic than for the conventional researcher. As Owen Barfield once remarked, “Any reasonably honest fool can be objective about objects.” But it’s a different matter when, having experienced ourselves in the world and the world in ourselves, we must nevertheless distinguish our purely individual, subjective tendencies from the surrounding life of the world.
Bearing these responsibilities in mind, The Nature Institute seeks to provide a home for the practice of a qualitative, contextual science; to encourage other researchers in the pursuit of such a science; to cultivate holistic science education; and to present the new science to a larger public through lectures, publications, workshops, and courses. Steve Talbott
The Nature Institute, 169 Route 21C, Ghent, NY 12075, USA. Tel: (518) 672-0116. Fax: (518) 672-4270.
(The following text is translated by David Heaf from the Institute’s leaflet.)
About us: Many people realise that the issue of water quality with not be solved only by looking at limits of contaminants. What is what we recognise as good water and experience as refreshing and how does it behave? Our independent public research institute is devoting itself to precisely this question. We seek to understand water in its life-promoting context and are studying how to reveal its characteristics. A proper picture of this aspect of the quality of water is still a long way off.
We take a phenomenological approach to flow scientific experimental studies on water. We study the theory of knowledge that underlies a responsible way of dealing with water and thereby strive to contribute to a renewal of awareness for it. We develop an anthroposophically oriented scientific approach in this area by acknowledging the spiritual-supersensible aspects of natural phenomena.
The drop picture method: Our work is based on that of the flow scientist Theodor Schwenk who founded the institute in 1960 and directed it until 1975. He discovered organic formative principles in the flow forms of water and described them in his book Sensitive Chaos (Rudolf Steiner Press, London, ISBN 0-85584-055-3). He used the drop picture method which he developed to demonstrate pictorially the flow behaviour of water as an expression of its composition.
The drop picture method has been further developed according to its physical-chemical basis and its diagnostic possibilities and is today still our primary research tool.
In a drop picture test a thin layer of the water sample is mixed homogeneously with a Schlieren pattern forming additive, brought into movement through repeated drops of distilled water falling on it and the resulting flow patterns are photographed with Schlieren optics. This is carried out under strictly standardised conditions which have been refined and confirmed over many years of experimental work.
The flow pattern results in a picture of how the water behaves together with the substances it contains and these combine to have a physical modifying effect on its mobility. But it is not possible in a particular case to tell what substances are dissolved in the water. For that it is necessary to do chemical analyses. Here we are concerned with a picture creating, not an analytical, method. In the type of flow it embraces holistically and vividly the interplay of forces working on the water.
For examples of drop pictures, please see www.stroemungsinstitut.de
Research results: Natural, pure, uncontaminated well or spring water – i.e. ideal potable water that is refreshing – gives drop pictures that show characteristic complex forms independent of their lime content. In their flow movements arises a multiplicity of rhythmic form patterns which change with each stimulus to movement and reform anew. The mobility of such water is at the maximum of its formative capacity. This mobility is not usually attained with drinking water obtained from polluted primary sources and rendered hygienic and drinkable: water harmed by mankind flows unrhythmically, is poor in flowform patterns and these patterns are little differentiated. The protection of natural pure groundwaters is therefore of particular concern.
The formative mobility of water is a more independent aspect of its quality. It supplements the analytical investigations by contributing to a holistic understanding of quality.
In comparative investigations of biological self purification of water courses contaminated with domestic waste water, hitherto unknown relationships between the mobility and the biology of the water have been discovered and characterised.
In order to understand the conditions for the production of drop pictures systematic research has been carried out for instance on falling and colliding drops. The great multiplicity of movements and formative changes in quick succession include a little observed aspect of water in its transition between chaos and form. The sensitivity of water movements under unstable flow conditions is an important part of these transitions. This raises the increasingly important question of the openness of water to influences from the surroundings. Understanding water as permeated by earthly as well as cosmic principles is a challenge issued by Rudolf Steiner. This challenge is a taken up by studying the relationships of sensitive water flows to earthly-cosmic rhythms.
Activities and projects: We are active in basic and applied research and teaching and are involved with both the specialist scientific community and the public. Thus we work with other research and educational institutions in both anthroposophical and wider contexts. Our work is intended to serve the furtherance of public understanding and contribute to solving practical problems and needs.
Our ongoing and, when funding allows, prioritised research projects come under the following headings:
characterisation of the quality criteria for good drinking water in the sense of a holistic concept of quality
investigating the influence of flow behaviour of water by physical and process technological measures in water management, agriculture and pharmaceuticals etc.
investigating temporal fluctuations in the flow behaviour of water
studies including spiritual scientific aspects towards a better understanding of water in its whole context of life
development of educational experiments for presenting water phenomena
further development of the drop picture method, especially the methodology for phenomenological evaluation of the pictures and the
systematisation of the physical, chemical and laboratory technical basis of flow.
Contracts for investigating particular water samples are undertaken after prior arrangement. Our experimental conditions are available on request. We do not undertake testing or recommending products.
Public activities: After research, work with the general public is of central importance to us. We give public lectures and seminars, have an exhibition Wasser verstehen lernen and give tours of the Institute. Visits, partly public and partly for groups which apply to us, are arranged on various weekends in the summer months. Some 400-500 people visit us each year.
We publish in our own periodical Sensibiles Wasser, and occasionally in contributions to journals and books. An illustrated catalogue is available. Finally, our public activities also include our newsletter Wasserzeichen and the annual conferences for our sponsors.
At intervals of several years we hold a three week intensive course for scientists, with practical training on the drop picture method, as an introduction to the Institute’s water research. Other training possibilities, e.g. during school and university holidays cannot be offered.
Staff, sponsors and charitable status: Currently we are a group of 6 colleagues who work autonomously but in partnership. The institute is carried by the Verein für Bewegungsforschung e.V., whose head office is based at the Institute. We are in constant consultation with the management committee of the Verein (Association) whose members work with us according to the tasks in hand.
The Verein is recognised as a charity by the Bad Säckingen authorities. Thus donations to it and to the Institute according to German regulations can be relieved of tax by up to 10% of income.
Funding: One third of funding comes from:
donations of members and sponsors of the Verein für Bewegungsforschung e.V.
donations for specific research goals or assignments from institutions and interested companies supporting research
income from contract testing using the drop picture method and from work with the general public.
We would welcome your support! Membership of the carrying Verein, free or conditional donations, gifts, qualified gifts and legacies are invaluable help to us, for which we are most grateful.
Membership: Membership of the Verein für Bewegungsforschung is open to anybody who approves of our aims and work and wants to support us on a regular basis. The recommended amount for voluntary donation is 150 DM (Students 60 DM). Please send applications in writing by personal letter.
Notice of cessation of membership can be given at any time. Annual conferences for the sponsors at which the work is reported take place at Herrischried.
Institute collegium: Michael Jacobi (flow physicist); Franz Metzler (management); Wolfram Schwenk (hydrologist); Andreas Wilkens (basic research)
Publications: Sensibles Wasser series: Themes:
Wasserethik: Heft 1. 1985. Schwenk, T., Das Wasser, Herausforderung an das moderne Bewußtsein. 8 Vorträge von 1967 – 1979. Bibliographie 80 S. 16,-DM /Euro 8,18
Tropfenbildmorphologie: Heft 2. 1993. Jahnke, D, Morphologische Typisierung von Tropfenbildversuchen und Tropfenbildern und morphologische Unterscheidungsmerkmale für die Auswertung von Wasserqualitäts-Untersuchungen mit der Tropfenbildmethode. 165 Fotos auf 43 Abb; 68 S. 20,-DM / Euro 10,23
Grundwasser-Untersuchungen: Heft 3. 1994. Jahnke, D., Langjährige Grundwasser-Untersuchungen mit der Tropfenbildmethode. Beitrag mit der Tropfenbild methode zum Trinkwasser-Qualitätsleitbild nach DIN 2000. Gegenüberstellung von hydrochemischen Analysedaten und Versuchsergebnissen mit der Tropfenbildmethode. Mit 125 Tropfenbildfotos auf 33 Abb.; 80 S. 20,- DM /Euro 10,23
Strömungsverhalten und Wasserbiologie: Heft 4. 1994. Peter, H.M., Das Strömungsverhalten des Wassers in der biologischen Selbstreinigungsstrecke des Schwarzwald-baches Mettma. Untersuchungen mit der Tropfenbildmethode im Vergleich mit biologischen, chemischen und physikalschen Parametern 261 Tropfenbilder aus 31 Abb. und 2 Postern mit je 48 Tropfenbildern; 160 S. 32,-DM /Euro 16,36
Ausstellungskatalog Wasser verstehen lernen von A. Wilkens, M. Jacobi und W. Schwenk. Sonderheft 1995. Mit über 300 teils farbigen Fotos und Zeichnungen; 64 S. 35,-DM /Euro 17,90. Price includes postage and packing.
Science Section of the School of Spiritual Science, UK members
Meetings of the Science Section are open to members of the School who have a practical involvement in the natural sciences. The next meeting of the UK members will be on Saturday 20thNovember 1999 in Stroud, Glos. Ron Jarman and Henry Goulden have suggested astrosophy as the theme and will contribute to the discussion. Hazel Straker, who has devoted herself to this field of work for many years has agreed to introduce the theme. If you have not been sent a programme directly but would like to attend, please contact David Heaf (address at the end of this newsletter).
The annual ‘fixed’ meeting of the Section in the UK is set for 19th February 2000. The venue is to be arranged.
International Meeting of the Science Section of the School of Spiritual Science
Hawkwood College, Stroud, Glos. 16th-19th June 2000
This meeting is open to members of the Section worldwide and is one in the series of annual meetings which are held in alternate years away from Dornach.
Full details are available from Johannes Kühl, Hügelweg 59, CH-4143 Dornach, Switzerland. Tel: +41 61 706 4210. Fax: +41 61 706 4215. Email: email@example.com.
Victory of the Human Spirit over Computer Technology
8 pm on 29th to 4.00 pm on 31st October 1999 at Anthro-Tech Institute, CH-1669 Les Sciernes-d’Albeuve, Switzerland. Tel: 00 41 26 928 1937, Fax: 0041 26 928 2224
Information technology extends its influence into almost all walks of life. For many leading thinkers, computers will supplant human beings as a more advanced form of intelligence. Others expect us to be connected so closely to them that we become hybrid beings – half human, half machine. The recent success of microchip implants in the human body doubtless heralds an era in which such implants will become obligatory on ‘health’ grounds, just as vaccination is today in many countries.
Is there a way to regain mastery over artificial intelligence, to put machines back in the service of the free human spirit? Yes, there is a way – but it calls for determination and the courage to confront Ahriman directly.
Cost £135 SFr including evening/main meals, excluding accommodation/breakfast.
Science Teacher Training Course
This is a one year, full-time course for mature students who already have some knowledge of anthroposophy and a formal training in a scientific discipline. The course is built around the question: ‘How do we meet the needs of today’s adolescents with a meaningful science curriculum based on spiritual science?’
For further details please write to: Science Teacher Training Course, Wynstones, Whaddon, Gloucester GL4 OUF, UK. Tel: 01452 522475. Fax:01452 525667. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Graham Kennish). See also: scienctt.htm
Complexity, Chaos and Creativity
with Ian Stewart, David Peat & Brian Goodwin , January 9-28, 2000, at Schumacher College
The science we all learnt in school, which sees the world as governed by mathematical “laws of nature” and therefore behaving in fully predictable ways, is being challenged by new discoveries, which have led to the development of chaos and complexity theory. These discoveries show that even the simplest systems obeying simple rules can behave in complex ways which are impossible to predict, even with the most advanced computing facilities. The course will introduce the two key concepts of chaos and complexity and look at their implications for astronomy, ecology and biology, and as metaphors for understanding organisations, relationships and daily life. These new metaphors open us up to a more participatory view of the universe, leading in turn to an awareness of the importance of creativity and the sacred. Learning to participate with complex systems requires the cultivation of intuition as well as the analytical intellect, and the course will introduce ways of doing this as part of the methodology of a new holistic science of qualities.
Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University, and has written popular articles about mathematics for Scientific American, New Scientist, the Economist and The Times. He is author of Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos and most recently Life’s Other Secret.
David Peat is a physicist and author of many books including Blackfoot Physics, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm and Seven Life Lessons of Chaos. He recently organised a series of dialogue circles with Native American Elders and Western Scientists. Brian Goodwin was Professor of Biology at the Open University, and is now Co-ordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. He is author of How the Leopard Changed its Spots.
Masters Level Credits Available.
Schumacher College, The Old Postern, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA, UK Tel: +44 (0)1803 865934; Fax: +44 (0)1803 866899; Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.gn.apc.org/schumachercollege/
Issue 5, September 1999. The projective lemniscate, Lou de Boer. The fruitfulness of Goethe’s approach to science at the present time, Jochen Bockemühl (Trans. David Heaf). Participation, cooperation and adaptive mutations: complementing ecological and evolutionary paradigms, Johannes Wirz. Foreword to ‘The Natural Scientific Writings of Goethe’ (edited by R. Steiner), Karl Julius Schröer (Trans. David Wood). Towards a history and sociology of the anthroposophical research institutes in the 1920s, Christoph Podak (Trans. Paul Carline).
60 pages, A5. Price: £4.00 incl. UK p&p (overseas p&p: EU add £0.50, elsewhere add £1.00). Orders to the editor, David Heaf (address at the end of this newsletter). UK bank cheques or Eurocheques payable to ‘Science Group, AS in GB’. No non-UK bank cheques please, apart from Eurocheques. Foreign currency banknotes acceptable at current exchange rates.
All back issues are still available: please enquire or see archetyp.htm.
The editor would welcome offers to publicise worldwide the existence of Archetype so as to increase its circulation and hopefully thereby eventually justify having it professionally printed.
On the Phenomena of Rainbows – Goethe’s Method of science, by Raimo Rask
This beautifully presented book comprises a first half giving a very clearly written overview of the history and philosophy of science illustrating especially that as the theories change over the centuries so do the facts, and a second half which introduces, through the reader’s contemplation of the fine illustrations, the Goethean method, in contrast to the Newtonian. The author leads one step by step to experiencing the primal phenomenon of the rainbow through studying a “drop” of water. For the home experimenter, a spherical wine glass filled with water will suffice. We hope to have an authoritative review of this book in the next issue – Ed.
ISBN 951-97111-4-7, ISSN 1456-5048. 99 pages plus 27 pages of colour photographs (53 pastel drawings) Published by Snellman College, 1999. Price: 180 Fmk
The study can be ordered from Snellman-korkeakoulu (College), Puuskakuja 14, 00850 Helsinki, Finland.
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This bi-monthly newsletter brings new international insights spanning all fields of knowledge – from anthropology to zoology, from atheism to Zen Buddhism. Edited by Christopher Bodame. For a sample issue and subscription details write to Trans Intelligence, 29 Dalhousie St., Haberfield (Sydney), NSW 2045, Australia. Email: email@example.com
The Millennium Prophecies of Rudolf Steiner. Heinz Herbert Schoeffler MD. English translation by Henry Goulden of a lecture given on 12th June 1995 at Forum 3 in Stuttgart. 44pp, spiral bound, A4, £7.95 incl. p&p. Available from L. H. Goulden, The Chapel, Treligga, Delabole, Cornwall, OL33 9EE.
Elemente der Naturwissenschaft
Articles mostly in German, abstracts in English.
70 (1) 1999: Zur Empfindlichkeit der Methode der Kupferchloridkristallisation, Christine Ballivet, Haijo Knijpenga, Jean-Georges Barth and Raymond Clad. Die Gleichnissprache der Mathematik, Gerhard Kowol. Science as process or dogma? The case of the peppered moth, Craig Holdrege. Antwort auf die Stellungnahme ‘Relativ oder absolut?’ von Herrn Dustmann bezüglich meines Aufsatzes ‘Beitrag zur Untersuchung der Postulate ser Spezielle Relativitätstheorie von Albert Einstein’, Mario Matthijsen. Kausalität in der Mechanik, Elektrizitäts- und Wärmelehre, Georg Unger.
Editor: Dr. Johannes Wirz, Forschungslaboratorium am Goetheanum, Hügelweg 59, CH-4143 Dornach, Switzerland. Email:100716.1756@Compuserve.Com. Distributor: Verlag der Kooperative Dürnau, Im Winkel 11, D-88422 Dürnau, Germany Tel: +49 7582 93000, Fax +49 7582 930020. Subscription 28.- DM/year for 2 issues, 16.- per single issue, inclusive of p&p.
Nr. 196 (Easter 1999): Zur Charakteristik der Materiewelle, Karl-Heinz Niklowitz. Einführung für unendlichen fernen Elemente in der projectiven Geometrie, Georg Unger. Tropfenbildarbeit mit Konstellationen, Georg Unger.
Nr. 197 (St John’s Tide): The construction of immanent triangles and immanent squares, Horst Kornberger. Some Briggsian Bridges Between Sense Perception, Postage Stamps and Stylized Proportions or A Musician-Mathematician Looks at Life, Stephen Eberhart.
Subscriptions are Sfr40/DM45 per year. Edited by Dr. G. Unger †, Mathematisch-Physicalisches Institut, Dorneckstr. 15, CH-4143 Dornach, Switzerland.
Tycho de Brahe Jahrbuch für Goetheanismus
1996: Klaus Frisch: Die differenzierte Haltung Goethes und Rudolf Steiners gegenüber dem Mikroskopieren. Angelika Heinze: Zum Phänomen der Einblattrigkeit in der Gattung Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae). Klaus Frisch: Zum tagesrhythmischen Säurestoffwechsel der Kakteen und anderer Pflanzen Hans-Christoph Vahle: Pflanzensoziologie – ein Weg zu einer goetheanistischen Landschaftskunde. Wolfgang Schad: Das Pflanzenkleid Israels in seinen Florenregionen. Wolfgang Schad: Rund um den Großen Eisvogel, mit einem Vorschlag zur natiirlichen Gliederung der Tagfalterfamilien. Roselies Gehlig und Wolfgang Schad: Über die Färbung und Zeichnung der Vogeleier. Armin Scheffler: Von der Wandlungskraft des Feuers Zum Chemieunterricht.
1997: Angelika Fried: Lebensbild Gerbert Grohmanns. Andreas Suchantke: Gerbert Grohmann – eine biographische Skizze. Thomas Göbel: Meine Begegnungen mit Gerbert Grohmann. Andreas Suchantke: Gerbert Grohmann als Forscher und Schriftsteller. Gerbert Grohmann: Entwicklungsgesetze des Lebendigen, dargestellt an einer Phänomenologie der Farnkräuter und Schachtelhalme. Thomas Göbel: Über die Mesembryanthemaceenfrüchte als Strömungsapparate. Thomas Marti: Motive der Entwicklungsgeschichte des Tierreiches. Wolfgang Schad: Die Zweiheit der Mitte.Roselies Gehlig: Zur Struktur der Vogeleischalen. Daniel Braun: Die natürliche Ordnung der menschlichen Milchproteine.
1998: Johannes Kühl: Zur Vertiefung der Naturwissenschaft durch Goetheanismus und Anthroposophie. Thomas Göbel: Die goetheanistisch-naturwissenschaftliche Arbeitsweise. Christof Lindenau: Im Anfang der Forschung auf geistigem Felde. Stephan Stockmar: Die Darstellung des Typus- und Entwicklungsgedankens in Rudolf Steiners Goetheschriften. Albrecht Schad: Der mitteleuropäische Jahreslauf eine geographische Betrachtung. Bruno Busse: Schritte zum Verständnis der mitteleuropäischen Mohngewächse. Angelika Heinze: Die “Jungfer im Grünen” und ihre Verwandten – Zur Metamorphose der Ranunculaceen-Gattungen Komaroffia, Nigella und Garidella. Thomas Göbel: Zwei Waldreben, das Buschwindröschen, die Kuhschelle und die Evolution der B1ütenpflanzen. Andreas Suchantke: Begegnungen mit “Cobra-Lilies” im Himalaya und Blick auf die Familie der Araceen. Wolfgang Schad: Vom Menschlichen in der Natur. Gunther Hildebrandt: Der biologische Jahresrhythmus des Menschen. Gunther Hildebrandt: Rhythmische Reaktionen (Reaktive Perioden).
Edited by Rolf Dorka, Roselies Gehlig, Thomas Göbel, Angelika Heinze, Wolfgang Schad & Hans-Joachim Strüh. Tycho de Brahe Verlag GdBR, Am Eichhof, 75223 Niefern-Öschelbronn, Germany.
The Science Group is open to members of the Anthroposophical Society worldwide. At the discretion of the committee, non-members of the Society may join the Group as Associate Members.
The membership subscription is currently £5 (UK), £6 (Europe) or £7 elsewhere. This newsletter is issued to members in March and Sepember each year. The membership currently totals 79.
The Group’s account is £441 in credit. In order to do justice to the print quality of two articles containing photographs recently submitted to Archetype, we have had to purchase a new printer. The existing one is now 4 years old and its extended warranty expired this summer. Pages 5 and 6 of this newsletter, with their complex images, were printed on the new printer.
Copy for the next issue should reach the editor at the address below by 20th February 2000.