Shorter, improved, updated Wikipedia page on Goethean Science

Cover DRAFT holistic-psychology-20-16kHi friends, around mid-2014 the Wikipedia page on Goethean Science received a complete re-write from a knowledgeable but unknown Anthroposophist.  This blog had already started so I paid attention.  The existing Wikipedia page retains a number of my comments and revisions.

For the coming Holistic Psychology 2.0 book, I needed to work with this article again.  This version has hundreds more additions, revisions, etc. than the current Wikipedia page.  Posting it as it’s much more accessible, reader-friendly and woman-friendly.

Wikipedia’s page on GS is here:  Feel free to upgrade it if you can.

Why did Goethe feel a new way of seeing was needed?

By 1750 Western philosophy had reached an ethical and epistemological cul-de-sac. The Enlightenment or Age of Reason was based on a static view of human nature, an increasingly mechanical view of the universe (based on Copernican astronomy, Galilean mechanics and Newtonian physics) and a linear view of the progress of scientific knowledge (based on a mechano-material, reductionist approach). This rationalist approach, what one commentator has termed the ‘one-eyed, color blind’ perspective of the world, raised fundamental issues about “God, freedom and immortality” (Kant) of growing concern to a culture undergoing significant economic, political and cultural transformation.

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The scientific method that had worked well with inert nature (Bacon’s ”natura naturata”), was less successful in seeking to understand vital nature (”natura naturans”). At the same time, the rational-empirical model based on the predominance of mentative thinking via the intellect started by Descartes and advanced most notably in France, was vulnerable to arbitrariness. Equally rational arguments could be made for widely divergent propositions or conceptions, leading to confusion and doubt rather than clarity.

The more empirical approach favored in England (David Hume led to the view that reality is sense-based, including the mind. What we perceive is only a mental representation of what is real, and what is real we can never really know.

As one observer summarizes, there were two ‘games’ being played in philosophy at the time – one rational and one empirical, both of which led to total skepticism and an epistemological crisis.

<ref name=””>{{cite journal|last1=Amrine|first1=Frederick|title=The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education|journal=Waldorf Research Bulletin|date=2012|volume=17|issue=2|url=|accessdate=22 November 2014}}</ref> Continue reading

Warp and woof of a Goethean holistic psychology

warp-woofThe warp and woof of a Goethean science; including, Goethean holistic psychology, was probably visible by 1985 or 1990. My apologies it took us Waldorf weirdos so long to spell this out in more accessible language.

Warp and woof are weaving terms; they indicate the two directions of threads in cloth. When woven together, warp and woof create whole cloth, regardless of the raw material.

Not a precise or rigorous metaphor, “warp and woof” may still clarify a Goethean holistic psychology.

The warp, one major direction-pattern contributing to whole-cloth, is the multiple, stable, logical levels, both physical and non-physical, of brain function.

To grasp the warp of brain function, we have to release the minimalist fantasy that waking brain function is primarily characterized by the triune brain, best characterized for self-healing as reptile brain, flock brain and cognitive brain. That Triune Brain was the primary, leading logical level of brain function was disproved many times by the early 2000s using real-time MRI scanning of live brains thinking and feeling. In use, our physical brain lights up in rather unpredictable ways if you expect it to light up according to the Triune Brain model.

Triune Brain is a valid logical level of brain function AND YET NOT the major, leading, primary logical level of waking brain function.

If one reads enuf Rudolf Steiner, he makes clear the place to look for the major, leading, primary logical level of waking brain function ought to be found in etheric structures of some kind, unknown as of 1925.

To grasp the warp of brain function, we have to release the maximalist fantasy that waking brain function is primarily characterized by electrochemical and/or genetic interactions.

This fantasy fuels Hospital-pharma research and may produce more useful drugs; or at least, create more drugs corporations can promote for sale. However the maximalist fantasy is obfuscation, promoting the endless dark light, Faustian glamour of if only we knew more, had more knowledge, we could understand how our brain works.

The main problem with the maximalist theory of brain function, however conceived, is you can enumerate tens of thousands of electro-chemical-genetic interaction and still fall way short of a convincing picture-explanation of quality thinking, ethical thinking, creative thinking; let alone, Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

If one reads Rudolf Steiner and his students, and perceives the quality of their thinking, their efforts make clear intelligence is “where it’s at” nothing less.  Articulating and expanding understanding of intelligence is big.  The theme is also present in Jung and Einstein’s thinking. The quality of thinking in Steiner and his students makes clear the place to look for the major, leading, primary logical level of waking brain function ought to be found in etheric structures of some kind. These structures, quadrants, were uncovered by Bertrand Babinet, the first inkling of the design of the Fractal Psyche, around 1985.

The warp of waking brain function is best-perceived as a convergence of multiple logical levels, perhaps 12, working together, inter-dependently, just like any smart phone appliance or video game console. Some of these logical levels are physical-material, most are in slightly higher frequencies and therefore never showing up in autopsies.

If 12 logical levels inhere in waking brain function, it may make more sense why Michael Talbot was so influential with his book, Holographic Mind (1984, 2013). Our mind is so complex, it requires multiple interfaces, which we see reflected in the visible and hidden interfaces of smart phone and video game console design. Continue reading

Goethean science as a big tent for science and psychology

tent_bigThe idea of a “big tent” in psychology goes like this:  what theory of psychology is sufficiently broad and inclusive so that it could embrace, support, shelter and nurture diverse techniques-methods under a single roof?  A “big tent” is a big idea under which subordinate ideas can gather, identify common ground, find support and engage constructively.

In the 20th century, scores of competing models of the human psyche, each attempted to uncover strong therapeutic direction, what to do with this client in this circumstance.  This intention was healing, even tho many times between models, “the words got in the way.”

Academic psych texts, God bless them, often compounded this problem by comparing and contrasting psychological models.  This emphasized the individuality of each tree in psychology at the cost of a sense of direction and purpose of the whole forest.  This is why Gerald Corey’s Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, latest edition, is so well-respected.  He minimizes the conflict between facets of the field, emphasizing a synthetic and collaborative approach.

It’s September, 2014 now as I write this.  After 45 minutes of search and reading, Mr. Google has convinced me while the topic of a “big tent” in psychology does indeed exist, the issue is no longer of much interest, addressed mostly in brief remarks to build consensus in opening talks at live, in-person, psychological conferences.

I agree, we do not want to return to the 1850s when primitive ideas about the human psyche, where humans fit compared to animals and how humans were or were not “spiritual” resulted in knock-down, drag-out fights and much heated debate.  Looking back, that seems no more productive than many other unnecessary wars fought by men.

Mr. Google persuades me today the foundation on which a big tent for psychology can be erected—if it can be erected—has nothing to do with psychology per se.  It has to do with science.  In psychology we are, it seems, arguing with very different assumptions about science and physics; let alone, metaphysics.

Mr. Google suggests where most thinkers on big tents in psychology get stuck is in defining science.  They want to define science.  They want one science, with these principles, these values and their definition.  They want a one-pointed science as their big tent in science.  Then they attempt to shoe-horn the human psyche into this mental definition of “science.” Continue reading