Goethean Psychology 101 (2018)

DRAFT ~ Hi Bruce Dickson here.  Mr. Google informs me he has only three pages for “goethean psychology” which do not track back to this website and my other writings. As recently as 2015, an Anthroposophist in England advertised a public talk speculating on what a Goethean Psychology might be and comprise.

The last year, working on a new book in the Waldorf area, has been educational for me re Goethean Psychology.  Happily I’m learning IT ALREADY EXISTS and is alive and well.   We were simply blind, unable to see what was hidden in plain sight.

Want to see it?  Consider:  Any uncovery about the:

  • lawfulness of any natural phenomena
  • lawfulness of the human psyche
  • lawfulness of invisible realms beyond the physical
  • lawfulness of anything else…

…which is arrived at thru the method of:

  • Careful, attention, objective observation,
  • Employing all of our 12 senses, as appropriate; then
  • Inner reflection on what we feel and think about our observations…

…is very likely to be a Goethean Science expeiment or set of experiments.

If the above seems UNDERwhelming, consider:

Goethean Psychology in child-human development and K-12 curriculum and method

The whole of Waldorf child-human development theory and K-12 method and curriculum appropriate thereto–is Goethean Psychology applied to child-human development and K-12 ed.  See next article, review of Millennial Child by Eugene Schwartz.

Goethean Psychology of soul’s physical-mental-emotional condition

In 2002 a more coherent overview of Psychosynthesis lays out a Psychology of soul’s experience in the waking human form gleaned from Goethean observation and method.  See further article, review of Psychosynthesis:  Psychology of the Soul.

Goethean Psychology of interpersonal conversation

Compassionate (nonviolent) Communication (NVC) appears to me to be a Goethean Psychology of effective interpersonal conversation.  (Not to be confused with “Goethean Conversation” which I think pertains more to to Goethean Spiritual Psychology, addressed below).

Goethean Psychology in Energy Medicine

The justly famous first 100 pages of The Emotion Code by Bradley Nelson, is a Goethean Psychology employed in Energy Medicine.

Donna Eden’s Meridian Tracing demos and methods is another Goethean Psychology of acupuncture meridians, employed in Energy Medicine.  A Goethean Psychology of each meridian is laid out in the Meridian Metaphors manual.  

A Goethean Psychology of the mental-emotional meaning of pain anywhere in the body exists in professional reference book, Messages from the Body.

The practice of Herbology is Goethean Science applied to physical wellness, prevention and treatment.

The practice of Homeopathy is Goethean Science and Psychology in service to human health.

If the above still seems UNDERwhelming, consider:  I suspect the abstractions of quantum physics, divorced from the reality of the etheric body, is NOT Goethean Science.  I suspect much discussion and papers written on Quantum mechanics, quantum physics, quantum field theory may be in the vein of welfare for under-employed scientists.

An exception to the above sweeping dismissal:  The sub-atomic particle observations of Leadbeater and Besant in Occult Chemistry, their later re-validation in several books and online, including at Yale HERE.

I’m not aware yet of any significance sub-atomic particles have to human health or healing; still, they are clearly demonstrable thru Goethean Science as used by the early Theosophists, as noted. 

Goethean Psychology of clairvoyant and out-of-body experiences

I have deliberately NOT yet addressed Goethean methods applied to unconventional and rare soul experiences by clairvoyants, like Steiner.

Another recent learning I had the problems mixing psychology of soul in the waking human experience with psychology of soul in an out-of-body state has caused.

endless confusion and problems with the public; such as, inferring all Waldorf schooling must be religious since Steiner talks so much about his perceptions in an out-of-body state.  We really need a clear line in the rhetorical sand between:

  • Goethean Psychology in and applied to, primarily the physical-mental-emotional realms; and
  • Goethean Spiritual Psychology for all of RS’s more far out topics and other reports by cliarvoyants since teh 1960s of interest.
  • The Spiritual Geography of Creation from several Light and Sound groups (physical, imaginal, emotional, mental and mythological), is another Psychology of soul’s experience in the waking human form gleaned from Goethean observation and method.

Goethean Science: From mere categorizing to interactive experiments

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

Compared to centuries of earlier superstition and Alchemy fallen into mere witchcraft, one-sided, left-brain intelligence, exercised in the Enlightenment and Age of Reason was indeed a step forward.

However by 1750 Western philosophy had fallen into extreme one-sidedness.  Goethe was one of few aware of this flaw. He recognized it as an ethical and moral dead end.  More and more Goethe saw the consensual view of the human being falling into exclusively mechanical understanding and rhetoric.

Goethe believed every act of looking at a thing turns into observation, every act of observation turns into mentation, every act of mentation turns into associations. Thus it is evident we theorize every time we look attentively out into the world.”

For Goethe, the ultimate aim of science is nothing other than the metamorphosis of the scientist . In Goethean Science, experiment is the ‘mediator between object and subject.’ Experiments are two-fold, revealing more about the natural world; at the same time, revealing more about the experimenter to him or herself.

Where Cartesian-Newtonian science accepts only a single, practical syllogism about experimenters and research topics, Goethe stood for and demonstrated the practice of science as an art, an artistic practice directed towards partnership with Nature and refining the experimenter’s perceptions over time towards Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

Goethe’s method of science as art, of experiment as mediator between experimenter and Nature, can be applied to studies of every kind, in the arts and humanities as well as in science.

To cut through the vast sea of Goethe verbiage discussing his significance, I think the useful contrast for modern readers is between Goethe and Carl Linnaeus.

What did Linnaeus do? Carl Linnaeus was the founder of modern taxonomy. His books are the beginning of modern botanical and zoological nomenclature. Linnaeus drew up rules for assigning names to plants and animals. He made naming and identifying plants in the field more workable. “…he introduced the standard hierarchy of class, order, genus, and species. His main success in his own day was providing workable keys, making it possible to identify plants and animals from his books. For plants he made use of the hitherto neglected smaller parts of the flower” ~ Britannica online

“[His] folio volume of only 11 pages presented a hierarchical classification, or taxonomy, of the three kingdoms of nature: stones, plants, and animals. Each kingdom was subdivided into classes, orders, genera, species, and varieties. This hierarchy of taxonomic ranks replaced traditional systems of Linnaeus’s classification system has survived in biology.” His naming system was implicitly hierarchical. Each species is classified within a genus ~ Forgotten online source

Linnaeus’ impulse started or at least greatly accelerated, the left-brain science of making categories and nested sub-categories.

Before Linnaeus there was only a system of biological classification based on mutually exclusive divisions, or dichotomies, too simple to handle the wide diversity of sub-species existing in Nature.

The result? Naturalists everywhere had to use Linnaeus’ classifications directly or at least use them to determine if specimens in their collections were indeed new species or not.

Goethe’s concern was a narrowing of attention to mere category accuracy was a step sideway, not forward.

Specialization per se in science, emphasis on accumulation of mere data, in a merely mechanical manner, devoid of human creativity or human values, could not be by itself, a step forward to integrating Man and Nature.

To put words in Goethe’s mouth, he wondered, ‘How does such activity benefit or further human development of and awareness of the UR-human?’


For Goethe, any science defining itself exclusively by how well it presented information gleaned from only physical-material characteristics, selected external traits, was absent humanity. With the limited rhetorical tools available in his time, he fought against a narrowing-contracting interplay between humans and Nature.

Putting words in his mouth again, a science reducing human beings and human nature to merely collecting and tabulating Nature was a job clerks could do. The best and the brightest could exercise a much wider range of intelligences.

Again putting words in his mouth, what was needed, was a bigger idea, a workable comprehensive theory of how to bring ALL of the human explorer to ALL of the subject in Nature, he or she was studying.

I think it’s fair to say Goethe wished a rhetoric about how, in modern language, humans could surrender to Nature; and how in turn, Nature could surrender to human beings.

Implied in the above modern formulation of Goethe’s ideas is how in surrender, Nature will “give up” and reveal her secrets to human beings.

Conversely, human explorers can expect to surrender, have their own private, secret and unresolved issues and unanswered questions (mental-emotional, moral, ethical) uncovered, triggered and revealed.

Finally in Goethe’s comprehensive theory of holistic science–our words, not his–the end-product is a summary text–or better–artistic work, to share with other explorers and interested lay persons, the uncoveries of Nature’s secrets (the additive human knowledge fetch-quest so prized by left-brainers).

As well, share with other explorers and interested lay persons the uncoveries the explorers made into their own issues, the new personal realizations, the new ethics, the clarified morals, and what more of the UR-human was revealed, as individually defined.

In the above complimentary external-outer uncoveries and internal-inner uncoveries, Goethe saw a balanced use of human intelligences in “science.”  In modern language–this I believe was Goethe’s new way of seeing.

In fewer words, Goethe believed it’s natural, normal and healthy for the experimenter to be altered and changed by his or her observations and conclusions.  These “personal growth” benefits of experimentation ought to be celebrated and incorporated into reports and findings.

This did not go over well with left-brainers committed to the exclusively Ahrimanic strengths of “one-eyed, color blind, kinematic intelligence” (Ernst Lehrs).  For the exclusively left-brain thinkers, knowledge was all and only about facts, the more isolated the better.

For Goethe, the production of new knowledge was inseparable from the personal, ethical moral, and spiritual(?) growth of the experimenter.  In Steiner’s terms, a balance of Lucifer and Ahriman was called for. In modern terms, a whole-brained approach, a Team Human Approach, was called for.

Q: Was Goethe closer to the nebulous older alchemists and mystics?

A: Ernst Lehrs and other Goethe literature suggests, no, this was not the case. Goethe knew well the dangers of superstition, the dangers of ‘too warm’ thinking, with no emphasis on consistency, rigor or precision. In his late teens he made a study of alchemy:

quote In his autobiography, Goethe half-apologetically admits the youthful enthusiasm he experienced for alchemical and mystical readings: Georg von Welling’s obscure Opus Mago-Cabbalisticum et Theosophicum and the anonymously published Aurea Catena Homeri, as well as works by Paracelsus, Basilis Valentinus and van Helmont ~ Goethe the Alchemist: A Study of Alchemical Symbolism in Goethe’s Literary and Scientific Works (Cambridge Library Collection – Literary Studies)

The result? He learned the limitations of this overly-subjective insufficiently objective thinking. A little symbolism might be tolerated. Too much spoils the soup. Goethe was not a closet-Alchemist. He was a throw forward to thinking which mostly did not come again until 1975, our first holistic, whole-brained thinker.

As a whole-brain thinker–my term, not his–knowledge separated from Nature and from human Thinking~Feeling, from Imagination, Intuition and Inspiration, was ‘dead thinking,’ thinking only natural to soulless automatons.

Arranging material phenomena in logical linear sequence is a valid scientific method.  Why separate it? Why carry out the activity in isolation from your own Thinking~Feeling development?  Aren’t you interested in sharpening your powers of observation, in how new facts help us correct our own faulty conclusions, fuzzy ethics and weak moral development?

In a fantastic image, imagine Goethe in his time machine visiting the Manhattan Project.  You would see him making notes for for a Faust Part Three.  He would have seen the one-sided thinking of the A-bomb scientists as a dramatically tragic illustration of left-brain thinking mostly devoid of and separate from natural human powers of self-correction, ethical and moral development.

Goethe’s middle way between cold and warm thinking was a living interaction with Nature “the labor of experimentation”.

I imagine Goethe seeing only very occasional use for the cold machine of first coming up with an abstract hypothesis; then, setting up an artificial experiment to test the hypothesis ‘to see if it works or not.’

Today we recognize this kind of one-sided experiment as vulnerable to narcissism, arranging facts and observations to line up with our own hypothesis. Alternatively, we recognize one-sided left-brain experimenting as having the sole intention to invent new products corporations can market, the use of experimental method solely for commercial purposes.


Since 1970s at least we recognize the usefulness of “whole system analysis” seeing the parts within the natural whole.

In the educated West at least, a lean towards more holistic science suggests a workable directon for the evolution of human thinking, away from the cold-only thinking of Galileo-Descartes-Newton and towards warmer whole-brainedness, back towards Goethe and his experimental method.

Q: Does Goethean Science’s altered value system regarding quantification, cause it to have less rigor in its experimental method compared to Galileo-Descartes-Newton science?

A: It’s a needed question. If whole-brained Goethean Science was easy to do, we would have done it yesterday. Goethean Science is more rigorous about experimental method than conventional scinece.

Why? How? In addition to conventional Second Order standards and criteria for studying external phenomena quantitatively, Goethean Science asks its experimentalists to be rigorous in two additional realms:

1) The subjective realm of:

– Monitoring personal biases and prejudices,

– Monitoring personal Aha!s gained thru the observations and experiments,

2) The moral-ethical realm (Third Order Science) of how observations and experiments in the outer world are changing the experimenter’s inner life of morality and ethics, if any.

The above suggests a balance of quantitative observation and qualitative observation.

Q: What’s an example where practitioners of such balanced science can be observed?

A: Agriculture, farming and Biodynamics. Scratch the surface of any humanistic agriculture; such as, https://www.biodynamics.com/what-is-biodynamics and you quickly find discussion of ethical questions relating to sourcing fertilizers, pest control, etc.

50 years after Goethe’s death, Rudolf Steiner became Goethe’s student and editor of his scientific works.

RS absorbed enuf of Goethe’s holistic method to become a throw-forward, our second modern holistic thinker. His best-known legacy? A Goethean Psychology of human development, child development and K-12 schooling, curiously titled, “Waldorf-methods education.”

Goethe challenged the view experimentalists can look on their target devoid and naive of their own theoretical and personal context.

He likewise challenged the assumption shared common language in science research and innovation was fully evolved, in its final form. In more modern language, Goethe at least intuited each person perceives uniquely; therefore, scientists talking and using language as if everyone thinks and perceives the same was dangerous illusion. Further, new generations were going to think a bit differently, hence shared common language in science research and innovation would respond to this as well.

== Essence and Ur phenomena ==

For Goethe when scientists adopt a more living, more humanistic, approach, capable of entering into the living essence of Nature, expressed in the phenomenon studied, this leads the experimenter towards a face-to-face meeting with an essence of Nature, crucial underlying archetype-patterns (”Ur-phänomen”).

The Goethean Experimenter does not try to define or explain the essence; he or she reads the essence, appreciates the essence as you would gradually get to know the character and preferences of your own newborn child, revealed over some time.

The inherent order and logic of a very young child’s character, talents and preferences while invisible, are clearly objective not subjective, not invented by the experimenter. The very young child is not defined or explained; they are “read;” or better, “appreciated” and later understood in terms which can be shared with others.


Goethean Holistic Health, how our visible and invisible bodies weave together

Physical health analogized as warp and woof of physical anatomy and etheric anatomy

Warp and woof of health in our physical body

Physical health as the intersection of physical anatomy and etheric anatomy

More precisely, each reader’s physical health is the intersection of how healthy each and all of the following bodies:

Visible: Physical

Invisible: Etheric double including acupuncture meridians

Invisible: Imaginal (astral) body including template of the Christ

Invisible: Emotional (causal) body, including unresolved attachments

Invisible: Mental body, including unresolved faulty beliefs

Invisible: Mythological (upper etheric) body, including unresolved identifications with Creation.

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.

If one reads Rudolf Steiner and his students, they make 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 theorized by Ned Herrmann in the 1970s and independently(?) uncovered again and verified and validated by Bertrand Babinet, around 1985.

Advanced Energy Medicine techniques and methods are available now; yet, are not widely available and will not be for another 100 years.

For self-care, most people are benefitted by attending to their lowest two bodies, physical and the lower etheric, where acupuncture meridian activity occurs.

As an image, as a metaphor, we can analogize physical health as warp and woof of physical anatomy and etheric anatomy.

In simpler words: How etheric structures and activity influences our physical body function.

Leaving aside the influences of our higher bodies, within just the domain of our two lower bodies is access to:

– Our acupuncture meridians, designed by the Angels as our Inner Dashboard,

– Our self-connection–or lack of it–between gut brain and head brain, the HTPA Axis,

– Imbalanced charge in our etheric body, undercharge leading towards depression; overcharge leading towards inflammation and cysts-tumors.

Q: Why is this a new or unusual idea?

A: To follow the above scheme means to release and let go of:

– The minimalist fantasy of waking brain function is primarily characterized by the triune brain (reptile brain, flock brain, cognitive brain), and

– The maximalist-materialist fantasy-theory how a waking adult brain can be 100% understood as the combined interaction of electro-chemical and genetic interactions.

The maximalist-materialist theory fuels pharmaceutical research, advertising and profits. It may produce more useful drugs. It will create more drugs corporations promote for sale. However the maximalist fantasy is obfuscation, promoting the endless dark light, Faustian glamour: if only we knew more, had more knowledge, we could understand how our immortal-eternal soul works.

Even if tens of thousands of electro-chemical-genetic interactions are described, you still fall short of a convincing picture or explanation of quality thinking, ethical thinking, creative thinking; let alone, Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

= = = =
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Spiritual Geography PACME 101 In your hands, handy version

Inner beauty

Inner beauty
The following expresses what I believe is a Goethean approach to beauty; that is, an inner perception of beauty balanced with relevant outer sensory images. 
“Recently, I was moved by a slide show dedicated to Audrey Hepburn, with quotes and pictures showing her in her dazzling youth and her radiant maturity.
“As a child in the Netherlands, Hepburn nearly died of hunger in a country devastated by World War II, and was rescued by the UN refugee programme. Towards the end of her life, she was asked about her beauty secrets. She replied with remarkable grace: ‘For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.’ …”
from https://www.psychologies.co.uk/self/what-is-inner-beauty.html
Inner beauty may be described as something experienced through a person’s character rather than by appearances.

Harpo Marx meets Dr. Frankenstein

Harpo Marx’s contribution to whole-brain theory and practice.  Redeeming Feeling capacity in holistic brain study



We need some context to understand Harpo Marx’s contribution to whole-brain theory and practice.

At the height of the right~Left Brain fad, 1975-1985, it was common to hear people–inaccurately–describe themselves as strictly “right-brained” or “left-brained.” The left-brainers bragged about their math skills; right-brainers emphasized their creativity and intuition.

Which brain hemisphere do you think Harpo was more expressive of?

Which brain hemisphere do you think Groucho was more expressive of?

Before we reinforce erroneous over-generalizations of right~left brain contrast, let’s set the record straight.

Our waking psyche is multi-intelligent. Waking adults enjoy the use of multiple intelligences. Without multiple intelligences humans would only have only instinct and habit to solve problems.

Ever see a cat with its head stuck in a tight-fitting small bag? The cat only has instincts and reflexes to get out of the bag. The cat backs up. The cat jumps. The cat is unable to think, “Maybe if I put my two paws up and grasp the bag, this could knock or push the bag off.”

If you ask them, an adult human can think of 5-10 ways to get its head out of a paper bag. Ability to think of multiple solutions to the same problem is highly suggestive of Multiple intelligences.

Full discussion of Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences 1.0 and MI 2.0, can be found in Balance on All Levels PACME+Soul.

Back to Harpo Marx. Harpo’s humor arises very much from what he limits himself to.

Does Harpo limit himself more to his right brain hemisphere or left brain hemisphere?

Right, you got it.

Harpo pretends he has no language ability and no math computation ability. He limits himself to responses to life a creative child (or a creative, silent Buster Keaton) comes up with. We like Harpo because he has no Inner critic and refuses to let anyone else’s Inner Critic or cultural norms dampen his enthusiasm and joy for life and people.

Harpo makes it possible to contrast his one-sided cartoon of right brain expressions with a “cartoon” of left brain hemisphere expressions.

Our left hemisphere is dominant in language processing, formulating thoughts and words you have not expessed before. Left brain is dominant in interpreting what you hear. It handles the duties of speaking beyond screams, yells, cursing and other more guttural (gut brain) habitual and learned expressions of emotional liking and disliking.

Left brain is also dominant in constructing logical sequences in–among other areas–exact mathematical computations.
To simplify, in waking adults, left brain is dominant in activity where rational Thinking-Feeling are at the fore.

Harpo shows us what humans would be like if we turned off our left brain.

In Horse Feathers, Harpo grabs a book off the shelf, opens it, laughs at the contents; then immediately, throws the book into a roaring fireplace. Later in the scene, we see him again involved in his attack on written language. This time he is shoveling a large pile of books into the fireplace ~ p. 100, A Century of the Marx Brothers by Joseph Mills

Harpo proposes, if we turned off our left brain, if we approached the written word more skeptically, we would get a lot less work done; and, have a whole lot more fun.

Whole-brainedness proposes a balance of left~right is best. If you need encouragement to redeem your right brain abilities, Harpo is your inspiration.

Which brain hemisphere do you think Chico was more expressive of? That’s right, a little bit of both right and left.

Harpo shows us a human living more in Feeling

One of the big philosophical struggles being worked out as we speak, is how to reframe science-technology so it serves life and truly human values; instead of, too many Dr. Frankenstein creations, one after another.

A simple way to language this is we need a science more aligned with and attuned to Feeling.

Fortunately how a right brain Harpo science works out and dovetails with left brain-only science is already accomplished. It’s the topic of the Three Sciences we use everyday, a major topic of this website. Full discussion in Goethean Holistic Science and the Three Sciences We Use Everyday for Holistic Practitioners and Self-Healers: Chapters 19-20 from Balance on All Levels-PACME+Soul Plus Related Essays.

First Order Science is theory and experimental method for, the rational choices we make using feeling and intuition. Harpo Marx could be the cartoon mascot–but then–so could Goethe, the West’s earliest holistic thinker.

It’s fun for me to re-imagine the conversation between the one-eyed, color blind scientist and Goethe as a conversation between Harpo Marx and Dr. Frankenstein.

To Learn More
The Card of Destiny for both Harpo Marx and Sai Baba is the 10Hearts. You can look up its characteristic expressions.

BIO ~ Author and Health Intuitive Bruce Dickson is a wounded healer who completed his Heroes Journey this lifetime. He likes to share the Elixirs of Life he found, with those interested. “Service to myself and others is why I get out of bed each morning.” Find him at http://www.Amazon.com/Bruce-Dickson-MSS/e/B007SNVG46