Review of Man or Matter (1985) the Einstein of etheric forces


Review of the 1985 edition, the preferred edition, the most clear, readable and definitive of the three editions. If you have tried the 1951 edition free online, find it inspiring yet also confusing or hard to read, try the 1985 edition.  Tho clearly edited, 1951 edition was more a “first draft” of a later, more presentable edition.  1985 is author-revised and professionally edited by two editors. 

Note ~ You are correct, “Man or Matter” makes little sense. The original title was Man AND Matter. ‘Man AND Matter’ is the relationship Lehrs builds up. The unnecessary title change and forgetting the 1951 copyright suggest a lot about amateur publishing quality circa 1950.

A Waldorf high school science teacher by profession, Lehrs works from a detailed history of science and science biography, at a high school level. He cogently, coherently and politely points out the errors, detours and dead ends exclusively materialistic science took.

Lehrs honors and values the intelligent capacities of the isolated observer-self of Cartesian-Newtonian “hard” science. Lehrs shows how awareness itself, as part of Nature, is like salt crystals dissolved into water. If over time salt content increases, eventually, salt re-crystalizes out of the water into visible, separate crystals. Lehrs likens ‘salt crystalizing out of water’ to the emergence of the isolated observer-self of Cartesian-Newtonian “hard” science. This ego is a limited self, yet a necessary self, a necessary middle position in post-modern science.

Lehrs introduces his famous metaphor of conventional-traditional scientists as one-eyed, color blind, spectator-observer, isolated, divorced and apart from Nature. This caricature is also known as “Island Man.” The self-destructive addictions of the fictional Sherlock Holmes point to the dangers of humanity divorced and separated from Nature and from healthy self-connection. in recent generations, 19th century materialistic science is now the iron bands around the chest of our expanding capacities for Intuition, Inspiration and Imagination.

Lehrs re-frames the entire history of science using Goethe’s holistic-humanistic approach. This leads readers to clearer view of Goethe’s comprehensive holistic theory and Goethe’s general holistic experimental method. These are then applied to etheric formative forces, with varying degrees of success. At its best, a way forward is laid out to re-incorporating into post-modern science, etheric formative forces neglected-dismissed-ignored by Enlightenment science.

The reader is taken on a journey similar to Lewis Carroll in Alice into Wonderland and to the protagonist in Flatland. In little steps, a wondrous unforeseen landscape is gradually uncovered in glimpses.

For Lehrs, the big picture is Nature, the external world, and all the forces within it, are created out of gravity and levity, other polarities arising out of the primary polarity of gravity~levity. In the world Lehrs describes, gravity~levity are constantly at play and in play. Their meeting is the motive energy behind heat, friction, electricity, magnetism and radiation. Emphasis on how all forces devolve from gravity~levity is absent from the first edition. It may help to keep it in mind if you attempt reading 1951.

Along these lines is the modern idea, perhaps coined after Lehrs’ death, of “strong and weak forces.” I think Lehrs might agree that on Earth, gravity is the stronger force, levity is the naturally weaker force. While Lehrs proposes gravity~levity interacting to form other forces, a 50-50 proposition, is clearly not the case.

Q: Why did science of the 1890s abandon all ether theories?

A: No way to model the phenomena of mass was found in ether models–short of including God (our “rock” our “ground”) in atomic theory. This men of the time would not do. The solar system model of the atom, proton, neutron, electron was the best Plan B model they had. For atheistic 1800s scientists, this was the best they could do. See The_Vortex_Atom_A_Victorian_Theory_of_PDF

Lehrs resonates with Goethe, advocating a return to direct, personal observation of natural phenomena, to doing the inner work of evaluation and synthesis, to the final outer work of sharing what has been learned and how the experimenter has been changed by his or her study. This amounts to something like a return to healthy, truly human values in science.

With Lehr’s science coaching, it’s possible to begin perceiving in Nature the over-arching influence of gravity and levity, dancing in countless combinations and expressions all around us.

The result? Sure enough, there is a place for etheric formative forces in post-modern science. Ether can no longer be dismissed as metaphysical abstraction and unreliable clairvoyance. Lehrs Man or Matter is not the last word on ether; it is certainly a most wonderful first word. I recommend it over Wachsmuth’s, Etheric Formative Forces, which I would read second, not first.

A second result of Lehrs gentle touch is much of what is called “physics” today is shown to be “Naïve physics”

Lehrs suggests the following are also “Naïve physics:” “The Sun makes me hot;” and, “The diameter of this small ball of copper expands when heat is applied because the atoms are agitated and moving further apart.”

Our Naive scientist (inner three year old) likes simple “logical” explanations and is satisfied by over-simplified, naive ideas. This insight explains the origin of most superstition; such as, decaying meat directly causes-births house flies.

When our Conscious Waking Self goes along with naive conclusions, accepts naive explanations as the “final word,” we end up with dogma. which can take centuries to rectify. Lehrs politely suggests how many ideas of modern science, (1850-1950) are more similar to superstition. In the light of Goethean Holistic science theory and method, many of these dissolve and are transformed.

Q: How much progress has been made replacing more naive science ideas with more clear post-modern science ideas?

A: Not much. In 2018 we remain only at Day One of re-evaluating the naive conclusions of Natural Science in this new light. For those interested, the next step is an expanded science paradigm. This is the topic of the Three Sciences we use everyday.

The later sections of Man or Matter 3rd, on esoteric planetary and Hierarchy influences will interest only those already steeped in Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric Christianity.

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Author, Health Intuitive, Bruce Dickson online:


Goethean Science’s new relevance to Energy Medicine

tree-scarlet-leavesAs adults, we grasp the soulfulness of science by first grasping the soulfulness of Nature.

It’s much easier for children to grasp the soulfulness of Nature; hence, Waldorf Nature Stories and Rosicrucian Aquarian Stories for Children, (If you don’t these, worth getting. Full texts available online. First three volumes are best).

For adults already hardened into an intellectual “I am,” inner child work and muscle testing is how to open and widen The Crack in the Cosmic Egg.

When individual adults crack open their own cosmic egg, they begin to perceive the macrocosm within their own microcosm, or in language from the 1920s, perceive the soulfulness of nature again inside themselves; and, as semi-autonomous from their intellect.

The Flower Essence Society repertory book online asserts Goethean science is allied with alchemical/Rosicrucian science. See a pretty good exposition of first-order science-intelligence in the Three Sciences for Three Selves articles on this site.

First-order intelligence, cell-level intelligence, is often contrasted with second-order Cartesian-Newtonian science because the two are in conflict.

In second-order Cartesian-Newtonian science-intelligence, psychology is allotted only symbolic truth, “a disembodied system of symbols existing only in the interior world of the psyche*.” On the other hand, real-world physics and chemistry is deemed a realm of strictly soulless substances. This is what Steiner called “one-sidedness of Platonic thought,” as reported in Lehrs (1951): only one half of our perceived world is alive, the other half is dead, waiting for us to manipulate it productively.

Only in Rosicrucian Alchemy and Goethean Science were vague connections drawn between the living macrocosm of Nature and the living microcosm of inner human experience. The two are in correspondence, not consciously, but only sub- and unconsciously. This is why the connections are challenging for our conscious-waking self to see. Ernst Lehrs also points to Ruskin as having similar insight to Goethe and I agree.

Rosicrucian alchemists correctly intuited how the path of our personal-spiritual growth must unite itself with the external material world. They also correctly intuited this must be some simple experimental method available to the masses. Alchemy was their best guess. In part at least, Alchemy was too allied with black magic to ever catch on with the masses. A Christian natural science experimental method was needed—but what? This gave rise to the gentleman scientists of the 1600s-1700s like Thomas Jefferson. However whatever Goethean advances were made here were quickly co-opted by the Cartesian-Newtonians.

The need and the outline for a new experimental method, intuited but never uncovered by Rosicrucian alchemists, was further clarified by Steiner. There must be some simple experimental method for those wishing to encounter the workings of spiritual laws in the forms and processes of Nature; and thereby, to expand the individual’s knowledge, awareness, connection and intercourse with true spiritual laws and Beings, not perceivable by the five animal senses but perceptible with all 12 senses.

Alas Steiner too was ahead of his time. Time and history had to evolve several more metamorphoses until adequate and sufficient language appeared to fulfill the dreams of Goethe, the Rosicrucian alchemists, Ruskin and Steiner. Continue reading