Goethe’s Three Orders of Science, hidden in plain sight

In wrapping up-tweaking my last big Goethean writing project, I realized it’s possible to claim the ‘Three Sciences We Use Everyday’ as a Goethe idea.  There’s no profit in claiming it as my own idea anyway.

Goethe’s Three Orders of Science were hidden in plain sight for 250 years.  Where?  The original 2014 presentation of Three Sciences suggests the ordinariness of the Three Orders.  Here’s another view; take a look:

First Order Science ~ My own internal use of rational Thinking and rational Feeling.  This really is what men do at least occasionally in their man-caves and women do in their she-caves.  Our inner lives, how we attend to, and navigate, our Inner Game of Life, may be primitive–yet some spark exists, especially for Waldorf folks.

First Order Science is also how we exercise our five-sensory or 12-sensory channels, what we perceive and how we perceive.  In fewer words:  How we learn.  Am I learning?  If yes–how?

That’s it. First Order Science is this simple.  Stop here.  Simply observe; don’t yet try to carry this over to G’s scientific method. This is not yet applying First Order to human experiments.

Second Order Science ~ The smallest of Goethe’s Three Sciences.  These are aspects of my experiments sharable with colleagues and anyone interested, any aspects workable for you, workable by anyone interested, at any place, at any time on the Earth, regardless of differing subjective intention and attitude.

Second Order is the Science our survival-mad ego loves.  Men’s profit-mad self loves it too:  “If indoor plumbing is replicable, then everyone on Earth will want this, where feasible for them.  I can make big profits fast.”  This is how competitive-male-thinkers employ Second Order Science–but you are not obliged to.

Third Order Science ~ Perhaps equally as large or larger than Goethe’s First Order, is Third Order Science.  These are all the moral, ethical implications-ramifications of my First and Second Order science uncoveries:  Are the consequences of sharing my Second Order Science experiments beneficial and sustainable for the next seven generations of children?

When Cultural Creatives in 2018 accuse corporations of “out-sourcing costs” such as out-sourcing  costs of picking up the littler of their throw-away cups and packaging, this is Third Order Science:  What amount of deposit price should be put on each aluminum soda can to encourage recycling of 90% or higher of cans made?  Should we even allow Q-Tips with plastic shafts to be manufactured if millions are ending up in the oceans and eaten by fish and whales?

The above I believe is Goethean Science made as simple as possible–but no simpler.

Please note, the above is appropriate language for Grade Six and Seven.

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A reflection ~ I guess I’m also feeling sufficiently confident now with the workability of Three Orders of Science to claim this is a paraphrase of Goethe’s original intent.

“To make things as simple as possible–but no simpler” seems to characterizes Goethe’s science voice in many ways.   Those whose minds are simple enuf and un-cluttered hear the radical simplicity.  Those with more cluttered minds–well, only more complexity satisfies them.

Your comments?

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Q:  I thought G’s science only applied to science?

A:  No.  Goethe’s science aligned with those earlier thinkers who believed–in modern words–the human experience requires and is, one darn experiment after another.  We may as well get organized about this as our experiments have consequences.

Q:  How do the Three Orders play out in science experiments per se?

A:  Here we can and should push back on some sensory dogma running loose in Waldorf Goethean Science writing.  Let’s pay attention to what we consider background and what we consider foreground (a Gestalt consideration).

From my reading, some Waldorf science writers of the past wish to make sense observation of external natural phenomena foreground–and everything else background.  (See the intro essays of Sensible Physics Teaching (2017?  A re-titled reprint from the 1980s?)  by Stephen Edelglass and Michael D’Aleo. These essays visible in Amazon Look Inside feature.

Senses-first, last and foremost makes some sense as:

1)  An intro to science for Grade Six,

2)  A support for re-connecting science, ecology and environmental wisdoms.

Yet sensory observation of external Nature phenomena is not and cannot be the endgame of Goethe’s intention about human experiments.

The endgame is LEARNING:  WHO  is learning?  WHAT is being learned?

Sensory observation, whether five- or 12-sensory is wholly within First Order Science.

The LEARNING, any uncovery of new connections, new relations, new uses, is Second Order Science.  This learning comes about not thru sensing per se.  Learning comes about thru free, active rational use of Thinking and rational use of Feeling.

Looking back on earlier Waldorf G-sci lit, I’m uncomfortable perceiving a kind of ‘Goethean dogmatism,’ how G-Sci starts and ends with in-depth sensory observations.

Here’s my guess.  When Grade Seven Waldorf students ARE BORED WITH YOUR SCIENCE LESSONS, you as the teacher have:

  1.  Not sufficiently connected “observing” and “learning” in their minds,
  2.  Have the cart in front of the horse, have made “observing without judging or evaluating” more significant than “learning,” applying rational Thinking and rational Feeling to new experiences.

Consider:  Your middle schoolers are already or soon will be experimenting with drugs, sex, alcohol. porn and video games (probably not in this order).  What is it you wish them to learn about making new experiments?

Do you want them to go into drugs, sex, alcohol. porn and video games USING ALL THEIR SENSES as their main goal?

Or, do you wish them to go into drugs, sex, alcohol. porn and video games TO LEARN WHAT IS WORKABLE FOR THEM AND UN-WORKABLE FOR THEM?

This I believe is the shade of difference between 1980s G-sci thinking and where we have to go in our second hundred years.

Your corrections and comments invited  🙂