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That Steiner regarded natural scientific training as valuable is evident from the following quote:

"The main point is that spiritual science, with its methods of research, only begins where modern natural science leaves off. Humanity is indebted to the view of the world adopted by natural science for which I would call a logic which educates itself by the facts of nature. An important method of training has been introduced, amongst those who have concerned themselves with natural science, with regard to the inner application of thinking."

Rudolf Steiner. "Approaches to Anthroposophy." Sussex: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992. Page 11. Translated by Simon Blaxland-de Lange.

Feynman's epistomology

Is science compatible with Anthroposophy? Is Anthroposophy compatible with science? I submit that this view, presented by Richard Feynman as a practicing physicist, is fully compatible with Rudolf Steiner's view. To quote from the last paragraph: " stand with the fundamental laws, hoping that way to get a deep understanding of the whole world, with that aspect alone, is a mistake."


Which End Is Closer To God?
"For example, at one end we have the fundamental laws of physics. ... Heat is supposed to be jiggling, and the word for a hot thing is just the word for a mass of atoms which are jiggling. But for a while, if we are talking about heat, we sometimes forget about the atoms jiggling- just as when we talk about the glacier we do not always think of the hexagonal ice and the snowflakes which originally fell. ... On, up in the hierarchy. With the water we have waves, and we have a thing like a storm, the word "storm" which represents an enormous mass of phenomena? And then we go on, and we come to words and concepts like "man", and "history", or "political expediency", and so forth, a series of concepts which we use to understand things at an ever higher level. And going on, we come to things like evil, and beauty, and hope... Which end is nearer to God, if I may use a religious metaphor, beauty and hope, or the fundamental laws? I do not think either end is nearer to God. To stand at either end, and to walk off that end of the pier only, hoping that out in that direction is the complete understanding, is a mistake. And to stand with evil and beauty and hope, or to stand with the fundamental laws, hoping that way to get a deep understanding of the whole world, with that aspect alone, is a mistake."

Richard P. Feynman, "The Character of Physical Law". Chapter 5. 1965.

Steiner's attitude towards science

Reading Rudolf Steiner carefully, I find him continually specifying the scope of validity of scientific endeavor (and its importance) while emphasizing the necessity of a complementary (and not opposing) effort from another angle. Yet his is continually accused of "science bashing", both inside and outside of the Anthroposophical movement. Those thinking themselves more generous grant him merely an "ambivalence" towards science.

am·biv·a·lence, n.
1. uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
2. Psychol. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 2003

In the following quotes I find him to be neither uncertain and vacillating about, nor harboring negative feelings towards science. He is merely stating its scope.

"Not so long ago it was still possible to believe that natural science - which is by no means unappreciated by spiritual science but is as regards to its great advances fully valued - had the means to solve all the great riddles of human existence. But those who have entered with heightened inner faculties into the achievements of modern science have been increasingly aware that what natural science brings as a response to the great questions of human existence are not answers but, on the contrary, ever new questions.

"It is neither possible nor desirable to forestall the science difficult investigations of nature, for this is necessary of modern man is to introduce anything advantageous into his daily life.

"Hence those who have come together in the Anthroposophical Society are of the opinion that in spiritual science or Anthroposophy a bond is to be created between the great advances associated with natural science and the religious life of man. If we enter into the real significance of natural science we can say that it leads to a picture of the world in which the essence of man's nature has no place. In saying this I am not expressing my own view, but what becomes clearly evident when we study scientific research with an unprejudiced mind; for only an age which - though with justice admiring scientific knowledge - has been unable to recognize its limitations could deceive itself about this. Individual scientists have long recognized certain limitations; and the speech that Du Bois-Reymond gave in Leipzig in the seventies, which ended with the admission 'ignorabimus', 'we shall never know', has become famous. This eminent scientist meant by this that however much we may investigate the mysteries of nature with the methods of natural science, we shall never ultimately be able to discover what lives in the human soul as consciousness or understand what lies at the foundation of matter. Natural science is of little use when it comes to understanding matter and consciousness, which are in a certain sense the two poles of human life. It could be said that natural science has forced man as a spiritual being out of the picture of the world that it is building up. This can be seen if we take a look at the ideas which have emerged from a scientific foundation regarding the evolution of the Earth."

Rudolf Steiner, Lecture of 16 October, 1916. GA35, in English as "Approaches to Anthroposophy", Rudolf Steiner Press, Sussex, 1992. Translated by Simon Blaxland-de Lange.

The supersensible in the world

That the supersensible world is truly supersensible and beyond the measure of all scientific instruments is evident from this following quote:

"We must not fall into the error of certain theosophical circles, and imagine that the etheric and astral bodies as consisting simply of finer substances than our present in the physical body. For that would be a materialistic conception of these higher members of man's nature. The etheric body is a force-form; it consists of active forces and not a matter. The astral or sentient body is a figure of inwardly moving, colored, luminous pictures."
Rudolf Steiner. "The Education of the Child in light of Anthroposophy." London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965. Pages 13-14.
Translated by George and Mary Adams

Gravity and Angels

This following quote illustrates perfectly the issue of paradigm in understanding physical phenomena and science.
"What makes planets go around the sun? At the time of Kepler some people answered this problem by saying that there were angels behind them beating their wings and pushing the planets around an orbit. As you will see the answer is not very different from the truth. The only difference is that the angels sit in a different direction and their wings push inward."
(R. Feynman, Character of Physical Law, 1967)
[A planet orbits because it accelerates in the direction of the sun's gravity. As far as we know, gravity could be caused by tiny angels beating their wings.]
Rudolf Steiner was always careful to distinguish between the research of science - physical laws, causes and effects, etc. - and the paradigm by which the results are interpreted. He was essentially arguing for a paradigm shift - no facts were to be contradicted; only the results were to be reinterpreted. He and other authors could consciously make the paradigm shift - think conventionally, then consider the same facts from a different (for example Anthroposophical point of view) and even compare them.

What is existence?

What is existence? This is, of course, and a rather fundamental question. I've been thinking about it a bit recently, after someone told me "the etheric and astral bodies don't exist, Daniel." From a certain the point of view, this is, of course, absolutely true. By definition (Anthroposophical and not Theosophical) they are invisible and unmeasurable by any scientific instrument. So it is hardly an earth shattering revelation that they don't "exist" from that point of view. Their existence can only be deduced by observing the physical. So scientifically, the etheric and astral bodies are a hypothesis for explaining phenomena observed in the physical. We observe how one face contracts of the line of the lip somewhat downward. The concept presents itself: this is the frown. We then say that the person has become unhappy with something. How do we know this? From subtle changes in the color areas that have come to our attention through sensations that have passed through the optic nerve. That is, it has been deduced from manifestations in the physical world as presented to us thought the senses. The concept "unhappy" is an idea. This idea somehow connected to the idea "frown" but is not the frown. Do we say that "unhappiness" does not exist? Some do, but most will grant its existence. So why do we say the astral body does not exist? The astral body is, among other things, the sum of a person's inner or emotional state. Feelings are nowhere visible yet we do not doubt their existence. Just because something is not directly measurable does not mean that it does not exist. So at best to it could be said to that the etheric and astral bodies are a hypothesis of dubious merit; it is difficult indeed to argue that ideas do not exist.

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