When each piece of a shape is geometrically similar to the whole,
both the shape and the cascade that generates it are called self-similair.'
Goethe's Phases of Plant Development
Phases of Plant Development
At first the whole plant, in all its potential,
rests, drawn together into one point, in the seed (a).
It then comes forth and unfolds itself,
spreads itself out in leaf-formation (c).
The formative forces thrust themselves apart more and more;
therefore the lower leaves appear still raw, compact (cc');
the further up the stem they are, the more ribbed
and indented they become.
What formerly was still pressing together
now separates (leaf d and e).
What earlier stood at successive intervals (zz')
from each other appears again in one point of the stem (w)
in the calyx (f). This is the second contraction.
In the corolla, an unfolding, a spreading out, occurs again.
Compared with the sepals, the petals (g) are finer and more delicate,
which can only be due to a lesser intensity at one point
(i.e., be due to a greater extension of the formative forces).
The next contraction occurs in the reproductive organs (stamens (h),
and pistil (i)), after which a new expansion takes place in the fruiting (k).
In the seed (a) that emerges from the fruit,
the whole being of the plant again appears
contracted to a point.
The whole plant represents only an unfolding, a realization,
of what rests in the bud or in the seed as potentiality.
Bud and seed need only the appropriate external influences
in order to become fully developed plant forms.
The only difference between bud and seed is that the latter
has the earth directly as the basis of its unfolding
whereas the former generally represents a plant formation
upon the plant itself.
REPETITION OF LEAVES
By determining its life, as it were, out of one point, that entelechical
principle confronts us in the plant in such a way that all its individual
organs are formed according to the same developmental principle.
The entelechy manifests here as the developmental force of the individual
organs. These last are all fashioned according to one and the same
developmental type; THEY MANIFEST AS MODIFICATIONS OF ONE BASIC ORGAN,
AS A REPETITION OF THIS ORGAN AT DIFFERENT LEVELS OF DEVELOPMENT.
What makes the plant into a plant, a certain form-creating force,
is at work in every organ in the same way. Every organ appears
therefore as identical to all the others and also to the whole plant.
Goethe expresses this as follows:
'I have realized, namely, that in that organ of the plant
which we are usually accustomed to address as 'leaf,'
the true Proteus lies hidden that can conceal and reveal
itself in every formation. Anyway you look at it, the plant
is always only leaf, so inseparably joined with the future
germ (Keim) that one cannot think the one without the other.'
(Goethe, Italian Journey, 1787)
Thus the plant appears, as it were, composed of nothing but individual
plants, as a complex individual consisting in turn of simpler ones.
The development of the plant progresses therefore from level to level
and forms organs; each organ is identical to every other, i.e., similar
in formative principle, different in appearance. The inner unity spreads
itself out, as it were, in the plant; it expresses itself in manifoldness,
loses itself in this manifoldness in such a way that it does not gain-as
the animal does, as we will see later-a concrete existence which is
endowed with a certain independence and which, as a centre of life,
confronts the manifoldness of the organs and uses them as mediators
with [respect to] the outer world.
EXPANSION AND CONTRACTIVE PHASES GIVING RISE TO DIFFERENTIATION
The question now arises: What brings about that difference in the
appearance of plant organs which, according to their inner principle,
are identical? How is it possible for developmental laws that all work
according to one formative principle to bring forth at one time a leaf and
at another a petal? In the case of plant life, which lies entirely in the
realm of the external, this differentiation can also be based only upon
external (i.e., spatial) factors.
Goethe regards an alternating expansion and contraction as just such
external factors. As the entelechical principle of plant life, working out
from one point, comes into existence, it manifests itself as something
spatial; the formative forces work in space. They create organs with
definite spatial forms. Now these forces either concentrate themselves,
they strive to come together, as it were, into one single point (this is
the stage of contraction); or they spread themselves out, unfold
themselves, seek in a certain way to distance themselves from each other
(this is the stage of expansion). In the whole life of the plant, three
expansions alternate with three contractions. Everything that enters as
differentiation into the plant's formative forces which in their essential
nature are identical-stems from this alternating expansion and
(Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science, GA1, 1883)
- Goethe's Theory of Colours
- Goethean 1 - The Ways of Science
- Goethean 2 - Parallelogram of Forces
- John Davidson, 'Natural Creation or Natural Selection?' (1992).
- TToKIIGWC:organicScience: TYPUS requires revision of understanding of time.
Evolution is not a progression to ever greater and greater differentiation.
but... is first an ascent to a higher point, and after having reached this point
is then a descent to more and more simple forms. (Rudolf Steiner, Michael IX)
A being does not stand BEHIND its manifestation,
but rather COMES INTO VIEW THROUGH its manifestation'.
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posted: October 20, 2003
revised: November 12, 2003