--| The Goethean Wolf |--- 

  'A being does not stand BEHIND its manifestation,
   but rather COMES INTO VIEW THROUGH its manifestation'.

Goethe... refrained from judging and concluding in his investigations of
truth, but instead tried to let the things themselves utter their secrets.
Let us imagine that there are two people--one who judges and the other who
lets the things themselves reveal their secrets. Let's take a very clear,
simple example. One person sees a wolf and describes it. He finds there
are other animals which resemble the wolf, and he arrives by a process of
deduction at the general concept of 'wolf'. And now he can go on to form
the following conclusion: in reality there are many individual wolves; the
general concept of 'wolf' which I form in my mind does not, as such,
exist. Only individual wolves actually exist in the world. Such a person
is concluding, therefore, that the 'wolf concept' is not a reality. That
is an example of someone who merely judges and forms opinions.

What about the other person, who lets reality speak for itself? How will
he think of that invisible quality of wolf which is to be found in every
single wolf and which characterises all wolves alike? His train of thought
will perhaps be roughly as follows: 'I shall compare a wolf with a lamb; I
am not going to formulate any judgement on the matter, though, but will
simply let the facts speak to me.' And now let us imagine that this person
has the opportunity to observe with his own eyes a wolf eating up a lamb.
After this had happened he would have to recognise that the substance
which had before running about as a lamb was now inside the wolf, had been
absorbed into the wolf.

It is a remarkable thing, though, that just percieving this fact without
judgement is enough to see the full reality of 'wolf nature'. External
judgement might lead us to the conclusion that if a wolf were deprived of
all other food and ate nothing but lamb, he must gradually through a
process of metabolism, replace his own substance with lamb substance. In
fact, of course, he does not become a lamb, but keeps his own clothing,
and his own insides too! What this tells us, though, is that it is quite
wrong to conclude that the material part of the wolf is all that
constitutes 'wolf', that the concept 'wolf' has no reality. When we allow
ourselves to be taught by the facts of the outer world, we can learn that
the wolf is not just a configuration of matter before us, but also extends
beyond what is visible; that in other words what we don't see is very real
indeed. The aspect of the wolf which is not wholly submerged in the realm
of matter is what prevents it becomming lamb when it eats nothing but
lamb. All that has passed into the wolf from the lamb is of material
nature only.

(Rudolf Steiner, Evil, Good and Evil: Creation and Death,
 December 28, 1911, p. 44-45, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997)

--| Concept of a Tulip |--- 

  A science based on naive realism would have to be nothing but an exact
  description of the content of perception. For naive realism, concepts
  are only the means to an end. They exist to provide ideal counterparts
  of percepts, and have no significance for the things themselves. For
  the naive realist, only the individual tulips which he sees (or could
  see) are real; the single idea of the tulip is to him an abstraction,
  the unreal thought-picture which the soul has put together out of the
  characteristics common to all tulips.
  Naive realism, with its fundamental principle of the reality of all
  perceived things, is contradicted by experience, which teaches us that
  the content of percepts is of a transitory nature. The tulip I see is
  real today; in a year it will have vanished into nothingness. What
  persists is the species tulip. For the naive realist, however, this
  species is "only" an idea, not a reality. Thus this theory of the
  world find itself in the position of seeing its realities arise and
  perish, while what it regards as unreal, in contrast with the real,
  persists. Hence naive realism is compelled to acknowledge, in addition
  to percepts, the existence of something ideal [i.e. 'conceptual'].
  (Steiner, Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 7) 

--| Thinking Blossoms into the Head |---  

  "The reason why we generally overlook thinking in our consideration of
  things... lies in the fact that our attention is concentrated only on the
  object we are thinking about, but not at the same time on thinking itself.
  The naive consciousness, therefore, treats thinking as something which has
  nothing to do with the things, but stands altogether apart from them, and
  turns its consideration to the world. The picture which the thinker makes
  of the phenomena of the world is regarded not as something belonging to
  the things, but as existing only in the human head. The world is complete
  in itself without this picture. It is quite finished in all its substances
  and forces, and of this ready-made world man makes a picture. Whoever
  thinks thus need only be asked one question. What right have you to
  declare the world to be complete without thinking?
  Does not the world produce thinking in the heads of men with the same
  necessity as it produces the blossom on a plant? Plant a seed in the
  earth. It puts forth root and stem, it unfolds into leaves and blossoms.
  Set the plant before yourself. It connects itself in your soul with a
  definite concept. Why should this concept belong any less to the whole
  plant than leaf and blossom? You say the leaves and blossom exist quite
  apart from a perceiving subject, the concept appears only when a human
  being confronts the plant. Quite so. But leaves and blossoms also appear
  on the plant only if there is soil in which the seed can be planted, and
  light and air in which the leaves and blossom can unfold. Just so the
  concept of the plant arises when a thinking consciousness approaches the

  (Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 5.)


Related Link: Invisible Humans

updated: july 24, 2001