if someone looked back from the sixith age to the present fifth...

APRIL 7, 1999 - THE NATURE OF LIGHT AND SOUND "I found that light and sound were thought of in an analogy which is invalid. The expressions "sound in general" and "light in general" were used. The analogy lay in the following: The individual tones and sounds were viewed as specially modified air-vibrations; and objective sound, outside of the human perception, was viewed as a state of vibration of the air. Light was thought of similarly. That which occurs outside of man when he has a perception by means of phenomena caused by light was defined as vibration in ether. The colours, then, are especially formed ether-vibrations. These analogies became at that time an actual torment to my inner life. For I believed myself perfectly clear in the perception that the concept "sound" is merely an abstract union of the individual occurrences in the sphere of sound; whereas "light" signifies a concrete thing over against the phenomena in the sphere of illumination. "Sound" was for me a composite abstract concept; "light" a concrete reality. I said to myself that light is really not perceived by the senses; "colours" are perceived by means of light, which manifests itself everywhere in the perception of colours but is not itself sensibly perceived. "White" light is not light, but that also is a colour. "Thus for me light became a reality in the sense-world, yet in itself not perceptible to the senses. Now there came before my mind the conflict between nominalism and realism as this was developed within scholasticism. The realists maintained that concepts were realities which lived in things and were simply reproduced out of these by human understanding. The nominalists maintained, on the contrary, that concepts were merely names formed by man which include together a complex of what is in the things, but names which have no existence themselves. It now seemed to me that the sound experience must be viewed in the nominalist manner and the experiences which proceed from light in the realist manner. (Rudolf Steiner, *The Story of my Life, 1928, pp. 65-65) §


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this page last updated: april 7, 1999