Yesterday I showed a connection between two branches of science which according to our modern ideas are widely separated. I sought to show that the science of Astronomy should provide certain items of knowledge which must then be turned to account in quite a different branch of science, from which the study and method of Astronomy is completely excluded nowadays. In effect, I sought to show that Astronomy must be linked with Embryology. It is impossible to understand the phenomena of cell-development, especially of the sex-cells, without calling to our aid the realities of Astronomy, which lie apparently so far removed from Embryology.
I pointed out that there must come about a regrouping of the sciences, for a person specializing nowadays along certain lines finds himself hemmed in by the circumscribed divisions of science. He has no possibility of applying his specialized knowledge and experience to spheres which may lie near to hand but which will only have been presented to him from certain aspects, insufficient to give him a deeper understanding of their full significance. If it is true, as will emerge in these lectures, that we can only understand the successive stages in human embryonic development when we understand their counterpart, the phenomena of the Heavens; if this is a fact - and it will turn out to be so - then we cannot work at Embryology without working at Astronomy. Nor can we occupy ourselves with Astronomy without bringing new light to the facts of Embryology. In Astronomy we are studying something which reveals its most important activity in the development of the human embryo. How, then, shall we explain the meaning and reason of astronomical facts, if we bring into the kind of connection with these facts the very realm in which this meaning and reason are revealed?
You see how necessary it is to come to a reasonable world-conception out of the chaos in which we are today in the sphere of science. If, however, one only accepts what is fashionable nowadays, it will be very difficult to grasp, even as a general idea, anything like what I said yesterday. For the evolution of our time has brought it about that astronomical facts are only grasped through mathematics and mechanics, while embryological facts are recorded in such a way that in dealing with them anything of the nature of mathematics or mechanics is discarded. At most, even if the mathematical-mechanical is brought into some kind of relation to Embryology, it is done in a quite an external way, without considering where lies the origin of what, in embryonic development, might truly be expressed in mathematical and mechanical terms.
Now I need only point to a saying of Goethe's, uttered out of a certain feeling - a 'feeling knowledge' I might call it - but indicating something of extraordinary significance. (You can read of it in Goethe's "Spruche in Prosa", and in the Commentary which I added to the publication in the Kurschner edition of the Deutsche National-Literatur, where I spoke in detail about this passage.) Goethe says there: People think of natural phenomena so entirely apart from man that they are tending ever more and more to disregard the human being in their study of the phenomena of Nature. He, on the contrary, believed that natural phenomena only reveal their true meaning if they are regarded in full connection with man - with the whole organization of man. In saying this, Goethe pointed to a method of research which is well-nigh anathematized nowadays. People today seek an 'objective' understanding of Nature through research that is completely separated from the human being. This is particularly noticeable in such a science as Astronomy, where no account at all is taken of the human being. On the contrary, people are proud that the apparently 'objective' facts have shown that man is only a grain of dust upon an Earth which has somehow been fused into a planet, moving first round the Sun and then, in some way or other, moving with the Sun in space. They are proud that one need pay no attention to this 'grain of dust' which wanders about on Earth, - that one need only pay attention to what is external to the human being in considering the great celestial phenomena.
Now the question is, whether any real results are to be obtained by such a method.
I should like once more to call attention, my dear friends, to the path we must pursue in these lectures. What you will find as proof will only emerge in the further course of the lectures. Today we must take a good deal simply from observation in order to form certain preliminary ideas. We must first build up certain necessary concepts; only then shall we be able to pass on to the verification of these concepts.
From what source, then, can we gain a real perception of the celestial phenomena merely through the mathematics which we apply to them? The course of development of human knowledge can disclose - if one does not take up the proud position of thinking how 'wonderfully advanced' we are today and how all that went before was childish - the course of human development can teach us how the prevailing points of view can change.
From certain aspects one can have great reverence for the celestial observations carried out, for instance, by the ancient Chaldeans. The ancient Chaldeans made very exact observations concerning the connection of human time-reckoning with the heavenly phenomena. They had a highly developed 'Calendar-Science'. Much that appears to us today as self-evident really dates back to the Chaldeans. Yet the Chaldeans were satisfied with a mathematical picture of the Heavens which portrayed the Earth more or less as a flat disc, with the hollow hemisphere of the heavenly vault arched above, the fixed stars fastened to it, and the planets moving over it. (Among the planets they also included the Sun.) They made their calculations with this picture in the background. Their calculations for the most part were correct, in spite of being based upon a picture which the science of today can only describe as a fundamental error, as something 'childish'.
Science, or more correctly, the scientific tendency and direction, then went on evolving. There was a stage when people thought that the Earth stood still, but that Venus and Mercury moved round the Sun. The Sun formed the central point for the motions of Venus and Mercury, while the other planets - Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - moved around the Earth. Thereafter, people progressed to making Mars, Jupiter and Saturn also revolve around the Sun, but the Earth was still supposed to stand still, while the Sun with its encircling planets as well as the starry Heavens revolved round the Earth. This was still the fundamental view of Tycho Brahe, whereas his contemporary Copernicus established the other concept, namely that the Sun was to be regarded as standing still and that the Earth was to be reckoned among the planets revolving round the Sun. Following hard one upon the other in the time of Copernicus were the two points of view, one which existed in ancient Egypt, of the stationary Earth with the other planets encircling the Sun, still represented by Tycho Brahe; the other, the Copernican concept, which broke radically with the idea of the center of coordinates being in the center of the Earth, and transferred it to the center of the Sun. For in reality the whole alteration made by Copernicus was nothing else than this - the origin of coordinates was removed from the center of the Earth to the center of the Sun.
What was actually the Copernicus’ problem? His problem was how to reduce to simple lines and curves these complicated apparent motions of the planets - for so they appear as observed from the Earth. When the planets are observed from the Earth, their movements can only be described as a variety of looped lines, such as these (Fig. 1). So, when taking the center of the Earth as the center of coordinates it is necessary to base the planetary movements on all sorts of complicated curves. Copernicus said, in effect: 'as an experiment, I will place the center of the whole coordinate system in the center of the Sun.' Then the complicated planetary curves are reduced to simple circular movements, or as was stated later, to ellipses. The whole thing was purely the construction of a world-system which aimed at being able to represent the paths of the planets in the simplest possible curves.
Now today we have a very remarkable fact, my dear friends. This Copernican system, when employed purely mathematically, supplies the necessary calculations concerning the observed phenomena as well as and no better than any of the earlier ones. The eclipses of the Sun and Moon can be calculated with the ancient Chaldean system, with the Egyptian, with the Tychonian and with the Copernican. The outer occurrences in the Heavens, in so far as they relate to mechanics or mathematics, can thus be foretold. One system is as well suited as another. It is only that the simplest thought-pictures arise with the Copernican system. But the strange thing is that in practical Astronomy calculations are not made with the Copernican system. Curiously enough, in practical Astronomy - to obtain what is needed for the calendar - the system of Tycho Brahe is used! This shows how little that is really fundamental, how little of the essential nature of things, comes into question when the Universe is thus pictured in purely mathematical curves or in terms of mechanical forces.
Now there is another very remarkable fact which I will only indicate today, so that we shall understand each other about the aim of these lectures. I shall speak further about it in succeeding lectures. Copernicus in his deliberations bases his cosmic system upon three axioms. The first is that the Earth rotates on its own North-South axis in 24 hours. The second principle on which Copernicus bases his picture of the Heavens is that the Earth moves around the Sun. In its revolution around the Sun the Earth itself, of course, also revolves in a certain way. This rotation, however, does not occur round the North-South axis of the Earth, which always points to the North Pole, but round the axis of the Ecliptic, which, as we know, is at an angle with the Earth's own axis. Therefore the Earth goes through a rotation during a 24-hour day around its own N. S. Axis, and then, inasmuch as it performs approximately 365 such rotations in the year, there is added another rotation, an annual rotation, if we disregard the revolution round the Sun. The Earth, then, if it always rotates thus, and then again revolves round the Sun, behaves like the Moon as it rotates round the Earth, always turning the same side towards us. The Earth does this too, inasmuch as it revolves round the Sun, but not on the same axis as the one on which it rotates for the daily revolution. It revolves through this 'yearly day' on another axis; this is an added movement, besides the one taking place in the 24-hour day.
Copernicus' third principle is that not only does such a revolution of the Earth take place around the North-South axis, but that there is yet a third revolution which appears as a retrograde movement of the North-South axis around the axis of the Ecliptic. Thereby, in a certain sense, the revolution round the axis of the Ecliptic is canceled out. By reason of this third revolution the Earth's axis continuously points to the North celestial Pole (the Pole-Star). Whereas by virtue of revolving round the Sun, the Earth's axis would have to describe a circle, or an ellipse, round the pole of the Ecliptic, its own revolution, which takes the opposite direction (every time the Earth proceeds a little further its axis rotates backwards), causes it to point continually to the North Pole. Copernicus adopted this third principle, namely: The continued pointing of the Earth's axis to the Pole comes about because, by a rotation of its own - a kind of 'inclination' - it cancels out the other revolution. This latter therefore has no effect in the course of the year, for it is constantly being annulled.
In modern Astronomy, founded as it is on the Copernican system, it has come about that the first two axioms are accepted and the third is ignored. This third axiom is lightly brushed aside by saying that the stars are so far away that the Earth-axis, remaining parallel to itself, always points practically to the same spot. Thus it is assumed that the North-South axis of the Earth, in its revolution, remains always parallel to itself. This was not assumed by Copernicus; on the contrary, he assumed a perpetual revolving of the Earth's axis. Modern Astronomy is therefore not really based on the Copernican system, but accepts the first two axioms because they are convenient and discards the third, thus becoming lost in the prevarication that it is not necessary to suppose that the Earth's axis itself must move in order to keep pointing to the same spot in the Heavens, but that the place itself is so far away that even if the axis does move parallel to itself it will still point to the same spot. Anyone can see that this is a prevarication. To-day therefore we have a 'Copernican system' from which a most important element has actually been discarded.
The development of modern Astronomy is presented in such a way that no one notices that an important element is missing. Yet only in this way is it possible to describe it all so neatly: "Here is the Sun the Earth goes round in an ellipse with the Sun in one of the foci." (Fig. 2)
As time went on it became no longer possible to hold to the starting-point of the Copernican theory, namely that the Sun stands still. A movement is now attributed to the Sun, which is said to move forward with the whole ellipse, perpetually creating new ellipses, so to speak (Fig. 3). It became necessary to introduce the Sun's own movement, and this was done simply by adding something new to the picture they had before. A mathematical description is thus obtained which is admittedly convenient, but few questions are asked as to its possibility or its reality. It is only from the apparent movement of the stars that the Earth's movement is deduced by this method. As we shall presently see, it is of great significance whether or no one assumes a movement - which indeed must be assumed - namely the aforesaid 'inclination' of the Earth's axis, perpetually annulling the annual rotation. Resultant movements, after all, are obtained by adding up the several movements. If one is left out, the whole is no longer true. Thus the whole theory that the Earth moves round the Sun in an ellipse comes into question.
You see, purely from these historical facts, that burning questions exist in Astronomy today, though it is seemingly a most exact science because it is mathematical. The question arises: Why do we live in such uncertainty with regard to a real astronomical science? We must then ask further, turning the question in another direction: Can we reach any real certainty through a purely mathematical approach? Only think that in considering a thing mathematically we lift the observation out of the sphere of external reality. Mathematics is something that ascends from our inner being; in mathematics we lift ourselves out of external reality. It must therefore be understood from the outset that if we approach an external reality with a method of investigation that lifts itself out of reality, we can, in all probability, only arrive at something relative.
To begin with, I am merely putting forward certain general considerations. We shall soon come to the realities. The point is that in regarding things purely from the mathematical standpoint, man does not put reality into his thought with sufficient energy, in order to approach the phenomena of the outer world correctly. This indeed demands that the celestial phenomena be brought nearer to man; they must not be regarded as quite apart from man, but must be brought into relationship with man. It was only one particular instance of this associating of the heavenly phenomena with the human being, when I said that we must see what takes place out there in the starry world in its reflection in the embryonic process. But let us look at the matter at first somewhat more generally. Let us ask whether we cannot perhaps find another approach to the celestial phenomena than the purely mathematical one.
We can indeed bring the celestial phenomena, in their connection with earthly life, somewhat nearer to man in a purely qualitative way. We will not disdain to form a basis today with seemingly elementary ideas, these ideas being just the ones that are excluded from the foundations of modern Astronomy. We will ask the following question: How does man's life on Earth appear in relation to Astronomy? We can regard the external phenomena surrounding man from three different points of view. We can regard them from the standpoint of what I will call the solar life, the life of the Sun; the lunar life; and the terrestrial, the tellurian life.
Let us think first in quite a popular, even elementary way how these three domains play around man and upon him. Clearly there is something on the Earth which is in complete dependence upon the Sun-life, including also that aspect of the Sun's life which we shall have to look for in the Sun's movement, state of rest, and so on. We will leave aside the quantitative aspect and today merely consider the qualitative. Let us try to be clear as to how, for instance, the vegetation of any given region depends upon the solar life. Here we need only call to mind what is very well known with regard to vegetation, namely, the difference in the vegetation of spring, summer, autumn and winter; we shall be able to say that we see in the vegetation itself an imprint of the solar life. The Earth opens herself in a given region to what is outside her in heavenly space, and this reveals itself in the unfolding of vegetative life. If the Earth closes herself again to the solar life, the vegetation recedes.
There is, however, an interplay of activity between the terrestrial or tellurian and the solar life. There is a difference in the solar life according to the variation of tellurian conditions. We must here bring together quite elementary facts and you will see how they lead us further. Take, for example,
Egyptand , two regions in the tropical zone. You will see how the tellurian element, simply the distance from the center of the Earth in this instance, plays its part in conjunction with the solar life. You only need study the vegetation over the earth, regarding the Earth, not as mere mineral but as incorporating plant-nature as well, and in the picture of vegetation you have a starting-point for an understanding of the connection of the earthly with the celestial. But we perceive the connection most particularly when we turn our attention to mankind. Peru
We have, in the first place, two opposites on the Earth: the Polar and the Tropical. The Polar and the tropical form a polarity, and the result of this polarity shows itself very clearly in human life. Is it not so that life in the polar regions brings forth in man a condition of mind and spirit which is more or less a state of apathy: The sharp contrast of a long winter and a long summer which are almost like one long day and one long night, produces a certain apathy in man; it is as though the setting in which man lives makes him apathetic. In the Tropics, man also lives in a region which makes him apathetic. But the apathy of the polar region is based upon a sparse external vegetation - sparse and meager in a peculiar way even where it develops to some extent. The tropical apathy of man is caused by a rich, luxuriant vegetation. Putting together these two pictures of environment one can say that the apathy which affects man in polar regions is different from that affecting him in tropical regions. He is apathetic in both regions, but the apathy results from different causes. In the
Temperate Zonelies the balance. Here the human capacities are developed in a certain equilibrium.
No-one will doubt that this has something to do with the solar life. But what is the connection? (I will, as I said, first make a few remarks based on observation and in this way arrive at essential concepts.)
Going to the root of things, we find that in the life around the Poles there is a very strong working-in of the Sun-forces upon man. In those regions the Earth tends to withdraw from the life of the Sun; she does not let her activity shoot upward from below into the vegetation. But the human being is exposed in these parts to the true Sun-life (you must not only look for the Sun-life in mere warmth). That this is so, the vegetation itself bears witness.
We have, then, a preponderance of solar influence in the Polar zones. What kind of life predominates in the Tropics? There it is the tellurian, the Earth-life. This shoots up into the vegetation, making it rich and luxuriant. This also robs man of a balanced development of his capacities, but the causes in the North and in the Tropics come from different directions. In
Polar regionsthe sunlight represses man's inner development. In the Tropics, what shoots up from the Earth represses his inner powers. We thus see a certain polarity, the polarity shown in the preponderance of the Sun-life around the Poles, and of the tellurian life in tropical regions - in the neighborhood of the Equator.
If we then observe man and have in mind the human form, we can say the following. (Please do not object at once if it seems paradoxical, but wait a little. We shall be taking the human form seriously.) The head, the part of the human form which in its outer configuration copies universal space, - namely the sphere, the spherical shape of the Universe as a whole - the head is exposed by life in polar regions to what comes from the Cosmos outside the Earth. In the Tropics, the metabolic system in its connection with the limbs is exposed to the Earth-life as such.
We come to a special relationship, you see, of the human head to the cosmic life outside the Earth and of the human metabolic and limb-system to the Earth-life. Man is so placed in the Universe as to be more coordinated with the cosmic surroundings of the Earth in his head, his nerve-senses system, and with the Earth-life in his metabolic system. And in the temperate zones we shall have to look for a kind of perpetual harmonizing between the head-system and the metabolic system. In the temperate zones there is a primary development of the rhythmic system in man.
You see then that there exists a certain connection between this threefold membering of man - nerves-and-senses system, rhythmic system, metabolic system - and the outer world. The head-system is more related to the whole Cosmos, the rhythmic system is the balance between the Cosmos and the earthly world, and the metabolic system is related to the earth itself. Then we must take up another indication, which points to a working of the solar life upon mankind in a different direction.
This gives a sort of crossing of influences. We have seen how the solar life, in its interplay with the forces of the Earth, works on the rhythmic system in the temperate zones. Crossing this influence, we now have the direct influence of the lunar life upon the rhythmic system.
When we now look at the tellurian, the Earth-life as such, we must not disregard a domain in which the earthly influence makes itself felt; though, to be sure, this is not ordinarily taken into account. I ask you to turn your attention to such a phenomenon as home-sickness. It is difficult to form any clear ideas about home-sickness. It can no doubt be explained from the point of view of habit, custom, and so on. But I ask you to note that real physiological effects can be produced entirely as a result of this so-called home-sickness. Home-sickness can go so far as to make a man ill. It can express itself in such phenomena as asthma. Study the complex of the phenomena of home-sickness with its consequences, asthmatic conditions and general ill-health, a kind of emaciation, and it is possible to come to the following conclusion. One comes to see that ultimately the feeling of home-sickness results from an alteration of the metabolism - the whole metabolic system. Home-sickness is the reflection in consciousness of changes in the metabolism - changes entirely due to the man's removal from one place, with its tellurian influences from below, to another place, with different influences coming from below. Please take this in connection with other things which, unfortunately, Science as a rule leaves unconsidered.
Goethe, I said, felt most inspired to poetry, to the writing of his works in the morning. If he needed a stimulant however, he took that stimulant which in its nature takes least hold of the metabolic system, but only stirs it up via the rhythmic system, namely wine. Goethe took wine as a stimulant. In this respect he was, indeed, altogether a Sun-man; he let the influence of the solar life work upon him. With Schiller or Byron this was reversed. Schiller preferred to write his poetry when the Sun has set, that is to say when the solar life was hardly active any more. And he stimulated himself with something which takes thorough hold of the metabolic system - with hot punch. The effect was quite different from that obtained by Goethe from wine. It worked into the whole metabolism. Through the metabolism the Earth works upon man; so we can say that Schiller was essentially tellurian - an Earth-man. Earth-men work more through the emotions and what belongs to the will; the Sun-man works rather through calm and contemplation. For those persons, therefore, who could not endure the solar element, but only liked the tellurian, only what is of the Earth, Goethe increasingly became "the cold literary Greybeard" as they called him in
- "the cold, literary greybeard with the double chin." That was the name which was so often given to Goethe in Weimar in the 19th century. Weimar
Now I should like to bring something rather different to your notice. We have observed how man is set into the universal connections of Earth, Sun and Moon: the Sun working more on the nerves-and-senses system; the Moon working more on the rhythmic system; the Earth, inasmuch as she gives man of her substance as nourishment and makes substance directly active in him, working upon the metabolic system, working tellurically. We see something in man through which we can perhaps find a starting-point for an explanation of the Heavens as they exist outside man, upon broader foundations than merely through the measurement of angles by the telescope and so on.
This is especially so if we go yet further, if we now consider Nature outside of man - but consider it so as to see more in it than a mere register of external data. Look at the metamorphosis of insects. In the course of the year it is a complete reflection of the external solar life. I would say that with man we must make our researches more in the inner being in order to follow what is solar, lunar and tellurian in him, whereas in the insect-life with its metamorphoses, we see the direct course of the year expressed in the successive forms the insect assumes. We can now say to ourselves: Perhaps we have not to only proceed quantitatively, but should also take into account the qualitative impression which such phenomena make upon us. Why always merely ask what a phenomenon of the outer Universe looks like in the objective of the telescope? Why not ask what relation is given, not merely by the objective of the telescope, but by the insect? How does human nature react? Is anything revealed to us through human nature regarding the celestial phenomena? Are we not led in this way to broader foundations, making it impossible that on the one hand, theoretically, we should be Copernicans when desiring to explain the world philosophically, while on the other we use Tychonic System as our basis for calculating the calendar etc., as practical Astronomy still does to this day. Or that we are Copernicans, but set aside the most important part of his theory, namely his third axiom Can we not overcome the uncertainties which create burning questions even in the most fundamental realms of Astronomy today, by working on a broader basis - working in this sphere too from the quantitative to the qualitative?
Yesterday I sought to point out the connection of the celestial with the embryonic phenomena; today, the connection with fully developed man. Here you have an indication towards a necessary regrouping of the sciences. Now take another thing to which I have also referred to in the course of today's remarks. I indicated the connection of human metabolism with the Earth-life. In man we have the faculties of sense-perception mediated through the nerves-and-senses system, connected as a whole with the solar and cosmic life. We have the rhythmic system connected with what lies between Heaven and Earth. We have the metabolism related especially to the Earth, so that in contemplating metabolic man we should be able to get nearer to the real essence of the tellurian. But what do we do today if we want to approach the tellurian realm? We behave as we habitually do, and investigate things from the outside. But things have an inner side also! Will they perhaps only show it in its true form when they pass through the human being? It has become an ideal nowadays to regard the relationship of substances quite apart from man and to rest there; to be observed by experimentation in chemical laboratories the reciprocal action of substances in order to arrive at their nature. But if the substances only disclosed their nature within the human being, then we should have to practice Chemistry in such a way as to reach man. Then we should have to form a connection between true Chemistry and the processes undergone by matter within man, just as we see a connection between Astronomy and Embryology, or between Astronomy and the whole human form - the threefold being of man. Thus do the things work into one another. We only come to real life when we perceive them in their interpenetration.
On the other hand, inasmuch as the Earth is poised in cosmic space, we shall have to see the connection between the tellurian and the starry realm.
Now we have seen a connection between Astronomy and the substances of Earth; also between the Earth and human metabolism; and again a direct influence of the solar and celestial events upon man himself. In man we have a kind of meeting of what comes directly from the Heavens and what comes via earthly substance. Earthly substances work on the human metabolism, while the celestial influences work directly upon man as a whole. In man there meet the direct influences for which we are indebted to the solar life, and those influences which, passing indirectly through the Earth, have undergone a change by reason of the Earth. Thus we can say: The interior of the human being will become explicable even in a physical, anatomical sense as a result of cosmic influences coming directly from the Universe outside the Earth, and cosmic influences which have first passed through the earthly process. These flow together in man (Fig. 4).
You see how, contemplating man in his totality, the whole Universe comes together. For a true knowledge of man, it is essential to perceive this. What then has come about by scientific specialization? It has led us away from reality into a purely abstract sphere. In spite of its 'exactness', Astronomy - to calculate the calendar - cannot help using in practice something other than it stands for in theory. And then again, Copernican though it is in theory, it discards what was of great importance to Copernicus, namely the third axiom. Uncertainty creeps in at every point. These modern lines of research do not lead to what matters most of all, - to perceive how Man is formed from the entire Universe.
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