The holistic paradigm, Gaia, deep ecology, new alchemy, all have a hidden ancestor: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). At the young age of twenty-one, Rudolf Steiner was chosen to edit Goethe’s scientific writings for a new collection of Goethe’s complete works. Goethe’s literary genius was already universally acknowledged; it was Steiner’s task to understand and comment on Goethe’s unique scientific achievement. Rudolf Steiner recognized the compelling power of Goethe’s work with nature and developed Goethe’s theory of knowledge in remarkable and far-reaching ways. Here, in fact, began Steiner’s own training in epistemology and spiritual science.
Natural science had created a powerful tool for understanding the inorganic world, but failed to comprehend the phenomenon of life. Goethe discovered how thinking could be applied to organic nature, and he understood that this experience requires not just rational concepts but a whole new way of perceiving. This volume, Steiner’s introduction to Goethe, is nothing less than a re-visioning of what it means to know the world.
In an age when science and technology have been linked to great catastrophes, many are seeking a different way to address nature. With a fundamental declaration of the interpenetration of our consciousness and the world, Rudolf Steiner shows in Nature’s Open Secret how Goethe’s approach points the way to a more compassionate, intimate involvement with nature.