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Goethe's W

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Goethe's W

  1. 1. Of Parts and Wholes “ The most difficult thing to see is what is in front of your eyes. ” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832).   What can this mean to us?
  2. 2. Of Parts and Wholes: Part I 1. Cultural / Historical Context 2. Imaginative Looking: Goethe’s Organic Vision 3. Mode of Inquiry 4. Encountering the Whole 5 . What Goethe Saw 6. Inverting the Container
  3. 3. Cultural / Historical Context “ The history of science is science itself” - Goethe
  4. 4. <ul><li>Cultural / Historical Context </li></ul><ul><li>18th Century Influences on thought in continental Europe: </li></ul><ul><li>vacuum < extreme skepticism < 30 Years War. </li></ul><ul><li>believe what??? </li></ul><ul><li>conclusion: knowledge / certainty impossible. </li></ul><ul><li>Descartes ++ fill vacuum by mathematics. </li></ul><ul><li>mathematical approach = certainty. </li></ul><ul><li>certainty > cultural mission of mathematical physics </li></ul><ul><li>decontextualizing via mathematical style of thinking </li></ul><ul><li>certainty divorced from experience </li></ul><ul><li>Platonic language embraced </li></ul><ul><li>This became so influential. </li></ul><ul><li>Cosmopolis – The Hidden Agenda of Modernity, Stephen Toulmin </li></ul>
  5. 5. Cultural / Historical Context In our way of looking at the world we see things we believe are part of the fabric of the world but which in fact we are bringing to it by our way of seeing.
  6. 6. Imaginative Looking: Goethe’s Organic Vision “ The most difficult thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” What can this mean to us:
  7. 7. Imaginative Looking: Goethe’s Organic Vision Goethe spoke of seeing phenomena as ‘ standing in their own depth’.
  8. 8. Imaginative Looking: Goethe’s Organic Vision Goethe spoke of seeing phenomena as ‘ standing in their own depth’. Seeing in this manner needs no theory to explain how the whole is generated.
  9. 9. Imaginative Looking: Goethe’s Organic Vision What can seem abstract to the intellectual mind becomes a living experience, capable of transforming our mode of cognition .
  10. 10. Goethe put it simply: the facts of the phenomena are their own theory.
  11. 11. Goethe put it simply: the facts of the phenomena are their own theory. ( An invitation, a window to possibility. )
  12. 12. Mode of Inquiry Goethe studied and saw the plant kingdom as ‘doings that be, not beings that do’ .
  13. 13. Mode of Inquiry Coming to this understanding, he said, requires the development of the 'imagination as an organ of perception'.
  14. 14. Mode of Inquiry Coming to this understanding, he said, requires the development of the 'imagination as an organ of perception'. Goethe described this development as evolving out of the process of ‘exact sensorial imagination’,
  15. 15. Mode of Inquiry Coming to this understanding, he said, requires the development of the 'imagination as an organ of perception' . Goethe described this development as evolving out of the process of ‘exact sensorial imagination’ , a process that begins in the act of active seeing itself .
  16. 16. Mode of Inquiry This mode of seeing apprehends the activity instead of our habitual way of seeing and thinking which is post activity, and by Goethe’s standards, too late.
  17. 17. Mode of Inquiry Everyday consciousness = ‘past consciousness’
  18. 18. Mode of Inquiry Everyday consciousness = ‘past consciousness’ i.e. we deal in finished perceptions vs. an active process of ‘coming into being’.
  19. 19. Mode of Inquiry Brentano says “idea is the act of conceiving, not that which is conceived” Franz Clemens Brentano (1838-1917), philosopher
  20. 20. Mode of Inquiry Brentano says “idea is the act of conceiving, not that which is conceived” The idea is active . Franz Clemens Brentano (1838-1917), philosopher
  21. 21. What Goethe Saw Seeing is an active, receptive participation.
  22. 22. Mode of Inquiry Gadamer’s first and last insight is “that all being is self-manifestation and understanding is an event.” Hans-Georg Gadamer, 1960, Truth and Method
  23. 23. Mode of Inquiry Gadamer’s first and last insight is “that all being is self-manifestation and understanding is an event.” It is an event of self-manifestation. Hans-Georg Gadamer, 1960, Truth and Method
  24. 24. Where mainstream science enables us to discover the causal order in nature, Goethe’s way of science enables us to discover the wholeness . Mode of Inquiry
  25. 25. Profound change that is both radical and simple, is based first on understanding the nature of wholes, and how parts and wholes are interrelated. Mode of Inquiry
  26. 26. Encountering the Whole Almost 200 years ago, Goethe, argued that we had to think very differently about wholes and parts .
  27. 27. Encountering the Whole For Goethe, the whole was something dynamic and living that continually comes into being “in concrete manifestations.”
  28. 28. Encountering the Whole A part, in turn, was a manifestation of the whole, rather than just a component of it. Neither exists without the other.
  29. 29. Encountering the Whole A part, in turn, was a manifestation of the whole, rather than just a component of it. Neither exists without the other. The whole exists through continually manifesting in the parts, and the parts exist as embodiments of the whole.
  30. 30. Encountering the Whole When reading a text for example, its meaning is not derived from isolated words, sentences, paragraphs and so forth. At the same time, we do not have to finish the entire text, having collected and stored all the parts to suddenly grasp meaning.
  31. 31. Encountering the Whole The meaning of the text is discerned and disclosed with progressive immanence throughout the reading of the text. Hence the whole is not the totality, but the whole emerges most fully and completely through the totality.
  32. 32. Encountering the Whole A part is a part only inasmuch as it serves to let the whole come to presence, which is to let meaning emerge . It is the presence of the whole in any part of the text which constitutes the meaning of that part of the text.
  33. 33. Encountering the Whole There are two types of wholeness: the counterfeit and the authentic whole. Both notions of wholeness are based on different faculties of cognition .
  34. 34. <ul><li>Encountering the Whole </li></ul><ul><li>The Counterfeit Whole is encountered when the intellectual mind abstracts from concrete sensual perception. </li></ul><ul><li>That is, the mind moves away from the concrete part to get an overview, leading to an abstract and non-dynamic notion of the whole. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Encountering the Whole 2. The Authentic Whole is based on the cognitive capacity of the intuitive mind . The intuitive mind moves right into the concrete parts where it encounters the whole.
  36. 36. Encountering the Whole The challenge then, is to encounter the whole as it comes into being through the parts.
  37. 37. Encountering the Whole This encounter leads to seeing the dynamic and living multiplicity of the whole.
  38. 38. What Goethe Saw Goethe saw ‘a continuity of form and the prevalent relationship between the particular and the universal’ .
  39. 39. What Goethe Saw Goethe’s universal was not a general abstraction. Rather, the universal ‘ shines ’ through in the particular , which is seen in the light of the universal via intuition.
  40. 40. What Goethe Saw ‘ An instance worth a thousand bearing all within itself’ This is how Goethe described the whole as experienced through intuitive perception in a holistic mode of consciousness – not through mental abstraction.
  41. 41. What Goethe Saw As a natural scientist Goethe was looking for the organic unity of life . He looked deeply and actively into the coming into being of plants and saw all plants as one plant.
  42. 42. What Goethe Saw “ All is leaf. This simplicity makes possible the greatest diversity.”
  43. 43. What Goethe Saw “ Furthermore I must confess to you that I have nearly discovered the secret of plant generation and structure, and that it is the simplest thing imaginable…
  44. 44. What Goethe Saw … Namely it had become apparent to me that in the plant organ which we ordinarily call the leaf a true Proteus is concealed, who can hide and reveal himself in all sorts of configurations… Protean: flexibility, versatility and adaptability
  45. 45. What Goethe Saw From top to bottom a plant is all leaf, united so inseparably with the future bud that one cannot be imagined without the other.” — Suhrkamp ed., vol 6; trans. Robert R Heitner, Italian Journey
  46. 46. What Goethe Saw This archetypal plant would make it possible, Goethe said “to invent plants ad infinitum; they would be consistent; that is to say, though nonexistent, that they would be capable of existing , being no shades or semblances of the painter or poet, but possessing truth and necessity .” Goethe in a letter to philosopher von Herder
  47. 47. What Goethe Saw Goethe saw the ‘possibility of plant’ , he reached the ‘to be’ of plants.
  48. 48. What Goethe Saw “ The omnipotential form, the archetype, is one plant, which is all possible plants.
  49. 49. What Goethe Saw “ The omnipotential form, the archetype, is one plant, which is all possible plants. But it is not a blueprint for plants, a general plant, or the common factor of all plants. It is the multiplicity in unity .
  50. 50. What Goethe Saw “ The omnipotential form, the archetype, is one plant, which is all possible plants. But it is not a blueprint for plants, a general plant, or the common factor of all plants. It is the multiplicity in unity . It is possibility in a non-reductionist sense .” (Henri Bortoft, The Wholeness of Nature )
  51. 51. What Goethe did was to flip things around.
  52. 52. Inverting the Container This process of ‘presencing’ the authentic whole leads to an inversion of container and content . For Goethe the sensory facts are the container that give rise to encountering the real phenomenon (&quot;theory&quot;).
  53. 53. Inverting the Container In the case of positivism, theory is considered to be the container for the facts.”
  54. 54. Inverting the Container Insert 2 slides here. 1. A bunch of different plants in a square box that is made up of the word ‘theory, theory, theory’ repeated. 2. Add person on left with eyeline arrow going from person and bouncing off the theory box. Deflection at theory level.
  55. 55. Inverting the Container In the Gothean view, phenomena are experienced to be the container for the theory .
  56. 56. Inverting the Container Insert 1 slide here. Same person facing a soft, organic box where the ‘container’ is green plants a-plenty and inside is the ‘theory’. Person pierces through the plants/box to the theory.
  57. 57. Inverting the Container If the theory, in Goethe’s sense, is the real content of the phenomenon, then it can be said that in the moment of intuitive insight we are seeing inside the phenomenon .&quot; (Henri Bortoft, 1996, Interview with Claus Otto Scharmer )
  58. 58. Inverting the Container Seeing inside the phenomenon is a reversal that comes from turning awareness of an object into an encounter with the whole .
  59. 59. Inverting the Container “ This turning around, from grasping to being receptive , from awareness of an object to letting an absence be active , is a reversal that is the practical consequence of recognizing the whole as no-thing , and not mere nothing.”
  60. 60. Inverting the Container The reversal is a self-transcending experience which is encountering the dynamic unity of self and world . Goethe expressed it this way:
  61. 61. Inverting the Container &quot;Man knows himself only to the extent that he knows the world; he becomes aware of himself only within the world, and aware of the world only within himself. Every object, well contemplated, opens up a new organ (of perception) within us.&quot;
  62. 62. a pause.
  63. 63. Multiplicity in Unity
  64. 64. Multiplicity in Unity Our modern way of thinking is based on the acceptance of a conceptual parameter: the the concept of ‘one over many’ .
  65. 65. Multiplicity in Unity The notion that there must be a regulating 'one' for each 'many' and that whatever constitutes as the many must fit into the one. In metaphysics, this is what is known as the ‘unity in multiplicity’.
  66. 66. Multiplicity in Unity It gives rise to the idea of a container, or a theory, that contains all the examples that can fit into that particular container or Form. This process is reductionary because to make things fit into an acceptable mold we have to exclude all differences .
  67. 67. Multiplicity in Unity In other words, what we are doing in this mode is looking for and defining the ultimate commonality and excluding all differences.
  68. 68. Multiplicity in Unity This separation is extended by placing the one and the many into independent worlds. In our aim to define the Form, the world of the one is superior to, and more fundamental than, the world of the many.
  69. 69. Multiplicity in Unity one many
  70. 70. Multiplicity in Unity In metaphysics, the sensory (many) is played down in favour of the intelligible (the one). And in physics what is &quot;really real&quot; is hidden behind empirical appearances.
  71. 71. Multiplicity in Unity What appears to be real is &quot;merely appearance&quot;.
  72. 72. Multiplicity in Unity Since this mode of unity is reached by the exclusion of difference and diversity, it cannot after-the-fact give rise to multiplicity, or, to difference.
  73. 73. Multiplicity in Unity It is a sterile and impoverished way of thinking that doesn't accommodate the lushness of diversity or potential.
  74. 74. Multiplicity in Unity Goethe's way of seeing the world flips things to a mode of 'multiplicity in unity' or, the many over the one.
  75. 75. Multiplicity in Unity This process of ‘knowledge-by-identification’ is achieved by the non-sensory unifying element of 'imagination as organ of perception' .
  76. 76. Multiplicity in Unity Goethe's view includes the diversity and difference that clearly exist. It is a way of seeing that is non-reductionist in the extreme.
  77. 77. Multiplicity in Unity It allows vision to enter the same generative field as the phenomena and leads us back to Goethe's view that the ‘most difficult thing to see is what is in front of your eyes’ .
  78. 78. Multiplicity in Unity For Bortoft, this is ‘the new way of cognition’. Instead of asking for what different things have in common, what is the same in them, self-difference is to look at differences that emerge from the unity.
  79. 79. The Intensive One When Goethe is talking about the capital 'O' (non numerical, pre numerical) One in the form of many, and many which are One. He is referring to the 'intensive dimension of One', that is, the distinction is intensive since each of the many is the very same One, the original One, and not another One.
  80. 80. All is Self Manifestation Gadamer’s first and last insight is that all being is self-manifestation and understanding is an event. It is an event of self-manifestation.
  81. 81. The Necessary Connection A relationship cannot be experienced as such in the analytical mode of consciousness . In this mode it is the elements which are related that stand out in experience, the relationship itself can only seem to be a shadowy abstraction to the intellectual mind. To perceive the relationship requires simultaneous perception of the whole and the restructuring of consciousness to a holistic mode.
  82. 82. The Organizing Idea Our everyday consciousness is ‘past consciousness’, we deal in finished perceptions vs. a process of ‘coming into being’. Brentano says “idea is the act of conceiving, not that which is conceived” and not mental image abstracted of what is conceived. The idea is active .
  83. 83. The Organizing Idea of Scientific Knowledge Forgetfulness of the way of seeing is the origin of empiricism (the philosophy of cognitive awareness) Goethe studied and saw the plant kingdom as ‘doings that be, not beings that do’ by following the plant through exact sensorial imagination. Formative doing vs. operative doing. A mode of seeing that apprehends the activity instead of our habitual way of seeing and thinking which is post activity, and by Goethe’s standards, too late.
  84. 84. Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. A change in the way of seeing means a change in what is seen. We see what we see in the light of on organizing idea. What is seen ‘lights up’ as ‘what it is’ in the light of the idea. e.g Galileo’s trajectory of a projectile. The organizing idea in cognition comes from the phenomenon itself. It is not imposed on nature by self-assertive thinking. It is received from nature.
  85. 85. Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. The organizing idea in cognition is no longer an idea which is external to the phenomenon and frameworks it, but is now the intrinsic organizing principle of the phenomenon itself which appears as idea when active in the mind. It does not appear to the senses, but is discovered within the sensory. It appears to the sensory imagination, when it is developed into an organ of perception , but not to the intellectual mind which tries to go behind the sensory.
  86. 86. Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. An active organizing principal in nature needs a corresponding organizing activity on the part of the researcher to be a ‘container’ for it to come to manifestation. It is the researcher’s thinking activity which acts as the vessel through which the intrinsic, organizing, active organizing in nature can appear.
  87. 87. <ul><li>Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. </li></ul><ul><li>To be a vessel for the coming into being of the phenomenon there needs to be a subtle reversal of will at this point. Where the will has played a large role till now on maintaining focus and depth in the phenomenon it must now move from an active to a receptive state. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When the will becomes receptive consciousness becomes participative </li></ul></ul>
  88. 88. Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. Participative consciousness means conscious participation in the phenomenon. “ Goethean scientists do not project their thoughts onto nature, but offer their thinking to nature so that nature can think in them and the phenomenon disclose itself as idea.”(Bortoft, 242) The being of the phenomenon itself appears as idea. What is experienced is not what our modern epistemological dualism understands which is a question of the correspondence between an idea produced by the mind and the phenomenon as it appears in nature.
  89. 89. Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. Here, it is the phenomenon which appears as idea, just as, in a different way, it is the phenomenon which appears to the senses. Goethe referred to his way of science as a ‘delicate empiricism which makes itself utterly identical with the object.” (Far from Bacon’s which is to question, intervene with instruments by scientists who remain external to what they seek to know. Assertive vs receptive will. The separation of humanity from nature which characterizes the modern attitude.)
  90. 90. <ul><li>Organizing Idea in Observational Discoveries. </li></ul><ul><li>To be a vessel for the coming into being of the phenomenon there needs to be a subtle reversal of will at this point. Where the will has played a large role till now on maintaining focus and depth in the phenomenon it must now move from an active to a receptive state. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When the will becomes receptive consciousness becomes participative </li></ul></ul>

Notas do Editor

  • and not mental image abstracted of what is conceived.
  • He saw the necessary connection between particulars and universal, parts and the whole.
  • - which he also called the primal phenomenon or archetypal organ in his natural work in the plant kingdom //

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