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In Context #1 (Spring, 1999, p. 4); copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute

Goethean Science?
Stephen L. Talbott

One problem facing anyone who diverges from the vast body of conventional scientific work has to do with naming oneself. "If you're not at home in the mainstream, then where are you at home?" Sometimes there just is no simple answer. We've found ourselves appealing at one time or another to many different characterizations of our "home," including these:
  • Holistic science
  • Goethean science
  • Phenomena-centered science
  • Qualitative science
  • Participative science
  • Contextual science
Only "holistic science" is a widely used term—and its meaning, so much compromised in various ways, remains vague to the general public, if not to the practitioners themselves. As to what may be the most unfamiliar term in the list, Rudolf Steiner, who edited Goethe's collected scientific works and elaborated Goethe's methodology, once wrote:
To speak with Goethe: whoever thrusts forth a concept to delimit the richness of life has no sense for the fact that life shapes itself in relations.... It is, of course, easier to let a schematic concept take the place of a view of full life.... Through such a p