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Toward a Phenomenology of the Etheric World

Investigations into the Life of Nature and Man

Edited by Jochen Bockemühl Translated by Malcolm Ian Gardner Preface by Arthur Zajonc

256 pp.  
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"



Published:  June 1985


  • “It is not the task of science to propound questions; its task is rather to observe them carefully as they are posed by human nature and the culture of a particular time, and to answer them.”

    “It is by virtue of the constitution of the human soul that questions of knowledge arise when the outer world is perceived. In the soul’s own impulse to question lies the power to penetrate the perceived world in such a way that it, together with the soul's activity, brings the reality of the perceived world to manifestation.” —Rudolf Steiner

For more than three centuries, scientists have studied the world as detached observers. In doing so, science has achieved marvelous results, but it has also lost the sense of the whole that earlier cultures possessed. By concentrating on the "text" of the physical world, science has lost the context—the etheric world of life forces.

Goethean phenomenology (so named for Goethe's observations) is a scientific method capable of bringing the clarity of natural science to this context of phenomena. Unconsciously, scientific observers have always been using the context to read the text. The phenomenological method involves training observers to look at the activity of thinking itself as it perceives intentionally. It then uses this activity itself as a means of perception. The observer thus becomes conscious that physical nature is indeed a text, and that its meaning derives from the etheric context.

Unlike the more common hypothetical and deductive methods—which presupose a detached observer—the phenomenological method is based on active participation by the observer. This eliminates the need to construct speculative hypotheses; the observer's awareness of his or her own intentionality ensures the veracity of the observations. The etheric world is not a new hypothesis; it is, however, a new domain of observation.

The authors have all written extensively on "participatory" science and related matters. In this ground-breaking collection, they each explore an aspect of the etheric world and its relationship to human thinking. They systematically lead the reader into the "formative movements" of nature and offer genuine insight into the far-reaching mystery of life.


  • Preface to the English Edition (Arthur G. Zajonc)
  • Introduction (Jochen Bockemühl)
  • Light and the Pictorial Appearance of the World (Georg Maier)
  • Streaming: A Picture of the Etheric (Ernst-August Müller and Dietrich Rapp)
  • The Formative Movements of Plants (Jochen Bockemühl)
  • Scientific Thinking as an Approach to the Etheric (Wolfgang Schad)
  • Life Organization and Thought Organization:
    Concerning the Dual Nature of the Human Etheric Body
    (Christof Lindenau)
  • The Concept and Action of the Etheric Body (Hermann Poppelbaum)

Toward a Phenomenology of the Etheric World
is a translation from German of Erscheinungsformen des Ätherischen. Wege zum Erfahren des Lebendigen in Natur und Mensch (Freies Geistesleben, 1985).

Related Titles

  • Learning to Experience the Etheric World : Empathy, the After-Image and a New Social Ethic
  • Cultivating Inner Radiance and the Body of Immortality : Awakening the Soul through Modern Etheric Movement
  • Cognitive Yoga : Making Yourself a New Etheric Body and Individuality
  • The Etheric : Broadening Science through Anthroposophy:
    The World of the Ethers, vol 1
  • The Etheric : Broadening Science through Anthroposophy:
    The World of Formative Forces, vol. 2

    Related Titles by Subject:

    Anthroposophy: Esoteric Studies ; Esoteric: Esoteric Studies and Esoteric: General