«One must be able to think in colors and forms as one is able to think in terms and thoughts.»

Rudolph Steiner

Rudolf Steiner and the arts

Goetheanism - Link between natural science and arts

Rudolf Steiner continued to encourage scientists to imagine natural processes as something movable and flexible. This approach would allow man to see beyond what is materially obvious and to discover himself in nature. For this approach it would be helpful to summarize physical appearances into a series of pictures which are internally connected.

The base motifs in the great hall of the Goetheanum were created using this view on the physical appearances of the plant (seed, leave, stem, calyx, and fruit). In ‘metamorphosis of the plant’, Goethe coined the term ‘primordial plant’ the forces which become visible in the plant development stages. The base motives do not show leaves or blossoms, but intermediate stages of the gest of life, which becomes tangible in the physical appearance of the plant. This method can also be transferred to other areas of science.

Further reading:
Carl Kemper. The building – Studies on the architecture and sculptures of the first Goetheanum


If one compares the shape of the skull of different animal species with that of man, it can be seen that the nose becomes increasingly shorter and the brain is housed inside the cranial vault. This can be understood as a gesture of withdrawing from the environment and closing in upon oneself. A chronology-based compilation like this shows how the characteristics of consciousness become visible in the form of the skull. The more the skull appears as an enclosing shell, the more consciousness focuses on the spiritual – until it acts as reasoning emancipated from natural phenomena.

Further reading:
Christoph Hueck. Evolution in the bipolar current of time (Original title: Evolution im Doppelstrom der Zeit)

Plants as images of the spiritual world

What the flowers convey spiritually varies greatly. However, this is not analyzed through Biology. Describing this affinity to the spiritually can help better understand the nature of a plant. If one succeeds in describing this, we will find words for our moods and emotions more easily. No traditional symbolism is required to understand how the generosity of the sunflower differs from the honesty of a daisy. It becomes evident through immediate perception.

Further reading:
Michael Kranich. Plants as images of the spiritual world (Original title: Pflanzen als Bilder der Seelenwelt)

Color perception – perception in color

Rudolf Steiner demonstrated how the sensual and moral part of Goethe’s theory of colors can be expanded. In a scientific experiment for example, he presented pictures in alternating colors and asked the audience to view the different on the emotions. Thus, the Goethean approach reaches into the field of painting.

Reversing the line of vision, one can understand mental states as color tones. This kind of exercise enables an imaginative orientation of the mind, which is neither shaped by sympathy or antipathy nor by any traditional system of values. In an age of emotional self-alienation such an approach can have a healing effect.

Further reading:
Please also refer to the section ‘natural sciences’