Second Scientific Lecture-Course:
7 March 1920, Stuttgart
My dear friends,
You will recall how yesterday we had here a block of ice which we would have expected to fall apart in two pieces when we cut it with a wire from which a weight was hanging. Although you only saw the beginning of the experiment, you were able to convince yourselves that such was not the case, because as soon as the pressure of the wire liquefied the ice below, it immediately froze together again above the wire. That is to say a liquefaction took place only in consequence of the pressure. Therefore, since we preserved the ice as ice, the heat entity acted in such a way that the block closed itself up at once. I am using the expression advisedly.
Now this surprised you considerably at first, did it not? But it surprised you only because you are not accustomed to the matter of fact observation necessary if you are really to follow physical phenomena In another case you are making the same experiment all the time and do not wonder at it at all. For when you take up your pencil and pass it through the air, you are continually cutting the air and it is immediately closing up behind. You are then doing nothing else than what we did yesterday with the block of ice, but you are doing it in another sphere, in another realm. We can learn quite a little from this observation, for we see that when we simply pass the pencil through the air (the conditions under which we do this will not be taken up) that the properties of the air itself bring about the closing up of the material behind the pencil. In the case of the ice we cannot avoid the thought that the heat entity enters into the process in such a way that it contributes the same thing as is contributed by the nature of the air itself when the pencil passes through. You have here only a further extension of what I said to you yesterday. When you picture the air to yourselves and imagine it cut and closing up at once, the matter composing the air is responsible for all that you can perceive. When you are dealing with a solid body, such as ice, then the heat is active in the same manner as the material air itself is in the other case. That is, you met here with a real picture of what goes on in heat. And again you have established that when we observe the gaseous or vapor condition — air is vaporous, gaseous in reality — we have represented in a material way in the phenomena of gases a picture of what takes place in the heat entity.
And if we observe heat phenomena in a solid body we have fundamentally nothing other than the solid existing alongside of something taking place in the realm of the heat being. We see, as it were, before our eyes, the phenomena within the realm of heat which we see also playing through gas. From this we can conclude or rather simply state, since it is only the obvious that we are presenting, we can state the following: If we wish to approach the being of heat in its reality we must seek as well as we can to force our way into the realm of the gaseous, into the gaseous bodies. And in what goes on in gases we will see simply pictures of the phenomena within the heat realm. Thus nature conjures up before our eyes, as it were, pictures of processes in the heat being by a manifestation of certain phenomena in gases. Notice now, we are being led very far from the modern method of observation as practiced in natural science generally, not merely physics. Let us ask ourselves where the modern method really leads us ultimately. I have here a work by Eduard von Hartmann, in which he treats a special field from his point of view, namely the field of modern physics. Here is a man who has built up for himself entirely out of the spirit of the times a broad horizon, and who we may say, is therefore in a position to say something as a philosopher about physics. Now it is interesting to see how such a man, speaking entirely in the modern spirit, deals with physics. He begins the very first chapter as follows: “Physics is the study of transformations and movements of energy and of its separation into factors and their resummation.” Having said this, he must naturally add a further statement. He says further: “Physics is the study of the movements and transformations of energy (force) and of its resolution into factors and its summations. The validity of this definition is not dependent on how we consider energy. It does not rest on our considering it as something final, ultimate, nor on our looking upon it as really a product of some more widely embracing factors. Nor is it dependent on whether we hold this or that view of the constitution of matter. It only states all observations and perceptions of energy to rest on the fact that it can change place and form and be analyzed within these categories.” (View of the World According to Modern Physics by Edw. V. Hartmann, Leipzig, 1902, Hermann Haake, page 3)
Now what does it mean when one speaks in such a fashion? It means that an attempt is made so to define what is before one physically that there is no necessity to enter into its real nature. A certain concept of energy is formed and it is said: all that meets us from without, physically, is only a transformation of this energy concept. That is to say, everything essential is thrown out of one's concepts, and one is thought to be quite secure, because it is not realized that this is precisely the most insecure sort of a definition. But this sort of thing has found its way to a most unfortunate extent into our physical concepts. So completely has it entered in, my friends, that it is today almost impossible for us to make experiments that will reveal reality to us. All our laboratories, which we depend upon to do physical research, are completely given over to working out the theoretical views of modern physics. We cannot easily use what we have in the way of tools to reveal the essential physical nature of things. The cure for this situation is that first a certain number of people should become acquainted with the effect on methods of entering into the real physical nature of things. This group then will have to find the experimental method, the appropriate laboratory set-up to make possible a gradual entrance into reality. We need, in fact today, not merely to overhaul our view of the world in its conceptual aspect, but we need research institutes working to our manner of thinking. We cannot proceed as rapidly as we should in getting people to consider anthroposophy unless we are able to take them out of the rut in which modern thinking runs. Just as the physicists can point to factories to show plainly, very plainly, that what he says is true, so we must show people by experiments that what we say about things is correct. Naturally however, we must penetrate to real physical thinking before we can do this. And to think in real physical terms it is necessary that we bring ourselves into the state of mind indicated in these lectures, especially yesterday's lecture.
Is it not true that the modern physicist observes what happens, and when he observes it, he at once bends every effort to strike out from the perceived phenomena all that he cannot reduce to calculation. Let us now make this experiment in order to place before our minds today something that we will build on in the course of subsequent lectures. We set up this paddle which can be turned in a liquid and arrange it so that the paddle rotated by means of this apparatus will transmit mechanical world. As a result of the fact that this mechanical work is transmitted to the water in which the paddle is immersed, we will have a marked rise in temperature. There is thus brought before us in the most elementary experimental way what is called the transformation of mechanical energy into warmth or thermal energy. We have now a temperature of 16° and after a short time we will note the temperature again. (Later the rise in temperature was determined.)
Let us now return for a moment to what has already been said. We have tried to grasp the destiny, so to speak, of physical corporeality, by carrying the corporeality through the melting and boiling points. That is, by making solid bodies fluid and fluid bodies gaseous. I will now speak of these things in the simplest terms possible.
We have seen that the fundamental property of solid bodies is the possession of form. The solids do not show form-building forces as these latter act in liquids before evaporation has had time to take place. Solids have a form of themselves. Liquids must be enclosed in a vessel, and in order to form a liquid surface, as they do everywhere, they require the forces of the entire earth. We have indeed, brought this before our souls. This requires us to make the following statement: When we consider the liquids of the whole earth in their totality, we are obliged to consider them as related to the body of the earth in its totality. Only the solids emancipate themselves from this relation to the earth, they take on an individuality, assume their own form. If now we bring to bear the method by which ordinary physics represents things on what is called gravity, on what causes the formation of the liquid surface, then we must do it in the following way. We must, if we are to stick to the observable, in some way introduce into individualized solid bodies the thing that is essential in this horizontal liquid surface. In some way or other, we must conceive of that which is active in the liquid surface, and which is thought of under the heading of gravity as within solids which, therefore, in a certain way individualize gravity. Thus we see that solids take gravity up within themselves. On the other hand we see that at the moment of evaporation the formation of liquid surface ceases. Gas does not form a surface. If we wish to give form to a gas, to limit the space occupied by it, we must do so by placing it in a vessel closed on all sides. In passing from the liquid to the gas we find that the surface formation ceases. We see dissipated this last remainder of the earth-induced tendency to surface formation as shown by the liquid. And we see also that all gases are grouped together in a unity, as illustrated by the fact that they all have the same co-efficient of expansion; gases as a whole represent material emancipated from the earth.
Now place these thoughts vividly before yourselves: you find yourselves on the earth as a carbonaceous organism, you are among the phenomena produced by the solids of the earth. The phenomena produced by the solids are ruled by gravity which, as stated, manifests itself everywhere. As earth men you have solids around you that have in some way taken up gravity for their form-building. But consider the phenomena manifested by the solids in the case I spoke of yesterday where you added in thought a liquid surface to the system — in this phenomenon you have a kind of continuum, something you can think of as a sort of invisible fluid spread out everywhere. Thus solids of the earth, in so far as they are free to move, manifest as a whole what may be considered as a fluid state. They constitute something similar to what is manifested in a material fluid. We can therefore say: since we are placed on the earth we are aware of this, calling it gravity. Working on the liquid it forms a surface.
Imagine now, that we were as human beings able to live on a fluid cosmic body, being so organized that we could exist on such a body. We would then live in the surface of this liquid, and we would have the same relation to the gaseous, striving outward in all directions that we now have to the fluid. This means nothing more or less than that we should be unaware of gravity. To speak of gravity would cease to have a meaning. Gravity rules only solid planetary bodies and is only known to those beings who live on such bodies. Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity. It would not be possible to speak of such a thing. And beings who lived on a gaseous planetary body would regard as normal something which would be the opposite of gravity, a striving in all directions away from the center. If I may express myself somewhat paradoxically I might say: Beings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling toward the planet would see them always flying off. We must think in really physical terms and not merely in mathematical terms, which stand outside of reality if we are to find the path here. Then we can state the matter thus: Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet. In passing from the solid to the gaseous planet, we go through a kind of null-point, and come to an opposite condition to that on the solid planet, to a manifestation of forces in space which may be considered negative in respect to gravity. You see therefore that as we pass through the material states, we actually come to a null-point in spatiality, to a sphere where the spatiality is zero. For this reason we have to consider gravity as something quite relative. But when we conduct heat to a gas (the experiment has been shown to you) this heat which always raises the diffusing tendency in the gas shows you again the picture I am trying to bring before you. Does not that which is active in the gas really lie on the far side of this null-point on this side of which gravity is active? Is it not possible for us to think the matter through further, still remaining in close contact with the actual phenomena when we say that going from a solid to a gaseous planet we pass through a null-point? Below we have gravity; above, this gravity changing into its opposite, in a negative gravity. Indeed we find this, we do not have to imagine it. The being of heat does just what a negative gravity would do. Certainly, we have not completely attained our goal but we have reached a point where we can comprehend the being of heat in a relative fashion to such an extent that the matter may be stated so: The being of heat manifests exactly like the negation of gravity, like negative gravity. Therefore, when one deals with physical formulae involving gravity and sets a negative sign in front of the symbol representing gravity, it is necessary to think of the magnitude in question not as a gravity quantity nor as a line of action of gravity, but as a heat quantity, a line of action of heat. Do you not see that in this way we can suffuse mathematics with vitality? The formulae as they are given may be looked upon as representing a gravitational system, a mechanical system. If we set negative signs in front of “g” then we are obliged to consider as heat what formerly represented gravity. And we realize from this that we must grasp these things concretely if we are to arrive at real results. We see that in passing from the solid to the fluid we go through a condition in which form is dissolved. The form loses itself. When I dissolve a crystal or melt it, it loses the form that it previously had. It goes over into that form which is imposed upon it by virtue of the fact that it comes under the general influence of the earth. The earth gives it a liquid surface and I must put this liquid into a vessel if I am to preserve it.
Now let us consider another general phenomenon which we will approach more concretely later. If a liquid is divided into sufficiently small particles there comes about the formation of drops, which take on the spherical shape. Fluids have the possibility, when they are finely enough subdivided, of emancipating themselves from the general gravitational field and of manifesting in this special case that which otherwise comes to light in solids as crystalline shape. Only, in the case of fluids, the peculiarity is that they all take on the form of the sphere.
If now, I consider this spherical form, I may regard it as the synthesis of all polyhedral shapes, of all crystal forms.
When I pass from the fluid to the gas, I have the diffusion, the dissolution of the spherical form, but in this case, outwardly directed. And now we come to a rather difficult idea. Imagine to yourselves that you are observing some simple form, say a tetrahedron, and you wished to turn it inside out as you might do a glove. You will then realize that in going through this process of turning inside out it is necessary to pass through the sphere. Moreover, all the form relations become negative and a negative body appears. As the tetrahedron is put through this transformation, you must imagine to yourselves that the entire space outside the tetrahedron is filled, within it is gaseous. With this outside space filled you must imagine in a tetrahedral hole. There it is empty. You must then make the quantities related to the tetrahedron negative. Then you have formed the negative, the opened-up tetrahedron, in place of the one filled with matter. But the intermediate condition between the positive and the negative tetrahedron is the sphere. The polyhydric body goes over into its negative only by passing through the spherical as a null-point.
Now let us follow this completely in the case of actual bodies. You have the solid body with definite form. It goes through the fluid form, that is the sphere, and becomes a gas. If we wish to look rightly on the gas we must look upon it as a form, but as a negative form. We reach a type of form here which we can comprehend only by passing through the zero point into the negative. That is to say, when we go over to the gaseous, the picture of the phenomena of heat, we do not enter into the region of the formless. We enter only into a region more difficult to comprehend than the one in which we live ordinarily where form is positive and not negative. But we see just here that any body in which the fluid state is in question is in an intermediate position. It is in the state between the formed and that which we call the “formless,” or that of negative form.
Do we have any example where we can actually follow this? Aside from what is in our immediate environment, an example which we observe but do not really enter into vitality? We can do it when we consider the phenomenon of the melting of a solid or the evaporation of a liquid. But can we in any way enter vitally into this? Yes, we can and as a matter of fact we do so continually. We experience this process by virtue of our status as earth men, and because the earth, or at least the part of it on which we live, is a solid upon which are other solids involving many phenomena which we observe. In addition there is embedded in the earthly and belonging to it, the fluid state. The gaseous also belongs to it. Now there comes about a great distinction between what I will call WÃ¤rmenacht and WÃ¤rmetag. (I use these terms in order to lead us nearer to an understanding of the problem.) What is WÃ¤rmenach? WÃ¤rmenacht and WÃ¤rmetag are simply what happens to our earth under the influence of the heat being of the cosmos. And what does happen? Let us take up these phenomena of the earth so that we can grasp what can be easily understood by our thinking. Under the influence of the WÃ¤rmenach, that is during the time when the earth is not exposed to the sun, while the earth is left to herself and is emancipated from the influence of the cosmic sun being, she strives for form as the droplet takes on form when it can withdraw itself from the general force of gravitation. We have therefore, when we consider the general striving of the earth for form, the characteristic of the WÃ¤rmenach as compared to ordinary night. It is quite justifiable for me to say in this connection that the earth strives toward the drop form. Many other tendencies are operative during the WÃ¤rmenach, such as a tendency toward crystallization. And what we experience every night is a continuous emergence of forces tending toward crystallization. During the day under the influence of the being of the sun, a continual dissolving of this tendency toward crystallization is present, a continual will to overcome form.
And we may speak of the “dawn” and “twilight” of this heat condition. By dawn we mean that after the earth has sought to crystallize during the WÃ¤rmenach, this crystallization process dissolves again and the earth goes through the sphere state in her atmosphere and seeks to scatter herself again. Following the WÃ¤rmetag comes a twilight condition where the earth again starts seeking to form a sphere and crystallize during the night. We have thus to think of the earth as caught up in a cosmic process consisting in a drawing together in the WÃ¤rmenach when the motion of the earth turns it away from the sun, a tendency to become a crystal. At the proper time this is checked when the earth is led through the dawn condition, through the sphere. Then the earth seeks to dissipate her forces through the cosmos until the twilight condition reestablishes the opposite forces. In the case of the earth we do not have to do with something fixed in the cosmos, but with something that vibrates between two conditions, WÃ¤rmetag and WÃ¤rmenach. You see it is with such things as this that our research institute should deal. To our ordinary thermometer, hygrometers, etc., we should add other instruments through which we could show that certain processes of the earth, especially of the fluid and gaseous portions, take place at night otherwise than during the day. You can see further that we have here a rational leading to a physical view by which we can finally demonstrate with appropriate instruments the delicate differences in all the processes in liquids and gases during the day and during the night. In the future we must be able to make a given experiment during the day and at a corresponding hour of the night and have measuring instruments that will show us the difference in the way the process goes by day and by night. For by day those forces tending toward crystallization in the earth do not play through the process, but by night, they do. Forces arise that come from the cosmos in the night. And these cosmic forces that seek to crystallize the earth necessarily have their effect on the process. Here is opened a way of experimentation which will show the relation of the earth to the cosmos. You can realize that the research institute that must in the future be established according to our anthroposophically oriented views of the world will have weighty problems. They must reckon with the things which today are taken into account only rarely. Naturally we do take them into account today, with light phenomena at least in certain cases when we have to darken the room artificially, etc. But in other phenomena that take place within a certain null sphere, we do not. Then, when we have made these facts obvious and have demonstrated them, we will replace by them all kinds of theoretical forces in atoms and molecules.
The whole matter as it is understood now rests on the belief that we can investigate everything during the day. In this new sort of investigation, we will, for instance, first find in crystallization differences depending on whether we carry out the same experiment during the day or during the night. This is the sort of thing our attention must be turned to especially. And on such a path will we first come to true physics. For today, physical facts really stand in a chaotic relation to each other. We speak for instance of mechanical energy, of acoustical energy. But it is not to be understood that when we think about these things in the correct way mechanical energy can only operate where there are solids. The fluid realm lies between the purely mechanical and the acoustical energies. Indeed, when we leave the region in which we observe most readily the acoustical energy, the gaseous region, then we come to the region of the next state of aggregation, as it is called, to heat. This lies above the gaseous, just as the fluid lies above the solid. We may tabulate these things as follows:
We find the mechanical as a characteristic of the solid state. In the gaseous we find acoustical energy as the characteristic. Just as we have left out the fluid here, so we must leave out the heat realm and above we find something that I will at this time indicate by X. Thus we have to look beyond the heat region for something. Between this X and our acoustic phenomena playing themselves out in the air would lie the being of heat, just as the fluid condition lies between the gaseous and the solid states. We are trying, you see, to grasp the nature of heat in all the ways we can, to approach it by all possible paths. And when you say to yourselves: the fluid condition lies between the gaseous and X, you must in a similar way seek to pass from the heat condition to the X condition. You must find something which lies on the far side of the heat region just as for instance the tone world as it is expressed in the air lies on this side of the heat region. By this means you see how to attempt to build such real concepts of the physical as will lead you out of the mere abstract. Geometry really comprehends space forms but can never comprehend the mechanical except as motion. The concepts we are forming attempt really to include the physical. They immerse themselves in the nature of the physical and toward such concepts must we strive. Therefore I would think these are properly the sort of thing that should belong to what lies at the foundation of the “Free Waldorf School.” The attempt should be made to extend the experimental in the manner indicated here today. What is very much neglected in our physical processes, time and the passage of time, will thus be drawn into physical experiments.