Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Second Scientific Lecture-Course:
Warmth Course
GA 321

Lecture V

5 March 1920, Stuttgart

My dear friends,

I would have liked to carry out for you today some experiments to round out the series of facts that lead us to our goal. It is not possible to do so, however, and I must accordingly arrange my lecture somewhat differently from the way I intended. The reason for this is partly that the apparatus is not in working order and partly because we lack alcohol today, just as we lacked ice yesterday.

We will therefore take up in more detail the things that were begun yesterday. I will ask you to consider all these facts that were placed before you for the purpose of obtaining a survey of the relationships of various bodies to the being of heat. You will realize that certain typical phenomena meet us. We can say: These phenomena carry the impress of certain relations involving the being of heat, at first unknown to us. Heat and pressure exerted on a body or the state of aggregation that a body assumes according to its temperature, also the extent of space occupied, the volume, are examples. We are able on the one side, to see how a solid body melts, and can establish the fact that during the melting of the solid, no rise in temperature is measurable by the thermometer or any other temperature-measuring instrument. The temperature increase stands still, as it were, during the melting. On the other hand, we can see the change from a liquid to a gas, and there again we find the disappearance of the temperature increase and its reappearance when the whole body has passed into the gaseous condition. These facts make up a series that you can demonstrate for yourselves, and that you can follow with your eyes, your senses and with instruments. Yesterday, also, we called attention to certain inner experiences of the human being himself which he has under the influence of warmth and also under the influence of other sense qualities such as light and tone. But we saw that magnetism and electricity were not really sense impressions, at least not immediate sense impressions, because as ordinary physics says, there is no sense organ for these entities. We say, indeed, that so far as electrical and magnetic properties are concerned we come to know them through determining their effects, the attraction of bodies for instance, and the many other effects of electrical processes. But we have no immediate sense perception of electricity and magnetism as we have for tone and light.

We then noted particularly, and this must be emphasized, that our own passive concepts, by which we represent the world, are really a kind of distillation of the higher sense impressions. Wherever you make an examination you will find these higher concepts and will be able to convince yourselves that they are the distilled essence of the sense impressions. I illustrated this yesterday in the case of the concept of being. You can get echoes of tone in the picture of the conceptual realm, and you can everywhere see showing through how these concepts have borrowed from light . But there is one kind of concept where you cannot do this, as you will soon see. You cannot do it in the realm of the mathematical concepts. In so far as they are purely mathematical, there is no trace of the tonal or the visible. Now we must deceive ourselves here. Man is thinking of tone when he speaks of the wave number of sound vibrations. Naturally I do not refer to this sort of thing. I mean all that is obtained from pure mathematics. Such things, for instance, as the content of the proposition of Pythagoras, that the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180°, or that the whole is greater than the part, etc. The basis of our mathematical concepts does not relate itself to the seen or the heard, but it relates itself in the last analysis to our will impulse. Strange as it may seem to you at first, you will always find this fact when you look at these things from the psychological point of view, as it were. The human being who draws a triangle (the drawn triangle is only an externalization) is attaining in concept to an unfolding of the will around the three angles. There is an unfolding of action around three angles as shown by the motion of the hand or by walking, by turning of the body. The thing that you have within you as a will-concept, that in reality you carry into the pure mathematical concept. That is the essential distinction between mathematical concepts and other concepts. This is the distinction about which Kant and other philosophers waged such controversy. You can distinguish the inner determination of mathematical concepts. This distinction arises from the fact that mathematical concepts are so rigidly bound up with our own selves, that we carry our will nature into them. Only what subsists in the sphere of the will is brought into mathematical operations. This is what makes them seem so certain to us. What is not felt to be so intimately bound up with us, but is simply felt through an organ placed in a certain part of our make-up, that appears uncertain and empirical. This is the real distinction. Now, I wish to call your attention to a certain fact. When we dip down into the sphere of will, whence came, in a vague and glimmering way, the abstractions which make up the sum of our pure arithmetical and geometrical concepts, we enter the unknown region where the will rules, a region as completely unknown to us in the inner sense, as electricity and magnetism are in the outer sense. Yesterday I endeavored to illustrate this by asking you to imagine yourselves living, thinking rainbows with your consciousness in the green, in consequence of which you did not perceive the green but perceived the colors on each side of it, fading into the unknown. I compared the red to the dipping down inwardly into the unknown sphere of the will and the blue-violet to the outward extension into the spheres of electricity and magnetism and the like.

Now I am inserting at this point in our course this psychological-physiological point of view, as it might be called, because it is very essential for the future that people should be led back again to the relation of the human being to physical observations. Unless this relationship is established, the confusion that reigns at present cannot be eliminated. We will see this as we follow further the phenomena of heat. But it is not so easy to establish this relationship in the thinking of today. The reason is just this, that modern man cannot easily bridge the gap between what he perceives as outer space phenomena in the world, or better, as outer sense phenomena and what he experiences within. In these modern times there is such a pronounced dualism between all which we experience as knowledge of the outer world and what we experience inwardly, that it is extraordinarily difficult to bridge this gap, But the gap must be bridged if physics is to advance. To this end we must use the intuitive faculties rather than the rational when we relate something external to what goes on within man himself. Thus we can begin to grasp how we must orient ourselves, in observing phenomena so difficult as those arising from heat. Let me call your attention to the following:

Suppose you learn a poem by heart. You will, as you learn it, first find it necessary to become acquainted with the ideas that underlie the poem. At first you will always have the tendency, when you recite the poem, to let those ideas unroll in your mind. But you know that the more frequently you recite the poem, especially when there is a lapse of time between the recitations, the less intensely you are obliged to think of the ideas. There may come a time when it is not necessary to think at all, but simply to reel off the recitation mechanically. We never actually reach this point; do not wish to, in fact, but we approach the condition asymptotically as it were. Our feelings as human beings prevent us from reaching this stage of purely mechanical repetition, but it is thinkable that we would get to the point where we needed to think not at all, but when we spoke the first line the rest of the poem would follow without any thinking about it. You recognize the similarity between such a condition and the approach of the hyperbola to its asymptotes. But this leads us to the conception that when we speak a poem we are dealing with two different activities working simultaneously in our organism. We are dealing with a mechanical reeling-off of certain processes, and along with this go the processes included in our soul concepts. On the one hand, we have what we can properly speak of as playing itself out mechanically in space, and on the other hand, we have a soul process which is entirely non-spatial in nature.

When now, you fasten your attention simply on that which reels itself off mechanically, and you do this in thought, for instance, if you imagine you recited a poem in an unknown language, then you have simply the mechanical process. The instant you accompany this mechanical process with thinking, then you have an inner soul activity that cannot be brought out into space. You cannot express in space the thinking with which a man accompanies the recitation, as you can the mechanical processes of actual speaking, of the pronouncing of words.

Let me give you an analogy. When we follow the heating of a solid body up to the time it arrives at its melting point, the temperature becomes higher. We can see this on the thermometer. When the body begins to melt, the thermometer stands still until the melting is complete. There is an analogy between what we can follow with the thermometer, the outer physical process, and what we can follow physically in the spoken word. And there is an analogy also between what escapes us, and lies in the concepts of the reciter and what happens to the heat while the melting goes on. Here you see, we have an example where we can, by analogy, at least bridge the gap between an outer observation and something in the human being. In other realms than that of speech we do not have such ready examples to bridge the gap. This is because in speech there is, on the one hand, the possibility imaginable, at least, that a person could mechanically speak out something learned by heart. Or on the other hand, that the person would not speak at all but simply think about it and thus remove it entirely from the realm of space. In other spheres we do not have the opportunity to make this cleavage and see precisely how one activity passes over into another. Especially is this difficult when we wish to follow the nature of heat. In this case we have to set out to investigate physiologically and psychologically how heat behaves when we have taken it up into ourselves.

Yesterday, by way of illustration, I said to you: “I go into a room that is comfortably warmed, I sit down and write.” I cannot so directly find the inter-relationships between what I experience or feel when I go into the warm room. What goes on within me parallels the outer warmth, when I write my thoughts down. But I cannot determine the relationship so readily as I can between speaking something and thinking about it. Thus it is difficult to find the something within that corresponds to the outer sensation of warmth. It is a question of gradually approaching the concepts that will lead us further in this direction and in this connection I want to call your attention to something you know from your anthroposophy.

You know, when we make the attempt to extend our thinking by meditation, to increase its inner intensity, and so to work with our thoughts that we come again and again into the condition where we know we are using soul-forces without the help of the body, we notice a certain thing. We notice that in order to do this, our entire inner soul life has to change. With ordinary abstract thoughts man cannot enter the higher region of human soul life. There thoughts become picture-like and they have to be translated out of the imaginative element in order to get them into abstract form, if they are to be brought into the outer world which is not grasped by the imaginative element. But you need to understand a method of looking at these things, such as is presented, for instance, in my Occult Science. In this book the endeavor is to be as true to the facts as possible, and it is this which has so disturbed the people who are only able to think abstractly. For the attempt must be made to get things over into picture form, as I have done to some extent in the description of the Saturn and Sun states. There you will find purely picture concepts mixed in with the others. It is very hard for people to go over into the pictures, because these things cannot be put into the abstract form. The reason for this is that when we think abstractly, when we move within the narrow confines of concepts, in which people today are so much at home, and especially so in the realm of natural science, when we do this we are using ideas completely dependent on our bodies. We cannot, for instance, do without our bodies when we set out to think through the things set forth as laws in the physics books. There we must think in such a way that we use our bodies as instruments. When we rise to the sphere of the imagination, then the abstract ideas must be completely altered, because our inner soul life no longer uses the physical body.

Now you can take what I might call a comprehensive view of the realm of imaginative thought. This realm of imaginative thought has in us nothing to do with what is tied up in our outer corporeality. We rise to a region where we live as beings of soul and spirit without dependence on our corporeality. In other words, the instant we enter the realm of the imaginative, we leave space. We are then no longer in space.

Note now, this has an extremely important bearing. I have in the previous course, made a very definite differentiation between mere kinematics and what enters into our consideration as mechanical, such as mass, for instance. As long as I consider only kinematics, I need only think of things. I can write them down on a blackboard or a sheet of paper and complete the survey of motion and space so far as my thinking takes me. But in that case I must remain within what can be surveyed in terms of time and space. Why is this? This is so for a very definite reason. You must make the following clear to yourselves: All human beings, as they exist on earth, are as you yourselves, within time and space. They are bounded by a definite space and are related as space objects to other space objects. Therefore, when you speak of space, you are not able, considering the matter in an unprejudiced way, to take seriously the Kantian ideas. For if space were inside of us, then we could not ourselves be within space. We only think space is inside of us. We can free ourselves of this fancy, of this notion, if we consider the fact that this being-within space has a very real meaning for us. If space were inside of us, it would have no meaning for a person whether he were born in Moscow or Vienna. But where we are born has a very real significance. As a terrestrial-empirical person, I am quite completely a product of space facts. That is, as a human being, I belong to relations that form themselves in space. Likewise, with time, you would all be different persons if you had been born 20 years earlier. That is to say, your life does not have time inside of it, but time has your life within it. Thus as experiencing persons, you stand within time and space. And when we talk of time and space, or when we make a picture of will impulses, as I have explained we do in geometry, this is because we ourselves live inside of spatial and temporal relations, and are therefore quite definitely conditioned by them, and so are able, a priori, to speak of them as we do in mathematics. When you go over to the concept of mass, this is not so. The matter must then be put otherwise. In respect to mass, you are dealing with something quite special. You cannot say that you cut out a portion of time or space, but rather that you live in the general space mass and make it into your own mass. This mass then, is within you. It cannot be gainsaid that this mass with all its activities, all of its potentialities, is active inside of you; at this moment it falls into a different category from time and space so far as its relations to you are concerned. It is precisely because you yourself take part, as it were, with your inner being in the properties of the mass, because you take it up into your being, that it does not allow itself to be brought into consciousness like time and space. In the realm where the world gives us our own substance, we thus enter an unknown region. This is related to the fact that our will is, for instance, closely connected with the phenomena of mass inside us. But we are unconscious of these phenomena; we are asleep to them. And we are related to the will activity and accompany mass phenomena within us in no other way than we are to the world in general between going to sleep and waking up. We are not conscious of either one. Both these things are hidden from human consciousness, and in this respect, there is no immediate distinction between them.

Thus we gradually bring these things nearer to the human being. It is this that the physicists shy away from, the bringing of such things near to man. But in no other way can we obtain real concepts except by developing relationship between the human being and the world, a relationship that does not exist at the start, as in the case of time and space. We speak of time and space, let us say, out of our rational faculties, whence comes the remoteness of the mathematical and kinematical sciences. Of the things experienced merely through the senses, in an external fashion, things related to mass, we can at first speak only in an empirical fashion. But we can analyze the relation between the activity of a portion of mass within us and outer mass activity. As soon as we do this we can begin to deal with mass in the same way that we deal with the obvious relation between ourselves and time or ourselves and space. That is, we must grow inwardly into such relation with the world in our physical concepts, as we have for the mathematical or kinematical concepts.

It is a peculiar thing that, as we loosen ourselves from our own bodies in which all those things take place to which we are asleep, as we raise ourselves to imaginative concepts, we really take a step nearer the world. We approach always nearer to that which otherwise reigns in us unconsciously. There is no other way to enter into the objectivity of the facts than to push forward with our own developed inner soul forces. At the same time that we detach ourselves from our own materiality, we approach more and more closely to what is going on in the outside world.

However, it is not so easy to obtain even the most elementary experiences in this region, since a person must so transform himself that he pays attention to things that are not noticed at all under ordinary circumstances. But now, I will tell you something that will probably greatly astonish you. Let us suppose you have advanced further on the path of imaginative thinking. Suppose you have really begun to think imaginatively. You will then experience something that will astonish you. It will be much easier than it formerly was for you to recite in a merely mechanical way a poem that you have learned by heart. It will not be more difficult for you, but less so. If you examine your soul organism without prejudice and with care, you will at once find that you are more prone to recite a poem mechanically without thinking about it, if you have undergone an occult training than if you have not undergone such a training. You do not dislike this going over into the mechanical so strongly as you did before the occult development. It is such things as this that are not usually stated but are meant when it is said over and over again: The experiences you have in occult training are really opposed to the concepts that are ordinarily had before you enter occult training and thus it is, when the more advanced stage is reached, that one comes to look more lightly on the ideas of ordinary life. And therefore, anyone who advances in occultism is exposed to the danger of afterwards becoming a greater mechanist than before. An orderly occult training guards against this, but the tendency to become materialistic is quite marked in the very people who have undergone occult development. I will, by example, tell you why.

You see, in ordinary life, it is really, as the theorists say it is, the brain thinks. But ordinarily, a man does not actually experience this fact. It is quite possible in this ordinary life to carry out such a dialogue as I did in my childhood with a youthful friend who as a crass materialist and became more and more so. He would say, “When I think my brain does the thinking.” I would say to that: “ Yes, but when you are with me you always say, I will do this, I think. Why do you not say, my brain will do this, my brain thinks? You are always speaking an untruth.” The reason is that for the theoretical materialist, quite naturally, there does not exist the possibility of observing the processes in the brain. He cannot observe these physical processes. Therefore, materialism remains for him merely a theory.

The moment a person advances somewhat from imaginative to inspirational ideas, he becomes able really to observe the parallel processes in the brain. Then what goes on in the material part of the brain becomes really visible. Aside from the fact that it is extremely seductive, the things a person can observe in his own activity appear to him more and more wonderful to a high degree. For this activity of the brain is observable as something more wonderful than all that the theoretical materialists can describe about it. Therefore, the temperature comes to grow materialistic for the very reason that the activity of the human brain has become observable. Only one is, as has been said, protected from this.

But as I have explained to you these steps in occult development, I have at the same time showed you how this development creates the possibility of a deeper penetration into material processes. This is the extraordinary thing. He who functions in the spirit simply as an abstract thing, will be relatively powerless in the face of nature. He grows into contact with other natural phenomena as he has already grown into contact with time and space.

We must now set up on the one side, all the things we have just tried to place before our minds, and on the other side, those things that have met us from the realm of heat.

What has come to us from the realm of heat? Well, we followed the rise of temperature as we warmed a solid body to melting point. We showed how the temperature rise disappeared for a time, and then re-appeared until the body began to boil, to evaporate. When we extended our observations, another thing appeared. We could see that the gas produced passed over in all directions on its surroundings. (Fig. 1a), seeking to distribute itself in all directions, and could only be made to take on form if its own pressure were opposed by an equal and opposite pressure brought to bear from the outside. These things have been brought out by experiment and will be further cleared up by other experiments. The moment the temperature is lowered to the point where the body can solidify, it can give itself a form (Fig. 1b). When we experience temperature rise and fall, we experience what corresponds externally to form. We are experiencing the dissolution of form and the re-establishment of it. The gas shows us the dissolution, the solid pictures for us the establishment of form. We experience the transition between these two, also, and we experience it in an extremely interesting fashion. For, imagine to yourselves the solid and the gas and the liquid, the fluid body standing between. This liquid need not be enclosed by a vessel surrounding it completely, but only on the bottom and sides. On the upper side, the liquid forms its own surface perpendicular to the line between itself and the center of the earth. Thus we can say that we have here a transition form between the gas and the solid (Fig. 1c). In a gas we never have such a surface. In a liquid such as water, we have one surface formed. In the case of a solid, we have that all around the body which occurs in the liquid only on the upper surfaces.

Figure 1a
Figure 1b
Figure 1c

Now this is an extremely interesting and significant relation. For it directs our attention to the fact that a solid body has over its entire surface something corresponding to the upper surface of a liquid, but that it determines the establishment of the surface on a body of water. It is at right angles to the line joining it to the center of the earth. The whole earth conditions the establishment of the surface. We can therefore say: In the case of water, each point within it has the same relation to the entire earth that the points in a solid have to something within the solid. The solid therefore includes something which in the case of water resides in the relation of the latter to the earth. The gas diffuses. The relation to the earth does not take part at all. It is out of the picture. Gases have no surface at all.

You will see from this that we are obliged to go back to an old conception. I called your attention in a previous lecture to the fact that the old Greek physicists called solid bodies Earth. They did this, not account of some superficial reason such as has been ascribed to them by people today, but they did it because they were conscious of the fact that the solid, of itself, takes care of that which is the case of water is taken care of by the earth as a whole. The solid takes into itself the role of the earthly. It is entirely justified to put the matter in this way: The earthly resides within a solid. In water it does not reside within, but the whole earth takes up the role of forming a surface on the liquid.

Thus you see, when we proceed from solid bodies to water, we are obliged to extend our considerations not only to what actually lies before us but in order to get an intelligent idea of the nature of water, we must extend them to include the water of the whole earth and to think of this as a unity in relation with the central point of the earth. To observe a “fragment” of water as a physical entity is absurd, just as much so as to consider a cut-off garment of my little finger as an organism. It would die at once. It only has meaning as an organism if it is considered in its relation to the whole organism. The meaning that the solid has in itself, can only be attached to water if we consider it in relation to the whole earth. And so it is with all liquids on earth.

And again, when we pass on from the fluid to the gaseous, we come to understand that the gaseous removes itself from the influence of the earth. It does not form surfaces. It partakes of everything which is not terrestrial. In other words, we must not merely look on the earth for the activities of a gas, we must bring in the environment of the earth to help us out, we must go out into space and seek there the forces involved. When we wish to learn the laws of the gaseous state, we become involved in nothing less than astronomical considerations.

Thus you see how these things are related to the whole terrestrial scheme when we examine the phenomena that we have up to this time simply gathered together. And when we come to such a point as the melting or boiling point, then there enter in things that must now appear to us as very significant. For, if we consider the melting point we pass from the terrestrial condition of the solid body where it determines its own form and relations, to something which includes the whole earth. The earth takes the sold captive when the latter goes over into the fluid state. From its own kingdom, the solid body enters the terrestrial kingdom as a whole when we reach the melting point. It ceases to have individuality. And when we carry the fluid body over into the gaseous condition, then we come to the point where the connection with the earth as shown by the formation of a liquid surface is loosened. The instant we go from a liquid to a gas, the body loosens itself from the earth, as it were, and enters the realm of the extra-terrestrial. When we consider a gas, the forces active in it are to be thought of as having escaped from the earth. Therefore, when we study these phenomena we cannot avoid passing from the ordinary physical-terrestrial into the cosmic. For we no longer are in contact with reality if our attention is not turned to what is actually working in the things themselves.

But now another phenomena meets us. Consider such a thing as the one you know very well and to which I have called your attention, namely that water behaves so remarkably, in that ice floats on water, or, stated otherwise, is less dense than water. When it goes over into the fluid condition its temperature rises, and it contracts and becomes denser. Only by virtue of this fact can ice float on the surface of the water. Here we have between zero and four degrees, water showing an exception to the general rule that we find when temperature increases, namely that bodies become less and less dense as they are warmed up. This range of four degrees, where water expands as the temperature is lowered, is very instructive. What do we learn from this range? We learn that the water sets up an opposition. As ice it is a solid body with a kind of individuality, but opposes the transition to an entirely different sphere. It is very necessary to consider such things. For then we begin to get an understanding as to why, under certain conditions, the temperature as determined by a thermometer disappears, say at the melting or boiling points. It disappears just as our bodily reality disappears when we rise to the realm of imagination. We will go into the matter a little more deeply, and it will not appear so paradoxical when we try to clear up further the following: What happens then, when a heat condition obliges us to raise the temperature to the third power, or in this case to go into the fourth dimension, thus passing out of space altogether? Let us at this time, put this proposition before our souls and tomorrow we ill speak further about it. Just as it is possible for our bodily activity to pass over into the spiritual when we enter the imaginative realm, so we can find a path leading from the external and visible in the realm of heat tot he phenomena that are pointed to by our thermometer when the temperature rise we are measuring with it disappears before our eyes. What process goes on behind this disappearance? That is the question which we are asking ourselves today. Tomorrow we will speak of it further.