Robert Gorter wants his students to pay attention to the fact that it cannot be denied that natural science owes its great successes to the fact that it has limited itself to the exploration of every aspect of the sense world and does not in any way draw any conclusions from the sense world to the supersensible world. But on the other hand, many have a vague feeling in all sorts of subconscious sensations, making them unsure in life, even unsure and unable in outward actions.
Since Francis Bacon and Descartes, current consciousness suffers under the “Dualistic World Conception.” It became a “dogma” to separate the world into two distinctly separate areas: what is “objective” and what is “subjective.” And science should always focus on what was measurable (world of quantities) and leave aside what was subjective (word of qualities).
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. After his death, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution.
Bacon has been called the father of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.
Rene Descartes built upon the world conceptions of Francisco Bacon and laid the foundation for 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. Descartes is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am.”).
Nowadays, after the end of Kali Yuga in 1899, it is increasingly felt that the limits at which one wants to stop in this way are not only those of an outward supersensible world, but that with these limits to knowledge, if rightly perceived, there is still something quite different involved. Man gradually feels that his own true being must be of supersensible nature that his true being which as man gives him his value and dignity must be found in the spiritual, in the not-sensible. If one calls a halt to all knowledge before the supersensible, then one calls a halt before human self-knowledge. Then one renounces insight into the most precious, the most valuable in the human being himself.
In this lecture, given by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in The Hague in 1923, on November 15th The Netherlands, great effort has been given to exhibit the greatness and the weaknesses of natural sciences when it is about human development and one’s understanding of all what belongs to the world of quality (subjective) and to the world of quantities (objective). Click here to read the full lecture.