The Reunion: Art, Science and Religion

Raised in a family of three where my father was a world renown scientist and my mother a gifted visual artist there was always a third stream debated and explored amongst us : the question of spirit. My rigorous academic education taught me that these three realms of Science, Art and Religion had to be separate and the boundaries defended vigorously if we were to maintain any hold on truth for each were ruled by their own laws and had influence over separate kingdoms of human thought and action.

To me these are overlapping worlds, that of Art ( Beauty) and Science ( Truth) and Religious/Spiritual feeling ( Love). It was clear to me that the three not only were interpenetrating but that they longed for each other and in fact, they each needed the others to be whole.

What does this have to do with this project? Here are some insights from two individuals.

First is an excerpt from a book called The Global Forest by contemporary scientist , activist and writer Diana Beresford Kroeger. Her film Call of the Forest is being released this month ( March 2016)

Second is from Rudolf Steiner the early 20th century visionary, researcher and founder of Anthroposophy ( meaning the wisdom of the human being) out of which initiatives for agriculture ( biodynamic agriculture), education ( Waldorf schools which are in every country in the world), economics ( Social threefolding-Associative Economics), art and architecture , Eurhythmy( a new art form) and medicine ( see Anthroposophical Medicine-  an addition to conventional medical schooling as well as thousands of medicines see Wala/Weleda/Uriel ) and more!!!

First from Diana Beresford Kroeger:

Art is the Telltale of the Forest

Art is the compulsive search for truth. It divides man from the breast of the beast in the great world of mammals, for art defines conscious man. And art throws thoughts of man into the exploration of truth, into all the possible forms through which art can be illuminated to others. For art is the mirror of the mind in the journey into that truth.

Of the graces of mankind art is one. It is present at conception in knowledge. It flows from that knowledge into the young child in a stream of activity. That stream builds recognition of self and its product is unity. A knowledge of self forges the man into mankind, while it fosters his unique separation , too. Such things spoken of as the “maturation process” and are the basics of the ability to live in peace beside others in concepts of civil society.

Art is the great shadow of man. It has dogged him for a long time and is seen in many places. It is seen, too, in surprising things likes tools, weapons of war, and clothing. Ancient art is to be found in cave paintings, in petroglyphs, in weaving, woodcarvings and in intricate designs. The face of art floods the races of the earth from the beginnings of time.

But art also has a sister. The sibling is science. Art and science are of the same house, of the same family. Art in all its forms opens the way for science, because art is a precursor to science in all things. Art sounds the bell of change that leads to discovery, and science runs in to listen, to test and to learn. Art sometimes molds and other times reflects the thoughts of culture and then defines the tides of fashion. Science follows in the wake of those tides and looks back t that great fetch of “why” to derive the question “how”.

Creativity is the wellspring of art and science. Nature takes a share in this too, because creativity is the foundation force of nature that drives all of the processes of life. This is what regenerates nature and gives it fresh and renewed life. Art, too , is defined by its creativity and would not exist without it. Science depends on the inspiration of creativity for its thought.

The creativity of nature is a constant. This value is found in the almost eternal flexibility of nature and its ability to massage all life forms that exist. The creativity of science comes from an enlightened plagiarism and observation of nature. The creativity of art tracks nature itself and all of the abstractions bled from it.

Art and science are also about the discovery of truth, the universal context of nature. If truth emerges in art, then that work presents a form of unity of majesty, which can transcend the art itself. This is seen and addressed by culture over fashion. But if truth is found in science, then an understanding of nature and of its spectrum of species is advanced. For truth is the tool of science in discovery.

A truth is emerging from art; it is walking out of modern works with a spectral presence. This holds a message for the peoples of the world. That message itself is a signpost toward our own human destiny. The message is that nature itself is being degraded. It is being picked apart. Transmuted. In the art of the last handful of centuries the global garden was seen to be massed with mighty trees and landscapes of roaring rivers and pristine mountain peaks.

The art of these past few decades shows saplings leaning in harmony over areas of past spoilage. The forest with its exotic presence has gone. The vision of the virgin forest has gone, too. The cathedral of the forest, ringed with diversity and splashed with light, will soon be gone with the amphibians, the great mammals and the fish.

The civilized world has not put a finger on the pulse of nature. It has ignored the pattern in which nature works, as if man himself is an independent species apart from the web of it. The truth is that man is only one species and he stands on a fragile platform of life that is but a whisper away from death.

There is some time left. There is time for a different way of thinking in which man can rethread the needle and sew a life for the future. For if nature is destroyed, art will stand still and the creativity of science will follow suit. Civilizations have risen and fallen many times before. This time around is different. Now we have the lessons of history behind us. Let us look into ourselves for a new face in art…and another one in nature.


The Global Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

From Rudolf Steiner:

Our age believes itself correct in keeping art and science as far apart as possible. They are supposed to be two completely opposing poles in the cultural evolution of mankind. Science, one thinks, is supposed to sketch for us the most objective picture of the world possible ;it is supposed to show us reality in a mirror, or, in other words, it is supposed to hold fast purely to the given, renouncing all subjective arbitrariness. The objective world determines the laws of science; science must subject itself to this world. Science should take the yardstick for what is true and false entirely from the objects of experience.

The situation is supposedly quite different in the case of artistic creations. Their law is given them by the self-creative power of the human spirit. For science, any interference of human subjectivity would be a falsifying of reality, a going beyond experience; art on the other hand, grows upon the field of the subjectivity of a genius. Its creations are the productions of human imagination, not mirror images of the outer world. Outside of us, in objective existence, lies the source of scientific laws; within us, in our individuality, lies the source of aesthetic laws. The latter , therefore, have not the slightest value for knowledge, they create illusions without the slightest element of reality.

 Whoever grasps the matter in this way will never come clear about the relationship of Goethean poetry to Goethean science. He will only misunderstand both. Goethe’s world historic significance lies, indeed, precisely in the fact that his art flows directly from the primal source of all existence, that there is nothing illusory or subjective about it, that on the contrary, his art appears as the herald of that lawfulness that the poet has grasped by listening to the world spirit within the depths of the mysteries of the world just as science is also, in a different sense.

And Goethe always conceived of art in this way. It was for him one of the revelations of the primal law of the world; science was for him the other one. For him art and science sprang from one source. Whereas the researcher delves down into the depths of reality in order then to express their driving powers in the form of thoughts, the artist seeks to imbue his medium with these same driving powers. “ I think that one could call science the knowledge of the general, abstracted knowing, art on the other hand would be science turned into action; science would be reason and art its mechanism; therefore one could also call art practical science. And finally then science could be called the theorem and art the problem .” What science states as idea ( theorem) is what art has to imprint into matter, become’s art’s problem. “ In the works of man, as in those of nature, it is the intentions that are primarily worthy of note,” says Goethe. He everywhere seeks not only what is given to the senses in the outer world, but also the tendency through which it has come into being. To grasp this scientifically and to give it artistic form is his mission. In its own formations, nature gets itself, “in its specific forms, into a cul de sac”’ ; one must go back to what ought to have come about if the tendency could have unfolded unhindered, just as the mathematician always keeps his eye, not upon this or that particular triangle, but always upon that lawfulness which underlies every possible triangle. The point is not what nature has created but rather the principle by which nature has created it. If then this principle is to be developed in the way that accords with its own nature, and not in the way this has occurred in each particular entity of nature in accordance with thousands of chance factors. The artist has “to evolve the noble out of the common and the beautiful out of the unformed.”

Goethe and Schiller take art in all its full profundity. The beautiful is “ a manifestation of secret laws of nature, that, except for the phenomenon of the beautiful, would have remained forever hidden to us.” A look into the poet’s Italian Journey suffices for us to know that this is not an empty phrase but rather deep inner conviction. When he says the following, one can see that for him nature and art are of the same origin; “ The great works of art have at the same time been brought forth by human beings according to true and natural laws. Just as the greatest works of nature are. Everything that is arbitrary, thought up, falls away; there is necessity, there is God. “ Relative to the art of the Greeks, he says in this direction: “ I have the impression that they proceeded according to the same laws by which nature itself proceeds and whose tracks I am following.” And about Shakespeare: “ Shakespeare allies himself with the world spirit; he penetrates the world like it does; nothing is hidden to either; however , if it is the world spirit’s business to preserve the mysteries before, and often after, the fact, so the poet is of a mind to give the secret away.”

Thus, to Goethe, art seems to be just as objective as science. Only the form of each is different. Each appears to flow forth from one being, to be the necessary stages of one evolution. Any view was antithetical to him that relegates art of what is beautiful to an isolated position outside of the total picture of human evolution. Thus he says : “In the aesthetic realm, it is not good to speak of the idea of the beautiful; in doing so, one isolates the beautiful, which after all cannot be thought of as separate. Style rests upon the deepest foundations of knowledge, upon the beings of things, insofar as we are allowed to know this being in visible and tangible forms. “ Art rests therefore upon our activity of knowing. The latter has the task of recreating in thought the order according to which the world is put together; art has the task of developing in detail the idea of this order that the world-all has. The artist incorporates into his work everything about the lawfulness of the world that is attainable to him/her. His/her work thus appears as a world in miniature. Herein lies the reason why the Goethean direction in art must supplement itself with science. As art, it is already an activity of knowing. Goethe, in fact, wanted neither science nor art; he wanted the idea . And he expresses or represents the idea in the direction from which the idea happens to present itself to him. Goethe sought to ally himself with the world spirit, and to reveal to us how it holds sway; he did this through the medium of art or of science as required. What lay in Goethe was not any one-sided artistic or scientific striving, but rather the indefatigable urge to behold “all working forces and seeds.”

Excerpt from Goethean Science

Volume II, Chapter 8, “From Art to Science” (pp99-102)

By Rudolf Steiner (1887)



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