Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Science and the Soul of the World (Online Course)

Science and the Soul of the World (Online Course)

goethe colour wheel
Key Info: 
  • Follow the evolution of science from the late 18thC to the present day
  • An opportunity to explore Goethe's unheralded studies of light and colour, geology, plant metamorphosis, and animal morphology
  • Examine the reasons for the breakdown of the mechanistic view of nature, and the emergence of Whitehead’s organic alternative

With Matthew T. Segall

Fee: 
£ 240.00
Course takes place Saturday evenings from 6.00-8.00pm GMT. Starting Saturday 23 January 2021 and concludes Saturday 27 February 2021.
Course is group learning via zoom (no tutorials) and participants will need to allow time between zoom sessions for course reading/work.

About this course

This course begins in the late eighteenth century by setting out the revolutionary cultural, philosophical, and scientific context within which Goethe developed his participatory understanding of Nature. Goethe is still primarily known as a poet, but students will come to see how the rise of Newton’s clockwork vision of the cosmos and the development of Kant’s nascent theory of living organization led Goethe (with help from the German Idealist Friedrich Schelling) to imagine a more organic and relational way of doing science. The course then turns to explore Goethe’s novel approach to the study of light and colour, geology, plant metamorphosis, and animal morphology.

During the nineteenth century, Goethe’s participatory way of doing natural science was largely forgotten, especially in the English-speaking world. Modern physics and biology followed Descartes and Newton’s lead by becoming increasingly mechanistic, while organic ways of thinking were dismissed as childish medieval holdovers. But at the turn of the twentieth century, physics underwent a series of revolutions that upset the mechanistic world-picture. It was the relativistic and quantum paradigm shifts that brought Whitehead out of mathematics and into cosmology. The course examines the reasons for the breakdown of the mechanistic view of Nature and unpacks Whitehead’s organic alternative, placing him alongside Goethe and Schelling as part of a legacy of participatory thinkers.

The course culminates in an exploration of organic science in our own day, looking at the enduring influence of participatory thinking in physics, biology, and spirituality. Students will be invited to reimagine the scientific world view in the context of an ensouled universe.

This course is designed for students of intellectual history who are fascinated by subversive streams of thought that have not yet been given their due. Some background in the history of European philosophy and science will be helpful, but the lecturer will attempt to make the ideas accessible to everyone.

Recommended reading prior to course start date:

1) The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World View By Rudolf Steiner (77 pages, available free online)

2) Physics of the World-Soul: Whitehead's Adventure in Cosmology By Matthew Segall (130 pages, available free online)

With Matthew T. Segall
Matthew T. Segall

Matthew T. Segall

Matthew T. Segall is a process philosopher who teaches courses on process-relational thought and German Idealism for the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. His most recent course is ‘Process and Difference in the Pluriverse’, which applies process-relational metaphysics to the present social, political, and ecological crises. He has published articles on a wide-array of topics, including philosophy, Gaia theory, religious studies, psychedelics, and architecture, and his most recent book is titled Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology (2016). He blogs regularly at footnotes2plato.com.

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A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.

 

Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?
     

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.