Mineral science

From Anthroposophy

On this site, the term 'mineral science' is used as a respectful term for contemporary mainstream 'material(istic)' science that focuses on the purely sensory aspects of physical reality, specifically the workings of the mineral element and scientific thinking, and this mainly since the new forms of thinking in the 15th century.

The term 'mineral' is used rather then the term 'materialistic' because the latter has a negative sound to it, meaning only caring about the physical matter aspects. Also the term 'physical' is not ideal because in physical reality we can observe much which is the effect of the spiritual (see table).

To avoid misunderstandings about the term 'mineral':

  • mineral does not relate to mineral as in mineral stones, rather:
  • talking in the language of the four elements, mineral science actually encompasses the study of the laws of the element 'earth', and not the other elements water (etheric - as we find it in 'life' in the plant kingdom), air (astral - as we find it in the animal kingdom), and warmth (spirit, as we find it in Man). See Schema FMC00.255 and 1921-06-24-GA205 below.
  • to further clarify the term 'mineral' as used in spiritual science, this is also the fourth of the seven kingdoms, see Three dimensions of evolution where Earth is currently going through the fourth Condition of Life (CoL, or 'round').

See also the topic page on the Relationship between mineral and spiritual science


Schema FMC00.255 shows four types of earthly and cosmic laws. The physics of the current materialistic or mineral science is extremely successfull in describing the laws for the element earth, on our planet earth. However 'life', as we see it in the plant world, is governed by different laws, these are those of the etheric world and formative forces. Still other laws exists apply for the astral and spirit worlds.


Schema FMC00.008 illustrates that we can discern the manifestation of the various worlds in the kingdoms and in Man. Mineral science uses the scientific framework and knowledge of mineral matter (the first column 'mineral') to study and try to explain all the rest.


Historical development

Typically science puts forth the development of physics as the foundation for the current worldview, we can sketch that as follows in a quick high-level overview:

  • 1610-1704: foundations of astronomy, mechanics, optics, differential calculus
    • Starting with pre-runner Copernicus (1543, Revolutionibus heliocentric model), the basis for the current mineral science was laid in the period 1610-1704 by Galileo (1610, telescopic astronomical observations), Kepler (1609-1619 laws of planetary motion), Huygens (1656 pendulum clock, 1678-1690 wave theory of light), Newton (1687, Principia and 1704 Optics), and Leibniz (and Newton) (1675-1684, differential calculus)
  • the next century (1709-1795) brought especially technical inventions and innovation that changed the world, oa steam engine and its applications (but lots more), and as well as oa Bernouilli (1734-8, hydrodynamics),Lavoisier (1789, conservation of mass)
  • 1800-1860: foundations for thermodynamics and electromagnetism
    • 1800-1830: Volta (1800, first battery), Ørsted (1820, electromagnetism) and Ampère (1820), Faraday (electromagnetic motor, 1821) , Ohm (1827)
    • 1840-1855: von Mayer and Clausius (1842-1850, first law thermodynamics), and Thomson-Kelvin and Clausius (1851-4, second law thermodynamics)
    • 1860: Maxwell (1861-62, equations electromagnetism)
    • 1858: Kekulé and Couper (1858, structural basis organic chemistry)
  • 1870-1940: applied electromagnetism, relativity theory and quantum physics
    • Crookes (1870-75, cathode ray vacuum tube, electron rays), Hertz (cathode X-ray experiments), Rontgen (1895, X-rays from Crookes tube), Fleming (1905, vacuum tube), Hertz (1886-1889, electromagnetic waves as per Maxwell’s equations/term), Michelson-Morley (1887, interferometer, ether), Thomson’s experiment (1899, photo-electric effect, UV light in Crookes’ tubes)
    • Einstein (1905, Annus Mirabilis papers: light quanta, mass-energy equivalence E=mc2, special relativity), Ricci-Curbastro (1900, tensor calculus), Geiger-Marsden and Rutherford (1908-1913, atomic model with nucleus and electrons), basis for Bohr’s (1885-1962) atom theory in 1913, Nernst (1906-12, third law thermodynamics)
    • 1924-1930: Heisenberg (1927, uncertainty principle), Schrodinger (1926, wave equation), De Broglie (1924, wave properties of matter), Dirac (1930, quantum theory &  equation)

1924-1931: Hubble, Lemaitre and Friedmann, Einstein (big bang expanding universe)

The experimental findings around the tube (1870-1905) would be the basis for the first radios, amplifiers, computers (1940s-50s), and screens/televisions (cathode ray tube), those around electromagnetic waves would be the basis for radio waves, radar, broadcasting. So this gave the impulse for the 20th century technological development. Similarly we see the start from 1900 onwards of a new wave of theoretical physics based on conceptual thinking and mathematics started.

Not mentioned in the above impressive overview is the development of the other sciences:

  • the living nature's kingdoms: biology, botany, zoology, paleontology, agriculture
  • the earth: geology, meteorology, oceanography,
  • the human being: psychology, medicine, anatomy

Of course these areas also developed strongly over centuries, but not to the same extent as the exploits of 'mastering the mineral'. However the above 'mastery of the mineral influenced these 'areas of the living' to a considerable extent, as the mineral and mathematical way of looking at the world was also used in these other areas. Illustrations are eg genetics and chemistry in medicine, carbon dating in archeology and geology, etc.

Lecture coverage and references

1905-05-29-GA093 (SWCC)

At the present stage of evolution, Man belongs with his physical nature to the mineral kingdom. Physical, chemical and mineral laws hold sway over man's physical body. Yet even as far as his spiritual nature is concerned, he belongs to the mineral kingdom, since he understands through his intellect only what is mineral, Life as such, he is only gradually learning to comprehend. Precisely for this reason, official mineral science disowns life, being still at that stage of development in which it can only grasp the dead, the mineral. It is in the process of learning to understand this in very intricate detail. Hence it understands the human body only in so far as it is a dead, mineral thing. It treats the human body basically as something dead with which one works, as if with a substance in a chemical laboratory. Other substances are introduced into [the body], in the same way that substances are poured into a retort. Even when the doctor, who nowadays is brought up entirely on mineral science, sets about working on the human body, it is as though the latter were only an artificial product.

Hence we are dealing with man's body at the stage of the mineral kingdom in two ways: man has acquired reality in the mineral kingdom through having a physical body, and with his intellect is only able to grasp facts relating to the mineral kingdom. This is a necessary transitional stage for man. However, when man no longer relies only on the intellect but also upon intuition and spiritual powers, we will then be aware we are moving into a future in which our dead mineral body will work towards becoming one that is alive. And our science must lead the way, must prepare for what has to happen with the bodily essence in the future. In the near future, it must itself develop into something which has life in itself,recognise the life inherent in the earth for what it is. For in a deeper sense it is true, it is the thoughts of man that prepare the future. As an old Indian aphorism rightly says: What you think today, that you will be tomorrow.

The very being of the world springs out of living thought; not from dead matter. What outward matter is, is a consequence of living thought, just as ice is a consequence of water; the material world is, as it were, frozen thoughts. We must dissolve it back again into its higher elements, because we grasp life in thought. If we are able to lead the mineral up into life, if we transform [it into] the thoughts of the whole of human nature, then we will have succeeded, our science will have become a science of the living and not of dead matter. We shall raise thereby the lowest principle [of man] — at first in our understanding, and later also in reality — into the next sphere. And thus we shall raise each member of man's nature — the etheric and the astral included — one stage higher.


We must admit that science in the present-day sense of the word can reach only to a certain level. It reaches only as far as the mineral element in the mineral, plant, and human kingdoms. Already in the plant kingdom science must change into art; still more so in the animal. It is sheer nonsense to try to understand the animal form in the way the anatomists and physiologists do. And as long as we do not admit that it is nonsense, the shadowy intellect cannot really be transformed into a living, spiritual grasp of the world.

1921-06-24-GA205 (and the follow up lecture of the next day) explain the four types of lawfulness that related to the four elements of earth (mineral), water (etheric), air (astral), and warmth (spirit). See Schema FMC00.255 above.

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