Relationship between mineral and spiritual science

From Anthroposophy

Please refer to the topic pages for an introductory description of mineral science and spiritual science as terms used on this site.

Positioning two paradigms: mineral and spiritual science

It is important to understand how and why mainstream contemporary 'mineral science' differs from spiritual science, because it forms the basis for a different worldview. And a worldview is the foundation for our functioning, the basis for how we act and decide. Below follow some aspects:

1. scope

  • The appropriate term choosen is 'mineral science' because focus is on the laws of the element 'earth'.
  • Spiritual science has as scope a spectrum of seven or eight elements and ethers, of which earth is one. The others being water, air, warmth, warmth ether, light ether, chemical ether and life ether. It is called spiritual science because the essential nature underlying these elements and ethers are spiritual beings all interwoven in a constant evolutionary dynamic of interaction.

See RSL 1921-06-24-GA205 and 1921-06-26-GA205 for a positioning how for each element really a different types of lawfullness or physics applies.

For research on the physical framework and laws that apply for the element 'water, refer to study of the etheric formative forces

2. state of consciousness

  • The scope and method of mineral science are linked to the state of consciousness (of the majority of the population), specifically contemporary 'mundane' or better sensory consciousness consisting of observation through the physical senses, and sensory thinking about this.
  • Spiritual science regards consciousness as a spectrum of which mundane sensory consciousness is a part, but extends it to other forms called imagination, inspiration and intuition. These terms denote the ability to view soul (astral) and spirit (also called devachanic) worlds through forms of lower and higher clairvoyance (enabled through higher senses besides our current physical senses).

3. Scientific method

  • Mineral studies the mineral aspects of physical reality only, with a scientific method that puts the observer and human consciousness outside of what it studies. All the rest - non mineral aspects and human consciousness effects - do not exist for mineral science; not by definition (as the true scientific method is open), but by dogma from the mainstream scientific community. This is a result of the state of consciousness of that majority population.
  • For more on this point, compare the difference between the views of Lord Francis Bacon (1561-1626) (re: 'trials and vexation of nature') versus the view of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) (see Goethean science).

4. Philosophical perspective

From a philosophical perspective, one can compare the views of

  • Immanual Kant (1724-1804) and his 'Critique of pure reason' (1787) to that of
  • Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). For Hegel, the process and meaning of perceiving is fundamentally underlying for building our worldview

As a result of the above differences, and the intrinsic human nature that tries to find answers to explain reality, a long-standing debate between both paradigms and worldviews has been taken place. By means of illustration and to get started in your own research, see:

  • Emil du Bois-Raymond's (1818-1896) 'Ignoramus et Ignoramibus' famous speech (1880) and seven riddles
  • Rupert Sheldrake (1942-) 'The science delusion' (2012) where he discusses the 'ten dogmas of science (see also the Jan-2013 TED talk)

The author developed his own view with the 'Top five problems with current science' (2014).

See more about the societal impact in the section on worldview wars.

5. Spiritual scientific perspective

Thoughts of spiritual scientific nature are inscribed into the akashic chronicle, whereas thoughts about mineral materialistic things (like technical, commercial, economical) are not retained but are discarded. (1913-05-01-GA152)

Concluding remark

In summary, one could also put it differently and say that:

  • mineral science talks from a Contemporary Body of Knowledge (BoK-C) resulting from five centuries of modern scientific research focusing on the mineral element and aspects of nature with contemporary waking consciousness and the new consciousness soul since the 15th century,
  • .. but there is also a Body of Universal Knowledge or wisdom (BoK-U). This BoK-U is a meta-representation or meta-paradigm that includes and encapsulates BoK-C. Meaning: spiritual science fully acknowledges all contemporary findings of mineral science and the technological advances that follow. It goes further however in that BoK-C tries to explain reality and cosmos from a more limited perspective, thereby giving rise to thought forms, hypotheses, mental and mathematical models that do not necessarily correspond to any reality any more.

As humanity and Man's consciousness is in continuous evolution, so will the worldview evolve again as natural clairvoyance arises in the centuries and millenia to come. At this time, spiritual science is still small relative to the mineral scientific worldview that is mainstream and dominant for a humanity that is still asleep to the higher consciousness that is lurking and waiting to be developed.

Lecture references


has a section titled 'Prejudices arising from alleged science (1904)', and mineral science is meant, also when 'natural science' is written. Only a short extract:

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that spiritual research is nowhere in contradiction with the facts of natural science.

Where its adversaries see such a contradiction, this does not relate to facts, but to the opinions which these adversaries have formed, and which they believe necessarily result from the facts. But in truth there is not the slightest connection between the opinion of Forel quoted above, for instance, and the facts of the stars of the nebulas, the nature of the cells, the liquefaction of the air, and so forth. This opinion represents nothing but a belief which many have formed out of a need for believing, which clings to the sensory-real, and which they place beside the facts. This belief is very dazzling for present-day man. It entices him to an inner intolerance of a quite special kind. Its adherents are blinded to the point where they consider their own opinion to be the only “scientific” one, and ascribe the views of others merely to prejudice and superstition.


[spiritual science] has its own methods, finds truths independently of all documents and then recognizes them in the latter. This way is necessary for many present-day seekers after truth. For they demand a spiritual research which bears within itself the same character as natural science. And only where the nature of this science of the spirit is not recognized does one become perplexed when it is a matter of protecting the facts of the supersensible world from opinions which appear to be founded on natural science.


.. today there exists a possibility of coming to know the supersensible world in just as “scientific” a manner as the interrelationships of sensory facts. The one who familiarizes himself with the science of the spirit in the way this is possible at present, will be preserved from many superstitions by it, and will become able to take the supersensible facts into his conceptual store, thereby divesting himself of the superstition that fear and need have created this supersensible world.

The one who is able to struggle through to this view will no longer be held back by the idea that he might be estranged from reality and practical life by occupying himself with the science of the spirit. He will then realize how the true science of the spirit does not make life poorer, but richer. It will certainly not mislead him into underestimating telephones, railroad technology, and aerial navigation; but in addition he will see many other practical things which remain neglected today, when one believes only in the world of the senses and therefore recognizes only a part of the truth rather than all of it.


in the beginning of Outline for Esoteric Science, a section is dedicated to the positioning of spiritual science to mineral science

Occult science desires to free the natural-scientific method and its principle of research from their special application that limits them, in their own sphere, to the relationship and process of sensory facts, but, at the same time, it wants to retain their way of thinking and other characteristics. It desires to speak about the non-sensory in the same way natural science speaks about the sensory. While natural science remains within the sense world with this method of research and way of thinking, occult science wishes to consider the employment of mental activity upon nature as a kind of self-education of the soul and to apply what it has thus acquired to the realms of the non-sensory. Its method does not speak about the sense phenomena as such, but speaks about the non-sensory world-content in the way the scientist talks about the content of the sensory world. It retains the mental attitude of the natural-scientific method; that is to say, it holds fast to just the thing that makes natural research a science. For that reason it may call itself a science.


Unprejudiced thinking must hold to the premise that a person should speak only of what he knows and should not make statements about something he does not know. Such thinking can only speak of the right that a person has to communicate what he himself has experienced, but it cannot speak of the right that somebody declare impossible what he does not know or does not wish to know. We cannot deny anyone the right to ignore the supersensible, but there can never be any good reason for him to declare himself an authority, not only on what he himself can know, but also on all that a Man can not know.


(SWCC) is about the different nature of different types of knowledge with regards to the akashic records.

See also:

quote A: in relation to 'reading for the dead' (section that preceded)

The question may be asked:

As the dead are living in the spiritual world, do they need such reading of spiritual science by those on the Earth?

There are many who believe that it is only necessary to have passed through the gate of death in order to experience everything that can be attained only by dint of great effort on the Earth, through spiritual science. Such people also believe that after death a Man will be able to acquire all occult knowledge, because he will then be in the spiritual world. This, however, is not the case.

Just as here on the earth there live beings other than man, who perceive everything that man is able to perceive by means of his senses, whereas — as in the case of the animals — they are unable to form ideas or concepts of it, so it is with souls living in the super-sensible worlds. Although these souls see the beings and facts of the higher spiritual worlds, they can form no concepts or ideas of them if men here on the Earth do not inscribe such concepts and ideas into the Akasha Chronicle.

quote B

If a Man tries to put the life of his soul on the Earth to the test, he will discover in the first place that during our present age he has applied his faculties for the acquisition of knowledge to aims other than the attainment of spiritual knowledge. These faculties have been used for the acquisition of data of knowledge produced by means of the senses and through the intellect that is bound to the brain.

Thus human knowledge is of two kinds:

  • the one stream is knowledge that belongs only to the sense-world: it pertains only to experience acquired by means of the senses, which needs the organ of the intellect in order to transform it into knowledge;
  • the other kind is spiritual science, and consists of what men inscribe through spiritual Science into the Akasha Chronicle. For spiritual science develops ideas and concepts which are then inscribed forever in the Akasha Chronicle.

All science, all knowledge pertaining to experiences acquired through the senses, to technical things, to the commercial and industrial life of mankind, when inscribed in the Akasha-substance has this effect: the Akasha-substance discards it, thrusts it away, and the medley of ideas and concepts is obliterated.

If these facts are perceived with the eyes of a seer, a conflict may be observed in the Akasha-substance between the impressions made by the occult knowledge acquired by Man - impressions which are eternal - and those made by thoughts based upon the senses, which are only transitory. This conflict arises from the fact that when man first began to inhabit the earth as man (that is to say, in the ancient epoch of Lemuria), he was already then destined by sublime spiritual beings to acquire spiritual science.


Two streams have arisen in modern science; one of these I have called Goetheanism, the other Darwinism. If you study everything I have written, from the very beginning, you will see that I have never failed to recognize the profound significance of Darwinism. Some people were foolish enough to think I had fallen under the spell of materialism, and so on, when I wrote anything in favour of Darwin. We know that this was not from conviction, but had quite different reasons; and the people who say such things only need to think about it and they will know better than anyone else that they are not true. But if you really study everything I have written you will see that I have always done justice to Darwinism, but have done so by contrasting it with Goetheanism, the view of the evolution of life. I have always sought to see such things as the theory of descent in the Darwinian sense on the one hand and the Goethean on the other, and I have done so because Goetheanism presents the ascending line, with organic evolution raised above mere physical existence.

I have often referred to the conversation between Goethe and Schiller:

Goethe drew a diagram of his archetypal plant and Schiller said, ‘That is not empiricism — learning from experience — it is an idea.’

Goethe's reply was: ‘In that case I have my idea in front of my eyes!’

For he saw the spiritual element in everything. Goethe thus initiated a theory of evolution which holds the potential for elevation to the highest spheres, for being applied to soul and spirit. Goethe may only have made a start with organic evolution in his theory of metamorphosis, but we have the evolution of the spirit to which humanity must attain from this fifth cultural age onwards — for human beings are becoming more inward, as I have shown. Goetheanism can have a great future, for the whole of anthroposophy is on those lines.

Darwinism considers physical evolution from the physical side: external impulses, struggle for survival, selection, and so on, and in this way outlines an evolution which is dying down — everything you can discover about organic life if you give yourself up to impulses which came up in earlier times. To understand Darwin, one merely has to make a synthesis of all the laws discovered in the past. To understand Goethe, one has to rise above this to laws which are ever new in earth existence.

Both are necessary. It is not Darwinism which is the problem, nor Goetheanism, but the fact that people want to follow one or the other rather than one and the other. This is what really matters.

Hermann Poppelbaum

essay 'Can Supersensible Facts Be Proven?'

published in Journal for Anthroposophy, Spring, 1970, No. 11.

Only a small minority venture to speak of an extension of knowledge beyond its traditional limits. They regard this possibility as having been opened up by Rudolf Steiner in the development of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy and they are therefore necessarily interested in finding what justification there is for the claim of anthroposophy to be a legitimate and safe extension of knowledge into the realm of supersensible facts. They realize, of course, that any description of alleged supersensible facts must meet the rigorous standards for knowledge that have been set up for our age. This leads at once to the problem of proof.

The mere claim that anyone has “experienced” supersensible facts cannot satisfy a conscientious seeker. Are not, he will say, hallucinations experienced, too? What guarantee is there that the so-called spiritual investigator is not under a constant illusion that has grown in him into an elaborate and coherent system? Nor can the intensity with which a supersensible impression “comes” be called upon as a support. It speaks against rather than in favor of its validity, since everybody knows that the danger with all illusions is that they are so obviously “there” — for those who have them.

Can, then, supersensible facts be proven? For the sake of fairness to the seeker this question must find a straightforward answer.


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Paul Eugen Schiller: 'Naturwissenschaft und Geisteswissenschaft' (1957)