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AA Dynamic Morphology and Embryology - 2014 EN

Dynamic Morphology and Embryology. In: Foundations of anthroposophical medicine - A training manual, Chapter 4, Edited by Guus van der Bie and Machteld Huber, Published by Floris books, 2003. Last revision of this article by the author: January 2014

From the text:

4.1 A minifying glass as a tool for observation

We must use the darkness, to make light visible.
J.W. Goethe

To elucidate the method applied here, let us now turn to the following example. Let us ask ourselves the following question, ‘Why do we see the head as round and experience it as a sphere?’ We all experience the head that way, yet on closer scrutiny, this cannot stand up to scientific analysis. The anatomical and analytical mind of modern natural science cannot perceive the head as round anymore. In medical school, students become acquainted with scores of protrusions, crests, ridges, and angular edges on the skull and they learn to name all of these. No ‘roundness’ can become visible with such an approach. On the contrary, the more one focuses on the human skull, going into ever more detailed descriptions, the more one loses the naive perception of the head as round and sphere-shaped. The question posed above, ‘Why do we see the head as round?’ was intended to bring us to the following dilemma: Which of the two perceptions is more realistic or true, the naive assumption of roundness or the analytical anatomical observations?

Many people will solve the ‘dilemma’ outlined above by accepting the naive perception as correct in a general, global or holistic sense (with a wink so to speak). We can call this perception ‘more or less correct,’ and point to children’s drawings to indicate and declare that they always, and strikingly, present the head as round. With such an argument, we can depict the perception of the head as round as literally naive. But Goethe would have rejected any suggestion to therefore apply a simplistic ‘global’ approach. His own observations were painstakingly precise, and his descriptions never shy away from details. On the contrary, in his scientific works he goes into minute phenomenological descriptions to document and underpin a gesture, which he saw expressed in certain organic forms, be it of individual organs or of whole organisms.

In the spirit of a Goetheanistic approach, an answer to the ‘dilemma’ posed above, could sound more or less as follows: By fixing one’s gaze solely on the head or skull (to concentrate on it so to speak), one will fail to see the roundness. The skull and the head belong within the context of the human skeleton and the human body respectively. Our starting point with the approach propagated here are the entities as they occur in nature. Head and skull are analytical entities, parts of a unity or a whole, produced by reductionistic thinking and by isolating them from the whole of the skeleton or body concerned. If we start with the human skeleton or body as a whole and let our gaze wander from the head to the arms, back again to the head and then to the legs, back and forth, in short, if we regard the head in its polarity to the extremities, we will recognize from the extremities how round the head or the skull really are and at the same time realize how straight and radial the limbs and their tubular bones are; a perception which in its turn can never be experienced and observed whilst looking at the single elements of the bones of the extremities in isolation.

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Dynamic Morphology and Embryology 2014 A4 EN chapter.pdf
AA Dynamic Morphology and Embryology - 2014 EN
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