In holistic science we develop rigorous methodologies for healing these limitations, and in the process we discover that we heal both ourselves and the world. Firstly, we encounter the living qualities of a given phenomenon through the careful cultivation of our direct sensory perceptions together with our intuitive capacity for spontaneously apprehending the intrinsic wholeness and deep inner meaning that lies hidden at the heart of things. This is the practice of Goethe’s science, which brings with it a profound ethical concern for the welfare of whatever we are studying. Then we use our rational faculties to explore the phenomenon as a ‘complex system’. We build mathematical models of the relationships amongst the components of the system in order to explore the emergent properties and behaviors that often arise unexpectedly and unpredictably from these interactions, thereby encountering the limitations of rational knowledgeitself.
In these ways holistic scientists embark on a transformative journey towards wholeness by cultivating their intuition, sensing, feeling and thinking in the practice of science as a kind of alchemical journey, as a refinement of the soul. In the process one becomes able to skilfully apply these four ways of knowing in any given situation.
For example, in some cases it might be necessary to temporarily adopt a mechanistic style of thinking to solve a problem, or to use the reductionist approach, or even to sideline the qualitative aspect of things altogether. A holistic scientist will use these approaches with the awareness that they are merely tools to be taken up and set down as is appropriate, for ultimately we discover that it is our intuitive perceptions (often supported or even triggered by mathematical reasoning) that provide the most rewarding and profoundly healing insights into the wholeness of nature.
Written by Stephan Harding