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Rudolf Steiner Looks at Relativity


Rudolf Steiner Considers Relativity: Quotations

Steiner's efforts were toward delicate growth, a healthy environment, harmony and spiritual development, whereas "the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima," as Pablo Picasso put it.

Other top-notch physicists than Einstein have helped in ushering in destructive elements on our planet, only to regret it when older and wiser. Some have taken up playing the piano . . . but is that helpful enough in the long run? I leave it to you to decide for yourself. Here are quotations of Rudolf Steiner in translation on marring aspects of the relativity theory. I suggest, further, that not everything is of a black or white type:


Considerations on metabolism and Einstein

You can find, if you examine thoroughly all the conditions and relationships, exact evidence for the movement of the Earth in the processes of metabolism in man.

In these times we come across various so-called theories of relativity which claim that we cannot really speak of absolute motion. . . . All this kind of talk is, as a matter of fact, not of much value . . . Such considerations as this form, as you know, the foundations of the Einstein theories of relativity.

It is all very well — but there is a way whereby one can strictly prove the motion, for the person who remains at rest will not experience fatigue, whereas the one who walks will do so. By means of inner processes the absolute reality of motion can thus be proved; indeed there are no other proofs but the inner processes. Applying this to the Earth, we can truly speak there too of absolute motion, for through Spiritual Science we learn to realise that this motion is the equivalent of the inner motion of metabolism as compared with the fixed form of man.

[Rudolf Steiner. Man: Hieroglyph of the Universe. Lecture 6.;mark=298,0,8#WN_mark]

Getting thin fast in space

The theory of gravity is to be overcome. Another affirmation of Einstein's is that even the dimension of a body is merely relative, and depends on the rapidity of movement. Thus, according to the Einstein theory, if a man moved through cosmic space with a certain velocity, he would not retain his bulk from front to back, but would become as thin as a sheet of paper. This is discussed in all seriousness. Such dwelling in thoughts foreign to reality forms the 'science' of today . . .

We have not only to combat ill-will, but what perhaps has also to be taken into account, namely all kinds of stupidity and ignorance.

[Rudolf Steiner. Man: Hieroglyph of the Universe. Lecture 15.]

Unsound glorification of relativity

A great deal of popular literature is permeated with glorification of an idea which originates from Einstein. . . .. Discussion concerning an extreme abstraction, can be found today in the modern theory of relativity which Albert Einstein has propounded. Just think how far humanity has deviated from actuality! We can talk of relativity — well and good, but just imagine what would happen were this picture taken in earnest! . . . Such things as these actually form the contents of scientific discussions today, and are considered great achievements, whereas they are nothing more than a testimony to the fact that we have arrived at the most extreme abstraction, and that materialism has produced a state of complete ignorance in humanity as to what matter really is, . . . .

So much nonsense masquerades as genius today that it becomes difficult to distinguish the one from the other.

[Rudolf Steiner. Man: Hieroglyph of the Universe. Lecture 8.]

"I see a clown" and no great enthusiasm

First I see the man in his formal black attire, afterwards I see the man in his clown's costume. . . . Somewhere in a window-display, I see a book by Einstein about the theory of relativity; and I see a clown, when, next to it, I have before me a book by Moszkowski on the theory of relativity . . . indeed, there is much that's maya in outer life. . . . It is bothersome to adjust to such stern processes of thinking, such consistent sequences of thoughts . . . .

[To] translate things into something that requires no effort and where no great enthusiasm need be engendered. .

It is namely this overall mood that must be opposed in people's feelings.

[Rudolf Steiner. The Art of Lecturing. Lecture 4.]

Be in accordance with reality Einstein concepts are "not suitable for saying something real about reality"

I introduced a certain idea in my last book, On the Riddles of Humanity (Vom Menschenratsel). This is the idea that if one wants to arrive at the truth, it is not sufficient just to form a logical concept, or a logical idea. There is the further requirement that the concept or idea must be in accordance with reality. Now, a very lengthy discussion would be required if I were to show you that the whole of the theory of relativity does not agree with reality, even though it is logical — wonderfully logical. . . . One cannot disprove the theory, one can only refrain from using it! And someone who has understood the criterion of being in accord with reality would refrain from using such concepts.

The empirical phenomena that Lorentz (see Note 21), Einstein, and others are trying to understand by means of this theory of relativity must be approached in an entirely different manner, not along the lines in which they and the others are thinking.

What I have been describing to you here is only one current in the ongoing stream of recent thought. Naturally, remnants of earlier thought are always being intermixed with the more recent thinking. . . . A self-sufficient criterion of truth and falsehood has been lost . . . the feeling for such a criterion has been lost. The resulting emancipation of abstract thinking has led to the formation of concepts which, being logical, are indisputable. In a certain sense they even accord with reality. But they remain merely formal concepts, for they are not suitable for saying something real about reality. They swim on the surface of reality without penetrating to the actual impulses at work in reality.

[Rudolf Steiner. The Riddle of Humanity. Lecture 10.;mark=703,0,8#WN_mark]

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