Nature's Open Secret: Introductions to Goethe's Scientific Writings (CW 1)

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The holistic paradigm, Gaia, deep ecology, and new alchemy all have a hidden ancestor: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832).


At the youthful age of 21, Steiner was chosen to edit Goethe’s scientific writings for the principle Geothe edition of his time. Goethe’s literary genius was universally acknowledged; it was Steiner’s task to understand and comment on Goethe’s scientific achievements. Steiner recognized the significance of Goethe’s work with nature and his epistemology, and here began Steiner’s own training in epistemology and spiritual science. 


This collection of Steiner’s introductions to Goethe’s works re-visions the meaning of knowledge and how we attain it. Goethe had discovered how thinking could be applied to organic nature and that this experience requires not just rational concepts but a whole new way of perceiving. 


In an age when science and technology have been linked to great catastrophes, many are looking for new ways to interact with nature. With a fundamental declaration of the interpenetration of our consciousness and the world around us, Steiner shows how Goethe’s approach points the way to a more compassionate and intimate involvement with nature.



1. Introduction by John Barnes

2. The Origin of Goethe’s Concept of Metamorphosis

3. The Origin of Goethe’s Thinking on Animal Morphology

4. The Nature & Significance of Goethe’s Writings on Organic Morphology

5. Goethe’s Way of Knowing

6. Concluding Remarks on Goethe’s Morphology

7. The Arrangement of Goethe’s Scientific Writings

8. From Art to Science

9. Goethe’s Theory of Knowledge

10. Knowledge & Action in the Light of Goethe’s Ideas

11. Goethe’s Way of Thinking Compared to Other Views

12. Goethe and Mathematics

13. Goethe’s Fundamental Geological Principle

14. Goethe’s Meteorological Ideas

15. On the Subjectivity of Sensory Perceptions

16. Goethe As Thinker & Researcher

17. Goethe versus Atomism

18. Goethe’s Worldview in His Verses in Prose

Essay by John Barnes: “Participatory Science As the Basis for a Healing Culture”

Bibliography & Further Reading


Nature's Open Secret is a translation of Goethe's Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften, Einleitungen, 1884-1897


Previous translations were titled Goethe the Scientist and Goethean Science.


  • Written by Rudolf Steiner, CW 1
  • Introduction and essay written by John Barnes
  • 320 pages
  • 6" x 9"
  • Paperback