Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib
Second Scientific Lecture-Course: Warmth Course
Schmidt Number: S-4019
On-line since: 22nd May, 2002
Stuttgart, March 10th, 1920.
Before we continue the observations of yesterday which we have nearly
brought to a conclusion, let us carry out a few experiments to give
support to what we are going to say. First we will make a cylinder of
light by allowing a beam to pass through this opening, and into this
cylinder we will bring a sphere which is so prepared that the light
passes into it, but cannot pass through. What happens we will indicate
by this thermometer
You will note that this
cylinder of energy, let us say, passing into the sphere reveals its
effect by causing the mercury column to sink. Thus we are dealing with
what we have formerly brought about by expansion. And indeed, in this
case we have to assume also that heat passes into the sphere, causes
an expansion and this expansion makes itself evident by a depression
of the column of mercury. If we placed a prism in the path of the
light we would get a spectrum. We do not form a spectrum in this
experiment, but we catch the light gather it up and obtain as a
result of this gathering up of what is in the bundle of light, a very
market expansion. You can see the definite depression of the mercury.
Now we will place in the path of the energy cylinder, an alum
solution, and see what happens under the influence of this solution.
You will see after a while that the mercury will come to exactly the
same level in the right and left hand tubes. This shows that
originally heat passed through, but under the influence of the alum
solution the heat is shut off, not more goes through. The apparatus
then comes only under the influence of the heat generally present in
the space around it and the mercury readjusts itself to equilibrium in
the two tubes. The heat is stopped as soon as I put the alum solution
in the path of the energy cylinder. That is to say, from this cylinder
which yields for me both light and heat, I separate out the heat and
permit the light to pass through. Let us keep this firmly in mind.
Something still rays through. But we see that we can so treat the
light-heat mercury that the light passes on and the heat is separated
by means of the alum solution.
This is one thing we must keep in mind simply as a phenomenon. There
is another phenomenon to be brought to our attention before we proceed
with our considerations. When we study the nature of heat we can do so
by warming a body at one particular spot. We then notice that the body
gets warm not only at the spot where we are applying the heat, but
that one portion shares its heat with the next portion, then this with
the next, etc. and that finally the heat is spread over the entire
And this is not all.
If we simply bring another body in contact with the warm body, the
second body will become warmer than it formerly was. In modern physics
this is ordinarily stated by saying that heat is spread by conduction.
We speak of the conduction of heat. The heat is conducted from one
portion of a body to another portion, and it is also conducted from
one body to another in contact with the first. A very superficial
observation will show you that the conduction of heat varies with
different materials. If you grasp a metallic rod in your fingers by
one end and hold the other end in a flame, you will soon have to drop
it, since the heat travels rapidly from one end of rod to the other.
Metals, it is said, are good conductors of heat. On the other hand, if
you hold a wooden stick in the flame in the same way, you will not
have to drop it quickly on account of the conduction of heat. Wood is
a poor conductor of heat. Thus we may speak of good and poor
conductors of heat. Now this can be cleared up by another experiment.
And this experiment we are unfortunately unable to make today. It has
again been impossible to get ice in the form we need it. At a more
favorable time the experiment can be made with a lens made of ice as
we would make a lens of glass. Then from a source of heat, a flame,
this ice lens can be used to concentrate the heat rays just as light
rays can be concentrated (to use the ordinary terminology.) A
thermometer can then be used to demonstrate the concentration by the
ice lens of the heat passing through it.
(See Fig. 4).
Now you can see from this experiment that it is a question here of
something very different from conduction even though there is a
transmission of the heat, otherwise the ice lens could not remain an
ice lens. What we have to consider is that the heat spreads in two
ways. In one form, the bodies through which it spreads are profoundly
influenced, and in the other form it is a matter of indifference what
stands in the path. In this latter case we are dealing with the
propagation of the real being of heat, with the spreading of heat
itself. If we wish to speak accurately we must ask what is spreading,
then we apply heat and see a body getting warmer gradually piece by
piece, we must ask the question: is it not perhaps a very confused
statement of the matter when we say that the heat itself spreads from
particle to particle through the body, since we are able to determine
nothing about the process except the gradual heating of the body?
You see, I must emphasize to you that we have to make for ourselves
very accurate ideas and concepts. Suppose, instead of simply
perceiving the heat in the metal rod, you had a large rod, heated it
here, and placed on it a row of urchins. As it became warm the urchins
would cry out, the first one, then the second, then the third, etc.
One after another they would cry out. But it would never occur to you
to say that what you heard from the first urchin was conducted to the
second, the third, the fourth, etc. When the physicist applies heat at
one spot, however, and then perceives it further down the rod, he
says: the heat is simply conducted. He is really observing how the
body reacts, one part after another, to give him the sensation of
warmth, just as the urchins give a yell when they experience the heat.
You cannot, however, say that the yells are transmitted.
Now we will perform also an experiment to show how the different
metals we have here in the form of rods behave in respect to what we
call the conduction, and about which we are striving to get valid
ideas. We have hot water in this vessel
By placing the ends
of the rods in the water, they are warmed. Now we will see how this
experiment comes out. One rod after another will get warm, and we will
have a kind of graduated scale before us. We will be able to see the
gradual spreading of the effect of the heat in the different
substances. (The rods consisted of copper, nickel, lead, tin, zinc,
iron.) The iodide of mercury on the rods (used to indicate rise in
temperature) becomes red in the following order: copper, nickel, zinc,
tin, iron and lead. The lead is, therefore, among these metals, the
poorest conductor of heat, as it is said.
This experiment is shown to you in order to help form the general view
of the subject that I have so often spoken to you about. Gradually we
will rise to an understanding of what the heat entity is in its
Now, from our remarks of yesterday we have seen that when we turn our
attention to he realm of corporeality, we can in a certain way, set
limits to the realm of the solids by following what it is essentially
that takes on form. We have the fluids as an intermediate stage and
then we go over to the gaseous realm. In the gaseous we have a kind of
intermediate state, exactly as we would expect, namely the heat
condition. We have seen why we can place it as we do in the series.
Then we come, as I have said, into an X region in which we have to
assume materialization and dematerialization, pass then to a Y and a
Z. This is all similar to the manner in which we find in the light
spectrum the transition from green through blue to violet and then
apparently on to infinity. Yesterday we convinced ourselves that we
have to continue below the solid realm into a U region. Thus we think
of the world of corporeality as arranged in an order analogous to the
arrangement in the spectrum. This is exactly what we do when we pursue
our thinking in contact with reality.
Now let us further extend the ideas of yesterday. In the case of the
spectrum we conceive of what disappears at the violet end and at the
red end in the straight line spectrum as bent into a circle. In
exactly the same way we can, in this different realm of states of
aggregation, imagine that the two ends of the series do not disappear
into infinity. Instead, what apparently goes off into the indefinite
on the one side and what goes off into indefiniteness on the other may
be considered as bending back
and then we have before us a
circle, or at least a line whose two ends meet.
The question now arises, what is to be found at the point of juncture?
When we observe the usual spectrum, we can in that case find something
at this point. In Goethe's sense you know that the spectrum considered
as a whole with all its colors included shows as its middle color on
one side green, when we make a bright spectrum. On the other side
peach blossom which is also a middle color when we make a dark
spectrum. Thus we have green, blue, violet extending to peach blossom.
By closing the circle we note that at the point where it closes, there
is the peach blossom color.
If we then construct a similar circle in our thinking about the realm
states of aggregation, what do we find at the point of juncture? This
brings us to an enormously important consideration. What must we place
in the spectrum of states of aggregation which will correspond to the
peach blossom of the color spectrum? The idea that arises naturally
from the facts here may perhaps be easier for you to grasp if I lead
you to it as follows: What do we have in reality which disappears as
it were in two opposite directions just as in the color
spectrum the tones shade off on the one side into the region beyond
the violet and on the other side into the region beyond the red? Ask
yourselves what it is. It is nothing more or less than the whole of
nature. The whole of nature is included in it. For you cannot in the
whole of nature find anything not included in the form categories we
have mentioned. Nature disappears from us on the one hand when we go
through corporeality into heat and beyond. She disappears from us on
the other when we follow form through the solid realm into the
sub-solid where we saw the polarization figures as the effect of form
on form. The tourmaline crystals show us now a bright field, now a
dark one. By the mutual effect of one form on another there appear
alternately dark and light fields.
It is essential for us to determine what we should place here when we
follow nature in one direction until we meet what streams from the
other side. What stands there? Man as such stands there. The human
being is inserted at that point. Man, taking up what comes from both
sides is placed at that point. And how does he take up what comes from
the two sides?
He has form. He is also formed within. When we
examine his form among other formed bodies we are obliged to give him
this attribute. Thus, the forces that give from elsewhere are within
man. And now we must ask ourselves, are these forces to be found in
the sphere of consciousness? No, they are not in the human
consciousness. Think of the matter a moment. You cannot get a real
understanding of the human form from what you can see in either
yourselves or other men. You cannot experience it immediately in
consciousness. We have a corporeality, but this form is not given in
our immediate consciousness. What do we have in our immediate
consciousness in the place of form?
Now, my friends, that can be experienced only when one gradually and
in an unbiased manner learns to observe the physical development of
man. When the human being first enters physical existence, he must be
related very plastically to his formative forces. That is, he must do
a great deal of body building. The nearer we approach the condition of
childhood, the greater the body building, and as we take on years
there is a withdrawal of the body building forces. In proportion as
the body building forces withdraw, conscious reasoning comes into
play. The more the formative forces withdraw the more reasoning
advances. We can create ideas in regard to form in proportion as we
lose the ability to create form in ourselves. This considered in a
matter of fact way, is simply an obvious truth. But now you see, we
can say that we experience formative forces forces that create
form outside the body can be experienced. And how do we experience
them? In this way, that they become ideas within us. Now we are at the
point where we can bring the formative forces to the human being.
These forces are not something that can be dreamed about. Answers to
the questions that nature puts to us cannot be drawn from speculation
or philosophizing, but must be got from reality. And in reality we see
that the formative forces show themselves where, as it were, form
dissolves into ideas, where it becomes ideas. In our ideas we
experience what escapes us as a force while our bodies are building.
When we place human nature before us in thought, we can state the
matter as follows: man experiences as ideas the forces welling up from
below. What does he experience coming down from above? What comes into
consciousness from the realms of gas and heat? Here again when you
look at human nature in an unprejudiced way, you have to ask
yourselves: how does the will relate itself to the phenomena of heat?
You need only consider the matter physiologically to see that we go
through a certain interaction with the heat being of outer nature in
order to function in our will nature. Indeed heat must appear if
willing is to become a reality. We have to consider will related to
heat. Just as the formative forces of outer objects are related to
ideas, so we have to consider what is spread abroad as heat as related
to that which we find active in our wills. Heat may be thus looked
upon as will, or we may say that we experience the being of heat in
How can we define form what it approaches us from within-out? We see
it, in this form, in any given solid body. We know that if conditions
are such that this form can be seized upon by our life processes,
ideas will arise. These ideas are not within the outer object. It is
somewhat as if I observed the spirit separated from the body in death.
When I see form in outer nature, what brings about the form is not
there in the object. It is in truth not there. Just as the spirit is
not within the corpse but has been in it, so is that which determines
form not within the object. If I therefore turn my eyes in an
unprejudiced way towards outer nature I have to say: Something works
in the process of form building in objects, but in the corpse this
something has been active, while in the object its
activity is becoming. We will see that what is there active
lives in our ideas.
If I experience heat in nature, then I experience what works in a certain way as my will. In the thinking and willing man we have what meets us in outer nature as form and heat respectively.
But now there are all possible intermediate stages between will and
thought. A mere intellectual self-examination will soon show you that
you never think without exercising the will. Exercise of the will is
difficult for modern man especially. The human being is more prone to
will unconsciously the course of his thoughts, he does not like to
send will impulses into the realm of thought.
Entirely will-free thought content is really never present just as
will not oriented by thought is likewise not present. Thus when we
speak of thought and will, of ideas and will, we are dealing with
extreme conditions, with what from one side builds itself as thought
and from the other side builds itself as will. We can therefore say
that in experiencing will permeated by thinking and thinking permeated
by will, we experience truly and essentially the outer forms of nature
and the outer heat being of nature. There is only one possibility for
us here and that is to seek in man for essential being of what meets
us in outer nature.
And now pursue these thoughts further. When you follow further the
condition of corporeality on the one hand you can say that you proceed
along a line into the indeterminate. The opposite must be the case
here. And how can we state this? How must it be within man? We must
indeed, find again here what goes off into infinity. Instead of it
going off into infinity, so that we can no longer follow it, we must
picture to ourselves that it moves out of space. What wells up in man
from the states of aggregation we must think of as going out of space.
That is, the forces that are in heat must so manifest themselves in
man that they move out of space. Likewise, the forces that produce
form, pass out of space when they enter man.
In other words, in man we have a point where that which appears
spatially in the outer world as form and heat, leaves space. Where the
impossibility arises, that that which becomes non-spatial can still be
I think we can see here in a very enlightening way how an observation
of nature in accordance with facts obliges us to leave space when we
approach man, provided we properly place him in the being of nature.
We have to go to infinity above and below (the scale of that states of
aggregation.) When we enter the being of man, we leave the realm of
space. We cannot find a symbol which expresses spatially how the facts
of nature meet us in the being of man. Nature properly conceived,
shows us that when we think of her in relation to man, we must leave
her. Unless we do, when we consider the content of nature in relation
to man, we simply do not come to the human being.
But what does this mean mathematically? Suppose you set down the
lineal series among which you are following states of aggregation to
infinity. The words one after another may be considered as positive.
Then what works into the nature of man must be set down as negative.
If you consider this series as positive, the effects in the human
being have to be made negative. What is meant by positive and negative
will be cleared up I think by a lecture to be given by one of our
members during the next few days. We have to conceive, however, of
what comes before our eyes plainly here in this way that the essential
nature of heat, insofar as this belongs to the outer world, must be
made negative when we follow it into the human being, and likewise the
essentiality of form becomes negative when we follow it into man.
Actually then, what lives in man as ideas is related to outside form
as negative numbers are to positive numbers and vice versa. Let us
say, as credits and debits. What are debits on the one hand are
credits on the other and vice versa. What is form in the outside world
lives in man in a negative sense. If we say there in the outside
world is some sort of a body of a material nature, we have to
add: if I think about its form the matter must be negative, in a
sense, in my thinking. How is matter characterized by me as a
human being? It is characterized by its pressure effects. If I go
from the pressure manifestation of matter to my ideas about form, then
the negative of pressure, or suction, must come into the picture.
That is, we cannot conceive of man's ideas as material in their nature
if we consider materiality as symbolized by pressure. We must think of
them as the opposite. We must think of something active in man which
is related to matter as the negative is to the positive. We must
consider this as symbolized by suction if we think of matter as
symbolized by pressure. If we go beyond matter we come to nothing, to
empty space. But if we go further still, we come to less-than-nothing,
to that which sucks up matter. We go from pressure to suction. Then we
have that which manifests in us as thinking.
And when on the other hand you observe the effects of heat, again you
go over to the negative when it manifests in us. It moves out of
space. It is, if I may extend the picture, sucked up by us. In us it
appears as negative. This is how it manifests. Debits remain debits,
although they are credits elsewhere. Even though our making external
heat negative when it works within us results in reducing it to
nothing, that does not alter the matter. Let me ask you again to note:
we are obliged by force of the facts to conceive of man not entirely
as a material entity, but we must think of something in man which not
only is not matter, but is so related to matter as suction is to
pressure. Human nature properly conceived must be thought of as
containing that which continually sucks up and destroys matter.
Modern physics, you see, has not developed at all this idea of
negative matter, related to external matter as a suction is to a
pressure. That is unfortunate for modern physics. What we must learn
is that the instant we approach an effect manifest in man himself all
our formulae must be given another character. Will phenomena have to
be given negative values in contrast to heat phenomena; and thought
phenomena have to be given negative values as contrasted to the forces
concerned in giving form.
Last Modified: 17-Oct-2017
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