Ultimately it is true for all science what Goethe expressed so aptly
with the words: In and for itself, theory* is worth nothing,
except insofar as it makes us believe in the interconnections of
phenomena. Through science we are always bringing separate facts
of our experience into a connection with each other. In inorganic
nature we see causes and effects as separate from each other, and we
seek their connections in the appropriate sciences. In the organic
world we perceive species and genera of organisms and try to determine
their mutual relationships. In history we are confronted with the
individual cultural epochs of humanity; we try to recognize the inner
dependency of one stage of development upon the other. Thus each
science has to work within a particular domain of phenomena in the
sense of the Goethean principle articulated above.
* Theorie. In German, this word still connotes more of the sense of
the Greek original: what thinking sees. –Ed.
Each science has its own area in which it seeks the interconnections
of phenomena. But there still remains a great polarity in our
scientific efforts: between the ideal** world achieved by the sciences
on the one hand and the objects that underlie it on the other. There
must be a science that also elucidates the interrelationships here.
The ideal and the real world, the polarity of idea and reality, these
are the subject of such a science. These opposites must also be known
in their interrelationship.
** Throughout this book ideal usually means in the
form of ideas. –Ed.
To seek these relationships is the purpose of the following
discussion. The existence of science on the one hand, and nature and
history on the other are to be brought into a relationship. What
significance is there in the mirroring of the outer world in human
consciousness; what connection exists between our thinking about the
objects of reality and these objects themselves?