Urphänomen (The Primary Phenomenon)

The Scientific Method is an uniquely analytic and discriminating left brained process.  Johann Goethe was able to discern things that no other person had been able to before, by also applying the grey matter from the other side of his noggin.  His legacy is exceedingly profound, though his name and works are relatively obscure compared to the many brilliant minds that his thinking and ideas inspired.  His idea of Urphänomen, ultimately led to the discovery of Morphology, leading Darwin, Einstein, Tesla and others to “Discover” things that, absent the Intuitive Powers of the right brain, were unknowable.  Goethe’s Method Begins with the discernment of Urphänomen, and only after it is understood can more empirical methods be employed to further elucidate the true nature of living things.  

As is usually the case, we have it all backwards, as collectively we continually, “put the cart before the horse” in our rush to expediently understand ourselves and to gain what it is we think we want in life.


1. The representation of the idea of the life form (The Unique Individual)

2. It is not its contingent attributes, and is 

3. not arrived at by the abstraction of common attributes, 

4. on the contrary by discarding everything that is accidental.

5. It Must be determined Before an unfolding empirical discovery can take   place!

Further, Goethe takes the Urphänomen to be;  the starting point for a science.

The discovery of the Urphänomen is the outcome of a protracted period of reflection; 

Goethe emphasized the importance in his ‘delicate empiricism’ of sustained contemplation and observation of the object, 

before being able to determine the Urphänomen. 

So determination of the Urphänomen marks a nodal point in the development of the science, 
which makes possible a leap from contemplation and reflection upon the object to representation of the complex whole in terms of an archetype. 

After this leap, the development of the science takes the form of an unfolding of what is already implicit in the Urphänomen. 

The purpose of the Urphänomen:

is to provide an authentic conception of a whole complex process. 

We can utter the word ‘Nature‘, but it is just a word. 

In the course of time, as a representation of the whole, a word such as ‘Nature’ will accumulate connotations, nuances and semantic associations which contribute to it as a more concrete representation. 

But in itself, there is nothing in the word ‘Nature’ more than an empty symbol; it provides no royal road to a conception of the whole. 

It is an empty whole, a mere sign. 

A complex which is formed by means of collecting together all those objects sharing some common attribute is an inauthentic whole, 

and such a conception; simply shifts the problem from the entity to the attribute without advancing understanding of the entity at all. 

Other complexes may be indicated by the connection of a thing to the social practice in which it arises, or by subsumption under some genus (both of which presuppose a related existing conception), but a word in itself is insufficient to represent a complex whole. 

Goethe is describing the flaw in the logic of the superfluous attributes that are so easily externally observed.  It is expedient and does conserve ones energy to count similar extraneous attributes to arrive at some sum that we label as truth, but we have completely missed the point.  This thinking is ubiquitous and commonly employed, both in the analytical left brained mentality known as the Scientific Method, as it is in the flippant judgements the masses place on individuals based on external commonly held assumptions.

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