Collaborative Action Research Programme

Natural Sciences

On November 6-8 in 2015 The Field Centre was buzzing vibrantly with the collaborative research programme seminar Evolving Morphological Thinking. You can read more about the seminar in the Dec-Jan Newsletter 2016

The specific intention of the Evolving Morphological Thinking seminar was to encourage collaborative research projects to emerge and develop. Towards this researchers agreed to co-present ‘duets’ around an area of common interest and to share the questions they are living with. This was undertaken as an experimental approach. We were delighted to be joined by Johannes Kühl and Laura Liska who accompanied and facilitated our work. Thank you to all who presented, participated and attended what was an inspiring and seed-like event.

A brief background

The Collaborative Research Programme initiative began as an activity of the UK Natural Science Section and The Field Centre (Ruskin Mill Trust) in collaboration with the Science Section in Dornach. The initiative aims to encourage and foster the development of a research collegium as part of the Science Section work worldwide. The intention is to gather the diverse work of current researchers, bring it to fruition as a whole through a collaborative process, and to make it available to the scientific community as well as science-teacher education. Collaborative research projects, publications, events and conferences are some of the means envisaged towards this aim. Towards 2024 the initiative sees an opportunity and responsibility for making 2024 – the centenary of the School of Spiritual Science – a moment of precipitation, of gathering and sharing the work done over these 100 years. As such the Collaborative Research Programme will extend over a period of 9 years. The Field Centre has offered to host and carry the administrative aspects of the programme for the UK Science Section for the first 3 years, as a pilot project for the overarching worldwide research programme.

Epistemological basis

In Christiania on November 26, 1921, (GA 79) Rudolf Steiner spoke of what he termed ‘morphological thinking.’ Steiner characterizes morphological thinking thus: “This way of thinking is not limited to space; it lives within the medium of time, in the same way thinking lives within the medium of space. This thinking does not link up one thought with the other; it sets before the soul a kind of thought-organism. When we have a conception, an idea or a thought, we cannot pass over at will to another. Even as in the human organism we cannot pass over at will from the head to any other form, but must first pass over to the neck, then the shoulders, the thorax, etc., even as in an organism everything has a definite structure which must be considered as a whole, so the thinking which I characterized as morphological thinking must be inwardly mobile. As stated, it lives within the medium of time, not of space. But it is inwardly so mobile that it produces one form out of another, by constantly growing and producing an organic structure.”

“It is this morphological way of thinking which should be added to the ordinary way of thinking. It can be attained through exercises of meditation which are described in principle in some of my books. These exercises strengthen and intensify thinking. The morphological way of thinking, the thinking activity which takes its course in forms and pictures, enables us to reach the first stage in the knowledge of super-sensible worlds, namely the stage described in my books as imaginative knowledge.”

The Collaborative Action Research Programme takes its lead from these indications from Rudolf Steiner. In doing so the initiative seeks to clarify and contextualize morphological thinking, and from this, to work to apply morphological thinking in the domain of the Natural Sciences.

Events in 2016

Following on from last November’s seminar which explored the role of morphological thinking in natural science we have identified several existing fields of research activity within the Natural Science Section. These fields are: place, water, plant, animal, chemistry, and colour / light. We hope that others will also emerge in time.

This year we propose to have three workshops throughout the year. In each seminar two of the existing fields will be worked with in a collaborative action research process. Each seminar will address the question of how do you work with phenomena in (subject / field) research? For example, how do you work with phenomena in light research? The invitation is to place and hold this research question within the context of morphological thinking as elaborated by Steiner above.

If you are active within one of the identified fields we would very much like to hear from you and hope you can attend the seminars. However these workshops are also open to those not yet active but have a keen interest. The sequence of three seminars events aim to provide the opportunity for participants to work collaboratively and in a facilitated research process. A further fourth seminar will take place on November 10-12 which will provide a platform for research presentations and proposals. Johannes Kühl and Laura Liska would again accompany us at this meeting so connections can be made with research in other countries.

Dates for the seminars are still to be confirmed.