Rudolf Steiner and the Atom

Keith Francis

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Quick Look

  • Traces ideas of the atom from ancient Greece to contemporary quantum physics
  • Draws parallels between Steiner's thinking and mainstream scientific research
  • Ideal for Steiner-Waldorf teachers

Explores the connections between materialist research on the atom and Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science.

216 x 138 mm
Adonis Press
Steiner-Waldorf Education; Philosophy of the Natural World
272 pages
Publication date:
31 Oct 2013


Can Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science shed any meaningful light on one of the most materialistic of human pursuits: research on the atom?

Physics teacher Keith Francis believes it can. He traces the concept of the atom from ancient Greece to contemporary quantum physics, all the time relating this compelling quest to relevant statements made by Rudolf Steiner.

He concludes that there are, in fact, many connections and parallels between Steiner's thinking and atomic research, and that each illuminates the other in a revealing and inspiring way.

This is an ideal book for Steiner-Waldorf teachers looking for a deeper understanding of science.

Table of Contents

Author's Note

I. The Atom - A Historical Background
(i) Prelude in Greece
(ii) Elements and Principles
(iii) The Way of Truth
(iv) Atoms
(v) Roadblock
(vi) Atoms back in Vogue
(vii) Making Waves
(viii) Rudolf Steiner meets the Atom
(ix) Rejection
(x) The Age of Electricity
(xi) The Electrical Atom and Human Thought

II. A Background for Quanta
(i) Origins
(ii) Thermal Radiation
(iii) Enter Max Planck

III. Steiner in the Quantum Age
(i) Physical Science and Spiritual Science
(ii) The Goethean Alternative
(iii) The Primal Phenomenon

IV. Bohr's Atom -- Antecedents
(i) Periodic Tables
(ii) From Siberia with Love
(iii) Predictions and Confusions
(iv) The Hydrogen Spectrum
(v) Cathode Rays
(vi) The Unstable Atom

V. The Rutherford-Bohr Atom
(i) Bohr Gets Involved
(ii) The Hydrogen Atom
(iii) Beyond Hydrogen

VI. Late Words from Rudolf Steiner
(i) A Science of Dead Matter
(ii) The Demonic Atom
(iii) Don't be an Ostrich
(iv) The Struggle for Human Consciousness
(v) So what about the Electron?

VII. The Atom After Steiner
(i) Waves and Particles
(ii) Knabenphysik
(iii) "Thou Shalt Make No Mental Image."
(iv) Discontinuities and Probabilities
(v) HBJ or the Three-Man-Paper
(vi) Schrodinger's Wave Mechanics
(vii) Indeterminacy
(viii) Quantum Physics and the Periodic Table
(ix) More about Probability
(x) Niels Bohr -- A Goethean Physicist?
(xi) Are Particles Real?

VIII. Epilogue
About the Author


Keith Francis was a teacher at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City for over thirty years, teaching physics, chemistry, mathematics and music. He divides his time between New York and the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

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