Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

L. Francis Edmunds

Author, Waldorf Teacher and Adult Educator, Founder and Principal of Emerson College in England

"Evolution, with the advent of conscious man, ceases to rule by outer law; it becomes the inner law of man’s being and can only advance through his volition… Man must fight to prepare the advent of the spiritual being he is destined to become."

"Cultures can mix with one another. Explicit design is introduced to promote, improve, advance, and accelerate the evolutionary process of culture. A change brought about by a science and technology of behavior would correspond to a `biological mutation’ towards the better… Yet the final determining cause, whether genetic or cultural, is never an ethical or moral one, but always leads back to the environment. The world is a large-scale laboratory. Both the controller and the controlled are subject to conditioning. All life is conditioning."

"An organism lives by growth, by processes of change, by powers of generation, but its interfusion with other organisms and with its environment, also by its `mental state’ in which is vested the unifying principles pervading all its parts and subdivisions, rising in man to the conscious mental state, to self-awareness, and with this self-awareness to advance further by directed effort."

"According to the laws of probability, the time it would take to produce a single molecule of a moderate degree of dissymmetry on a globe the size of the earth would be about 10243 Billions of years, whereas by the most recent calculations, based on radioactivity, the earth is estimate to have been in existence for only 2 billion years… the properties of a cell are born out of the co-ordination of complexity and not out of the chaotic complexity not out of the chaotic complexity of a mixture of gases. This transmissible, hereditary, continuous co-ordination entirely escapes our laws of chance."

"In the whole logical structure of quantum mechanics the conscious observer plays an essential part. Man, in so far as he is an observer, can no longer be ignored."

"In this new world-conception all phenomena are related to one another. Each conditions and is in turn conditioned by the others, so that the world becomes an integrated whole – an integrated unity of interdependent parts."

"It is the inner values by which men live that give meaning to life."

"Life is thought to be no more than a transient moment in an endless meaninglessness. Yet something is stirring in our minds to oppose the empty outlook and to re-examine the premises on which it has been built."

"Man is no longer to be regarded as an isolated unity lost in cosmic solitudes, because a universal will to live converges and is harmonized in him. Man is no longer to be seen as a static centre of the world… but as the axis and the leading shoot of evolution."

"Materialism assumes a line of `continuity’ running through the whole scheme of nature, despite its obvious gaps; on the contrary, he underlines the significance of `discontinuity’ as positive evidence of the intervention of a higher source of influence which escapes man’s limited `scale of observation.’ A giant or a microbe would, with similar intelligence, observe the same phenomenon differently; they might be guided by their scales of observation to different, or at least, to modified conclusions. There is no scientific truth in an absolute sense. The phrase Ad veritatem per scientiam is an absurdity."

"Man has arrived at a view of the world in which his own presence is not essential… This is the blindness behind the eyes… Man has grown blind to himself; therefore, as far as he is concerned, life is void of meaning. That is the peril humanity is in."

"Physically man can never arrive at more than a partial view, or better still, his partial view of the phenomena; to this extent all scientific conclusions would appear to be subjective. Morally considered, the matter goes further… the truth at which the experimenter arrives will depend on the character of his experience and on the power of his perception which he brings to bear upon the phenomenon. What we `see’ of the world depends on what we are capable of seeing."

"Man only knows that there exists something more in the things than perception gives because this other element lives in his inner being. Thus world knowledge and self-knowledge are inseparable."

"The chromosome reproduces itself exactly and exactly once, building itself up from materials around it, mostly proteins. Nothing similar has been known to occur outside living matter, though regarded chemically, the DNA molecule is not fundamentally different from any other large molecule. Clearly then, some other principle prevails in living nature… Consider the DNA molecule… the main constituent of the chromosomes, with its 10,000 links, in which four different types occur in various arrangements… and assuming 32 links of the chain contain 8 of each type we get for the odds of a particular arrangement 1:1017 That is, one to a hundred thousand billion… the inevitable conclusion sis that whatever evolution may depend on, it certainly does not depend on chance."

"The essence of reality lies in the interiority contained by the universe at a given moment."

"The free man acts morally because he has a moral idea. He does not act in order that morality may come into being. A moral idea, born of intuition without compulsion, inner or outer, would be at one and the same time the highest motive and the highest driving force in man."

"The heights of the spirit can only be climbed by passing through the gates of humility."

"The search for final truth rests with each individual personality and rendering the partial interpretations of our experience fundamentally consistent with one another. It is this fact that justifies the use of the word `God’ to designate the all embracing personality in whose existence ultimate reality exists."

"What is important and of greatest significance is that an ideal of final truth is always before use and that the search for truth is acknowledged by all men as a duty not imposed from outside but born from within. The search for final truth rests with each individual personality and rendering the partial interpretations of our experience fundamentally consistent with one another. It is this fact that justifies the use of the word `God’ to designate the all embracing personality in whose existence ultimate reality exists."

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery – even if mixed with fear – that engendered religion."

"With the perception and idea of wholeness, we stand within the phenomena."

"The universe appears to us in two opposite parts, I and World. We erect this barrier between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness first dawn on us… Only when we have made the world-content into our thought-content do we begin again to find the unity out of which we have separated ourselves… Our thinking links us to the world; our feeling leads us back into ourselves and thus makes us individuals."

"What shall it avail man if he conquers the whole of outer space and cannot compass the void within?"