The Three Orders of Sciences we use everyday

Revision 15 of this crucial topic.

collage by the author

Many of us use Three Orders of sciences everyday.

In the book, Balance on All Levels, our little holistic garden, up until this chapter, we have only been weeding and moving several plants around for more sunlight and greater prominence. Now we step back and look at the garden as a whole. Hmm, time for an overhaul, no more tinkering with only minor issues.

Goethean Holistic Science, the Three Sciences We Use Everyday evolves significantly yet not radically from the Waldorf education view of Goethean Science. Using Goethe’s theory and method, we can expand our holistic garden to encompass both a needed new science paradigm; and, a needed new psychology framework. At the same time, we must give exclusively physical-material-mathematical science its due.

At the root, basic facts must be faced. We already use THREE orders of science every day.

First-order-science ~

The intelligent awareness of our cells is conveniently and accessibly demonstrated in our small intestine.

Villi of small intestime

dg-small intestine villi

24/7 the villi, the little fingers, on the inside of our small intestine, are testing single nutrients as they flow by. As a single nutrient touches a single villi, the villi senses, “Is this nutrient beneficial for me to take into my blood stream now — or not beneficial for me now?” This is cell-level-intelligence, cell-level awareness. For those readers who like the logic of chemical locks and keys, such activity demonstrates this awareness-intelligence.

This phenomena also demonstrates choice at the cell level. At a very basic, primitive level, cells have choice. All awareness has choice at its level of responsibility.

If our small intestine villi were not testing 24 hours a day, humans have few alternatives for obtaining safe nutrients. For instance? Intravenous tube feeding.

Cell-level-intelligence is not doing “survival.” Nor is it maintaining internal homeostasis (a higher level intelligence). Cell-level intelligence is actualizing Nature’s Plan for physical health. This includes how Nature programmed her cells to manufacture-produce optimal physical health, as best they can, given what they have to work with.

How far does cell-level-intelligence; and, immune-system intelligence go? It goes no further than the domain of one single person. Its genius is limited to what is safe and beneficial for me, today, for now.

The genius of conscious waking Self is unable to make conscious choices down at this level of metabolism. This is why we have cell-level-intelligence to do this for us. This is its service — its genius; tho, limited to the domain of one single individual.

In this way, First Order Science is the domain of the single person.

Psychology, counseling, therapy

Because First Order Science is the domain of the single person, this means it is the natural domain of counseling and healing of individuals — psychology for purposes of client support and unburdening. Outside of emergency-trauma-accident medicine — which is Second Order — human wellness care is naturally in the domain of First Order Science, the domain of one person at a time.


Second Order Science is the domain of the rational, logical, sequential and the mathematical. In Iain McGilchrist’s terms, this is the domain of the emissary, the functionary of the Master:

begin Q

Functionary, an official representative of a king, queen or master. Has authority to perform a limited set of functions, which the master could-would perform, were the master present in person.

end Q

To digress into Iain for a paragraph, left-hemisphere — and its science — was meant to be only the “go-between” between the outer sense world and the Master, the right-hemisphere, whole lives in the wholeness of everything at once and all together.

Second Order Science (left brain only) is the domain of:

- “What is it (how do I language it in terms left brain can grasp, manipulate and work with?

- How does it work?

- Is it safe?

- Can I trust it for me and my family-tribe?”

- Can I manipulate this to make something new and useful? and

- This works well. How can I make another one like this?

Second Order Science includes the genius of physical-material survival, how to create survivability for souls in a physical-material experience. This is why in sci-fi movies about space like Gravity (2013), Second Order tech is everywhere and all around the characters. Physical survival is a primary concern.


Our middle self is our most limited self by design, as described in the Three Selves chapter. Our middle self has most ability to focus and shut out extraneous input. Physical survival can depend on this.

This is the science of Island Man and Island Woman. Ernst Lehrs characterized the limited science it creates as “one-eyed, color-blind, pointer-reading science.” Physical-material survival is one of few things people with these concern can agree on.

Origin of “mad scientists”

If Second Order science is applied obsessively, exclusively, indiscriminately; and,

where First and Third Order methods are prohibited; then,

we have Dr. Frankenstein at work.

Consider Dr. Frankenstein’s recent handiwork: Atomic bombs. DDT. Round-Up. Facebook.

Q: Why Facebook?

A: On Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human podcast he said, “Humans are at their best with other people face to face.” If this is true, then apps contributing massively to isolating individuals and limiting face-to-face interaction, is an accomplishment only Dr. Frankenstein and his employers can conceive of as a benefit (controlling people’s attention for corporate profit).

The control-mad, survival-fanatic, highly stressed, triple-brained ego clings to Second Order Science for its hoped-for survival. These are our “mad scientists.” Super-villains in comics and movies caricature this part of us. Hopefully some readers then perceive this internal part of themselves more clearly so they can unburden it.

What does the super-villain and Dr. Frankenstein always want? “One ring to rule them all!” For Dr. F. it was electricity to raise the dead. For Thanos it was a Glove. Gandhi, MLKing and John-Roger show us what evolving past this stressed state looks like, what’s beyond ambition to rule (control) the world (so I no longer have to fear death).


Third Order Science is the most reflective and most question-loving of the Three Sciences we use everyday. It asks:

- Do we have enuf resources today to meet the needs of all — or not?

- What constitutes the “commons”?

- What constitutes “private property”?

The question, “What is for the highest good of all concerned (all stakeholders)?” characterizes this science.

Let’s recall parents with children think like this daily. Mothers and fathers imagine what is best for their children, for the family; and possibly, for extended family.

Synonyms: “Third-order science” and “whole-brained thinking”

The question in Second Order Science, “What is real here and now?” becomes in Third Order, “What is for the highest good of all concerned, for the next seven generations?

To exercise this thinking, a slower more relaxed tempo is required, a more thoughtful, more comprehensive approach to collective needs. Hence, the more inward, contemplative and deliberative quality than either First or Second orders of science.

If a lot of people are stakeholders in a decision, thinking this way takes time. The main experiment is moving out of our own point of view, using our creative imagination to perceive from additional points of view and multiple perspectives.

Preliminary conclusion

Now there’s room for everyone’s view of science. Many conflicts simply evaporate. This is a common side-effect benefit of whole-brained thinking.

Using Goethe, Steiner and Ernst Lehrs’ Man or Matter, our view of science can expand naturally into a clearer vision-model of Three Orders. With Three Orders, there’s room for multiple technologies.

Where exclusively Second Order Science primarily described what men wearing white lab coats did in labs run by governments, corporations and hospitals, the Three Sciences describes close to 100% of natural activity humans perform in our daily lives.

Roots and wings

It’s common to hear in whole-child K-12 schools “Parents should give their children two things, both roots and wings. Roots int e ground to give them grounding and a sense of belonging; yet also, wings to fly, to help free them from old constraints and prejudices, give them new ways to travel” ~ Goethe

Second Order Science only grants roots in our physical-material experience. It ignores, denies, represses and suppresses almost everything included in “wings” (the exceptions are awe and wonder).

Three Orders of Science grants people both roots and wings.



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