Auf dem Weg zu einer natürlichen Ordnung der Pflanzensubstanzen
Towards the end of his life Goethe expressed the hope that one day it would be possible to understand the chemical processes of a plant in a way just as satisfying as the one he had achieved at the morphological level (Kuhn 1988). In retrospect, one can get the impression that the conditions necessary for this were only available about a hundred years after his death in the 19203 or 1930s (Frisch 1995). Since then, whereas a great deal has been developed With reference to Goethe’s morphological work (Schad 1982), a corresponding chemistry is still in its infancy (Kalisch 1996).
Here I Will present some aspects of such a plant chemistry. In doing so, the choice of content will largely concentrate on the main themes of my own pursuit to date in this area. But in addition, what follows is also meant as a contribution to the question of knowledge frequently raised in this conference regarding a better understanding of the language of chemical formulae. Or, putting it more concretely, it is a contribution to the specific question: what is expressed by the so-called functional groups of plant substances? With reference to Goethe and Rudolf Steiner, the method will be a matter of finding out the broader circumstances in which the characteristic substances express themselves and trying to discover a qualitative ordering amongst them.