Being on Earth: Practice In Tending the Appearances

Georg Maier, Ronald Brady & Stephen Edelglass


Being on Earth – A New Book

We present here the full text of an important new book, Being on Earth: Practice in Tending the Appearances, written by Georg Maier, Ronald Brady, and Stephen Edelglass. The book is a project of SENSRI, a sister organization of The Nature Institute located in Saratoga Springs, New York, and co-founded by Edelglass and Nature Institute affiliate researcher Michael D’Aleo. After the untimely death of Edelglass and Brady, The Nature Institute joined the project, and now the book’s publication is a joint venture of SENSRI and the Institute.

The subtitle of the book has two meanings:
The reader is being offered practice in tending to – looking after and heeding – the appearances. The reader is also invited to intend the appearances. The meaning of “intend” is illustrated every time you make a choice.

The book was conceived as a phenomenological approach to knowledge – that is, a study of the world in terms of its immediate phenomena. Since the sciences, as they are presently constituted, are moving further and further away from sensible perception – chemistry, for example, may now be taught by computer without a laboratory component – the question arises, What is lost when knowing is separated from experience? In the academic classroom the answer to this question can sometimes appear to be “nothing”, but in actual practice, particularly in the field, researchers will often put stress on the need for a hands-on apprenticeship before the new member of the team can even read the field manual properly. Practice as opposed to theory, still demands perceptual experience, but in stated theory there is no account of the component that only experience can provide.

In attempting to give such an account, the authors concentrate on three aspects of experience. The first is the mental activity by which we attend to a particular phenomenon – the activity by which we understand and pick out the phenomenon for consideration. The second is the aesthetic organization of phenomena. Phenomena are unified wholes rather than mere collections of parts, and the recognition of wholes is an aesthetic activity (as you can readily understand when you try to grasp the unity of a great painting). The third aspect of experience the authors investigate, is its ability to motivate the experiencing individual. Moral responsibility needs to be grounded in the meaning of individual experience, but this requires a recognition of meaning – hardly possible when the scientist is preoccupied with abstract, universal laws to the exclusion of those particular events that comprise our biographies.


The following downloads are available:


whole book [pdf file, 1.84 MB]






front matter [pdf, 33 KB]


Preface. How This Book Came About [pdf, 35 KB]


Chapter 1. Direct Experience (Ronald Brady) [pdf, 126 KB]

Memories of a Wrong-minded Student

Being Serious

Direct Experience Examined

First Doubt: Do the Senses Discover or Manufacture?

Second Doubt: The Power of the Mind to Combine

The Power of the Mind to Attend and to Intend

The Modeled Relation of Subject and Object—The Historical Problem

Our Senses Bear Witness to an Encounter

I “See” by My Understanding as Much as by My Eyes

Experience as an Object of Attention

“Who Hath Measur'd the Ground?”

My Activity Produces the Stable Object

Chapter 2. Sense Perception as Individual Experience (Georg Maier) [pdf, 92 KB]

Berkeley's Approach to Vision

Optical Appearances Need Not Be Representations of Material Bodies

Critique of the Concept of Rays

We See Images, Not Solid Objects

How We Normally Associate Vision with Physical Depth

Stereoscopic Vision Can Direct Our Movements in Body Space

Combining Perspective and Stereoscopic Vision in Movement

Pure Objects of Sight as a Limiting Case

A World of Light and Color

Objects of Sight as Straightforward Physical Quantities

Outness Proper: Extension into Which We Move Our Bodies

A Set of Exercises in Perceptual Activity, in Attending, in Encountering

Chapter 3. Reflections Upon a Pond (Stephen Edelglass) [pdf, 125 KB]

A Pond as Space Creator

The Spatial Character of Mirror Images Seen in Water

The Law of Reflection

Chapter 4. Intentionality (Ronald Brady) [pdf, 165 KB]

I Believed the Column Was of Solid Granite

Everyone Has Intuitions But They Confuse Them with the Senses

Exercises in Attending: (1) Taking Notice

Exercises in Attending: (2) Attending to the Focal Point

Exercises in Attending: (3) Ignoring and Attending


The Hidden Image

Kanizsa's Undepicted Forms

Activity and Consciousness: Discovering Meaning

Bring Me Any Worms That Sneer at You


Chapter 5. A Physicist Discovers Aesthetics (Georg Maier) [pdf, 65 KB]

About Playing

Chrystal Set

Electric Bell

Chemistry and Physics

You Are No Good at Chemistry

Diploma Thesis

Alternative Research

Neutron Optics at Nuclear Reactors

Watching Waves: An Exercise in Observation

A Search for a Characteristic Gesture for the Reactor Process

Discovering Aesthetics: The Hidden Aim of a Long Journey

Chapter 6. Aesthetics: Appreciating the Appearances (Georg Maier) [pdf, 102 KB]

Appreciating as a Mode of Cognition

Aesthetics: A Mode of Cognition Complementary to Logic

Skilled Expression of the Truth

Aesthetic Cognition Happens During Perception

Levels of Intentional Activity

First Level: Orientation in the Physical Surroundings

Second Level: Meeting an Expressive Whole

Third Level: Accompanying

Three Senses Mediate Aesthetic Cognition

Chapter 7. The Rite of Spring (Stephen Edelglass) [pdf, 20 KB]

Chapter 8. Manifestation from Inside Out (Ronald Brady) [pdf, 522 KB]

“Yes, Somehow the More Beautiful Object is Always the More Intelligible”

Appreciating Some Examples of Historic Architecture


The Evolution of Phenomena

Chapter 9. The World Inside the Human Being is the Inside of Nature [pdf, 45 KB]

(Text by Rudolf Steiner and commentary by Georg Maier)

Chapter 10. Habitats (Georg Maier) [pdf, 71 KB]

Connectedness: A Summary

The Inseparable Connection to the Surroundings


Appearances Resulting from Conditions Cooperating in the Present

Rocks and Minerals

Even Organisms Appear as the Environment Calls for Them


Animals Behave According to “Image Habitats”

Human Detachment from Sense Perception Allows Attachment to Ideals

Nevertheless, We Are Supported by Our Own Singular Biographic Habitats

Outlook: Individual Recognition

Chapter 11. Existence (Georg Maier) [pdf, 54 KB]

Encounters and Their Consequences

Encounters in a Fairy Tale

Existence in Letting the Appearance Appear

Contingent Events

On the Artistic Nature of Tasks

Turning the Inside Out and the Outside In

Chapter 12. Company (Georg Maier) [pdf, 58 KB]

Searching Inside and Outside

Can Habitats Be Recognized as a Reality?

Appreciation: Recognition and Integration

Accompanying and Being Accompanied

Biography as the Work of Company

How the Turn in My Path Came About

Company in a Single Encounter

Company: The Realistic Concept of Society

Chapter 13. Schooling Perception (Stephen Edelglass) [pdf, 39 KB]

Bibliography [pdf, 23 KB]

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