Part 1

Part 2
 § ch3
 § ch4, 4.1
 § ch4, 4.2
 § ch4, 4.3
 § ch4, 4.4
 § ch4, 4.5
 § ch4, 4.6

Part 3
Part 2: The New Biocentric Image of the World
Chapter 4: On the Origins of Life

4.4  The Field as Concept

We need to keep in mind life's basic features, essential to the process of rising ever higher: every highest level of form ultimately attained must have lain in a potential state in the 'Ur' desiderata.

However, the physical process of assuming form, which passes through countless stages and intermediate forms, must take place in a firmly determined sequence of realized material conditions and must be determined by the nature and the properties of both living and non-living matter. That which we call an 'organ' is surely nothing other than a realized function of living; it has its origins with regard to, or rather by adapting to conditions and properties of both the inanimate environment and a combination of environments of some organism.

The instruction, to take on form, present in a 'life-idea' in 'Ur' matter, can only be thought of as follows: the final form ultimately attained by a living being, the goal of the living urge, must have been imprinted on 'Ur' matter by that living urge; it did not show, but remained merely as a tendency in the development of living and worked its way through all its stages, compromising with ever new conditions until the final form was attained. The process can span world epochs, at any rate all the time it takes for possible developments to occur. The target form is a constant, sustained 'living energy field' imprinted on 'Ur' matter, enduring until it is finally fulfilled, throughout the entire process of development, from the original germ-cell, through the intermediate forms, driving on from intermediate forms to intermediate forms up to the final form.

Development means that there is in matter a structure like a tension field and, regardless of the number of transformations that they may undergo, the sections of matter will always be in accord with that structure and seek to 'fulfill' its requirements. We cannot now enter into questions such as how the living field relates to the analogous phenomenon in inanimate matter; how one is to think of it in relation to matter; whether, as O.Goldberg believes, the definition of life presupposes a non-homogeneous space, the locations within which are not mutually interchangeable, where being alive entails being bound to one location; or whether, finally, consciousness can itself be seen as such a field factor in the period of the origins of organisms. What seems undeniable is that a structural field in matter first came about through an interaction between a conscious-like idea of life and living 'Ur' matter. That field is both first and last in the entire course of the phases of development; first, in terms of a simple tension potential; last, in terms of the matter-filled form. The potential must not be thought of as a kind of fixed pastry-cutter, shaping something from outside, but rather as a central impulse, an inner form driving outwards from the centre; intensities of varying ranges link up together into an intensity whole, which is that inner form.

The property of the living field as an inner form qualifies it for the second stage in the development of matter. Here, directions taken towards given ends come up against physical and chemical properties of matter, obstacles that need to be overcome; the means to overcome these have to be built into the physical structuring of life as instruments of life, i.e. as organs.

Matter, seen as separate from life, has its own appearance, its laws and processes and the tendencies towards life have to operate with these. For example, heat is dispersed and levels out throughout inanimate areas of matter and that which is living needs to counteract this process and create an arrangement whereby heat is maintained at a specific, constant level in an organism's space. The first material product of compromise between the field quality and the physical and chemical properties, the physical manifestations of matter, is the germ of an organism. The fact that the germ develops means that the field tendency that affected the germ matter has not ended. The embryonic organism is formed as a result of the interaction; the fully fashioned living form results from the continuing process taking place in the corporeal field; it is the material 'fulfillment' of the inner form. Also that which causes the living being to divide into several individual beings can be understood as a field structure, overarching the individual.

Whether it is a single field that undergoes the entire process or a sequence of structures animated by a single form tension is not something that we can examine here. The sequence of events that we now have is: the origin of a potential form coming from a life idea and 'Ur' matter, the germ organism brought about by the potential form and 'Ur' matter, the germ organism affected by the form tension and developing into an embryonic, and ultimately to a structural end-form . That sequence, which takes place over time, can clarify the idea of the time factor for living beings for us. The living field, affecting the organism in the process of developing, is the constant representative, the constant embodiment of future happenings.

The field is always 'already there', at a point which the material organism, within which the field is contained, has not yet reached in the development of its form. From the location of the organism the field reaches into the future in the same way that my sight offers a target in the future towards which my body is directed and which it 'will' reach. The field also acts as a causal factor - added to other causal factors - in an organism's physical composition at any given moment. Just as my sight acts as a causal factor that is added to the other physical causes enabling my body's direction. The field itself is, of course, present to itself and future to the organism. This underlies the dual level, the dual causality. Since the field is linked to the developing organism, it brings into play a feature characteristic of life: self determination, self driving; whereas, in inanimate nature, there seems to be a more marked separation in field phenomena, a division of the field attribute from the matter it organizes; their relationship is external - movement comes from the 'other', from outside, like iron filings moving towards a magnetic field; that is, if the magnet that stimulates the field were to direct itself towards that field; it would then, indeed, be behaving like something living and it would be determined by something future to itself. On the other hand, something that exists now as a finished form must have been there as form tension from the moment that a living development was set in motion.

From all this it follows that, when we consider the unfolding of life in the world as a whole, everything living, present and in the future must be able to show an equivalent in living that has existed ever since clear forms emerged from living 'Ur' matter. That living counterpart must rank as equal to the entire force of the living 'process' in all of cosmic time. It has two basic aspects: one, it is the immeasurable sum total of energies forming types of life, guaranteeing the never ending renewal of forms and their permanence; two, the dynamic unity of form in everything living. Even if there was a first, single 'Ur' form of every type of life, one is obliged to think that the dynamic unity of form of the great species of life must have existed at the start of those mighty streams of life as real tensions of matter once they were released from living ideas and began their journey out of living 'Ur' matter.