Henri Bortoft

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Peter Henri Bortoft (1938 – 29 December 2012) [1] was a British independent researcher and teacher, lecturer and writer on physics and the philosophy of science. He is best known for his work The Wholeness of Nature, considered a relevant and original recent interpretation of Goethean science. [2] [3] His book Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought was published in 2012.

Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth.

Goethean science concerns the natural philosophy of German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Although primarily known as a literary figure, Goethe did research in morphology, anatomy, and optics. He also developed a phenomenological approach to natural history, an alternative to Enlightenment natural science, which is still debated today among scholars.


Bortoft completed his studies at the University of Hull, [4] and then performed postgraduate research on the foundations of quantum physics at Birkbeck College, where theoretical physicist David Bohm introduced him to the problem of wholeness in quantum theory. Subsequently, Bortoft worked with John G. Bennett on Bennett's Systematics (also known as Multi-Term Systems), which was Bennett's methodology for assisting the systematic and progressive understanding of systems, complexity, and wholeness, and on efforts with Bennett and with Kenneth W. Pledge to develop a formal language that was rigorously descriptive of scientific activity. Those efforts were published in Systematics: The Journal of the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences, listed below.

University of Hull university in Kingston upon Hull, England

The University of Hull is a public research university in Kingston upon Hull, a city in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1927 as University College Hull. The main university campus is located in Hull and is home to the Hull York Medical School, a joint initiative with the University of York. Students are served by Hull University Union.

David Bohm American theoretical physicist

David Joseph Bohm was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.

Holism in science, or holistic science, is an approach to research that emphasizes the study of complex systems. Systems are approached as coherent wholes whose component parts are best understood in context and in relation to one another and to the whole. This practice is in contrast to a purely analytic tradition which aims to gain understanding of systems by dividing them into smaller composing elements and gaining understanding of the system through understanding their elemental properties. The holism-reductionism dichotomy is often evident in conflicting interpretations of experimental findings and in setting priorities for future research.

Bortoft taught physics and philosophy of science at Schumacher College in the framework of the program in Holistic Science. He held numerous lectures and seminars in Great Britain and the United States on the scientific work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and on the development of modern science.

Schumacher College was founded in 1990 by Satish Kumar, John Lane and others, and first opened to students in January 1991 in Dartington, Totnes, Devon, UK. Its first visiting teacher was James Lovelock. It was inspired by E.F. Schumacher, the economist, environmentalist, and development educator and the author of Small is Beautiful. It runs holistic education courses for people concerned with social and environmental issues. It is an initiative of The Dartington Hall Trust.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th/19th-century German writer, artist, and politician

Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His works include four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. In addition, there are numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him extant.

Bortoft died on 29 December 2012 at his home in Matlaske, Norfolk. [5]

Matlaske human settlement in United Kingdom

Matlaske is a village and a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 21.6 miles (34.8 km) North-north-west of Norwich, 9.3 miles (15.0 km) south-west of Cromer and 136 miles (219 km) north-north-east of London. The nearest railway station is at Sheringham for the Bittern Line which runs between Sheringham, Cromer and Norwich. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The parish of Matlask in the 2001 census, a population of 124, increasing to 139 at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of North Norfolk.

Norfolk County of England

Norfolk is a county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and, to the north-west, The Wash. The county town is Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000) and Thetford (25,000).


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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  1. Harding, Stephan; Franses, Philip; Shaw, Patricia (January 2013). "A Tribute to Henri Bortoft". Schumacher College . Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  2. Book review on Wholeness of Nature Archived 2012-04-15 at the Wayback Machine by David Seamon, originally appeared in Parabola, 22, 3 (Fall 1997): 90-91
  3. Book review on The Wholeness of Nature by John Barnes
  4. Henri Bortoft Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  5. Add to Timeline (2013-01-05). "PETER HENRI BORTOFT : Death - FamilyNotices24 - Eastern Daily Press". FamilyNotices24. Retrieved 2013-01-09.