Philosophy and Anthroposophy
18 Aug 1908, Stuttgart
The following pages, entitled “Philosophy and Anthroposophy,” mainly reproduce a lecture which I gave in Stuttgart in 1908.
Under Anthroposophy I denote a scientific investigation of the spiritual world which, while cognizant of the limitations of mere physical science and ordinary mysticism, and before attempting to penetrate into the spiritual world, first develops in the soul faculties not yet evident in ordinary consciousness and science. The development of these faculties renders this advance possible.
A spiritual science of this nature is usually held by accepted philosophy to be an amateurish procedure. In a short description of the evolution of philosophy I attempt to show that this reproach is entirely unjustified. The reproach is only made because contemporary philosophy, having itself erred into false tracks, fails to perceive that the nature of its own origin demands the pursuance of the path which eventually leads to Anthroposophy.
PHILOSOPHY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY
The human soul, under normal conditions of life and development, is liable to encounter two obstacles which must be overcome if the soul would avoid being swept like a rudderless ship on the waves of life. A drifting of this nature produces, in time and by degrees, an inner insecurity eventually culminating in some form of distress, or it may rob a man of the power of rightly disposing himself in the order of the world according to the true laws governing life, thus causing him to disturb and not promote this order.
Knowledge in respect of the human self — that is, self-knowledge — is one of the means of ensuring inner security and our true alignment in the order of life's development. The impulse to self-knowledge is found in every soul; it may be more or less unconscious, but it is always present. It may vent itself in quite indefinite feelings which, welling up from the depths of the soul, create an impression of dissatisfaction with life. Such feelings are often wrongly explained, and their alleviation sought in the outer circumstances of life. Though we are often unconscious of its nature, fear of these feelings obsesses us. If we could overcome this anxiety we should realize that no external measures, but only a thorough knowledge of the human being, can prove helpful. But this thorough knowledge requires that we should really feel the resistance of the two obstacles which human knowledge is liable to encounter when it would enter more deeply into the knowledge of the human being. They consist of two illusions, towering as two cliffs, between which we cannot advance in our pursuit of knowledge until we have experienced their true nature.
These two obstacles are: Natural Science and Mysticism. Both these forms of knowledge appear in a natural way upon the path of human life. But they must be inwardly experienced if they are to prove helpful. Whether or not we can acquire a knowledge of humanity depends upon our developing the strength to reach, indeed, both obstacles, but not to remain stationary before them. When confronted by them, we must still retain sufficient detachment to be able to say to ourselves: neither method can lead our soul whither we would go. But this insight can only result from a true inner experience of their cognitive value. We must not shrink from really experiencing their nature; in order to realize thereby that we endow them with their true value by first advancing beyond them. We must seek access to both methods of knowledge; once we have found them, the way of escape from them becomes apparent. The belief that true reality is grasped by Natural Science is revealed, to an unprejudiced insight, to be an illusion. A normal feeling of our own human reality produces quite a definite experience. The latter is intensified the more we tend to apply Natural Science to the comprehension of our own human self. Man as a natural product consists of a sum of natural operations. It may become an ideal of knowledge to comprehend man in the light of the operative forces observed in the realm of Nature. With genuine Natural Science this ideal is justifiable. It may also be admitted that an incalculably distant future will reveal the method of development according to natural law of the miraculous human organization. Efforts in this direction must be accepted as the rightful ideal of Natural Science. Yet it is essential that we should, in the face of this rightful ideal, press forward to an insight promoted by a sound feeling of reality. We must inwardly experience how the results offered us by Natural Science become increasingly foreign to all our inner experience of reality. The more perfect the results, the more foreign are they felt to be to our inner life, with its thirst for knowledge. True to its ideal, Natural Science is bound to offer us material substances; yet, if inwardly unbiased, we cannot avoid finally encountering the difficulty experienced by Du Bois-Reymond, when he asserted, in his famous lecture on the “Boundaries of Natural Science,” that human knowledge would never grapple with the phenomenon haunting space in the guise of matter. To devote all suitable faculties to the pursuit of Natural Science is a sound experience, but we should at the same time feel that the distance between ourselves and reality is not thereby lessened, but increased. The results of Natural Science should give us occasion to make this experience. We must observe that they do not result from comprehension or feeling, and we shall reach the point of admitting that we do not, in truth, devote ourselves to Natural Science in order to draw nearer to reality; we believe this to be the case in our conscious self, but the unconscious origin of our efforts must have an altogether different significance — a significance for human life, into which we must inquire. Knowledge of true reality does not coincide with knowledge of Nature. This insight can prove a turning point in the life of our soul. The knowledge is brought home to us through inner experience that we were bound to follow the course of Natural Science, but that we were disappointed in the expectations raised by our diligent pursuit. This recognition is the final result of genuine experience and insight into the natural processes. We then abandon the belief that Natural Science, however perfect its future development, can supply us with the knowledge of the human being. Not to have reached this standpoint and still to cherish the hope that ideal natural scientific knowledge can enlighten us concerning our own being, is a sign that we have not sufficiently advanced in the experiences that are possible within the scope of Natural Science itself.
This is the first obstacle against which we strike in our effort to attain knowledge of the human being. Many a thinker has felt the thrust on this side, and has faced about towards Mysticism and mystical immersion in the inner self. A certain progress can also be made in this direction, in the belief that actual reality, or something in the nature of unity with the primordial fount of all Being, can be inwardly experienced. If, however, we press on far enough to destroy the force of illusion, we become aware that however deep the immersion in the inner self, this experience leaves us helpless in the face of reality. With however powerful a grip we may be induced to feel that we have seized primal being, this inner experience finally proves to be some effect of an unknown being; we remain incapable of laying hold on true reality and retaining it. The mystic pursuing this path discovers that he has inwardly abandoned the true reality which he seeks and cannot draw near it again.
The natural scientist reaches an outer world which illudes his inner life. The mystic, while seeking to grasp an outer world reaches an inner life which sinks into the void.
Our experiences, on the one hand with Natural Science and on the other with Mysticism, proved to be no fulfillment of our efforts to find reality, but merely the starting-point of our path, for we are shown the chasm that yawns between material occurrence and the inner life of the soul; we are led to see this chasm and to gain the insight that, in respect of true and genuine knowledge, neither Natural Science nor mere Mysticism is capable of bridging it. The perception of this chasm leads us to seek an insight into reality by filling the gap with cognitional experiences which are not yet forthcoming in ordinary consciousness, but must be developed. With true experience of Natural Science and Mysticism, we must admit that another form of knowledge must be sought in addition to these — a knowledge that brings the material outer world nearer to our inner life, and at the same time immerses our inner life more deeply into the real world than this can be the case with Mysticism.
A cognitional method of this nature can be called anthroposophical, and the knowledge of reality thereby attained, Anthroposophy; for at the outset, true and genuine Man (anthropos) is held to be concealed behind the “man” revealed by Natural Science and the inner life of everyday consciousness. This true and genuine Man makes his presence felt in dim feelings, in the more unconscious life of the soul. Anthroposophical research raises him into consciousness. Anthroposophy does not lead away from reality to an unreal imaginary world; it embodies the search for a cognitional method in response to which the real world will reveal itself. With due experience of Natural Science and the Mysticism confined to ordinary consciousness, Anthroposophy presses forward to the perception that a new consciousness must be developed, issuing from ordinary consciousness as, for instance, waking from the dull dream consciousness. Thus the cognitional process becomes for Anthroposophy a real inner occurrence extending beyond ordinary consciousness, whereas Natural Science is nothing but logical judgment and inference within the confines of ordinary consciousness, on the basis of outwardly given material reality, and Mysticism only a deepened inner life which, however, remains within the pale of ordinary consciousness.
In calling attention, at the present day, to the fact that an inwardly real cognitional process and an anthroposophical knowledge exist, habits of thought are encountered whose origin is due, on the one hand, to Natural Science with its wonderful achievements and great expansion, and to certain mystical prejudices on the other. Thus Anthroposophy is repudiated upon the one side for supposedly not doing justice to Natural Science, while upon the other it appears superfluous to the mystically inclined, who believe they can themselves take their stand upon true reality. Others, who aim at keeping “genuine” knowledge free from everything that extends beyond ordinary consciousness, hold that Anthroposophy disowns the true scientific character which philosophy, for instance, and its knowledge of the world should retain, and therefore lapses into dilettantism.
The following exposition will prove how little this reproach of dilettantism (especially at the hands of philosophy) is justified. A short sketch of its development will show how often philosophy has estranged itself from true reality, through not perceiving the very two cognitional obstacles alluded to above, and how an unconscious impulse is at the root of all philosophical effort to steer between these obstacles and strive for Anthroposophy. (I have dealt at greater length with this tendency of all philosophy towards Anthroposophy in my book Die Rätsel der Philosophie.
Philosophy is generally regarded by those concerned therewith as something absolute, and not as something which was bound to come into existence, under particular conditions, in the course of the development of mankind, and be subject to transformation. Many an erroneous view of its true nature is current. It is however precisely when dealing with philosophy that we are in a position to name the period when it originated (and must have originated) in the course of human development — not merely through inner experience, but also on the basis of external historical documents. Most exponents of the history of philosophy, especially of the older school, have estimated this period fairly correctly. In all such presentations we find that a beginning is made with Thales, and the course of philosophy traced from him onwards in continuity down to our times. Some modern writers on the history of philosophy, aiming at unusual comprehensiveness and perspicacity, have placed the beginning of philosophy in still earlier times, drawing upon the various teachings of ancient wisdom. This, however, is only due to a particular form of dilettantism wholly ignorant of the fact that all the teachings of Indian, Egyptian, and Chaldean wisdom were entirely different, both in respect of method and origin, from purely philosophical thought with its leaning towards the speculative. The latter developed in the world of Greece, and there the first thinker to be considered in this sense is, in fact, Thales.
We need not describe at length the characteristics of the various Greek philosophers, beginning with Thales; we need not dwell on Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Anaximenes, or yet on Socrates and Plato. We may begin at once with that personality who appears as the very first philosopher in the narrowest sense, the philosopher par excellence — Aristotle. All other philosophies were in reality but abstractions inspired by the wisdom of the Mysteries; in the case of Thales and Heraclitus, for instance, this could easily be shown.1Under “Wisdom of the Mysteries” a wisdom is meant which flourished in ancient times, and differed essentially from later methods of knowledge. Its origin as an inner experience of the soul whereby the secrets of the Cosmos were revealed. During the sixth century B.C., this method of knowledge was succeeded by another which, rejecting the inner experience of the soul, sought to gain an understanding of the world by the rational observation of the physical and spiritual phenomena. The inner vision of the more ancient method was sustained by an instinctive logic. In the following period logical thought became to an increasing extent a conscious faculty. Intuitive vision disappeared and the wisdom of the Mysteries was succeeded by philosophical speculation. The philosophers of the earliest period, however, were acquainted with the wisdom of the Mysteries, either through inner vision (if they still retained this faculty) or through tradition, and applied to it the newly evolving faculty of rational thought. The reader will find a description of this historical transition in the author's Die Rätsel der Philosophie
Neither Plato nor Pythagoras is a philosopher in the real sense of the word, seership being the source from which both of them draw. The chief interest in a characterization of philosophy as such does not centre round the fact that someone or other expresses himself in ideas, but round the question where the sources from which he draws are to be found. Pythagoras drew from the wisdom of the Mysteries, which he translated into concepts and ideas. He was a seer, only he expressed his experiences as seer in philosophic form; and the same was the case with Plato.
But the essential characteristic of the philosopher, manifested for the first time in Aristotle, is the fact that he necessarily rejects all other sources (or has no access to them), and works exclusively with the technique of ideas. And since this may be said for the first time of Aristotle, it is not without good historical reason that it should be precisely this philosopher who founded logic and the science, of thought. All other efforts in this direction had been of a precursory nature only. The way and the manner in which concepts and judgments are formed and conclusions drawn this entire range of mental activity was discovered by Aristotle as a kind of natural history of subjective thought, and everything we meet within him is closely connected with this inauguration of the technique of thought. As we shall revert to certain points in connection with Aristotle which are of fundamental importance for all later aspects of the subject, this short historical indication will suffice to characterize in a few words the point from which we depart. Aristotle remains the representative philosopher for later times also. His achievements were not only embodied in the post-Aristotelian period of antiquity, up to the founding of Christianity, but he was regarded most especially in the first Christian period and onward into the Middle Ages as that philosopher in whom direction was to be sought in all efforts to formulate a conception of the universe. By this we do not mean that men had Aristotle's philosophy before them as a system, as a collection of dogmas — especially in the Middle Ages, when the original texts were not obtainable; but thinkers had become familiar with the process of applying the technique of pure thought and thereby ascending step by step to knowledge, up to the point where thought encompasses the fundamental problems of life. Aristotle became to an increasing extent the Master of Logic. The medieval thinkers would say to themselves: whatever be the source of the knowledge of positive facts, be it due to man's investigation of the outer world by means of his senses, or be it due to revelation by means of divine Grace, as through Christ Jesus, these things have simply to be accepted, on the one hand as the deposition of the senses, and on the other as revelation. But if any matter, however given, is to be substantiated by a purely conceptual process, this must be done with that technique of thinking which Aristotle discovered. And, in fact, the inauguration of the technique of thinking was achieved by Aristotle in so signal a fashion that Kant was but right in declaring that, since Aristotle, logic had not advanced by so much as a single sentence. 2Little or no weight can be laid on the objections raised against this statement of Kant in certain quarters. Indeed, this statement is in all essentials true of the present day; the fundamental teachings embodying a logical system of thought will be found today almost unaltered, if compared with what Aristotle set down. The additions made today are due to a somewhat mistaken attitude, prevalent even in philosophical circles, towards the conception of logic.
Now it was not merely the study, of Aristotle, but above all the assimilation of his technique of thinking, that became the standard of the central period of the Middle Ages, or the early Scholastic period, when Scholasticism was at its prime — a period which came to a close with St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. When mention is made of this early Scholasticism, it should be clearly understood that no philosophical judgment is possible at the present time in this connection, unless we are unhampered by all authority and dogmatic belief. It is indeed almost more difficult nowadays to speak of these things purely objectively, than disparagingly; for if we speak of Scholasticism with disparagement, we run no risk of being charged with heresy by the so-called freethinkers; but if we speak purely objectively, it is highly probable we shall be misunderstood, because a positive and most intolerant ecclesiastical movement of the present day often bases — its appeal upon totally misunderstood Thomism. There is no question of discussing here what is accepted by orthodox Catholic philosophy; neither should we be intimidated by the possible reproach of being concerned with what is professed and determined in dogmatic quarters. Let us rather be undisturbed by what may be asserted on the right and on the left, and simply seek to characterize what Scholasticism in its prime felt of science, the technique of thinking and supernatural revelation. Early Scholasticism does not bear the character attributed to it in a ready-made modern definition. Far from being dualistic in nature, as many imagine, it is pure Monism. It sees the world's primal source as an undoubted unity; only the Scholastic has a particular feeling with regard to the perception of this primal being. He says: there exists a certain fund of supersensible truth, a store of wisdom which was revealed to mankind; human thought with all its technique falls short of penetrating, of itself, into those regions which embody the content of the highest revealed wisdom. The early Scholastic appealed to a certain fund of wisdom which transcends the technique of thinking; that is, it is only in so far attainable as thought is capable of elucidating the wisdom which has been revealed. This portion of the Wisdom must be accepted by the thinkers as revelation, and the technique of thinking merely applied for its elucidation. What man can evolve from his inner self has its being only in certain subordinate regions of reality, and here the Scholastic applies active thought for the personal investigation of man. He presses forward up to a certain boundary where revealed wisdom meets him. Thus the content of personal research and revelation becomes united in an objective, unified, and monistic conception of the universe. That a kind of dualism, owing to human limitations, is associated with the matter is only of secondary importance; this is a dualism in cognition and not a dualism in the world whole.
The Scholastic, therefore, pronounces the technique of thinking to be suitable for the rational elaboration of the material gathered by empirical science in sense-observation; further, it may press forward a stage, even up to spiritual truth. Here the Scholastic, in all humility, presents a portion of wisdom as Revelation, which he cannot himself discover, but which he is called upon to accept.
Now this special technique of thinking, as applied by the Scholastics, sprang entirely from the soil of Aristotelian logic. There was, in fact, a twofold necessity for the early Scholastics (whose period drew to its close in the thirteenth century) to concern themselves with Aristotle. The first necessity was provided by historical evolution. Aristotelianism had become a permanency. The second arose from the fact that, as time went on, an enemy to Christianity sprang up in another quarter.
The teachings of Aristotle did not expand to Western countries only, but also to the East; and everything that had been brought by the Arabs into Europe by way of Spain was, in respect of thought technique, saturated with Aristotelianism. It was a certain form of philosophy, in particular of Natural Science, extending into Medicine, which had been brought over, and which was eminently saturated with Aristotelian technique of thinking. Now the belief had grown in that quarter that nothing but a kind of Pantheism could be the consistent outcome of Aristotelianism — a Pantheism which, particularly in philosophy, had evolved from a very vague Mysticism.
There was, therefore, in addition to the fact that Aristotle's influence was still paramount in the technique of thinking, yet another reason for men to concern themselves with his teachings, for in the interpretation placed upon him by the Arabs, Aristotle is made to appear as the opponent and foe of Christianity.
It had to be admitted that if the Arabian interpretation of Aristotelianism were true, the latter could provide a scientific basis adapted for the refutation of Christianity. Now let us imagine what the Scholastics felt in this extremity. Upon the one side they adhered firmly to the truth of Christianity, yet upon the other they were bound by all their traditions to acknowledge that the logic and the thought technique of Aristotle were alone right and true. Placed in this dilemma, the Scholastics were faced by the task of proving that Aristotle's logic could be applied and his philosophy professed, and that it was exactly he, Aristotle, who provided the very instrument by means of which Christianity would be really conceived and understood. It was a task imposed by the trend of historical development.
Aristotelianism had to be handled in such a way as to make it evident that the teaching brought by the Arabs was not Aristotle's, but only a mistaken conception thereof; that, in short, one had but to interpret Aristotle correctly in order to find in his teaching a basis for the conception of Christianity. This was the task Scholasticism set itself, to the achievement of which the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas were largely devoted.
Now, however, something else happened. When the day of Scholasticism had drawn to its close, there occurred in course of time a complete rupture along the whole line of logical and philosophical thought-evolution. No criticism is here intended of this fact; we do not wish even to suggest that it could have happened otherwise; the actual course taken was necessarily such as it was, and we merely put the case hypothetically when we say that the most natural thing would have been to have increasingly expanded the technique of thinking, so that ever higher and higher portions of the supersensible world should have been grasped by thought. But the next development was not of this nature. The fundamental conceptions, which, with St. Thomas Aquinas for instance, were applicable to the highest regions, and which could have received such development that the boundaries restricting human research would have receded ever farther and upwards into the supersensible regions — this body of thought was robbed of its power and possibility, and survived only in the conviction that the highest spiritual truths transcend altogether the activity of human thought and are beyond elaboration by concepts which man can evolve from himself. By such means a break in man's spiritual life occurred. Supersensible knowledge was pronounced to be entirely beyond the compass of human thought and to be unattainable by subjective cognitional nets; it must have its roots in faith. There had always been a tendency in this direction, but it ran to extremes towards the close of the Middle Ages.
Pains were taken to accentuate the breach between faith on the one hand, which must be attained by objective conviction, and, on the other hand, whatever logical activity can elaborate as the basis of a sound judgment.
Once this chasm was opened, it was only natural that knowledge and faith should be increasingly thrust asunder and that Aristotle and his technique of thinking should also become the victims of this breach occasioned by historical development. This was more especially the case at the beginning of the modern era. It was maintained on the scientific side (and we may consider many of the statements as well founded) that no progress could be made in the search for empirical truth by merely spinning out what Aristotle had placed on record. Furthermore, the trend of historical events was such that it became inadvisable to make common cause with the Aristotelians; and as the era of Kepler and Galileo drew near, mistaken Aristotelianism had become the very bane of knowledge.
It repeatedly happens that the adherents and followers of some particular philosophy of the universe corrupt an uncommon amount of the teaching which the founders themselves presented in the right way. Instead of looking to Nature herself, instead of exercising the faculty of observation, it was found easier at the end of the Middle Ages to have recourse to the old books of Aristotle and base all academic dissertations on his written word. It was characteristic of the epoch that when an orthodox Aristotelian was invited to convince himself by inspecting a dead body, that the nerves do not proceed from the heart, as he had mistakenly gathered from Aristotle, but that the nervous system has its centre in the brain the Aristotelian replied: “Observation certainly shows me that this is actually the case, but Aristotle states the reverse, and I have greater faith in him.” The followers of Aristotle had, in fact, become a grievance; empirical science was bound to make a clearance of this false Aristotelianism, basing its authority on pure experience, and we find a particularly strong impulse in the direction given by the great Galileo.
On the other side we see an entirely different development. An aversion to the technique of thinking was felt by those who, so to speak, sought to save their faith from this invasion of independent thought. They were of the opinion that this technique of thinking was powerless when faced by the fund of wisdom acquired through revelation. When the worldly empirics invoked the book of Aristotle, their opponents confronted them with arguments gathered from a different but equally misunderstood book — namely, the Bible. This was more particularly the case at the beginning of the modern era, as we may gather from Luther's hard words; “Reason is deaf and purblind fool” that should have naught to do with spiritual truths, adding further that pure faith by conviction can never be kindled by reason in a thought founded upon Aristotle, whom he calls “hypocrite, sycophant, and stinking goat.” These are, indeed, hard words; but when considered from the standpoint of the new era, they may be better understood. A deep chasm had opened between reason and its technique of thinking on the one hand, and supersensible truth on the other. A final expression of this break is found in a philosopher through whose influence the nineteenth century has become entangled in a web from which it can only with difficulty extricate itself. This philosopher is Kant. He is, virtually, the last representative thinker whose methods can be traced to that division which occurred in the Middle Ages. He differentiates sharply between faith and that knowledge which man may claim to attain. Externally the Critique of Pure Reason is associated with the Critique of Practical Reason, and Practical Reason seeks to handle the problem of Knowledge from the standpoint of rational faith. On the other hand Kant asserts most emphatically of Theoretical Reason that it is incapable of comprehending the Actual, the “thing-in-itself.” Man receives impressions from the thing-in-itself, but he is circumscribed by his own ideas and conceptions. We could not describe Kant's fundamental error without going deeply into the nature of his philosophy and its history; but this would lead too far from the present subject, moreover the reader will find the question adequately treated in my Truth and Science.
What is of far greater interest to us at the present moment is this web in the meshes of which the philosophical thought of the nineteenth century has become entangled. Let us examine how this came about. Kant was especially alive to the necessity of demonstrating to what extent something absolute was given us in thought, something in which there could be no uncertainty, as against the uncertainty, according to him, of everything which proceeds from experience. Our judgment can only derive certainty from the fact that a portion of knowledge does not originate with external things, but with ourselves. In the Kantian sense, we see external things as through a coloured glass; we receive them into ourselves, grouping them according to lawful connections which we ourselves evolve. Our cognition has certain forms — the forms of space, time, the categories of cause and effect, and so on. These are immaterial for the thing-in-itself, at least we cannot know whether the thing-in-itself has any existence in space, time, or causality. The latter are forms created by the subjective mind of man and imposed upon the thing-in-itself the moment of its appearing; the thing-in-itself remains unknown. Thus when man finds the thing-in-itself before him, he endows it with the forms of space and time, and finds an apparent association of cause and effect, thus enveloping the thing-in-itself with a self-made network of concepts and forms. For this reason man may claim a certain security of knowledge, since, as long as he is as he is, time, space, and causality possess actual significance for him. And whatever man thrusts into the things he must also extract from them. Of the thing-in-itself, however, he can have no knowledge, for he remains ever a captive of the forms of his own mind. This view was finally expressed by Schopenhauer in his classical formula; “The world is my conception.”
Now this entire process of reasoning has been transmitted to almost the entire thought of the nineteenth century; not only to the theory of knowledge, but also, for instance, to the theoretical principles of Physiology. Here philosophical speculation was amplified by certain experiences. If we consider the doctrine of the specific energies of the senses, there would seem to be a corroboration of the Kantian theory. At all events that is how the matter was recorded during the nineteenth century. “The eye perceives the light”; yet, if the eye be affected by some other means, say by pressure or by electric current, a perception of light is also recorded. Hence it was said: the perception of the light is generated by the specific energy of the eye and transferred to the thing-in-itself. It was Helmholtz in particular who laid this down in the crudest manner as a physiological-philosophical axiom, declaring that not even a pictorial resemblance can be claimed between our perceptions and the objects exterior to ourselves. A picture resembles its prototype, but in so called sense-perception the resemblance to the original cannot be so close as even in a picture. The only designation, therefore, we can find for the experience within ourselves is “symbol” of the thing-in-itself, for a symbol need have no resemblance to the thing it expresses.
Thus the philosophical thought of the nineteenth century, until the present day, became thoroughly impregnated with elements which had long been in preparation, so that the relation of human cognition to reality could not be conceived except in the sense of the ideas given above. I often recall a conversation I had the privilege of having years ago with a highly esteemed philosophical thinker of the nineteenth century, with whose views, however, on the theory of knowledge I could by no means agree. To qualify human conceived thought as purely subjective was, I urged, a cognitional assertion which should not be assumed a priori. He replied that one need only bear in mind the definition of the word “conception,” which pronounces the latter to exist only in the soul; but since reality is only given us by means of conceptions, it follows that we have no reality in the act of cognition, but only a conception thereof. This truly ingenious thinker had allowed a preconceived opinion to condense to a definition (which, for him, was indisputable), to the effect that conceptual thought reaches only as far as the boundary of the thing-in-itself, and is, therefore, subjective. This habit of thought has become so predominant in the course of time that all writers on the theory of cognition who pride themselves on understanding Kant, consider every man a dullard who will not agree with their definition of conceptual thought and the subjective nature of apprehension. All this has resulted from the split which I have described as occurring in the spiritual development of mankind.
Now a real understanding of Aristotle enables us to find that an entirely different principle and theory of cognition might have resulted from a direct, that is, from an undistorted, development of his teaching. In the matter of the theory of knowledge, Aristotle already admitted ideas to which man today can but slowly and gradually ascend through the intellectualistic undergrowth which is the outcome of Kant's influence. We must, above all things, realize that Aristotle, by means of his technique of thinking, was able to elaborate true concepts capable of transcending those limits which were imposed upon knowledge in the way described above.
We need only concern ourselves with a few of Aristotle's fundamental conceptions in order to recognize this. It is entirely in conformity with him to say: Our initial knowledge of the things which we apprehend around us is provided by our sense-perception. Sense presents to us the individual thing. When we, however, begin to think, the things group themselves; we gather diverse things into a unit of thought. Here Aristotle finds the right connection between this unity of thought and an objective reality (which, leads to the thing-in-itself), in showing that if we think consistently we must conceive the world of experience around us as composed of “matter” and what he terms “form” — two concepts which he genuinely differentiates in the only true and possible sense. It would entail a lengthy exposition to treat exhaustively of these concepts and all they involve; some elementary notions, however, in this connection will help us to understand Aristotle's teaching of “matter” and “form” as differentiated by him. He clearly realizes that, in respect of our cognition, it is essential that we should grasp the “form” of all things which constitute our world of experience, since it is the form which is the vital principle of things, and not matter.
There are even in our day personalities endowed with a true comprehension of Aristotle. Vincent Knauer, who in the 'eighties was lecturer at the University of Vienna, was in the habit of explaining to his hearers the difference between form and matter by means of an illustration which may, perhaps, appear grotesque, but is none the less pertinent. “Think,” he said, “how a wolf, after eating nothing but lambs for a part of his life, consists, strictly speaking, of nothing but lamb — and yet this wolf never becomes a lamb!” This argument, if only rightly followed up, gives the difference between matter and form. Is the wolf a wolf by reason of matter? No! His being is given him by his form, and we find this “wolf-form” not only in this particular wolf, but in all wolves. Thus we find form by means of a concept expressing a universal, in contradistinction to the thing grasped by the senses, which is always particular and single. Our thought moves altogether along Aristotelian lines, if we, like the Scholastics, exert ourselves to conceive the nature of form by dividing the universal into three kinds. The universal, as essence of the form, is conceived by the Scholastics, firstly as pre-existent to all operation and life of the form in the single thing; secondly as permeating the single thing with life and activity; thirdly, they found that the human soul, by observing the things inwardly, endows the universal form with life in a manner consistent with its (the soul's) nature. The philosophers, accordingly, differentiated the universal that lives in the thing and comes to expression in human cognition, in the following way:
1. Universalia ante rem: the essence of the form before its incorporation in the single thing.
2. Universalia in re: the essential forms existent in the things.
3. Universalia post rem: these essential forms abstracted from the things and appearing in cognition as an inner experience of the soul, through the reciprocal relation of the soul to the things.
Until we approach this threefold difference, no genuine insight is possible, in this connection, into what is here of importance. For only consider for a moment what is involved. The insight is involved that man, in so far as he remains within the universalia post rem, is confined to a subjective element. Further (and this is especially important), that the concept in the soul is a “representation” of universally existent real forms (Entelechies). The latter (universalia in re) have incorporated themselves in the things, thanks to their having previously existed as universalia ante rem.
A purely spiritual form of existence must be attributed to the universal essences before their incorporation in the single things. The conception of such essential universalia ante rem will naturally appear as a fanciful abstraction in the eyes of those for whom only the world of sensible objects is real. But it is of essential importance that an inner experience should induce us to accept this conception. That experience is meant, thanks to which the general concept “wolf” is not merely regarded as a condensation, effected by the intellect, of all the various single wolves, but is perceived as a spiritual reality extending beyond the single thing. This spiritual reality enables us to recognize difference between animal and man in a genuinely spiritual sense. What is inherent in the species “wolf” does not find its realization in the single wolf, but in the totality of these single wolves. In man, an entity of soul and spirit is immediately revealed in the individual, whereas, in animals, only through the species, in the totality of the individuals. Or, in Aristotelian terminology with individual man the “form” finds its immediate expression in the physical human being; in the animal world the “form,” as such, remains in a supersensible region and extends itself along the line of development comprising all the individuals of the same “form.” It is permissible, in the sense of Aristotelianism, to speak of “group-souls” (the souls of kind or species) in the case of animals, and of individual souls in the case of man. If we succeed in acquiring an inner experience in the light of which the above distinction becomes equivalent to a perceived reality, we have advanced one step farther on the path of knowledge, along which Aristotelianism and Scholasticism had only progressed as far as the technique of concepts and ideas. Anthroposophical Spiritual Science seeks to prove that the above experience can be acquired. The “forms” are then not merely the outcome of conceptual differentiation, but the object of supersensible vision. The group-souls of the animals and the individual souls of men are perceived as beings of similar kind. This entire process is perceived as physical reality is perceived by the senses. The method by which Anthroposophical Spiritual Science seeks to acquire this experience will be indicated in the course of this treatise. At this point the writer's intention was to show how ideas within the range of Aristotelian doctrine can be found to corroborate Anthroposophy. There is, however, in addition to all that we have met with in Aristotle, something which finds less and less favour in modern times. We are required to exert ourselves to think in concise, finely chiseled concepts, in concepts which we have first carefully prepared. It is necessary that we should have the patience to advance from concept to concept, and above all things cultivate clarity and keenness of thought; that we should be aware of what we are speaking when we frame a conception. If, for instance, we speak, in the Scholastic sense, of the relation of a concept to that which it represents, we are required in the first place to work our way through lengthy definitions in the Scholastic writings. We must understand what is meant when we find it stated that the concept is grounded “formally” in the subject and “fundamentally” in the object; the particular form of the concept is derived from the subject and its content from the object. That is but a small, quite a small, example. The study of Scholastic works involves labouring through massive volumes of definitions most unpleasant task for the scientist of today; for this reason he looks upon the Scholastics as learned pedants and condemns them downright. He is totally unaware that true Scholasticism is naught but the detailed elaboration of the art of thinking, in order that thought may provide a foundation for the genuine comprehension of reality.
It is of course far easier to bring a few ready-made conceptions to bear upon everything that confronts us in the nature of higher reality — far easier than to construct a firm foundation in the sphere of thought. But what are the consequent results? Philosophic books of the present day leave one with a dubious impression: men no longer understand each other on higher questions; they are not clear in their own minds as to the nature and scope of their conceptions. This could not have happened in the days of the Scholastics, for thinkers of that period were necessarily acquainted with the aspect of every concept they used. A way of penetrating to the depths of a genuine thought-method was clearly in existence, and, had this path been duly pursued, no entanglement in the web of Kant's “thing-in-itself,” and the (supposedly subjective) conception thereof, would have been possible. On the contrary, two results would have been attained. In the first place, man would have achieved an inwardly sound theory of knowledge; secondly (and this is of great importance), the great philosophers who lived and worked after Kant would not have been so completely misunderstood in accepted philosophical circles. Kant was succeeded by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; what are they to the man of today? They are held to be philosophers who sought to fashion a world from purely abstract concepts. This was never their intention.3The author is well acquainted with certain modern philosophic works in which reference is made to Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel with a view to obtaining direction from the utterances of these thinkers. But he finds such treatises deficient in a point of vital importance for the philosophers in question, namely as regards their attitude towards a spiritual reality which must be experienced in the soul. A mere reference to the abstract logical element in their philosophy falls short of attaining the vital principle therein.
But Kant's principles of thought were the dominating influence and prevented the greatest philosopher in the world being understood. People will only by degrees ripen an understanding of all that Hegel has given to the world; only when they have east off this hampering web of theories and cognitional phantoms. Yet this would be so simple! No more is necessary than the effort to think naturally and without constraint, rejecting the set habits of thought which have developed under the questionable influence of the Kantian school. The question must clearly be settled whether man (as proceeding from the subject) encompasses the object with a conception which he himself constructs within that subject. But does it necessarily follow that man is unable to penetrate into the “thing-in-itself?” Let me give a simple example. Imagine, for instance, that you have a seal bearing the name of Miller. Now press the seal on some sealing-wax and again remove it. There can be no doubt, I take it, that the seal being, let us say, of brass, no property of the brass will pass over into the wax. Were the sealing-wax to exercise the function of cognition in the Kantian sense, it would say: “I am entirely wax; no brass passes over into me, there is therefore no connection whereby I may learn the nature of that which has approached me.” And yet the point in question has in this case been entirely neglected — namely, the fact that the name “Miller” remains objectively imprinted upon the sealing-wax, without any portion of the brass having adhered to it. So long as people cling to the materialistic principle of thought that no connection is possible unless matter passes over from one to the other, they will in theory maintain: “I am sealing-wax and the other is brass-in-itself, and since none of the brass-in-itself can enter me, therefore the name of Miller can be no more than a sign. But the thing-in-itself which was in the seal and which has impressed itself upon me so that I can read it, this thing-in-itself remains forever unknown to me.” With this final formula the argument is clenched. Continuing the illustration, we might say: “Man is all wax (conception). The thing-in-itself is all seal (that which is exterior to the conception). Now since I, being wax (the subject conceiving), can but attain to the outer surface of the seal (the thing-in-itself), I remain within myself and nothing passes into me from the thing-in-itself.” So long as Materialism is allowed to encroach upon the theory of knowledge, no understanding is possible of what is here of importance. 4It clearly follows that the term “Materialism” must be used far more comprehensively than is usually the case. A man is a “materialist” when his method of thought constrains him to believe that the real thing-in-itself remains external to his soul, because no portion of its “matter” is transmitted. He is a materialist even though he deem himself an idealist for admitting the soul, as such. And it is to a masked materialism that Kant's doctrine can be traced. Viewed in this light, the modern claim that “Science has superseded nineteenth-century materialism” appears in all its hollowness. On the contrary, Science, failing to recognize materialistic thought as such, has plunged still deeper into Materialism.
It is true that we are limited by our own conception, but the element that reaches us from outer reality is of purely spiritual nature, and is not dependent upon the transmission of material atoms. What passes over into the subject is not of material but of spiritual nature, as truly as the name Miller passes into the wax. This must be the starting-point of a sound theory and investigation of knowledge, and it will soon become apparent to what extent Materialism has gained a footing even in philosophical thought. An unbiased review of the state of affairs leaves us no alternative but to conclude that Kant could only conceive the “thing-in-itself” as matter, however grotesque this may seem at first sight. For the sake of a complete survey of the subject we must new touch upon another point. We have explained how Aristotle distinguished between “form” and “matter” in all things within our range of experience. Now if the process of cognition allows us to approach the “form” in the manner indicated above, the question arises to what extent is a similar approach possible in the direction of “matter.” It must be noted that, for Aristotle, matter was not synonymous with material substance, but comprised the spiritual element underlying the world, of physical reality. It is therefore possible not only to comprehend the spiritual element that reaches us from external things,* but also to seek immediate access to the things and identify ourselves with matter. This question is also of importance for the theory of knowledge, and can be answered only by one who has gone deeply into the nature of thought, that is, of pure thought. The concept of “pure thought” is one which we must be at pains to acquire. Following Aristotle, we may look upon pure thought as an actual process. It is pure form and, in its initial mode of existence, void of content as far as the single, individual things of the external physical world are concerned. Why? Let us make it clear how pure conception comes into being in contradistinction to perception through the senses. Let us imagine we wish to form the conception of a circle. We can, for this purpose, put out to sea until we see nothing but water around: this perception can provide the conception of a circle. There is another way, however, of arriving at the conception of a circle without appealing to the senses. I can construct, in thought, the sum of all places which are equidistant from one particular spot. No appeal to the senses is necessary for this exclusively internal thought-process; it is unquestionably pure thought in the Aristotelian sense; pure actuality.
And now a further significant fact presents itself. Pure thought thus conceived harmonizes with experience; it is indispensable for the comprehension of experience. Imagine Kepler evolving, by means of pure constructive thought, a system in which the elliptical courses of the planets are shown, with the sun in the focus, and then observation, by means of the telescope, subsequently confirming an effort of pure thought conceived in advance of experience. Pure thought is thus shown to possess significance for reality — for it harmonizes therewith. Kepler's method affords a practical illustration of the theories which Aristotelianism founded upon the science of knowledge. The universalia post rem are grasped, and, upon nearer approach, it is found that they became united with the things in a previous form, as universalia ante rem. Now if these universals are not perverted in the sense of a false theory of knowledge, if they are not made to appear as subjective notions, but are found to exist objectively in the things, it follows that they must first have become united with that “form” conceived by Aristotle as the underlying foundation of the world.
Thus the discovery is made that the apparently most subjective activity (when something is determined independently of all experience) provides the very means for attaining reality in the most objective manner possible.
Now what is the reason why human thought, in so far as it is subjective, cannot at first find free access to the world? The reason is that it finds its way obstructed by the “thing-in-itself.” When we construct a circle we live in the process itself, if only formally to begin with. Now the next question is: To what extent can subjective thought lead to the attainment of any permanent reality? As we have pointed out, subjective thought is, in the first place, expressly constructed by ourselves; it is of merely formal nature and, as far as the objective world is concerned, has the appearance of an extraneous addition. We are indeed justified in claiming that it is a matter of complete indifference to any existing circle or sphere whether our thought concerns itself therewith or not. My thought is brought externally to bear upon reality, and is of no concern to the world of experience around me. The latter exists in its own accord irrespective of my thought. It can therefore follow that our thought may possess objectivity for ourselves, yet be of no moment for the things. What is the solution of this apparent contradiction? Where is the other pole to which we must now have recourse? Can a way be found, within pure thought to create not only form, but together with form its material reality? As soon as the possibility is given of a simultaneous creation of form and matter a point of security is reached upon which the theory of knowledge may build.
When we, for instance, construct the circle, we may claim that whatever we assert concerning this circle is objectively true; but the question whether our assertions are applicable to the things will depend upon the things themselves eventually showing us to what extent they are subject to the laws which we construct and apply to them. When the totality of forms resolves itself in pure thought, some residue (Aristotle's “matter”) must remain, where it is not possible by the process of pure thought to reach reality.
Fichte may at this point supplement Aristotle. A formula along Aristotelian lines may be reached to the effect that everything about us, including all things belonging to the invisible worlds, necessarily call for a material reality to correspond with form-reality. To Aristotle the idea of God is a pure actuality, a pure act, that is, an act in which actuality (the formative element) possesses the power to produce its own reality; it does not stand apart from matter, but by reason of its own activity fully and immediately coincides with reality.
The image of this pure actuality is found in man himself, when by the process of pure thought he attains to the idea of the “I.” Upon this level (in the “I”) he is within the sphere of what Fichte calls “deed-act.” He has inwardly arrived at something which not only lives in actuality, but together with this actuality produces its own “matter.” When we grasp the “I” in pure thought we are in a centre where pure thought produces its own essential “matter.” When we apprehend the “I” in thought, a threefold “I” is at hand; a pure “I” belonging to the universalia ante rem; an “I” wherein we ourselves are, belonging to the universalia in re; and an “I” which we comprehend and which belongs to the universalia post rem. But here we must especially note that, in this case, when we rise to a true apprehension of the “I,” the threefold “I” becomes merged into one. The “I” lives within itself; it produces its own concept and lives therein as a reality. The activity of pure thought is not immaterial to the “I,” for pure thought is the creator of the “I.” Here the “creative” and the “material” coincide, and we must but acknowledge that, whereas in other processes of cognition we strike against a boundary, this is not the case with the “I” which we embrace in its inmost being when we enfold it in pure thought.
The following fundamental axiom may therefore be formulated in the sense of the theory of cognition: “In pure thought a particular point is attainable wherein the complete convergence of the 'real' and the 'subjective' is achieved, and man experiences reality.” If we now set to work at this point, if we cultivate our thought so that it shall bear fruit and issue from itself — we then grasp the things of the world from within. In the “I,” therefore, grasped in pure thought and thereby also created, something is given whereby we may break down the barrier which, in the case of all other things, must be placed between “form” and “matter.”
A well-founded and thoroughgoing theory of cognition may thus advance to the point of indicating a way into reality by means of pure thought. If this path be pursued, it will be found that it must eventually lead to Anthroposophy. Very few philosophers, however, have any understanding of this path. They are mostly entangled in their self-made web of notions; arid since they cannot but regard the concept as something merely abstract, they are incapable of grasping the one and only point where it is a creative archetype, and equally incapable of finding a bond of union with the “thing-in-itself.”
For a knowledge of the “I” as an instrument whereby the human soul's immersion in the fullest reality may be clearly perceived, we are required to distinguish most carefully between the real “I” and the “I” of ordinary consciousness. A confusion of these might lead us to assert, with the philosopher Descartes: “I think, therefore I am”; in this case, however, reality would refute us during every sleep, when we “are” though we do not “think.” Thought does not vouch for the reality of the “I.” On the other hand, it is equally true that an experience of the true “I” is not possible except by means of pure thought. As far as ordinary human consciousness is concerned, the true “I” extends into pure thought, and into pure thought alone. Mere thinking only leads us to a thought (conception) of the “I”; experience of all that may be experienced within pure thought provides our consciousness with a content of reality in which “form” and “matter” coincide. Apart from this “I,” ordinary consciousness can know of nothing which carries both “'form” and “matter” into thought. All other thoughts do not image full reality. Yet by acquiring experience of the true “I” in pure thought we become acquainted with full reality; moreover, we may advance from this experience to other regions of true reality.
Anthroposophy attempts this advance. It does not remain stationary on the level of the experiences of ordinary consciousness, but strives to achieve an investigation of reality through the agency of a transformed consciousness. With the exception of the “I” experienced in pure thought, ordinary consciousness is excluded for the purpose of this investigation.
A new consciousness takes its place, whose activity in its widest range is commensurate with the activity of ordinary consciousness at such moments when the latter can rise to the experience of the “I” in pure thought. To achieve this purpose, our soul most acquire the strength to withdraw from the apprehension of all external things and from all conceptions with which we are inwardly so familiar that we can recall them in our memory. Most seekers after the knowledge of reality deny the possibility of the above; they deny it without trial. Indeed, the only method of trial is the accomplishment of those inner processes which lead to the above-mentioned transformation of consciousness. (A detailed description of these processes will be found in my book, among others, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.) An attitude of denial in this matter effectively hinders the attainment of true reality. Only the main points in connection with these processes can here be given; the subject is treated in detail in the author's above-mentioned and other books. The soul forces which in ordinary life and science are devoted to the perception of things and to the activity of such thought as can be recalled in memory — these forces can be applied to the perception and experience of a supersensible world. Our initial experience in this way is the perception of our supersensible being. The reason why we cannot attain this supersensible being if we remain within the limits of ordinary consciousness becomes conspicuous to us. (Though we attain it at that one point of the true “I,” as explained above, we are unable immediately to recognize it in its state of isolation.) Ordinary consciousness is produced when man's physical, bodily nature, as it were, engulfs his spiritual being and acts in its place. In the ordinary apprehension of the physical world we have an activity of the human organism which is maintained by the transformation of man's supersensible being into a sensible (physical) being. The activity of ordinary thought originates in the same way, with the difference that apprehension is ensured by the reciprocal relation of the human organism to the outer world, whereas thought evolves within the organism itself.
An insight into these facts is conditional to all true knowledge of reality. The seeker after knowledge must make the attainment of this insight the object of inner, spiritual exertion. The habits of thought prevalent in our day tend to a confusion of this spiritual exercise with all manner of nebulous, mystical amateurishness. Nothing can be more irrelevant. The effort is entirely in the direction of the fullest clarity of soul. Strictly logical thought is both the point of departure and the standard of exercise, to the exclusion of all experiences deficient in such inner clarity. But this purely logical thought is related to the inner exercise in question, as a shadow to the object which casts it. The exercise of the inner faculties strengthens the soul to such an extent that the struggle towards knowledge becomes fraught with more than the experience of mere abstract thought; the experience of spiritual realities is achieved. Knowledge is kindled in the soul, of which a non-transformed consciousness can have no conception. This development of consciousness has nothing to do with any form of visionary or other diseased condition of soul. These are inseparable from a debasement of the soul below the sphere in which clear, logical thought is active; anthroposophical research, however, transcends this sphere and leads into the spiritual. In the above-mentioned conditions of soul the physical body is always implicated; anthroposophical research strengthens the soul to such an extent that activity in the spiritual sphere is possible independently of the physical body. The attainment of this strengthened condition of soul requires, to begin with, exercise in “pictorial thought.” Consciousness is made to centre upon such clear and pregnant conceptions as are otherwise only formed under the influence of external apprehension. An inner activity is thus experienced of such intensity as only external tone or colour or another sense-perception can otherwise evoke. In this case, however, the activity is purely the result of strong inner effort. It is of the nature of thought; not such thought as accompanies sense-perception with abstract concepts, but thought which becomes intensified to the point of (inner) visibility such as ordinarily is only evident in the imagery of sense-perception. The importance does not lie in “what” we think but in the consciousness of an activity not undertaken in ordinary consciousness. We thus learn to experience ourselves in the supersensible being of our “I” which, in ordinary life, is concealed by the manifestations of the physical, bodily organization. A consciousness thus transformed becomes the instrument for the perception of supersensible reality. For this purpose, however, further exercise in respect of feeling and willing is necessary, in addition to the above-mentioned exercise, which is only concerned with the transformed faculties of perceiving and conceiving.
In ordinary life, feeling and willing are associated with beings or processes external to the soul. To bring supersensible reality within the range of cognition, the soul must give vent to the same activity which, in the case of feeling and willing, is outwardly directed; this activity, however, must now apprehend the inner life itself. For the purpose of and during supersensible investigation, feeling and will must be entirely diverted from the outer world; they must solely grasp what the transformed faculties of perceiving and conceiving create within the soul. We “feel,” and we permeate with “will” solely what we inwardly experience as consciousness transformed through thought intensified to the point of inner visibility. (A more detailed account of this transformation of feeling and willing will be found in the books mentioned above.) The life of the soul thus becomes completely transformed. It becomes the life of a spiritual being (our own) experienced in a real supersensible, spiritual world — as man, within ordinary consciousness, experiences his “self” in a sensible, physical world through his senses and the faculty of conceptual thought connected therewith. The knowledge of true reality is the goal of human effort, and the first step towards its realization consists of the insight that neither Natural Science nor ordinary mystical experience can provide this knowledge; for between them there yawns an abyss (as was shown at the outset) which must be bridged. This is effected through the transformation of consciousness as outlined in these pages. The knowledge of true reality can never be attained unless we first realize that the usual instruments of knowledge are inadequate for this purpose, and that the requisite instrument must first be developed. Man feels that something more is slumbering within him than his own consciousness can encompass in ordinary life and with ordinary science. He instinctively yearns for a knowledge which is unattainable for this consciousness. For the purpose of attaining this knowledge he must not shrink from transforming the faculties which in ordinary consciousness are directed towards the physical world, so that they shall apprehend a supersensible world. Before true reality can be apprehended, a condition of soul appropriate for the spiritual world must first be established! The range of ordinary consciousness is dependent upon the human organization, which is dissolved by death. Hence it is conceivable that the knowledge resulting from this consciousness falls short of being knowledge of the spiritual and eternal in man. Only the transformation of this consciousness ensures a perception of that world in which man lives as a supersensible being, that is, as a being which remains unaffected by the dissolution of the physical organism.
The acceptance of this transmutability of consciousness and, hence, of a possible investigation of reality, is alien to the habits of thought of the present day. More so, perhaps, than the physical system of Copernicus to the men of his time. But as this system, in spite of all obstacles, found its way to the human soul — so, too, anthroposophical Spiritual Science will find its way. An understanding of anthroposophy is also difficult for contemporary philosophy, for the latter derives its origin from a mode of thought which failed to fructify the germs of an unprejudiced technique of thought which were implanted in Aristotelianism. This shortcoming, as was shown above, was followed by the seclusion of thought and investigation, through an artificial web of concepts, from true reality, which became a “thing-in-itself.” Owing to this fundamental tendency, contemporary philosophy cannot but refuse to accept anthroposophy. In the light of the philosophical conception of scientific method, anthroposophy cannot but appear as dilettantism, and this reproach is easily conceivable if the essentials of the question are kept in view. The origin of this reproach has here been explained.
These pages will possibly have made clear what must necessarily occur before the philosophers can undertake to agree that anthroposophy is no dilettantism. It is necessary that philosophy, with its conceptual system, should work its way to an unprejudiced recognition of its own fundamental basis. It is not the case that anthroposophy is at variance with sound philosophy, but that a modern theory of knowledge, accepted by science, is itself at variance with the deeper foundation of true philosophy.
This theory of knowledge is wandering in false tracks and must relinquish these if it would develop an understanding of anthroposophical world-comprehension.