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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Anthroposophy, A Fragment
GA 45

Publisher's Foreword to the 1970 German Edition

Anthroposophy, an incomplete work dating from 1910, was found among Rudolf Steiner's unpublished works both in the form of a handwritten manuscript and as printed sheets corrected by the author. Rudolf Steiner had dealt with the same theme orally in the first two of his twelve lectures on "Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, and Pneumatosophy," given in Berlin in 1909, 1910, and 1911, 1The Wisdom of Man, of the Soul, and of the Spirit , Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, 1971. (GA 115, to be republished 1996.) and later returned to it repeatedly from various points of view (see appendix beginning on page 171). The content of this fragment is so valuable that its publication seems justified, even though the work remained unfinished,and was never published by Rudolf Steiner himself.

Rudolf Steiner's thoughts about these pages and how they are meant to be taken are evident from discussions of the same content in passages from two lectures, the seventh lecture in the cycle The Boundaries of Natural Science (October 2, 1920) 2The Boundaries of Natural Science, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, NY, 1983. and the sixth lecture in the cycle Anthroposophy and Science (given six months later, on March 22, 1921). 3Anthroposophy and Science: Observation, Experiment, Mathematics, Mercury Press, Spring Valley, NY, 1991.

On October 2, 1920, in Dornach, Rudolf Steiner said:

Many years ago, in a specific domain [of spiritual-scientific research], I attempted to find the words to clothe what can be called a theory of the human senses. I succeeded, after a fashion, in finding words to present this theory of the twelve senses in oral lectures, because speaking allows more possibility to maneuver language and use repetition to ensure understanding. In this way, the shortcomings of our language, which is not yet capable of expressing a supersensible essence like this, are not so keenly felt. As I said, this was many years ago. When I then attempted to write down in book form what I had presented orally in lectures as the real anthroposophy, something very strange happened. In the process of bearing inward what had been experienced outwardly, it became something so sensitive that language would not relinquish the words. I think the first section of several sixteen-page sheets lay at the printer's for five or six years. I wanted to continue in the same style as the beginning, but I could not go on writing, simply because the language would not relinquish what I wanted to achieve to someone at my stage of development. After that, I was overburdened with work and, to this day, I have been unable to finish the book. Those less conscientious in how they handle what they receive from the spiritual world and then pass it on to their fellow human beings may smile at how I came to a halt in the face of an obstacle that was insurmountable at the time. But others, those who have truly experienced and are capable of taking full responsibility for the results when they depict the paths to Imagination that humanity in the West must follow, know that many things are needed to find the right words for this depiction. As a path of development, this is relatively easy to portray, as has been done in my book How to Know Higher Worlds. 4How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation, Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, NY, 1994. But, in aiming at very specific results, such as describing the essential nature of the human senses—part of the inner organization of the human being — it becomes difficult to grasp the Imaginations and to use words to represent them in sharp outline. 5Cf. The Boundaries of Natural Science, 102.

And in Stuttgart on March 22, 1921:

I once lectured to the Theosophical Society on what I called "anthroposophy," presenting as much about it as my spiritual research had yielded. I was asked to have these lectures printed, and I proceeded to write these things down, but in writing them down, they turned into something different. Not that any part of the original was changed, but it became necessary to add certain things by way of further explanation. It also became necessary to formulate these things more precisely. That took one year, and then a new opportunity arose — the Society's General Assembly was taking place again. People wanted to have the "anthroposophical" lectures for sale at the General Assembly, so they would have to be finished. I then announced a new and different lecture cycle for the coming meeting; I sent the first sheets of Anthroposophy off to the printer and they were promptly printed. I thought I would be able to go on writing, and did indeed continue for a while, but it became ever more necessary to supplement the more detailed explanations. In the end, a number of sheets were printed, as much as I had written, but one sheet had only thirteen or fourteen of its sixteen pages full. The rest were blank, and I was supposed to go on writing. Meanwhile — there were also other reasons for the whole thing, other things contributing to the end result, but I want to tell you the one reason that has to do with what we are discussing here — the point came where I said to myself, "Finishing this thing the way I really want it to be, the way it really ought to be, now that a year has gone by, requires developing in detail a specific conceptual method, a specific adaptation of imaginative, inspired knowledge, and applying this method of arriving at knowledge to these anthroposophical questions." My next step was negative — I simply dropped Anthroposophy. I intended to do the research needed to continue it, but today it is still as it was then, with many sheets already printed. However, I then became closely acquainted with something I now want to describe to you, although I can only do so schematically. It consists of a great number of inner experiences that are actually research methods, methods of arriving at knowledge of the human being.

It became ever more apparent that a complete formulation of "anthroposophy," as it was then intended, was possible only under the following conditions. In our inner vision, we must be able to see how to extend what we see working as spiritual and soul activity in our nervous system when we observe with real inner sight, how to extend it until we arrive at a certain point where we clearly notice that all of the spiritual and soul activity that proceeds from outside inward and that we grasp in the act of Imagination and Inspiration, all this is crossing itself. (The point is actually a line standing vertically, but I am only going to present it schematically here — with regard to certain phenomena the point is further up or further down, but to depict it all in detail may not be possible in these lectures, so I will simply present a cross section of the whole thing, as it were.) Because it is crossing, however, we are no longer free in practicing this activity. Not that we were totally free before, as I described, but now we become even less free. We notice that the whole thing is undergoing a change. We are entering a state of being more strongly held in our imaginative and inspired visualization. Speaking concretely, if we use imaginative and inspired visualization to grasp what sense perception and its rational extension are for the eye — that is, if we manage to grasp the organ of sight by means of Imagination permeated with Inspiration — this activity extends inward and a crossing takes place. Then, with the activity with which we first embraced the eye, we embrace a different organ. Essentially, it is the kidney.

The same thing happens with other organs. When we extend this imaginative and inspired activity into the inner human being, we always find that what we grasp with it is an organ that is already complete, at least in its potentials, when a person is born. Thus we advance to a real inner perception of the human organism. This presents a very specific difficulty and, since at that time I was supposed not only to finish the book but also to give a different lecture cycle that also required research, you can imagine that it was not easy to cope with this method in that stage of its development, many years ago.

In addition, I must mention the difficulty of initially being repeatedly pushed back. The actual ability to continue is something that requires holding on to your inner strength if you are to succeed. Again and again you must undertake to strengthen and intensify your power of conceptualization, the inner work you do in your soul to love outer nature. Otherwise, you will simply be easily repulsed each time. You notice that you are going inward, into yourself, but you are always pushed back out again and, instead of receiving what I want to call "inner vision," you get something that is not correct. This being pushed back is a development that must be overcome.

I wanted to tell you this story so that you see that a spiritual researcher can actually point to the moments where specific problems of spiritual research are wrestled with. Unfortunately, in the years following the event I have described, and especially in the last few years, my time has been so filled with every conceivable thing that finishing Anthroposophy — something I consider a particularly necessary and even indispensable activity — could not take place. 6Cf. Anthroposophy and Science, 107-110.

The text reproduced here follows the proofs through page 165. The rest has been taken from the manuscript. In places the proofs include alternate versions, which are printed here at the end of some chapters.

Of the additions that have been included (Appendices 1-5), the first three are from recently discovered manuscript pages that represent modifications of the text as it is reproduced here. They were not included by Rudolf Steiner because they did not fit into the framework of the rest of the content. Appendix 4, a draft for a final text, was Included in the 1951 edition. Appendix 5 is a separate treatment of a related topic.