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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

GA 9

I-3. The Spiritual Being of Man

The soul-being of man is not determined by the body alone. Man does not wander aimlessly and without a purpose from one sense impression to another; neither does he act under the influence of every casual incitement which plays upon him either from without or through the processes of his body. He reflects upon his perceptions and his acts. By reflecting upon his perceptions he gains knowledge of things: by reflecting upon his acts he introduces a reasonable coherence into his life. And he knows that he will fulfil his duty as a human being worthily only when he lets himself be guided by correct thoughts in knowing as well as in acting. The soul of man, therefore, is confronted by a twofold necessity. By the laws of the body it is governed by natural necessity; but it allows itself to be governed by the laws which guide it to exact thinking because it voluntarily acknowledges their necessity. Nature subjects man to the laws of metabolism, but he subjects himself to the laws of thought. By this means he makes himself a member of a higher order than that to which he belongs through his body. And this order is the spiritual. The spiritual is as different from the soul as the soul is different from the body. As long as we speak only of the particles of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen which are in motion in the body, we have not got the soul in view. The soul-life begins only when within the motion of these particles, the feeling arises: “I taste sweetness” or “I feel pleasure.” Just as little have we the spiritual in view as long as we consider merely those soul-experiences which course through a man who gives himself over entirely to the outer world and his bodily life. This soul-life is rather the basis of the spiritual just as the body is the basis of the soul-life. The scientist, or investigator of nature, is concerned with the body, the investigator of the soul (the psychologist) with the soul, and the investigator of the spirit with the spirit. To make clear to oneself through thought upon and observation of one's own self the difference between body, soul, and spirit, is a demand which must be made upon those who seek by thinking to enlighten themselves regarding the nature of man.