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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Occult Science
GA 13

Special Comments

page 30 and fol. pp.

Expositions of the kind in this book about the faculty of memory can easily be misunderstood. For those who only observe external processes will not readily detect the difference between what happens in the animal or even in the plant when something appears that resembles memory, and what is here described as actual memory in man. Certainly, if an animal carries out an action a third or fourth time, it may then so perform it that the outer process appears as though the action were the result of memory and what is learned through it. Like some natural scientists and their adherents, one may, indeed, extend the concept of memory or recollection to such a point that one says that when the little chick pops from the shell and immediately pecks at the grain, knowing even how to make the movements of its head and body in order to reach its object, it could not have learned this in the shell, but that it was learned through the thousands and thousands of creatures from which it has descended. (Ewald Hering, for example, states this.) We may declare that the phenomenon under discussion has the appearance of memory. We shall, however, never gain a real comprehension of man's being if we do not hold in mind what appears quite especially unique in the human being as the process of real perception of previous experiences at subsequent times, not merely as an influence of past states into later ones. Here in this book this perception of the past, not merely the reappearance—even though changed—of the previous in the subsequent, is called memory. If one were to use the word memory for the corresponding processes in the plant and animal kingdoms, then one ought to have a different word for the processes of memory in man. It is not the word, however, that is important in the above presentation, but, for the sake of understanding the human being, the significant thing is the recognition of the difference between what occurs in man on the one hand, and in animal and plant on the other. What may appear as highly intelligent actions in animals has also no connection whatever with what is here called memory.

(b) page 39 and fol. pp.

No fixed boundary can be drawn between the changes resulting from the activity of the ego in the astral body and those taking place in the ether body. They pass over into each other. If man learns something and through it gains a certain power of discrimination, then a change has occurred in the astral body; if however, this judgment or discrimination so alters his soul condition that he becomes accustomed, after he has learned something about a matter, to feel differently about it from previously, a change has then taken place in the ether body. Everything that becomes a possession of the human soul that can be recalled in memory is based upon a change in the ether body. What becomes, by degrees, an immutable treasure of memory, rests on the fact that the work performed on the astral body has been transferred to the ether body.

(c) page 51 and fol. pp.

The connection between sleep and fatigue is, in most cases, not viewed in a manner demanded by the facts. Sleep is supposed to be a result of fatigue. That this thought is much too simple is shown by the fact that a man, not at all tired, may fall asleep while listening to an uninteresting lecture, or on some similar occasion. Whoever maintains that such an occasion tires the listener, tries to explain by a method that lacks a serious scientific attitude. Unprejudiced observation must lead to the conclusion that waking and sleeping present different relationships of the soul to the body, which must appear in the regular course of life in rhythmical sequence like the right and left swing of a pendulum. The result of such unprejudiced observation is that the filling of the soul with the impressions of the outer world awakes in it the desire, after experiencing this state, to enter another in which it is absorbed in the enjoyment of its own bodily nature. Two soul states alternate: the state of surrender to outer impressions and the state of surrender to one's own bodily nature. In the first state the desire for the second is unconsciously produced; the second state then takes its course in unconsciousness. The expression of the desire for the enjoyment of one's own bodily nature is fatigue. We must then actually say that we feel tired, because we wish to go to sleep, not that we wish to go to sleep because we feel tired. Since the human soul can, through habit, arbitrarily call forth in itself the states that of necessity appear in normal human life, it is possible that, when the soul makes itself insensitive to a given outer impression, it calls forth in itself the desire for enjoyment of its own bodily nature; that is to say, the soul goes to sleep, even though this state is not induced by the inner condition of the human being.

(d) p. 89

The statement that, if the personal talents of a human being were subject only to the law of heredity, they would have to show themselves not at the end but at the beginning of a blood relationship, might easily be misunderstood. It might be said that talents cannot show themselves at the beginning, for they must first be developed. But this is not a valid objection. For, if we wish to prove that something is inherited from a forebear, we must show how there is to be found again in the descendant what existed already previously. If it were shown that something was present at the beginning of a blood relationship that would be found again in the further course of its evolution, we might then speak of heredity. We cannot do this, however, if at the end something appears that previously did not exist. The reversal of the above sentence was only to show that in this case the idea of heredity is an impossible one.

(e) p. 110

In certain chapters of this book it has been indicated how the world of man and the human being himself pass through the states that have been designated by the names Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan. Indications have also been given concerning the relationship between human evolution and celestial bodies co-existing with the earth, such as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and so forth. These latter celestial bodies naturally go through their evolution also. In the present age they have reached a stage in which their physical parts are shown to perception as what is called in physical astronomy Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and so forth. If now, in the sense of spiritual science, the present Saturn is studied, it shows itself, so to speak, as a reincarnation of ancient Saturn. It has come into existence because, before the separation of the sun from the earth, certain beings were present who were unable to participate in this separation, since they had absorbed into themselves so many of the characteristics belonging to the Saturn state that they could not abide in an environment where especially the sun characteristics were unfolded. The present Jupiter has arisen, however, through the presence of beings who possessed characteristics that can only unfold on the future Jupiter of general cosmic evolution. An abode came into existence for them in which they are able to anticipate this future evolution. Similarly, Mars is a celestial body on which beings dwell who have passed through the Moon evolution in such a way that the earth could offer them no further advancement. Mars is a reincarnation of the ancient Moon at a higher stage. The present Mercury is the dwelling place of beings who, by having developed certain earth characteristics in a form higher than it can occur on this earth planet, are in advance of the evolution of the Earth. In a similar way the present Venus is a prophetic anticipation of the future Venus state. From all this we are justified in choosing the designations for the states that have preceded the Earth and that will follow it from their present representatives in the cosmos. It is self-evident that there will be many objections to what has been brought forth here by those who wish to subject the paralleling of the supersensibly perceived Saturn, Sun and other cosmic states of evolution with the similarly named physical celestial bodies to the judgment of an intellect trained in outer observation of nature. But just as it is possible, by means of mathematical concepts, to place the solar system before the soul as an image of time-space occurrences, so is it possible for supersensible cognition to permeate the mathematical picture with a soul content. Then it takes on a form that justifies the above indicated parallels. This permeation with a soul content is a natural consequence of the further application of a strictly natural scientific mode of observation. This latter mode of observation limits itself at present to seeking a reciprocal relationship between the solar system and the earth according to purely mathematical-mechanical concepts. By doing so, the natural science of the future will of itself be driven to concepts that will extend the idea of a mechanical cosmos to one endowed with soul. To show—which could very well be done—that such an extension ought already to occur on the basis of modern natural scientific concepts would require the writing of another book. Here the matter in question can only be indicated; as a consequence, this indication is exposed to misunderstandings of one sort or another. The disagreement of spiritual science with natural science is often only apparent, because the latter science still refuses at present to form thoughts that are not only demanded by supersensible cognition but also, in truth, by a cognition that adheres strictly to the physical-sensory. An unprejudiced observer is able to see everywhere in the results of modern natural scientific observation allusions to other fields of purely physical-sensory observation, which will have to be investigated in the future in a purely natural scientific manner and which will show that what supersensible perception reveals is completely verified by a physical observation of nature insofar as supersensible cognition is concerned with those supersensible cosmic occurrences to which physical-sensory manifestation corresponds.