Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Supplementary Notes

(Page 45-6) Such explanations as have here been given about memory are all too easily misunderstood. For when one only looks at the external aspect one is apt to miss the essential difference. When something seemingly like memory occurs in animals, even in plants, it is by no means the same as the genuine memory experienced by man, the essential character of which we have delineated. When an animal performs the same action for the third or fourth time and then again and again, externally it may appear as though due to memory and the consequent ability to learn. Some of our scientists and their philosophic followers extend the concept even farther. The chicken only just emerged from the shell begins to peck at the grains of corn, moving its head and body from the outset with the requisite precision. It cannot possibly have learned to do this while inside the egg; therefore it must have learned it through the many thousands of generations from which it is descended (thus Hering among others). Admittedly the phenomenon can be described so as to look like a kind of memory. Yet for a genuine understanding of man's being we have to focus on the essential feature, namely the conscious perception of an earlier experience at a later point of time. This is a very different thing from the mere fact that subsequent, are influenced by earlier conditions. It is this faculty to perceive the past which is called memory in the present work, and not the mere recurrence — however modified — of earlier in later conditions. If we insisted on using the word memory for these and related phenomena in the animal and plant kingdoms, we should need another term for human memory. The explanations given here are not concerned with the mere word, but with the unequivocal recognition of an essential difference — essential above all to an understanding of man's being. The same applies to the seemingly high degree of intelligence which animals are often seen to manifest in skill of action and behaviour. It cannot truly be attributed to memory as here defined.

(Page 54) No hard and fast dividing line can be drawn between the changes wrought by the Ego in the astral and in the etheric body. They merge into one another. When a man learns, thereby enlarging his mind, extending his range of judgment, a change has taken place in his astral body. When the widening of outlook has influenced the whole mood and tenor of his soul — when his habitual feeling towards the subject he has learned about is different from what it was before — it will be evidence of a change in his etheric body. Everything we really make our own, till it comes naturally to us to recall it, argues a change in the etheric body. Whatever seeps into our inner life to be indelibly remembered, shows that the working of the Ego on the astral body has reached down to the etheric.

(Page 63) The relation between sleep and fatigue is generally not regarded in a realistic way. Sleep is supposed to follow in consequence of fatigue. But this is far too simple an idea; a man need not be tired in the least to fall asleep, say, in a lecture he finds uninteresting. The obvious rejoinder, that in the human being boredom of this kind must therefore also be a cause of fatigue, is surely not quite serious or scientific. In the last resort, unbiased observation leads us to discern in waking and sleeping two distinct relations of the soul to the body — relations which in the normal course of life must, like the swing of a pendulum, alternate in rhythmic sequence. To be filled for a time with the impressions of the outer world arouses in the soul the craving to go over from this into another state, in which the soul is surrendered to the processes other own bodily nature. There is this alternation: the state of being given up to the impressions of the outer world, and that of being given up to one's own body. During the former state, the craving for the latter is unconsciously engendered, and this in turn then takes its course entirely in the unconscious. It is the longing to be devoted to one's own bodily nature which manifests as fatigue. In truth we ought rather to say that we feel tired because we want to fall asleep, not that we want to fall asleep because we feel tired. Now habit often makes it possible for the human soul deliberately to evoke conditions which in normal life would of necessity ensue in their due time. There- fore when one is wilfully obtuse to some impressions, it is not difficult to induce the longing to be given up to one's own body. The soul then goes to sleep, even though by the man's natural condition there is no cause to do so.

(Page 93) It would be easy to misunderstand the contention that if a man's individual talents depended on mere heredity they would have to manifest at the beginning of a line of descent and not at the end. Surely, it might be answered, the talents cannot yet emerge at the beginning; they must have time to develop. But the objection is invalid. To prove that a later thing is inherited from an earlier, we have to show that it was there in the earlier generation and is found again in the later. If it were shown that something was present at the beginning of a genealogical tree and reappeared in its further course, it would be logical to speak of heredity, but it is obviously not so when there occurs at the end what was not there before. The turning of the proposition into its converse was only to show up the fallacy.

(Page 110) In the fourth and sixth chapters of this book it was described how the World to which Man belongs, and Man himself, evolve through the successive states called ‘Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan.’ Some indication was also given of how human evolution is related to the existing heavenly bodies other than the Earth — Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, for example. They too are of course evolving, and in their present stage of evolution the physical part of them is perceptible to our senses in the forms known to physical Astronomy as ‘Saturn’, ‘Jupiter’, ‘Mars’ and the rest.

Seen in the light of spiritual science, the present Saturn is a kind of reincarnation of Old Saturn. It came into existence because, before the Sun had separated from the Earth, Beings were there who would not have been able to leave with the Sun. They were so much imbued with Saturnian characteristics that they could not live where Solar properties above all were to be developed. So too the present Jupiter arose because Beings were there with characteristics which cosmic evolution as a whole will be unfolding in the future Jupiter and not till then. Mars on the other hand is a heavenly body inhabited by Beings whose evolution on Old Moon was such that they could not have benefited from any further progress upon Earth. Mars is a reincarnation of Old Moon on a higher level. The present Mercury is a dwelling-place for Beings who are ahead of earthly evolution in that they have developed certain earthly qualities in a higher form than is possible upon the Earth herself. Likewise the present Venus is a prophetic anticipation of the future Venus state.

Such are the reasons for naming the past and future stages of World-evolution after the heavenly bodies — their present representatives, as it were, in the Cosmos. The kind of intellectual and scientific judgment trained in the observation of external Nature will scarcely fail to object to this nomenclature, with its implied relation of the physical heavenly bodies of today to cosmic evolutionary stages — Saturn, Sun and so on — supersensibly perceived. Yet even as with mathematical thinking the solar system can be seen in the mind's eye — a clear, intelligible picture of cosmic happenings in space and time — with supersensible cognition it is possible to imbue the mathematical picture with an inner life of soul. Then the implied relation proves to be valid. In point of fact this ensoulment of the cosmic picture is in the straightforward line of development of strictly natural-scientific thought and study. Science, it is true, is still only prepared to look for the relation between the Solar System and the Earth in terms of mathematical and mechanical concepts. Yet in the very act of doing this, the Natural Science of the future will be led further. It will be led, even in its own domain, to concepts supplementing and enlarging the mechanical with the aspect of soul and spirit. Even in the light of current scientific concepts, this enlargement is already due, nay overdue. It would be possible to show this, though it would need the writing of another book. Here we can only indicate the fact, though it be at the risk of fresh misunderstandings.

The discrepancies between Spiritual Science and Natural Science are often only apparent. The reason for them lies in the continued reluctance of the latter to evolve ideas which are in fact being called for not only by supersensible cognition, but also by the kind of knowledge which adheres to outer, sense-perceptible data. In the findings of modern science an open mind can perceive on every hand the indication of new fields of observation and discovery — discovery, once more, by purely natural-scientific methods — discovery of sense-perceptible facts. These facts will show that our research into outer Nature fully confirms what is known to spiritual sight. In so far as the cosmic happenings revealed to supersensible cognition have any counterpart in sense-perceptible Nature, it will prove to be so.

We need your support!

We are a small nonprofit with the expenses of a large website. Your generous financial gifts make this venture possible. If you can't contribute now, please visit our Help Out page for additional ways to support our work in the future. Thank you!

External Links