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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Riddle of Man
Foreword and Introduction
GA 20

Addition, for the Second Edition of 1918

If, as an observer, one confronts the “thinking, observations, and contemplations” of a personality, one can sense that one is observing forces at work in the soul of such a personality which give the direction and particular characteristics to his way of picturing things, but which he himself does not make into a content of his thinking. This sense must not lead to the vain opinion that one can place oneself as observer above the personality observed. The fact that, as an observer, one has a different viewpoint than the observed personality makes it possible for one to say many things that the other has not said—that he has indeed not confronted in his own thinking, but has left within his unconscious soul life—because through his not saying certain things, what he did say attained its full significance. The more significant what a man has to say is, the more extensive is that which holds sway unconsciously in the depths of his soul. What is unconscious in this way, however, sounds forth in the souls of those who penetrate into the thinking and contemplations of such a personality. And they may also raise it into consciousness, because for them it can no longer hinder what they want to say.

The personalities with whom this book is concerned seem, to a particularly strong degree, to be of the kind that stimulate one to press on through what they have said to what they have left unsaid. Therefore the author of this book, from the viewpoint he has taken, believed he could make his presentation a complete one only by adding the final chapter, “New Perspectives.” He believes that in doing so he has not introduced something into the views of these personalities that does not belong there, but rather has sought the source from which these views, in the true sense of their thought content, have flowed. In this case what was left unsaid is a rich seed bed from which what has been said grew as individual fruits. If, in observing these fruits, one also becomes aware of the seed-bearing ground from which they have sprung, then precisely through this one will realize how—with respect to what the soul must experience in dealing with the most significant riddles of man—one can find in the personalities portrayed in this book a profound stimulus, powerful indications in sure directions, and strengthening forces in gaining fruitful insights. By looking at things in this way one can overcome the aversion to the seeming abstraction of the thoughts of these personalities that prevents many people from approaching them at all. One will see that these thoughts, regarded in the right way, are filled with a boundless warmth of life—a warmth that the human being must seek if he really understands himself rightly.