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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Impulse for Renewal in Culture and Science
GA 81

II. The Human and the Animal Organisation

6 March 1922, Berlin

Welcome, all who are present here! In this second lecture I would like you to consider that I had assumed last night, to hearing Dr Kolisko's lecture today, and not present it myself. Due to this it wasn't possible in this short time to quite sort out what I would say and I can only hope, as a whole, to roughly cover the details which Dr Kolisko wanted to convey to you.

When from the anthroposophical viewpoint the relationship of the animal world to the human world is spoken about, then it must be pointed out in particular how the present anthroposophical ideas relate historically to the Goethean world view—I have mentioned this twice here at least. The theme in question today, specifically the very first of Goethe's accomplishments in the natural scientific area, will come under scrutiny, namely in his treatise entitled: “Human beings, like the animals, are attributed with an intermaxillary jawbone in the upper jaw.” One needs to keep all the relationships in view when considering how Goethe came to this treatise on the basis of some anatomical and physiological studies and on which grounds of his approach to embryological studies he attributed this to.

During the time when Goethe, already as a young student and later as a friend who to a certain extent had made the Jena University Institute dependent on him, lived with these problems to which he was exposed, namely the problem of what the actual difference could be between human beings and animals. He noticed how people all around him were focused on discovering the difference within the form, within the human and animal morphology, of the differentiation between people, who should be, to some degree, the crown of creation, and the animal world. Also regarding the circumstances where the intermaxillary, which is clearly detached in all animals from any other jaw bone but which is not found in the human being as a separated bone, made people believe that this part of the head's development gave the decisive difference between humans and animals. Goethe didn't agree. He was of the opinion that man and animal were created according to their entire organisation in the same way, therefore such a detail could not indicate a differentiation. In addition, the intermaxillary bone in mature people grow together, so Goethe tried to show how this phenomenon relied only on later development because in the embryonic stage, human beings displayed the same relationship in their upper intermaxillary bone as in animals.

You only have to follow the enthusiasm with which Goethe pointed out to how lucky he was, that the human being actually has the intermaxillary jaw bone in common with the animals, and how out of the whole big picture of the morphology, no decisive difference between the human being and the animal could be found in a single detail. From the kind of limitation of man and animal as you find everywhere in the 18th Century, it could not be stated in this way—also for Anthroposophy it could not be stated in this way. What Goethe accepted was this: By the animal organisation developing up into the human organisation, details already in the animal organ formation were transformed and then gradually through its evolution created the possibility to make space for what is within man, and in such a way reveal the transformed animalistic organisation in the totality of man. Goethe thought only about the metamorphosed animal organisation within the human and not of an autonomously separated human morphology.

This, I might add, needs to be established as the foundation in the search for the differentiation, in the anthroposophical sense, between animal and human organisms. If an organisation itself, in its forms, only depends on the animal and the human metamorphosis, then one has to, if you are looking for differentiation, primarily watch the course of life of a person and of an animal, and gradually observe how the human being unfolds out of the functioning of his organs, and how an animal takes on form through his organs. In brief, one needs to search more from biological than from morphological regions.

Now, one can prepare, in a specific way, how to discover the understanding through biological differences, by finding a foundation in which the animal functions originate and which appears in both man and animal, and this relates to the sense organs. The sense organs, or better said, the functions of the sense organs are more or less vital in everything which takes place in the animal and human organisms. We may assume that in the simple nutritional processes in the lower animals, in the purely digestive processes, a function of a primitive sense happens, which, we say, is where taste experiences for instance happen more or less as a purely chemical function of metabolism. These things become increasingly differentiated the further one ascends the animal row, right up to the human being. We won't get anywhere if we go straight to the animal organisation to find something which does not have a sensory life. Certainly one could say: what for instance do the senses have to do with the development of the lymph and blood?

Today already there is talk from the non-anthroposophical scientists about subconscious processes in the human psyche, and as a result we will for the sake of brevity only hint at it, and not let it appear as something completely unauthorised when I say: What takes place in the mouth and palate as a taste experience, what takes place in the process and function with for instance the ptyalin, pepsin and so on, how can it not also take part in the subconscious? Why should—I say this as a kind of postulation—the experience of taste not continue through the entire organism and why should the subconscious experience of taste not happen parallel to the lymph and blood development in all organ processes? Through this we can follow the biological side of the human and animal organisations by looking at their sensory life.

The sense life unfolds—as I have indicated years ago how it is partially a fact of outer science—not only in the usually claimed five senses, but in a clear discernible number of twelve human senses. Now, we are only talking about human beings. For those who want to understand if one could speak about twelve senses in the same way as for five or six—from seeing, hearing smelling, tasting, feeling or touch—for those it is valid that one can speak for instance about the sense of balance, which we recognise inwardly whether we stand on two feet or only one, whether we move our arms in one way or the other, and so on. By our position as humans in the world, we are in equilibrium. This equilibrium we accept, although from a much duller position than that of our perceiving through the senses about what takes place in the process of seeing; so that we may speak about the sense of equilibrium as we speak about a sense of seeing. Let us be clear about this. When we speak about the sense of equilibrium we turn ourselves more towards our own organisation, we perceive inwardly, while with our eyes we look outwardly. However, this experience of equilibrium fosters its basis as a sense perceptible function. In the same way we can expand the number of senses on the other side. When we merely hear something, the function of the human organism is really different to when we, as it were, hear directly through the ear, and then explore what becomes indirectly perceptible to us, through speech. When we follow the words of others with inner understanding it doesn't involve mere judgement, but a process of judgement comes out of a perceptive process, a sense process; so we need to speak about it as having a sense of speech—or a sense of language, a sense of the word—just as we have a sense of hearing. In other words, we must, if we consider the words more anatomically-physiologically, presuppose there is within the human organization a special (sensory) organization which corresponds to the hearing of what had been spoken as well as hearing inarticulate sounds. We must assume a special organisation for the sense of speech, which is quite similar to a sensory organisation, for example the organisation of sight or of hearing.

We may also, when we go to work without prejudice, not say: we get to know that a person is standing in front of us, when we see there is something in the external space shaped like a nose, like two eyes and so on, and through an analogy conclude that a person is stuck in there, because we see that in us there is also a person, revealed outwardly through a nose, eyes and so on. Such an unconscious conclusion in reality doesn't form the basis; it is rather the direct entry into others which corresponds to something special within them which can be compared to a sensory organisation, so that we can speak about a sense of Self (Ichsinn). When we look through the functioning of people in this unprejudiced way, then we need to, with the same authorization with which we spoke about the sense of hearing, of taste and so on, speak about the organisation of perception for words, about an organisation of perception for thoughts, for an organisation of the Self—not for one's own self, because for one own Self it is dependent on something quite different. Further, we must speak about a sense of movement, because it is something quite different, whether we call it movement or rest. Likewise, we must speak about a sense of life—ordinary science already speaks partly about that.

When we determine the number of sense organisations, we arrive at twelve human senses. Of these, several are inner senses, because we involve the inner organism—how we feel and experience the sense or equilibrium, sense of movement and so on—while observing it. However, qualitatively the experience with observation of the inner organization remains the same for the seeing, hearing or taste processes. It is important to see things only in the right context.

If the starting point is from a human angle of a complete physiology of the senses then certain biological phenomena from the human realm, on the one side, and the animal realm on the other, reveal a particular meaning. This meaning can exist even if you admit to everything which has been presented by recent research, even from Haeckel, regarding the morphological and also physiological human organisation in relationship to that of the animal. Here the most impossible misunderstandings come about. It is believed, for instance, that Anthroposophy must oppose Haeckel, simply on the grounds that it rises from mere observation through the senses to the empirical observations of the spiritual; it is believed that Anthroposophy must from this basis change Haeckelism. No!—What needs to be changed in Haeckelism must be changed out of natural scientific methodology, so Anthroposophy doesn't need to argue here because one can have discussions, as scientific researchers, with Haeckel.

What Anthroposophy has to offer refers to quite other areas. It is correct to emphasize that by counting the bones of the higher animals, there's no differentiation to the number in humans. The same goes for the muscles. This gives no differentiation between human and animal organisations. If, however, we proceed biologically, we discover real differentiation. We find that we can attribute a special value to the essential way the human organism is placed differently in the cosmos to the animals. When we observe the higher animals, we have to admit that their essential aspect is that the axis of their backbone is parallel to the earth's surface while by contrast, humans in the course of their life make their horizontal spinal axis vertical, which means an important function in the life of humans are to stand upright.—I know objections can be raised: there are some animals which have more or less of a vertical spinal axis. This is not the salient point as to how it is excluded through outer morphology, but how the entire organisation is adjusted. We will also see how with certain animal, bird types or even mammals, where the spine can be brought into more or less of a vertical position, a kind of degenerative effect appears in their total predisposition, while with people there is already a predisposition for the spine to be vertical.

When I mentioned this some years ago in a lecture in Munich, a man educated in natural science approached me, who I could naturally understand quite well, and said: ‘When we sleep, we do have a horizontal spine.’—This does not matter, I replied, but what matters is in the relationship to the situation, let's say, of the bone in the leg or foot to the rest of the bodily structure and to the whole cosmic relationship of mankind, and how this is processed by the human or by the animal. Indeed, the human's spine is horizontal during sleep, but this position is outward; inwardly the human is so dynamically organized that he can bring himself into a condition of equilibrium where the spine is vertical. When animals come to such a state of equilibrium, they are degenerating in a certain sense, or they tend towards developing some human-like functions and as a result prove, what I want to present now.

We can say that by the human being purely functionally, out of the total dynamic of his being in the course of his first year of life, forming his spinal axis vertically, he has brought himself into another relationship of equilibrium cosmically than the animal. However, every being is created out of the cosmic totality, and one can say, and adapt—I don't want to enter further into this.

When we track the formation of single bones, for example the ribs or head bones further, then we also gain the morphological possibility of how the formation of ribs or head bones in a man or dog adapt to the vertical or horizontal spine. Because the human being finds himself in a vertical position he lives in contrast to the animal, who stands on four legs, in quite a different state of equilibrium, in quite a different cosmic relationship.

Now we must try to clarify the problem from the other side, what actually happens in the sense's processes in a person and what happens to him with reference to the sensory process. Due to our limited time I wish to speak only with indications, but this can also be translated into a completely precise biological-physiological terminology.

Let's take the process of seeing. We could create divisions into what the specific function of the organ of sight is, and into what happens further as a continuation within the physical; one could call it an analogy of the optical nerve of the eye which loses itself in the inner nervous system. Thus, we could differentiate, on the one side, the process of sight itself, and then everything connected to it in the totality of experience. In the direct present process of vision there is also the imminence of the image perceptibility; when we look at something then we don't separate the imagery from the vision. Turning our eyes away from what we looked at, we then retain a kind or imaginative remnant which clearly shows a relationship with the vision's observation. Whoever can really analyse this will see the differences between the imagined remnant obtained through the organ of vision as opposed to what happens with the hearing process. We have within us an experience of the process of sight, one could call it, in a dualistic way. First being more turned to what actually is observed through the senses and then turning again to the remnant within imagination which remains more or less as a manifested memory.

Let's take everything that lives in the inner image perceptibility of human beings, which depends on the five senses. The one which is the most dependable is of course the process of sight. Only a ninth of what is found through vision, is found through the hearing process. When we consider soul life, there is even less found in it than the seeing and hearing processes, and so on. We know, that in addition to the image perceptibility which leads to lasting memory, it also plays a role but in reality, less than with the seeing and hearing processes.

Now we can pose the question: Is there also for the more hidden senses, like the sense of equilibrium or sense of movement, this duality which is found in the observation perceptibility and image perceptibility? With a truly unbiased physiology and psychology the duality is there for instance in the sense of equilibrium, but the connection is seldom noticed. In the lectures I've just given, I spoke about the mathematical geometric relation of finding oneself upright in relationship to space. We construct relationships to space. What is it actually, that we are doing here? It is connected to the entire person just as it is when with the process of sight, the observed element is clearly separated from the image perceptibility, because we keep the imagination inside. We don't observe the colour outwardly but we experience the qualitative aspect of the colour, of colour tones, and what lives as a feeling, a feeling I have towards warm or cold colours strongly within myself.

We can now say the following: ‘I want to instantly see a show of all the soul images which I've acquired through my life, which I can see through my eyes.’ We would then enter into a visual system of the soul. We would, without having outer sight, rise inwardly into a kind of reconstruction of the visual process. If you apply this same kind of consideration to the sense of equilibrium, you obtain everything which you have experienced through the sense of equilibrium in your own organism, rising within, which corresponds to the geometry in outer life.1In the next few sentences some word-gaps followed in the stenographic text. The omissions were filled in with the help of the lectures of Dr Steiner on the 16th March 1921, 29 September, 1 and 3 October 1920 in GA 322 Mathematic and mechanistic laws have not been discovered by outer experience. Mathematic and mechanistic laws have been acquired though inward construction. If you want to recall mechanistic laws you have to access them through the image perceptibility of your sense of equilibrium. The entire human being becomes a sense organ and thus inwardly creates the other pole of what had been observed. For instance, we create mathematics and we believe we have a purely a-priori science. However, mathematics is no pure a-priori science. We don't notice that what we are experiencing as a sense of balance is what we translate into mathematical geometric imagination, like the observation through sight is translated into the imagination of the observed sight. Without noticing the bridge, we have created the sense of balance through maths or through mechanics.

When you think about this, you would understand the innermost relationship of the human organism with its position of equilibrium in the cosmos. Then you could say to yourself: With the animal, which stands on its four legs and which has been given its equilibrium position and sense of equilibrium, the animal must experience equilibrium in quite a different way within itself than a person does mathematically. We find the mathematical simply as a result of us being placed in the cosmos.

We talk about three dimensions because we are positioned in three dimensions in the cosmos. However, the vertical dimension we have only achieved in the course of life. We have placed ourselves into the vertical position. What we have experienced in our earliest childhood reflects later in us as mathematics; it only doesn't develop as quickly as the seeing process. The reflection of the experience of equilibrium goes on in the course of life. In childhood we have a very strong experience of the sense of equilibrium, when we go over from crawling to walking and standing. This reflects in later life and becomes visible as mathematics and mechanics. We often take mathematics as something woven out of ourselves. This is not so. It comes out of the observation of our organism. Why then are there certain thoughts which can be related to the cosmos, which then can create an entire construction in thought, a ‘thought-edifice?’ That is merely a result of human beings standing within the cosmos. When we now compare the position of equilibrium between the animal, in his relation to the cosmos, with that of the human being, then we could say: We have with the animal the bondage with the earth organisation and we have with the human being the uprightness, being ‘lifted-out’ of the earth organisation. What we express as individualized thoughts result from our human organisation having an individual position of equilibrium.

Thus, this actual act of placing oneself in the cosmos is not something which emerges from the organism itself as is found with the animals, but it is something formed within the human organism which is only achieved in the course of the first seven years of life, and goes right into the organs. As a result, we have this polarity between animals and humans that on the one hand humans stand upright and walk vertically. This is quite a cosmic position which lives in the human being, to which everything now has to adapt, and which distinguishes it from the animal. On the other hand, thoughts appear in the soul, thoughts which go beyond the sensual perception, beyond what is sensed with the five senses, extricating themselves from that. Just as the human being frees itself in its cosmic position from the earth, so the human thoughts extricate themselves from the bondage of the sense world, they become free in a certain way.

We must—for anthroposophy it is a definite but here I want to present it more as a hypothesis—we must see in the human being, through his upright spinal axis, a certain position of equilibrium which separates him from animals, and on the other hand we must regard thoughts of a particular imaginative form, as specifically human. Whoever examines such things from an Anthroposophic viewpoint—it could still become more or less relevant—will see how the human being's particular development of his sense of equilibrium and sense of movement achieve more towards a free system of thought than the case is through the eyes and ears, and we also gain insight of the human being requiring an inner organisation for this. The human being simply has an organisation within itself which is not yet found in the animal—this can also be proven materially—which simply supports ideas which are torn free from the earth's bondage to which the animal is bound, but which is limited by the special equilibrium position in humans. Therefore we can say: by the human standing upright, he has created an organ for abstract thinking.

So we have with the upright related organisation of human organs a different situation to those in the animals, which have organs too. Through the upright position the nerves and blood organisation work in a different way under the influence of the equilibrium position so that in the human something appears which can't be brought about in the animal. We discover this relationship really in the physical organization of humans and not as mere dynamism. This is of fundamental importance. Just imagine what happens in the evolution of an organization as a result of a change in their position of equilibrium, how it appears in the animal, how it is in the human being, what changes there for instance with reference to the upper and lower leg, hands and so on. Just imagine what it means that the human being is a two-hander and not a four-footer. The human being is fitted out with the same forms as the animal but they are in different positions and as a result are changed, metamorphosed forms. This can also simply be anatomically demonstrated if the necessary tools and experimental methods qualify. We are looking for such tools and experimental methods in our institute in Stuttgart. In any case before these methods can be empirically found externally, the differences need to be arrived at firstly through imaginative observation. Therefore, Anthroposophy is not useless with reference to research into the finer areas of the human, animal and plant forms, because science can't discover these things through imagination. Once they are discovered they can be verified by science.

When one looks at how another position of equilibrium reorganises the organs, one also finds that certain organs are changed in such a way that they become the human organ of speech and the organism becomes capable of creating speech.

Through this you have gained an insight into the extraordinary organisation of mankind, which has simply come about because of it being an upright being, having repercussions right into matter. Also in relation to the physiological organ of speech it has contributed—where an outer morphological distinction between man and animal can be determined—which after all shows the difference between man and animal biologically.

Here you have a few suggestions which can indicate the way how, in an outer lay method, research may be done which can also be actually researched scientifically. What I wanted to bring I could only briefly sketch here. However, continue to think about these ideas and the results will actually be a way for science to research the differentiations between the animal and human organisations in a biological relationship.