Tolstoy and Carnegie
Berlin, 28th January, 1909
The basis of our consideration today may seem a weird arrangement to somebody: on one side Tolstoy, on the other side Carnegie, two personalities about whom probably some say, more different, more opposite persons one can hardly find. On one side, the solver of riddles of the highest social and spiritual problems searching from the depths of spiritual life — Tolstoy; and on the other side the steel tycoon, the rich man, the man about whom one knows literally hardly more than that he thought about how the accumulated wealth is to be used best of all — Carnegie. Then again the arrangement of both persons with spiritual science or anthroposophy.
Indeed, with Tolstoy nobody probably doubts that one can illumine the depths of his soul with the light of spiritual science. However, with Carnegie some probably say, what has this man to do generally with spiritual science, this man of the only practical, business work? — Spiritual science would be the grey theory, the unrealistic and life-hostile worldview as one regards it is so often, if it does not care a little about the issues of practical life, as one believes sometimes. Therefore, it could appear weird that just such a man of practical life is adduced to illustrate certain issues. If one has understood that this spiritual science is something that can flow into all single fields, yes, into the most mundane fields of practical life, then one does not consider it as something surprising that also this personality is adduced to illustrate something that should be just illustrated within spiritual science. Secondly — to speak in the sense of Emerson — we have two representative personalities of our time before ourselves. The one like the other expresses the whole striving on the one side, the work on the other side typically, as they prevail in our time. Just the opposite of the whole development of personality and soul is so characteristic with these both men on one side for the variety of life and work in our time, on the other side, nevertheless, again for the basic nerve, the real goals of our present.
We have, on one side, Tolstoy who has grown out of a distinguished class, of wealth and abundance, of a life sphere in which everything is included that external life can offer as comfort and convenience. He is a human being whom his soul development has brought almost to proclaim the worthlessness of all he got with birth, not only to himself, but also to the whole humankind like a Gospel. We have the American steel tycoon on the other side, a personality that has grown out of hardship and misery, grown out of a life sphere where nothing at all exists of that which external life can offer as convenience and comfort. A person who had to earn dollar by dollar and who ascended to the biggest wealth, who got around in the course of his soul development to regarding this accumulation of wealth as something absolutely normal for the present and to thinking only about it how this accumulated wealth is to be used to the welfare and happiness of humankind. What Tolstoy never desired when he had reached the summit of his soul development he had it abundantly in the beginning of his life. The external goods of life that Carnegie had abundantly acquired last were refused to him in the beginning of his life. This is the expression of their natures, even if in exterior way, however, the characteristic of both personalities to a certain extent at the same time. What can take action with a person in our time, what one can reflect of these external processes in and around the personality shows us with both what prevails in our present in the undergrounds of the social and mental existence generally. We see Tolstoy, as said, born out of a sphere of life in which everything existed that one can call comfort, wealth, and refinement of life. Of course, we can deal only quite cursorily with his life, because today it concerns of characterising our time in these representative personalities and of recognising their needs in a certain way.
In 1828, Leo Tolstoy is born in a family of Russian counts about which he himself says that the family immigrated originally from Germany. Then we see Tolstoy losing certain higher goods of life. Hardly he is one and a half years old, he loses the mother, the father in the ninth year. Then he grows up under the care of a relative who is, so to speak, the embodied love, and from her spiritual condition, the marvellous soul condition had to flow in his soul like by itself. However, on the other side, another relative who wants to build up him out of the viewpoints of her circles, out of the conditions of time as they formed in certain circles influences him. She is a person who is completely merged in the outward world activity which later became very odious to Tolstoy and against which he fought so hard. We see this personality striving from the outset to make Tolstoy a person “comme il faut,” a person who could treat his farmers in such a way, as it was necessary in those days, who should receive title, rank, dignity, and medals and should play a suitable role in the society.
Then we see Tolstoy coming to the university; he is a bad student as he absolutely thinks that everything that the professors say at the University of Kazan is nothing worth knowing. Only oriental languages can occupy him. In all other matters, he was not interested. Against it the comparison of a certain chapter of the code of Catherine the Great (1729–1796) with The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Montesquieu (Charles de Secondat, Baron de M., 1689–1755) attracted him. Then he tries repeatedly to manage his estate, and we see him almost getting around to diving head first into the life of luxury of a man of his circles, diving head first into all possible vices and vanities of life. We see him becoming a gambler, gambling big sums away. However, he has hours within this life over and over again when his own activities disgust him, actually. We see him meeting peers as well as men of letters and leading a life, which he calls a worthless, even perishable one at moments of reflection. However, we also see — and this is important to him who looks with pleasure at the development of the soul where this development manifests in especially typical signs — particular peculiarities appearing with him in the development of his soul which can disclose us already in the earliest youth what is, actually, in this soul.
Thus, it is of immense significance, what a deep impression a certain event makes on Tolstoy at the age of eleven years. A friendly boy once told him that one has made an important discovery, a new invention. One has found — and a teacher has spoken in particular of the fact — that there is no God that this God is only an empty invention of many human beings, an empty picture of thought. Everything that one can know about the impression that this boy's experience made on Tolstoy shows already how he absorbed it that in him a soul struggled striving for the highest summits of human existence.
However, this soul was weird in other ways as well. Those people who like to state outer appearances and do not pay attention to that in the soul, which emerges from the centre as the actual individual through all outer obstacles, they ignore and do not pay attention to anything in such youth experiences that has different effects on the one soul and on the other one. In particular, one has to pay attention if a soul shows a disposition in the earliest youth that one could pronounce with the nice sentence of Goethe in the second part of his Faust: “I love the man who wants what cannot be.” This sentence says a lot. A soul, which desires, so to speak, something that is obvious foolishness to the philistine view, such a soul, if it appears in its first youth as such, shows the width of the scope of view just by such peculiarities. Thus, one must not ignore it, if Tolstoy tells such things in one of his first writings, in which he gives reflections of his own development.
We are not allowed to ignore when he says there things, which were absolutely valid for him, for example, when he shaved off his eyebrows and defaced his not very extensive beauty in such a way for a while. This is something that one can regard as a big outlandishness. However, if one thinks about it, it becomes an indication. Another example is that the boy imagines that the human being can fly if he presses the arms against the knees rather stiffly. If he did this, he would be able to fly, he thinks. He goes up once in the second floor and jumps out of the window, retaining the heels. He is saved like by a miracle and carries off nothing but a little concussion, which compensates one another by an 18-hour sleep again. He proved for his surroundings with it to be a strange boy. However, someone who wants to observe the soul and knows what it means to go out in his soul in the earliest youth from the track, which is predetermined on the left and on the right, does not disregard features in the life of a young person. Thus, this soul seems to be great and to have many talents from the start. Hence, we can understand that he was fulfilled with a certain disgust of himself when he was tired of the debaucheries of life, which were due to his social rank, in particular after a gamble affair.
When he goes then to the Caucasus, we can understand that there his soul becomes fond of the simple Cossacks, of those people whom he gets to know and recognises that they have, actually, quite different souls than all those people whom he had got to know up to now basically. All the principles of his peers appeared to him so unnatural. Everything that he had believed up to now seemed to him so strange, so separated from the original source of existence. However, the human beings, whom he got to know now, were people whose souls had grown together with the sources of nature like the tree by the roots with the sources of nature, like the flower with the liquid of the ground. It impressed him enormously that they were grown together with nature, that they had not become foreign to the sources of existence, that they were beyond good and evil in their circles.
In 1854, when he became a soldier, full of zest for action, to take part in the Crimean War, we see him with the most intensive devotion studying the whole soul life of the simple soldier. However, we see now a more specified feeling taking place in Tolstoy's soul, we see him being deeply moved by the naturalness of the simple human being on the one side, on the other side, also by the misery, poverty, the tortures, and depression of the simple human being. We see how he is fulfilled with love and desire to help, and that the highest ideals of human happiness, human welfare, and progress flash as shades in his mind, how he realises completely on the other side that the natural human beings cannot understand his ideals. This causes a conflict in his soul, something that does not allow him to penetrate to the basic core of his being.
Thus, he is thrown back repeatedly from that life he leads and in which he is thrown just with the Danube army from one extreme to the other. A superior says, he is a golden human being whom one can never forget again. He works like a soul that pours out goodness only and, on the other hand, has the ability to amuse the others in the most difficult situations. Everything is different if he is there. If he is not there, everybody hangs his head. If he has plunged into life, he comes back with a terrible remorse, with awful regret to the camp. Between such moods, this great soul was thrown back and forth. From these moods and experiences those views and pictorial descriptions of his literary career come, which caused, for example, the most accepting review even from Turgenev (Ivan T., 1818–1883, Russian author), and which have found recognition everywhere. However, we see at the same time how in a certain way beside the real centre, the centre of his soul, always he looks at the big strength, at the basic spring of life, how he struggles for the concepts of truth and human progress. However, he cannot help saying at a being together with Turgenev: you all do not have, actually, what one calls conviction. You talk, actually, only to hide your conviction.
One can say, life made his soul feel low, bringing it into heavy, bitter conflicts. Indeed, something most serious should yet come. At the end of the fifties, one of his brothers fell ill and died. Tolstoy had often seen death in war, had often looked at dying human beings, but he had not yet realised the problem of life to such extent as at the sight of the beloved dying brother. Tolstoy was not so fulfilled at that time with philosophical or religious contents that these contents could have supported him. He was in such a basic mood that expressed itself towards death possibly in such a way that he said, I am incapable to give life a goal. I see life decreasing, I see it running in my peers worthlessly; they do things which are not worth to be done. If one strings up an event to the other and forms ever so long rows, nothing valuable results. — At that time, he could also not see any contents and life goal in the fact that the lower social classes were in distress and misery.
He said to himself at that time, such a life whose sense one searches in vain is finished by the futility of death and if the life of everybody and any animal ends in the futility of death, who is generally able to speak about the meaning of life? Sometimes, Tolstoy had already set himself the goal to strive for perfection of his soul, to search contents for the soul. He had not advanced so far that any contents of life could be roused in the soul even from the spirit. Therefore, the sight of death had put the riddle of life in such horrible figure before his spiritual eye.
We see him travelling in Europe just in the same time. We see him visiting the most interesting cities of Europe — in France, Italy, Germany. We see him getting to know some valuable persons. He gets to know Schopenhauer (Arthur Sch., 1788–1860, German philosopher) personally shortly before his death, he gets to know Liszt (1811–1882, Austrian-Hungarian composer) and still some others, some luminaries of science and art. He gets to know something of the social life, gets to know the court life at Weimar. Everything was accessible to him; however, he looks at everything with eyes from which the attitude looks that has just been characterised. From all that he had gained only one: as well as it is at home, in the circles, which he has grown out of, it is also in Western Europe.
Now a goal faces him in particular. He wanted to found a kind of model school, and he founded it in his hometown where every pupil should learn after his talents where it should not be a stencil. We cannot get involved with the description of the pedagogic principles, which one used there. However, this must be stressed that he had an ideal of education in mind, which should meet the individuality of the child.
We see a kind of interregnum taking place, where in certain way the stormy soul experiences a kind of standstill, that soul in which the problems and the questions followed in rapid succession, into which the sensations and emotions have flowed in contradicting way. A calmer life prevails in it. This time begins with the marriage in the sixties. It was the time from which the great novels come in which he gave the comprising tremendous pictures of the social life of the present and the previous time: War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1873–1877). So much has flowed in from that which he had learnt onto these works.
Thus, he lived until the seventies of the last century. Then comes a time of his life where he faces a crucial decision where all qualms, doubts, and problems come to life again which prevailed once like from dark spiritual depths.
A comparison, a picture that he forms is rather typical of what his soul experienced. One needs to visualise this picture only and to know that it means quite another matter to a soul like Tolstoy's soul, as for another soul that is much more superficial. You need to visualise this picture only, and you can deeply look into the mind of Tolstoy. He compares his own life to an Eastern fable, which he tells possibly in such a way:
There is a man, pursued by a beast. He flees, finds a dried out well and plunges into it to escape from the beast. He holds fast onto the branches, which have grown out on the sides of the well wall. In this way, he thinks he is protected against the pursuing monster. However, in the depth, he sees a dragon, and he has the feeling, he must be devoured by it if he gets tired only a little or if the branch breaks, onto which he holds fast. There he also sees on the leaves of the shrub some drops of honey from which he could feed himself. Nevertheless, at the same time he also sees mice gnawing away at the roots of the shrub onto which he holds fast.
Two things to which Tolstoy adhered were family love and art. For the rest, he considered life in such a way that all tantalising worries of life pursue him. He escapes one and is welcomed by the other monster. Then one sees mice gnawing away the few things that one still. — One must take the picture deeply enough to see what goes forward in such a soul, what is shown there and what Tolstoy experienced in all thinking, feeling and willing in the most extensive way. The branches still pleased him. However, he also found various things, which had to gnaw away at the delight in them. If the whole life is in such a way, that one cannot find sense in it, that one looks for the meaning of life in vain, what does it mean to have a family, to build up descendants to whom one transfers the same futility? This was also something he had in mind. And art? If life is worthless, what about art, the mirror of life? Can art be valuable if it only is able to reflect that in which one looks for sense in vain?
That just stood before his soul and burnt in him after an interregnum again. Where he looked around with all those who tried to fathom the meaning of life in great philosophies and in the most various worldviews, he nowhere found anything that could satisfy his searching. Recently it was in such a way that he turned his look to those people who were originally connected with the springs of life according to his opinion. These human beings had preserved a natural sense, a natural piety. He said to himself, the scholar who lives like me, who overestimates his reason finds nothing in all researching that could interpret the meaning of life to him. If I look at the usual human being who unites there in sects: he knows, why he lives, he knows the meaning of life. How does he know this, and how does he know the meaning of life? Because he experiences the sensation in himself, there is a will, the everlasting divine will as I call it. What lives in me devotes itself to the divine will. What I do from morning to evening is a part of the divine will. If I move the hands, I move them in the will of the divine. Without being brought by reason to abstractions, the hands move. — That faced him so peculiarly, that grasped him so intensely: if the human is deeply grasped in the soul. He said to himself, there are human beings who can answer the question of the meaning of life to themselves that they can use.
It is even magnificent how he contrasts these simple human beings with those who he got to know in his surroundings. Everything is thought out of the monumental of the paradigms. He says, I got to know people who did not understand to give life any meaning. They lived by force of habit, although they could gain no meaning of life, but I got to know those who committed suicide, because they could not find any meaning of life. — Tolstoy himself was before it.
Thus, he studied that category of human beings about whom he had to say to himself, it could not be talk of a meaning of life and of a life with a meaning. However, the human being, who is still connected with the sources of nature, whose soul is connected with the divine forces as the plant with the forces of life, can answer to the question: why do I live? — Therefore, Tolstoy came so far to search for a community with those simple human beings in the religious life. He became religious in certain way, although the outer forms made a repellent impression on him. He went to the Communion again. Now it was something in him that one can explain in such a way: he strove with all fibers of his soul to find and to feel a goal. Nevertheless, again his thinking and feeling impeded him everywhere in certain way. He was able to pray together with these human beings, who were believers in the naive sense and answered to the question of the meaning of life to themselves.
He could pray — and this is tremendously typical — up to the point of a uniform way of feeling. However, he was not able to go further when they prayed: we confess ourselves to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. — This made no sense to him. It is generally typical that he was able to come up to a certain point, looking for a religious life, which was based on brotherly feelings. This life in devoutness should produce a unity of feelings, unity of thoughts. However, he could not rise to the positive contents, the knowledge of the spirit, to the spiritual view, which gives reality. The traditional dogmatics meant nothing to him. He could not connect any sense with the words, which are given in the Trinity.
Thus, he came, while all these things flocked together, to the mature period of his life, to the period in which he tried to delve completely into that which he could call true, real Christianity. He strove in such a way, as if he had wanted to comprise, to penetrate the liveliness of Christ's soul with his own soul. With this spirit of Christ's soul, he wanted to penetrate himself. A worldview should arise from it, and from this something like a transformation of all present life should result which he subjected to harsh criticism. Because he believes now to feel in his soul, what Christ had thought and felt, he feels strong enough to issue a challenge to all ways of life, to all ways of feeling and thinking of the present. He criticised harshly that out of which he has grown and which he could see in the farther environment of his time. He feels strong enough to put up the demand, on the other side, to let the spirit of Christ prevail and to get out a renewal of all human life out of the spirit of Christ. With it, we have characterised, so to speak, his maturing soul and have seen this soul having grown out of that which many of our contemporaries call the summits of life. We have seen this soul getting around to harshly criticise the summits of life, and to putting as its next goal the renewal of the spirit of Christ which it finds strange to everything that lives presently, in the renewal of Christ's life which it nowhere finds in reality. Therefore, in certain sense, Tolstoy says no to the present and affirms what he calls the spirit of Christ, which he could not find in the present but only in the first times of Christianity. He had to go back to the historical sources, which came up to him. There we have a representative of our present who has grown out of the present, saying no to this present.
Now we have a look at the other man, who affirms most intensely, what Tolstoy denies most intensely, who reaches the same formula but applies it quite differently. There we see Carnegie, the Scotsman, growing out of that dividing line of modern times which we can characterise by the fact that trade, large-scale industry and the like sweep away the small trade from the social order. We really see Carnegie growing out of that dividing line of modern life, which a newer poet so nicely characterised with the words (poem by Heinrich von Reder, 1824–1909, Bavarian officer, poet, and painter):
Gone to rack on a mule track
a smithy stands in woodland solitude;
no longer does the hammer blow
accompanied by merry songs.
Not far away the buildings rise
where sooted blacksmiths
are working so hard.
With the steam mill's nails
the coffin is closed,
it carries the nail-smith
impoverished to grave.
One needs to wake only such a mood, and one illuminates brightly that dividing line in the cultural development of modern times, which has become so important to life. Carnegie's father was a weaver who had a good living at first. He worked for a factory. This went well up to the time when the large-scale industry flooded everything. Now we see the last day approaching, when Carnegie's father can still deliver the produced to the trader. Then poverty and misery enter in the weaver's family. The father does no longer see any possibility to make a living in Scotland. He decides to emigrate to America, so that both sons do not live in misery and die.
The father finds work in a cotton factory, and the boy is employed as a bobbin boy in his twelfth year. He has to perform hard work. However, there is after one week of hard, heavy work a happy day for the 12-year-old boy. He gets his first wage: 1 dollar and 20 cents. Never again — so says Carnegie — he has taken up any income with such delighted soul as this dollar and twenty cents. Nothing made more joy to him later, although many millions went through his fingers. We see the representative of practical pursuit in our present that grows out of distress and misery that is natured in such a way to immerse himself in the present, as it is, and to become the self-made man in it. He struggles. He gains his dollar every week.
Then somebody employs him in another factory with a better wage. Here he has to work even more, he must stand in the basement and has to heat and maintain a small steam engine with big heat. He feels that as a responsible post. The fear to turn the tap of the engine wrongly what could lead to an accident for the whole factory is dreadful to him. He often catches himself sitting in his bed at night and dreaming of the tap the whole night which he turned taking care of turning it in the right direction.
Then we see him employed as a telegraph messenger in Pittsburgh after some time. There he is already highly happy with the small wage of the telegraph messenger. He has to work at a place where also books are which he had hardly seen before. Sometimes he also has newspapers to read. He has now only one worry: telegraph messengers are not to be needed in the city if they are not able to know all addresses of the companies by heart, which receive telegrams. He really manages to know the names and addresses of the Pittsburgh companies. He also already develops a certain independence. His consciousness is paired exceptionally with cleverness. He goes now a little earlier to the telegraph office, and there he learns to telegraph by own practicing. Thus, he can aim at the ideal that any telegraph messenger is allowed to have in a young, ambitious community: to become a telegraph operator once. He even succeeds in a special trick. When one morning the telegraph operator was not there, a death message comes in. He takes up the telegram and carries it to the newspaper to which it was determined. There are connections where one regards such an action, even if it succeeds, not as favourable. However, Carnegie thereby climbed up to the telegraph operator.
Now something else presented itself to him. A man who dealt with railways recognises the talents of the young man and one day he makes the following proposal to him. He said to him, he should take over railway stocks of 500 dollars that had just become available. He can win a lot if he pursues these matters. Carnegie tells now — it is delightful how he tells this — how he raised 500 dollars really by the care and love of his mother, and how he bought his stocks. When he got the first revenue, the first payment of more than five dollars, he went with his fellows out to the wood. They looked at the payment and thought and learnt to recognise that there is something else than to be paid for work, something that makes money from money. That aroused big viewpoints in Carnegie's life. With it, he grew into the characteristic of our time.
Thus, we see him immediately understanding when another proposal is made. It is typical how he grasps with complete presence of mind what appears before his soul for the first time. An inventive head shows him the model of the first sleeping car. Straight away, he recognises that there is something tremendously fertile in it, so that he takes part in it. He emphasises now again by what this consciousness, actually, grew. He did not have enough money to take part in suitable way in the enterprise of the first sleeping car society of the world. However, his ingenious head caused that he got money already from a bank: he issued his first bill of exchange. This is nothing particular, he says, but this is something particular that he finds a banker who accepts this bill of exchange. This was the case.
Now he needed to develop this only to become completely the man of the present. Hence, we have not to be surprised that he became a steel tycoon when he got the idea to replace the many wooden bridges with iron and steel bridges, that he became the man who set the tone in the steel industry and acquired the countless riches. Thus, we really see the type of the human being in him who grows into the present, the present, which unfolds the most exterior life. He grows into the most outward of appearance. However, he grows into it by his own strength, by his abilities. He becomes the extensively rich person out of distress and misery, while he himself really acquired everything from the first dollar on. He is a pensive person who associates this whole impulse of his life with the progress and life of whole humanity.
Thus, we see another strange Gospel growing out of his way of thinking, a Gospel that follows Christ. However, Carnegie immediately says at the beginning of his Gospel, it is a Gospel of wealth (essay Wealth or Gospel of Wealth, 1889). That is why his book shows how wealth is applied best of all to the welfare and to the progress of humanity. He opposes Tolstoy immediately about whom he says: he is a person who takes Christ in such a way as it is not suitable at all to our time, who regards him as a strange being of old past. One must understand Christ in such a way that one transfers Him to the present life. — Carnegie is a person who affirms the whole life of the present completely. He says: if we look back at the times when the human being were more alike than today, they were still less divided into those who had to assign a job and those who have to take a job, and if we compare the times, we see how primitive the single cultures were in those days. The king was not able in that old time to satisfy his needs in such a way as today the poorest person can satisfy them now. What happened had to happen. That is why it is right that one distributes the goods in such a way.
Carnegie establishes a strange doctrine of the distribution or application of wealth. Above all, we find with him that ideas of the purely personal efficiency, of the nature of the efficiency of the human being originate in his soul who has worked his way in life up to that which he becomes in the end. At first Carnegie sees outward goods only, then also that the human being must be efficient, externally efficient. Someone has to apply his efficiency not only to acquire wealth but also to manage it in the service of humanity.
Carnegie intensely draws the attention to the fact that quite new principles would have to enter, so to speak, in the social construction of humanity if welfare and progress should originate from the new progress and the distribution of goods. He says, we have institutions of former time that make it possible that by inheritance from the father to the son and the grandchildren goods, rank, title and dignities go over. In the life of the old time, this was possible. — He regards it as right that one can substitute with routine what the personal efficiency does not give: rank, title, dignities.
Nevertheless, he is convinced by that life he has experienced that it requires personal, individual efficiency. He points to the fact that one had ascertained that five of seven insolvent houses became insolvent, because they demised to the sons. Rank, title, and dignities devolved from the fathers upon the sons, however, never business acumen. In those parts of modern life, where commercial principles prevail, they should not be transmitted simply from the testator to the descendants. It is much more important that someone builds up a personally efficient man, than to bequeath his wealth to his children. That is why Carnegie concludes in the absurd sentence: someone has to make sure that he applies the accumulated wealth to such institutions and foundations by which the human beings are promoted to the largest extent. — The sentence with which he formulates this, which can appear grotesque, which originates, however, from Carnegie's whole way of thinking is this: “Who dies rich dies dishonourably.” One could say in certain sense, this sentence of the steel tycoon sounds even more revolutionary than many a sentence of Tolstoy.
”He who dies rich dies dishonourably” means: someone dies dishonourably who does not apply the accumulated goods to endowments by which the human beings can learn something, can get the possibility to do further studies. If he makes many human beings efficient with his wealth during his life and does not hand it down to descendants, who can use it their way lacking any talent and only to their personal well-being, he dies not dishonourably.
Thus, we see with Carnegie a very strange principle appearing. We see that he affirms the present social life and activity, that he gains, however, a new principle from it: the fact that the human being has to advocate not only the use of wealth, but also its management, as a manager of the goods in the service of humanity. This man does not at all believe that anything can devolve from the parents upon their descendants. Even if he knows the outward life only, he realises, nevertheless, that inside of the human being the forces have to originate which make the human being efficient to do his work in life.
We see these two representatives of our present: that who harshly criticizes what has developed bit by bit and who wants to lead the soul to higher fields out of the spirit. On the other side, we see a man who takes the material life as it comes, and who is pointed to the fact that within the human being the spring of work and of the health of life is to be found. Nevertheless, one may find something just in this teaching of Carnegie that allows me to remark the following. If anybody does not look thoughtlessly and pointlessly at this soul life, but looks at the forces pouring out of the souls bit by bit, does look at the individual, and is clear in his mind absolutely that it is not handed down, — what has one then to look at? One has to look at the real origin, at that which comes from other sources. One finds if one comes to the sources of the present talents and abilities that these are caused in former lives. By the principle of reincarnation and of spiritual causing, karma, one finds the possibility to process such a principle meditatively that it has forced the practical life upon a practical person.
Nobody can hope that from a mere externalisation of life anything could come that the soul satisfies, can bring the civilisation to the highest summits. Never can one hope that on those roads anything else would come than a distribution of wealth salutary in the external sense. The soul would become deserted, it would overexert its forces, but it would find nothing in itself if it could not penetrate to the sources of the spirit, which are beyond the external material life. While the soul is rejected by a material approach to life, it must find the spring, which can flow only from a spiritual approach to life. With such a life praxis, as Carnegie has it, that deepening and spiritualisation coming from spiritual science have to combine, so that the souls do not become deserted. On the one side, Carnegie demands that from the single soul, which makes it fit for the external life, on the other side, Tolstoy wants to give the single soul what it can find from the deep well of the spiritual being.
As well as Carnegie grasps the being of the present with sure look from the material life, we find Tolstoy on the other side with sure look grasping the characteristic of the soul. Up to a certain limiting point, we see Tolstoy coming who affects us, indeed, strangely if we compare everything that lives in Tolstoy's worldview to that which faces us in particular in the West-European civilisation.
One can examine work by work of Tolstoy and one sees one fact emerging above all. The matters, which one has gathered here in the West with an immense expenditure of philosophical reflection, academic pondering, and moving conclusions from pillars to post, appear to Tolstoy in such a way that they occur in five to six lines like flashes of thought and become conviction to that who can understand such a thing. Tolstoy shows, for example, how we have to find something in the human soul that is of divine nature that can visualise the divine in the world if it lights up in us. Tolstoy says there, around me, the academic naturalists live; they investigate what is real outdoors in the material, in the so-called objective existence. They search the divine primal ground of existence. Then such people try to compose the human being from all principles, substances, atoms et cetera that they search spread out outdoors in the space. Then in the end, they try to understand what the human being is, while they believe to have to combine all external science to find the primal ground of life. Such human beings, he says, appear to me like human beings who have trees and plants of the living nature round themselves. They say, this does not interest me. But there is a wood far away, I hardly see it; I want to investigate and describe this wood, then I also understand the trees and the plants which are around me, and I am able to describe them. — People appear to me that way who investigate the being of the animals with their instruments to get to know the nature of the human being. They have it in themselves; they only need to see what is in close proximity. However, they do not do this. They search the faraway trees, and they try to understand what they cannot see, the atoms. However, they do not see the human being.
This way of thinking is so monumental that it is more valuable than dozens of insights and theories that are written out of old cultures. This is typical for the whole thinking of Tolstoy. To such things, he came, and in such things, one must look. To the West European this is extremely unsatisfactory; only by a devious route via Kant he gets around to it. With the assurance of his soul, Tolstoy is driven to pronounce what is not proved, but is true, what is recognised by immediate view and of which one knows if it is pronounced that it is true. His work On Life (1887) shows this monumental original springing of the deepest truth like from the spring of life, which he searched. His last writings just show this and what is in such a way that it can shine like an aurora to a rising future.
Therefore, we have to say, the less we are inclined to take Tolstoy dogmatically, the more we are inclined to take up the gold nuggets of a primitive paradigmatic thinking, the more he becomes fertile. Of course, those who accept a personality only in such a way that they swear on their dogmas, who cannot allow to be fertilised by it, they do not have a lot from him. Something does not agree with them. However, someone who can allow to be fertilised by a great personality may receive a lot from Tolstoy. We see truth working in him, paradigmatically, and that this truth flows with strong forces onto his personal life. How does it flow in there? It is rather interesting to see that different views live in his family and tolerate each other. How was he able, however, to introduce his principles in the everyday life? By working, and not only with principles. Thereby he becomes a true pioneer of something that only must sprout in future. On the other side, Tolstoy is also a child of his time, even though he is a pioneer of the future.
It is also that way with the variety of the forces which live in Tolstoy, and which could not be expressed so really. It is in such a way, as if they are expressed as caricatures, distorted in certain respect. One has also to recognise the character in him that is sometimes distorted grotesquely. Hence, it is quite wonderful if he is able to point to that which one calls something transient with the human beings normally: look at the human body. How often its substances have been exchanged! Nothing material is there that was there in the ten-year-old boy. Compare the usual consciousness to the image life of the fifty years old man: it has become completely different, until the soul structure. We cannot call it permanent, but everywhere we find the centre in it, which we may imagine possibly in the following way. The objects of the outside world are there. There is this, there is that, there a third one. Two human beings face the objects. The eyes see the same things, but they are to the one this way, to the other that way. The one says, I like this; the other says: I do not like this. — If in the outside world everything is the same, and if the one soul says, I like it, and the other says, I do not like it, if the way of life is different, a centre is there that is different from all appearance that remains constant, in spite of all change of consciousness and body. Something is there that was there before birth and is there after birth, my particular ego. This my particular ego has not begun with birth. It is not the point that anybody positions himself with the west-European habits to such a remark, but it matters that one has the sensation: one can do such a remark. Therein the greatness of the soul appears. It becomes apparent that the soul lives and how it lives. Immortality is guaranteed therein.
Tolstoy just approaches the border of that which we get to know as the innermost being of the soul by spiritual-scientific deepening. He is wedged by the world against which he himself fights so much and cannot penetrate to true cognition of that which is there before birth, and of that which comes after death. He does not come to the teaching of reincarnation and karma. Just as little, he gets to the inner impulse of the soul like Carnegie who almost demands it. Therefore, we see whether now a human being is in contradiction to everything that lives and works in the present or whether someone complies with all life forms of the present: he is led to the gates of the anthroposophic approach to life. Tolstoy would be able to find the way to Carnegie, Carnegie never to Tolstoy.
With this talk, I wanted to show that a worldview and an approach to life could be given which introduces into the immediate life praxis, which can transfer the newfound to the known, to the performed. Moreover, we see if we familiarise ourselves deeper and deeper with spiritual science that it brings that to the human beings of the one and the other view which, in the end, Tolstoy has found his way and Carnegie has found his way: a satisfying life. However, it does not depend on it that the immediate viewfinder finds the satisfactory life, and that those who search with him can find it. What Tolstoy and Carnegie have found for themselves as adequate, this can be found for all human beings only impersonally and spiritually if true spiritual knowledge of that is found which goes from life to life, which carries the guaranty of eternity in itself.