Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Calendar of the Soul

Northern Hemisphere

Week 5

Within the light that out of spirit depths
Weaves germinating power into space
And manifests the gods' creative work:
Within its shine, the soul's true being
Is widened into worldwide life
And resurrected
From narrow selfhood's inner power.

Southern Hemisphere

Week 31

The light from spirit depths
Strives to ray outwards, sun-imbued;
Transformed to forceful will of life
It shines into the senses' dullness
To bring to birth the powers
Whereby creative forces, soul-impelled,
Shall ripen into human deeds.

—Translation by Ruth and Hans Pusch

See GA 40 for full calendar and German text.

The Tension Between East and West
GA 83
Part II: Anthroposophy and Sociology

2. The Individual Spirit and the Social Structure

8 June 1922, Vienna

A few months ago, the British Colonial Secretary remarked that the world's centre of gravity has shifted from the Baltic and Atlantic to the Pacific. His observation is certainly indicative of the transformation now taking place in the social structure of the whole world. Only now, in fact, is the world gradually beginning, in circumstances that have arisen in the course of centuries and have changed so significantly as a result of the cruellest of wars, to realize the consequences of something that has long been brewing — the fact that not only economic and social relationships, but the whole of human relationships throughout the world are tending to transform themselves into a totality, a single entity.

If this is true, however, then the change in external economic organization (directly determined by the conversion of world trade into a world economy from the last third of the nineteenth century onwards) must also be followed by a profound spiritual transformation throughout the world, of which perhaps only the beginnings can be discerned today.

Yet we must also remember that, however social structures may change throughout the world, there live within them human beings who must reach an understanding as men if they wish to establish a relationship with one another. Understanding between men, however, involves trust. And trust involves a kind of insight into the souls of others. In Western civilization to date it has only been possible, generally speaking, to extend our horizons slightly, to include the Continent of Europe and its immediate colonial dependencies. A world-wide view has yet to be found.

Starting from one or two features of the historical background, which yet are directly reflected in man's life today, I shall try this evening to indicate what is actually happening in this direction. To do so, I shall first have to say something about understanding and attempts at understanding within Western civilization itself.

If you listen to the way educated Englishmen speak about Europe, about Central Europe and in particular about Germany, which has set the tone in certain respects for so long in Central Europe, what they say — and write in their books — is usually something like this: With us, everything rests on a democratic basis. The individual very largely determines what happens in spiritual and also in economic life. The greater part of public affairs is left to individual initiative. But when we look across at Central Europe — I do not want to claim that what they say is absolutely correct, only to illustrate what is in fact a widely-held view — a certain autocracy becomes apparent, a system of administration by officials — very capable, of course — who determine, from the centre of national life, the nature of individual human relationships. There is — or was before the war, at least — always this pointed reference to a centralized and more or less autocratic system. If we were then to look further East, we should have to say, following the same line of thought: further East, we find not just autocracy, but a kind of patriarchal autocracy. This is pervaded, not only by the ordinances of administrators, but also by a religious impulse: men therefore feel that what they do on earth is actually ordained by spiritual, extra-terrestrial powers and entities, the impulses from which are absorbed into their feelings.

Behind this English attitude there certainly lies something of great importance, which affects all the social structures of the present day. We can say: the further West we go, the more man with his whole thinking and feeling is bound up in the affairs he has to manage. This comes out most clearly when we look at economic affairs. In the West, what a man wishes to accomplish in economic life he accomplishes by attention to practical detail. He has an immediate personal relationship with the externals of life. In Central Europe, as the psychologically perceptive observer cannot help noticing, things are rather different. There is a tendency towards what the Englishman, from his standpoint, calls “academic administration by the state:” a tendency for certain ideas to prevail which are regarded as correct. These are expected to shape laws and inform administrative principles, and are set forth from the beginning in an administrative, a political system. The individual who comes to the affairs of actual life, even economic affairs, may look to economic practice first of all; but he is always looking over his shoulder at something of a juridical-political character that belongs to one of these systems. And he regards his personal activities as a part of such a system. The Englishman has no inclination to think up a system of this kind; his eye is only on the concrete details of life, not on the overall system that imposes itself upon them.

At this point, our attention is drawn to a historical phenomenon that has become particularly important in very recent times. For millions upon millions of people, the name of Karl Marx is of extraordinary significance. The rigidly dogmatic and formula-ridden Marxism that occupied the souls of many millions of men like a kind of religion, fifty years or so ago, has been modified in many ways. Yet for the broad masses of the European proletariat, the name Marx still denotes a prophet of social reorganization. On this occasion, I am not concerned to demonstrate the errors of Marxism. I only want to point to a certain aspect of Marx as a historical phenomenon.

Marx was educated in Central Europe, in Germany, where he absorbed a disposition towards the kind of systematization of ideas that I have just been describing. Then, however, he went to the West, to France and in particular to England, in order to study concrete details of the social and economic development of recent times. What he studied were concrete details — for that is all that exists in the British working-class. What he constructed from them is a system of social organization such as only a Central European temperament can create. And this system took root, not primarily in the West, but in Central Europe. And we may say: the concrete details that Marx observed in the West he shaped into a grand systematic edifice of ideas, which his disciples have made increasingly dogmatic and increasingly theoretical. It came to be regarded as the ideal organization of human society as a whole from the economic standpoint. And when its exponents had the opportunity of realizing it in Eastern Europe, it became, in a sense, the ideal economic and political organization — though in fact it has not been realized to any great extent, and even this little is gradually leading to absurdity. The essential point, however, is that we can see quite clearly, just with a phenomenon like this, how fundamentally the mode of thought even in Central Europe differs from that in Western Europe. From this, however, we must suppose that the variations throughout the world are very much greater still, and that only an impartial attitude, quite free of preconceptions, is capable of gaining a conspectus of these variations.

What strikes us as diversity within the small sphere of Western civilization must be seen today against a world background. This is because our present-day structures, including the social ones, are affected by world conditions as these have developed historically in East and West, just as they are affected by philosophical impulses, in the way I have described here in the last few days. A similar approach will be in place when we attempt to depict present-day social structures.

In so many of these, a great deal survives in a disguised form, so that its origin is only dimly visible. What originated long ago in the East exists side by side with what is specifically Central European and with what is just beginning to appear in the West as a quite new configuration. This is true of the social structures as it was of the philosophical situation throughout the world.

When we look across at the East — which, at some time in the future. Western structures will have to be extended to include — we can see in the modes of thought and social attitudes of people today definite survivals of ancient institutions and ancient impulses from which these arose. Decadent as it has become in the East, everything that can still be observed today points back to times when the Orient was ruled by a variety of priest-theocracies. In a way possible and appropriate to the culture of the time, their leaders embodied in the social structures things that they felt they had to ascertain from the spiritual worlds by means of the old instinctive spiritual vision, as I have described in the last few days. On the basis of historical documents, people today describe the priestly hierarchies as ruling by teaching the populace that all natural phenomena were inhabited by divine and spiritual entities, and that by certain magical operations one could gain the favour of these gods, or their love. This is true of a later epoch of the Oriental priest-theocracies, but it is precisely a later epoch, when the original qualities of the Orient were already in decline.

It is true that, in ancient Oriental civilization, certain select individuals sought a kind of connection with the spiritual world which was based on things that have no charms at all for us today. It was based on certain quite material activities of the human body: potions that were brewed and substances that were eaten. They regarded as a secret the fact that, by the consumption of these potions and substances, man's normal sensory activity is suspended, and he is taken back to times when there was as yet no sense of purely external natural law and when spiritual life, too, was not yet so abstract as it later became — times when the moral and spiritual element was still united with the physical and natural. These priest-scholars sought to return to primeval ages in the development of the earth itself by associating their metabolism with certain material essences of the outside world.

What they were actually asserting we again become capable of understanding when, by the quite different modern path into super-sensible worlds, we come to know what I expounded in my fifth lecture: that through spiritual insight into his own nature man experiences within himself a kind of world-memory. He thus goes back, in his spiritual vision of course, to times when for men natural laws were not as they are today — expressing themselves more or less by chance — and spiritual laws were not so abstract as they are today. In consequence, spiritual vision arrives, not at the purely mechanistic Kant-Laplace nebula, but at an origin of the earth that is to be interpreted physically and spiritually. As I have demonstrated in the last few days, the world-memory men gain in this way is achieved entirely without manipulating the physical, in a spiritual way by spiritual exercises. This was not so in those early Oriental times, when men established contact with the spiritual world through stimulating their unconscious instincts by associating their metabolism with essences of one type or another. They knew what each plant in nature could develop from their instinctive life by a kind of dream-like spiritualization; they knew that, if this or that plant was eaten, the effect upon their organism was such that they could transport themselves to a particular area of spiritual activity. This was in fact the way in which the high priests of the Oriental theocracies, who also had complete power over social and political structures, originally established contact with the spiritual world. They believed they had thereby obtained impulses that proved to be the actual guiding impulses for social life.

We may say: The subsequent belief, or rather superstition, that to this or that natural object this or that “spirit” was linked, is already a product of cultural decadence. The original implication was that, if we allow these natural objects to affect us in a certain way, we shall be led to a particular kind of spiritual being, from whom we can receive various impulses, including social ones. Oracles, star-gazing, everything astrological was basically a product of the decline of these older views, towards which, however, objective science today is already being led, if dimly as yet. Objective science has given up seeing crude polytheism deep down in all primitive peoples, and can now perceive a monotheism of primitive man. In the same way, it will arrive at the outlook that has been evolved by consideration of the historical background and by spiritual investigations such as I have described.

On the one hand, therefore, there existed a complete awareness of how impulses from extra-terrestrial nature, from spiritual entities, manifest themselves in human nature itself — these impulses had, after all, been obtained by stimulating the instincts, by a spiritualization of the instincts. Yet at the same time people could not help attaching some importance to what displayed itself in these instincts, which they ascribed to the particular quality of the blood, let us say in a family with a particular constitution. In the manifestations of this instinctive life also, they detected social impulses sent into the world from extra-terrestrial spheres. When decadence later set in, it was natural, for the men who were striving for power, to take over, quite arbitrarily, the general view that looked to this manifestation of the instinctive life, which they sought in blood and in what could be discovered through its spiritualization. In this way, however, something unspiritual and (based on blood) something patriarchal entered Eastern life as a whole. We can only discuss this patriarchal element, of course, by referring to what is known; but its point of departure lies in the relations that the old priest-rulers of the Orient sought with the spiritual world. For this reason, all the social configurations of the Orient are steeped in this religious element, this awareness that divine and spiritual powers must prevail in everything on earth, and that ultimately no man should give orders unless he has first allowed the power of the divine word to flow into the spirit, the soul that is to give them. Impulses initially felt as religious, as impulses of grace from extra-terrestrial powers, thus assumed for social life the character of commandments. Even when, in certain Eastern civilizations, we appear to be confronted with laws in the later sense of the word, we soon find, when we analyse the spirit of legislation such as that of Hammurabi, for example, that it is based on impulses of the commandment type, which derive from what was regarded as the commerce of the elect with the spiritual world.

In an increasingly attenuated form, this has survived in all the social configurations that rest on ecclesiastical and religious foundations. And however much these things are disguised in social structures today, we can see, even in those left-wing associations that rest on a religious basis, that the ancient Oriental impulses I have described still operate in an attenuated form. There is much in present-day social structures that we cannot understand at all if we are not in a position to ask: In what sense do human souls cling to such structures? They cling to them because, in these souls' subconscious depths, there still remain legacies of the religious inclinations of the Orient. This is true even where the religious views themselves have taken on quite different forms, forms that have detached themselves from economic life, as is the case with the religions of the West. That the effect of Oriental religions is felt even in detailed features of economic life could be observed in Eastern Europe right down to the Great War.

To understand social configurations, we must discuss the spiritual impulses that inform them. For the description often given these days of social structures really only relates to their external appearance, as can be shown quite clearly by an example such as the following.

Today, it is clear, we can only look with horror at the social organization that is trying to establish itself in Eastern Europe. Yet in considering what is going on there today, we cannot help remembering what happened some eight hundred years ago, in China. Here, quite suddenly, men sought and very largely realized a political system that aimed at ordering all the affairs of man, even those of an economic nature, in every detail on behalf of the state. At this period in China, there were government authorities that fixed prices from week to week, authorities that laid down how the land was to be cultivated here, there and everywhere, authorities that provided country people with the seed for the year. At this period in China, an attempt was made to impose a high rate of tax on people who were particularly rich, so that gradually their fortunes passed to the general public. Remembering all this, we may say: the social configuration sought in Europe in our time by certain circles was largely realized eight hundred years ago, over a period of three decades, until the Socialist government concerned was overthrown and its supporters expelled from China. For thirty years, a system persisted whose features, if we described them without mentioning China, might very well be taken to refer to present-day Russia.

We can point to such things if our aim is to direct attention to the surface features of social structures. For here we can see that Socialism, as it is popularly understood, need not be solely a product of our own time, but could arise eight hundred years ago there in the Far East on quite different cultural foundations.

Yet if we look at the spirit of these two social structures, we observe a significant difference. In the Chinese Socialism there clearly survive features of the theocracy that had always ruled over China, and does so still; in modern Russian Socialism there is embodied an abstract thinking, culled from natural science, which has nothing whatever to do with man's consciousness of a connection with spiritual worlds. Things that appear the same in their outward form are not the same when we consider them spiritually.

Looking at human history from this standpoint, we shall find that the particular form of the theocratic state — or rather, theocratic social structures — lasted for a definite period. When the Asiatic theocracies were at their zenith, the tribes in Western and Central Europe were still in an entirely uncivilized state. In moving over to Europe, what was theocratic in form has gradually assumed a quite special shape.

If we are sufficiently unprejudiced, we can discover a transitional form in the Platonic Utopian state. There is certainly something here faintly reminiscent, I would say, of the Oriental priestly hierarchies. For this reason, no doubt, Plato wished to choose as leaders of his state those who had become — in the Greek sense, it is true — wise men, philosophers. Within Greek civilization, in fact, the philosopher took the place of the Oriental priest. Yet Plato's Utopia derives, after all, from the social outlook of his own time, in the sense that it reproduces what was currently felt about society; and in it we can recognize a form into which Oriental society had already developed. No longer was a relationship of man to super-sensible powers sought. The religious feelings appropriate to this relationship were more or less taken over from the Ancient East; what the Greeks themselves evolved, however, was something that had played no particular part in early Oriental society, and ultimately plays no particular part even in the social structures we meet in the Old Testament. What was now elaborated independently was the relationship of man to man.

We encounter this relationship in its purest form when we look into the life of the soul in Greece. Here, man still felt a certain intimate association between the spiritual and the physical in his make-up. In conscious inner life, there was for the Greek as yet no separation of body and spirit, such as there is for us. We look within and apprehend the mind in a very diluted form, metaphorically speaking; so that, comprehending it by ordinary consciousness, we can have no conception how it activates the vigorous body or is influenced by it. For the Greeks it was different. And that is why Goethe longed to achieve their outlook in his own experience. The Greeks had no such concept of body and spirit as we have. For them, spiritual and physical were one. Not until Aristotle, a late Greek, does the distinction begin to creep in. Although Plato's views are often presented abstractly, the spirit in which he spoke is one that saw the body everywhere permeated by soul, even in its organic functions, and felt the soul to be so powerful that it could everywhere extend its antennae towards the physical organs. The attitude to the soul is more physical, to the body more spiritual. Such a view is linked at the same time, however, to a particular feeling that grows up between men. And from this view has arisen what is characteristic of the civilization of Central Europe.

If we look with a sensitive eye at the felt relationship between man and man among the Ancient Greeks, and recognize how it has evolved from man's old relationship to the divine, we can say: what was previously an attitude permeated by religion has transformed itself into the legal attitude, the political attitude. Out of this, out of a combination of the nature of Greek and Roman, there then arose something that could maintain itself in social configurations. The priest gradually becomes merely the successor of the Oriental national leaders, for, although he may have kept himself in the background, the priest in the Orient was always the real spiritual leader, even with Darius and Xerxes. There comes to the fore a mode of thinking that cultivates ideas based on the relationship between man and man. And this goes so far that even religious life is swallowed up by this legal current, as I would call it. A juridical element enters man's world-picture, and even the cosmology of the time; and this element then remains almost throughout the Middle Ages and can be detected when we study the political views of, say, Augustine or Aquinas. Religious impulses themselves, while remaining what they are, take on legal forms.

This entry of legal forms into man's religious, cosmological views is eloquently documented in the wonderful picture of the Last Judgment that faces us as we enter the Sistine Chapel in Rome. It is at its most monumental here in this picture in which Christ appears as judge over all the world. His status as judge magnificently symbolizes the transition from a purely religious and devotional element to that conception which permeates religious feeling with a legal element — one that is carried over into the theory of man's world government and guidance.

This legal element informs all the social structures of the Middle Ages and much that persists in those of today. When we remove the disguise, we observe the presence of this legal element, and see how it has transmitted to us religious impulses from ancient times. And in modern political systems, right down to their terminology and the workings of their laws, where these go back to the Middle Ages, we perceive how, in the middle period of human experience and in the civilization between East and West, this legal and logical element has made its appearance.

We may say: what was Oriental and theosophical changes into something legal and logical; the sophia of the Orient becomes the logos of the Occident; and from the logos there develops in turn the juridical structure, which then proceeds to reproduce itself.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the legal element also determined social configurations. You need only study the economic ordinances of the period: everywhere you will find that social structures are shaped by something which is permeated by ancient Oriental religiosity and is juridical.

Nowadays, we observe the religious element still active in the less formal human groupings or in those that arise from religious denominations, whereas in the major social structures that are the nations we observe the operation of legal thinking. We notice, however, that with the transition from medieval to modern history the religious element allows itself to be pushed more and more into the background, whilst the legal one becomes increasingly predominant.

At this stage, the legal element invades economic configurations. What I am now describing can be traced in all its detail in the history of Roman Law. We can see how concepts of property, customs of ownership, and everything economic in fact, has been decisively determined by a social mould of this nature.

Yet in the course of human development an independent economic element does assert itself increasingly in the West, the nearer we come to modern times. We can say: in earlier periods, economic activity is completely cradled in religious and legal forms. It is in the West that the economic element first emancipates itself in human thinking.

You need only examine the economic element as it presented itself to the Phoenicians, and compare it with the economic systems of modern times (though admittedly these are only at an early stage in their development). You will realize the difference: Phoenician economic life is the product of the impulses I have described; Western economic systems have gradually emancipated themselves from them.

Religion and law are thus joined by a third current which, at any rate at first, tends to endow economic conditions with a social configuration of their own. This trend derives from the West, which in turn has adopted, to a greater or a lesser extent, something of what originated in the East and in the region between. We can see, for example, how, in American civilization especially, economic conditions, unaffected by other cultural currents, evolve along their own lines, until trusts and syndicates emerge. We can see, too, how Western man is inclined to attempt to separate economic from religious life, though he is less successful in separating it from what he later absorbed from juridical thinking and feeling. Even so, we are clearly aware how economic configurations, in their social aspect, are gradually struggling free of the intellectual straightjacket that was imposed on them while they were still under the sway of the legal element. Increasingly, we find economic life pure and simple attaining its emancipation. There can then evolve categories that derive from economic life itself.

At this point, however, we become aware of something that must establish relationships between men and between peoples, yet also lead to conflicts between peoples, and indeed conflicts within nations. We perceive that, in the ancient Orient, the religious element included the legal and economic ones; that the legal element subsequently became more or less distinct, but still contains the economic one, whilst the religious element has become more independent; and that now, in the West, an independent economic life is seeking to develop. Perceiving this, we must also consider how the various cultural patterns of humanity stand in relation to these currents.

And here we may conclude that the theocratic and patriarchal element, with its roots in the East, can really only produce something consonant with an agrarian system, with a social organization based principally on the cultivation of land, on an arable economy. We thus observe a certain correlation between agrarian life and the theocratic element. Moreover, this has its effect on all the social structures of more modern times. In admitting that the theocratic element continues to inform social structures right down to our own times, we must also realize that, because other branches of human activity have come to the fore, they have come into conflict with it, to the extent that in agrarianism, in accordance with the nature of human agriculture, the theocratic element seeks to maintain its position. The correlation exists. A split occurs in it, however, when human activities of another kind seek to assert themselves.

Here we may point to something that can be regarded as a barometer for this aspect of world history. I recommend you some time to study the Austrian parliamentary proceedings of, say, the seventies of the last century. You can observe, sitting in this parliament, men who believe that the old order, with its roots in theocracy and jurisprudence, is intimately associated with agriculture. They are faintly aware of something that later became a great flood, the influx of Western produce — including it is true country produce — deriving from a mode of thought and a social order built on a quite different branch of the economy — on industrialism. Although this is only faintly audible in the various parliamentary speeches, yet we can perceive precisely here, where so much has come together and may be studied, something that illuminates world-wide perspectives.

To what is here developing in the West, the theocratic mode of thought is less applicable than it is to any other branch of the economy. What is developing is industrialism. Naturally, land cultivation is not included in it. But land cultivation itself is then caught up by social configurations that are distinctly reminiscent of the tutelage of industrial thinking.

Yet industrial thinking today, however much it has developed its technical structures, has still not assumed the social structures appropriate to it. On the one hand, we can see the correlation between the theocratic mode of thought, with its patriarchal essence, and the agrarian system. We can see, for example, that in Germany, right down to the present day, it has been impossible for agrarian thinking and industrial thinking to come to terms properly, for reasons I have indicated. We can see this correlation, therefore; but on the other hand we can also see how everything appertaining to commerce is, in the last analysis, correlated with politics and the law.

That is why, in the ancient Orient, commerce is a kind of appendage to the patriarchal administration of human affairs. And in the form that is socially significant for us today, commerce really develops alongside the legal element. For what is required between man and man in trade is something that develops particularly in the juridical sphere. In so far as it did develop in the Orient, the way was prepared by certain commandments, transposed into legal terms but definitely regarded as divine. Commerce, however, has achieved its social organization only within the political and legal current in human development. We can say, therefore, that it is the commercial aspect of economic life that has proved to be particularly suited to political systems based on law and legal thinking.

At the same time, it is true that — because in the whole man everything must be connected with everything else — the political and legal element has also linked up with the industrial sector of economic life. As we go further and further West, therefore, we find that, although men evolve their personal relationship to anything chiefly from industry and the things associated with it, yet they also take over features of commerce. For with social structures as they are today, any undertaking is viewed, in point of fact, in the light of its commercial function in the social order. The industrialist himself sees his own undertaking within a commercial framework, so that in this way too the second current, the legal one, maintains its influence on the economic life of the West.

In other present-day social structures, we can see even more clearly how this politico-legal element continues to exert an influence below the surface among the broad masses of the people. As concomitants of modern technical life, all kinds of social structures have emerged. We need only recall the trade unions. We correctly perceive the nature of these only when we realize that economic conditions have created them. Nevertheless, those who see these things in a vital manner know that, even if the unions emerge from economic conditions — associations of metalworkers, printing trades unions and so on — the way men behave within them, the way they vote, the way they look at things and discuss them, is the parliamentary, political and legal one, the administrative way. It is something that derives from the second current I have described. The ideas appropriate to the third current are still in their infancy, and it still has to take its social patterns from what is old.

At the present time, therefore, we can see three principal types of social configuration existing side by side, widely differentiated of course in one direction and another. They co-exist in such a way that, we may say, history is deployed in space. And in adapting ourselves to any individual social configuration — an economic association, a political association or a religious community — we do in fact, since each of them is in contact with the others, enter a community where elements that have arisen successively in history now co-exist. They have now become shuffled together in space, and call for our understanding today, for this is the time when mankind must regain, at a higher level, the nai'vet^ from which creativity originally sprang.

It was once proper that primitive economic and political life should be poured into the theocratic mould. At a later period, a duality developed, taking over from earlier times the religious element, and evolving the political and legal element, incorporating economic life. So, today, economic life cries out for independent organization, for vital human ideas that can operate once more in a formative manner, as the vital impulses! of the legal forms of Greece and Rome, and the Orient's religious impulses, once operated. Since these three currents in human development are now mutually diverging, however, we must be able to consider them independently. We must look at the spiritual side of social structures, initially the only effective one; must look at their legal side, which became the dominant one in the Middle Ages; and must look at their economic side, for which a spiritual aspect must also be sought.

This has been put forward simply as a reflection on the antecedents of present-day social structures. It is intended to indicate that, in order to understand these structures, we must enter with real understanding upon the contemplation of those world-wide perspectives to which I drew attention at the beginning of this lecture. To do so, however, we shall have need of vital thought. That this vital thought is needed can be seen on the one hand from the sociological tone of my observations here; but it also emerges from direct contemplation of contemporary life. Everywhere, people are longing to begin to permeate economic life with the vital thought-impulses appropriate to it.

In this respect, of course, educated men of the West are of peculiar interest. In an extraordinarily significant treatise written in England in the very year before the fearful event of the Great War, a notable Englishman pointed out how fundamentally the English way of thinking differs from the German one — in the sense that I indicated at the beginning of my observations today. But he points out something else too: what strikes him is that, within the German-speaking population of Central Europe, there has always existed thought. And he observes that thought is the element in the human soul that in the most intimate way points continually to the great enigmas. Through civilizations that cultivate thought, as the German does, we are confronted again and again with the deepest riddles of man and the cosmos, even if — and here comes the tail-piece characteristic of this man of Western Europe — even if, he says, we perceive the futility of supposing their solution.

Well, it was proper to speak of the “vanity” of a solution when one could only point to the thought that emerged by abstraction from the body of law and logic; for, although as thought it may rise to supreme heights, this still remains a kind of dead thought. Anyone, however, who becomes aware that in our time the souls of men can provide a birth-place for vital thought, will speak, not perhaps of a final solution, but of a path that can lead to our being able to solve, at least for that particular period, the social problems that face us at any time.

For it is probably true that, once thinking about social structures has appeared in human evolution, we cannot speak of being able to solve the social problem all at once, but must rather say that among the evolutionary impulses that must survive into the future are included reflections about social organization. We can say, therefore: It is true that we shall not be able to speak of solutions, but of a vital human thinking that in a conscious way will first perceive the goals and in a conscious way will then move towards the solution of the social riddles of existence.

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