The Animal and Human Realms. Their Origin and Development
Berlin, 15 April 1918
In the three talks of this week, I would like to discuss the results of the spiritual-scientific research concerning the human being. In this talk I would like to establish a basis to consider the supersensible human being next time and in the third talk two most significant questions, those of the freedom of will and the immortality of the soul.
Concerning our discussion today I am in a somewhat difficult situation, first because the following will be considered in particular compared with the contents of this talk what I have often brought to your attention in the course of these discussions: the fact that the results of spiritual-scientific research are, indeed, in full harmony with everything that natural sciences have performed as great achievements up to now but that which shall be said from the viewpoint of spiritual science just in harmony with the scientific results is in full contrast to that which the naturalists or those who interpret scientific results today say about these scientific results concerning the human being and his nature. On one side complete harmony with the facts, on the other side almost an unequivocal contradiction compared with those who are used to speak about these facts today — this is one objective difficulty. The other difficulty is that I have this talk only, and that that which we will discuss today would have to be the object of at least thirty talks if it should be treated in detail. Thus, I can represent the results only sketchily and can easily be misunderstood in many respects. However, today I do not intend to inform details, rather I would like to evoke a sensation of the direction which spiritual-scientific thinking has to take if it wants to discuss the question of the nature of the human being with the scientific views of the present.
The scientific views have particularly suggested the question of the relation of the human being to the animal realm and of everything that arises from this relationship to the understanding of the human being. What has worked on this question very suggestively is the form that the wholly scientific theory of evolution assumed in the last time. However, one forms wrong mental pictures of the scope and the real character of this theory of evolution, because one grasps the question always too straight, I would like to say, too trivially. So one has the idea today, as if the relationship of the human being with the animals was determined by “strictly scientific research,” the evolution of the human being from the animal realm and again within the animal realm itself the development from imperfect to more perfect beings.
Now it is not at all right to believe that the view that the human physical organisation is connected with the animals is new. It is not new at all. Even if you disregard the fact that you find the traces of it — or, actually, more than traces — already in the science of Greek antiquity, and basically also already with the Church Fathers, nevertheless, something important is contained in the fact that, for example, already Goethe as a very young person had to work his way through certain fantastic ideas of development which asserted themselves just in his time. Someone who knows Goethe from his own biography knows how he rebelled against the idea: if one only produced certain living conditions, animals could change into other animals, or even into human beings. Goethe rebelled against that, although he stood like Herder on the ground of the emergence of one organism from the other, and although they were followers of the “theory of evolution.” Besides, it is important to consider that not the theory of evolution is new as such, but that an older view was immersed into certain materialistic mental pictures that bring on the human organisation to the animal one in other ways as well. The character of interpretation, the whole way of thinking about the things is, actually, essential which has appeared in modern time. If you consider this, it will not be so difficult to find the transition to those mental pictures of evolution that we have to consider here today.
Someone who believes today to stand with a certain materialistic direction of thought on the firm ground of science and to have to characterise this theory of evolution says at first, the modern view of the origin of the human being from the animals stands in contrast with the superstitious biased way which still goes back anyhow to the Mosaic history of creation. — It cannot be my task today to speak about the Mosaic history of creation. I believe that it has often led to misunderstandings about what forms its basis, and that one deals with it in reality with an ancient human wisdom. That just as a side note. What is important to be considered today is that in an especially significant point the scientific theory of evolution is in full harmony with the Mosaic history of creation. That means this that in the course of the evolution of the living beings the human being appeared as it were as the most perfect animal or anything else when the remaining animals had anticipated their development already before him that he appears as it were as human being after the animals. The modern scientific worldview has this in common with the Mosaic history of creation.
Just the today's consideration must oppose that in particular. Thus, one could say, the novel aspect of this spiritual-scientific history of evolution consists of the fact that it must break just with that what faces it as a quite sure result today. Indeed, some of the mental pictures that can originate only on the ground of spiritual science are necessary if understanding should develop for such things, which are discussed today. It is necessary, for example, that one gets clear about such theoretical disputes, as they are quite usual that they must disappear, however, and will disappear, just if spiritual science settles more in the human souls.
Today you still meet the different worldviews that are apparently contradictory. On the one side, there are those human beings who interpret the world and its phenomena materialistically. One calls them “materialists.” The “spiritualists” are on the other side — not the “spiritists.” are meant, but “spiritualists” in the sense of German philosophy. The former represents the view that only the material is the basis of all being and becoming, and that the spiritual develops as it were from the material and its processes. The spiritualists emphasise, above all, that the “spirit” is to be observed as such in the human being that one has to take the spirit as starting point in case of every world consideration. It is completely irrelevant to spiritual science whether somebody takes materialism or spiritualism as starting point. The only which spiritual science demands from itself and from others is that one thinks the inner contents of thoughts and research through to the end. Let us assume that somebody becomes a materialist by his special disposition: if he really envisages the material and its phenomena and does research until the end, he gets without fail from the material to the spirit. If anybody is a spiritualist and does not deal with the spirit purely theoretically, but grasps it in its reality in such a way that he also grasps the manifestations of the spirit in the material, then the spiritualist also understands the bases and ramifications of the material processes. The starting point of the true spiritual-scientific researcher is quite different. It concerns that one has the inner courage to think the things through to the end really. However, this requires a certain power first which wants to think the things through to the end and secondly the ability to consider the phenomena really which one faces. Concerning the latter one can do strange discoveries. Who believes, actually, today that he stands more on the ground of the facts? This one stresses at every opportunity.
I have repeatedly pointed to an event in the sixties of the last century. However, it is always interesting to point to this fact once again. The philosophy of Eduard von Hartmann attempted to overcome the materialist interpretations of scientific results. When the Philosophy of the Unconscious appeared, the naturalists agreed that there a completely dilettantish philosopher talked about nature in such a way and knew, nevertheless, nothing right about that. Refutations of the Philosophy of the Unconscious were written. Among these refutations, one appeared by an anonym under the title The Unconscious from the Viewpoint of the Theory of Evolution and Darwinism. The author of this writing set himself to oppose this dilettantish opponent of Darwinism. Haeckel, Oscar Schmidt, and others said about this writing: it is a pity that this anonymous has not been called; we consider him as one of ours; since nobody can say the truth better than this anonymous against this scientific dilettante Hartmann. — They also contributed to the fact that the writing was quickly out of print. The second edition appeared, now with the name of the author: it was — Eduard von Hartmann! — This was once a lesson which was necessary and by which all those should be lectured who believe that somebody must always be a dilettante who does not speak about scientific results like a scientist.
Those listeners who were present at the former talks know that I have emphasised a book of the last time as an especially valuable one, namely The Origin of Organisms - a Refutation of Darwin's Theory of Chance by Oscar Hertwig (1849-1922). I regard this book as especially excellent and especially typical for our time for following reason: Oscar Hertwig, a disciple of Ernst Haeckel, came as a young man from the more or less materialist interpretation of the Darwinist research results.
In his book Oscar Hertwig unravelled — it is a kind of Penelope problem — everything that one regarded as particular achievements of the Darwinist research results. Now from the same Oscar Hertwig a book was published which deals more with other problems; it is called: On the Defence of the Technical, Social, and Political Darwinism. I am in a special position now: I will always regard The Origin of Organisms as one of the best books that was written about these things, and I will have to regard Hertwig's last book as one of the most thoughtless, most impossible products of modern thinking. It shows how clumsy the modern naturalist becomes if he should go over from the accustomed ground to another area. Such a fact is very instructive, and one is in a tragic conflict if one has to admire on one side and to condemn radically on the other side. Now I do not want to speak about this last writing by Hertwig generally and in detail; but I would like to mention one thing only:
I have said just now, every naturalist will stress that he stands on the “ground of facts.” You find a place in this impossible book by Hertwig that one reads possibly in such a way: one has to admire how the modern natural sciences have been initiated by the astronomical researches of Newton, Copernicus, and Kepler. Science has become great because it got used to looking at the things of physics, chemistry and biology just like at the astronomical things. Now I ask you, the consideration of the facts that are immediately round us should take place after the pattern of that area where the facts are so far away from us? I am convinced that most readers overlook such an unbelievable contradiction. It appears just in such a contradiction that a significant researcher cannot think so far that this research can be lifted into the spiritual.
Because of those and similar things it has happened that the whole modern theory of evolution has taken its starting point from too straight, too abstract mental pictures which are not able at all to approach the real facts, in particular not the facts which also refer to the solution of the big riddle of the human being.
This human riddle is to be characterised from the start in such a way that the human being seems to be assigned by his whole position in the world not to know at first what he represents in the world and how he stands there in it to get that only from the depths of his being what can enlighten him about his real being. This is also the sense of spiritual-scientific research that that is brought up from the depths of the human mind by special exercises which slumbers, otherwise, in him, which the usual consciousness does not apply at all, and which enables the human being for the “beholding consciousness.” Not before from the depths of the human soul that is brought up what I have called the beholding consciousness in my book The Riddle of Man where the human being has to deal with that which one can call “spiritual eyes” and “spiritual ears” to have a spiritual world around himself, then only one can generally tackle a solution of the big riddles.
These explanations should confirm it: the human being oversleeps his being. A part of the talks should show that the human being oversleeps a part of his being and continues the sleeping state into the waking state. In the depths of his being, something is perpetually sleeping, and his being must be awakened only. As you need that in the usual day life which sleep gives, you need for the usual knowledge if it should be fertile that which the human being oversleeps in his being perpetually. I said, we have to consider the facts at first that are round us. It matters in particular that you put yourself in the position to consider the difference of human being and animal from the viewpoint of the beholding consciousness; since, otherwise, you cannot attain knowledge of the development and origin of the human being and the animal. Now I want to explain sketchily what one can say from the spiritual-scientific viewpoint about the difference of human being and animal.
The animal realm faces us in most different forms. The animals are variously developed. Hence, one divides them into “genera” and “species.” You know that there have been numerous philosophers who were of the opinion that that which one calls “genus” or “species” — “wolves,” “lions,” “tigers” and so on — are only comprising names. What we meet in reality, is always the “material” which is formed most different by its own configuration only. Against it, one has to observe once impartially what there is, actually. There I have to recall a picture repeatedly which my old friend, Professor Vincenz Knauer (1828-1894, Austrian theologian and philosopher) always used when was talk of these things. He said, nevertheless, those people who state that these are only names that are expressed in these genera and species that it is, however, everywhere the same material they should think about whether it is really the same material that is in a lamb and in a wolf. Indeed, one cannot deny that, scientifically considered, it is the same material. However, one should feed a wolf for longer time with nothing but lambs, and one should try once whether he has assumed something of the lamb nature. There it is quite clear that that which constitutes the “wolf” which determines his configuration is not a mere “name” but something that encloses the material in this configuration.
With which is that associated that develops and configures these different animal species in its way? I have to confess, I touch personal relations very reluctantly, but because I can only outline, it is necessary that I do such a personal remark.
For about thirty years, I look at everything that physiological research produces in relation to these questions and compare it to that which the spiritual-scientific research has to say. It would be very attractive to hold a series of talks by which is proved what I state now. What configures itself in the different animal forms is intimately connected with the correlation of forces in the animal structure. Study the structure of an animal very exactly, but not only in such a way as it presents itself to the outer eye, but study the structure of an animal according to its correlation of forces: how different an animal behaves to gravity and how it overcomes gravity if the hind legs are formed different from the forelegs how different an animal appears according to whether it has hooves or claws and the like.
Study how the animal positions itself with its balance in the given relations, and then you find the most intimate relation between the conditions of earthly balance and the kind how the animal is positioned in these conditions of balance. Just these conditions of balance are radically different with the human being and in the animal realm. The human being lifts himself out of the conditions of balance in which the animal is put, by the fact that the line that runs through the spinal cord, runs with the animal in parallel with the earth surface but with the human being, it runs vertically to the earth. I do not mean the wholly outer position, because of course the human being also is in parallel to the earth surface if he sleeps. The human being is organised in such a way that the gravitational direction of the earth coincides with the line of his spinal cord. With the animal, the cerebral line is in parallel to the earth surface. The gravitational line of the human being that runs through his head coincides in certain respect with the main line of the remaining organism. His head rests on the gravitational line of the body; with the animal, it overhangs.
The human being is thereby put in a condition of balance that is different from that of the animal; thereby he is in that condition of balance which he gives himself only during the time of his life, because he is born in a similar condition of balance as the animal. While the human being lifts himself out of the conditions of balance that are forced upon the animal, he lifts himself out of all forces, which form the basis of the different genera and species; he becomes a “genus,” a “species.” He gets free from that what is with the remaining animal beings the reason of the manifold creation; he himself creates his figure, while he gets free from this determinative reason by his upright position.
Everything that is expressed in the human language, in the human thinking is intimately connected with these conditions of balance. Indeed, just the materialist research in the second half of the nineteenth century brought this to our attention; however, it could not completely make use of this fact. Since someone who thinks his way into the subtle configuration of the material can realise that one being in another way takes up the material of the outer nature, it is brought in directions quite different from all other beings. The human being thereby towers above the remaining animal realm. With it is connected that the whole human condition of balance comes about in full measure in the organism itself, while that of the animal comes about related to the world.
Take the coarsest only: the animal stands on all fours; the human being is bound to a certain balance that is not determined from without but is formed in his own organism. Now something particular is connected with this other condition of balance. Since the human being has a vague feeling of this equilibrium position that is similar to dream. This feeling is as vague as a dream, sometimes only vague as the sleep. As what does this sensation of resting on the own body live in the usual consciousness? This sensation is identical with the self-consciousness. What we get to know in the next talk as the human “mind,” which reveals itself in the ego at first, seizes itself in the human organisation in these conditions of balance that the animal does not have. I said, the modern theory of evolution-has something suggestive, so that one can believe that everything is dilettantish that is said against it. It has something fascinating if one says that the human being has as many bones and muscles as an animal has, how could he be a different being? However, in that which the human being has as the same with the animal the ego does not at all live. The ego does not live in the bones and muscles, does not intervene there, but seizes itself in the feeling at first that rests in the equilibrium.
However, there is something else. The animal realm has manifold shapes. Is this manifold configuration not significant for the human being? Because the human being separates by his other equilibrium from all conditions of balance in which the animal is forced, he has his own figure that appears like a summary of the animal figures. However, everything that works in the animal figures enjoys life in him. It is in him, but it is spirit. What is spread out as phenomena manifest to the senses about the most different animal figures is spiritual in the human being. What is it in him?
To the Imaginative observation arises that completely the same lives in the human being that gives the sensory figure to the animal, but as a supersensible nimble element. It lives in his thinking. What causes that we can think about the things is — in supersensible way — the same as that what the manifold genera and species of the animals are. Because the human being breaks away from the diversity of the animals and gives himself his independent figure that is the dwelling place of the ego, he appropriates invisibly what is visible in the animal world. This lives in his thinking. In the animal realm is poured out in the most manifold forms what is poured out in us, while we survey the world with thinking. We pursue what we can observe; we form thoughts about that. Of course, I know everything that can be argued against it. I also know the objection: are you able to behold into the animals? May the animal not have a kind of thinking as the human being has? However, someone who can adopt the Goethean principle that the phenomena are the right teaching if one observes them properly knows that that which becomes obvious in the phenomena is also decisive for the observation. One of the most essential signs is that that which is poured out sensorily about the manifold animal forms lives in the human being in extrasensory way.
While he freed his figure from the formative forces of the animals, he can take this in his supersensible. The animals are more advanced in relation to the sensory configuration than the human being is. The human being has an unstable figure. The animal is built according to the whole earth. With the human being, it is different; he has taken it in his figure. That is why he can grasp that spiritually what is expressed in the sensory form of the animal.
Already in this point, one sees what, actually, the modern theory of evolution suffers from. I am allowed to say, just because I have become a follower of the modern theory of evolution but have tried to lead it really to an end, I have found what it suffers from. It represents everything straight: the imperfect animals, then the more perfect ones, the even more perfect ones, up to the human being. However, the matter is not that way. Someone who considers the phenomena independently, gets on that this only ascending development is actually one-sided; since it lacks an essential element, which is considered here and there, indeed, in our time, but is not really investigated to an end and applied to the single one. One has to deal with a perpetually ascending development and with a perpetually descending development. The descending development would signify what is just so important for the understanding of the human being, and also there I advise you again to consider physiological matters, but without prejudice.
If one stops at the general trivial ideas of evolution, one imagines that the human being is the most perfect one of the animals that even his single organs, even if really here and there descending developments are admitted, are basically in ascending development. This is not the case. I could bring in many examples.
I want to mention one thing only. Study the human eye and compare it to the eyes of the vertebrates: if you go down in the animal realm, you find a more complex construction than with the human being. With him, the eye has become simpler again. I only want to mention that the xiphoid process and the pecten that exist with the eyes of lower animals are not to be found with the human being. The development has forced back them again. The human eye is a more imperfect organ than that of lower animals. The complete human organism has not only become more perfect if one studies it really compared with the animal organisms, but it has also receded. What has happened?
Because certain forces have been disabled, the human being could become a bearer of the spiritual-mental, could take up this spiritual-mental. What I have called up to now is nothing but a degeneration, “devolution,” in contrast to “evolution.” Take that which gives the single animal the form, which it has, and another animal another form: this thought completely determines the whole organisation of the animal. The human being, however, forms back his organisation. It does not advance so far to be determined completely, it goes back to a former level. Thereby he can give himself the equilibrium position which nature does not give him; thereby he gets free from that which nature forces upon the other beings. The whole formation of the human being has stayed behind; from it that originated which became an organ of thinking in the human being. What forms the basis of thinking is the organ of thinking because it is formed back because it has not advanced as far as the animal form has advanced, which expresses the figure externally. The human being lives the form back and can live out the form in thinking in supersensible way as the animal lives out it in the sensory realm.
One more point: we deal with the human being not only with evolution, but also with devolution, with involution. Just because the human being is more formed back than the animal, he can become the bearer of something spiritual-mental generally. With everything that I have explained up to now, something else is connected. Someone who can really observe how in the animal is expressed what must be an organ of imagination, of percipience, of feeling, so the anterior parts of the animal organisation, finds out that that which expresses itself in the form expresses itself objectively. He finds that this part has to deal with imagining, perceiving and feeling, and that the posterior part deals with the will element. Of course, both sides are connected. Because the animal is put in its equilibrium, it has that side by side which the human being has on top of each other: the will organisation on the one hand and the intellectual and instinctive organisation, on the other hand. There is another connection in the animal between the intellectual, imaginative and will element. With the human being, the organs of imagination are above the organs of will. An inner contact is thereby created between the organs of will and those of imagination. Someone who knows to observe the soul life realises that this human life of imagining is characterised by the fact that the will extends into it. Study the problems of attention, you will realise that the will works into it. Thereby the ability of abstract thinking originates which the animal cannot have because its imagination originates beside the will and not above it. And vice versa: the will and the imagining life work together, so that also the will is influenced by imagination.
Only because the organs of will belong to the subconscious ones, the will itself is expressed only like in the sleeping consciousness. The human being has the real will process in the sleeping consciousness as the other processes of the sleeping consciousness. The whole connection of imagining and willing which is typical for the human being is thereby emphasised: imagining is lightened by the will which is with the animal always in a vague, dream-like state. Likewise, the will is more intimately connected with imagining with the animal, it feels much more connected with its will. This causes again that with the human being the free emotional life relates different to imagining and will, enjoys life much more intensely than with the animal. With the animal the emotional life rests in the organisation; it is as it were only a formal arrangement of the life of thought. On the other side, the emotional life of the animal is only an inhibited or uninhibited will life, depending on whether it can reach or not reach something. This is expressed in its whole life. Just thereby, it is much more connected with the whole outer world.
If we envisage this, we can understand something else that, however, only a careful observation of the human soul life can give. Spiritual science has to proceed in many a respect different from the other science that takes up the things often from the trivial imagination and rejects them then because it cannot get on how the things are to be explained. The spiritual researcher will aim more at the positive, will not be content to take up, for example, the idea of immortality, of the continuance of the soul being, but will primarily ask, how does the human being generally get around to having the “immortal” as a thought or as a feeling in himself? How does he get around to assuming that the immortal can play a role in his soul life?
One can understand this only if one can expand the Goethean teaching of metamorphosis so far that one can approach the question, to what extent is the human being dependent on his lower nature in relation to his higher nature that is expressed by his head? While we have tried up to now to understand the special connection of thinking and willing with the human being and animal, now one has to go into that what connects the human being with the animal concerning something that is intimately connected with the problem of evolution. This enters in the animal and human life by the two phenomena of conception — I do not say of birth — what one considers as the first origin of the human, the combination of the male and the female elements, and death on the other side. Conception and death are bound to certain parts of the human and animal organism; in case of conception, this is evident from the start.
Now one has to realise that that which appears at one place in any animal form — it is similar with the plants — is also expressed in other organ systems but transformed. I would like to call attention to the following from the start: how does that behave with the human being and with the animal what is connected with conception and death, because one has already found out, nevertheless, one difference that is directly bound to the organisation? There it becomes apparent that the human and animal head is, actually, only a higher organised, transformed abdomen, as strange as it sounds, just as after the worldview of Goethe the bones of the skull are transformed dorsal vertebrae.
With the physical creation one deals with the fact that the single organ systems are real transformations of each other, and the functions of the organ systems are transformations of each other. What is “percipience”? Percipience relating to the outside world with the senses is a higher developed conception, specified by the different senses. Because the head organism stunts certain other organs, forces them into the limbs, the organism of conception develops to the higher sensory organism of the head on the one side, and thus the progressive conception corresponds to the advanced sense perception of the head. Every organic system develops the whole organism in a way; the head everything that the abdomen contains, the abdomen everything that the head contains. Because the formative forces of the limbs have atrophied that is expressed spiritually what belongs to their life in the head. The ability of production changes into the developing of thoughts. In the head, the organ of thinking is developed simply because the conceptual is developed unilaterally and the productive is formed back, but the productive thereby gives again the basis of the thoughts. Since as animal and human being produce their equals by the other organism, the human being produces himself spiritually: just the world of thought. The world of thought is the spiritualised human being.
This thought has a big scope, and only with deep regret, I exhaust such things in one single talk. Since such things are the result of decades of spiritual research. However, they must be pronounced once, because these things have to be popularised, so that someone who can investigate it in the medical centres and laboratories can also investigate the details, as they must be investigated.
In the animal life, conception and death are apart like beginning and end of the animal life. Conception and everything that is connected with it leads to the knowledge of the progressive development. Everything, however, that determines the death of the animal out of the relations of the earthly life is connected with the retrograde development. One gets on only spiritual-scientifically what conception and death are real for the animal, for the whole evolution of the animal. The animal is seized by everything that is associated with conception and production. This evolution is the highest development of the organic life. It is just like with an increase of the organic life, with fever if you like, that the usual state of consciousness, which is right for its being, is forced back. Thus, a reduction of consciousness is connected with the excitement of the organic life, and the consciousness is increased with everything that is connected with a retrograde. The moment of highest clarification, of most intensive consciousness is the moment of death — and as a spiritual researcher, I am allowed to say, a moment where the animal element approaches the human one; try only once to observe animals at death. These two moments of the highest reduction and the greatest increase of consciousness, conception and death, are with the animal like two widely separated points, like beginning and end.
With the human being, it is different. Because the head lifts out itself in the described way from the remaining organisation, the human being is so organised that he experiences the interplay of conception and death perpetually. This happens during the whole life. We are so organised that we experience in the brain which forms the basis of our thinking in its connection between percipience and will perpetually, transferred to the spiritual, with every production of a thought — but like sleeping or even subconsciously — what the animal experiences, otherwise, only once during conception. On the other hand, death is perpetually involved in our consciousness because the organism changed into the head has the head as its spiritual organism. We are dying at every moment. Precisely expressed: whenever we grasp a thought, the human will is born in the thought; whenever we will, the thought dies into the will. Will and thought belong together in such a way, as, for example, the young man and the old man, while the will thereby becomes will that the thought has died down in it, and on the other hand the will goes through its youth while the thought is born in it.
The human being is perpetually experiencing birth and death. I have described the human spatial configuration with the help of the balance relationships. Concerning time, it is in such a way that with the human being that runs through the whole life which the animal can experience only at the beginning and end; in a dreamish way he experiences conception and death perpetually in his subconsciousness. Because this lives below in the depths of the human souls, emerges from there and the human being becomes vaguely aware of that which he carries as conception and death in himself and not beside himself and thereby has the feeling: his being lives after death and birth, it encloses more than that which starts with conception and ends at death. The human being carries conception and death in himself. I pronounce it in short words. However, if you investigate everything that physiology and psychology can give presently, you will find it confirmed. This generates the idea of immortality in the human being. Thereby he carries the sensation, the thought of immortality really in himself. Only then, you can consider the connection of animal and human being if you regard this.
How does the human being stand there finally? He is more retrograde than the animal is, and this just gives him the basis of his spiritual being. If you check him completely, you find the strange: as the eye is retrograde, everything of his appearance is retrograde, is formed back into the spiritual compared with the animal. He unfolds this on the same conditions on which the animal unfolds its being. The same relations work on the animal and the human being. They work on the human being, while they provide him as it were with a “shell.” What I have described now is, actually, the inside of the human being. This is transformed in such a way that he can produce his own equilibrium that he has that, which takes shape with the animal, in the versatile forms of his thoughts. Thereby he faces the outside world like concluded by a shell.
Spiritual science actually is able to discover only what you can discover in the human being. It can penetrate through this shell. However, what turns out then? Something similar as with the memory. We perceive the outside world as it is, and process it. However, we remember in the later life what we have taken up from the outside world. Today I cannot explain what the organism of memory is based on; but it is based of course not on the organisation of the body periphery, but on that of the body inside. If you go with the beholding consciousness into that what the shell conceals, then you bring up what causes everything in the depth of the human nature that I described today.
The shell is evoked by that which determines the today's animal realm. How does that differ from it, which lives in the human inside? This becomes to the seer like an increased, beheld memory; there he gets up something from the human being that becomes vivid. As well that appears to the usual consciousness which the senses have experienced, something presents itself to the beholding consciousness, if one delves into that what is down there. Then one finds that that time of development which the human being spent together with the animals — the time of the earthly evolution — followed another time for the human being in which the today's animals could not yet develop. The human being developed before the animal realm, but in another figure of course; since he assumed the today's figure because he was put in relations that formed the animals. However, what rests in the “shell” leads back to a former creation of the earth, to a state that we do not get to know by geologic conclusions. We recognise that the human being is older than the animals that the animals originated later. They are related with the human beings but they originated later. Since we come back to a form of the planet when the animals did not yet exist. The planet looked in such a way that on the effect of its conditions that could form which must be protected today with the outer shell, which faces the animal world today.
The seer experiences that as vision first which I have explained as a thought today: he looks back at former states of the earth. However, this gives just the impulse to look at the developmental states in such a way as they are as they must be, so that one can see what one finds if one only looks.
However, there are still other relations. Today one agrees in the trivial scientific life completely to consider the phenomena of the earth like the astronomical phenomena; but it has taken some time until this thought asserted within the modern humanity. One can have an experience. If you come to Mülhausen (now: Mulhouse) in Alsace, you find a monument: On top is a celestial sphere, before it a statue of Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777, Swiss-Alsatian physicist, philosopher), a contemporary of Kant who invented something similar, but much more brilliant than the so-called Kant-Laplace theory. If one still added something that Lambert thought, one would not be far away from that which spiritual science is today.
However, today one is ready that the monument of that man is erected by the decisions of the city council who has a share of modern astronomy. However, if one goes back hundred years from the erection of the monument, one meets something different. At that time, Lambert was a young son of a poor dressmaker. Few people anticipated what was in him, Kant, for example, called him the “greatest genius of the century,” and his father submitted request about request to the city council that the son could get further. Then there one gave him forty francs, but only on the condition that he should leave the city and not return. This was hundred years ago. After hundred years — the monument was erected! Thus, the human development takes place, one example of many.
I come back to my starting point: The modern scientific way of thinking has the same thought with the Mosaic history of creation in common that the human being appears after the animals. Against it, modern spiritual science has to say that the human being precedes the animals, and that one has to go back to such a state in which the human being could only develop that which he was at that time while he had to expose himself to the outer conditions. There one comes back to developmental states of our life on earth, which look different from what one calls Kant-Laplace theory. Externally a primeval nebula may have developed and conglomerated. Some time ago, I have quoted significant words of Herman Grimm: the fact that once later generations will have a lot of trouble to think about the eccentricity of the present, which believed that from such a primeval nebula everything developed that is there now. However, it will take long time, until humanity will be so ripe for a spiritual understanding of the things that one can consider the riddle of the human being as I have done it today.
Then, however, another idea of development arises, and I do not shy away from repeating something that I have already brought to your attention, because I have to show repeatedly from which side life and movement have to be brought in the scientific thinking of our time.
One can have scientific correct thoughts, but these can be very far away from reality. There I have pointed over and over again to that lecture of Professor James Dewar (1842-1923) in London at the Royal Institution in which he explained how the earth would be after 200,000 years. It is calculated quite correctly and one cannot doubt it, just as one can calculate the Kant-Laplace theory quite correctly. One can also calculate this final state of the earth, cooled down below 200 degrees centigrade. There is no mistake: then our atmosphere is condensed into water. Dewar explains it in all details that then the things on earth have assumed other aggregate states. Milk will be solid of course. Indeed, I do not know how it should be produced then; but it will be solid of course. Certain objects will fluoresce; one will be able to coat the walls with protein so that one can read newspapers at night. There is no mistake. However, the question is whether it is not only “right,” but whether it is also “real” whether the thinking knows where it has to stop because it is no longer in reality. Which methods are used to calculate these things? Methods, as for example the following: anybody studies the stomach of a 30-year-old person; he pursues it for more than 300 years and calculates how after 300 years the stomach of this person would be. He can calculate this as well as Professor Dewar calculates the final state of the earth.
Only that is the mistake that then the human being does no longer live, just as the earth does no longer exist after 200,000 years. Likewise, one could calculate how the earth looked 300,000 years ago, because in the same way one can also calculate the Kant-Laplace theory; but at that time the earth did not yet exist. It concerns that one learns to distinguish realistic thinking and only “correct” thinking.
With it, I have said a lot. Since the thought that one gets by the study of the human being to relations where the earth looked completely different is only to be gained if one applies realistic thinking. Then one can also have a thought about how the human being who is protected with the characterised outer shell from the present earthly conditions — which will be quite different from those which Professor Dewar describes —, so that the human being develops into times when the earth will be very different when the today's animals will no longer exist.
This was a spiritual-scientific discussion about the origin and the development of the human realm and the animal realm. Next time I want to show how the human being returns in repeated lives on earth, so that one can again accept Lessing's view of repeated lives on earth. Today I wanted to create a basis to show that spiritual science gets to quite different initial and final states of our earth, and that, indeed, one has to break with the opinion that the animal realm was there first and the human being could then develop on its basis. The human being precedes with his development. Spiritual science will assert these things. A very spirited and vigorous researcher of the nineteenth century, Wilhelm Heinrich Preuss (1853-1909) had an anticipation of it.
There you find the first beginning of these things, but there everything remains more or less assertion. These things can be investigated first if one penetrates with the beholding consciousness into the spiritual-mental of the human being, about which natural sciences cannot speak at all. Since they can only ask, how is the human being related as a spiritual-mental being to the animal organisation? However, the highest of the spiritual-mental does not relate at all to the animal organisation, but it lifts out the organisation, produces quite different equilibrium relationships, so that the experience of conception and death coincides at one moment, so that in the human being by the continuous perception of conception and death the experience of immortality vaguely lights up.
(At the end, Steiner briefly summarises the contents of this talk.)