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Perception of the Nature of Thought
GA 161

10 January 1915, Dornach

Translated by M. Cotterell

Bearing in mind what we sought to study yesterday, let us consider how matters actually stand in regard to what we call man's Saturn evolution.

If we remember the course of yesterday's lecture,1“The Ego perceived externally as Speech and Song, as creative fantasy, as inner experience.” Dornach, 9th Jan. 1915 (Z69) we know that there is concealed within us, within our human being, something that was first implanted in us during the Saturn period, namely, the first rudiments of our physical bodily nature. What we have acquired from the ancient Saturn evolution can be met with nowhere today in the external world. In primeval ages the Saturn evolution arose and again passed away; it possessed characteristics, forces, which seek in vain if we look around us today. For even if we look out to the stars in cosmic space we do not at first find what prevailed within the old Saturn evolution.

After this ancient Saturn evolution had died away, there came as you know, the Sun evolution and then the Moon evolution and today we are living in the Earth evolution. Three evolutionary periods have gone by. And all that formed their peculiar characteristics has passed away with them and is no more to be found in our field of vision. We can only find the characteristics of the Saturn evolution among the hidden occult activities which pulsate through the world. We can still, as it were, uncover the forces which at that time worked upon our physical body.

If you recollect what was shown in my book Outline of Occult Science you are aware that there was an active co-operation at that time between the Spirits of Will and the Spirits of Personality. This co-operation still exists today though it cannot be discerned externally. We find it if we look into what we call our personal karma. Please note, my dear friends, that our personal karma is woven in such a way that what befalls us in successive earth lives is connected as cause and effect. The forces active in our personal stream of destiny cannot be investigated by the official Natural Scientist. He will find nothing among the forces disclosed in the field of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology etc., which calls forth the connection of cause and effect that comes to expression in our personal karma. The laws prevailing there are withdrawn from physical observation as well as from the historical observation pursued today by the so-called cultural-scientist of a materialistic colouring. The modern investigation of historical evolution, the history which is written nowadays of Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, up to our own time, contains laws which have nothing to do with the forces active in our karma. Thus the historian, the modern materialistic scientist studying civilization does not discover the laws dependent on man's personal karma.

History is looked upon as a continuous stream and no one considers to what extent historical evolution depends on the fact that human souls, for instance, who were personalities in ancient Roman times are present again today. The fact that they participate in current events and that the way in which they do so flows out of their personal karma finds no place in modern materialistically coloured history.

If we seek therefore for forces having something of the nature-forces of old Saturn we have to go to the law of our personal karma. Only when we learn to read what is in the surrounding cosmos and not merely to observe it, do we gain an insight into how the laws of ancient Saturn are still in a certain way active.

If we turn our attention to the ordering and out-streaming of the twelve Signs of the Zodiac as a cosmic script, and consider what radiating forces pour into human life from Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc., we are then thinking in the sense of forces which were Saturn forces. And if we try to bring personal karma into connection with the constellations which relate to the zodiacal signs, we are then living approximately in the sphere of that world-conception which must be employed for the laws of the ancient Saturn epoch.

Thus nothing visible has remained, nothing that may be perceived, and yet there is still remaining an invisible element which may be interpreted out of the signs of the cosmos. Anyone who thought that Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc., made his destiny would be living under the same delusion as a man who had been sentenced by a certain legal passage and then conceived a special hatred of this paragraph in the law and believed that it had sent him to gaol. Just as little as a legal paragraph printed on the white page can sentence a man, can Aries, Taurus, or Gemini, bring about destiny. Yet one can read from the star-script the connection between the cosmos and human destiny. And thus we can say that what follows from the star script is a remainder of the ancient Saturn evolution, is indeed the ancient Saturn evolution become entirely spiritual, but leaving its signs behind in the star-script of the cosmos.

When we proceed from the Old Saturn evolution to the Moon evolution we must be clear that at first there is nothing so directly (I said; at first, so directly) in our surrounding field of vision; external nature contains in the first place in the main no forces which resemble those of the Old Moon evolution. These forces of the Old Moon have also drawn back into concealment, but they have not yet become spiritual to the same degree as the Old Saturn laws. The Saturn laws have become so spiritual that we can only investigate them in the laws of our personal destiny, that is to say, quite outside space and time. When we observe human life as a whole we still find today these ancient Saturn laws, still find what cannot be seen when we confront a man in the physical world.

We have said that in meeting man in the physical world, we have the physical body as coming from the Old Saturn evolution, the etheric from the Old Sun evolution; the astral body from the Old Moon, and the Ego. And when we look at man externally and observe his form it is solely this embodiment of the ego which is not a relic from other periods of evolution. It is the laws of Earth which prevail and are active when the ego fashions man for itself and embodies itself. The laws of the Moon evolution, the laws of the astral body have already withdrawn and are no longer outwardly active. Now if we encounter a man we shall say: “You, O Man, as you confront me as material man are an embodiment of the Ego. But deep in the background of your being lies your invisible personal destiny.” How this invisible human destiny is determined comes under the rule of ancient Saturn laws. There we are already appealing to something entirely spiritual when, from the earthly laws of the embodiment of the Ego, we look towards the ancient Saturn laws. If, however, we look from what stands before us in the human being towards what still prevails in him from the Old Moon laws we find something not so spiritual. But this too has withdrawn from the external activity of the world, this too is not directly under the active forces of Earth-existence.

Where then must we seek for what has remained behind from the ancient Moon activity? We must we seek it protected and embedded, veiled from Earthly existence. For it is active in the period before man enters Earth existence through his physical birth, it is active before the external physical ray of light can penetrate his eye, it is active before he can first draw breath. It is active from the conception to birth, active in the embryonic life. I beg you expressly to notice, however, it is not active in that which develops from the ovum to the external physical human being; in what grows from the ovum, becoming greater and greater through continuous division, the forces of the Earth are working. But it is active in what exists only in the mother and dies away during the embryonic development, in what is lost with the birth and perishes. In all that envelops the earthly human being and cares for its nourishment before it is born, in all that ensheaths the growing human being and then falls away from it—in that rule the ancient Moon laws. And with this we have something that goes beyond the single human life, that forms a connection between the individual man and his ancestors and is included in the concept of heredity.

Thus we see something that existed during the Old Moon evolution still playing an active part, though not in the external world. In the outer world it acts only, so to say, as a dying away in human development, as something that is overcome as soon as the human being draws the first active breath for earthly life.

If one would study the laws of the Old Moon existence—or at any rate a part of them—purely physiologically and not clairvoyantly, the only way to do so today would be to study the laws at work in the sheaths surrounding the human embryo before it draws the first breath, enfolding it and nourishing it. What is there enclosed in the mother's body, what can only thrive during earthly evolution within the protecting sheath of the maternal body was the whole nature during the Old Moon evolution; it filled the whole field of vision.

Thus there die not only beings in so far as they have a sheath-nature, but whole types of natural laws, and exist in succeeding ages solely as last remains. Now you will have to ask the question: How does it stand with what is derived from the Sun?

Let us look at yesterday's diagram. We have seen that through all complications that appear here, we have to do with the complete human being, with his physical body, etheric body, astral body, Ego,—etheric body, astral body, ego,—astral body, ego, and with the ego itself.


All that is above the dividing line is really the hidden part of human nature. If we wish to study the laws underlying the foundation of the physical body we must look to super-sensible laws determining man's destiny. If we look towards that which rules in the astral body and finds its embodiment in the physical body, we have something that is not so spiritual, so super-sensible, but something that melts from the sense-perceptible into the super-sensible. For the part that falls away from the human embryo becomes so to say more and more atomistic. The nearer the human being approaches birth the more it dissolves materially and becomes increasingly spiritual. For that which is attached to the human being as astral body and etheric body has originated through the spiritualising of those parts of the embryonic sheaths which fall away.

The question could now arise: how does it stand with regard to the Sun part? Can we find the Sun portion somewhere in the world? This too withdraws from sense perception. Whereas what we call karma, personal destiny, or, one might say, the Saturn part of man, lies in lofty spiritual regions, we have seen that we need not ascend so high in the case of the Moon part, for we found it still ensheathed in the sensible. Nor in the case of the Sun part need we ascend so high as for the Saturn part. One can still apprehend it but it is not easily recognised.

I should like to give you an example of something where you can still recognise the Sun-part that is active, although attention can only be directed to it in a veiled way. Those of you who have acquainted yourselves with the new edition of my book, Riddles of Philosophy in Outline will have found that four periods in the development of Philosophy are distinguished. I have called the first period “The World-conceptions of the Greek Thinkers”. This lasted from 800 B.C.—in round numbers—or 600 B.C. to the birth of Christ, i.e. into the age of the origin of Christianity. A second period lasted from the rise of Christianity to about 800 – 900 A.D. up to the time of John Scotus Erigena. Then came a third period which I have called “the World-conception of the Middle Ages”, and which lasted from 800, 900 A.D. to 1600 A.D. And then there is the forth period up to our own time; we are just in this period. Eight-hundred year periods have been assigned to the history of philosophy, presented in such a way as was possible in a book meant for a public still quite unacquainted with Spiritual Science.

The intention was to give everything that could stimulate the mind and let the spiritual structure of these periods work upon one. The characteristic of the first period consists in the fact that a transition is found from a very remarkable ancient thinking to what one can call the life of thought in ancient Greece. Our age has not made much progress in the understanding of such differences, the difference, for instance, between the thought life of our own time and that of ancient Greece. Our clumsy thinking believes that thought lived in an ancient Greek head just as it lives today in the head of modern man. Thought lived in Socrates, Plato, even in Aristotle quite differently from how it lives in present-day mankind; this present thought-life first awoke in the 7th, 6th century B.C. Before that there was no actual life of thought. As my book sets out, one can speak of a beginning, of a birth of thought-life in this age of ancient Greece.

People have conceived that most curious ideas about the great philosophical figures of Thales, Anaxagoras, Anaximenes, etc. It has been pointed out, for instance, that Thales believed that the world originated out of water, Anaxagoras out of air, Heraclitus from fire. I have shown how these ancient philosophers formed their philosophies from the human temperament. They were not based on speculation, but Thales established water as the original ground of things because he was of a watery temperament; Heraclitus founded the fire-philosophy because he was of a fiery temperament and so on. You find that shown in detail in my book.

Then comes the actual thought-life. And in the epoch described here the thought-life is still essentially different from that of modern times. The Greek thinker does not draw up thoughts from the depths of his soul, but thought is revealed to him just as external sound or colour is revealed to modern man. The Greek perceives the thought; he perceives it from outside and when we speak of Greek philosophy we must not speak of such a mode of thinking as is normal today, but of thought-perception. Thus in the first period we are concerned with thought-perception. Plato and Aristotle did not think in the way the modern philosopher thinks, they thought as today we see, perceive. They looked out into the world, as it were, and perceived the thoughts which they expound to us in their philosophies just as much as one perceives a symphony. They are thought-perceivers. The world reveals to them a thought-work; that is the essential character of the Greek thinker. And this perception of the thought-work of the world was brought to the highest pitch of perfection by the Greek thinker.

If the philosophers of today believe that they understand what Plato and Aristotle perceived as a universal symphony of thoughts, that is only due to a childish stage of the modern philosopher. The modern philosophers have a long way to go before they can fully grasp what Aristotle represents as Entelechy, what he gives as the members of the human soul nature—Aesthetikon, Orektikon, Kinetikon etc. The inner activity of thinking, where one draws the thoughts out of oneself, where one must make subjective efforts in order to think, did not as yet exist in Greece. It is completely foolish to believe that Plato thought he perceived thoughts. To believe that Aristotle already thought in the modern sense, is nonsense ... he perceived thoughts.

Modern man can hardly imagine what that is, for he makes no concepts of actual evolution. He gets slight goose-flesh if one tells him that Plato and Aristotle did not think at all in the modern sense, and yet it is a fact. In order that thinking in the modern sense might take root in the modern human soul, an impulse had to come that seized its inmost part, an impulse that has nothing to do with the thought-symphony in the surrounding world but which grips man's inmost being. This impulse came from Christ and hence this period of philosophy lasts up to the time of Christ.

In the second period we are concerned with a thinking that is still not man's own individual thought, but is stimulated by the impulse coming from the external world. If you go through all the systems of thought of the philosophers of the second period up to the time of Scotus Erigena you will find everywhere how the Christ-Impulse rules in them. It is what has flowed out of Christ himself, one might say, that gives man the first stimulus to create thoughts from within outwards. This gave the stamp, the physiognomy of the patristic philosophy of the Church Fathers, the philosophy of Augustine and others up to Scotus Erigena. We can therefore say that we no longer have thought-perception, but thought-inspiration stimulated by the spirit.

It was different again in the third period when the inner impulse proceeding from Christianity began to be seized by men themselves. In this third period man begins to be conscious that it is he who thinks. Plato and Aristotle did not think, but they could as little doubt that thought has a fully objective validity as a man seeing green on a tree can doubt that it has a fully objective validity.

In the second period it was the intense belief in the Christ Impulse that gave certainty to the awakening thought. But then began the period when the human soul began to say: “Yes, it is actually you yourself who thinks, the thoughts rise up out of you.” The Christ-Impulse gradually faded and man became aware that the thoughts arose out of himself. It began to occur to him that perhaps he framed thoughts that had nothing at all to do with what is outside. Was it possible that the objective external world had nothing to do with his thoughts?

Think of the great difference between this and the thoughts of Plato and Aristotle: Plato and Aristotle perceived thoughts and therefore they could not doubt that the thoughts were outside. Now, in the third period men became aware: ‘One creates thoughts oneself ... well, then, what have thoughts to do with objective existence outside?’ And so the need arose to give certainty to thinking,—to prove thinking as was said. Only in this period could it occur to Anselm of Canterbury, for instance, to create validity for the idea of God;—for one did not see thoughts as perception. In the former Greek thinking that would have been a complete nonsense, because at that time thoughts were perceived. How can one doubt that God exists when thoughts of the Godhead are as clearly to be seen outside as the greenness of the tree? Doubt first began in the third period when men became aware that they themselves produced the thoughts. The need arose to establish the connection of that which one thinks with that which is outside. In essentials this is the epoch of scholasticism—the becoming aware of the subjectivity of thinking.

When you consider the whole thought-structure of Thomas Aquinas it stands entirely under the aegis of this epoch. The consciousness is present throughout; concepts are created within, concepts are linked together in the same way as the laws of subjectivity. Thus a support must be found for the idea that what is created inwardly also exists outside. There is still at first an appeal to traditional dogmatism, but there is no longer the same attachment to the Christ-Impulse as in the second period of philosophical development.

Then comes the fourth evolutionary period; the independent rule of thought from the external thought-perception, the independent creation of thought from within: free creation of thought, that free creation that comes to light so magnificently in the thought-structures of Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, Decartes, and their successors, Leibniz etc. If we follow up these edifices of thought we observe that they are produced entirely out of the inner being. And everywhere we find that these thinkers had an intense desire to prove that what they created in themselves had also real validity externally. Spinoza creates a wonderful ideal-edifice. But the question arises: Now is that all merely created within, in the human spirit, or has it a significance in the world outside? Giordano Bruno, and Leibniz create the monad which is supposed to be a reality. How does something thought out by man as monad exist at the same time as a reality in the outer world? All the questions which have arisen since the 16th, 17th century are concerned with the endeavour to bring free thought-creation into harmony with external world existence. Man feels isolated, abandoned by the world in his free thought creation. We are still standing in the midst of this.

But now what is this whole diagram?


If we go back to the perception of thoughts which prevailed in the time of the old Greek philosophers then we must say: Philosophic thought in ancient Greece—in spite of the fact that it was the age of the intellectual or mind-soul in ancient Greece—was still a perceptive thinking, was still deeply influenced by the sentient soul, in fact by the sentient, the astral, body. It still clung to the external. The thinking of Thales, of the first philosopher was still influenced by the etheric body. They created their Water—Air—Fire—Philosophies out of their temperament, and the temperament lives in the etheric body. One can therefore say that the philosophy of the sentient body goes into the philosophy of the etheric body. Then we come into the Christian period. The Christ- Impulse penetrates into the sentient soul. Philosophy is experienced inwardly but in connection with what one can feel and believe; the influences of the sentient soul are present. In the third period, that of scholasticism, the intellectual or mind-soul is the essential element of philosophical development. Now the development of philosophy follows a different course from that of human evolution in general. And for the first time since the 16th century we now have philosophy coinciding with the general evolution of mankind, for we have the free thoughts ruling in the consciousness soul.—Consciousness soul! The magnificent example of how free thought prevails from the abstraction of existence up to the highest spirituality, how a thought-organism, leaving aside the world entirely, rules purely in itself, that is the philosophy of Hegel—the thought that lives solely in the consciousness.

If you follow this scheme it is actually the part that I could not show in my book for the public, though it lies in it. And if you read the descriptions given of the separate epochs you will, if you are proper Anthroposophists, very clearly connect them with what I have written here (see diagram). There is thus a development corresponding to that of man himself: from the etheric body to the sentient body, to the sentient soul, to the intellectual soul, to the consciousness soul. We follow a path like the path of man's evolution, but differently regulated. It is not the path of human evolution, it is different. Beings are evolving and they make use of human forces in the sentient soul, in the intellectual soul etc. Through man and his works pass other beings with other laws than those of human development.

You see—these are activities of the Sun-laws!

Here we need not ascend to such super-sensible regions as when we investigate human destiny. It is in the philosophical development of mankind that we have an example of what remains from the Sun-laws.

We had yesterday to write here Angeloi as corresponding to the etheric body (see diagram).


Such Angeloi evolve. And while men believe that they themselves philosophise, Sun-laws work in them—inasmuch as men bear within them what the Sun-evolution laid down in their physical and etheric bodies. And the laws of the Sun-existence, working from epoch to epoch, cause philosophy to become precisely what it is. Because they are Sun-laws, the Christ, the Being of the Sun, could also enter them during the second period. Preparation is made in the first period and then the Christ, the Sun-Being, becomes active in the second period.

You see how everything is linked together. But inasmuch as the Christ, the Sun-Being, enters in, he comes into connection with an evolution which is not the human evolution, not man's earthly evolution, but actually Sun-evolution within Earth existence.

Sun-evolution within Earth existence! Just think what we have actually reached in these reflections. We are considering the course of philosophical development, philosophical thought since the time of ancient Greece, and when we consider how this has evolved from philosopher to philosopher we say to ourselves: there are active within not earthly laws, but Sun laws! The laws which at that time held sway between the Spirits of Wisdom and the Archangels come to light again on earth in the philosophical search for wisdom. Read in the book Occult Science how the Spirits of Wisdom enter during the Sun-evolution. Now during earthly evolution they enter again not into what is new but into what has remained from the Sun-evolution. And man develops his philosophy not knowing that in this development the Spirits of Wisdom are pulsing through his soul. The Old Sun existence lives in the evolution of philosophy; it really and truly lives within something that has stayed behind, something that is connected with the Old Sun-evolution.

Human beings, passing from generation to generation, evolve as external personalities in earthly evolution. But an evolution of philosophy goes through it from Thales up to our present time; the Sun-evolution lies within it. This gives opportunity for beings who have stayed behind to make use of the forces of philosophical evolution in order to carry on their ancient Sun existence; beings who remained behind during the Sun-evolution, who neglected at that time to go through the development that one can pass through in one's etheric body, sentient body, and sentient soul—in cooperation with Spirits of Wisdom and Archangeloi. These Spirits that missed their evolution during the Sun time can use man's philosophical evolution in order to be parasites within human evolution. They are Ahrimanic spirits!

Ahrimanic spirits yield to the enticement of creeping parasitically into what men strive for in philosophy and so of furthering their own existence. Men can thus evolve philosophically but at the same time they are exposed to Ahrimanic, Mephistophelean spirits.

You know that Ahriman and Lucifer are harmful spirits as long as one is not aware of them, as long as they work in secret. As long as they do not emerge and let men face them eye to eye spiritually Ahriman and Lucifer are harmful in one or another way. Let us suppose that a philosopher appears who develops thought of such a nature that one can grasp it in merely earth existence. He develops thoughts that can live through the instrument of earthly reasoning. That is Hegelian thought! It is pure thought, but only such as can be grasped with the instrument of the physical body and this as we know ends at death.

Hegel has achieved thought that is the deepest which can be thought in earthly life—but which must lose its configuration with death. Hegel's tragedy lies in the fact that he did not realise he grasped the spirit in logic, in nature, in soul-life, but only the spirit that exists in the form of thought and does not accompany us when we go through death. To have put this clearly before his mind he would have had to say: If I could believe that what goes through thought, that is to say what I think about abstract being by means of logic, thoughts of nature, thoughts of the soul and up to philosophy—if I could believe that this leads me behind the scenes of existence than I should be deceived by Mephistopheles!

This was realised by another: Goethe realised it and represented it in his Faust as the conflict of the thinker with Mephistopheles, with Ahriman. And in this fourth period of the evolution of philosophy we see how Ahriman presses into the Sun-evolution and how one has to face him consciously, really recognising and comprehending his nature.

Hence today we are also standing at a turning point of the philosophical thought of the outer world. In order to avoid falling prey to the allurements of Ahriman and becoming mephistophelean wisdom, philosophy must get behind this wisdom, must understand what it is, must flow into the stream of Spiritual Science.

Read the two chapters preceding the last one in the second volume of my Riddles of Philosophy. You will see that I tried to present the world concepts prevailing in the world, the philosophical concepts of the world, in order then in a concluding chapter to add A brief view of an Anthroposophy. There you will see how philosophy today in the free emancipated life of thought represents something which, to be sure, rises into the consciousness soul, but how this life, through the consciousness soul, must lay hold of what comes from Spirit itself, philosophically at first, otherwise philosophy must fall into decadence and die.

Thus you see at least one example of the working of the Sun-evolution in human earthly life. I said that one could encounter these sun-laws if one studied the course of philosophical evolution, though one does not always recognise that it is sun-law which is active in it. This must be recognised by Spiritual Science. Just reflect that in reality a Being is evolving which little by little acquires the same members as man himself.

If one were to go still farther back into ancient times one would find that not alone the etheric, but the physical body too gave rise to the forming of world concepts. It is difficult to give clear characteristics of the age that goes back beyond the 12th – 14th centuries B.C.; it lies before Homer, before historical times. But then something was evolving which is not man as man lives upon the earth.

Something lives in history which passes through the etheric body, the sentient body etc., a real, actual Being. I said in my book that in the Grecian era thought was born. But in modern times it comes to actual self-consciousness in the consciousness soul: thought is an independent active Being. This could not of course be said in an exoteric book intended for the public. The anthroposophist will find it however if he reads the book and notes what was the prevailing trend of its presentation. It is not brought into it, but results of itself out of the very subject matter.

You see from this that very many impulses of transformation as regards the spiritual life are coming forward in our time. For here we see something evolving that is like a human being except that it has a longer duration of life than an individual man. The individual man lives on the physical plane: for seven years he develops the physical body, for seven years the etheric body, for seven years the sentient body etc. The Being which evolves as philosophy (we call it by the abstract name ‘philosophy’) lives for 700 years in the etheric body, 700 – 800 years in the sentient body (the time is only approximate), 700 – 800 years in the sentient soul, 700 – 800 years in the intellectual or mind-soul and again 700 – 800 years in the consciousness soul. A Being evolves upwards of whom we can say: if we look at the very first beginnings of Grecian philosophy this Being has then just reached the stage of development which corresponds in mankind to puberty; as Being it is like man when he has reached the 14th – 16th year. Then it lives upwards to the time when a human being experiences the events between the 14th and 21st year; that is the age of Greek philosophy, Greek thought. Then comes the next 7 years, what man experiences from the age of 21 to 28; the Christ Impulse enters the development of philosophy. Then comes the period from Scotus Erigena up to the new age. This Being develops in the following 700 – 800 years what man develops between the ages of 28 and 35 years. And now we are living in the development of what man experiences in his consciousness soul: we are experiencing the consciousness soul of philosophy, of philosophical thought.

Philosophy has actually come to the forties, only it is a Being that has much longer duration of life. One year in a man's life corresponds to a hundred years in the life of the Being of philosophy. So we see a Being passing through history for whom a century is a year; evolving in accordance with Sun-laws though one is not aware of it.

And then only there lies further back another Being still more super-sensible than the Being that evolves as humanity except that a year is as long as a century. This Being that stands behind evolves in such a way that its external expression is our personal destiny, how we bear this through still longer periods, from incarnation to incarnation. Here stand the Spirits regulating our outer destiny and their life is of still longer duration than the life of those for whom we must say that a century corresponds to a year.

So you see, it is as if we look there into differing ranges of Beings, and how, if we wished, we might even write the biography of a Being who stands spiritually as much higher than man as a 100 years is longer than a year.

An attempt has been made to write the biography of a such a Being as had its puberty at the time of Thales and Anaxagoras, and has now reached the stage of its self-consciousness and since the 16th century has entered, so to say, into its ‘forties’. The biography of this Being has furnished a ‘History of Philosophy’.3Riddles of Philosophy

From this you see, however, how Spiritual Science gives vitality to what is otherwise abstract, and really animates it. What dry wood for instance, is the usual ‘History of Philosophy’! And what it can become when one knows that it is the biography of a Being which is interwoven in our existence, but evolves by Sun-laws instead of Earth-laws!

It was my wish to add these thoughts to what we have been considering lately about the life-forces which arise in us when we look at Spiritual Science not as a theory but seek it in the guidance to living. And it is just through Spiritual Science that we find the living. What is so unalive, so dry, and withered as the history of philosophy comes to meet us out of the mist as though we looked up to it as a Goddess who descends from divine cloud-heights, whom we see young in ancient times, whom we see grow even if with the slowness where a century corresponds to a year of human life. Yet all this becomes living—the sun rises for us like the Sun within Earth existence itself. For just as the sun rises on the physical plane, so do we see the ancient Sun still radiate into the earthly world in a Being that has a longer lifetime than man. As we follow man's development on the physical plane from birth to death so we follow the development of philosophy by seeing a Being within it. When in this way we look at what Anthroposophy can be to us we reach the point of seeing in it not only a guide to knowledge but a guide to living Beings who surround us even though we are unaware of them.

Yes, my dear friends, something of this was only felt by Christian Morgenstern. And by feeling this, feeling it in the deepest part of his soul, our friend Christian Morgenstern could put into writing a beautiful sentiment, a true anthroposophical sentiment which shows how a soul can express itself which in its inmost being knows itself to be one with our Anthroposophy—not merely as with something giving us various facts of knowledge—but as something that gives us life. In the wonderful poem Lucifer by Christian Morgenstern we have a wonderful example of this. The feeling of this poem lives entirely in the inspiration of which ones feels a breath when, as we have tried to show today, one finds the transition from the presentation of the idea in Anthroposophy to the grasping of living beings.


“I'll keep my light from light of your excluded,
I want you not, your light shall be precluded,
Until my light's my own and separated.

So do I bring the Evil to expression
As Spirit of negation, self-possession,
Yet is new world by ranks of mine created.

By off'ing to un-erring Beings resistance,
A race of err-ant gods has found existence
Who act on their—and not your—discretion.

Who have not walked in Truth from the beginning
Who only reach the Truth through suffering, sinning,
Who only read the truth through sin's transgression.”


“Ich will mein Licht vor eurem Licht verschliessen,
ich will euch nicht, ihr sollt mich nicht geniessen,
bevor ich nicht ein Eigenlicht geworden.

So bring ich wohl das Bose zur Erscheinung
Als Geist der Sonderheit und der Verneinung,
Doch neue Welt erschafft mein Geisterorden.

Aus Widerspruch zum unbeirrten Wesen,
Aus Irr-tum soll ein Gotterstamm genesen,
Der sich aus sich—und nicht aus euch—entscheidet

Der nicht vom Anbeginn in Warheit wandelt,
Der sich die Wahrheit leidend erst erhandelt,
Der sich dies Wahrheit handelnd erst erleidet.”

Christian Morgenstern

If the feeling in this poem leads you to reflect how alive something can becomes that is understood theoretically in Anthroposophy, so that, as it were, one can grasp the Beings who approach us out of the dark abyss of existence, if you take this poem, stimulated by feelings I wished to arouse through today's lecture, then you will see that this figure of Lucifer is really perceived, fashioned in a wonderful way. It is a model example of how what is brought to us by Anthroposophy can become alive and grip our whole soul.