The Renewal of Education
VI. Teaching Eurythmy, Music, Drawing, and Language
28 April 1920, Basel
To illustrate some things I will discuss later, I will begin today with a remedy I attempted at our Waldorf School in Stuttgart. After I had observed the teaching in the eighth grade, I mentioned in a faculty meeting how various teachers were unable to cope with some of the children. I also mentioned that what we want to accomplish in a particular period could not be accomplished by a certain number of the children due to that problem. I had the teachers prepare a list of children who were lagging behind, and then I met with each of the children from the various grades who appeared to be weak during the previous school year. Since it was possible for me to be in Stuttgart only during the Christmas holiday, these meetings were made possible by the extraordinary willingness of the parents and children at the school. It was important for me and the respective class teachers to determine what the problem with each child could have been, from either a physiological or psychological perspective. When testing the capabilities of students in this way, you need to start from somewhat deeper principles than those commonly used today that are derived from so-called experimental psychology. (But I do not want to say anything against this so long as it remains within its own boundaries.) I attempted to show how it is possible to test insufficient capacities on things that actually lie very far from the capacity in question. For example, we can take the situation where a child in the third grade, for instance, that is, about eight or eight-and-a-half years old, is not sufficiently attentive. When the child is attentive, we can teach him or her something that he will most likely soon forget. It is, however, not possible to properly develop the desired level of attentiveness in that child.
I examined one such child. As I said, the children there are very willing, because of the faculty’s general attitude, which was prepared in the way I characterized for you recently. I examined such a child and presented him with the following test. I said to the child, grasp the lower part of your left arm with your right hand. I also drew the outline of an ear and asked him if it was a left ear or a right ear. Then I drew some geometric figure that the child did not actually need to understand alongside another figure and attempted to determine whether the child had some feeling that the one figure was formed symmetrically to the other. I also attempted to determine how long the child needed, measured through a kind of feeling, not a watch.
In this way we could see whether a child was quick or slow in regard to things with a direct connection to life. After a few months, I returned to the school. In the intervening time, such things had been taken into account and right in the middle of class similar questions were asked of this same child. This had been done two, three, or four times. When I returned, it was apparent that they had had a certain effect upon him. When you begin with pictures, that always has an effect upon the child, but particularly when you use such pictures that are connected with the child’s own body and not those that the child simply views, which lie outside him. Pictures such as “grasp your left arm with your right hand” are particularly effective.
Illustrative teaching, where the child is directly placed in the picture, has a lasting effect. Those who are unacquainted with spiritual science will not be able to properly differentiate between the impression made upon a child by such a picture from the impression made by a more abstract, more externally viewed picture. If we do not begin from the perspective of spiritual science, we underestimate the influence it has upon the entire development of the child, particularly during the time when the child is sleeping. Much too little attention is paid to what occurs during the period from falling asleep until awakening. It is certainly true that within our materialistic view of the world and in our practical understanding we are more or less forced to see the spirit-soul as something that directly results from the physical body, even though we may deny this. We are therefore never aware that during the period of wakefulness, from awakening until falling asleep, we work with a connection of the spirit-soul with the physical human being and, in contrast, during the period from falling asleep until awakening, quite a different being is lying there in bed. That being lying there in bed has actually been robbed of its higher spirit-soul aspect, and that spirit-soul exists outside the physical body during sleep. Even though the spirit-soul receives its consciousness through physicality— that is, the physical body is necessary for us to be aware of the content of our soul — the physical body is not necessary in order for us to experience that content. There is continual activity in the content of the soul during the period from falling asleep until awakening, and what occurs there can be studied only with the help of spiritual-scientific research. Through such research, it is apparent that we take into our soul only what we receive pictorially, that is, only what awakens corresponding feelings. Everything we receive as mere abstract concepts — things we learn as unpictured, unmovable concepts — does not work within us during the period of sleep. It does not directly enter our souls.
A child learns things presented pictorially in a healthy way only when they are in some way connected with the child’s own physical body. The basis of education is extraordinarily dependent upon such subtle differences in life. We need to take into account the activity of the spirit-soul during that state in which human beings live from falling asleep until awakening. If we do not learn to recognize that, we will achieve very little during school or through education in general for the child’s later life.
Only when we look at these two aspects of human nature will we become aware of what it is within a child that appears to bring about a unified activity. We need to be completely clear that when we attempt to teach a child something from a purely intellectual perspective, we can, at least under some circumstances, completely fail with some children. If, on the other hand, we attempt to support something that is missing in the child, through pictorial instruction, for example, a quick comprehension, then we can give the child something that is, perhaps, just what is needed in a specific case.
Even when we are forced by social conditions to work with a large number of students in the class, we can to a certain extent relate individually and with goodwill. For example, we can find the weaker children and give some attention to attempting to help them through details that sometimes appear unrelated. I do not want to suggest that what I have described here is the ideal; nevertheless the ideal does lie in that direction. Through such a study of a child’s life, you begin to comprehend how activities within human nature that appear quite unified are the result of a duality that we must respect.
The day before yesterday I showed how instruction in writing should be developed from instruction in drawing, or perhaps, from simple instruction in painting. That instruction will also serve for many other things I will mention. In the Waldorf School, I have generally made the attempt — and I believe there are certain indications that it was relatively successful after a short period of time — to begin with artistic activities even with the youngest children. Our youngest children in the Waldorf School are actually only occupied with school subjects for two hours a day. A relatively large period of time is spent with the younger children in teaching foreign languages. Although I am aware of the prejudices against this, there is a tremendously deep effect in regard to the children’s liveliness and attentiveness, that is, in regard to the awakening of their souls, when you attempt to teach foreign languages to young children without any grammatical pedantry, simply through speaking. Our children begin to learn French and English as soon as they enter school. In doing so, we use more time than is usual. The instruction in the afternoons consists almost only of music. We include in the normal school instruction what I have referred to as a drawing-basis for writing. Thus the younger children are primarily taught drawing in the way that I will describe later. Exception for a few hours in which the pastors and spiritual leaders provide religious instruction and where we need to work according to their schedule, afternoons are used almost exclusively for physical exercises and singing and music. When you begin in this way with the youngest children, you can see how you can include really the entire human being with this kind of artistic foundation of instruction.
The children have primarily an inner experience through the musical instruction. We have divided the physical exercises in such a way that we alternate between simply physiological gymnastics and what we call eurythmy.1 What we call eurythmy is, from a pedagogical perspective, something we could call “ensouled gymnastics.” We could also look at eurythmy from an artistic perspective, but I will discuss that at another time. Eurythmy is added to the normal physiological gymnastics. Physiological gymnastics, by which I mean gymnastics as they are normally done today, start more or less from a study of the human body (even though people deny this). In general, even in regard to an “ensoulment of gymnastics,” we actually are only concerned with the physiological or, at best, the psychological aspects, as modern science gives no reason for thinking of anything more. Eurythmy differs from that in that each movement the child makes is ensouled. Each movement is not simply a physical movement; it is at the same time an expression of the soul in just the way that the spoken word is an expression of the soul.
We have found that among the entire 280 children that we have in eight classes in the Waldorf School, only three do not wish to participate in this instruction. They did not want to do it at all, whereas the others enjoy it a great deal. When we looked into this, we discovered that these three did not at all like any physical activity. They were simply too lazy. They preferred more passive activities. They did not want to pour themselves into this ensouled movement.
In the end, eurythmy is such,when you understand it, that you can read it in just the same way as you can read words and sentences. If I may use a Goethean expression, eurythmy developed through a sense-perceptible and supersensible observation of the tendencies in the movement of the larynx, gums, and lips, and then applying the Goethean principle of metamorphosis2 to transfer the movement of those organs to the entire human being. Goethe’s view was that an entire plant is only a more complicated leaf. What I mean here is that everything that a human being does in movement according to her will is a reflection not of the actual movements, but of the tendencies of those movements found in the organs of speech, so that the entire human being becomes a lively, moving larynx.
Eurythmy has an enormous effect upon the nature of the child. We need only recall that speaking is simply a localization of the entire activity of a human being. In speaking, the activities of thinking and will come together. In encountering one another, they also become an activity of feeling. The intellectual activity, which in our civilized language is very abstract, is left out in eurythmy so that everything flows out of the human will. Thus the will is what is actually utilized in eurythmy. Eurythmy is the opposite of dreaming. Dreaming brings human beings into experiencing the world of thought. People simply lie there and the movements that they imagine do not actually exist. They may travel through a large area of land, but in reality they do not move. All this is only present in the person’s imagination. In eurythmy, it is just the opposite. In dreaming a human being is half asleep, whereas in eurythmy a person is more fully awake than he or she is during normal wakeful life. In eurythmy, a person does just what is left out in dreams and suppresses what is the main aspect of dreaming. Thus each thought is immediately carried out as a movement. For many children, this activity is not always what they want to do. I am convinced that while simple physiological gymnastics achieves its intended effects, it does nothing to strengthen those activities of the will that begin in the soul, or at best it strengthens them indirectly in that people more easily overcome a certain physical clumsiness. However, simple physiological gymnastics does not actually do anything to strengthen the will. This is a conviction that I have from the short time in which we have divided the required time for gymnastics between normal gymnastics and eurythmy. Of course, this is a question that must be considered further. Nevertheless I believe it has major social significance.
I ask myself today how it is that, in spite of the suffering we have gone through in the past years, we are confronted with a humanity that has so little understanding of how the will has been crippled. Those of you who live here in Switzerland and have never seen, for example, such areas as we find in Germany today do not have any real understanding of what this means. You will only gain such an understanding in five or six years, or perhaps later. What is now occurring in some areas will, if some redress is not found, spread through Europe. In those areas that have not yet been affected there is little idea of how crippled the will is in the Central European population. This is something terrible. You can expend much effort over weeks or months in pointing out to people one thing or another, and then when you speak with someone later, they tell you that may all be correct what you have said, but it doesn’t matter. That is a statement I have often heard in the course of a year. I have put much effort into finding the foundation of such things, but I can find no other reason than that they are the result of excessive praise of physiological gymnastics. That does not strengthen the will. The will is strengthened when, as a child, you carry out movements where each movement is at the same time connected with the soul, so that the soul pours itself into each individual movement.
If you attempt to approach things artistically, or perhaps we could say, artistically-humanly, then you will see what the youngest children in particular gain from such an artistic form of instruction. Through ensouled gymnastics, their interest for the external world grows. The growth of their interest for the external world is a necessary result. In various discussions, Herman Grimm,3 the art historian, told me about his frustrations with the gymnasts who came to the university and to whom he was to lecture about art history. When he presented them with a painting by Raphael,4they were unable to determine which figures were in front and which were toward the back. They hadn’t the least idea about what was in the foreground and what was in the background. Grimm often said to me that he was absolutely unsure of what to do with such students when he was to lecture to them about art history. I believe that children who in their early years of school do their exercises with awareness in their soul would not at all have this problem. They have an astonishing interest in observing the external world. In addition to this cultivation of will, we also need to cultivate inner reflection in a corresponding way through the proper teaching of music and singing. Both must be kept in balance. We have tried this harmony by having the same teacher teach singing, eurythmy, and gymnastics. If you try to do this, you will find that the relationship to the external world, something that arises from the will, is strengthened by eurythmy and gymnastics. It is permeated with a kind of initiative. You will also find that inner reflection with feeling is strengthened by music in all forms. This is extremely important. If you attempt to study the developing child in this way, then you will notice how particularly by developing things that appear to be unified actually arise out of two sources of human experience.
I have studied the primitive drawings of children for decades. You will not understand children’s drawings if you attempt to simply follow the primitive forms in which children make them. In order to properly understand such drawings, which is actually a representation of what is occurring in the child while drawing, you need to observe children who for some reason or another at the age of six or seven have a talent for drawing as well as children who for whatever reason are unable to draw before the age of nine or ten. It is not good that there are such children, but there is certainly sufficient opportunity to observe them. There is a major difference in the drawings produced by those children around the age of ten who earlier could not draw at all when compared with those drawings made by children at the age of six, seven, or eight. The difference is that those children who at an early age draw something, this is certainly something you all know, those children draw in a very primitive way. They draw, for instance, a head like this [Steiner draws], a head, two eyes, and a mouth. They also often draw the teeth and the legs immediately below. Or they may draw a head, then the torso, make two lines here [for the arms], and sometimes they are aware that on the end of them they need a hand or something.
You can certainly pursue such drawings, and there is also much such material collected in pedagogical references. What is important here, however, is that we learn to understand such drawings from the perspective of the entire nature of a human being. Today that is extremely difficult because we have no comprehensive view of art. This in turn is because we do not properly comprehend the process of how people create art. Our view of art has been influenced by the way artistic creation has developed in modern times. In the most recent years there has often developed a very insufficient opposition to what has developed. I am expressly using the term insufficient. Fundamentally, our entire artistic creation is connected in some way with a model, that is, with an external perspective.
I have spent a great deal of my life in art studios and have seen how everything that modern artists produce, that is, sculptors and painters, depends upon a model. This leads people to think, for example, that the Greeks also depended upon models for their artistic creation, yet that is not the case. Those who properly understand something like the Laocoön group, or some other such figure — those of course are from the later Greek period — those who really go into such things will slowly come to recognize the independence, particularly of Greek artists, from the model. Certainly Greek artists could see things well and retain them in a picture. However, that alone is insufficient. The Greek artist, particularly as a sculptor, created from the feeling of a limb, from their own feeling and perception of a limb and its movements. Thus in their artistic creations they inwardly felt, for example, a bent arm and a balled-up fist, and that inner feeling was not simply what they saw with their eyes in an external model. It was not the external model that was reproduced in a material, but that inner feeling, the feeling of the human form. It is in fact this inner feeling of the human being that has been lost to European civilization since the time of the Greeks. We need to study the transition from the feeling of the human being, from an organic self-recognition that existed with the Greeks and that in the end is contained in every Greek poem, in every Greek drama. We need to recognize the difference between that feeling, between the organic self-recognition, or, better, self-observation or self-feeling of a human being, and what occurs through a simple imitation of what is seen, through basing work upon a model. It is clear that the Greek artists were able to achieve what they wanted. It is easy to say that the Greeks gained an overview of forms through the Olympic Games and such things, and certainly that was of some help. However, the most important aspect of artistic creation was that inner feeling, the feeling organ. Thus the Greeks were in their artistic creations very independent of the model, something that for them was a kind of preliminary design, which they held to externally.
When I look at the drawings of a child, as primitive and sketchy as they are, I can find in each of them a confluence of the child’s perspective and the child’s primitive feeling of himself in his organs. In every individual line of a child’s drawing, we can see how the child attempted to put down what originated in the eye and attempted also to put down those things that originate in inner feeling. If you take a large number of children’s drawings and attempt to see how children draw arms and legs, you will see that that originates from an inner feeling. When you look at how children draw profiles, you will see how that originates from viewing. The drawings thus originate from two separate sources. The situation is even more interesting when you look at drawings done by children who have been unable to draw until a certain age. They draw more or less out of the intellect. Small children do not draw from their intellect; they draw from experience, from primitive views enlivened with a primitive feeling. I believe it is possible to always differentiate when a child draws a mouth: then the outline of the mouth has been seen. But when it draws teeth, that is in some way taken out of an inner feeling. If, however, you look at a child who has begun to draw only at the age of nine or ten and study the child’s drawings, you will see how the child actually often makes more beautiful expressionist drawings than the expressionists themselves. The child draws often with colored pencils and draws what it thinks, what it has thought up. It is often quite curious how children often draw something we do not recognize and will then say that it is a devil or an angel. The drawing does not at all look like an angel, but the child says this is an angel. In such cases, the child is drawing its own intellect; the child is drawing what it has thought up.
If a feeling for the inner organs is not cultivated in the years when it is important, that is, between the ages of six and nine, the intellect will take over. This intellect is essentially the enemy of intellectual human life as well as of social life. I of course am not in favor of making people dumb. It is important, however, that we recognize the parasitic nature of the intellect and that we recognize the intellect as being complete only when it arises out of the entire human being and not in a one-sided way. That, however, is possible to achieve only when drawing and music instruction are supported in all areas of instruction, most importantly in speech and arithmetic.
As for teaching languages, you first need to gain a sense of how to do this. I first became aware of this sense of teaching languages when I had the opportunity of pursuing the result of having children who spoke dialect sit in the same classroom as other children who did not speak the dialect. It is very interesting to observe children who speak a dialect and how they carry themselves. A dialect, every dialect, has a certain characteristic. It arises out of what I would call an inner feeling of the human being just in the same way as the inner organic feeling arises, something that is much less important in today’s intellectualism. Dialect is an inner experience that pushes the entire human being into speech. In modern conversational speech, the so-called educated speech, which has become abstract, there is no longer a proper connection between inner experience and what is expressed in a sound or series of sounds. Certain subtle differences in the relationship between the person and the person’s surroundings are often wonderfully expressed in dialect. That is something you can no longer detect in educated speech. For example, when as a child I heard the word sky-flash (Himmlitzer), I knew immediately that it was something that must be similar to the sound. Try to feel the word Himmlitzer. In certain dialects, that is the word for lightning. There is something in the sounds or in the series of sounds. Here the language is drawing a picture; it paints in a kind of inner music. The close connection between language and inner experiences of feeling is enormously stronger in dialect than it is in educated language.
There is something else to consider. It is curious that when we compare languages, we discover that the inner logic of a language is greater in primitive languages than in more educated speech forms. You would actually expect the opposite. This is, of course, not true with the languages of black Africans. But those are really primitive languages and I will come back to those in a moment. In certain primitive languages there is a remarkable inner logic, which is much more abstract yet simpler than when the language becomes more civilized. Thus there is in dialect a greater inner logic than in educated language, and we can achieve a great deal. If, for example, in a village school we have to work with dialect, then we must begin with dialect, as we need to attempt to make conscious what already exists unconsciously in the language, namely, the grammar. Grammar should be taught in a very lively way. It should be taught in such a lively way that we assume that it already exists when the child speaks. When the child speaks, the grammar is already there. You should allow the children to speak sentences in the way they are used to speaking so that they feel the inner connection and inner flexibility of the language. You can then begin to draw the child’s attention and make them aware of what they do unconsciously. You certainly do not need to do that through a pedantic analysis. You can develop the entirety of grammar by simply making the children more aware of the life of the grammar that is already there when the child has learned to speak. We can certainly assume that all grammar already exists in the human organism. If you take that assumption seriously, you will realize that by making grammar conscious in a living way, you work on the creation of an I-consciousness in the child. You must orient everything toward that knowledge that exists in the body around the age of nine, when a consciousness of the I normally awakens. You need to bring forth into consciousness everything that exists unconsciously in the child’s organism. In that way the child will reach the Rubicon of development at the age of nine in a favorable way. In that way you bring into consciousness what is unconscious. You then work with those forces in the child that want to develop, not the forces that you bring from outside the child. There is a way of teaching language by using the way the child already speaks and supporting the instruction through a living interaction between those children who speak a more cultivated language and those who speak a dialect. In this way you can allow them to measure themselves against each other, not in some abstract way, but using feeling to guide a word, a sentence, in dialect into another. If you do that for an hour and a half, you will really make the children break out into a sweat. The teachers who teach this way in the Waldorf School certainly have enough when they do this for an hour and a half or so each morning! If you give instruction in language by working with the knowledge in the body so that you create an actual self-consciousness, you are working in harmony with the foundation you have laid in drawing and musical instruction. Thus you have two processes that support each other.
I was quite startled as I found in some more recent pedagogical literature a statement that teaching drawing was negatively influenced by language class because instruction in language or speaking in general forces people into abstractions. People forget how to see and how to view what exists in the external world as forms and colors. That is what is asserted there. That is not the case if you give instruction in language not in an abstract way, but instead develop it out of an inner experience. Then they support one another and what develops as a consciousness of the self around the age of nine becomes visible, piece by piece, as it goes on to imbue an external view of things with an artistic feeling for form.
I have had the teachers in the Waldorf School do the following exercises because they should be working entirely out of an artistic perspective. Our teachers may not be satisfied when the children can draw a circle or a square or a triangle. Instead, our children need to learn how to feel a circle, triangle, or square. They need to draw a circle so that they have a feeling of roundness. They should learn to draw a triangle so that they have a feeling for the three corners and that when they have first drawn one corner they should feel that there will be three. In the same way, when they draw a square, they should have a feeling of the right angle, a feeling that is carried throughout the whole drawing process from the very beginning. Our children need to learn what an arc is, what vertical or horizontal is, what a straight line is, not simply in seeing it, but an inner feeling of how the arm or the hand follows it. This is done as a basis for teaching writing. None of our children should learn to write aP without first having the experience of the vertical and an arc, not simply that a child has an abstract understanding of that, of the vertical and the arc, but a feeling for a felt experience of such things.
By slowly developing everything intellectual out of the artistic, that is, out of the entire human being, you will also develop the entire human being, people with real initiative, with a real force of life in their bodies. They will not be like people in our own population who no longer know where they are after they have done their final examinations. This is a real tragedy. If your professional task is to understand human beings, then it is possible that you can experience the following. You are, for example, to test someone around the age of twenty-five or thirty whether he is to receive a given position. You approach him with the expectation they should develop some initiative, particularly if he is to go into a practical profession. The person tells you, however, that you expect one thing or another but that he wants to go to India or to America in order to learn more about the profession. What that means is that he actually wants to move into the profession passively. He does not want to develop anything out of his own initiative, but instead wishes to have the opportunity that the world will make something of him. I know that saying this is something horrible for many people, but at the same time I am pointing out something we can see in people who have completed their education in the last decades. It has not developed a genuine initiative, initiative that reaches down into people’s souls when it is necessary later in life. It is of course easy to say that we should develop initiative. The question is, though, how we do that, how we can arrange the material we are to present in education so that it acts not against initiative in the will, but strengthens it.
Discussion Following Lecture Six
I would now like to answer a few questions. To begin with, I would like to go into the question of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a child of our materialistic times. In our time, people do not try to seek the harmony between the sleeping spirit, which I might refer to as the artist of the body, and the physical organization of our bodies. Both of these aspects stand next to one another. Psychological theories attempt to form bridges between them. Just think of all such bridges we have seen in modern times that were to be formed between the spirit-soul and the physical body, beginning with the views of Descartes,1 psychophysical parallelism, and so forth. All these theories have essentially been born out of an incapacity to view the human being as a whole. People do not see how the physical is formed out of the spiritual and how the spiritual is revealed simultaneously in the physical body. We need only to understand how the one has been separated from the other through abstractions. Thus certain things have been totally misunderstood in modern times, even though they are understandable when we recognize the harmony between the physical and the psychological.
Take, for example, a young person who has had a traumatic experience. Every traumatic experience that occurs before the age of twenty has an effect upon the physical body. Even in later years such an effect is present, though to a much lesser extent. Today the only thing that is seen in that regard plays out only at the most extreme, superficial level. People see, for example, how a person reddens when he or she is ashamed, or turns pale when afraid. They do not see how a traumatic experience that perhaps over a period of several weeks pushes human feeling in a particular direction also causes the physical body to develop in a different direction than it would have otherwise taken. The body begins with a normal structure, but this structure changes as a result of traumatic experience.
Since human life follows a rhythm, after a particular number of years a special kind of repetition of the original organic trauma will occur. If you meet a person who is thirty-eight years old and has some anomalies in his or her soul, you understand that this anomaly indicates an earlier experience that must have occurred as many years before the age of thirty-five as the recurrence does after that age. Thus the psychic anomaly that we observe in the thirty-eightyear- old can be connected with an experience that person had at about the age of thirty-two. We can also understand the recurrence of this experience at the age of thirty-eight when we recognize the relationship between the traumatic experience at the age of thirtytwo and certain physical organs. In other cases, the present experience may be related to an experience that occurred just as many years before the age of twenty-eight as the number of years that have passed since that age. We need to acquire a capacity of observation in order to recognize the connections between experiences in the spirit-soul and their relationship to the organs.
But what is done in modern times? If you are a physician, regardless of how materialistically you think, you still cannot deny that there is some life of the soul. Materialism is characterized by the fact that it understands nothing of the material, and in our time of materialism we experience the tragedy of how materialism does not even understand material processes. It is just for that reason that people do not relate things experienced in the soul to material things. On the contrary, they erroneously say that an isolated experience that has been hidden for many years now suddenly has risen to the surface and we must become conscious of it. What is important is to study the person’s organic state of health rather than poking around in that person through psychoanalysis.
The same is true with regard to the use of psychoanalysis in education. People do not understand the interaction between the spirit-soul and the physical body. Only for this reason do they speak about the use of psychoanalysis in education. We cannot simply work one-sidedly with the spirit-soul.
I would now like to say something about the difficulties that arise during puberty. These arise only when children have not been properly brought up. If children have the kind of introspection and inner experience that I described today, then that will have an effect upon the entire physical body and soul of the child. The child will have different perceptions and a different relationship to the external world than it would have had had it developed it too intellectually or with too little experience in art when the child was about seven or eight years old. The errors made in teaching children when they are seven or eight years old reappear in their problematic feelings during puberty. If we were to speak about the things that we often hear mothers and fathers tell about their children, we would be able to see how materialism has taken control of our feelings. People come to me and tell me about their five- or six-year-old child who has undesirable sexual behaviors. This shows only that people can no longer differentiate. If a knife has been made into a razor blade, then it is no longer a pocketknife. In the same way, activities that occur with children and which at a superficial level appear to expose some sexual desires are in fact not actual sexual activities, but simply demands that the child be brought up according to his or her own nature. When that is done, then abnormal feelings will not occur during puberty. It is no more a sexual act if a child scratches herself in the region of the sexual organs because there is a small sore (which may be easy to miss) than it would be if she were to scratch herself on the nose or cheek.
If we understand this, we will not fall into the craziness of Freud.2 Instead of recognizing that it makes no difference whether a child scratches herself on the cheek or somewhere else, he claims that it is a sexual act when a child enjoys sucking on a pacifier. Freud’s perspective puts everything into one hat. This is something that Goethe tried to do with one of his most humorous poems, “The World Is a Sardine Salad,”3 in which he attempted to counter the argument that the world consists simply of so-and-so-many different atoms and the views of the world according to which will and unconscious existence are simply constructs. Gustav Theodor Fechner, the humorist, did something really funny in his book, The Moon Is Made of Iodine, which appeared in the early nineteenth century. He proves through formal logic that the moon is made up simply of iodine. We could use that little book as an example of the way people think of the world today.
Steiner replies to an objection that he has referred only to Freud and has not mentioned other directions.
To fully answer your question, I would need to hold a whole series of lectures. Since that is not possible, I would like to say only the following. How strongly the fanaticism for particular views is in our time is especially clear with supporters of psychoanalysis. In answering a question, I used an example indicating the Freudian position with regard to sexuality. It is, of course, correct that other psychoanalysts have a view different from that onesidedly sexual interpretation. In recent months, some psychiatrists have strongly distanced themselves from the original Freudian direction, and even from Jung’s5 direction. However, those who can judge psychoanalysis in connection with the development of civilization in modern times will never be able to see something new, not even a seed of something new, in psychoanalysis. They will always see only the final consequences of materialism.
It is characteristic of materialism that instead of examining the relationship of the spirit-soul with the physical, in a living way it attempts to characterize the physical in only the most superficial ways, in the ways that are valid for physics and chemistry. On the other hand, it remains an abstract characterization of the spirit- soul, which has been carried to an extreme in the way that psychoanalysis simply follows the path of the status of the soul throughout the life of the human being. I certainly do not deny the positive things that some people have in mind when they speak of psychoanalysis today when those things are correct. It is certainly correct that certain experiences in the soul have a lasting effect and can be recognized and observed as causing a particular change. What is important here, though, is that during the period lying in between, an interaction occurs that psychoanalysis considers to be something isolated in the soul. The effects upon the physical organism that become apparent as a strong one-sidedness are not recognized.
Such theories, of which psychoanalysis is one, have something unusual about them at the present. I have studied these things intensely. What is important to recognize here is that there is a tendency today to take theories that are correct for a particular and limited situation and extend them into general laws. Psychoanalysis exemplifies that. Summarizing theories into a law is justifiable only when they can be used in all practical situations. This is not true of psychoanalytical theory. Since the psychoanalyst does not understand the true relationship between the physical and the psyche, he or she tends to relate the psychic facts only to earlier psychic states. This is something that is quite strongly apparent with Jung. Jung is quite far from a comprehensive consideration of events in the world. We should, however, recognize that Jung has understood certain complexes and has traced them back in the evolution of the soul. The so-called Oedipus complex is, in the way that some psychoanalysts have described it, something that is very interesting and captivating. The problem lies in the way that the described series of symptoms does not comprehensively include all other symptoms connected with it.
What I mean here can be demonstrated through a simple picture. If you place a rose and a crystal on a table, you can say that both are objects. Equating a rose and a crystal through the concept of “object” is, however, only justified in an extremely superficial way. A rose is not simply an object alone, and you cannot consider it in the same way as you would a crystal, which is,in a certain way, something complete. (Of course, we should not forget that a crystal also needs to be considered in relationship to its normal surroundings.) Thus we need to seek the full context of symptoms in which we place a complex. We cannot simply take the most obvious things into account. The blossom of a tree, for example, cannot be simply considered as an object in itself. The tree must also be taken into account. Looking still further, we would need to take into account the qualities of the soil and of the air and so forth as well.
The primary error of psychoanalysis is that it considers symptoms in isolation that can only be explained in connection with other symptoms. I previously referred to the sexual example because psychoanalytic literature declares the fish symbol to be the symbol for the male sexual organ, and this is proven in a completely unscientific way. Such declarations are simply grotesque. Nor should the so-called Oedipus complex and its symptoms be considered in isolation. Instead we need to bring it into relationship with the entire development of humanity.