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|Spiritual Life, Civil Rights, Industrial Economy|
|Spiritual Life, Civil Rights, Industrial Economy|
In the social movement of the present day there is a great deal of talk about social institutions, but very little about social and unsocial human beings. Very little regard is paid to that “social question” which arises when one considers that institutions in a community take their social or anti-social stamp from the people who work them. Persons of a socialistic turn of thought expect to see in the control of the means of production by the community what will satisfy the requirements of a wide range of the people. They take for granted that, under communal control, the co-operation between men will necessarily take a social form as well. They have seen that the industrial system ordered on lines of private capitalism has led to unsocial conditions. They think that, when once this industrial system has disappeared, the anti-social tendencies at work in it will also necessarily be at an end.
Undoubtedly, along with the modern private capitalist form of industrial economy there have arisen social evils — evils that embrace the widest range of social life; but is this in any way a proof that they are a necessary consequence of this industrial system? Now, an industrial system can, of its own proper nature, effect nothing beyond putting men into situations in life that enable them to produce goods for themselves or for others in a useful, or in a useless, manner. The modern industrial system has brought the means of production under the power of individual persons or groups of persons. The achievements of technical science were such that the best use could be got out of them by a concentration of industrial and economic power. So long as this power is employed in the one field — the production of goods alone — its social working is essentially different from what it is when this power oversteps the bounds and trespasses on the other fields of civil rights or spiritual culture. And it is this trespassing on the other fields, which, in the course of the last few centuries, has led to those social evils for whose abolition the modern social movement is pressing. He who is in possession of the means of production acquires economic dominion over others. This economic dominion has resulted in his allying himself with the forces to be found in the governments and parliaments through which he could procure other posts of vantage also in society, as against those who were economically dependent on him: posts of vantage which, even in a democratically constituted state, bear in practice the character of rights. Similarly, this economic dominion has led to a monopolizing of the life of spiritual culture by those who held economic power.
Now, the simplest thing seems to be to get rid of this economic predominance of individuals, and thereby do away with their predominance in rights and spiritual culture as well. One arrives at this “simplicity” of social conception when one fails to remember that the combination of technical and economic activity, which modern life demands, necessitates allowing the most fruitful possible expansion to individual initiative and personal worth within the business of economic life. The form which production must take under modern conditions makes this a necessity. The individual cannot make his abilities effective in business if in his work and schemes he is tied down to the will of the community. However dazzling the thought of the individual producing not for himself but for society collectively, yet its justice within certain bounds should not hinder one from also recognizing the other truth, that society collectively is incapable of originating economic schemes that permit of being realized through individuals in the manner desirable. Really practical thought, therefore, will not look to find the cure for social ills in a reshaping of social life that would substitute communal production for private management of the means of production. The endeavour should rather be to forestall evils that may spring up along with management by individual initiative and personal worth, without impairing this management itself. This is only possible if the relations of civil right amongst those engaged in economic industry are not influenced by the interests of industrial and economic life.
It cannot be said that those who manage the business of economic life can, although occupied by economic interests, yet preserve a sound judgment as to relations of right, and that, because their experience and work have made them well acquainted with the requirements of economic life, they therefore will be able to settle best the life also of civil rights that should grow up in the round of economic business. To hold such an opinion is to overlook the fact that out of any special sphere of life man can only develop the interests peculiar to that sphere. Out of the economic sphere he can develop economic interests only. And if out of this sphere he is called on to produce moral and civil interests as well, then these will merely be economic interests in disguise. Genuine moral and civil interest — interests of Rights — can only spring up upon a ground specially devoted to the life of Rights, where the only consideration will be, what the rights of a matter are. Then, when people proceed from considerations of this sort to frame rules of right, the rule thus made will take effect in economic life. It will then not be necessary to place restrictions on the individual in respect of acquiring economic power; for such economic power will only result in his rendering economic services proportionate to his abilities — not in his using it to obtain special rights and privileges in social life.
A similar objection is, that relations of right after all show themselves in people's dealings with one another in business, so that it is quite impossible to conceive of them as something distinct and apart from economic life. Theoretically that is right enough, but it does not necessarily follow that in practice economic interests should be paramount in determining these relations of right. The manager who spiritually directs the business must necessarily occupy a relation of Right towards the manual workers in the same business; but this does not mean that he, qua business manager, is to have a say in determining what that relation is to be. But he will have a say in it, and will throw his economic predominance into the scales if business co-operation and the settlement of relations in Right take place in one common field of administration. Only when Rights are ordered in a field where business considerations cannot in any way come into question, and where business methods can procure no power as against this system of Rights, will the two be able to work together in such a way that men's sense of right will not be injured, nor economic ability be turned into a curse instead of a blessing for the community as a whole.
When those who are economically powerful are in a position to use their power to wrest privileged rights for themselves, then amongst the economically weak there will grow up a corresponding opposition to these privileges; and this opposition will, as soon as it has grown strong enough, lead to revolutionary disturbances. If the existence of a special province of Rights makes it impossible for such privileged rights to arise, then disturbances of this sort cannot occur. What this special province of Rights does is to give constant orderly scope to those forces which, in its absence, accumulate within men, until at last they vent themselves violently. Whoever wants to avoid revolutions should study to establish an order of society which shall accomplish in the steady flow of time what otherwise will seek accomplishment in one epoch-making moment.
People will say that the social movement of modern times is immediately concerned, not with relations of Right, but with the removal of economic inequalities. To such objection one must reply that the demands stirring within men are in nowise always correctly expressed in the thoughts they consciously form about them. The thoughts thus consciously formed are the outcome of direct experiences; but the demands themselves have their origin in complexes of life that are much deeper-seated, and that are not directly experienced. And if one aims at bringing about conditions of life which can satisfy these demands, one must attempt to get down to these deeper-seated complexes. A consideration of the relations that have come about between industrial economy and civil right shows that the life of civil rights amongst men has come to be dependent on their economic life. Now, if one were to try superficially, by a lopsided alteration in the forms of economic life, to abolish those economic inequalities that the dependence of rights on economics has brought with it, then in a very short while similar inequalities would inevitably result, supposing the new economic order were again allowed to build up the system of rights after its own fashion. One will never really touch what is working itself up through the social movement to the surface of modern life until one brings about social conditions in which, alongside the claims and interests of the economic life, those of Rights can find realization and satisfaction on their own independent basis.
It is in a similar manner, again, that one must approach the question of the spiritual life and its bearings on that of civil rights and of industrial economy. The course of the last few centuries has been such, that the spiritual life has been cultivated under conditions which only to a very limited extent allowed of its exercising an independent influence upon the political life — that of civil rights — or upon industrial economy. One of the most important branches of spiritual culture — the whole manner of education and public instruction — took its shape from the interests of the civil power. According as State-interests required, so the human being was trained and taught; and State-power was reinforced by economic power. If anyone was to develop his capacities as a human being within the existing provisions for education and training, he had to do so on the ground of such economic power as his sphere in life afforded. Accordingly, those spiritual forces that could find scope within the life of political rights or of industrial economy acquired entirely the stamp of this life. Any free spiritual life had to forego all idea of making itself useful within the sphere of the political state, and could only do so within the industrial economic sphere, in as far as this remained outside the sphere of the political state's activities. In industrial economy, after all, the necessity is obvious for allowing the competent person to find full scope — since all fruitful activity in this sphere dies out when left solely under the control of the Incompetent whom circumstances may have endowed with economic power. If, however, the tendency common among people of a socialistic turn of thought were carried out, and economic life were administered after the fashion of political and legal ideas, then the result would be that the culture of the free spiritual life would be forced to withdraw altogether from the public field. But a spiritual life that has to develop apart from civil and economic realities loses touch with life. It is forced to draw its substantial contents from sources that are not in live connection with these realities, and in course of time works this substance up into such a shape as to run on like a sort of animated abstraction alongside the actual realities, without having any useful practical effect upon them. And so two different currents arise in the spiritual life. One of them draws its waters from the life of political rights and the life of economics, and is occupied with the requirements which come up in these from day to day, trying to devise systems by which these requirements can be met — without, however, penetrating to the needs of man's spiritual nature. All it does is to devise external systems and harness men into them, without paying any heed to what their inner nature has to say about it.
The other current of spiritual life proceeds from the inward craving for knowledge and from ideals of the will. These it shapes to suit man's inward nature. But knowledge of this latter kind is derived from contemplation: it is not the gist of what has been taught by the experience of practical life. These ideals have arisen from conceptions of what is true and good and beautiful; but they have not the strength to shape the practice of life. Consider what conceptions of the mind, what religious ideals, what artistic interests, form the inward life of the shopkeeper, the manufacturer, the government official, outside and apart from his daily practical life; and then consider what ideas are contained in those activities which find expression in his bookkeeping, or for which he is trained by the education and instruction that prepare him for his profession. A gulf lies between the two currents of spiritual life. The gulf has grown all the wider in recent years because that particular mode of conception that in natural science is quite justified has become the standard of man's relation to reality. This mode of conception sets out to acquire knowledge of laws in things and processes that lie beyond the field of human activity and human influences; so that man is as it were a mere spectator of that which he comprehends in a scheme of natural law. And though in his technical processes he sets these laws of nature working, yet hereby he himself does no more than give occasion for the action of forces which lie outside his own being and nature. The knowledge that he employs in this kind of activity bears a character quite different from his own nature. It reveals to him nothing of what lies in cosmic processes in which his own being is interwoven. For such knowledge as this he needs a conception of the universe that unites in one whole both the world of man and the world outside him.
It is a knowledge such as this for which that modern spiritual science is striving that is directed to Anthroposophy. Whilst fully recognizing all that the natural science mode of conception means for the progress of modern humanity, anthroposophical science yet sees that all that can be arrived at by the natural science mode of knowledge will never embrace more than the external man. It also recognizes the essential nature of the religious conceptions of the world, but is aware that in the course of the new-age evolution these conceptions of the world have become an internal concern of the soul, not applied by men in any way to the reshaping of their external life, which runs on separately alongside.
It is true that, to arrive at such a form of knowledge, spiritual science makes demands upon men to which they are as yet but little inclined, because in the last few centuries they have grown habituated to carrying on their practical life and their inner soul-life as two separate and distinct departments of their existence. This habit has resulted in the attitude of incredulity that meets every endeavour to make use of spiritual insight in forming an opinion about life's social configuration. People have in mind their past experience of social ideas, that were born of a spiritual culture estranged from life; and when there is any talk of such things, they recall St. Simon, Fourier, and others besides. And the opinion people have formed about ideas of this sort is justified, inasmuch as such ideas are the outcome of a tendency of learning which acquires its knowledge not from living experience but from a process of reasoning. And from this people have generalized and concluded that no kind of spirit is adapted to produce ideas that bear sufficient relation to practical life to admit of being realized. From this general theory come the various views which in their modern form are all more or less traceable to Marx. Those who hold them have no use for ideas as active agents in bringing about satisfactory social conditions. Rather they maintain that the evolution of the actual facts of economic life is tending inevitably to a goal of which such conditions are the result. They are inclined to let practical life take more or less its own course, on the ground that in actual practice ideas are powerless. They have lost faith in the strength of spiritual life. They do not believe that there can be any kind of spiritual life able to overcome the remoteness and unreality which characterize the form of it that has predominated during the last few centuries.
It is a kind of spiritual life such as this, nevertheless, which is pursued by anthroposophical science. The sources from which it seeks to draw are the sources of actual reality itself. Those forces which sway the inmost nature of man are the same forces that are at work in the actual reality outside man. The natural science mode of conception cannot get down to these forces, being engaged in working up an intellectual code of natural law out of the experiences acquired from external facts. Nor are the world-conceptions, founded on a more or less religious basis, any longer at the present day in touch with these forces. They accept their traditions as handed down to them, without penetrating to their fountain-head in the depths of man's being. Spiritual science, however, seeks to get to this fountain-head. It develops methods of knowledge which lead down into those regions of the inner man where the processes external to man find their continuation within man himself. The knowledge that spiritual science has to give presents a reality actually experienced in man's inner self. The ideas that emerge from it are not the outcome of reasoning, but imbued through and through with the forces of actual reality. Hence such ideas are able to carry with them the force of actual reality when they come to give the lines for social aim and purpose. One can well understand that, at the first, a spiritual science such as this should meet with distrust. But such distrust will not last when people come to recognize the essential difference that exists between this spiritual science and the particular current recently developed in science, and which to-day is assumed to be the only one possible. Once people come to recognize the difference, they will cease to believe that one must avoid social ideas when one is bent on the practical shaping of social facts. They will begin to see, instead, that practical social ideas are obtainable only from a spiritual life that can find its way to the roots of human nature. People will clearly see that in modern times social facts have fallen into disorder because people have tried to master them by thoughts which these facts were constantly eluding.
A spiritual conception that penetrates to the essential being of man finds there motives for action which in the ethical sense too are directly good. For the impulse towards evil arises in man only because in his thoughts and sensations he silences the depths of his own nature. Accordingly, social ideas that are arrived at through the sort of spiritual conception here meant must by their very nature be ethical ideas as well. And being drawn, not from thought alone, but from life, they possess the strength to lay hold upon the will and to live on in action. In the light of a true ethical conception, social thought and ethical thought become one. And the life that grows out of such a spiritual conception is intimately linked with every form of activity that man develops in life — even in his practical dealings with the most insignificant matters. So, through this spiritual conception, social instinct, ethical impulse, and practical conduct become interwoven in such a way as to form a unity.
This kind of spirit, however, can thrive only when its growth is completely independent of all authority except such as is derived directly from the spiritual life itself. Legal regulations by the civil state for the nurture of the spirit sap the strength of the forces of spiritual life. Whereas a spiritual life that is left entirely to its own inherent interests and impulses will reach out into everything that man performs in social life. It is frequently objected that mankind would need to be completely changed before one could ground social behaviour on the ethical impulses. People do not reflect what ethical impulses in men wither away when they are not allowed to grow up from a free spiritual life, but are forced to take the particular turn that the politico-legal structure of society finds necessary for carrying on work in the spheres it has mapped out beforehand. A person brought up and educated under the free spiritual life will certainly, through his very initiative, bring with him into his calling much of the stamp of his own personality. He will not let himself be fitted into the social works like a cog into a machine. But, in the long run, what he thus brings into it will not hamper, but increase, the harmony of the whole. What goes on in each particular part of the communal life will be the outcome of what lives in the spirits of the people at work there.
People whose souls breathe the atmosphere created by a spirit such as this will put life into the institutions needed for practical economic purposes, and in such a way that social needs too will be satisfied. Institutions that people think they can devise to satisfy these social needs will never work socially with men whose inner nature feels itself out of unison with their outward occupation. For institutions of themselves cannot work socially. To work socially requires human beings, socially attuned, working within an ordered system of civil rights created by a living interest in this Rights system, and zuith an economic life that produces in the most efficient fashion the goods required for actual needs.
If the life of the spirit be a free one, evolved only from those impulses that reside within itself, then civil life will thrive in proportion as people are educated intelligently, from real spiritual experience, in the adjustment of their civil relations and rights. And then, too, economic life will be fruitful in the measure in which men's spiritual nurture has developed their capacity for it.
Every institution that has grown up in men's communal life is originally the result of the Will that dwelt in their aims; and their spiritual life has contributed to its growth. Only when life becomes complicated in form, as it has under the technical methods of production of the modern age, then the Will that dwells in the thoughts loses touch with the actual social facts. These latter then take their own automatic course. And man withdraws himself in the spirit to a corner apart, and there seeks the spiritual substance to satisfy the needs of his soul.
It is from this mechanical course of affairs, over which the will of the individual spirit had no control, that those conditions have arisen which the modern social movement aims at changing. It is because the spirit that is at work within the civil life of rights and in the round of industry is no longer one through which the individual spiritual life can find its channel, that the individual sees himself in a social order which gives him, as an individual, no scope civically nor economically.
People who do not clearly see this will always raise an objection to the conception of the body social as an organism consisting of three systems, each to be worked on its own distinct basis — i. e., the Spiritual life, the State for the administration of Rights, and the round of Industrial Economy. They will protest that such a differentiation will destroy the necessary unity of communal life. To this one must reply that right now this unity is destroying itself in the effort to maintain itself intact. The life of rights, that grows up out of economic power, in its actual working undermines this economic power, because it is felt by those economically inferior to be a foreign body within the social organism. That spirit coming to be dominant in civil rights and economic life, when these control its workings, condemns the living spirit — which in each individual is working its way up from the soul's depths — to powerlessness in the face of practical life. If, however, the system of civil rights grows up on independent ground out of the sense of right, and if the Will of the individual dwelling in the spirit is developed in a free life of the spirit, then the Rights system and Spiritual force and Economic activity all work together into a unity. They will be able to do so when they can develop, each according to its own proper nature, in distinct fields of life. It is just in separation that they will turn to unity; whereas, shaped from an artificial unity, they become estranged.
People of a socialist way of thinking will, many of them, dismiss such a conception as this with the phrase that it is not possible to bring about satisfactory conditions of life through this organic formation of society; that it can only be done through a suitable economic organization. In so saying they overlook the fact that the men at work in their economic organization are endowed with wills. If one tells them so, they will smile, for they regard it as self-evident. Yet their thoughts are busy constructing a social edifice in which this “self-evident” fact is left out of account. Their economic organization is to be controlled by a communal will. But this, after all, must be the resultant of the individual wills of the people united in the organization. These individual wills can never find scope, if the communal will is derived entirely from the idea of economic organization. But the individual wills can expand untrammelled if, alongside the economic province, there is a civil province of Rights, where the standard is set, not by any economic point of view, but by the sense of right alone; and if, alongside both the economic and civil provinces, a free spiritual life can find place, following the impulsion of the spirit alone. Then we shall not have a social order going by clockwork, to which individual wills could never permanently be fitted. Then human beings will find it possible to give their wills a social bent, and to bring them constantly to bear on the shaping of social circumstances. Under the free spiritual life the individual will, will acquire its social bent. Under a self-based civil state of Rights, these individual wills, socially attuned, will result in a communal will that works aright. And the individual wills, socially centred, and organized by the independent system of rights, will exert themselves within the round of industrial economy, producing and distributing goods as social needs require.
Most people to-day still lack faith in the possibility of establishing a social order based on individual wills. They have no faith in it, because such a faith cannot come from a spiritual life that has developed in dependence on the life of the State and of industrial economy. The kind of spirit that does not develop in freedom out of the life of the spirit itself, but out of an exterior organization, simply does not know what the potentialities of the spirit are. It looks round for something to guide and manage it — not knowing how the spirit guides and manages itself, if it can but draw its strength from its own sources. It would like to have a board of management for the spirit as a sort of branch department of the economic and civil organisations, quite regardless of the fact that industrial economy and the system of rights can only live when permeated with the spirit that follows its oztm leading.
For the reshaping of the social order, goodwill alone is not the only thing needful. It needs also that courage which can be a match for the lack of faith in the spirit's power. A true spiritual conception can inspire this courage; for such a spiritual conception feels able to bring forth ideas that not only serve to give the soul its inward orientation, but which, in their very birth, bring with them the seeds of life's practical configuration. The will to go down into the deep places of the spirit can become a will so strong as to bear a part in everything that man performs.
When one speaks of a spiritual conception having its roots in life, quite a number of people take one to mean the sum-total of those instincts in which a man takes refuge who travels along the familiar rails of life and holds every intervention from spiritual regions to be a piece of cranky idealism. The spiritual conception that is meant here, however, must be confounded neither with that abstract spirituality which is incapable of extending its interests to practical life, nor yet with that spiritual tendency which as good as denies the spirit directly it comes to consider the guiding lines of practical life. Both these modes of conception ignore how the spirit rules in the facts of external life, and therefore feel no real urgency for consciously penetrating its rulings. Yet only such a sense of urgency brings forth that knowledge which sees the social question in its true light. The experiments now being made to solve the social question afford such unsatisfactory results because many people have not yet become able to see what the true gist of the question is. They see this question arise in economic regions, and they look to economic institutions to provide the answer. They think they will find the solution in economic transformations. They fail to recognise that these transformations can only come about through forces that are released from within human nature itself in the uprising of a new spiritual life and life of rights in their own independent domains.
To lay hold on those evolutionary forces which in the development of modern mankind are striving toward the Threefold Social Order; to make them a conscious social will and purpose — this is at the present day what the hard facts of the social situation demand of us in unmistakable language.
|Goethe's Cultural Environment and the Present Epoch|
|Goethe's Cultural Environment and the Present Epoch|
Translated by A. H. Parker
In the article published in Das Goetheanum weekly on October 7, 1923, in which I discussed Michael's fight with the Dragon, I was obliged to draw attention to the constitution of the human soul in the comparatively recent past. I pointed out that in the XVIII century certain ideas were still current which were regarded as a basis of knowledge. Today they are relegated to the realm of fantasy.
Goethe's Weltanschauung will only appear as a living reality in the eyes of our contemporaries if this fact is given due consideration. The seventies and eighties of the XVIII century were the years in Goethe's life when his Weltanschauung took the direction which determined its future fruitful development. By infusing scientific knowledge into his mode of thinking Goethe provided that inner impulse which is so characteristic of his thought. It was not by rejecting a genuine study of nature, but by working in harmony with nature, that he wished to reach the heights of a spiritual conception of the universe. We shall only understand this inner impulse aright if we follow the movement of ideas in his epoch, and if we realise that within this cultural environment Goethe's aims and ideas met with no response. Many phenomena confirm this; the following is perhaps not the least important.
In the year 1782 there appeared the translation of the book ‘Des Erreurs et de la Vérité’ by the worthy Matthias Claudius. It was the work of Saint-Martin, the so-called Unknown Philosopher, and describes the attempt to arrive at a satisfactory Weltanschauung by returning to the primordial traditional wisdom of mankind. It showed at the same time that those who thought along these lines saw no possibility, from the conclusions derived from scientific thinking, of arriving at a form of cognition that was inwardly satisfying. It was Goethe's heartfelt wish to attain this knowledge.
The fact that Goethe's contemporaries could feel a need for the ideas adumbrated by Saint-Martin is a circumstance or phenomenon which may be of particular interest today.
The scientific mode of thinking strove for a conception of the world which totally excluded moral impulses as irrelevant for the purpose of true knowledge. In the eyes of natural science moral ideas are simply something that dawns in the human soul independently of the ideas of nature. In accordance with its character the physical evolution of the world to which man directs his attention must be envisaged, both in respect to its origin and its end, without the impact of moral ideas. In the cosmic nebulae from which worlds emerge and which in their turn ultimately give birth to man, no moral impulses are at work.
There could still be found amongst Goethe's circle those who rejected this conception of nature, but who hankered after something akin to what Matthias Claudius wanted to give through his translation of Saint-Martin's work. Goethe however was wholly committed to a scientific approach to nature. Others wanted to unite the knowledge of man and moral world order independently of the kingdom of nature; Goethe wanted to find this union within the realm of nature.
Saint-Martin speaks of a serious primordial dereliction, of an original sin. Man had originally been fashioned in his true being by a supersensible world. This no longer applies, he is no longer the same being: he shows he has now become another being. He has lost his original innocence and has clothed himself with the substances of the sensible world in a manner unbefitting his original being. This fall from grace extends even to the different manifestations of life — one of these manifestations is language, for example. The kind of language now spoken in the different countries of the world no longer suffices to express by means of words the fundamental nature of things. Man is obliged to confine himself to their external aspect. To pre-lapsarian man was assigned original language which was integrated with the creative forces acting in world events.
In these ideas the natural order is associated with the moral order. In a world where natural law reigns there is no place for this moral order.
For the followers of Saint-Martin all knowledge consisted fundamentally in acquiring once again man's original disposition of soul by actively developing the inner life.
It is this desire, this tendency which pervades the books of Saint-Martin. They could only satisfy those who saw in scientific knowledge an aberration, a consequence of man's fall. His disciples could not choose but think that this knowledge was the product of original sin; true understanding, they felt, can only be acquired independently of natural science, of a scientific perception of nature.
This attitude of mind lends to his works something which is alien to our modern mentality. And Goethe must have felt the same. How far he was familiar with the work of Saint-Martin is not important; what matters is that in Goethe's day there were men whose spiritual needs could be satisfied by a predilection for Saint-Martin. This characterises the state of mind of many of Goethe's contemporaries whose opinions he was obliged inwardly to disavow.
Goethe himself was unable to stand aloof from the scientific observation of nature. He could only arrive at an understanding of the spirit if observation of natural phenomena revealed this spirit to him. For Goethe, man has not lost his state of innocence, he still bears it within him, though at first he is not aware of it. But it is precisely because he is unaware of it in early life that man is able to acquire by his own persistent efforts an understanding of his true being. Insight into nature for Goethe is not the consequence of man's fall but the means of self-realisation which is possible at every moment. In this way Goethe has incorporated in his Weltanschauung the true idea of inner freedom. It is nowhere explicitly stated in his works, but it is implicit in them. He who seeks will find it if he opens himself to the Goethean way of thinking. We shall only see Goethe today in the right perspective if we are aware of this. In the eighties he felt an irresistible longing to escape from his cultural environment. In Italy, it was not Italy he sought. As a result of his experiences there he found himself, his true being. If we follow Goethe during his Italian journey, we see the progressive development of the Goethe to whom the world owes so much.
It is in man's true and sincere striving that the element of freedom is to be found. In Goethe we see the new outlook, the new horizon that mankind owes to his influence. And it is this also which unites him within the Michael impulse. He was unable to achieve this union in an environment which was alien to him, but he found it, however, by a form of contemplation which was peculiarly his own.
For this reason Goethe is so near today to those who are seeking knowledge of the spirit. He often felt himself a stranger to his age; every seeker after the spirit feels himself perfectly at home with him today.
|Atomism and its Refutation|
|Atomism and its Refutation|
Translated by Ruth Hofrichter
ATOMISM AND ITS REFUTATION
First, we will call to mind the current doctrine of sense impressions, then point to contradictions contained in it, and to a view of the world more compatible with the idealistic understanding.
Current (1890) natural science thinks of the world-space as filled with an infinitely thin substance called ether. This substance consists of infinitely small particles, the ether atoms. This ether does not merely exist where there are no bodies, but also in the pores (pertaining) to bodies. The physicist imagines that each body consists of an infinite number of immeasurable small parts, like atoms. They are not in contact with each other, but they are separated by small interstices. They, in the turn, unite to larger forms, the molecules, which still cannot be discerned by the eye. Only when an infinite number of molecules unite, we get what our senses perceived as bodies.
We will explain this by an example. There is a gas in nature, called hydrogen, and another called oxygen. Hydrogen consists of immeasurable small hydrogen atoms, oxygen of oxygen atoms. The hydrogen atoms are given here as red circlets, the oxygen ones as blue circlets. So, the physicist would imagine a certain quantity of hydrogen, like a figure 1, a quantity of oxygen like figure 2. (See table)
Now we are able, by special processes, not interesting us here, to bring the oxygen in such a relation to the hydrogen that two hydrogen atoms combine with one oxygen atom, so that a composite substance results which we would have to show as indicated in figure 3.
Here, always two hydrogen atoms, together with one oxygen atom form one whole. And this still invisible, small formation, consists of two kinds of atoms, we call a molecule. The substance whose molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms, plus one oxygen atom is water.
It also can happen that a molecule consists of 3, 4, 5 different atoms. So one molecule of alcohol consists of atoms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
But we also see by this that for modern physics each substance (fluid, solid, and gaseous) consists of parts between which there exist empty spaces (pores).
Into these pores, there enter the ether atoms which fill the whole cosmos. So, if we draw the ether atoms as dots, we have to imagine a body like figure 4. (The red and blue circlets are substance atoms, the black dots are ether atoms.)
Now we have to imagine that both the substance-atoms and the ether-atoms are in a state of constant motion. The motion is swinging. We must think that each atom is moving back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.
Now in A (see figure 5) we imagine a body, the molecules of which are in constant motion. This motion is transferred also to the ether-atoms in the pores, and from there, to the ether outside of the body of B, e.g. to C. Let us assume in D a sense-organ e.g. the eye, then, the vibrations of the ether will reach the eye, and through it, the nerve N. There, they hit, and through the nerve-conduit L, they arrive at the brain G. Let us assume for instance that the body A is in such a motion that the molecule swings back and forth 461 billion times a second. Then, each ether-molecule also swings 461 billion times, and hits 461 billion times against the optic nerve (in H). The nerve-conduit L transfers these 461 billion vibrations to the brain, and here, we have a sensation: in this case high red. If there were 760 billion vibrations I could see violet, at 548 billion yellow, etc. To each color sensation there corresponds, in the outside world, a certain motion.
This is even simpler in the case of the sensations of sound. Here also the body-molecules vibrate. The medium transferring this to our ear is not the ether but the air. At 148 vibrations per second we perceive the tone D, at 371 the tone F sharp, etc.
Thus we see to what this whole interpretation leads: whatever we perceive in the world with our senses, colors, tones, etc., is said not to exist in reality, but only to appear in our brain when certain vibratory forms of motion are present in the outer world. If I perceive heat, I do so only because the ether around me is in motion, and because the ether atoms hit against the nerves of my skin; when I sense light, it is because the same ether atoms reach the nerve of my eye, etc.
Therefore, the modern physicist says: in reality, nothing exists except swinging, moving atoms; everything else is merely a creation of my brain, formed by it when it is touched by the movement in the outer world.
I do not have to paint how dismal such a view of the world is. Who would not be filled with the saddest ideas if for example, Hugo Magnus, who is quite caught in that way of thinking, exclaims, “This motion of the ether is the only thing which really and objectively exists of color in creation. Only in the human body, in the brain, these ether movements are transformed into images which we usually call red, green, yellow, etc. According to this, we must say: creation is absolutely colorless ... Only when these (colorless) ether movements are led to the brain by the eye, they are transformed to images which we call color.” (Hugo Magnus, Farben und Schöpfung, 8 lectures about the relation of color to man and to nature, Breslau, 1881, p. 16f.)
I am convinced that everyone whose thinking is based on sound ideas, and who has not been subjected from early youth to these strange jumpy thoughts, will consider this state of affairs as simply absurd.
This matter, however, has a much more dubious angle. If there is nothing in the real world except swinging atoms, then there cannot be any true objective ideas and ideals. For when I conceive an idea, I can ask myself, what does it mean outside of my consciousness? — Nothing more than a movement of my brain molecules. Because my brain molecules at that moment swing one way or another, my brain gives me the illusion of some idea. All reality in the world then is considered as movement, everything else is empty fog, result of some movement.
If this way of thinking were correct, then I would have to tell myself: man is nothing more than a mass of swinging molecules. That is the only thing in him that has reality. If I have a great idea and pursue it to its origin, I will find some kind of movement. Let us say I plan a good deed. I only can do that if a mass of molecules in my brain feels like executing a certain movement. In such a case, is there still any value in “good” or “evil”? I can't do anything except what results from the movement of my brain molecules.
From these causes came the pessimism of delle Grazie. She says: For what purpose is this illusionary world of ideas and ideals when they are nothing but movements of atoms. And she believes that current science is right. Because she could not transcend science, and could not, as apathetic people do, disregard the misery of this belief; she succumbed to pessimism.
(See Rudolf Steiner and Marie delle Grazie, Nature and Our Ideals, published by Mercury Press.)
The error underlying the theories of this science is so simple that one cannot understand how the scientific world of today could have succumbed to it.
We can clarify the issue by a simple example. Let us suppose someone sends me a telegram from the place A. When it reaches me, I get nothing but paper and lettering. But if I know how to read, I receive more than merely paper and printed signs, that is, a certain content of thought. Can I say now: I have created this content of thought only in my brain, and paper plus lettering are the only reality? Certainly not. For the content which is now in me is also present in the place A in the same manner. This is the best example one can choose. For in a visible way, nothing at all has come to me from A. Who could maintain that the telegraph wires carry the thought from one place to the other? The same is true about our sense impressions. If a series of ether particles, swinging 589 billion times a second, reach my eye and stimulate the optic nerve, it is true that I have the sensation green. But the ether waves as paper and written symbols for the telegram in the example above are only the carriers of “green”, which is real on the body. The mediator is not the reality of the matter.
As wire and electricity for the telegram, so the swinging ether is here used as mediator. But just because we apprehend “green” by means of the swinging ether, we cannot say: “green” is simply the same as the swinging ether.
This coarse mistaking of the mediator for the content that is carried to us, lies at the root of all current sciences.
We must assume “green” as a quality of bodies. This “green” causes a vibration of 589 billion vibrations per second, this vibration comes to the optic nerve which is so constructed that it knows: when 589 billion vibrations arrive, they can only come from a green surface.
The same holds true for all other mental representations. If I have a thought, an idea, an ideal, it of course must be present in my brain as a reality. That is only possible if the brain particles move in a certain way, for an entity existing in space cannot suffer any changes except by motions. But we would be deadly mistaken about the content of the idea as compared to the way it appears in the body, if we were to say: the motion itself is the idea. No — the motion only provides the possibility for the idea to gain form and spatial existence.
But there is another aspect. For us men, there is nothing [in] which we are completely present as in our ideas, our ideals and mental representations. For them we live, we weave.
When we are alone in the dark, in complete silence, so that we have no sense impressions, — of what are we totally and fully conscious? — Our thoughts and ideas! After these comes everything we can experience through the senses. That is given to me when I open my sense organs to the outer world and keep them receptive. Aside from ideas, ideals and sense impressions, nothing is given to me. Everything else can only be derived as existing and ideas on the basis of our sense impressions.
Can I make such an assumption about moving atoms? If motion occurs, there must be something that moves. By what do I recognize motion? Only by seeing that the bodies change their place in space. But what I see before me are bodies with all qualities of color, etc.
So what does the physicist want to explain? Let us say color. He says: it is motion. What moves? A colorless body. Or, he wants to explain warmth. He again says: it is motion. What moves? A body without warmth. In short: if we explain all qualities of bodies by motion, we finally have to assume that the moving objects have no qualities, as all qualities originate in motion.
To recapitulate. The physicist explains all sense-perceivable, all sense-perceptible qualities by motion. So, what moves cannot yet have qualities. But what has no qualities cannot move at all. Therefore, the atom assumed by physicists is a thing that dissolves into nothing if judged sharply.
So, the whole way of explanation falls. We must ascribe to color, warmth, sounds, etc., the same reality as to motion. With this, we have refuted the physicists, and have proved the objective reality of the world of phenomena and of ideas.
|A LECTURE ON PEDAGOGY|
|A LECTURE ON PEDAGOGY|
The present is the age of intellectualism. The intellect is that faculty of soul in the exercise of which man's inner being participates least. One speaks with some justification of the cold intellectual nature; we need only reflect how the intellect acts upon artistic perception or practice. It dispels or impedes. And artists dread that their creations may be conceptually or symbolically explained by the intelligence. In the clarity of the intellect the warmth of soul which, in the act of creation, gave life to their works, is extinguished. The artist would like his work to be grasped by feeling, not by the understanding. For then the warmth with which he has experienced it is communicated to the beholder. But this warmth is repelled by an intellectual explanation.
In social life intellectualism separates men from one another. They can only work rightly within the community when they are able to impart to their deeds — which always involve the weal or woe of their fellow beings — something of their soul. One man should experience not only another's activity but something of his soul. In a deed, however, which springs from intellectualism, a man withholds his soul nature. He does not let it flow over to his neighbour. It has long been said that in the teaching and training of children intellectualism operates in a crippling way. In saying this one has in mind, in the first place, only the child's intelligence, not the teacher's. One would like to fashion one's methods of training and instruction so that not only the child's cold understanding may be aroused and developed, but warmth of heart may be engendered too.
The anthroposophical view of the world is in full agreement with this. It accepts fully the excellent educational maxims which have grown from this demand. But it realises clearly that warmth can only be imparted from soul to soul. On this account it holds that, above all, pedagogy itself must become ensouled, and thereby the teachers' whole activity.
In recent times intellectualism has permeated strongly into methods of instruction and training. It has achieved this indirectly, by way of modern science. Parents let science dictate what is good for the child's body, soul and spirit. And teachers, during their training, receive from science the spirit of their educational methods.
But science has achieved its triumphs precisely through intellectualism. It wants to keep its thoughts free of anything from man's own soul life, letting them receive everything from sense observation and experiment. Such a science could build up the excellent knowledge of nature of our time, but it cannot found a true pedagogy.
A true pedagogy must be based upon a knowledge that embraces man with respect to body, soul and spirit. Intellectualism only grasps man with respect to his body, for to observation and experiment the bodily alone is revealed. Before a true pedagogy can be founded, a true knowledge of man is necessary. This Anthroposophy seeks to attain.
One cannot come to a knowledge of man by first forming an idea of his bodily nature with the help of a science founded merely on what can be grasped by the senses, and then asking whether this bodily nature is ensouled, and whether a spiritual element is active within it. In dealing with a child such an attitude is harmful. For in him, far more than in the adult, body, soul and spirit form a unity. One cannot care first for the health of the child from the point of view of a merely natural science, and then want to give to the healthy organism what one regards as proper from the point of view of soul and spirit. In all that one does to the child and with the child one benefits or injures his bodily life. In man's earthly life soul and spirit express themselves through the body. A bodily process is a revelation of soul and spirit.
Material science is of necessity concerned with the body as a physical organism; it does not come to a comprehension of the whole man. Many feel this while regarding pedagogy, but fail to see what is needed to-day. They do not say: pedagogy cannot thrive on material science; let us therefore found our pedagogic methods out of pedagogic instincts and not out of material science. But half-consciously they are of this opinion.
We may admit this in theory, but in practice it leads to nothing, for modern humanity has lost the spontaneity of the life of instinct. To try to-day to build up an instinctive pedagogy on instincts which are no longer present in man in their original force, would remain a groping in the dark. We come to see this through anthroposophical knowledge. We learn to know that the intellectualistic trend in science owes its existence to a necessary phase in the evolution of mankind. In recent times man passed out of the period of instinctive life. The intellect became of predominant significance. Man needed it in order to advance on his evolutionary path in the right way. It leads him to that degree of consciousness which he must attain in a certain epoch, just as the individual must acquire particular capabilities at a particular period of his life. But the instincts are crippled under the influence of the intellect, and one cannot try to return to the instinctive life without working against man's evolution. We must accept the significance of that full consciousness which has been attained through intellectualism, and — in full consciousness — give to man what instinctive life can no longer give him.
We need for this a knowledge of soul and spirit which is just as much founded on reality as is material, intellectualistic science. Anthroposophy strives for just this, yet it is this that many people shrink from accepting. They learn to know the way modern science tries to understand man. They feel he cannot be known in this way, but they will not accept that it is possible to cultivate a new mode of cognition and — in clarity of consciousness equal to that in which one penetrates the bodily nature — attain to a knowledge of soul and spirit. So they want to return to the instincts again in order to understand the child and train him.
But he must go forwards; and there is no other way than to extend anthropology by acquiring Anthroposophy, and sense knowledge by acquiring spiritual knowledge. We have to learn all over again. Men are terrified at the complete change of thought required for this. From unconscious fear they attack Anthroposophy as fantastic, yet it only wants to proceed in the spiritual domain as soberly and as carefully as material science in the physical.
Let us consider the child. About the seventh year of life he develops his second teeth. This is not merely the work of the period of time immediately preceding. It is a process that begins with embryonic development and only concludes with the second teeth. These forces, which produce the second teeth at a certain stage of development, were always active in the child's organism. They do not reveal themselves in this way in subsequent periods of life. Further teeth formations do not occur. Yet the forces concerned have not been lost; they continue to work; they have merely been transformed. They have undergone a metamorphosis. (There are still other forces in the child's organism which undergo metamorphosis in a similar way.)
If we study in this way the development of the child's organism we discover that these forces are active before the change of teeth. They are absorbed in the processes of nourishment and growth. They live in undivided unity with the body, freeing themselves from it about the seventh year. They live on as soul forces; we find them active in the older child in feeling and thinking.
Anthroposophy shows that an etheric organism permeates the physical organism of man. Up to the seventh year the whole of this etheric organism is active in the physical. But now a portion of the etheric organism becomes free from direct activity in the physical. It acquires a certain independence, becoming thereby an independent vehicle of the soul life, relatively free from the physical organism.
In earth life, however, soul experience can only develop with the help of this etheric organism. Hence the soul is quite embedded in the body before the seventh year. To be active during this period, it must express itself through the body. The child can only come into relationship with the outer world when this relationship takes the form of a stimulus which runs its course within the body. This can only be the case when the child imitates. Before the change of teeth the child is a purely imitative being in the widest sense. His training must consist in this: that those around him perform before him what he is to imitate.
The child's educator should experience within himself what it is to have the whole etheric organism within the physical. This gives him knowledge of the child. With abstract principles alone one can do nothing. Educational practice requires an anthroposophical art of education to work out in detail how the human being reveals himself as a child.
Just as the etheric organism is embedded in the physical until the change of teeth, so, from the change of teeth until puberty, there is embedded in the physical and etheric a soul organism, called the astral organism by Anthroposophy. As a result of this the child develops a life that no longer expends itself in imitation. But he cannot yet govern his relation to others in accordance with fully conscious thoughts regulated by intellectual judgment. This first becomes possible when, at puberty, a part of the soul organism frees itself from the corresponding part of the etheric organism. From his seventh to his fourteenth or fifteenth year the child's life is not mainly determined by his relation to those around him in so far as this results from his power of judgment. It is the relation which comes through authority that is important now.
This means that, during these years, the child must look up to someone whose authority he can accept as a matter of course. His whole education must now be fashioned with reference to this. One cannot build upon the child's power of intellectual judgment, but one should perceive clearly that the child wants to accept what is put before him as true, good and beautiful, because the teacher, whom he takes for his model, regards it as true, good and beautiful.
Moreover the teacher must work in such a way that he not merely puts before the child the True, the Good and the Beautiful, but — in a sense — is these. What the teacher is passes over into the child, not what he teaches. All that is taught should be put before the child as a concrete ideal. Teaching itself must be a work of art, not a matter of theory.
|TWO COSMIC VERSES|
|TWO COSMIC VERSES|
Sun, you radiant, your light 's material power conjures up life from the earth's immeasurably rich depths. Heart, you soul-carrying, your light's spirit power conjures up life from people's immeasurably deep inner being. When I look into the sun, its radiant light speaks to me of the spirit that mercifully rules through cosmic beings. I feel into my heart, the spirit speaks its own word about the person it loves through all time and eternity. I can see looking upwards in the sun's bright round the mighty heart of the world. Looking inward, I can feel In the heart's warm beat That heseelt. human sun.
Sun, thou bearer of rays, Thy light's power over matter Magics life out of the earth's Limitless rich depths. Heart, thou bearer of soul, Thy light's power over spirit Magics life out of the human being's Limitless deep inwardness. If I gaze upon the Sun Her light speaks to me in radiance Of the Spirit, filled with grace, Wielding through the beings of worlds. If I feel within my heart The Spirit speaks its own true word About the human being, loved by him Through all time and eternity. Looking upwards, I can see In the sun's bright disc The mighty heart of worlds. Looking inwards, I can feel In the heart's warm beat The human Sun ensouled.
Dear Herr Mackay!
Four years ago, after the appearance of my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, you expressed to me your agreement with my direction of ideas. I openly admit that this gave me deeply felt joy. For I have the conviction that we agree, with respect to our views, every bit as far as two natures fully independent of one another can agree. We have the same goals, even though we have worked our way through to our world of thought on quite different paths. You too feel this. A proof of this is the fact that you chose me to address the above letter to. I value being addressed by you as like-minded.
Hitherto I have always avoided using even the term “individualist anarchism” or “theoretical anarchism” for my world view. For I put very little stock in such designations. If one states one’s views clearly and positively in one’s writings: what is then the need of also designating these views with a convenient word? After all, everyone connects quite definite traditional notions with such a word, which reproduce only imprecisely what the particular personality has to say. I speak my thoughts; I characterize my goals. I myself have no need to name my way of thinking with a customary word.
If, however, I were to say, in the sense in which such things can be decided, whether the term “individualist anarchist” is applicable to me, I would have to answer with an unconditional “Yes.” And because I lay claim to this designation for myself, I too would like to say, just at this moment, with a few words, exactly what distinguishes “us,” the “individualist anarchists,” from the devotees of the so-called “propaganda of the deed.” I do know that for rational people I shall be saying nothing new. But I am not as optimistic as you, dear Herr Mackay, who simply say, “No government is so blind and foolish as to proceed against a person who participates in public life solely through his writings and does so in the sense of a reshaping of conditions without bloodshed.” You have, take no offense at me for this my only objection, not considered with how little rationality the world is governed.
Thus I would indeed like to speak once distinctly. The “individualist anarchist” wants no person to be hindered by anything in being able to bring to unfolding the abilities and forces that lie in him. Individuals should assert themselves in a fully free battle of competition. The present state has no sense for this battle of competition. It hinders the individual at every step in the unfolding of his abilities. It hates the individual. It says: I can only use a person who behaves thus and thus. Whoever is different, I shall force him to become the way I want. Now the state believes people can only get along if one tells them: you must be like this. And if you are not like that, then you’ll just have to be like that anyway. The individualist anarchist, on the other hand, holds that the best situation would result if one would give people free way. He has the trust that they would find their direction themselves. Naturally he does not believe that the day after tomorrow there would be no more pickpockets if one would abolish the state tomorrow. But he knows that one cannot by authority and force educate people to freeness. He knows this one thing: one clears the way for the most independent people by doing away with all force and authority.
But it is upon force and authority that the present states are founded. The individualist anarchist stands in enmity toward them, because they suppress liberty. He wants nothing but the free, unhindered unfolding of powers. He wants to eliminate force, which oppresses the free unfolding. He knows that at the final moment, when social democracy draws its consequences, the state will have its cannons work. The individualist anarchist knows that the representatives of authority will always reach for measures of force in the end. But he is of the conviction that everything of force suppresses liberty. That is why he battles against the state, which rests upon force and that is why he battles just as energetically against the “propaganda of the deed,” which no less rests upon measures of force. When a state has a person beheaded or locked up one can call it what one will on account of his opinion, that appears abominable to the individualist anarchist. It naturally appears no less abominable to him when a Luccheni stabs a woman to death who happens to be the Empress of Austria. It belongs to the very first principles of individualist anarchism to battle against things of that kind. If he wanted to condone the like, then he would have to admit that he does not know why he is battling against the state. He battles against force, which suppresses liberty, and he battles against it just the same when the state does violence to an idealist of the idea of freedom, as when a stupid vain youngster treacherously murders the likeable romantic on the imperial throne of Austria.
To our opponents it cannot be said distinctly enough that the “individualist anarchists” energetically battle against the so-called “propaganda of the deed.” There is, apart from the measures of force used by states, perhaps nothing as disgusting to these anarchists as these Caserios and Lucchenis. But I am not as optimistic as you, dear Herr Mackay. For I cannot usually find that speck of rationality that is, after all, required for such crude distinctions as that between “individualist anarchism” and “propaganda of the deed,” where I would like to seek it.
In friendly inclination, yours
Magazin für Literatur 30 September 1898
We lose the human being from our field of vision if we do not fix the eye of the soul upon his entire nature in all its life-manifestations. We should not speak of man's knowledge, but of the complete man manifesting himself in the act of cognition. In cognition, man uses as an instrument his sense-nerve nature. For feeling, he is served by the rhythm living in the breath and the circulation of the blood. When he wills metabolism becomes the physical basis of his existence. But rhythm courses into the physical occurrence within the sense-nerve nature; and metabolism is the material bearer of the life of thought, even in the most abstract thinking, feeling lives and the waves of will pulsate.
The ancient Oriental entered into his dream-like thinking more from the rhythmic life of feeling than does the man of the present age. The Oriental experienced for this reason more of the rhythmic weaving in his life of thought, while the Westerner experiences more of the logical indications. In ascending to super-sensible vision, the Oriental Yogi interwove conscious breath with conscious thinking, in this way, he laid hold in his breath upon the continuing rhythm of cosmic occurrence. As he breathed, he experienced the world as Self. Upon the rhythmic waves of conscious breath, thought moved through the entire being of man. He experienced how the Divine-Spiritual causes the spirit-filled breath to stream continuously into man, and how man thus becomes a living soul. The man of the present age must seek his super-sensible knowledge in a different way. He cannot unite his thinking with the breath. Through meditation, he must lift his thinking out of the life of logic to vision. In vision, however, thought weaves in a spirit element or music and picture. It is released from the breath and woven together with the spiritual in the world. The Self is now experienced, not in connection with the breath in the single human being, but in the environing world of spirit. The Eastern man once experienced the world in himself, and in his spiritual life today he has the echo of this. The Western man stands at the beginning of his experience, and is on the way to find himself in the world. If the Western man should wish to become a Yogi, he would have to become a refined egoist, for Nature has already given him the feeling of the Self. which the Oriental had only in a dream-like way. If the Yogi had sought for himself in the world as the Western man must do, he would have led his dream-like thinking into unconscious sleep, and would have been psychically drowned.
The Eastern man had the spiritual experience as religion, art, and science in complete unity. He made sacrifices to his spiritual-divine Beings. As a gift of grace, there flowed to him from them that which lifted him to the state of a true human being. This was religion. But in the sacrificial ceremony and the sacrificial place there was manifest to him also beauty, through which the Divine-Spiritual lived in art. And out of the beautiful manifestations of the Spirit there flowed science.
Toward the West streamed the waves of wisdom that were the beautiful light of the spirit and inspired piety in the artistically inspired man. There religion developed its own being, and only beauty still continued united with wisdom. Heracleitos and Anaxagoras were men wise in the world who thought artistically; Aeschylos and Sophocles were artists who moulded the wisdom of the world. Later wisdom was given over to thinking; it became knowledge. Art was transferred to its own world. Religion, the source of all, became the heritage of the East; art became the monument of the time when the middle region of the earth held sway; knowledge became the independent mistress of its own field in man's soul. Thus did the spiritual life of the West come to existence. A complete human being like Goethe discovered the world of spirit immersed In knowledge. But he longed to see the truth of knowledge in the beauty of art. This drove him to the south. Whoever follows him in the spirit may find a religiously Intimate knowledge striving in beauty toward artistic revelation. If the Western man beholds in his cold knowledge the spiritual-divine streaming forth below him and glancing with beauty, and if the Eastern man senses in his religion of wisdom, warm with feeling and speaking of the beauty of the cosmos, the knowledge that makes man free, transforming itself in man into the power of will, then will the Eastern man in his feeling intuition no longer accuse the thinking Western man of being soulless, and the thinking Western man will no longer condemn the intuitively feeling Eastern man as an alien to the world. Religion can be deepened by knowledge filled with the life of art. Art can be made alive through knowledge born out of religion. Knowledge can be illuminated by religion upheld by art.
The Eastern man spoke of the sense-world as an appearance in which there lived a lesser manifestation of what he experienced as spirit in utter reality within his own soul. The Western man speaks of the world of ideas as an appearance where there lives in shadowy form what he experiences as Nature in utter reality through his senses. What was the Maja of the senses to the Eastern man is self-sufficing reality to the Western man. What is the ideology constructed by the mind to the Western man was self-creating reality to the Eastern man. If the Eastern man finds today in his reality of spirit the power to give the strength of existence to Maja, and if the Western man discovers life in his reality of Nature, so that he shall see the Spirit at work in his ideology, then will understanding come about between East and West.
In hoary antiquity the humanity of the Orient experienced in knowledge a lofty spirituality. This spirituality, laid hold upon in thought, pulsated through the feeling; it streamed out into the will. The thought was not yet the percept which reproduces objects. It was real being which bore into the inner nature of man the life of the spiritual world. The man of the East lives today in the echoes of this lofty spirituality. The eye of his cognition was once not directed toward Nature. He looked through Nature at the spirit. When the adaptation to Nature began, man did not at once see Nature; he saw the spirit by the way of Nature; he saw ghosts. The last residues of a lofty spirituality became, on the way from East to West, the superstitious belief in ghosts. To the Western man, a knowledge of Nature was given as Copernicus and Galileo arose for him. He had to look into his own inner nature in order to seek for the spirit. There the spirit was still concealed from him, and he beheld only appetites and instincts. But these are material ghosts, taking their place before the eyes of the soul because this is not yet inwardly adapted to the spirit. When the adaptation to the spirit begins, the inner ghosts will vanish, and man will took upon the spirit through his own inner nature, as the ancient man of the East looked upon the spirit through Nature. Through the world of the inner ghosts the West will reach the spirit. The Western ghost superstition is the beginning of the knowledge of spirit. What the East bequeathed to the West as a superstitious belief in ghosts is the end of the knowledge of spirit. Men should find their way past the ghosts into the spirit — and thus will a bridge be built between East and West.
The man of the East feels “I” and sees “World”; the I is the moon which reflects the world. The man of the West thinks the “World” and radiates into the world of his own thought “I”. The I is a sun which irradiates the world of pictures. If the Eastern man comes to feel the rays of the sun in the shimmer of his moon of wisdom, and the Western man experiences the shimmer of moon-wisdom in the rays of his sun of will, then shall the will of the West release the will of the East.
The ancient Oriental felt himself to be in a social order willed by the Spirit. The commandments of the spiritual Power, brought to his consciousness by his Leader, gave him the conception as to how he should integrate himself with this order. These leaders derived such conceptions out of their vision in the super-sensible world. Those who were led felt that in such conceptions lay the main directions transmitted to them for their spiritual, political and economic life. Views regarding man's relationship to the spiritual, the relationship between man and man, the handling of the economic affairs were derived for them from the same sources, commandments willed by the spirit. The spiritual life, the social-political order, the handling of the economic affairs were experienced as a unity. The farther culture progressed toward the West, the more relationship of rights between man and man and the handling of economic affairs were separated from the spiritual life in human consciousness. The spiritual life became more independent. The other members of the social order still continued to constitute a unity. But, with the further penetration of the West, they also became separated. 3y the side of the element of rights and the state, which for a time controlled everything economic, there took form an independent economic thinking. The Western man is still living amidst the processes of this last separation. At the same time, there arises for him the task to mould into a higher unity the separated members of the social life — the life of the spirit, the control of rights and of the state, the handling of economic affairs, if he achieves this, the man of the East will look upon this creation with understanding, for he will again discover what he once lost, the unity of human experience.
Among the partial currents whose interaction and reciprocal conflict compose human history, there is included the conquest or labor by man's consciousness. In the ancient Orient, man labored in accordance with an order imposed upon him by the will of the Spirit, in this reeling, he was either a master or a worker. With the migration of the life of culture toward the West, there came into human consciousness the relationship between man and man. into this was woven the labor which one performs for others. Into the concepts of rights there penetrated the concept of the value of work. A great part of Roman history represents this growing together of the concepts of rights and of work. With the further penetration of culture into the West, economic life took on more and more complicated forms, It drew labor into itself when the structure of rights which this had hitherto taken on was not yet adequate for the demands of the new forms. Disharmony arose between the conceptions of work and of rights. The re-establishment of harmony between the two is the great social problem of the West. How labor can discover its form within the entity of rights, and not be torn out of this entity in the handling of economic affairs, constitutes — the content or the problem, if the West begins to advance toward this solution, through insight and in social peace, the East will meet this with understanding. But, if this problem generates in the West a stand in thinking which manifests itself in social turmoil, the East will not be able to acquire confidence in the further evolution of humanity through the West.
The unity between the spiritual life, human rights, and the handling of economic affairs, in accordance with an order willed by the Spirit, can survive only so long as the tilling of the soil is predominant in economics, while trade and industry are subordinate to agricultural economics. It is for this reason that the social thinking of the ancient Orient, willed by the Spirit, bears with reference to the handling of economic affairs a character adapted to agricultural economics. With the course of civilization toward the West, trade first becomes an independent element in economics. It demands the determination of rights. It must be possible to carry on business with everyone. With reference to this, there are only abstract standards of rights. As civilization advanced still farther toward the West, production in industry becomes an independent element in the handling of economic affairs. It is possible to produce useful goods only when the producer and those persons with whom he must work in this production live in a relationship which corresponds with human capacities and needs. The unfolding of the industrial element demands out of :he economic life associative unions so moulded that men know their needs to be satisfied in these so far as the natural conditions make this possible, To discover the fight associative life is the task of the West. If it proves to be capable of this task, the East will say: “Our life once flowed into brotherhood. In the course of time, this disappeared; the advance of humanity took it away from us. The West causes it to blossom again out of the associative economic life. It restores the vanished confidence in true humanness.”
When the ancient man composed a poem, he felt that spiritual Power spoke through him. In Greece the poet let the Muse speak through him to his fellowmen. This consciousness was a heritage of the ancient Orient. With the passage of the spiritual life toward the West, poetry became more and more the manifestation of man himself. In the ancient Orient, the spiritual Powers sang through man to men. The cosmic word resounded from the gods down to man. in the West, it has become the human word. It must find the way upward to the spiritual Powers. Man must learn to create poetry in such a way that the Spirit may listen to him. The West must mould a language suited to the Spirit. Then will the East say: “The divine Word, which once streamed for us from heaven to earth, finds its way back from the hearts of men into the spiritual world. In the human word mounting upward we behold with understanding the cosmic Word whose descent our consciousness once experienced.”
The man of the East has no understanding for “proof”. He experiences in vision the content of his truths, and knows them in this way. And what man knows he does not prove. The man of the West demands everywhere “proofs”. Everywhere he strives to reach the content of his truths out of the external reflection by means of thought, and interprets them in this way. But what is interpreted must be “proven”. If the man of the West releases from his proof the life of truth, the man of the East will understand him. if, at the end of the Western man's struggle for proof, the Eastern man discovers his unproven dreams of truth in a true awaking, the man of the West will then have to greet him as a fellow-worker who can accomplish what he himself cannot accomplish in work for the progress of humanity.
|Human Life in the Light of Spiritual Science|
|Human Life in the Light of Spiritual Science|
The object of my remarks today on Spiritual Science, or Anthroposophy, is no more intended to be what is ordinarily meant by the word propaganda, than it was the object of my lecture delivered in this same place in January of the present year. Then as now, it was my desire to answer certain questions which must arise in this particular locality where the Dornach building, devoted to the service of this Spiritual Science, stands directly before our eyes.
Outsiders whose attention is drawn to the anthroposophical movement might quite properly inquire whether there is any reason, in the spiritual life of the present day, why such a movement is necessary. And it is easy to understand why such outsiders come to a negative conclusion at the outset. They may believe that a few people, with little to do in their daily lives, gather together in order to occupy themselves with all sorts of things which are of no use in real life, and which are no concern of those who are obliged to spend their time in hard work for the service of mankind. Yet this opinion can only be held by whose who have failed to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the conditions of human progress in the course of the last three or four centuries, and especially during the nineteenth century right up to our present day. Just cast an eye over all the changes which have taken place in human life during this period in comparison with the requirements of earlier times. New discoveries have been made relating to the operation of natural forces, and these discoveries have brought about a fundamental change in human existence and in the conditions of daily life. How different is the environment in which we find ourselves placed today when compared to that of a not very distant past! If we envisage human life today, from infancy to old age, we obtain a very different picture from the one presented by that vanished era. Such a survey would show us the life environment in which the individual finds himself, and how the work, for which preparation has been made during childhood and youth, has to be carried out. It would show further the individual awaking to the need of knowing something about the meaning and essential significance of life. He cannot be content with what he sees through his senses or what he must acquire by his own handiwork. In the course of life, attention is drawn to the voice of the in-dwelling soul, and the individual is led to ask: what sense has this soul life within the outer physical world? A perfectly justifiable answer can be made, viz: that the world really satisfies all human queries which may arise. Besides outer experiences, in connection with daily tasks and daily life, it brings to the individual the element of religious life. In this way the eternal meaning is disclosed of what occurs in the human being's physical surroundings, and thus the door which seems to close upon physical life is transformed for him into the portal to the everlasting and immortal life of the soul.
This answer is perfectly correct, generally speaking. Accordingly it seems quite reasonable to ask why something further should be required which will, in the form of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy, force its way between outer life in the physical world and religious revelation, religious annunciations concerning the eternal being of man.
Yet anyone who is satisfied with the general terms of this quite correct opinion concerning contemporary human life, fails to take into account that recent centuries, and more especially our modern era, have given a particular form to this life which compels us today to regard all questions affecting life in a way which must extend beyond the limits of generalities. Just consider the education and schooling of today, how after passing through them we adopt viewpoints and receive impressions which are quite different from those of earlier times, inasmuch as they are based upon the great advances made during the recent centuries and the immediate present. It is of the essence of the historical progress of mankind that conditions of life should change completely during definite periods of time, and that not until after such change has reached a certain stage does the human being attain the ability to adjust individual soul life to the change. Consequently it is not until the present time that the human soul is beset with questions which are the outcome of changes in the conditions of human life which have taken place during the past three or four centuries. Only today are those questions taking on tangible form. Prime evidence of this fact is to be found in the belief held by many individuals during the 19th century and which has been unveiled and shown to be erroneous only in our own age.
Spiritual Science certainly does not underestimate the great progress made by natural science; it tenders it complete and admiring recognition; but doubts its claims. Only a little while ago it was possible to hold the belief that natural science would be able to solve the great riddles of human existence by the means at its disposal. But anyone possessed of intensified powers of soul, and familiarizing himself with the more recent accomplishments in the way of scientific achievement, becomes increasingly aware that, so far as the ultimate problems of human existence are concerned, science is not bringing us answers but on the contrary a perpetual series of new questions. Human life is enriched by the possibility of asking such questions today; in the domain of natural science they remain just questions. People who lived during the 19th century, even the men of learning, took far too little account of this. They believed they were obtaining answers to certain riddles, whereas in reality it was necessary to put the questions in a new way. Such questions have now been instilled into us, so to speak. They are present in the soul as soon as the individual has to face the facts of life, and they demand an answer.
Now the individuals who unite to form the Anthroposophical Society are in a certain sense those who are conscious of the riddles presented by life in the natural course of events, riddles not arbitrarily presented but which are, of necessity, presented by the life in which the human being finds himself enmeshed at the present time. These questions become especially evident in connection with modern science, yet do not exclusively concern those who occupy themselves seriously with science, but they affect everyone who takes an all-round interest in modern life. If it were impossible to obtain answers to these questions, certain consequences must inevitably ensue in human existence which would permit a sad light to be cast on the future. Anyone today speaking about these consequences may appear to be a visionary. But he will only seem so to those who allow themselves to be dazzled by the greatness of human progress, and who do not comprehend that this progress must be followed by progress in another realm, if the preparation of certain events below the surface, is to be prevented.
We might of course imagine that we could make ourselves insensitive to the riddle-questions referred to, turn a deaf ear to them and avoid asking them. But if we did so we would paralyze certain of our spiritual energies which require the very conditions presented by modern times for their development. Human soul life would then reach a condition comparable to that of having hands and feet but without being able to use them because they are fettered. Powers which we possess but cannot utilize have a very paralyzing effect on us. And the continual spread of this feeling of partial paralysis of certain soul forces would gradually bring about a state of indifference, nay even apathy toward religious emotion. Nor would it stop there. A state of indifference toward the concerns of the soul is only tolerable as long as human interest is strongly attracted by the other factor which obscures the concerns of the soul. But this interest also ceases after a while. It might persist in the case of individuals who were being directly impressed by the astonishing achievements of science; but it would be extinguished eventually. And then, save in the case of those directly impressed, apathy regarding external life would follow upon indifference to the concerns of the soul and be its further consequence. Joy in life and joy in work would be clouded. Life would be felt a burden.
The precursors of indifference to religious life were plainly perceptible during the 19th century. I will not cite as an illustration anything taken from the contributions made by the numerous scholars who believed themselves capable of answering spiritual questions from the standpoint of science. I am going to speak about a simple son of the soil caught in the toils of this belief. The man I refer to was a peasant who lived a martyr's existence in the upper Austrian Alps during the 19th century. Konrad Deubler was his name. Deubler was enthralled by the successful achievements of science during the 19th century. During his youth he devoted himself for awhile to the spiritual ideas advanced by Zschokke. But acquaintance with Darwinism as well as with the writings of Haeckel, Buechner and others weaned him away. He allowed himself to be captivated by the materialism of Darwin, to be completely carried away by the teachings of Haeckel, and finally came to believe that it was pure folly to imagine that any other sources save scientific ones could be relied upon for information concerning any sort of spiritual world. He believed that the world was fashioned from purely material substance and energy. For Deubler as an individual we can well feel admiration. He became a veritable martyr to his convictions, for he spent much time in prison on account of them between 1850 and 1860, an era when such things were still possible. Deubler was certainly a man whose views were not the product of any superficial attitude, but one who in consequence of being completely led astray by the currents of his century came to reject all spiritual sources of knowledge. True, he enjoyed life up to the hour of his death; but this was due to his living during the age in which it was still possible to be dazzled by the splendor of purely scientific achievements. Only those who lived later, could manifest in their souls the results of such ideas as he conceived them. In Deubler we have a famous example of a certain type of soul, characteristic of our modern age. Many such examples might be cited. They would go to prove that many people of today believe that natural science could give a comprehensive explanation of the meaning of the world. It will not be possible to arrest the advance of scientific knowledge, nor do we wish to hold it back, for its life consists in the conquests needed by modern man, in all the useful things which he must introduce into his existence. But if the human mind is directed one-sidedly toward natural science, contact with spiritual life, and with the individual, in-dwelling soul, is lost. People like Deubler did not see through the whole process, did not see how science gives birth to new questions for the living soul, but not to new answers. His mental attitude would have to be adopted more generally, if in addition to natural science, a fully qualified Spiritual Science were to come into being.
There are those therefore who have become united within the Anthroposophical Society, inspired by the belief that in modern Spiritual Science, or Anthroposophy, a bond should be created between life, as it has advanced, in the light of natural science, and the life of religion. If the meaning of natural science is correctly fathomed it may be said that such science leads to a picture of the world in which the essential being of man finds no place. In making this statement I am not just voicing my personal opinion, but expressing something which unprejudiced observation of scientific research can discern very clearly, and concerning which, deception is only possible in an age which accords scientific achievements the admiration, which is their just due, is yet unable to recognize their limitations. Individual investigators have long been aware of the existence of certain limitations. So the address made by du Bois-Reymond at Leipsic about 1870 has become famous. It closed with Ignorabimus: No matter how closely nature's secrets are explored by the scientific method, it is never possible to discover what it is that inhabits the human soul in the form of consciousness; nay more, we cannot even find a way of comprehending what underlies matter. Natural science is incapable of understanding matter and consciousness, the two poles so to speak of human life. It may be said that natural science has in a sense driven human beings, so far as they are spiritual entities, out of the cosmos upon which it is working. This becomes apparent on investigating the ideas concerning the evolution of the earth planet, which have grown up on scientific soil.
I am quite aware that these ideas have undergone considerable change up to the present day, and that many people might label the points to which I am referring as out of date. But that is not the subject under consideration. The things which are being said today in this connection are a result of the same spirit which produced the already antiquated concept of Kant-Laplace, about which I am going to speak. According to that concept the earth and the whole solar system were fashioned out of a sort of primeval nebula, which contained nothing but forces belonging to a misty form. The rotation of this nebula is supposed gradually to have fashioned the planetary system and within this system the earth, so that through the continuous evolution of the forces originally contained in this nebula, all the things upon the earth which we admire, came into being, man included. This view is considered highly illuminating, and it is taught to our school children. People delude themselves into finding it illuminating, for one has only to perform a simple experiment for the children in order to believe that the process has been entirely elucidated. And visual elucidation is much admired by many who desire to find an adequate concept of the world in natural science. It is only necessary to take a drop of some substance that floats on water, pass a tiny strip of cardboard through the equatorial plane of this substance and stick a pin in the cardboard perpendicular to the equatorial plane. This floating drop on the surface of some water is then revolved by means of a pin. And behold! tiny particles do actually sever themselves from the main body! A cosmic system in miniature comes into being. How is it possible not to be able to say that here you have the entire process of the world's creation in miniature? The children think they understand; the experiment seems so illuminating. Yet there is one factor which always escapes notice in the experiment. And while it is sometimes a good thing to forget oneself in the world, it is not a good thing to do so in conducting a scientific experiment.
For observe, the drop would not throw off particles from itself, were the class teacher not standing there, revolving the pin. But since everything necessary to accomplish the result must be taken into account, the one presenting this experiment to an audience should give them to understand that a great professor or teacher, a giant professor, ought to be located in the universe outside, who has passed a gigantic pin through the nebula and is now causing the whole mass to rotate. And furthermore: what has come into being out of the drop? Nothing whatever, save that which was already there in the undivided state. Empiricism often leads us astray in our search for knowledge.
It is true that people possessed of really healthy impressions about the universe, decline to accept such an appeal to the eye, all scientific authority notwithstanding. I will give you an example, the same one which is mentioned in my latest book The Riddle of the Human Being. Herman Grimm, the great authority on art, set forth his conviction that Goethe at no time in his life would have committed himself to such a purely superficial explanation of cosmic evolution. This is what Herman Grimm says: The great fantasy of Laplace and Kant concerning the origin and eventual fate of the earth ball had established itself firmly even at the time when Goethe was a youth. As a product of the rotating cosmic nebula even the school children are now being taught this the central gaseous sphere is formed which eventually becomes the earth, and as a densifying globe it passes through all the stages of evolution, becoming the habitation of the human race during inconceivably long periods of time, only to fall back headlong into the sun at last, a burnt out heap of slag. It is a lengthy process, but one quite intelligible to the public, since it demands no further external intervention than efforts on the part of some outside force to maintain the sun's heat at a constant temperature. No more barren perspective of the future can be imagined than this, which we are being forcibly urged to accept as a scientific necessity. A carrion bone, avoided even by a hungry dog, would be an invigorating and appetizing morsel compared to this final excrement of creation, the final form in which our earth would eventually be returned to its home in the sun. The avidity with which our generation swallows such things, and pretends to believe them, is a symptom of diseased fancy, an historical phenomenon of our time to explain which the scholars of future eras will some day have to expend much acumen. Goethe never opened his door to hopeless speculations of this kind . . .
The feeling thus expressed by Herman Grimm, in an age when it was not yet possible to speak of Spiritual Science, or Anthroposophy, as we can now, deserves our careful attention. For it points to the presence of a human feeling which urgently demands a solution of the great problems of the universe quite different from the one offered in good faith by natural science, as the result of its remarkable achievements and here I should like to repeat that Spiritual Science has no hostility toward natural science. The real course, however, of scientific evolution of recent date, shows that this evolution can raise profound questions into consciousness, but that the answer to these questions must come from a different quarter. And it is these answers which Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy desires to give. Yet of course it must appeal to faculties of cognition which are quite different from faculties which are recognized today. I spoke about the evolution of these super-sensible faculties of knowledge in the previous lecture which I was privileged to give here. That lecture has been printed in pamphlet form bearing the title The Mission of Spiritual Science and its Building at Dornach. I shall not repeat what I said in that lecture, but shall merely draw attention to the fact that in addition to the ordinary soul forces possessed by the human being, which he also employs in the conduct of his scientific studies, others can be developed, and that these other powers have the same relationship to the ordinary powers of cognition, by way of comparison, that the musical ear has to the perception which is focused merely upon the vibrating strings of musical instruments. In the external world the point of view which disregards the ear will describe a symphony in terms of string vibrations, etc. But the musical ear receives a very different message from these vibrations. A spiritual researcher is a man who has developed, as it were, perceptive ability concerning the world. This ability is related to the natural scientific concept in much the same way that the musical ear is related to the concept which only concerns itself with the vibrating processes of space. The spiritual researcher uses faculties through which the spiritual world is manifested just as the symphony manifests itself through the phenomenon of vibrations. And I must emphasize the fact that by no means everyone desiring to make Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy fruitful for his soul need become a spiritual researcher himself. The relationship between the Spiritual Science researcher and the human being who carries on no research himself, but depends on the results of spiritual research of others, is different from the relationship between the natural science researcher and the human being who accepts the results of natural science. The relationship is a different one and will be here figuratively presented. The spiritual researcher himself prepares, so to say, only the means which communicate the knowledge of the spiritual world. Because he has developed certain faculties, the spiritual researcher is in the position to form such means by which everyone who is sufficiently unprejudiced to employ this instrument properly, can penetrate into the spiritual world. The only requisite is a correct concept of the nature of this means. While on the one hand anyone who constructs the apparatus required for an external chemical or clinical experiment has to assemble external things by means of which some secrets of nature may be revealed, on the other hand the spiritual researcher constructs a purely psycho-spiritual apparatus. This apparatus consists of certain ideas and combinations of ideas which, when correctly employed, unlock the door to the spiritual world.
For this reason the literature of Spiritual Science has to be conceived differently from other literature. Scientific literature imparts certain results with which we acquaint ourselves. The literature of Spiritual Science is not of this type. It can become an instrument in the soul of each human being. After thoroughly steeping ourselves in the ideas which are indicated there we have more than a mere dead result about which information has been gained. What we have before us is something uniting human beings, by virtue of their inherent life, with the spiritual world for which we are seeking. Anyone who reads a book attentively, written through Spiritual Science, will observe provided the book is read with the right sort of attention that the living ideas contained in it can become a means in the individual soul life of bringing this same soul life into a kind of synchronous vibration with spiritual existence. Henceforth such a person will conceive things spiritually which up to that time had been conceived by means of the senses alone, and of the intellect bound fast to the senses. Though this fact is little recognized, and the literature of Spiritual Science is regarded just like other writings, the reason is simply and solely the fact, that we are only now witnessing the commencement of spiritual-scientific evolution. When this evolution has progressed, it will be increasingly recognized that we possess something in the content of a book written according to the true principles of Spiritual Science, not at all like the content of other books, but we possess something resembling an instrument which does not merely impart results of knowledge, but we can secure by means of it such results by an activity of our own. But it must be clearly understood that the instrument of Spiritual Science is composed of soul and spirit only, and that it consists of certain ideas and concepts which have a quite definite life of their own, distinguishable from all other ordinary concepts and ideas by not being pictures, as is the case with ordinary thought and conceptual life, but living realities. Emphasis too must be laid on the point that even at the stage Spiritual Science has reached today everyone who earnestly strives can become, up to a certain point, a spiritual researcher himself. Yet this is not essential in order, as set forth above, to make the knowledge derived from Spiritual Science fruitful for the soul.
And for the very reason that Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy is still only at the beginning of its development, it is intelligible, nay self-evident, that the results obtained by the developed faculties of the spiritual researcher should encounter doubt and mistrust, perhaps even laughter and derision. But this doubt and derision will tend to disappear by degrees in the course of time, as soon as the needs awaken to which attention has already been called, and which at present slumber in the majority of human beings. So general recognition will be accorded to Spiritual Science also, just as it has been accorded to various other things which have taken place in humanity during its evolution.
The first thing apparent to a spiritual researcher is that the human being, as he appears to the senses, and to the intellect guided by those senses, and also as far as he can be examined by natural science employing external methods, represents merely one part, one member of the entire human entity; and that within this entire human nature, in addition to the man of the senses, the physical external man, there exists a super-physical man, active and alive within the man of the senses and alone capable of preventing the sense man from becoming a decaying corpse at any moment. For the spiritual researcher discovers that even as we behold color by means of the physical eye we can perceive to adopt an expression of Goethe's by means of the spiritual eye, within this physical man, what is called the Etheric Body. (The term Etheric Body is in itself of no special importance, so I beg you not to take this expression amiss; I could have used another just as well.) Within the physical human body lies the super-sensible etheric body not perceptible to physical eyes but visible to the spiritual eye only. People may scoff at the idea of the addition, by a spiritual researcher, of an etheric man to the physical man. Nevertheless, just as the physical human being consists of the matter and energy, together with their activities, which are present in his physical earthly environment, so does he also consist of spiritual forces which he possesses in common with a surrounding spiritual world. We shall begin by considering the forces of the so-called etheric body. This body consists of certain forces that may be termed super-sensible. And it is possible to discover these forces in our environment just as distinctly as the physical forces within us can be discovered by natural science within our earthly surroundings. But of course the spiritual element of our environment must be perceived by the spiritual eye.
Let us begin by speaking of an event which establishes a certain connection which actually exists between the processes in the world surrounding us and the forces constituting the etheric body within us. Ordinary human observation can note, during the course of the year, how plants shoot up in the spring time, become increasingly clothed in green, later on developing colored blossoms and finally fruit. Then we see them wither and pass away We are aware of active growth during the summer succeeded by rest and repose during the winter Thus the succession of the seasons of the year appears to outer sense observation. But for this sensible observation, what is represented here, is related to the spirit, just as the vibrating strings are related to the expanding tone volumes. The spiritual eye adds a kind of spiritual hearing and spiritual sight to this alternation between activity and repose; and the spiritual researcher compares it with the effect of vibrating strings upon a musical ear. And during the time when we see the plants physically shoot up out of the earth and become perceptible to the physical eye, the spiritual researcher beholds an extra-terrestrial being whose approach to the earth from without is proportionate to the amount of plant growth. However paradoxical it may sound to the modern ear, it is an actual fact that this spiritual eye really beholds a stream of rich life entering the earth from the outside with every spring, which does not flow in during the winter. And while with our physical sight we see only physical plants growing out of the soil, spiritual sight beholds spiritual beings, etheric beings, growing downward, so to speak, out of the entire cosmic environment of the earth. And in the same proportion that the physical plants attain fullness of growth, we see, so to speak, just as many living spiritual beings disappear out of the etheric environment of the earth, as descend into the plant life growing up out of the ground. And it is not until the fruit begins to develop, and the flowers to fade, and autumn to draw near, that we see what has united itself with the earth, and has disappeared within the plant world, in a certain sense, returning to the regions of space surrounding the earth. So the inflow and the outflow of a super-sensible element into the being of the earth is spiritually visible from spring until autumn. You might describe it as super-sensible living plants growing out of the etheric realm and disappearing within the physical plants.
Winter presents a different spiritual scene. Anyone who is only aware of winter because of seeing the snow and feeling the cold does not know that the earth, as earth, is quite different during the winter from what it is in summer. For the earth enjoys a much more intense and active spiritual life of its own during the winter than during summer. And if these relations become a living experience we begin to share this alternation of etheric life during winter and summer. We experience a spiritual phenomenon comparable in a certain sense with the alternations in human experience brought about during the period of going to sleep and waking. (These short explanations do not allow me to show that the experiences I have described are not contradicted by the motions, proper to the earth globe. Anyone who begins to study Spiritual Science seriously will soon recognize the lack of significance in objections such as this: yes, but the earth revolves, you know, etc.)
In this way we learn to recognize that certain beings are not connected with the earth during the winter, but are to be found only in the cosmic environment of the earth, and that these beings descend to earth during the spring time, unite themselves with plant life, and enjoy a kind of repose by uniting themselves with earth life. But the repose which these beings find within the earth, stimulates earth life itself by reason of spirit having united itself with the earth, and during the winter the earth itself, as a being, has something resembling a memory of this summer contact with beings from extra-terrestrial space. Things otherwise unimaginable are revealed to spiritual perception by our natural environment. It is like suddenly receiving the gift of hearing, with sounds pouring in volume from vibrating strings, sounds which we could not hear previously on account of our deafness.
We become acquainted with etheric life. This etheric life shows that certain beings belonging to the earth's environment, but linked to other heavenly bodies, link themselves with the earth during the summer and withdraw again during the winter. This life causes the earth as a being (not that celestial object which geology, or the other natural sciences, regard as a dead body), to go to sleep during the summer, but to awaken in the winter, to live again in the memories of the spiritual visitations of the previous summer. Just the contrary of what we should like to think, as it were, about earth life, is correct using in the process all sorts of analogies. Such analogies would lead us to believe that the earth awakens in the spring and goes to sleep in the autumn, but Spiritual Science brings us the knowledge that the warm and sultry summer is the earth's sleeping season, and that cold weather which wraps the earth in snow is the season when the earth is awake. (Anyone who achieves a right comprehension of such an experience as this will be unaffected by the superficial objection, that the comparison made with musical hearing, shows Spiritual Science to be merely a subjective phenomenon like taste in art. For the results which occur in the earth's organism as a consequence of what was seen taking place during summer prove the process to be an objective one.)
I wish to state emphatically that Spiritual Science gives voice to none of the anthropomorphic ideas uttered by some 19th century philosophers (Fechner, for instance), but does give imaginative descriptions of real spiritual perceptions, which for the most part are very different from anthropomorphic ideas. That fact alone should enable certain opponents of Spiritual Science to see how indefensible it is to confuse it with philosophy of an anthropomorphic type. By permeating ourselves with the knowledge which flows from such observations we learn to understand how human life moulds itself. For of all the riddles confronting us in the outer world, human life itself is the greatest. I can, in the course of a brief lecture, give only a mere sketch of some small part of what Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy has to say concerning the enigma of human life. But I shall indicate how spiritual sight observes a continuous rhythm in human life. Spiritual sight beholds in the period of childhood the first member of this rhythm. (For the present, we omit the time between conception and birth, interesting to observe on its own account.) The period of childhood from birth to the coming of the second teeth, that is, to the sixth or seventh year, is a period of special interest for spiritual methods of research.
During this first period, the amount of development in the human being is incalculable, hence teachers gifted with insight have declared that human beings learn from mother or nurse during the first years of life more than they can learn from everyone else during the rest of their lives, even if they were to circumnavigate the globe. All else aside, within this period the faculties of erect posture, of speech, of thought and memory, and finally the work of those inner forces which reach a kind of termination in the production of the second teeth are developed. Now all these processes of development present themselves to the spiritual researcher in a way that indicates that they were brought about by earthly forces. Of course he is obliged to add what is beheld by the spiritual eye in the evolution of the earth to what sense perception beholds in earth life. But that which takes place in us up to the age of about seven is comprehensible as a product of a complex of forces to be found within the earth domain. (It is hardly necessary to state that in saying this it is not meant to imply that Spiritual Science has already discovered all the secrets connected with this particular period of human development, but rather that no bounds be set to the amount of research which matters such as this may require in earthly life.)
From the change of teeth onward begins a second section of human life lasting until about the fourteenth year, when we become physically mature. Concerning this section of human life Spiritual Science knows that the processes which reveal themselves in the physical body are no longer to be explained by what is active upon the earth itself, but by extra-terrestrial forces, similar in kind to those which have been described in connection with plant life during the course of the year. This particular spirit life (etheric life) which characterizes the plant world is active during the second human life period, but its activity is of such a nature that the process which occurs in plant development in a single year, in reciprocal relationship with the extra-terrestrial forces, is accomplished by the human being during his earth life in about seven years. (All of this is not being said with a sidelong mystical glance at the number seven, but merely as a result of a spiritual observation.)
It must be specially remarked that the forces active during the second period of human life are only similar in kind to those coming from outside the earth to activate plant growth. In the case of the plant the extra- terrestrial forces actually work on the plants from within. These same forces are active within the human organism yet without an actual spatial entrance being effected from outside the earth. Accordingly, the etheric energy which operates to unfold and wither the plant world in the course of a year, lives in the human organism in the form of an enclosed etheric body. The evolutionary processes during the second life period from the seventh to the fourteenth year of the general life rhythm, take place under the influence of these forces. By reason of the human being containing the forces needed for these evolutionary processes within himself, he appears no longer as a purely earthly being, but a copy of something extra- terrestrial, although this particular extra-terrestrial element is present in the world of sense. It is the special evolutionary task of the earth forces to develop what comes to expression in the human brain.
Strange as this may sound when compared with the ideas in vogue today, the brain is chiefly a product of the earth. This shows itself externally through the evolution of the brain, coming to an end, to a large degree, at about the seventh year, naturally, not in regard to the development consisting of reception of concepts and ideas, but in regard to the brain's inner formation and structure, in the solidifying of its parts, etc., etc.
Something must now be added to what took part in the development of the human body up to the seventh year, something not contained within the earthly realm, but originating in the extra-terrestrial regions, and which causes the impulses, among other things, which the human being develops from the seventh to the fourteenth years in the rest of the body, apart from the head and brain, to force their way up into the development of the head and face as well. When we are seven years old, we give birth, as it were, to a super-terrestrial etheric man within, who works inwardly, alive and free. Just as man's physical body comes into physical existence at birth, so now does an etheric, a super-terrestrial body come into existence. The result is, that what is expressed in the features becomes more clearly defined. The etheric body furthermore influences the breathing and circulatory systems in a more individual manner. However, as a result of the earthly forces no longer being the only ones at work, and because the etheric body takes hold of the physical organization and forges an extra-terrestrial element into union with the human nature, an inner life makes its first appearance which continues to accompany us throughout the remainder of our lives as the bodily expression of our temperament and emotions. Spiritual research perceives this etheric body which human nature possesses in common with the plants, but this by no means exhausts the possibility of further discovery. When spiritual research is directed toward the animal world it finds there another super-sensible element, one not found in the extra- terrestrial environment, as is the case with the super-sensible element of the plant world. A spiritual reality is to be encountered there which is to be found neither within the earthly region nor within that super-terrestrial region which still reveals itself through the senses. It is a super-sensible element present in the human being from birth, and indeed from conception, but its activity in the bodily organization only commences about the fourteenth year. This super-sensible element is not active, as is the case with the etheric element, in the space which surrounds human beings upon earth. Just now I pointed out how Spiritual Science enables us to have knowledge of the earth, so that we may be aware how, during the winter, it retains its summer experiences connected with super-terrestrial forces, in the form of memory. When this perception of a spiritual element in the earth is followed up further, it will become evident that the earth body, upon which we now live, is just as much the offspring of a preceding planetary being, as a child is the son of his father. While the son resembles the father, the earth body comes forth like the offspring of another planetary being to whom it bears but little resemblance. We learn to observe this planetary being by observing the earth during the winter when it awakens to a certain extent and develops a kind of memory. For the spiritual element which reveals itself within the earth at that time still retains a memory picture of the conditions passed through by the particular heavenly body which later became our earth.
Such things sound paradoxical today; many people find them absurd or even foolish. But then all the things, which science has eventually acclaimed as self evident, were considered ridiculous at the outset. In the heavenly body out of which the earth subsequently took form, that which is now the mineral kingdom was not to be found. The road is a long one over which spiritual research has to travel in order to gain the knowledge that the earth evolved from a planetary predecessor on which there was no mineral kingdom. That element which is active extra-terrestrially today as a etheric element, and which unites with the body of the earth only in summer, was not so widely separated from the planetary ancestor of the earth as it is at present from the body of the earth. This ancestor, previous to the development of the mineral kingdom, was a living being itself. It was a living being in its entirety. When the spiritual eye beholds how our present earth evolved from a living body which preceded it, it gains the faculty of perceiving the super-sensible element acting in both man and animal; this element which is discoverable neither in earthly space nor yet at the present time in super-terrestrial space, is active already in the animal, yet it is active in the human being in a higher way. The human organism is the bearer of this super-sensible element from the commencement of its life, and is formed to be its bearer. However, about the fourteenth year, and thence onward, this super-sensible element manifests a particular and independent activity in the bodily processes not present up to that time. Observation of this activity by means of the spiritual eye offers one of the ways (we shall here leave others out of consideration) of recognizing a third member of human nature, the astral or soul body. Please bear in mind that the name in itself is of no importance; any other could replace it. It will not at first be easy for those unaccustomed to deal with ideas of this kind to discriminate between the astral body as it exists before and after the fourteenth year of human life. This and similar difficulties can only be overcome by a fairly long familiarity with spiritual research.
From about the age of twenty-one a further super-sensible member lays hold upon the organism of the human body in a particular fashion. It is the member which is the actual bearer of the Ego, i.e. the human Self. This human member elevates him above the animal level. The question now arises, in relation to this especial member of our being, what does Spiritual Science mean by declaring that the ego does not display independent activity until the fourth stage of life, since it is evident that we must be indebted to this member for the characteristics which elevate us even in childhood above the animal, e.g. upright posture, ability to speak etc.? The solution of this apparent contradiction is found when a knowledge has been gained of the special super-sensible nature of the human ego. It happens that the human being is organized in such a way, on the one hand, that the independent governing activity of the ego within the bodily organization does not develop until the fourth life stage. But on the other hand, the ego carries on its evolution throughout a series of incarnations. If the ego possessed only such forces as it could develop during one earth life, it would have to wait until the fourth stage of bodily life made the unfolding of the ego forces possible. But it enters this earthly life after having spent several complex lives in other bodies. And the forces which make it capable of repeated incarnations on earth, empower it to act upon certain parts of the bodily organization in such a way that the abilities, of which I have spoken, develop earlier than the fourth life stage. The same circumstance accounts for the astral body being brought into activity in the physical body by the ego earlier than was destined by the being of the essential astral body itself. Just through the fact that the spiritual researcher focuses his attention upon the difference in the activity of the ego in the human organism, prior to the advent of the fourth life period, and after it, he knows that the earth man passes through repeated earth lives, between which lie long periods of time in a purely spiritual existence, between death and new birth.
I have now described to you some of the things contained in the cosmic conception of Anthroposophy. Of course this description has been a very sketchy one, for I should have to talk for many hours in order to make any kind of approximately adequate statement concerning the path of research leading to the utterance of such thoughts as have been here expressed. Yet it may be that what has been stated will suffice to convey the idea that such statements are based upon careful, conscientious research, which presumes the employment of especially developed modes of cognition, and which in no way represent the arbitrary dominance of any fantastic speculations or philosophy. This sort of research adds the element of spirit which surrounds us just as definitely as the physical outer world surrounds our physical being to the of knowledge which natural science has been able to collect concerning the bodily part of man.
In this world, which becomes manifest through spiritual research, we encounter, to begin with, beings that grow downward etherically toward the earth just as plants grow upward, physically out of the earth. We have in these ether plants the earliest forerunners, so to speak, of spiritual beings and spiritual forces into which we grow even as through our senses we grow into the world of sense. But in the act of learning to know the spiritual world, the world out of which human astral life and the human ego originate, we learn to know a spiritual world within our environment, containing real spiritual beings. To this world our souls belong, just as our bodies belong to the physical world, the world inhabited by mankind. Once again I wish to emphasize that it must not be believed that spiritual investigation is actuated by any arbitrary human purpose in seeking for a relationship with the dead. This subject was touched upon by me in my previous lecture. If we are to draw near to any dead individual, the impulse for it must originate in the dead personality itself. In such a case it will of course be possible for a manifestation to come within the field of our spiritual eye, prompted by the will of the dead individual, just as we can receive other kinds of knowledge from the spiritual world. Yet everything coming out of this domain belongs to a type of research upon which the spiritual researcher will only embark with awe and reverence. But that which we can learn from the spiritual world by means of the deliberate development of our own faculties is something that concerns ourselves, and contains answers desired by the individuals who feel, in the manner described in this lecture, the need of spiritual help, a need which is entirely natural for the epoch of human evolution in which we live today.
As this evolutionary epoch has led of necessity to the discoveries of modern science it will lead of necessity to Spiritual Science as well. More and more persons will discover that Spiritual Science, contrary to widespread contemporary scepticism on this point, does not impair in the faintest degree human religious feelings or religious life. On the contrary, it will form the bond of union between those of us who grow up during the scientific era, and the secrets that can be imparted to us by religious revelation. Genuine Spiritual Science does not contradict natural science in anyway, nor can it estrange anybody from the life of religion.
Natural science has led in the course of recent time to a recognition of the fact that science itself is a great problem, to which something must be added if it is really to become intelligible to human beings. I should prefer not to base what I am now saying about natural science, which already today points beyond its legitimate boundaries when it contemplates the riddle of human existence, upon my personal opinion of this science. Spiritual research leads one away from personal views as they are generally understood, inasmuch as it continually tends to avoid expressions based upon subjective considerations, and to allow facts as they develop to speak for themselves. Therefore I should like here to speak about a point which the historical growth of natural science itself brings out in its latest phase. I should like to point to something which will serve as an interesting elucidation of the latest development of natural science.
The great expectations based upon Darwinism, the hopes coming from the results of spectro-analysis, and also the progress made in chemistry and biology, were especially developed in the middle of the 19th century. And then at the close of the sixties of that century Eduard von Hartmann wrote his Philosophy of the Unconscious. It was not even a spiritual researcher who expressed himself in this book, but a man was calling attention primarily by hypotheses and occasionally even by means of quite illogical hypotheses to a fact which Spiritual Science alone will actually achieve for humanity. Eduard von Hartmann thus points to a spiritual reality behind the physical world, and he calls it though the term is open to objection the Unconscious. He anticipates philosophically a thing that Spiritual Science can actually demonstrate. Because he postulated spirit as a philosophic necessity, he was unable despite the amazing proportions already assumed by materialistic Darwinism and natural science as a whole during the sixties to agree with the view held by so many natural scientists, viz. that present knowledge concerning the physical forces of chemistry and the biological externally perceptible forces made a perception of spiritually active forces appear unscientific. So he endeavored to show how the knowledge acclaimed by Darwinism everywhere points to spiritual forces at work in the activities and development of living beings.
How did certain scientists receive the views presented by Eduard von Hartmann? In much the same fashion that certain people today receive the statements set forth by Spiritual Science, particularly people who have so accustomed themselves to the views held by natural science concerning the universe that they regard everything which does not accord with their own ideas as a grotesque caricature. With the appearance of Eduard von Hartmann on the scene, there were those who believed themselves to be in sole possession of a science, which was true and genuine, who expressed themselves approximately thus: Eduard von Hartmann is nothing but an amateur; he knows nothing concerning the central facts of scientific achievement; there is no need to be disturbed by such a layman's utterance as the Philosophy of the Unconscious. Many were the rejoinders which appeared, and all of them represented Hartmann as being an amateur. They were all designed to show that he simply did not understand the things that natural science had to say.
Among the many rejoinders one was written by a man who at first did not give his name. It was a thoughtful article, written in a genuinely scientific spirit from the standpoint of those scientists who had decisively rejected Hartmann. This criticism of Hartmann's scientific folly seemed to be one that annihilated him. Eminent scientists thereupon delivered themselves approximately as follows: What a pity that this unknown author has not told us his name, for he has the mind of a true scientist who knows the essential requisites of scientific research. Let him announce his name and we will welcome him into our ranks. This verdict of the scientists was largely influential in exhausting the first edition of the article very rapidly. A second edition was soon required, and this time the previously unknown author announced his name. This author was Eduard von Hartmann. That was a proper lesson given to all those who, like Hartmann's scientific opponents, criticize unfamiliar matters in such an unfriendly spirit. Just as Eduard von Hartmann at that time showed that he could write as scientifically as the scientists themselves, so could the spiritual investigator of today without much effort, present all the arguments very generally used by those who denounce him as a visionary and quite unfamiliar with scientific thought. I am relating this story here not for the sake of saying something which will hit any particular critics of mine, but to draw attention to the sort of controversial arguments championed by the world which holds itself to be truly scientific when it is examining facts which are strange to it.
But this does not exhaust the matter. One of the most distinguished of Haeckel's pupils Haeckel being the man who represented the materialistic trend of Darwinism most radically Oskar Hertwig, who has written a whole series of books about biology, presents in his most recent and highly important work: The Genesis of Organisms, a Rebuttal of the Darwinian Theory of Chance, an exposition of the utter scientific impotence of materialistically colored Darwinism, when confronted with the problems of life. Proof is adduced in this book from the standpoint of the scientist himself, that the hopes entertained by Haeckel and others, that Darwinism would solve the problems of life, were unfounded. (Here I should like to state emphatically that I cherish the same high respect today for Haeckel's magnificent scientific achievements within the cosmic scheme, proper to natural science, as I did years ago. I still believe and always have believed that a correct appreciation of Haeckel's achievements is the best means of transcending a certain one-sidedness in his views. It is entirely intelligible that he could not attain to this insight himself.) Oskar Hertwig often quotes Eduard von Hartmann in the book mentioned above, and even draws attention to judgments of Hartmann, which completely annihilate the former Darwinistic opponents of this philosopher.
Facts such as these serve to show the manner in which the scientific Weltanschauung concerning the cosmos has taken shape; its foremost representatives today announce quite distinctly how totally erroneous the recent views of science have been.
That is a fact that will be recognized with increasing frequency. And along with the recognition of this fact will come an insight not alone into past utterances of Eduard von Hartmann and other speculative philosophers which transcend the scope of natural science, but into the additions which Spiritual Science can make to what natural science has achieved. There is no limit to the amount of additional material which could be brought forward in support of the views going to show that genuine scientific thought is in complete accord with Spiritual Science. Even as there is no contradiction between natural science and Spiritual Science, so is there no justification for saying that Spiritual Science contradicts the life of religion. In this connection I brought out points of importance in the first lecture I gave here. It is my conviction that no one (who has seriously weighed the mental attitude expressed by me in that lecture) can raise any objections to Spiritual Science from a religious point of view. Today I shall enter into some details to show that no one rooted in the scientific life of a particular religious faith can raise any objections to Spiritual Science, as long as an attitude of good will is maintained by that person. I am going to show how someone who has embraced the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, a Christian philosopher absolutely recognized as such by the Catholic Church, can think about Spiritual Science as here defined. And the things I venture to say in this regard are also applicable to the relations between any Protestant line of thought and Spiritual Science.
Thomas Aquinas' philosophy distinguishes between two kinds of knowledge: - first, facts unconditionally deriving from divine revelation and accepted because this, revelation is man's warrant for their truth. Such truths, in the teaching of Thomas Aquinas, are the Trinity; the doctrine that the earth's existence had a beginning in time; the doctrine of the fall and the redemption; the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth and the doctrine of the sacraments. Thomas Aquinas is of the opinion that no human being who comprehends the nature of human powers of perception would endeavor to discover the above named truths by means of knowledge developed within himself.
Besides these truths of pure faith, Thomas Aquinas admits others which can be attained by man's own powers of perception. Such truths he denominates Praeambula Fidei. These include all truths dependent upon the existence of a divine spiritual element in the world. The existence therefore of a divine spiritual element which is the creator, ruler, upholder and judge of the world is not merely a truth to be accepted on faith, but a fact of knowledge which human powers can acquire. To the realm of Praeambula Fidei belong furthermore all things relating to the spiritual nature of human existence, as well as those leading to a correct discrimination between good and evil, and finally the kinds of knowledge which form the basis for ethics, natural science, aesthetics and anthropology.
It is entirely possible for us to accept the point of view of Thomas Aquinas, and to admit that on the one hand, Spiritual Science does not affect the character of these truths of pure faith, and that on the other, all the statements presented by Spiritual Science come under the head of Praeambula Fidei, as soon as we understand this concept in the correct sense of the Thomistic philosophy. For Spiritual Science there are fields of knowledge, even in domains lying very close to the human being, which must be treated exactly as the truths of pure faith are treated in a higher domain. In ordinary life we have to accept facts which are communicated to us which, by the very nature of the communication, cannot fall within our experience, viz. information concerning what befell us between the earliest point of time which we remember and the time of our birth. If the researcher develops spiritual powers of cognition, he is able to look back upon the period prior to this point of time; but prior to the point where memory begins, the spiritual eye does not behold events in the forms of the sense world, but it does perceive what has occurred in the spiritual realm, while the corresponding events are occurring in the physical world. Events perceptible by the senses, can as such, when they cannot enter consciousness through personal experience, be accepted by spiritual research only through the ordinary channels of communication. For instance no healthy minded spiritual researcher will believe it possible to do without communications from fellow human beings, and to substitute spiritual vision for the things that can be learned by ordinary means. Thus there are for Spiritual Science already knowable facts in the realm of everyday life, which can only be acquired by being communicated. In a higher domain the truths of pure faith recognized by Thomas Aquinas are those relating to events inaccessible to the grasp of human knowledge when it is compelled to rely on its own powers alone, because they lie in a domain which is withdrawn from ordinary existence and which, like the events occurring in physical existence during the years directly after birth, does not fall within the field of spiritual vision. Even as those physical occurrences can be received only through human communication, so can the events corresponding to the truths of pure faith be received only through communication (revelation) from the spiritual domain. Although Spiritual Science uses such terms as trinity and incarnation in the domain of spiritual perception, this fact has nothing to do with the application of these terms in relation to the domain to which Thomas Aquinas refers. Moreover everyone acquainted with Augustine knows that such a mode of thinking cannot be called non-Christian.
Thomas Aquinas' views regarding the Praeambula Fidei are likewise compatible with Spiritual Science. For everything accessible to unassisted human powers of perception must be admitted to belong to the Praeambula Fidei. For instance, he includes the spiritual nature of the human soul in that domain. Now when Spiritual Science, by extending the boundaries of knowledge, increases the information concerning the soul beyond the limits within which mere intellect confines it, it expands only the compass of a form of knowledge coming under the head of Praeambula Fidei; it does not go outside that domain. It thus wins its way to truths which support the truths of faith more actively than do the truths obtainable by mere intellect. Thomas Aquinas is of the opinion that the Praeambula Fidei can never find a way into the domain of the truths of faith, but that the former can defend and support the latter. What Thomas Aquinas desired of the Praeambula Fidei will be done still more intensively through their extension by means of Spiritual Science than through the mere intellect.
These observations of mine concerning the Thomistic system are made with the sole object of demonstrating that even the strictest adherent of this particular branch of philosophical thought can find the conclusions of Spiritual Science compatible with it. Of course I have no intention of proving that everybody who accepts the conclusions of Spiritual Science must become a disciple of Thomas Aquinas. Spiritual Science does not disturb the religious confession of anyone. The fact that one individual leans to one type of religious faith and another to a different one has nothing to do with what they know, or think they know, about the spiritual world, but is due to other conditions of life. The better these facts are really comprehended the more will opposition to Spiritual Science cease.
But all of us who have already worked their way through to the recognition of spiritual research will feel some degree of consolation in face of the antagonism which confronts us because of our knowledge of what has occurred in other things to which we become more easily accustomed in the external world, because they are in harmony with the principle of utility. You are aware that the railroads were incorporated into external civilization during the 19th century. A board of directors, whose membership included several recognized authorities, had to decide whether or not a railroad should be built in a certain locality. The story has often been told. According to reports, their decision was to the effect that no railroads should be built, because the people who would travel on them would of necessity incur injury to their health. And if in spite of this there should be people willing to take such a risk, and railroads should be built for their convenience, high board fences should at least be built to the right and left of the roads, to prevent damage to the health of the people past whom the train would have to go. I am not relating things of this kind in order to make fun of people whose one-sidedness could lead them into such an error as this. For it is quite possible to be a distinguished individual and still make such a mistake. Anyone who finds that work done by him is arousing opposition should not instantly accuse his opponent of folly or malice. I am telling you about actual cases of opposition encountered in various instances, because in considering such cases the right kind of feeling and attitude is aroused in anyone confronted by opposition of this kind.
It would not be easy today, no matter how wide a range the enquiry covered, to find a person who is not delighted by a performance of the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven. When this art-work was given for the first time the following opinion was expressed not by an individual without importance, but by Weber, the famous composer of Der Freischütz: The extravagances of this man of genius have at last reached the non plus ultra; Beethoven is now fit for a lunatic asylum. And AbbÃ© Stadler, who heard this Seventh Symphony at that time, commented as follows: The E is repeated interminably; the poor chap is too lacking in talent to have any ideas.
It is quite true that those who observe no decrease in the amount of human folly will find special satisfaction in calling attention to phenomena of this kind in the evolution of mankind. And it is obvious that such phenomena do not prove anything, when dealing with a particular case of opposition. But they are not adduced here for the purpose of proving anything. Their intent is rather to stimulate people to examine rather closely what appears strange to them, before condemning it. In such a connection it is allowable to refer to a greater event. And I should like to do so, though obviously without any absurd intention of comparing the work of Spiritual Science, even distantly, with the greatest event which has taken place in human evolution. Let us cast a glance upon the development of the Roman Empire at the beginning of our Christian Era, and observe the rise of Christianity from that time on. How far removed was this Christianity at that time in Rome from any of the subjects considered worthy of an educated person's attention. And let us turn our gaze aside from this Roman life and look at what was unfolding literally underground, in the catacombs; let us look at the Christian life beginning to burst into flower in those caverns. Then let us direct our eyes to what was visible at this place some centuries later. Christianity had ascended from the caverns, it was being clutched eagerly in circles where previously it had been despised and rejected. The sight of such phenomena may serve to strengthen the confidence of any individual who deems it a duty to enlist in the service of a truth which has to struggle and strive for victory in the teeth of opposition. No one in whom anthroposophical truth has taken permanent root will be surprised to find that it awakens hostility. But it will also appear to be that individual's bounden duty never to desist, in the face of such hostility, from presenting what Anthroposophy strives to be in the spiritual life of the human being.
|MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON|
|MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON|
When we turn our gaze back into earlier times of human evolution, we are inevitably struck with the change that has come about in the pictures man makes for himself — pictures, on the one hand, of Nature, on the other hand, of Spirit. Nor do we need to go back very far to observe the change. As late as the eighteenth century the forces and substances of Nature were thought of in a much more spiritual manner than they are to-day, while spiritual things were conceived more in pictures taken from Nature. It is only in quite recent times that men's ideas of the Spirit have become so utterly abstract and their ideas of Nature been referred to a spirit-estranged matter that human perception cannot hope to penetrate. For the human understanding of the present-day Nature and Spirit fall apart, and men can find no bridge that shall lead over from one to the other.
The consequence is that sublime world-pictures which in past times had great significance for man as he sought to comprehend his place in the Universal Whole have passed completely into the region of things deemed to be no more than airy fancy — mere fancy to which man could only give himself up so long as an exact science was not there to forbid him. Such a cosmic picture is that of Michael fighting with the Dragon.
This picture belongs to a time when man traced back his own evolution quite differently from the way that is taught to-day. To-day as we follow the history of man back into primeval times, we look to find beings less and less human, from whom the man of the present day is descended. We pass from more spiritual to less spiritual beings. In earlier times it was different. Then as men traced back the evolution of mankind, it led them to more spiritual conditions of existence than prevail to-day.
They looked back to a pre-earthly condition when the present form of man did not as yet exist. They pictured to themselves beings in the existence of that time who lived in a finer substance than that of which man is composed to-day. These beings were ‘more spiritual’ than the men of to-day. Of such a nature was the Dragon-being whom Michael fights. He was destined one day in a later age to assume human form. But he must bide his ‘time.’ The time did not depend on him, but on the decree of Spirit-Beings who stood above him. Until that time it was for him to remain entirely within the will of these higher Spirit-Beings.
But now before his hour was come, pride was begotten in him. He wanted to have an “own will” in a time when he should have been still living in the higher Will. Thus did he set himself in opposition to the higher Will. Independence of will was only possible to such beings in a denser matter than then existed. If they persisted in opposition, they must needs change and become different beings. This being found it impossible any longer to live in the same spirituality. His fellow-beings felt his existence in their realm as disturbing, nay even destructive. Michael felt it so. Michael had remained in the Will of the Spirit Beings. He undertook to compel the opposing being to assume the form which was alone possible for an independent will at that stage of the world's development, to assume that is, animal form, the form of the ‘Dragon’, of the ‘Serpent.’ Higher animal forms had not yet made their appearance. This ‘Dragon’ was of course not even then imagined as visible, but as super-sensible.
Such was the picture the man of an earlier time had in his mind of the fight of Michael with the Dragon. For him it was a fact that had taken place before ever there was a Nature visible to the human eye, before even man was, in his present form.
The world we know has proceeded from out of the world in which this event took place. The kingdom into which the Dragon was driven has become ‘Nature,’ and is now so constituted as to be visible to the senses; it is, as it were, in substance the deposit of the earlier world. The kingdom in which Michael has preserved his spirit-devoted will, has remained ‘above’ — purified, like a liquid from which a substance once contained in solution has been deposited. It is a kingdom that must still continue invisible to the senses.
Nature however, considered apart from man, has not succumbed to the Dragon. The power of the Dragon was not strong enough to come to visibility in Nature. It remained in her as invisible Spirit. The Dragon had to sunder his being from Nature. She became a mirror of the higher spirituality from which he had fallen.
Into this world Man was set. He was able to partake in Nature and in the higher spirituality. He became thus a kind of double being. In Nature herself the Dragon remained powerless. In Nature as she comes to life in man, he retains his power. The Nature man receives into himself lives in him as desire, as animal lust. Into this sphere the fallen spirit has entrance. And so we have the ‘Fall of Man.’
The Adversary has found his abode in man. Michael has remained true to his nature. When man turns to Michael with that part of his life which has its origin in the higher spirituality, then there arises in the soul of man the inward fight of Michael and the Dragon.
As recently as the eighteenth century such a conception was still current. External Nature was still to many men the mirror of a higher spirituality, Nature in man still the seat of the Serpent, which the soul must fight through devotion to the power of Michael.
And now, when conceptions of this kind were living in a man's soul, how must he look out upon external Nature? The time of the approach of Autumn must needs recall the fight with the Dragon. The leaves fall from the trees, all the flowering and fruiting life of the plants dies away. In gentle and friendly guise did Nature receive man in Spring; tenderly she cherished him through the long Summer days, nurturing him with the warmth-laden gifts of the Sun. When Autumn comes, she has nothing more to give him. Her forces of decay press in upon him, through his senses he beholds them in pictures. From out of his own being man must give himself what hitherto Nature has given him. Her power grows weaker and weaker within him. From out of the Spiritual he must create for himself forces that shall help where Nature fails. And with Nature the Dragon too loses his power. The picture of Michael rises up before the soul — Michael the opponent of the Dragon. That picture was dimmed, when Nature, and with her the Dragon, was all-powerful. With the oncoming of the frost, the picture looms up again before the soul. Nor must we think of it merely as a picture, it is a reality for the soul. It is as if the warmth of summer had dropped a curtain before the spiritual world, and this curtain were now lifted. Man partakes in the life of the year, he goes with it in its course. Spring is his earthly friend and comforter; but she enmeshes him in that kingdom where the ‘adversary’ sets the ugliness of his invisible power within man over against the beauty of Nature.
With the beginning of autumn appears the spirit of ‘strength in beauty’ the while Nature hides her beauty, driving the adversary too into concealment.
With such thoughts and feelings did men of ancient times keep the Festival of Michael in their hearts.
In the picture of the fight of Michael with the Dragon one thing is clearly and strongly present; that is, the consciousness that man himself must give to his inner life of soul the direction and guidance that Nature cannot give. Our present-day thinking is inclined to mistrust such an idea. We are afraid of becoming estranged from Nature. We want to enjoy her in all her beauty, to revel in her abundance of life, and we are loath to let ourselves be robbed of this enjoyment by admitting that Nature has fallen from the Spiritual. In our striving for knowledge moreover we want to let Nature speak. We fear to lose ourselves in all kinds of fantasy, should we allow the Spirit, that transcends the perception of external Nature, to have a voice concerning the reality of things.
Goethe had no such fear. He found nowhere in Nature any estrangement from the Spirit. He opened his heart to her beauty, to the inner power and might of all that she revealed. In the life of man he felt the presence of much that was inharmonious, much that grated and jarred, or that gave rise to doubt and confusion. And he felt an inner urge and impulse to live in communion with Nature, where the eternal laws of sequence and compensation prevail. Some of his most beautiful poems have sprung from such a life with Nature.
Goethe was however at the same time fully conscious of how the work of man must fulfil and complete the work of Nature. He felt all the beauty of the plants. But he felt too something incomplete in that life which the plant displays before man. In that which weaves and works unseen within the plant, there lay for him far more than manifests itself to the eye within the bounds of visible form. For Goethe, what Nature attains is not the whole. He felt as well what we may call the purposes of Nature. He did not let himself be deterred by the fear of personifying Nature. He knew well that he was not as it were dreaming such purposes into the life of the plant out of any subjective fancy, he beheld them there quite objectively, just as truly as he could behold the colour of the flowers.
This is why he was so indignant when Schiller designated as ‘idea’ and not ‘experience’ the picture Goethe had sketched with a few strokes for his poet friend of the inner striving of the plant towards life and growth. Goethe's reply was that if that were an idea, then he could see ideas with his eyes just as well as he could perceive colours and shapes.
Goethe was conscious of how there is in Nature not only an ascending but also a descending life. He felt the growth from the seedling to leaf and bud and blossom and fruit; but he felt too how all in turn withers, decays, dries up and dies away. He felt the Spring: but he felt also the Autumn. In Summer he could partake with his own inner sympathy in the unfolding of Nature, but in Winter he could also partake in her death with the same openness of heart.
We may not find in Goethe's works a clear expression in words of this twofold experience with Nature, but we cannot fail to be sensible of it in his whole manner of thought. It is as it were an echo of the experience of Michael's fight with the Dragon. Only, the experience is lifted in Goethe to the consciousness of a later age.
The nineteenth century has not given us any further development of thought on these lines. The new perception of the Spirit that is now being attained must set itself to strive after a continuation and development of Goethe's understanding of Nature.
Our experience of Nature is incomplete as long as we partake in our inner being with her ascending life alone — seed, shoot, leaf, bud, blossom, and fruit. We need to have a feeling also for the withering and dying away. Nor shall we thereby become estranged from Nature. We have not to shut ourselves up from her Spring and her Summer, we have but to enter as well into her Autumn and her Winter.
Spring and Summer require of man that he give himself up to Nature; man lives his way out of himself and into Nature. Autumn and Winter would have man withdraw into his own human domain and set over against the death and decay of Nature the resurrection of the forces of soul and spirit. Spring and Summer are the time of man's Nature-consciousness; Autumn and Winter are the times when he must experience his own human self-consciousness.
As Autumn approaches, Nature withdraws her life into the depths of the Earth; she takes away all sprouting and blossoming far from the sight of man. What she leaves to his view bears within it no fulfilment; therein lies hope, hope for a new Spring to come. Nature leaves man alone with himself.
Then begins the time when it rests upon man to prove by his own forces within him that he is quick and alive and not dead. Summer said to man: I receive your Ego, your ‘I’; I let it bloom in my bosom with the flowers. Autumn begins now to say to man: Descend into the depth of your soul, there to find the forces whereby your ‘I’ may live, the while I hold my life hidden in the depths of the Earth. Goethe resented Haller's thought:
Goethe's feeling was:
Nature has need of death for her life; man can also live this dying through with her. Thereby he enters only more deeply into the inner being of Nature. In his own organism man experiences his breathing process and his blood circulation. They are for him his life. The germinating life of the Spring is in reality as near to man as his own breathing, it entices him out into Nature-consciousness. So too the death and decay of Autumn is in reality no further away from man than his own blood; it steels self-consciousness within him.
The Festival of Self-consciousness, bringing man near to his true humanity — wherever the leaves are falling, there it is solemnized, man only needs to become conscious of it. It is the Festival of Michael, the Festival of the Beginning of Autumn. The picture of “Michael Triumphant” can be there; it can live in man. In Summer man is received lovingly into Nature; but if he would not be deprived of the centre and balance of his being, he must not lose himself in her but be able to rise up in Autumn in the strength and might of his own spirit-being. Then will the picture of Michael Triumphant live within him.
|The Spiritual-Scientific Basis of Goethe's Work|
|The Spiritual-Scientific Basis of Goethe's Work|
Anthroposophy will only be able to fulfill its great and universal mission in modern civilization when it is able to grasp the special problems which have arisen in every land by reason of the intellectual possessions of the people. In Germany, these special problems are in part determined by the inheritance bequeathed to her intellectual life by the men of genius living at the close of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Any one who approaches those great minds, Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Goethe, Novalis, Jean Paul and many others, from the point of view of Anthroposophical thought and its attitude toward life, will have two important experiences. The first being that, as a result of this profoundly spiritual attitude, a new light is thrown upon the working and works of these men of genius; the second, that through them Anthroposophy receives new life-blood, which must, in some way as yet not clear, produce a fructifying and strengthening effect in the future. It may be said without exaggeration that the German will understand Anthroposophy if only he brings his mind to bear upon the highest conceptions for which the leading spirits of his land have striven, and which they have embodied in their works.
It will be the task of future generations to reveal the Anthroposophical and spiritual-scientific basis of the great advancement in the intellectual life of Germany during the period in question. It will then be shown what an intimate knowledge and understanding of the influences at work during this period is obtainable by regarding things from an Anthroposophical point of view. It is only possible on this occasion to make a few references to one man of genius who was the leading light of this age of culture, namely, Goethe. It is possible that new life may be infused into the active principles of Anthroposophy through Goethe's thought and the creations of his mind, with the result that, in Germany, Anthroposophy may appear by degrees to be something akin to the spirit of the people. One thing will be made clear: that the source of the Anthroposophical conception is one and the same as the fount from which Germany's great poet and thinker has derived his creative power.
The most clear-sighted of those among whom Goethe lived acknowledged without any reservation that there was no branch of intellectual life which his attitude toward life and the world could not enrich. But one must not allow oneself to be deceived by the fact that the quintessence of Goethe's mind really lies concealed below the surface of his works. He who wishes to win his way to a perfect understanding of them must become intimate with their innermost spirit. This does not mean that one should become insensitive to the beauties of their style or their artistic form. Nor must one put an abstract interpretation upon his art by means of intellectual symbols and allegories. But, just as a noble countenance excites no less admiration for the beauty of its features because the beholder is able to perceive the greatness of the soul illuminating this beauty, so it is with Goethe's art; not only can it lose nothing, but rather will it gain infinitely, when the outward expression of his creative power is illuminated by that depth of conception of the universe which possesses his soul.
Goethe himself often has shown how justified we are in having such a profound conception of his creative power. On January 29, 1827, he said to his devoted secretary Eckermann concerning his Faust, “It is all scenic and, from the point of view of the theatre, it will please everyone. More than this I did not wish. If only the performance gives pleasure to the majority of the audience, the initiated will not miss the deeper meaning.” It is only necessary to bring an impartial insight to bear upon Goethe's creative power in order to recognize that it is only an esoteric conception which can lead us to a full understanding of his working. He felt within him an ardent desire to discover in all phenomena of the senses the hidden spiritual force. It was one of his principles of search that the inner secrets are expressed in outward facts and objects, and that those only can aspire to understand Nature who look upon the phenomena as mere letters which enable them to decipher the inner meaning of the workings of the spirit. The words: “All we see before us passing, Sign and symbol is alone,” in the Chorus Mysticus, at the end of Faust, are not merely to be regarded as a poetical idea, but as the outcome of his whole attitude toward the world. In Art, too, he saw only a revelation of the innermost secrets of the world; in his opinion, it was through Art that those things are to be made clear which, though having their origin in Nature and being active in her, yet with the means at her disposal, she cannot express. He sought the same spirit in the phenomena of Nature as in the works of a creative artist; only the means of expression were different in the two cases. He was constantly at work on his conception of a gradual process of evolution of all the phenomena and creatures in the world. He regarded man as a compilation of the other kingdoms. The spirit of man was to him the revelation of a universal spirit, and the other realms of Nature, with their manifestations, appeared to him as the path of evolution leading to man. All this was not merely a theory with him, but became a living element in his work, permeating all that he produced. Schiller has given us a fine description of this peculiarity of Goethe's mind, in the letter with which he inaugurates the intimate friendship which united them (August 23, 1794):
In his book on Winckelmann, Goethe has expressed his opinion as to the position of man in the evolution of the realms of Nature:
It was Goethe's life-work to strive to obtain an ever clearer insight into the evolution of the living world. When, after moving to Weimar (about 1780), he embodied the result of his investigation in the beautiful prose-hymn, Nature, we find over the whole a certain abstract tinge of pantheism. He must perforce use words to define the hidden forces of being, but before long these cease to satisfy his ever-deepening conception. But it is in these very words that we first meet with the ideas which we find later in such perfect form. He says there, for instance:
When Goethe (1828), having reached the summit of his insight, looked back upon this stage, he expressed himself thus concerning it:
It was with such a conception that Goethe approached the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms to grasp the hidden spiritual unity in the manifest multiplicity of sense-perceptible phenomena. It is in this sense that he speaks of primeval plant, primeval animal. And it was for him Intuition which stood behind these conceptions as the active spiritual force. In his contemplation of things, his whole being strove toward what in Anthroposophy is called tolerance. And ever more and more he sought to acquire this quality by means of the strictest inward self-education. To this he frequently refers; it will suffice to quote a very characteristic example from the Campaign in France (1792):
Thus he endeavored to rise higher and higher and to reach the point which divided the real from the unreal.
Only here and there do we find references to his innermost convictions. One of these occurs, for instance, in the poem The Mysteries, which contains his confession as a Rosicrucian. It was written in the middle of the 80's in the 18th century, and was regarded by those who knew him intimately as revealing his character. In 1816, he was called upon by a “fraternity of students in one of the chief towns of North Germany” to explain the hidden meaning of the poem, and the explanation which he gave might well stand as a paraphrase of the three objectives of the programme of the Anthroposophical Society.
Only when one is capable of appreciating the full significance of such points in Goethe is one in a position to recognize the higher meaning, to use his own expression, which he has introduced into his Faust for the initiated. In the second part of this dramatic poem is in fact to be found what Goethe had to say concerning the relation of man to the three worlds: the physical, the astral and the spiritual. From this point of view, the poem represents his expression of the incarnation of man. A character which, to the mind that refuses a spiritual-scientific basis, presents insuperable difficulties, is that of Homunculus. Every passage, every word, however, becomes clear as soon as one starts from this basis. Homunculus is created by the help of Mephistopheles. The latter represents the repressive and destructive forces of the Universe which manifest in the realms of man as Evil. Goethe wishes to characterize the part which Evil takes in the formation of Homunculus; and yet from such beginnings is to be produced a man. For this reason, he is led through the lower realms of Nature to the scene of the classical Walpurgis Night. Before he sets forth on these wanderings, he possesses only a part of human nature. What he himself says concerning his connection with the earthly part of human nature is striking.
The Nature of Homunculus becomes quite clear in the light of the following lines which refer to him:
The following words are also added, “He is, methinks, Hermaphrodite.” Goethe here intends to represent the astral body of man before his incarnation in mortal (earthly) matter. This he also makes clear by endowing Homunculus with powers of clairvoyance. He sees, for instance, the dream of Faust in the laboratory where work is going on with the help of Mephistopheles. Then in the course of the classical Walpurgis Night the embodying of Homunculus, that is, the astral man, is described. He is sent through the realms of Nature to Proteus, the spirit of transformations.
Proteus then describes the road which astral man has to take through the realms of Nature in order to arrive at an earthly incarnation and receive a physical body.
The passage of man through the mineral kingdom is then described. Goethe makes his entrance into the vegetable kingdom particularly contemplative. Homunculus says:
A tender air is wafted here;
The philosopher Thales, who is present, adds in elucidation of what is taking place:
The moment, too, when the asexual being has implanted within him the double sex, and therewith sexual love, is also represented:
That the investing of the astral body with the physical body, composed of earthly elements, is really meant here is expressly stated in the closing lines of the second act:
Goethe here makes use of the evolution of beings in the course of the fashioning of the earth in connection with the incarnation of man as a special being. The latter repeats as such the transformations which mankind has undergone in reaching its present form. In these conceptions, he was in line with the theory of evolution held by spiritual science. His explanation of the origin of the lower forms of life was that the impulse which was aspiring to a higher grade had been stopped on a certain level. In his diary of the Journey through Switzerland, of 1797, he noted a conversation with the Tübingen professor Kielmeyer, which is interesting in this connection. In it, the following words occur, “Concerning the idea that the higher organic natures in their evolution take several steps which the others behind them are unable to take.” His studies of plants, animals, and of man are entirely pervaded by these ideas, and he seeks to invest them with an artistic form in the transformation of Homunculus into a man. When he becomes acquainted with Howard's theory of the formation of clouds, “he expresses his thoughts concerning the relation of spiritual archetypes to the ever-changing forms in the following words:
In Faust, we also find represented the relation of the imperishable spiritual man to the mortal envelope. Faust has to go to the Mothers to seek for this imperishable essence, and the explanation of this important scene is developed quite naturally in the second part of the play. Goethe conceives the real being of man as a trinity (in accord with the Anthroposophical teaching of Spirit-self, Life-spirit, Spirit-man). And Faust's visit to the Mothers may be termed in Anthroposophical phraseology the forcible entry into Devachan. There he is to find what remains of Helena. She is to be reincarnated; that is, she is to return from the realm of the Mothers to the earth and, in the third act, we really do in fact see her reincarnated. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to reunite the three natures of man: the astral, the physical, and the spiritual. At the end of the second act, the astral (Homunculus) has put on the physical envelope and this combination is now able to receive within it the higher nature. Such a conception introduces an inner dramatic unity into the poem, whereas with a non-occult forcible entry the individual events remain a mere arbitrary collection of poetical incidents. Without taking into account the spiritual-scientific foundation of the poem, Professor Veit Valentin, of Frankfort, has already drawn attention to the inner connection of Homunculus and Helena in an interesting book, Die Einheit des Ganzen Faust, 1896. But the contents of this work can only remain an intelligent hypothesis if one does not penetrate into the spiritual-scientific substratum underlying it all. Goethe has conceived Mephistopheles as a being to whom Devachan is unknown. He is only at home on the astral plane. Hence he can be of service in the creation of Homunculus, but he cannot accompany Faust into the realm of the Mothers. Indeed, that plane is to him Nothingness. He says to Faust, in speaking to him of that world:
But Faust, with his spiritual intuition, at once divines that in that world he will find the real essence of Man.
In the description which Mephistopheles gives of the world which he dares not enter, one understands exactly what Goethe means to express.
Only by means of the archetype which Faust fetches from the devachanic world of the Mothers can Homunculus, the astral being who has assumed physical form, become a spiritually-endowed entity, Helena in fact, who actually appears in the third act. Goethe has taken care that those who seek to penetrate the depths shall be able to grasp his meaning for, in his conversations with Eckermann, he has lifted the veil as far as it seemed to him practical to do so. On December 16, 1829, he said concerning Homunculus:
And, on the same day, he points out further how Homunculus is still wanting in Mind: “Reasoning is not his concern, he wants to act.”
The whole of the further development of the dramatic action in Faust, according to this reading, follows easily on the foregoing. Faust has become acquainted with the secrets of the three worlds. Henceforth, he looks at the world from the point of view of the mystic. One could point out scene after scene which bears this out, but it will be sufficient to draw attention here to a few passages. When, towards the end, Care approaches Faust, he becomes outwardly blind but, in the course of his development, he has acquired the faculty of inward sight.
Goethe once, in answer to the question, “What was Faust's end?” replied definitely, “He becomes a mystic in the end,” and the significant words of the Chorus Mysticus, with which the poem closes, can only be interpreted in this sense. In the West-East Divan he also expresses himself very clearly on the subject of the spiritual development of man. It is to him the union of the human soul with the higher self. The illusion that the real man exists in his outward body must die out; then higher man comes into existence. That is why he begins his poem Blessed Longing with the words: “Tell it to none but to the wise, for the multitude hasten to deride. I will praise the living who longs for death by fire.” And, in conclusion, he adds: “And as long as thou hast not mastered this; dying and coming into existence; thou art but a sad and gloomy guest on the dark earth.”
Quite in harmony with this is the Chorus Mysticus, for its inner meaning is but this: The transient forms of the outer world have their foundation in the imperishable spiritual ones to which we attain by regarding the transient only as a symbol of the hidden spiritual:
That to which reason, appointed as it is to deal with the world of the senses and its forms, cannot attain, is revealed as an actual vision to the spiritual sight; further, that which this reason cannot describe is a fact in the regions of the spiritual.
In harmony with all mystical symbolism, Goethe represents the higher nature of man as feminine, entering into union with the Divine Spirit. For in the last lines:
Goethe only means to characterize the union of the purified soul drawing near to the Divine. All interpretations which are not made in a mystic sense fail here.
Goethe considered that the time had not yet come when it was possible to speak of certain secrets of our being in any other manner than he has done in some of his poems. And, above all, he felt it to be his own mission to furnish such a form of expression. At the beginning of his friendship with Schiller, he raised the question, “How are we to represent to ourselves the relationship between the physical and the spiritual natures of man?” Schiller had tried to answer this question in a philosophical style in his letters Concerning the Aesthetic Education of Man. To him, it was a question of the ennobling and purifying of man; to him, a man under the sway of nature's impulses of sensual love and desires appeared impure; but then he considered just as far removed from purity the man who looked upon the sensual impulses and desires as enemies, and was obliged to place himself under the rule of moral or abstract intellectual compulsion. Man only attained inner freedom when he had so absorbed moral law into his inner being that he desired only to obey it. Such a man has so ennobled his lower nature that it becomes by itself an expression of the higher spiritual, and he has so drawn down into the earthly human nature the spiritual that the latter possesses a direct sentient existence. The explanations which Schiller gives in these Letters form excellent rules of education, for their object is to further the evolution of man so that he may, by absorbing the higher ideal man, come to contemplate the world from a free and exalted point of view. In his way Schiller refers to the higher self of man thus:
All that Schiller says in this connection is of the most far-reaching significance. For he who really carries out his injunctions accomplishes within himself an education which brings him directly to that inward condition which paves the way for the inner contemplation of the spiritual. Goethe was satisfied, in the deepest sense of the word, with these ideas. He writes to Schiller:
Goethe now endeavored on his part to set forth the same idea from the depths of his conception of the world — but veiled in imagery — in the problem-tale of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. It is placed in the editions of Goethe at the end of the Conversations of German Emigrants. The Faust story has often been called Goethe's Gospel; this tale may, however, be called his Apocalypse, for in it he sets forth — as a fairy-tale — the path of man's inner development. Here again, we can only point out a few short passages, it would need a large book to show how Goethe's spiritual insight is concealed in this tale.
The three worlds are here represented as two regions separated from one another by a river. The river itself stands for the astral plane. On this side of it is the physical world, on the other side the spiritual (Devachan), where dwells the beautiful lily, the symbol of man's higher nature. In her kingdom, man must strive if he would unite his lower with his higher nature. In the abyss — that is, in the physical world — dwells the serpent which symbolizes the self of man. Here too is a temple of initiation, where reign four kings, one golden, one silver, one bronze, and a fourth of an irregular mixture of the three metals. Goethe, who was a freemason, has clothed in freemasonic terminology what he had to impart of his mystic experiences. The three kings represent the three higher forces of man: Wisdom (Gold), Beauty (Silver), and Strength (Bronze). As long as man lives in his lower nature, these three forces are in him disordered and chaotic. This period in the evolution of man is represented by the mixed king. But when man has so purified himself that the three forces work together in perfect harmony, and he can freely use them, then the way into the realm of the spiritual lies open before him. The still unpurified man is represented by a youth who, without having attained inner purity, would unite himself with the beautiful lily. Through this union he becomes paralyzed.
Goethe here wished to point out the danger to which a man exposes himself who would force an entrance into the super-sensible region before he has severed himself from his lower self. Only when love has permeated the whole man, only when the lower nature has been sacrificed, can the initiation into the higher truths and powers begin. This sacrifice is expressed by the serpent yielding of its own accord, and forming a bridge of its body across the river — that is to say, the astral plane — between the two kingdoms, of the senses and of the spirit. At first man must accept the higher truths in the form in which they have been given to him in the imagery of the various religions. This form is personified as the man with the lamp. This lamp has the peculiarity of only giving light where there is already light, meaning that the religious truths presuppose a receptive, believing disposition. Their light shines where the light of faith is present. This lamp, however, has yet another quality, “of turning all stones into gold, all wood into silver, dead animals into precious stones, and of destroying all metals,” meaning the power of faith which changes the inner nature of the individual. There are about twenty characters in this allegory, all symbolical of certain forces in man's nature and, during the course of the action, the purifying of man is described, as he rises to the heights where, in his union with his higher self, he can be initiated into the secrets of existence. This state is symbolized by the Temple, formerly hidden in the abyss, being brought to the surface, and rising above the river — the astral plane. Every passage, every sentence in the allegory is significant. The more deeply one studies the tale, the more comprehensible and clear the whole becomes, and he who set forth the esoteric quintessence of this tale at the same time has given us the substance of the Anthroposophical outlook on life.
Goethe has not left the source uncertain from whose depths he has drawn his inspiration. In another tale, The New Paris, he gives in a veiled manner the history of his own inner enlightenment. Many will remain incredulous if we say that, in this dream, Goethe represents himself just at the boundary between the third and fourth sub-race of our fifth root-race. For him, the myth of Paris and Helen is a symbolic representation of this boundary. And as he — in a dream — conjures up before his eyes in a new form the myth of Paris, he feels he is casting a searching glance into the development of humanity. What such an insight into the past means to the inner eye, he tells us in the Prophecies of Bakis, which are also full of occult references:
Much, too, might be quoted to show the underlying elements of spiritual science in the fairy tale, The New Melusine, a Pandora-fragment, and many other writings. In his novel, Wilhelm Meister's Traveling Years, Goethe has given us quite a masterly picture of a Clairvoyante in Makarie. Makarie's power of intuition rises to the level of a complete penetration of the inner mysteries of the planetary system:
These words of Goethe's prove clearly how intimate he is with these matters, and whoever reads through the whole passage will recognize that Goethe so expresses himself, albeit with reserve, that he who looks beneath the surface may feel quite certain of the spiritual-scientific foundation in his being.
Goethe always looked upon his mission as a poet in relation to his striving toward the hidden laws of Life. He was often forced to notice how friends failed to understand this side of his nature. He describes thus, in the Campaign in France in 1792, how his contemplation of Nature was always misunderstood:
Goethe could only understand artistic work when based on a profound penetration of the truth. As an artist, he wished to give utterance to that which in Nature is suggested without being fully expressed. Nature appeared to him as a product of the same essence which also works through human art, only that in the case of Nature the power has remained on a lower level. For Goethe, Art is a continuation of Nature revealing that which in Nature alone is hidden:
To understand the world is to Goethe to Hue in the spirit of worldly things. For this reason, he speaks of a perceptive power of judgment (intellectus archetypus), through which Man draws ever nearer to the secrets of our being:
Thus did Goethe represent to himself Man as the organ of the world, through which its occult powers should be revealed. The following was one of his aphorisms: