This is what caused this second half of the nineteenth century to be so unphilosophical. Basically, this is also what made it so devoid of deeds. This is what caused the economic relationships to become more and more complicated while commerce became enlarged into a world economy so that the whole earth in fact turned into one economic sphere, and particularly this shadow-like thinking was unable to grasp the increasingly complex and overwhelming reality. This is the tragedy of our modern age. The economic conditions have become more and more complex, weighty, and increasingly brutal; human thinking remained shadowy, and these shadows certainly could no longer penetrate into what goes on outside in the brutal economic reality.
This is what causes our present misery. Unfortunately, if a person actually believes that he is more delicately organized and has need of the spirit, he may possibly get into the habit of making a long face, of speaking in a falsetto voice and of talking about the fact that he has to elevate himself from brutal reality, since the spiritual basically can be grasped only in the mystical realm. Thinking has become so refined that it has to withdraw from reality, that it perishes right away in its shadowy existence if it tries to penetrate brutal reality. Reality in the meantime develops below in conformity with the instincts; it proliferates and brutalizes. Up above, we see the bloated ideas of mysticism, of world views and theosophies floating about; below, life brutally takes its course. This is something that must stop for the sake of mankind. Thinking must be enlivened; thought has to become so powerful that it need not withdraw from brutal reality but can enter into it, can live in it as spirit. Then reality will no longer be brutal. This has to be understood.
What is not yet understood in many different respects is that a thinking in which universal being dwells cannot but pour its force over everything. This should be something that goes without saying. But it appears as a sacrilege to this modern thinking if a form of thinking appears on the scene that cannot help but extend to all different areas. A properly serious attitude in life should be comprised of the realization: In thinking, we have been dealing with a shadow image, and rightly so, but the age has now arrived when life must be brought once again into this shadow image of thought in order that from this form of thought life, from this inner life of soul, the outer physical, sensory life can receive its social stimulus.
--Rudolf Steiner, lecture of April 29, 1921, in Materialism and the Task of Anthroposophy, pp. 188-90.