Thursday, June 4, 2015

Knowledge versus the true nature of the human soul

Rudolf Steiner:  "Philosophy leads by its own paths to the insight that it must pass from a study of the world to an experience of it, because mere reflection cannot bring a satisfactory solution to all the riddles of life. This method of cognition is comparable to the seed of a plant. The seed can work in a twofold way when it becomes ripe. It can be used as human food or as seed for a new plant. If it is examined with respect to its usefulness, it must be looked at in a way different from the observation that follows the cycle of reproducing a new plant. Similarly, man's spiritual experiences can choose either of two roads. On the one hand, it serves the contemplation of the external world. Examined from this point of view, one will be inclined to develop a world conception that asks above all things: How does our knowledge penetrate to the nature of things? What knowledge can we derive from a study of the nature of things? To ask these questions is like investigating the nutritional value of the seed. But it is also possible to focus attention on the experiences of the soul that are not diverted by outside impressions, but lead the soul from one level of being on to another. These experiences are seen as an implanted driving force in which one recognizes a higher man who uses this life to prepare for the next. One arrives at the insight that this is the fundamental impulse of all human soul experience and that knowledge is related to it as the use of the seed of the plant for food is comparable to the development of the grain into a new plant. If we fail to understand this fact, we shall live under the illusion that we could discover the nature of knowledge by merely observing the soul's experiences. This procedure is as erroneous as it is to make only a chemical analysis of the seed with respect to its food value and to pretend that this represents its real essence. Spiritual science, as it is meant here, tries to avoid this error by revealing the inner nature of the soul's experience and by showing that it can also serve the process of knowledge, although its true nature does not consist in this contemplative knowledge."

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