Monday, December 19, 2016

Truth and Error in the Light of the Spiritual World

The Wisdom of the Spirit (Pneumatosophy). Lecture 2 of 4.

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, December 13, 1911:

To some of you it may seem superfluous in discussing such weighty subjects at our annual meeting for me to include a consideration of what contemporary science has to say about these matters. I have no intention of constructing an elaborate bridge across the gap separating us from the aforementioned erudition. Nothing of the sort is necessary within our circles, because the great majority of those who join us feel in their souls a certain connection with the spiritual life. They do not come to us to have the spiritual world proved to them in a so-called scientific manner, but to become acquainted with it in a concrete form; hence the calling in of such erudition might seem superfluous.
Another objection could be made that anthroposophists often face the obligation to intercede for anthroposophy, to refute objections, produce evidence and substantiations, but it is only possible to a slight degree to convince our opponents by means of any proofs whatsoever. Philosophies depend not so much on proofs as on habits of thought, and if a person is unable to penetrate — his thought habits being what they are — into the spiritual-scientific way of looking at the world, he will for the time being certainly remain deaf to proofs.
Such matters as were discussed yesterday were brought up in order to meet and alleviate the confusion that might arise in the minds of our members when again and again they must hear people say, “Your philosophy lacks a scientific basis.” Anthroposophists should feel ever more strongly that their world view rests upon a solid foundation and is proof against whatever recognized science has to say.
To propound everything needed for coming to terms with modern science would take a long time, and references to external science are intended only to arouse a feeling for the fact that there are ways and means of meeting that science, and that in championing anthroposophy one stands upon a firm foundation. So the aim is to indicate the manner of approach, when the time is available, rather than the approach itself. A modern science of external corporeality may be fraught with many a disagreement, but one praiseworthy feature of such a science is that its subject, external corporeality, is not disputed. In dealing with the science of the soul, on the other hand, the science of psychology, one enters a region in which there are people who deny the reality of the subject itself, the soul. Not only must we nowadays face the materialistic world conception, but we find ourselves enmeshed in a sort of psychology intended to be a science of the soul without a soul.
Yesterday we made the acquaintance of an Aristotelian scholar of our time who turned his keen wits to an investigation of the subject known as the soul. Of Aristotle it can be said that there was no question of his denying the existence of the spirit, but we found that Brentano shrewdly halted before the spirit, so that we do, indeed, find there a standpoint concerned with pneumatosophy, or the science of the spirit, that denies not only this or that law but the subject itself, as such.
To many people the spirit is a highly debatable fact anyway, hence we must seriously consider the question why this can be so. The body is perceived through the outer senses and with all the force of facts that exist for us automatically. Outer physical facts affect the human soul with such force that it is incapable of denying what they have to tell. We are in a similar position with regard to the soul, for we do, in fact, experience its flowing content. We experience feelings, conceptions, impulses of will; we experience all that results as destiny from the course this soul life takes; we experience suffering and happiness, joy and sorrow. So unless you were to call all that nothing, or at most a sort of surface foam from the waves of physical facts, you cannot but recognize the soul in a certain sense, at least to the extent of admitting its reality. The spirit, however, is primarily something super-sensible, imperceptible, and this alone suffices to explain how plausibly its existence may be denied. It explains why one might marvel at the idea of searching for the spirit, on the ground that it does not enter the world in which we live.
From the standpoint of anthroposophy we have stated often enough that the real facts about the spiritual world are derived through a method of observation that must be created by means of a certain self-cultivation, a certain self-education through meditation, concentration, and so forth. Thus the facts of the spiritual world are not directly given to man. They can be gleaned only if he is able to rise to a cognition differing from that of everyday life. It might seem as though this spiritual world were completely hidden from man, perceptible only after he had entirely transcended his normal way of cognition and risen to another.
Well, if that were the way matters stood, we could ask how man happens to long for a world that really in no way discloses itself to him as he is in ordinary life. Against this objection only the man of faith, not the scientist, can really feel himself adequately armed. True, the former could answer this objection by stating that the spiritual world had indeed manifested itself through revelations received in the course of human development, so that man could have obtained his knowledge of the spiritual world through revelations from the super-sensible. One who is not inclined to recognize such revelations or such faith, however, will object that there may be a spiritual world, but there is no immediately apparent reason why we should take account of it, as it does not manifest itself in any way in the outer world. Against this, an objection has been raised again and again throughout the ages by an idealistic or spiritualistic philosophy, namely, that recognition of the spiritual world by this or that philosopher depends largely upon his having taken seriously the refutation of the first objection by means of the second. Certainly it is possible to transcend the world that is primarily revealed by outer perception; the human being can build up a world of truth in his own inner being, and he could never be satisfied with what the outer world of perception has to give for the simple reason that he is a human being. Thus he builds a world of truth within himself.
If we examine this world of truth seriously, we find that it comprises something that already transcends all that is external-physical as such. One then cites ideas produced by man about the world — grand, comprehensive points of view that never could have originated through the outer senses alone, and that must have come, therefore, from the other side. Thus, the fact of the world of truth is in itself sufficient to convince us that we participate in a spirit world and live in it with our truth. Naturally, a philosopher like Hegel, for instance, would find plenty of justification for a spiritual world, as opposed to the objection set forth — justification for recognizing a spiritual world that embraces thinking as well, in so far as thinking is independent of the senses. Philosophers whose whole disposition equips them to recognize the absolutely independent world of truth will find in this independent activity of the spirit, moving as it does in truth, sufficient reason for assuming the existence of the spirit. It can be said, then, that there will always be people in the world in whose view the concrete actuality of the true world of ideas is sufficient proof of the spirit. In a certain sense it can be said that even in Aristotle something like faith is discernible, faith that in his concepts and ideas, in the nous, as he calls it, man lives in a spiritual world, and because it exists in man, it exists, and is thereby sufficiently substantiated.
Granting this, it is permissible to draw conclusions from what can be learned within one's own spiritual world as such when moving within it, that is, conclusions regarding other beings and facts of the spiritual world. Thus Aristotle draws his conclusions concerning the Divinity, the immortality of the soul, and arrives at inferences such as were described yesterday. Hegel speaks of an independent activity of the spirit, meaning the independent activity of concepts, that has no connection, as regards the laws governing it, with the outer world, but is an activity of the spirit itself. He maintains that the spirit reveals itself in the presence of this independent activity.
More recent attempts such as that of Rudolf Eucken, which spiritual science certainly cannot regard as particularly inspired, talk of a self-grasping of the spirit and of self-proof of the existence of the spiritual being. This path leads to no proof, however, and it furnishes anthroposophists the opportunity of perceiving how difficult it is to prove anthroposophy as such. Truth per se and taken alone does not necessarily prove anything with regard to the spirit. That is a point that is never-taken seriously enough. The existence of the world of truth as such does not necessarily prove anything concerning the spirit.
I will now sketch briefly, somewhat in the manner of a parable, something that really should be thoroughly presented in a whole series of lectures. Let us assume that actually nothing existed but corporeality, the outer physical world. Let us further assume that this physical world with its forces, or “energies,” as it is now the fashion to call them, expressed itself in the mineral world and became complicated. That is, that it did not gather new energies but merely became more and more complicated in the plant and animal worlds, until finally it became so complicated that it built up man out of a combination and co-operation of purely physical energies — built him in such a way as to enable him to produce thoughts from the complicated instrument of the brain. All this we assume to proceed in the manner in which physical processes run their course within corporeality. Imagine for a moment that the materialists' extraordinarily crude assertion were to be taken seriously — the assertion that the brain secretes thoughts in the same way that the liver secretes bile. Suppose the human brain to be built up out of mechanico-physical energies in such a way as to produce what appears to man as his spiritual life. In short, suppose materialism were right, and that there were no spirit as such. Would it then be possible, in the materialists' sense, to speak of a world of truth — for instance as presented in Hegel's philosophy — in the world of concepts? If it were possible to answer this question in the affirmative, it would automatically show that materialism itself could explain — that is, prove — a philosophy like Hegel's. In other words, it could reject all spiritualistic or idealistic philosophies.
One need only imagine, and this is the point, which to explain thoroughly would call for many lectures, that what springs from the complicated human brain as thought, in so far as the world of truth is made up of thoughts, were nothing more than the reflection of the outer physical world. You can place an object before a mirror, the mirror reflects the object's image, image and object are identical. The image is not the object, but purely material objects bring about the image by means of the mirror. You need admit nothing more than that you are dealing with a mere image that has no reality; then you don't have to prove the reality of the image. In the same way, you can take a materialistic standpoint and say, “There is really nothing there but external energies reflected in the brain, and all we have in the way of thoughts are merely such reflections of the outer world.” Then you are not obliged to prove the existence of the spirit, for all thoughts are but reflections.
Nor would we stand much chance of convincing those who might get up and say, “But there are concepts that cannot be taken from outer perceptions, abstract concepts, like a circle or a triangle, that we never encounter in reality.” We can reply, “True, as they are, they do not appear in the outer world as images of the thought world, but there are innumerable approximations.” In short, though it cannot be denied that truth is super-sensible, materialism can undoubtedly cope with the objection that man creates super-sensible truth within himself; hence truth as such would furnish no argument against materialism.
Now we're in a pretty predicament. This truth, being undeniably super-sensible, appears to countless people as sufficient proof of the existence of a spiritual world, or an indication of one, but it is not a proof of the existence of a spiritual world! Truth is super-sensible, yes, but it is not necessarily real. It could be a sum of images, then no one need accept its reality. So we must keep in mind that the possession of truth is not proof of the reality of a spiritual world, and that merely by penetrating to truth and living and functioning in reality, man can never reach the spirit. The objection would always stand that truth might be but an image of the outer physical world.
At this point one might object that in that case it is difficult to see how anywhere in the wide world any argument could be found that might persuade man, such as he is in everyday life, to recognize a spirit. Then, when people like Feuerbach, for example, come along and say that men assume gods or a god, but that what they experience within themselves is nothing but the content of their soul, their thoughts, which they deify and project into the world, it is easy to prove the unreality of the divine world, because it is merely an outward projection of the unreal world of thought. Aristotle does not go about it right when he cites the objectivity of the thought world as proof of the existence of a god. He argues simply that man has a mind and the mind can be applied to objects. This presupposes that all objects are permeated by the divine nous, or mind, but as he describes the latter, it is nothing but the human mind projected outward, a reflected image. Thus the divine nous is merely an image reflected outward, and is incapable of forming the basis of any proof.
Anthroposophists must really be able to face such matters clearly, and to realize that the usual methods of attempting to arrive at recognition of the spiritual world from without prove, upon closer examination, to be inadequate. Are we compelled, then, to admit unconditionally that there is no possibility of achieving conviction concerning the existence of the spirit, other than through clairvoyance? It would almost seem as though only those people were justified in speaking of the spiritual world who either envision it as clairvoyants or believe what clairvoyants have to tell. It would seem so, but it is not the case.
The outer world as such, with its material content, does not of itself point to a spiritual world, unless we know of it already, nor does the inner world of truth, which might be a reflection of the outer world. Hence the question arises as to what else there is. Well, there is something else, and it is error. We must forget nothing in the world when dealing with a complete picture of it, and in addition to truth we have error. Now, error naturally cannot lead to truth, and it would be a strange thing to proceed from error as a starting point. The fact that the soil of truth is sterile is no reason for taking the standpoint of error; that would hardly reduce the number of our opponents. We shall not take error as the starting point in our search for truth; that would be not only foolish but absurd. There is one aspect of error that cannot be denied. It exists, it is present in the world, it is real; above all, it can arise in man's nature and achieve being there.
When the outer world has created for itself a reflecting apparatus in the brain and is reflected, and the sum of truth is the sum of the images, it could naturally still be possible that, instead of truth, error might arise through a condition analogous to a distorting mirror that reflects caricatures of objects. If you were to use a mirror of that sort, you would simply get a false image, and the error would be comparatively easy to explain. It is merely a matter of the organ producing a false reflection, and this, too, can be explained. Truth and error can be explained as reflections. But what cannot be explained? The correction of the error, the transformation of error into truth; this cannot be explained as a reflection. Try as you will, you cannot induce a mirror producing caricatures to convert these into true images; it abides by its error. The difference in the case of man is that he is not compelled to stop at error, but is in a position to conquer it and transform it into truth. Man thereby proves that while there is such a thing in the phenomenon of truth as a reflection of external reality, the transformation of error into truth shows that error as such is more than a mere reflection of the outer world, and hence has no raison d'être in the world that surrounds us. Truth has justification in the external physical world, but the acceptance of the external physical world is not sufficient justification for accepting error. Something must enter in that does not pertain to the outer world, that has no direct connection with it. If the sensible is reflected in truth as a super-sensible image, and if it is reflected as error, the cause of error must lie elsewhere than in the sensible itself.
What meets our eye, then, when we recognize the existence of error? We behold a world that is not made up of outer physical phenomena only. Error can only originate in the super-sensible world, can only proceed thence. That is for the time being a conclusion. Let us now see what super-sensible research has to say about this, not in order to prove anything, but to illuminate the matter. What does it tell us about the peculiar position of error in the world?
Suppose we were so far lacking in self-esteem that out of an inner urge we were to think, voluntarily, a conception that we knew for certain to be an error. Let us think an error. At first sight this might not seem a desirable thing to do, but in a higher sense it can be useful because, if you bring to bear the requisite force and energy and frequent repetition in voluntarily thinking an error, you will notice that this error is something real in the soul, that it has a real effect. The error we think voluntarily, knowing it to be an error, proves nothing, elucidates nothing, but it works in us. The effect is all the more remarkable in that we are not distracted by any prospect of arriving at truth; when we voluntarily think an error we are quite alone with ourselves. By continuing this process long enough we achieve what we have always described in spiritual science as the calling into being of forces hidden in the soul, forces that were not there before.
Continual devotion to outer truth does not get us very far along the path under discussion, but the voluntary encouragement of error within ourselves can lead to the birth of certain hidden soul forces. As I have presented it now, you will not be able to use it as a precept; hence in my Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment and in my Occult Science I omitted the advice to keep thinking as much error as possible (for the purpose mentioned). That was left out, but a certain other aspect of the matter is similar to something I did set forth there. I said that we should not proceed from some obvious, glaring error, but that two conditions must be fulfilled. We must visualize something that has no counterpart in external reality, like that of the rose cross, for example. Now, red roses don't grow on a black cross; looked at from one angle, that is an erroneous conception. The rose cross represents no external truth, but it is a symbolical visualization, an allegorical conception. It expresses no truth directly, but it is the allegory of a super-sensible truth. In its relation to sense reality it is an erroneous conception, but as an allegory it is spiritually significant. In meditating on the rose cross we yield ourselves to a conception that in its relation to external reality is an error. We are not yielding ourselves to an ordinary error, however, but rather, by meditating on the allegory, on the significant conception, we are fulfilling a definite condition.
This brings us to the second condition. A certain premise must be fulfilled when we devote ourselves to meditation, concentration, and so forth. If you penetrate into the whole spirit of what is set forth in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, or in the second part of Occult Science, you will see that a certain frame of mind is indispensable for proper meditation and concentration. Certain moral attributes of the soul are indicated that must be present if what is to take place is to take place in the right way. Why are these given as a condition? Why are certain moral qualities indispensable? To enable us to yield ourselves to an allegorical conception of this sort, to a conception that in the external sense is false.
This again is something that must be taken into account. As a rule, nothing desirable is attained by meditating and concentrating without first having sought the frame of mind that has been sufficiently described because experience shows that without such a foundation, the world that is opened up through the awakening of hidden soul forces is in reality one that acts destructively upon man, rather than tending to further his development. It has a health-giving, developing effect only when it grows out of a frame of mind such as has been explained. That is what experience shows. Further, it shows what pathological phenomena, as they may be called, are symptomatical in those who seek the higher worlds from motives of passion or curiosity, instead of in the right frame of mind. Such people do receive a reality into themselves, for error is a reality and it acts in the soul. It is a reality not present in the outer world as revealed by the senses; hence such people absorb a super-sensible force, a super-sensible entity into their souls. This error is actually something efficacious, but its roots can only be in the super-sensible world, not in the outer sense world.
This super-sensible world must not be permitted to act upon us unless we have the special foundation this moral frame of mind provides. This can only be because we are aware that error, though a superhuman force, leads us first into a super-sensible world that is not a good one. Though truly a super-sensible force, it is in the first instance quite certainly not a good force. It can only become such when it is implanted in a good moral frame of mind. Now translate that into words for yourselves such as are often used to discuss such things on an anthroposophical basis.
You see, by learning to know error we can get to know a super-sensible world. It is not necessary to approach the super-sensible world by artificial means. The super-sensible world looms into the sensible world through the medium of error, and then in turn through error it leads us out into the super-sensible world. But it is not a good world. We must bring the good world to it from the other side, a frame of mind through which alone error can have the right effect. Paradoxically it could be said that in the sense world we actually become acquainted with the super-sensible world because we have error. So the feature of the super-sensible world you meet first is the devil, for at first you encounter a world in no wise good, a world that reveals itself as anything but good.
For this reason Mephisto's remark could be appropriately applied here, “These fellows would not scent the devil out, e'en though he had them by the throat.” The devil is present. We can also say that our first acquaintance with the super-sensible world is made by way of the Luciferic power. We meet the super-sensible world first in the shape of the Luciferic forces, and these we can only escape by the ostrich method, that is, by burying our head in the sand. This can, of course, be done, but it does not do away with those forces. That is the point that should be elaborated in many lectures if it were not to be merely sketched. The super-sensible world is given with the existence of error, but at the outset all that is revealed is the Luciferic element, the adversary of the nature of man.
Is there any particular point in talking about just these matters? If a man lacks the requisite moral frame of mind when penetrating into the super-sensible world by means of an error voluntarily accepted in his thinking, he falls prey to Lucifer! Yesterday we cited Aristotle's statement that in addition to what man comes by from parents and ancestors in the line of heredity, he receives his super-sensible nature from the God, so that through a relation to the God every human being entering the moral world is endowed with the spirit as a new creation [“Aristotle's world picture presents itself as follows. Down below, objects and processes representing matter and ideas have their being, and the higher one looks, the more everything of a material character disappears. What is purely spiritual comes into view, disclosing itself to man as ideas — the world sphere in which the divine holds sway as pure spirituality that animates all. To this world sphere the spiritual human soul belongs. It does not exist as an individual being before combining with the elements of body and soul, but only as part of the world spirit. Through this union it acquires its individual existence, detached from the world spirit; and after the separation from corporeality it lives on as a spiritual being. Thus the individual soul being commences in conjunction with the human earth being, then lives on, immortal. A pre-existence of the soul before the earth life is assumed by Plato, but not by Aristotle.” (Rudolf Steiner, Riddles of Philosophy, Vol. I.)] by the Divinity. We could not come to terms, however, with Aristotle's assertion. We found it contained much that contradicted the assertion itself. Now, Dr. Unger has rightly shown and clearly proved the justification for contradiction in the outer world, [Carl Unger, Gedanken zur Philosophic des Widerspruchs. Stuttgart, 1964.] but certainly this recognition and justification cannot apply to a contradiction that leads to inferences refuting the assertion itself. Yet that is what we find in Aristotle.
If the God were to create a super-sensible man, then, as we saw, an unsatisfied state would arise in all men after death. It would follow that the God created man for a state of discontent, but that cannot lie within Aristotle's meaning either. We cannot admit a philosophy which maintains that, along with what is given through birth, a super-sensible part is received directly from the God — as more recent world conceptions interpret the concept “God.” Even if this is based on truth, nothing can be proved by it, for truth proves nothing concerning the super-sensible world. A proof of that sort can in no way be applied to the super-sensible world. That is the first point, and the second is that if we assume that man, in his super-sensible component, is created by a God, it would be unthinkable that after death he should pass to an imperfect state. Aristotle's position is therefore untenable.
What Aristotle failed to take into account is that the first element of the super-sensible world accessible to man — active even in our immediate human experience — is a Luciferic one, and that we can only make headway by admitting the Luciferic principle at the inception of super-sensible man, by letting it participate, so to speak, in so far as we look up from the man of the physical world to the super-sensible world. Thus man cannot derive from a God alone, but only from a God in conjunction with the Luciferic principle. I ask you to keep well in mind the facts just referred to. They have unconsciously passed over into the feeling of occidental peoples, whatever their theories about a spiritual world, and right into our own time they have prevented the learned lights of the West from ridding themselves of their prejudices against the idea of reincarnation and repeated earth lives.
In former times, of course, men did not express the matter as we have done today, by saying that at bottom there is greater compulsion to believe in the devil than in anything else that is super-sensible, but they felt exactly what has just been expressed in the form of ideas, felt the presence of the Luciferic along with the Divine. They also felt — the justification of which will become manifest later in these lectures — that side by side with what we have as corporeality, a spiritual element is vouchsafed us, something begotten of God. Try as they would, they never could harmonize the cognition of the external physical human being on the physical plane with the descent of man from a super-sensible origin.
They could not get around this contradiction. It was much more difficult for the occidental than, for example, for the Buddhist, whose whole way of thinking and feeling facilitates his acceptance of the doctrine of reincarnation. One could almost say that with him it is congenital to believe that external corporeality really represents a sort of denial of the Divine, a fall from Grace, and that he is justified in striving to be free of it and to rise into worlds in which it means nothing. Quite different is the standpoint of Aristotle from that of Buddha's disciples. Aristotle says that we pass through the portal of death and take with us our super-sensible part, but then we must look down on what we had been, and our further development depends upon that physical life. The Divinity introduced us into a physical body because we needed it. Aristotle proclaims the importance of outer sensual form, outer sensual life. It is not a question here of concepts, ideas, abstractions, but of the content of the philosophers' minds. The Buddhist's mind held no such content as Aristotle's. The essence of his attitude was a feeling that contact with the physical world constituted a defection. He was aware that in arriving at sensuality, man had encountered precisely that from which he must free himself, that a man became more of a human being after having cast off all that.
It was impossible for Aristotle, as a representative occidental, to feel Buddhistically, as indeed no one rooted in the Occident can genuinely feel. He can acknowledge Buddhism theoretically, but really only by repudiating the content of his inner soul. Aristotle values the sense world not for its own sake, but as a condition of rising into the spiritual world. Western feeling always leads in the end to a certain recognition of a divinely, spiritually permeated sense world. Though materialism denied this for a time, it nevertheless lived on in the soul and must persist as long as the fundamental conditions of the occidental spirit exist.
Aristotle felt this to be a condition of the total evolution of humanity. It lived on even into the nineteenth century, and it is one of the elements that have prevented prominent minds of the West from becoming reconciled to the idea of reincarnation. A sensing of the Luciferic principle on the one hand, and the assumption of a divine principle on the other, led to a feeling such as I should like to point out to you in the works (1889) of the distinguished philosopher, Frohschammer, on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. There he onsets his own philosophy against that of Thomas Aquinas. Among other things, he expresses his views on the plausibility of what we call reincarnation. In a certain respect Frohschammer must be regarded entirely as a representative of Western mentality. He says, “Deriving as it does from God, the human soul can only be regarded as the product or work of divine imagination, for while the human soul and the world itself must in this case originate in divine forces and activity (since nothing can derive from mere nothingness), yet this force and activity of God must act as a preparation for creation and as formative forces for its realization and perpetuation; that is, as creative force not merely formal but actual. It must be an imagination immanent in the world, continually active and creative, a sustaining force or potency; a world imagination, as was explained earlier.”
I must add here that Frohschammer also wrote a brilliant book dealing generally with imagination as a world-creative principle, as Hegel dealt with the idea and Schopenhauer with the will. “As concerns the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul (souls that are regarded either as eternal or as transitory, but in any case created in the beginning and all together), a doctrine that appears to have been resurrected in recent times and is considered capable of solving all sorts of psychological problems, it is connected with the doctrine of the transmigration of souls and their confinement in earthly bodies.”
This was written in 1889, and in the Carlsruhe lectures. From Jesus to Christ (October, 1911), I mentioned that the doctrine had always had adherents, even in the nineteenth century. Naturally, Frohschammer knew that too, hence he continues,
“According to this doctrine, neither the direct, divine creation of souls nor the creative production of new human beings as regards body and soul would take place at procreation, but only a new union of the soul with the body, a sort of becoming flesh or an immersion of the soul in the body, at least partially, so that one part would be encompassed and bound by the body and the other would transcend it, asserting a certain independence as spirit. The soul, however, cannot break away from the body (according to this doctrine) until death severs the union and brings liberation and deliverance, at least from this union. The spirit of man would in that case resemble, in its relation to the body, the poor souls in Purgatory as they are usually represented on votive tablets by daubers; that is, as bodies half engulfed in roaring flames, but with their upper parts, the souls, protruding and gesticulating. Consider the position and significance this conception would imply for the contrast of the sexes, the concept of human species, wedlock, and the relation of parents to their children! The contrast of sexes is but a system of bondage; wedlock, an institution for fulfilling the task it involves; parents, minions of the law for holding and imprisoning the souls of their children, while the children themselves owe this miserable, weary imprisonment to their parents, with whom they have nothing further in common. Everything connected with this relationship would be based on wretched illusion, as would all that humanity associates with the contrast of the sexes. What a formidable rôle this bisexuality plays! How intensely man's planning and longing are determined by it! What yearning it excites, what bliss it yields, what a source of bodily and spiritual transport! What an inexhaustible subject of artistic and particularly poetic creation! Now we are to believe that this subject is but a process for embodying and imprisoning poor souls that are thereby committed to earthly misery, consigned to the toils, passions, temptations and dangers of this earthly existence, rising at best with only a portion of their being into a Beyond; are, as it is called, transcendental — or better, transcendent. The significance of such a sex relationship, then, is not to be found in a continuous renewal, a rejuvenation corresponding to the spring of existence; quite the contrary, and the underlying longing and rapture it engenders would not be based upon the satisfaction of a lofty creative urge, as one would assume should be the case, but would emanate from a pitiful ambition to imprison new souls in bodily forms that obscure and estrange the greater part of their real selves.” [J. Frohschammer, Die Philosophic des Thomas von Aquino, Leipzig, 1889.]
Here, as you see, is a man who speaks sincerely and honestly out of the spiritual life of his time, and we have every reason to inform ourselves concerning the difficulties encountered by occidental philosophies of the past in recognizing what must be the basic nerve of our world conception. All who approach it honestly will meet with great difficulties. One of the tasks of anthroposophy is to become acquainted with these problems that face those who, steeped in the occidental cultural life, would achieve recognition of the spirit as it is represented by spiritual science in general and pneumatosophy in particular.

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