Monday, January 29, 2018

The Essential Contrast Between the Earthly and the Ethereal: Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #6 & #7

Rudolf Steiner:

6. When we look out on lifeless Nature, we find a world full of inner relationships of law and order. We seek for these relationships and find in them the content of the ‘Laws of Nature.’ We find, moreover, that by virtue of these Laws lifeless Nature forms a connected whole with the entire Earth. We may now pass from this earthly connection which rules in all lifeless things, to contemplate the living world of plants. We see how the Universe beyond the Earth sends in from distances of space the forces which draw the Living forth out of the womb of the Lifeless. In all living things we are made aware of an element of being which, freeing itself from the mere earthly connection, makes manifest the forces that work down on to the Earth from realms of cosmic space. As in the eye we become aware of the luminous object which confronts it, so in the tiniest plant we are made aware of the nature of the Light from beyond the Earth. Through this ascent in contemplation, we can perceive the difference of the earthly and physical which holds sway in the lifeless world, from the extra-earthly and ethereal which abounds in all living things.

7. We find man with his transcendent being of soul and spirit placed into this world of the earthly and the extra-earthly. Inasmuch as he is placed into the earthly connection which contains all lifeless things, he bears with him his physical body. Inasmuch as he unfolds within him the forces which the living world draws into this earthly sphere from cosmic space, he has an etheric or life-body. The trend of science in modern times has taken no account of this essential contrast of the earthly and the ethereal. For this very reason, science has given birth to the most impossible conceptions of the ether. For fear of losing their way in fanciful and nebulous ideas, scientists have refrained from dwelling on the real contrast. But unless we do so, we can attain no true insight into the Universe and Man.