Monday, August 23, 2010


Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given May 18, 1923:

Modern intellectualistic-materialistic science tries to grasp the world in thoughts. As a result, certain ideas give conceptual form to the phenomena of nature and its creatures. We translate natural laws into thoughts. During the recent materialistic age it was characteristic of those preoccupied with cognition that they gradually lost artistic sensibility. Acceptance of modern science means yielding to dead thoughts and looking for them in nature. Natural history, that proud achievement of our science, consists of dead thoughts, corpses of what constituted our soul before we descended from supersensible into sensory existence.

Anyone looking at the corpse of a human being can see by his form that he could not have achieved this state through any mere laws of nature as we know them; he had first to die. A living person became a corpse by dying. Similarly anyone with real cognition knows that his thoughts are corpses of that vital soul-being within which he lived before incarnation. Our earth-thoughts are actually corpses of our pre-earthly soul-life. And they are abstract precisely because they are corpses. As people during the last few centuries became more and more enamored of abstractions, of these thoughts which insinuated themselves into practical life, they came more and more to resemble them in their higher soul-life. Especially people with a scientific education. This estranged them from art. The more one surrenders to purely abstract thoughts, dead thoughts, the more one becomes a stranger to art. For art desires and is centered on the living.

A soul seriously occupied with anthroposophical cognition enters the opposite state. Whereas intellectuality approaches everything from the standpoint of logic, and tries to explain even the arts according to logical rules, in anthroposophical thinking there arises at a certain moment a great longing for art. For this different type of cognition leads to a realization that thoughts are not the whole living reality; something else is needed. Since the entire soul life now remains living instead of being killed by dead thoughts, one comes to need to experience the world artistically. For if one lives in abstract dead thoughts, art is only a luxury formed out of man's dreams and illusions; an addition to life. But — to repeat — the anthroposophical method of knowledge brings one to a realization that thoughts are not the living reality; they are dead gestures which merely point to that reality; and at a certain stage one feels that, to attain reality, one must begin to create; must pass over to art. Ideas alone simply cannot present the world in its rich full content. Thus Anthroposophy prepares the soul for artistic feeling and creating.

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