Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit. Lecture 6 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 23, 1911:
But when in the last lecture we were considering the figure of Dionysos, our attention was drawn to yet another thing. While the rest of the gods represent what was reflected in the soul of the Greek when he tried to understand the wonders of the world, we found that in the figure of Dionysos the Greek has concealed what we might call the inherent contradiction of life, and we shall get no further unless we give some thought to this aspect. Abstract logic, abstract intellectual thinking, is always trying to discover inconsistencies in higher world-conceptions, and then to say ‘This world-conception is full of inconsistencies; it cannot therefore be accepted as valid.’ The truth is, however, that life is full of contradictions — indeed nothing new, no development, would be possible unless contradiction lay in the very nature of things. For why is the world different today from what it was yesterday? Why does anything become, why does not everything remain as it was? It is because yesterday there was a self-contradictory element in the state of things, and today's new state has arisen through the realization of yesterday's contradiction and its overcoming. No one who sees things as they really are can say ‘Falsehood is detected by proving contradiction’ — for contradiction is inherent in reality. What would the human soul be like if it were free from contradictions? Whenever we look back at the course of our life we see that it has been activated by contradictions. If at some later date we are more perfect than we were earlier, it has come about because we have got rid of our earlier condition, because we have discovered our earlier state to be in contradiction to our own inner nature, and thus have called forth a reality of our own inner being in contradiction to what was. Contradiction is everywhere at the basis of all beings. Particularly when we study the entire man, the four-fold man, as we are accustomed to treat of him in the light of occultism, do we find this contradiction, a contradiction which addresses itself not only to our reason, to our philosophy, but to our hearts, to our whole soul-nature.