Sunday, November 9, 2014
Anthroposophy and Psychoanalysis
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, November 11, 1917:
I have designated what is called analytical psychology or psychoanalysis as an effort to gain knowledge in the soul realm by inadequate means of cognition. Perhaps nothing is so well adapted to show how, at the present time, everything urges the attainment of the anthroposophically orientated spiritual science, and how on the other side, subconscious prejudices lead men to oppose a spiritually scientific consideration of the facts. Yesterday I showed you by definite examples what grotesque leaps modern erudition is obliged to take when it ventures upon soul problems, and how to detect these leaps in the mental processes of modern scholars. It was pointed out that one of the better psychoanalysts — Jung — divided patients into two classes: the thinking type, and the feeling type. From this starting point he assumed that in cases of the thinking type, subconscious feelings force their way up into consciousness and produce soul conflicts — or in the opposite type, that thoughts in the subconscious mind arise and conflict with the life of feeling.
Now it might be suggested that these things will be fought out in scientific discussion, and that we might wait until people make up their minds to overcome the subconscious prejudice against anthroposophical spiritual science. But passive waiting becomes impossible in that such things do not confine themselves to the theoretical field, but encroach upon life practice and cultural development. And psychoanalysis is not content to occupy itself with therapy alone, which might be less dubious since there seems to be little difference — I said seems — between it and other therapeutical methods; but it is trying to extend itself to pedagogy, and to become the foundation of a teaching system. This forces us to point out the dangers residing in quarter-truths in a more serious manner than would be called for by mere theoretical discussion.
Much that relates to this matter can be decided only with the passage of time, but today we shall have to enlarge the scope of our examination in order to throw light upon one aspect or another. First of all I wish to call to your attention that the facts which lie before the psychoanalyst really point to an important spiritual sphere which present-day man does not wish to enter in an accurate and correct manner, but would prefer to leave as a sort of nebulous, subconscious region. For our present sickly, materialistically infected approach, even in this domain, likes nothing better than a vague, mystical drifting among all sorts of incomplete or unexecuted concepts. We find the most grotesque, the most repulsive mysticism right in the midst of materialism, if you take mysticism to mean a desire to swim about in all sorts of nebulous thinking, without working out your world-conception into clear, sharply outlined concepts. The domain into which recognized facts are pushing the psychoanalysts is the field of extra-conscious intelligence and reasoning activity. How often I have dealt with these matters — without going into details, but merely mentioning them, since they are taken for granted by students of spiritual science. How often I have reminded you that reasoning, intellectual activity, cleverness are not confined to the human consciousness, but are everywhere, that we are surrounded by effective mental activity as we are surrounded by air, interwoven with it, and the other beings as well.
The facts before the psychoanalyst might easily refer to this. I quoted to you yesterday the case described by Jung in his book,Die Psychologie der unbewussten Prosesse. It had to do with a woman who, having left an evening party with other guests, was frightened by horses, ran in front of them along the street to the river where she was rescued by passers-by, brought back to the house that she had left, where she had a love scene with her host. From the standpoint of Freud or Adler the case is easily explained on the basis of the love-drive or the power-drive, but this diagnosis does not reach the vital point. Its foundation is reached only by realizing that consciousness does not exhaust the cleverness, calculation, the artfulness of what penetrates man as intelligence, and by realizing that the laws of life are not limited by the laws of consciousness.
Consider this case. We can at least raise the question: What did the woman really want, after she had been one of the party, and had seen her friend depart for the health resort? She wanted the opportunity for what actually happened, she wanted a legitimate excuse to be alone with the master of the house. Of course this had nothing to do with what was in her consciousness, what she realized and admitted. It would not have been “proper,” as we say. Something had to be brought about that need not be avowed, and we shall reach the real explanation by allowing for her subconscious, designing intelligence, of which she was herself unaware. Throughout the entire evening she had wanted to bring about a conversation with her host. If one is less clever a poor choice is made of means, if more clever a better choice. In this case it may be said that in the woman's ordinary consciousness, which admitted scruples as to what was proper or improper, allowed or not allowed, the right means could not have been chosen for the end in view. But in that which was stored below the layer of the ordinary consciousness the thought was incessantly active: I must manage a meeting with the man. I must make use of the next opportunity that presents itself in order to return to the house.
We may be sure that if the opportunity with the horses had not offered itself, supported by association with the earlier accident, she would have found some other excuse. She needed only to faint in the street, and would have been brought back to the house at once, or she would have found some other expedient. The subconsciousness looked beyond all the scruples of the ordinary consciousness, taking the attitude that “the end justifies the means,” regardless of whether they would or would not harmonize with ideas of propriety and impropriety.
In such a case we are reminded of what Nietzsche, who surmised many of these things, called the great reason in contrast with the small reason, the all-inclusive reason that does not come into consciousness, that acts below the threshold of consciousness, leading men to do many things which they do not consciously confess to themselves. Through his ordinary outer consciousness the human being is in connection first with the world of the senses, but also with the whole physical world, and with all that lives within it. To the physical world belong all the concepts of propriety, of bourgeois morality, and so forth, with which man is equipped.
In his subconsciousness man is connected with an entirely different world, of which Jung says: the soul has need of it because it is related to it, but he also says that it is foolish to inquire about its real existence. Well, it is this way: as soon as the threshold of consciousness is crossed, man and his soul are no longer in merely material surroundings or relations, but in a realm where thoughts rule, thoughts which may be very artful.
Now Jung's view is quite correct when he says that modern man, the so-called man of culture, needs particularly to be mindful of these things. For present culture has this peculiarity, that it forces down numerous impulses into the subconsciousness, which then assert themselves in such a way that irrational acts — as they are called — and irrational general conduct result. When the “power-urge” or the “love urge” are mentioned, it is because in the moment that man and his soul enter the subconscious regions they come nearer to the realm where these instincts rule; not that they are in themselves causes, but that man with his subconscious intelligence plunges into regions where these impulses are effective.
That woman would not have gone to so much exertion for anything that interested her less than her love affair. It required an especial preoccupation for her subconscious cunning to be aroused. And that the love impulse so often plays an important role is due simply to the fact that the love interest is so very common. If the psychoanalysts would only turn more of their attention in other directions, cease to concentrate upon psychoanalytic sanatoriums, where the majority of the inmates seem to me to be women — (the same reproach is cast upon anthroposophical institutions but, I think, with less justice), — if they were more experienced in other fields, which is of course sometimes the case, if there were a greater variety of cases in the sanatoriums, a more extensive knowledge might be obtained.
Let us assume that a sanatorium was equipped for giving psychiatric treatment especially to people who had become nervous or hysterical from playing the stock market. Then the existence of other things in the subconscious mind could be established with as much reason as the love-urge, introduced by Freud. Then it would be seen with what detailed cunning, and artful subconscious processes, the man acts who plays the stock market. Then, through the usual methods of elimination, sexual love would be seen to play a very small part, yet the subtleties of subconscious acuteness, of subconscious slyness, could be studied at their height. Even the lust for power could not always be designated as being the primary impulse, but altogether different instincts would be found ruling those regions, in which man submerges himself with his soul. And if in addition a sanatorium could be equipped for learned men who had become hysterical — forgive me! — it would be found that their subconscious actions seldom lead back to the love-motive. For those with any thorough knowledge of facts in this field realize that, under present conditions, scholars are seldom driven to their chosen science by “love,” but by quite different forces which would show themselves if brought to the surface by psychoanalysis. The all-inclusive fact is that the soul is led from the conscious down into the subconscious regions where man's unconquered instincts rule. He can master these only by becoming aware of them, and spiritual research alone can lift them into consciousness.
Another inconvenient truth! For of course it forces the admission, to a point far beyond what the psychoanalyst is prepared to admit, that man in his subconscious mind may be a very sly creature, far more sly than in his full consciousness. Even in this field, and with ordinary science, we may have strange experiences. There is a chapter on this subject in my book Riddles of the Soul [Rudolf Steiner, Von Seelenrätseln, not translated (yes it is).] In it I deal with the strictures upon Anthroposophy, found in a book entitled Vom Jenseits der Seele, [Beyond the Limits of the Soul. (This book has not been translated into English. Ed.)] and written by that academic individual Dessoir. This second chapter of my book Riddles of the Soul will be a nice contribution to thinking people who would like to form an opinion of present scholarly ethics. You will see when you read this chapter what kind of opposition must be encountered. I will mention, of all the points therein indicated, one or two only which are not unconnected with our present theme.
This man makes all sorts of objections to this and that, founded upon passages taken from my books. In a very neat connection he tells how I distinguish consecutive periods of culture: the Indian, the old Persian, the Chaldean-Egyptian, the Graeco-Latin, and now we live in the sixth, he says, “according to Steiner.”
This forces us to refute these misstatements in a schoolmasterly manner, for it shows us the only way to get at such an individual. How does Max Dessoir come to assert, in the midst of all his other nonsense, that I said we are living in the sixth postatlantean culture period? It may be easily explained if you have any practice in the technique of philological methods. I was connected for six years and a half with the Goethe Archives in Weimar, learned there a little about the usual procedure, and could easily show, according to philological methods, how Dessoir came to attribute to me this statement regarding the sixth culture period. He had been reading my book Occult Science, an Outline, in which there is a sentence leading to a description of our present fifth postatlantean culture period. In it I say that there are long preparations and, in one section, that events taking place in the 14th and 15th centuries were prepared in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. About five lines further on I say that the sixth century was a preparation for the fifth culture period. Dessoir, reading superficially, turned back hastily as scholars do, to the place that he had noted in the margin, and confused what was said about the culture period with what had been stated further back about the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. Thus he says “sixth culture period” instead of fifth because his eye had moved backward a few lines.
You see with what a grand superficiality such a person works. Here we have an example of how such “scholarship” may be philologically shown up. In this literary creation such mistakes run through the entire chapter. And while Dessoir affirms that he has studied a whole row of my books, I could prove, again philologically, which ones of mine compose this “whole row.” He had read — and but slightly understood — The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, for he devotes a sentence to it that is utter nonsense. And he read Occult Science, but in such a way as to bring out the kind of stuff that I have described. He read in addition the small work The Spiritual Guidance of Man, and the little pamphlets on Reincarnation and Karma, andBlood is Quite a Special Fluid. These are all that he read, as may be shown by his comments. He read nothing else. These are our present ethics of scholarship. It is important once in a way to expose, in such a connection, the erudition of the present day. Out of the long list of my books he chooses a very small number, and founds upon them, with quite perverted thinking, his whole statement. Many of our scientists today do exactly the same thing. When they write about animals, for example, they usually have for a foundation about as much material as Professor Dessoir extracted from my books.
Quite a pretty chapter could be written from observations of Dessoir's subconscious mind. He himself, however, in a special passage in his book, permits us to take account of his subconsciousness. He relates rather grotesquely that when he is lecturing it often happens that his thoughts go on without his full conscious direction, and that only by the reaction of his audience does he recognize that his thoughts have taken a line independent of his attention. He tells that quite naively. But only think! From this fact he embarks upon extended consideration of the many peculiarities of human consciousness. I have pointed out somewhat “gently” that Dessoir thus strangely reveals himself. I said at first: It cannot be possible that he means himself. In this case he must simply be identifying himself with certain clumsy lecturers, and speaking in the first person. It would be imputing to him a good deal to suppose that he is describing himself. But he really does exactly that. Well, in the discussion of such matters many odd things must be noted.
He disposed of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity by one remark, with the addition of a sentence that is Dessoirish, but did not originate with me. The whole matter is crazy. He says at the same time “Steiner's first book, the The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.” This forces me to point out that this book forms the close of a ten year period of authorship, and to offer this incident as an example of academic ignorance, and ethics. I know of course that although I have shown how incorrect his statements are, people will say again and again: “Well, Dessoir has refuted Steiner.” — I know it very well. I know that it is speaking against walls to try to break through what men imagine they have long since got rid of — belief in authority!
But this chapter alone will prove the difficulties against which spiritual science must struggle because it insists upon clear, sharply outlined concepts, and concrete spiritual experiences. There is no question of logic with such an individual as Dessoir, and a lack of logic characterizes in the broadest sense our present so-called scientific literature.
These are the reasons why official learning, and official spiritual trends, even if they work themselves away from such inferiority as the university psychiatry or psychology, are not in a position to make good because they lack the smallest equipment for a genuine observation of life. So long as it is not realized how far from genuine research and from a sense for reality that really is which poses as scientific literature — I do not say, as science, but as scientific literature — and often forms the content of university and especially of popular lectures — so long as this authoritative belief is not broken through, there can be no cure. These things must be said, and are compatible with the deepest respect for real scientific thinking, and for the great achievements of natural science. That these things are applied to life in such contradictory fashion must however be recognized.
After this digression let us return to our subject. Dessoir takes the opportunity to combine objective untruth with calumny in his remark regarding the little pamphlet Spiritual Guidance of Man. He feels it to be especially irritating that I have indicated important subconscious action of spiritual impulses by showing that a child while building its brain manifests greater wisdom than it is conscious of later. A healthy science ought to take its starting point from such normal effects of the subconscious, yet it needs something in addition. If you take up the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds you will find mention of the Secret of the Threshold. In the explanation of this “secret” it is stated that in crossing the threshold into the spiritual world a kind of separation takes place, a sort of differentiation of the three fundamental powers of the soul: thinking, feeling, and willing. Remember in the part dealing with the Guardian of the Threshold, the explanation that these three forces, which act together in ordinary consciousness in such a way that they can hardly be separated, become independent of each other. If I sketch them, this narrow middle section (see drawing) is the boundary between the ordinary consciousness and that region in which the soul lives in the spiritual world. Thinking, feeling, and willing must be so drawn as to show this as the range of will (red), but bordering upon the realm of feeling (green), and this in turn borders upon the realm of thinking (yellow). But if I were to indicate their direction after crossing the threshold into the spiritual world, I should have to show how thinking (yellow) becomes independent upon the one hand; feeling (green, right) separates itself from thinking, will becomes independent too (red, right), as I sketch it here diagrammatically, so that thinking, feeling, and willing spread out from one another like a fan.
You will find this described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. That these three activities, which before passing the threshold border upon each other but work separately, interact in the right way and do not come into confusion is due to the fact that the threshold has, so to speak, a certain breadth in which our
ego itself lives. If our ego acts normally, has perfect soul health, then the interaction of thinking, feeling, and willing is so regulated that they do not collide with one another, but mutually influence each other. It is the essential secret of our ego that it holds thinking, feeling, and willing beside each other, so that they can affect each other in the right way, but do not mix in any accidental fashion. Once across the threshold into the spiritual world there is no danger of this since the three faculties then separate.
Certain philosophers (such as Wundt, for example), insist that the soul must not be described as threefold because it is a unity. Wundt, too, confuses everything. The facts are that in the spiritual world thinking, feeling, and willing originate in a threefold manner, yet in the soul on earth they act as a unity. That must be taken into consideration, and if it be claimed, as recently reported, that Anthroposophy recognizes three souls though there exists but one, and that Anthroposophy has therefore no reasonable argument — then the answer must be that the unity of man is not impaired by the fact that he has two hands.
But now we are considering the relation of the ego to the soul-forces that work within it, and their action beyond the threshold of consciousness in the spiritual world. (Drawing, middle and right). An opposite condition may be brought about if the ego has been weakened in any way. Then the threshold is crossed, as it were, in the opposite direction (See drawing, left). Then thinking swerves aside (yellow, left), mingles with feeling (green, left), and willing (red, left), and confusion results. This happens if thinking is exposed in any way to the danger of not being properly confined, so that it asserts itself unwarrantably in the consciousness. Then, because the ego is not working as it should, thinking slides into the sphere of feeling or of will. Instead of working side by side, thinking mixes itself with feeling, or will, the ego being for some reason unable to exert its normal power.
This is what has happened in the cases described by the psychoanalysts as hysterical or nervous. Thinking, feeling, and willing have swung to the opposite side, away from the healthy direction that would lead them into the spiritual world. If you have any gift for testing and proving you may easily see how it comes about. Take the case of the girl sitting by the sickbed. Her strong ego-consciousness was reduced by loss of sleep and anxiety. The slightest thing might cause thinking to leave its track alongside of feeling and to run over into it. Then thought would be at once submerged in the waves of feeling, which are far stronger than the waves of thought, and the result in such a case is that the whole organism is seized by the tumult of feeling. This happens in the instant that thinking ceases to be strong enough to hold itself apart from feeling.
It is seriously demanded of the human being that he learn more and more to hold his thinking apart from the waves of feeling and will. If thinking takes hold subconsciously of the waves of feeling something abnormal results. (See drawing: at the right is the superconscious, in the middle the conscious, at the left the subconscious). This is extremely important.
Now you may readily imagine that in this modern life, when people are brought into contact with so much that they do not properly understand and cannot appraise, thoughts continually run over into feelings. But it must be remembered that thinking alone is oriented upon the physical plane; feeling is no longer confined to the physical plane, but stands in connection, by its very nature, with the spiritual plane as well. Feeling has really a connection with all the spiritual beings who must be spoken of as real. So that if a man with inadequate concepts sinks into his feeling-life, he comes into collision with the gods — if you wish to express it thus — but also with evil gods. And all these collisions occur because a man is submerged with no reliable means of knowledge. He must so submerge if he spends more time in the sphere of feeling than in the ordinary sphere of reason. In the sphere of feeling man cannot emancipate himself from his connection with the spiritual world. Even if, in this materialistic age, he does free himself in the realm of the intellect, he always enters the region of feeling with inadequate concepts, and so he must become ill.
What then is the real remedy, and how are men to be restored to health? They must be guided to concepts that reach out to include the world of feelings; that is to say that modern man must again be told of the spiritual world, and in the most comprehensive terms. Not the individually adapted therapeutic instructions of the psychoanalysts are meant, but the spiritual science which is applicable to all humanity. If the concepts of spiritual science are really accepted — for not everyone takes them in who only listens to lectures, or reads about them — but if they are really absorbed there will be no further possibility of the chaotic intermingling, in the subconscious, of the three spheres of the soul: thinking, feeling, and willing, which is the basis of all the hysteria and nervousness noted by the psychoanalysts.
For this, however, a man needs the courage to approach a direct experience of the operation of spiritual worlds, the courage to recognize that we are living now in a crisis that is connected with another (the established date being 1879), another crisis with painful consequences from which we are still suffering. I told you yesterday that many things must be considered from standpoints other than the materialistic ones of our own time, and I chose Nietzsche as an illustration.
Nietzsche was born in 1844. In 1841 the battle began in the spiritual world, of which I have already spoken, and Nietzsche was for three years in the midst of it, absorbing from it all possible impulses, and bringing them down with him to earth. Richard Wagner, born in 1813, took at first no part in it. Read Nietzsche's early writings, and notice the combative tone, almost every sentence showing the after-effects of what he experienced spiritually from 1841 to 1844. It gave a definite coloring to all the writings of Nietzsche's first period.
It is further of importance — as I have also explained — that he was a lad of sixteen when Schopenhauer died, and started at that time to read his works. A real relation ensued between the soul of Schopenhauer in the spiritual world and that of Nietzsche on earth. Nietzsche read every phrase of Schopenhauer so receptively that he was penetrated by every corresponding impulse of their author. What was Schopenhauer's object? He had ascended into the spiritual world in 1860 when the battle was still raging, and wanted nothing so much as to have the power of his thoughts continued through his works. Nietzsche did carry forward Schopenhauer's thoughts, but in a peculiar way. Schopenhauer saw when he went through the gate of death that he had written his books in an epoch threatened by the oncoming spirits of darkness, and with the struggle before him of these spirits against the spirits of light, he longed to have the effects of his work continued, and formed in Nietzsche's soul the impulse to continue his thoughts. What Nietzsche received from the spiritual world at this period contrasted strikingly with what was happening upon the physical plane in his personal relations with Richard Wagner. Nietzsche's soul life was composed in this way, and his career as a writer.
The year 1879 arrived. The battle that had been going on in the spiritual realms began to be transferred to earth after the fall of the spirits of darkness. Nietzsche was exposed by his whole Karma (in which I include his relations with the spiritual world), to the danger of being driven by the spirits of darkness into evil paths. He had been inspired by the transcendent egoism of Schopenhauer to try to carry on his work. I do not mean to say that egoism is always bad. But when Wagner rose into the spiritual world in 1883 the spirits of darkness were below, so he came into an entirely different atmosphere, and he became Nietzsche's unselfish spiritual guide. He let him enter what was for him the proper channel, and allowed him to become mentally deranged at exactly the right moment, so that he never came consciously into dangerous regions. That sounds paradoxical, but it was really the unselfish way in which Wagner's soul affected Nietzsche from the purer realms above, rather than the manner in which Schopenhauer's soul acted, he being still in the midst of the battle, up in the spiritual world, between the spirits of darkness and the spirits of light. What Wagner wanted to do for Nietzsche was to protect him, so far as his Karma permitted, from the spirits of darkness, already descended upon earth.
And Nietzsche was protected to a great extent. If his last writings are read in the right spirit, eliminating the things that have sprung from strong oppositions, great thoughts will be discovered. I tried in my book Nietzsche, a Fighter against his Time, to show the mighty thought impulses, detached from all his resisting impulses.
Yes, “the world is deep.” There is really some truth in Nietzsche's own saying: “The world is deep, and deeper than the day divines.” So we must never try to criticize the wide regions of the spiritual life by means of our ordinary consciousness. The wise guidance of the worlds can be understood only if we can enter into that guidance, free from egoistic thoughts, even if we can fit the development of tragic happenings into the scheme of wisdom. If you wish to look into the heart of things you will come upon many uncomfortable places.
In future whoever wishes to evaluate a life like Nietzsche's will make no progress if he describes only what happened in Nietzsche's environment on earth. Our view of life will have to extend to the spiritual world, and we shall be pushed to this necessity by the kind of phenomena that the psychoanalyst today tries to master by such inadequate means of knowledge, but never will control. Therefore human society might be driven into regions of great difficulty if it yields to psychoanalysis, particularly in the field of pedagogy.
Why should this be? Consider the fact that thinking slips down into the sphere of feeling. Now as soon as a man lives with his soul in the sphere of feeling, he is no longer in the life that is bounded by birth and death or by conception and death, but lives in the whole world, the extended world. This represents the usual life span (See drawing, a); within the realm of feeling he lives also in the period from his last death to his birth into this present life (See drawing, b); and with his will he lives even in his previous incarnation (Drawing, c).
Think of the relation to pupil or patient of an instructor who wishes to proceed by the method of psychoanalysis. When he tries to deal with soul contents which have slipped down into the realm of feeling he lays hold, not only upon the man's individual life, but upon the all-inclusive life which extends far beyond the individual. For this all-encompassing life, however, there are between men no connections that may be handled by means of mere ideas. Such connections lead instead to genuine life-relationships. This is very important. Imagine the existence of such a connection between a psychoanalytic instructor and pupil. What takes place could not be confined to the realm of ideas which are conveyed to the pupil, but real karmic connections would have to be established because one is really encroaching upon life itself. It would be tearing the individual in question out of his karma, changing the course of his karma. It will not do to handle that which extends beyond the individual in a purely individual manner. It must be treated instead in a universally human way. We are all brought together in a definite epoch, so there must be a mutual element which acts as soon as we go beyond the individual. That is to say: a patient cannot be treated by psychoanalysis, either therapeutically or educationally, as between individuals. Something universal
must enter, must enter even the general culture of the period, something which directs the soul to that which would otherwise remain subconscious; and that which draws the subconsciousness upward must become the milieu — not a transaction between individuals.
Here, you see, lies the great mistake that is being made. It has a terrific range and is of immense importance. Instead of trying to lead them to the attainable knowledge of the spiritual world which is demanded by the times, the psychoanalysts shut all the souls who show any morbid symptoms into sanatoriums, and treat each one in the individual manner. It can lead only to the forming of confused karmic connections — what takes place does not bring to light the subconscious soul content, but simply forms a karmic tie between doctor and patient because it encroaches upon the individual.
You understand: we are dealing here with real, concrete life, with which it does not do to play, which can only be mastered if nothing is striven for in this field except what is humanly universal. These things must be learned by direct relations of human beings with the spiritual world. Therefore it would be useful if people were to stop talking abstractly as Jung does, saying that a man experiences subconsciously everything that mankind has been through, even all sorts of demons. He makes them into abstract demons, not realities, by saying that it is stupid to discuss their possible existence. He makes them into abstract demons, mere thought demons that could never make a man ill. They can exist only in consciousness, and can never be subconscious. That is the point: that people who give themselves up to such theories are themselves working with so many unconscious ideas that they can never happen upon the right thing. They come instead to regard certain concepts as absolute, infallible; and I must ever repeat that when ideas begin to become absolute, men get into a blind alley, or reach a pit into which they fall with their thinking.
A man like Dr. Freud is obliged to stretch the sexual domain over the entire human being in order to make it account for every soul phenomenon. I have said to various people with psychoanalytic tendencies, whom I have met: A theory, a world-concept must be able to hold its own when you turn it upon itself, otherwise it crumbles into nothingness. The simple fallacy, if you extend it far enough, is an example. A Cretan says: All Cretans are liars. If it is said by a Cretan, and it is true, then it would be a lie, which causes the saying to annul itself. It will not do for a Cretan to say “All Cretans are liars,” expecting the sentence to pass unchallenged. That is only a sample of absolutizing. But a theory should not crumble when turned upon itself. Just as the statement that all Cretans are liars would be a lie if made by a Cretan, so does the theory of universal sexuality crumble if you test it out by applying it to the subject itself. And it is the same with other things. You can understand such a principle for a long time without applying it vigorously, in accordance with reality. But it will be one of the particular achievements of anthroposophically oriented spiritual science, that it cannot be turned in this manner against itself.