Anthroposophical Life-Gifts. Lecture 6 of 7.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 14, 1918:
Spiritual Science should above all things be conceived of, by those who have already noted for a long time, in the sense that the question should come before the soul as to how Spiritual Science can be most intensely effective for human life. This has certainly often been emphasized, but we cannot often enough to bring forward the side of the reality of Spiritual Science and its significance for our age. Spiritual Science is certainly in a sense a Science, and as such it is, we may say, still in a “fragmentary” stage at the present day, only partly established; what it may eventually become can really only be present in the first beginnings at the present time.
What I mean by this is the content of Spiritual Science, through which we can learn something of man in so far as this has its life on the other side of the gates of physical life: which are birth, or conception, and death. Through spiritual Science we can also learn something about the evolution of the Earth and the Cosmos, and as to how this evolution of Earth and the Cosmos is connected with man, and so on. Thus, through Spiritual Science the human desire for knowledge can be satisfied in a more comprehensive and complete manner than is possible through external sensible science. We can answer the questions which weigh on man's soul and so on.
Besides this significance of Spiritual Science from the view of ‘content’ there is another very essential one. This can be observed if we keep in view what we can become, what can be made of our soul-life, our soul-disposition, our soul-constitution, when we busy ourselves with the thoughts and ideas which come to us from Spiritual Science. It might even be — in what science has this not been the case in the course of the development of mankind! — that much of what can and must be proclaimed today quite conscientiously from the sources of Spiritual Science might have to be corrected; that much may appear in another form in the future through the further progress of Spiritual Science. Then perhaps there may be a different content in one or another department of this Spiritual Science. But what it may become for the disposition and constitution of our soul through its ideas and its thoughts, would not be affected thereby, and this is fundamentally connected with certain basic qualities of our present day. We will today review certain basic characteristics of our time, particularly as regards the constitution of the soul of man. We will dwell on the four most important soul-activities which we know well from our observation: the perception of man with respects to outer sense-processes; imagination (the forming of ideas) through which we then work upon these outer sense-impressions; our feeling; and our willing. Our soul-life runs its course from waking till going to sleep in perception, imagination, feeling and willing.
First we will consider perception. When the soul's eye is sharpened by Spiritual Science we can observe what has of necessity developed as the basic cultural characteristic of the human soul in the course of the last three or four centuries, in those countries which come into our consideration. (What I say is not setting criticism: it is only a characterization.) It may be asked what this is. It only needs a superficial observer of life to discover that men, in regard to their faculty of perception (in respects to the immediate relation of the soul to the outer world through the senses), have come to a point when they constantly need livelier, more violent, more fascinating impressions, to satisfy the faculty of perception of their senses. Those of you who are somewhat older may think back to your youth; just compare many of the phenomena of life in your youth, which you could perceive around you, with similar phenomena of life now — the further you go back the more striking this is — and ask yourselves to what a high degree that which is known as the impulse, the tendency to the ‘sensational,’ has not gained the upper hand! What is really this sensational element? It rests on the fact that man needs today forceful, exaggeratedly quick-changing and purely sensuous impressions, so that he may be thrilled and carried away from the outer world; he wants to be taken hold of and fascinated. The sensational has gained the upper hand to an uncommon extent. But something significant is connected with this. Through the domination of the sensational, the strength and energy of the human Ego is modified. Spiritual Science alone can lead to an understanding of what comes under consideration here; for he shows what perception of the outer world really is.
If we search through philosophical literature we find nothing more spoken of in the nature of external perception, or ‘sensing’ as it is called. All sorts of theories have been set up as to what sensing, perceiving really is, within the human physical soul life. I need not enlighten you as to that. But the point of view of Spiritual Science in this respect shall be indicated.
I have already mentioned here in Berlin, in a public lecture, that the development of natural science in the 19th century and into our own times has accomplished great things, great things in regard to the understanding of certain sensible connections of the external world of realities. But it sees the evolution of man in particular as far too direct and simple. It simply imagines that at one time there were only the lower animals, then higher animals, then still higher ones, and out of these men finally developed as, in a sense, the highest animal all. The evolution of man, however, is not so simple as this. We have often pointed out that man, who must appear to us in his external bodily form has an image of the divine reality of the Cosmos, can be thought of as represented in the most varied manner. He can even be thought of, in regard to certain natural-scientific points of view, as being divided into three parts: first the head- or senses-man (this is not exact but as the most important senses lie in the head, we may say ‘head-man’). Secondly, the trunk-man; and thirdly, the extremities-man. Of these three members of the human organization, the trunk-man, the heart- and lung-man, alone is really formed as natural science imagines him today. The head-man is really not in the process of progressive development but of a retrogressive one. The head of man arrests the progressive development at a certain stage and turns it back again. It has been repeatedly said that such an idea is difficult, and it has been asked how one can simplify it for oneself. I have pointed out in several places even the external rightly understood facts of natural science confirms my statements — only one must be a real natural scientist and not merely follow the pattern of certain scholars of the present day. Observe the human eye, and compare it with the eye of animals which have reached a certain stage of evolution. We cannot say that the human eye is more complicated in its outer form than the eyes of these animals, for that would not be true. There are animals which have, for example, in the inside of their eye — where we, from an outer physical point of view, have nothing at all — the ‘cell-apophysis’ and the ‘sword-apophysis.’ These are certain organs in the inside of the eye which are continuations of the blood vessels into the inside of the eye. Through these an intimate connection between the whole life of feeling of the animal and his perceptive life is established in the eye. The animal feels much more intensely in the eye than man does. In man there is no ‘cell-apophysis’ or ‘sword-apophysis.’ The human eye is simplified. In its form is not merely progressive, it is retrogressive. One could prove in the smallest details of the human head-organism that man is really retrograding in respect to his head, especially compared with the rest of the human make-up, which is progressive.
Someone who thought that this backward development of the head was difficult to imagine asked me whether I could point to a significant fact or clue by which one could understand this better. I told him to think of the following: In the process of development of the different animals ending with man, it comes about a certain period of the embryonic stage that the human being turns back to the hairy state. Man himself is not hairy, but the head belongs to the hairy portions, in general; the fact that man, as regards the formation of his head, reverts to the rank of the animal, likewise shows the retrograde development of the head. This is a superficial, external indication. The inner signs speak much more distinctly. I beg you to keep in mind the vast importance of these facts.
For the very reason that the head is retrogressive, that evolution does not progress in a straight line but is retrogressive in the head, is dammed up and turned back, room is thereby created for the psycho-spiritual development of man. Those natural scientists who are of the opinion that the psycho-spiritual life of man is only a result of his physical organism, do not understand their own natural science aright. They do not understand that in order to bring his soul and spirit nature into being it is necessary that the physical organization of man should not shoot and sprout, but that it should withdraw. It flags and is turned back and makes room for the psycho-spiritual development. Where man most develops his soul and spirit nature, there the physical development draws back.
One becomes inwardly aware, when one has gone through a psycho-spiritual development, that, simply through inner observation, one can get an answer to the question: What really is ordinary imagination and perception? What is the ordinary waking life, in which imagination and perception are mingled?
As regards the head of man, perception and imagination and the waking life in general is a state of ‘hungering.’ Man is so peculiarly organized that, in his inner equipoise, from waking till sleeping, the head, that is his inner organization, is continually ‘hungry’ as compared with the rest of the body. Certain ascetics who seek an increase of psycho-spiritual life have made use of this; they allow the whole body to be hungry, because the hunger-process, extended to the whole body, is said to bring about certain inner illumination. This is false. The normal state is that our head in the waking state is nourished less through the inner processes than the rest of the organism, and we can only be awake and perceive because the head is less nourished than the rest of the body.
Now the question arises: if our head hungers whilst we are undergoing this backward development of the head — in sleep there is an attempt to arrest this process — what then do we perceive? Through Spiritual Science we learn to distinguish between two things which in practice are always linked together, but which are two quite different things. There is first the mere waking life, and then the outer perceptions and the ordinary concept of memory. What then goes on when in waking consciousness we are hungering in our head?
First of all we are aware on the one hand of our Ego from the last incarnation. When we are merely awake we are aware of what we brought with us from the spiritual world, and with which we entered into existence through birth or conception. That enters and fills the space made for it in our organism; but when we perceive outer sensible objects, these external objects step into the space of the Ego, which otherwise we perceive when we have no external impression but are merely awake. In ordinary life these two things are intermingled: we are continually perceiving external objects, and are very seldom in such a state of soul that we are merely awake. The state of soul directed to external things is however always interwoven with an inclination to perceive our former Ego and to replace it by something, by external colors and sounds; then again, to perceive the former Ego and then again the external things. As soon as we perceive externally, as soon as an outer object works upon us, it suppresses our tendency, our power, to perceive the Ego of our last incarnation. It remains unconscious, we know nothing of it; but in this sense-perceiving there is really a conflict between the object which now stands before us and the Ego from our last incarnation.
Now you can imagine what it means when we are developing a striving after the sensational, when we wish to give ourselves up to the outer world. That never makes us stronger in life, but always weaker; for in so doing we weaken our Ego from the past incarnation, which in a certain sense constitutes our strength. Thus you can clearly see that with the inclination of man towards the sensational, a certain weakening of the human nature appears, and the Ego becomes weaker.
Now when we do not perceive, but think, imagine, what process takes place? Either our thoughts are silent or — which is not so frequent in present-day man — they link onto some external perception. When they are silent in waking-life, all we have gone through between the last incarnation and the present one works in us, in that which is able to work where room has been made for it by the body. Thus the last incarnation works in the place where perception arises; and in the place where conceptions arises, works the life which we have spent between death and the present birth. If we develop powerful thoughts within ourselves, it means that we are trying to develop these out of what we brought with us from the last birth, upon which we must take our stand. If only we have all thoughts which are called up within us from an external stimulus, which only revolve in our soul because we receive them from outside, we continually weaken what we have brought over from the time he dreamed death and birth, that is to say, our Ego. The search for sensation weakens our present life. The desire to animate our Club evenings with the dusky pints of beer so that we need to make as little demand as possible on ourselves, or the excitement of playing games, in short all this seeking for excitement from without, is not a strengthening but a weakening of the Ego, and it rests fundamentally on the fact that we do not feel strong enough to occupy ourselves with something pertaining to our soul-life. Through Spiritual Science we can clearly see the underlying reason why people are so desirous of sensation and in need of stimulus at the present time. What enters from this side into our present-day culture can be designated by a common name. Do not be offended by this name; it betokens a fundamental feature of many of the currents in the life of the present day: a limitation and narrowness of outlook. No one can deny, even taking present-day science and other activities into consideration, that one of the chief characteristics of the present-day man is his limited outlook, that limitation which prevents him from seeking the rich material in his own soul which comes from his past life and from his prenatal life. He does not believe, and he would have first to believe it, that one could be incited to do this through Spiritual Science.
Let us observe from this point of view what thoughts and ideas of Spiritual Science can be for the mood and disposition of the soul. They are certainly not external stimuli, nor anything sensational, and they decidedly did not aim at this. They do not take possession of the senses through external sensations. Many people miss this. In matters of Spiritual Science people must themselves reflect, and if they do not bring forth anything from the fund of their own soul, they are likely to fall asleep over Spiritual Science.
Spiritual Science gives us just this animation and shaking up of the soul-life, so that we gain the possibility of developing thoughts from our own inner self. It works against the sensational. It does this specially by giving us the possibility of thinking much about a few impressions of the senses. We need not hasten from sensation to sensation. We can give much thought to all possible sorts of sense-impressions. All the simple things which approach us personally become a riddle. Every detail makes us think a great deal; and thoughts about Saturn, Sun, Moon, the different Earth and so on, which many find so complicated, make the mind active and mobile and do not allow narrow-mindedness to any extent. Thus does our Spiritual Science work against a certain attribute of culture; it fights against a narrow outlook in the realm of perception and imagination. That is different again from the content which one can get from Spiritual Science; it is something that it can make up our soul, and we should take note of that.
Now in regard to the life of feeling. What is the most noticeable thing about a person who approaches Spiritual Science in any way? And what is the most noticeable thing about most people who do not wish to know anything about it, and who turn aside from it altogether? In the latter it is lack of interest in the great circumstances of the world. We must first of all enlarge our interests beyond what lies nearest, if we are to become interested in Spiritual Science. For what do most people in our time care about what the Earth was before it became “Earth”? What do most people of the present day care what civilization was before our own time? To do so one must develop more comprehensive interests. It is a question of extending one's interests beyond the thing lying nearest. Our age has the tendency to narrow the sphere of our interests as much as possible. What is really the tendency of our age? Allow me to use the following expression: it is not at all flattering, but I do not wish to criticize, only to characterize. Our time is striving in all ways towards narrow-mindedness, towards Philistinism, and if this takes hold of the majority of people, the consequence will be that the Philistinism will gradually be introduced into the most public departments. In this respect we have a remarkable example, which in respect to the things of the present day, must have a most depressing effect on those who can see through things.
In the East we have a nation which today is certainly in its infancy as regards the basic forces of its soul, but which possesses basic forces which in the future — in the sixth Post-Atlantean epoch of culture — are to develop to a remarkable height; basic soul forces which will work spiritually and have a spiritual character, and which we ought to recognize and cultivate as such. But what has established itself as public life in a remarkable manner today over a great part of this national force? Leninism! One cannot imagine anything more grotesque than the coupling together — I do not now refer to the man but to the thing — of this “aping of the civilization of the West” with the prophetic civilization of the East. There are no two things more opposite, and yet they are coupled together here. It is the most grotesque expression of materialistic striving; for out of the Folk-Spirit of the East something absolutely anti-philistine will be formed; but Leninism is the most absolute basic force of philistinism, the negation of all cultural interests of a far-reaching nature and the limitation of the interests of civilization to the narrowest realm of philistinism. We must clearly understand that. Nothing can better help us to penetrate these things, then the knowledge of Spiritual Science. Spiritual Science also works against philistinism, by appealing to the wide comprehensive interests of man. For one cannot possibly become a Spiritual Scientist without taking an interest in what binds man to the Cosmos, in what passes beyond all that is narrow and pulses into all that is great. So, in the realm of the life of feeling, spiritual knowledge is also the opponent of philistinism and of narrow-mindedness, which must inevitably result from materialism; as in the realm of the perceptive and conceptual life is also the opponent of narrow-mindedness and limitation.
In the domain of the will-life also, he who observes life even but to a small extent, can make a noteworthy observations. In respect to the expressions of the will, not materialism itself but what it brings in its train leads to the development of something remarkable in collective human life. The will must indeed always express itself with the help of the bodily nature, if it is to have an effect on the outer world. In regard to the will, present-day materialism makes man awkward. By reason of man's directing his bodily forces only in to quite distinct channels in his earliest youth and wielding them only in some particular directions, he becomes awkward in wider spheres. There are men today who, when they first find themselves in need of it, cannot even sew on a trouser-button for themselves, let alone anything else, strange as this may sound. If a man does not regard Spiritual Science as theory or doctrine but as something that works warmly within him and is taken into his whole personality, he will find that this passes over into the muscles and the pulsation of the blood and makes him dexterous. If we imparted a spiritually-scientific way of picturing things to our children, we should see the result; we should see that they would become adroit, that they would be able to do things more easily, their fingers would become more flexible. The possibility of making the ideas more mobile, occasions the will also do become more active in its methods of expression. Thus in the sphere of the will-life, Spiritual Science fights against that which threatens mankind: awkwardness. This is a characteristic of our time to a far greater extent than we realize. Just observe how little fitted men are today to do anything at all outside the narrow concerns of their professions; they are no longer able to do anything else besides; and they only do more or less work in their professions for the reason that their soul's course has been laid out for them. Confront a man who is thoroughly routine in his profession with something different, and you will see how very one-sided our present-day culture is. That cannot be obviated by external means; for the whole political economy tends towards specializing everything. To try to fight against this would be absurd. It is possible, however, so to fortify men's inner nature that they would receive the impulse of dexterity from the center of there being. For that it is necessary however to be quite permeated, thoroughly permeated, with the knowledge of the super-sensible world, and chiefly of the super-sensible nature of man. We cannot understand perception and conception, even from a spiritually-scientific point of view, if we do not know what I have said before, that the human organism makes room, through the backward activity of the head-organism, for the past life and also the life between death and rebirth to flow in. The life after death also close into our organism.
The opinions of natural science about the human organization are, as I have already said, far too one-sided. The trunk-man alone might be thus one-sidedly observed, but not so the extremities-man. If we observe the extremities: arms, hands, feet, legs (which organism is continued inwardly), this extremity-organism is seen to be the reverse of the head-organism: and over-development exists there which forces the development beyond the normal. If we accurately study man's development in regard to these relations we shall see that it shoots beyond the needs between birth and death. Let us consider only what is external: the armed organism in connection with the breasts; the secondary organs which serve propagation; the legs in connection with the primary sexual organs — the extremities in connection physically with that whereby man even physically looks out beyond himself. The extremities organism at its center serves not nearly what is poured out over the individual human life, but that by means of which his vision extends beyond himself: the psycho-spiritual. What lies — as soul and spirit — beyond the extremities extends beyond what serves human life between birth and death. Thus, just as man physically out of his own organism functions into that of the child through the center of his extremities, so that is present in him spiritually as imagination which he carries through the portal of death by virtue of his being an arm- and leg-man. Through imaginative cognition it can be very clearly seen that man bears quite distinctly — and even anatomically — his future state after death, spiritually in his extremities-organism. If we study natural science properly, we shall gradually cease to say that Spiritual Science is something that we cannot understand. If we really observe the human organism not as rectilinear, for that it is not, but as it really is, then natural science itself will make it necessary to turn to Spiritual Science. Mankind will of course have to overcome something — the belief in the similarity of all other sense-impressions. The similarity of all external sense-impressions is believed today, not only by the unlearned, but also by the scientific investigator who has a man before him in the clinic and examines him anatomically. To him the heart is a similar organism to the head, but this is not correct; the head as compared with the heart stands at the retrogressive stage in its whole organization. Only we do not know how to observe; that is the trouble. If we want to learn to observe correctly, we can gain from natural science itself fundamental conviction of the spiritual in man, which passes through births and deaths. When however we arrive at this, we shall also take into account this soul and spirit nature in the whole movement and growth of culture and we shall then understand the importance of the struggle against having a narrow outlook, against philistinism, and gaucherie, and we shall copperhead much else as well. Above all we shall learn to reckon with the spirit in practical life. The physicist is allowed to speak freely today of positive and negative electricity, of positive and negative magnetism; and yet it is taken amiss when the spiritual scientist in his domain speaks of two currents of force in the human soul, the Luciferic and Ahrimanic. But these two currents of force are just as much a polarity for the human soul as positive and negative magnetism or electricity in the physical. If we wish to understand humanity in its development we must take the trouble to observe what is at work in regard to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic element in life. An example:
Our social structure was for a long period of time influenced in a one-sided manner by Luciferic beings. Yet we could not simply eradicate the Luciferic element from life! A person who is always saying, “I will protect myself from the Luciferic element” is the very one to fall into it. There can only be a question of conceding it the right place in life and of knowing what is Luciferic and what is Ahrimanic: then we shall not exaggerate their effects and not put them in a false light. For centuries our social structure in Europe and also in other parts of the world has been ruled by strong one-sided Luciferic impulses. These strong Luciferic impulses lay hold of the instincts and habits of man, of that which works from within. All this is not criticism, only a characterization of these times. How did the Luciferic element work? Now great consideration has been given to determining social culture, the position of a man in life by laying great value on his vanity, on his ambition. These are Luciferic impulses. The vanity and ambition of a man had been stimulated. I would remind you how much weight is attached to pride and ambition in schools, even up to our times; and pride and ambition has led a man in many respects to acquire this or that, in order to gain an important place in life.
We have now reached an important point in life. It can scarcely escape the notice of a close observer that these Luciferic impulses are on the decline. To use a superficial expression, they no longer draw. But now something else is to be brought in, something essentially Ahrimanic; and one Ahrimanic feature is creeping into the customs of our present day. Our beloved populist so free from authority, which never wants to believe in authority, and which therefore, as a matter of course, falls a victim to all authorities, will again unsuspectingly allow to pass unobserved what is now about to take root as a one-sided Ahrimanic power in regard to the form the social structure. Something quite remarkable is now making itself felt, so-called “Intelligence tests.” Experimental psychology, which at the universities is doubtless to a certain extent justifiable, can discover many things as regards the working of the human body and as to how it expresses various things. But this psychology desires to have a certain occupation, and testing is easier than any other examination of the soul. The experimenter has a certain instrument which makes records on an electrical course; it places students at certain points and notes how long it takes for an impression to be received and to be brought to their consciousness. He thus works, from he an external clinical point of view, in a business-like way. That is easier than to investigate inwardly. For certain things the value of this experimental psychology is undeniable, but it wants to have a wider field. It now wants to take in hand “Intelligence tests.” For that, a number of children are taken from various grades of school classes and are tested as regards their “talents,” their memory, their power of observation, and so on; but the way in which the test is carried out by the methods of experimental psychology is very remarkable. Memory, for instance, is tested in the following way: On the blackboard two rows of words are written which have no connection with one another; for example, “head” and “crystal,” then two other disconnected words, and so on. After they have all been rubbed out again, the first word only is written down and the child has quickly to add the second one from memory. Those children who have best observed which word came next are considered to have the best memories, and the others who can recollect nothing at all or need a longer time are supposed to have a worse one. That is how the memory or the intelligence is tested. I will read a prize example of this (from the newspaper “German Politics,” 1918: “The discovery of the psycho-technique in Germany during the War” by Dr. Curt Piorkowski):
“For instance, in getting the concepts of ‘mirror,’ ‘murderer,’ ‘escape,’ a whole row of different connections between the mirror and the escape assert themselves, for the discovery of which no sort of special knowledge is necessary, only a distinct combination. The obvious connection (which will be made by the less intelligent persons) is of course that the person threatened sees in the mirror the murderer creeping along. Yet quite other suggestions are also possible! A stealthy murderer can for instance knock up against a mirror and waken the threatened sleeper by the clatter, so that he can escape; or the designing murderer may be blinded by a reflecting mirror.”
Imagine how intelligent a boy or girl must be if they are to hit upon such an idea!
“But motives of feeling may also be related. So for instance the murderer may be so terrified at his own image, indistinctly seen in the mirror in the semi-darkness, that he desists from the carrying-out of the deed, be it that horror or prickings of conscious seize him at the sight of himself in the mirror, or that in the dim light he takes his own reflected image for that of another.”
It is considered quite especially intelligent if the person under examination thinks that the murderer might see himself in the mirror, and take his own face for that of another.
“Another idea is the discovery of the stealthy murderer reflected in the water of the calm peaceful forest lake near threatened man, and so on.”
Just according to whether the examinee interpolates the obvious thing or not is he considered more or less intelligent, and as a child who is shown to be the more intelligent in this respect will be supported by scholarships or in some other way; while the one who could think of nothing further then that one might see a murderer in the mirror receives no scholarships. In such a way is the intelligence to be tested today and with regard to these tests there is enthusiasm. By this means social order is to be influenced even if not arranged. The dear public however will welcome such things with all their hearts as the issue of the true and sincere science of the present day, for these things create a great stir today. In this way sought to find ways and means of methodically “putting the right man in the right place,” and essays are written beginning as follows: “More than almost any other science has applied psychology blossomed during the war. It is not a chance appearance, for war with its waste of men and its various requirements has proved the importance of not using human forces extravagantly and aimlessly; but using them to the best advantage. Up till now pedagogy alone dealt practically with exact psychology; now three new questions are added: for what vocation as the man best suited? (Problem of the suitability of a profession) How is a substitute be found for the many intelligences that have been destroyed? (Selection of talent); What possibilities of healing are there for those wounded in the head or those with otherwise damaged nerves? (Practice of psychical therapy).” — And so it goes on in the style. An error of the times is coupled with a significant phrase and the matter will be less noticed, because there are, of course, vocations which must be conducted according to this method. It is quite obvious that airmen for instance have to be examined in a similar way, with a certain justification. But this should not be applied to all. For in such a one-sided development something Ahrimanic will thereby be brought into our social structure. All that comes from the soul-nature, from the elemental, impulsive soul-nature, would thus be eliminated from human aspirations and endeavor. To put the matter roughly: Do we believe that if such intelligence tests could really be determinative, a phrase like “Joy and Love are the wings of great deeds” could still have significance? If people would only think of their own great men! We can be quite sure that if such an examiner had to examine Helmholtz he would have represented him quite certainly as a fellow without talent. Read the biography of Helmholtz!
That is an Ahrimanic feature. Things appear disguised as well. If people are not able to observe things through Spiritual Science, they cannot see where the harm is. It does not suffice that in our time people like to wallow in all kinds of sensual feelings, it is necessary they should wake up in regard to their judgment of life. A great deal would be gained in regard to this nonsense of intelligence tests if there were at least a few people who formed an objective opinion about it. For it will blossom and flourish, you may be quite sure of that! It will become what the “prejudice-free soul-test” has at last made it, and it will be glorified as one of the finest outcomes of that philosophical tendency which has at last stripped off the old idealistic prejudices and methods and now goes in for “the real.” Spiritual Science must work practically in this sense.
Now much is connected with these things, and above all this, that breadth of interest and reality must at last become fundamental attributes of the human soul. I should like to give you two pretty examples of the way in which reality works in our day, and how a certain interest is not present. If I choose personal examples I take it for granted that you will not take it amiss, for you indeed know that I do not do so from any personal foolishness. Recently I held a lecture in Munich on the experiences which the seer makes in art. I have never supposed that any newspaper reporter would be able to understand the subject of Spiritual Science or to write anything in praise of it. If a newspaper reporter should begin to write about Spiritual Science in a flattering manner I should think that something was not in order; but we may study some examples of their work. In the lecture mentioned I also spoke of the art of music and of how musical experience affects the whole man in a remarkable way, that really whenever there is a musical experience a rhythm is set up in the inner man. I then spoke on the one hand in reference to the physiological side, explaining the flowing to and fro of the brain-fluid through the arachnoidal space and further demonstrated how the spinal-marrow canal is elastic to a greater or less degree and how a wonderful inner rhythm is in fact brought about thereby. Musical experiences create a glorious rhythm in life; I mentioned these rhythmical movements of the brain-fluid as being connected with inspiration and expiration; and as I also spoke in this lecture of symbolic ideas, a newspaper reporter wrote that I myself used symbolic ideas which were untenable: the idea of ‘brain-fluid’! We need only recollect that without the ‘brain-fluid’ the brain, which according to the principle of Archimedes becomes lighter than the brain-fluid, would compress and crush to pieces the blood vessels lying beneath it. Thus the ‘brain-fluid’ is a very real thing. But thus do matters stand with respect to the interests which men have, and such is the nonsense written in consequence.
Then an example, only a small illustration, of truth and untruth. I have often mentioned that the remarkable scholar Max Dessoir has also written a chapter about Anthroposophy in his book “The Other Side of the Soul.” I tried to point out to him the many different misrepresentations. Even from an external point of view his method of relating is really very comical by reason of its absolute superficiality. Thus for instance he mentioned my “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” and said of it that it was my first literary production. I could not do otherwise than reply, although it was out of place to do so, that for 10 years before it appeared I had already written and had my books published. But “The Other Side of the Soul” by Max Dessoir aroused attention; it was discussed everywhere by the journalists (who consider the brain-fluid as a symbolical idea). It caught on, and now a second edition has appeared. In the preface to this, Max Dessoir tries to justify himself, and again in the same fashion. He cannot get out of it and says the context proved quite clearly that I did not grasp what he meant; he meant that the “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” was my first “theosophical” book. Thus apart from the fact that everyone must smile at his statement that he did not mean my first literary work, everyone must again laugh when the “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” is called my first “theosophical” book. For a far-reaching discussion exists as to whether I abandoned philosophical authorship in my theosophical works. That is how far veracity is regarded, and it is necessary to attract people's notice to it. But without veracity we cannot progress, and we dare not let such things simply pass in this manner. To anyone who has knowledge of the things concerned, the whole book of Max Dessoir is compiled like the chapter on Anthroposophy . And yet, what happened? A newspaper, the “Kant Studien,” which regards itself as extremely serious (I mention this because in this paper no attack is made on Anthroposophy) — the “Kant Studien” — which prides itself tremendously on its purely scholarly scientific bent, speaks of this product of Dessoir as a serious scientific book in many ways. One of the saddest experiences one can have is to find a book which evinces the greatest superficiality considered by a philosophical magazine as a “serious scientific book,” as it is called there. Now I ask: What then is the public, the public which has no belief in authority, to do today? It takes such works as the “Kant Studien” (Studies of Kant) and so on, as a matter of course out of the libraries. And yet such things are to be found in it.
We must go back to what lies at the base of human nature through the spirit if the will be present. And this foundation is only touched by the strivings of Spiritual Science today. In this one cannot do otherwise than work towards reality, breadth of interest, towards anti-philistinism and activity as regards life. I wished to speak to you again of these things so that our consciousness may not grow faint; in Spiritual Science it is not merely the content that matters, but also the special nature of the concept, ideas and thought in our soul, so that it may be raised out of limitations, philistinism and awkwardness. That is something which the observer of the special impulses which lie in Spiritual Science must consider more and more. We must grasp the practical value of Spiritual Science. In the next lecture we shall speak further of these things.
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