The Faculty of Law and Theosophy
18th, May, 1905
Note: The transcript
of the four “faculty” lectures are deficient. It shows
not only noticeable gaps; the author of the transcript is also not
familiar with the topic of the lectures. He often made summaries
in haste as far as he understood the lecturer. That is why some
connections shifted. Although notices of other participants were
used, the deficiencies of the text could not be essentially corrected
except for some big misunderstandings.
If any issue seems to be
far away from theosophy, then from the issue of this talk that tries
to connect the study of law and the juridical life with the theosophical
movement. Someone can only accept this as entitled who realises how
deeply the theosophical movement is understood as a practical one by
those who are involved in it who know its whole significance. The real
theosophist takes no stock in theories and dogmas. However, the essentials
of the theosophical movement are that it intervenes in the immediate
life. If one speaks possibly of the theosophical movement that it has
no connection with the practical life, then this may be due only to
a complete misjudgement or misunderstanding of this movement.
Compared with the theosophical
movement, a big number of the remaining movements appear eminently impractical
because they are partial movements, without knowledge of the big connection
and without knowledge of the great principles of life. Just in this
respect, some question of life will occupy us. What could intervene
in our life even deeper than jurisprudence? Of course, in the sense
of the theosophical world view we deal less with the right or the laws.
Rather we have to do it with the real relations as they face us, namely
with those which face us in the figure of the human being itself, actually
in our jurisprudence in the figure of our practical lawyers themselves.
Hence, the topic does not have the heading The Faculty of Law and
Theosophy for nothing.
Above all, it concerns the
question: how does one instruct the human beings who are appointed to
intervene in the violated right and compensate it? How does the university
train the necessary elements, how does it instruct the lawyers? In the
last talk on the divinity faculty and theosophy which could demonstrate
the much more intimate relation of theosophy to our university, I had
to tell you how the matters are correlated. Not so much the materialistic
way of thinking as the rather deep, in the human souls deeply rooted
ways of thinking of our time are those which put a certain main feature
into our life. This will occupy us still more today.
You see, with one single
fact I could illustrate the situation in which we are if we touch the
topic: the faculty of law and the theosophical movement. Who has dealt
with the faculty of law only in some degree knows the name Rudolf of
Jhering (1818–1892) not only because of his writing: The Struggle
for Law (1872). Everybody also knows, which significance his great
work has: Laws as Means to an End (1877–1883).
In this work something is
created that is basic for a whole sum of principal views in our conception
of legality and in our jurisprudence. Jhering was certainly one of our
most significant legal scholars. Who was lucky to be present once at
a talk of Jhering knows how impressively this teacher of law has spoken.
It was something frank in his nature. I still remember that Jhering
said in a lesson: I have spoken for the last time about this or that
question; I have considered the thing once again and have still to inform
about essential changes. Among those who have done something similar
in other fields the physicist Helmholtz (1821–1894) has to be
mentioned who had such great results with his significant works, in
spite of the modest way in which he worked. I instance Jhering because
he worked originally and deeply.
He was an excellent lawyer
who deeply intervened in jurisprudence of our days. In his work Laws
as Means to an End you find an important sentence. I would like
to read out it literally: “If I have ever regretted that my development
took place in a period when philosophy got to discredit, it concerns
the present work, too. What the young man missed at that time under
the disfavour of the ruling mood, the mature man could not catch up.”
Such a remark points to a deep lack concerning the education of the
lawyers. What has lacked here, you find this not only expressed in the
whole public life, as far as it is dependent on juridical relations,
but also in the literature, not only the juridical one, but the whole
literature, as far as this is influenced by juridical thinking. You
find it also in all reform literature. You find it everywhere, also
in the practical life because the most important is absent, namely a
real knowledge of life and of the human soul.
Why is it absent? Because
our impractical practitioners have no idea how the everyday life is
connected with the deep principles of the single human soul. Look around
with our economists, look around with those who write or speak in the
service of a reform movement. Who has a mathematically trained thinking
who is able to build up his chain of thoughts strictly logically sees
that it is absent everywhere, and he remembers a significant speech
that John Stuart Mill (1806–1873, English philosopher) held where
he says that it is necessary above all that a real education of thinking,
an education concerning the most elementary principles of the soul life
penetrates our public relations.
It doesn't take much to
train his thoughts in this way as it would be necessary to become a
reformer really. Three weeks would be enough if one got involved in
a real theory of principles of thinking. Indeed, then you have only
the possibility to think correctly and educated, but who thinks correctly
and educated, puts aside a lot of what is written today because he cannot
endure what a jumble of impossible thinking is contained in it. Realise
only once that this is a practical question in the most remarkable sense.
If one wanted to build a tunnel and started drilling and digging with
the knowledge of the usual bricklayer on one side of the mountain and
believed that he came out without fail on the other side and has built
a big tunnel, you would presumably consider him a fool. But today in
all fields of life one does this in almost the same manner.
What is necessary to construct
a tunnel, a railway, a bridge? The knowledge of the first principles
of mathematics and mechanics and of that what enables us from the start
to foresee something of the layers and formations of the mountain. Only
a skilled engineer is able to initiate such a work really, and only
that is the real practitioner who approaches the praxis on the basis
of the complete theory. The world completely overlooks the most important
questions of life, nay, one calls just those impractical people who
believe that knowledge is necessary to solve the big questions of life.
So we see the failed tunnels in all fields of human life because of
insufficient basic knowledge. People do not realise that it is necessary,
before one approaches a practical reform movement, to acquire the whole
basic knowledge of the human soul and to get things straight concerning
the possibilities and impossibilities in this and that field.
This comes to the fore in
the explanations of the great lawyer concerning the basic education.
For he missed such a basic philosophical education concerning his science
and admitted that sincerely. Hence, you see that I am faraway to criticise
a single person or an institution. I wanted only to give a characteristic
of the relations that face us in life. Then our question will answer
itself the easiest which practical significance the theosophical movement
has for jurisprudence.
most unfavourably in the course of the historical relations because
it developed as it expresses itself in the most different legal systems
and schools only in a time in which the materialistic thinking had already
seized all circles. The other sciences go back to the older times, and
those which rest on natural history have their support in the steady
facts which does not allow to deviate so easily in all directions.
Of course, someone who builds
a bridge wrong sees very soon the results of his dilettantish action.
It is not so simple, however, with the facts that face us in the spiritual
field. There one can fudge, and one can contend whether a thing is good
or bad. There is apparently no objective criterion. However, there will
also be objective criteria gradually in this respect. I said that Jhering
missed a basic philosophical education with himself. I say that one
can miss this where one intervenes in our life.
You may say that philosophy
is not theosophy. But that matters. In certain respect, philosophy was
the basic discipline of all remaining studies for some time in the 16th,
17th centuries, even in the 18th century until the 19th century. We
have seen last time which disadvantage it has brought to theology that
philosophy was no longer this basis of the studies. But in theology
there is a substitute of the lacking philosophical study. There is no
substitute on the field of law. When the old high schools had developed
from the old schools, philosophy was caught a little bit between two
stools. Once there were pre-studies at all universities where the students
got an overview of the manifold disciplines by which they could also
get an overview of the principles of life. Nobody advanced to the higher
faculties without having acquired a real knowledge of the principles
of life. Now one considers philosophising redundant because one believes
that the high school gives the general education. But today also this
has disappeared in the high schools. Only few old-fashioned people represent
the point of view even today that one should do a little logic and psychology
also in the high school.
Thus it happened that the
study of law became a one-sided professional study. The other faculties
have basically also no own pre-studies which provide a general, real
knowledge of life and a deep sight into the riddles and the questions
of life. Hence, the students early approach the special questions and
must necessarily obsess about these special problems more and more.
Thus it happened that the lawyer is already steered in a particular
direction during his education. This does not refer to details; but
someone who has been filled with particular forms of concepts for years
can no longer get away from these concepts. The requirements are those
that he must consider everybody as a fool who has kept a certain freedom
of thinking with regard to such concepts that have become quite solid
for him during his academic years.
Philosophy became something
that has no connection with life in a certain respect just in that time
in which our modern thinking developed. In the Middle Ages, there was
no philosophy which was separated, I mean, which was separated practically
from theology. Everything that philosophy treated went back to the big
and comprehensive questions of existence. This has changed in modern
times. Philosophy has emancipated itself; it has become a science because
it has no longer any direct connection with the central issues of life.
I will explain this in the talk on the arts faculty in detail. That
is why it has happened that one could study philosophy for centuries
without connecting anything really living with its terminology. In the
18-th century there still was something that made philosophy the world
wisdom. When Schelling, Hegel and Fichte came, the immediate life was
grasped. However, these spirits were not understood. A short heyday
was there in the first time of the 19-th century. Then, however, one
generally did not understand how to connect philosophy really with life
and to found such a connection between life and the highest principles
of thinking in all fields as it exists between mathematics, the differential
calculus and the bridge building.
We want that those who work
on life realise that it is necessary to have certain requirements as
one must have studied mathematics before one constructs a bridge. Theosophy
does not want to teach dogmas, but a way of thinking and an approach
to life; the approach to life which should be the opposite of messing
about everything, which should found a view of life on serious principles.
You need to know nothing about the principles and, nevertheless, you
can be a good theosophist if you simply want to go to the origin of
the matters. Philosophy is to blame if it is discredited by those who
prepare themselves for the big questions of life, because it should
just be a kind of world wisdom. Those who developed our legal wisdom
to the legal system could not go back to the philosophical attitude.
The natural sciences still go back to mathematics, of course, go back
to the rational, to mechanics et etcetera, and anybody cannot be a naturalist
who does not know these first principles really.
The development of law shows
the necessity to acquire an awareness of the fact that also the law
must arise from a basic education which is as certain as the mathematical
one. It is interesting that that nation which developed the right in
the most eminent sense became great in the history of humanity by the
development of law that the Roman people, magnificent just in this field,
was small concerning that way of thinking which one must demand also
for this field: the Romans did not achieve a single mathematical theorem!
A totally unmathematical and inexact way of thinking formed the basis
of the Roman thinking. Hence, the prejudice crept in the course of centuries
that it would be impossible to have such a basis for the fields of jurisprudence
and social science as one has it for the remaining technical fields.
I would like to quote a
typical symptom of this fact. Fifteen years ago, an important lawyer
acceded the presidency of the university of Vienna, Adolf Exner (1841–1894).
He was a significant teacher of the Roman right. He spoke about the
political education with his appointment. The whole sense of his talk
was that it would be a mistake to appreciate the natural sciences so
much, because the scientific thinking is not suited to intervene anyhow
practically in the social and ethical questions of existence. Against
it, he emphasised the necessity that would be founded upon the view
of the juridical relations. Then he explained how the juridical conditions
cannot be influenced by the scientific thinking. He says: in the natural
sciences we look into the first principles. We see how in simple cases
the matters are, but in the complex cases of life nobody can lead back
the matters to such simple condition.
It is typical that a great
man of our time not even sees that it would be our task to create a
thinking as clear and transparent in the field of life as we were able
to create it in the fields of the external sensuous natural phenomena.
This must be just our task to realise that we can be effective only
practically in the external field of the big tunnel construction if
we are able to lead back all matters of life also to sharp concepts
as we are able to lead back the rough matters to mathematical concepts.
Jhering says in his book Laws as Means to an End that it is
a big lack of our law education as well as in our practical legal life
that the human beings who have to introduce anyway in the law are not
trained in such a way to work immediately educationally, immediately
technically learning, teaching and working in life. Then he says that
one can be a lawyer, as well as one is a mathematician who has solved
his task if he has carried out his calculation.
Again Jhering does not realise
that mathematics has real significance only, since the thinking of the
natural sciences has gained significance. One has found the way from
the head to the hand if anything becomes practical activity. Then everything
is of practical significance that is connected with jurisprudence and
the social ethics if it is as clear as it is with mathematics which
is necessary if one builds a tunnel. Then one also realises that any
partial attempt looks in such a way, as if anybody carved stones, heaped
them and believed that a house would come into being. Nothing is conquered
or built in the field of the feminist movement or any other social movement
unless a plan forms the basis of the whole. Otherwise the carving of
stones would be an eminently impractical work.
It does not matter that
we stuff ourselves with theories and we could derive all details from
the big principles if we absorbed the system. We have to work free of
dilettantism and to implement the big principles in life, in the immediate
life. We have to work like the engineer works with that what he has
learnt even if he has a much lower task, namely to intervene in the
lifeless existence. We have to work like somebody works, after he has
investigated the whole principles and has recognised them correctly.
It is important to recognise the real principles of existence and to
be connected with them. Otherwise nothing can be accomplished in the
field of law in particular.
It is quite certain that
hardly a lawyer leaves our institutions who is not prejudiced by a system
of concepts unless he has before got to know the science of life in
the conceivably biggest circumference. It is hard to speak popularly
just about this question today. One cannot go into particular examples
of the legal life, because today, unfortunately, it is a fact that jurisprudence
is the most unpopular science, not only because it is liked least of
all, but also because it has the least effect.
The juridical thinking can
hardly be proportioned with healthy thinking and harmonised even less
with life. Many among you doubt that one can obtain firm principles
in jurisprudence and in the social life as one can gain them for the
natural sciences directed to the sensuous. One requirement would be
that our time again would get involved to seek where the human being
still had a higher exact thinking and where one tried once to bring
some concepts to a clear shape similar to mathematics. Everybody has
the possibility, to familiarise himself on the cheap. Take a Reclam
booklet in hand: The Self-Sufficient Trading State by Johann
Gottlieb Fichte. I am far away to defend the contents of this booklet
or to attribute any significance to it for our modern life. I wanted
only to show how one can also proceed in this fields as practically
as mathematics proceeds with the bridge building. Nevertheless, life
becomes something particular in a given case. Someone who puts up general
principles cannot apply them in life. It is just the same case with
the natural sciences. Real ellipses, real circles exist nowhere. You
know that one of Kepler's laws is this that the planets orbit the sun.
Do you believe that this is applicable in this simplicity? Realise once
whether the earth really depicts an ellipse which we draw on the board.
Nevertheless, it is most necessary that we approach reality with such
things, although they do not exist really.
Mathematics also does not
exist in the immediate life, and, nevertheless, we use it in the immediate
life. Not before one will see that there is anything, also in relation
to the legal life, that is positioned to life like mathematics to nature,
one will also be able to have a healthy view of this legal life again.
However, the knowledge exists that there is a kind of mathematics, a
way of thinking for the whole life; this knowledge and nothing else
Mathematics is nothing else
than an internal experience. You can nowhere learn externally what mathematics
is. There is no mathematical theorem which would not have resulted from
self-knowledge, the self-knowledge of the mind in time and space. We
need such self-knowledge. There is such self-knowledge also for the
higher fields of existence. There is a mathesis as the Gnostics say.
It is not mathematics what we apply to life, but something similar.
There is such a thing also concerning jurisprudence and medicine, also
concerning all fields of life and, above all, also concerning the social
cooperation of the human beings. Any talking of mysticism as of something
unclear is based on the fact that one does not know what mysticism is.
Therefore, the Gnostics, the great mystics of the first Christian centuries,
called their teachings mathesis because they formed a self-knowledge
from it. If one has recognised this, one also knows what theosophy wants,
and that one should be afraid without theosophical attitude to lift
even a finger concerning the practical questions of life, as one must
also be afraid to drill the Simplon Tunnel without knowledge of geology
This is the big severity
that forms the basis of the theosophical world view, and what we have
to keep in sight also clearly if we talk about such questions like about
jurisprudence. Only then we have a healthy juridical education again
if our greatest lawyers do not have to complain of a lacking basis of
our knowledge if one has developed an awareness again, how that would
be as I have suggested. This is the mishap of jurisprudence how it has
developed during the last centuries when one did no longer know that
there is such a thing like mathesis. The great philosopher Leibniz was
a magnificent lawyer, a great practitioner and a great mathematician;
who knows philosophy, knows him only too well. This may be to you a
guarantee that Leibniz had a right view of these matters. What does
he say about a juridical education without a basic practical training?
He says: you will be in the legal life like in a labyrinth from which
you find no exit. So single reforms are sought just concerning the legal
life. There is a legal alliance; it is led by a former theologian. He
tries in certain way to substitute our juridical concepts by something
healthier. But also here one sees how from the sciences which are less
accustomed to an exact thinking than the mathematicians and the physical
scientists also nothing beneficial results. You find everywhere that
the real insight of the question of fault is absent. Not before one
recognises what is concerned, one realises that one has to know life
before one has the norms of life. Only then we will have a healthy study.
The lawyer should study
knowledge of life at first. How is our lawyer confronted with the questions
of the soul life today, and how would he have to face it? Not only in
such a way that he depends on the experts. He is confronted with the
matters like a dilettante. The deep look into the soul life only enables
him to draft a bill. But only he is able to judge somebody who has deviated
from the law. You can only project your thoughts into the law of human
life if you have exercised psychology. I do not want to speak of the
theosophical view about the development of the human soul. The world
still is too far back to have a deeper understanding of the more intimate
problems of life. However, actually, everybody would have to see what
is said with the words: true study of the soul and of the social life.
This would have to be the
basis, the first instructions which the lawyer receives at the university:
extensive study of the human being. Not until he has studied the human
being as such, also as soul, namely in such clean sphere as the physical
scientist tries to study the scientific problems, not until he can delve
into in the soul life like a mystic, he is ripe to treat real soul questions
that have an effect, that are ordered according to a plan in the public
Is it not sad if today in
the economics the most unbelievable bustles about, also with so-called
experts? Imagine that simple concepts that the economist could realise
are not yet decisively grasped. Take the difference between productive
and unproductive labour. You cannot decide there if you do not realise
how productive and unproductive labour have an effect in the public
life. Any such work is completely useless without this clarity. It can
still happen that two significant economists argue whether a branch
of the public life like the business activity is a productive or unproductive
It is a defamation of theosophy
in certain respect if one attributes any nebulosity to it. Those who
know the intentions of theosophy emphasise over and over again that
it strives for extreme clarity, for the most mellow way of thinking
in all fields of life according to the pattern of mathematics. If this
is the case, the most favourable must be expected from a fertilisation
of our legal life by our movement. Then it will be the result of such
a fertilisation that the future lawyer learns how spiritual facts are
working in the human life. He realises that whole fields remain unproductive
because he cannot get involved in understanding suggestion or other
soul phenomena that are due to inner or outer causes.
The suggestions work so
tremendously in our public life that one can easily realise that in
big assemblies of thousands of human beings not free conviction but
suggestion by the speaker works on the listeners. And the listeners
spread the suggestion, so that many actions come about under the influence
of a suggestion. However, somebody who intervenes in the practical life
must know and observe such imponderables. If one knows to observe this
way well, one also gets around to realising which effects such suggestions
There you already have such
a network which extends about our life. There one tells to us what should
happen in this or that field of life. If we know life, we know that
it gives us nothing but a sum of suggestions at first. The one gives
those of the social question, the other of the national question, the
third of a third question. If theosophy has become a common property
of humanity, it is never possible that somebody who has to deal with
the public life does not figure such a thing out. And if you realise
how the suggestions work and determine our legal conditions, then you
realise that these conditions can only be cured by the theosophical
way of thinking. Then it will become also clear that an essential part
of that what is done in our faculty of law, a big part of mere knowledge
could be cancelled, because the lawyer can also acquire this in practice.
Everybody knows what practical work is. One can overcome the practical
in much shorter time if one has settled down in the big questions of
existence that comprise the big questions of life by themselves, the
questions which the lawyer cannot touch like the question of responsibility.
How does one debate about that, as for example Lombroso (Cesare L.,
1836–1909) in Italy? It is impossible to somebody who figures
them out to put up such pros and cons as this normally happens. This
is only possible because there people take part who are not practically
Which right do we have to
punish? This is also a question which is answered in the most different
way. All these matters are not to be solved with the means of our modern
practical jurisprudence. If, however, the lawyer cannot get involved
deeper in it, he acts without understanding the last principles. Then
he must act dependently. But the lawyer has to be a really free man.
We have to demand this from nobody more than from the lawyers. Savigny
(Friedrich Karl von S., 1779–1861), the significant legal teacher,
said once: law is nothing for itself, but it is an expression of life;
hence, it also had to be created out of life
Take once the most various
views of law which one had in the course of the 19th century, and you
realise how little these views were born out of the real practise. There
are schools of natural law which believe to be able to derive the law
from the human nature. Later one said: the one thinks the right this
way, the other that way, the one nation this way, the other nation that
way. Then there came the historical law. An interesting attempt was
also lately made with the positivistic law. Various experiments were
done which do not start from the indicated attitude. To have a historical
view of law is as impossible as a historical view of mathematics. It
is impossible to found the law historically. It is not possible to prove
this important sentence now. To investigate something a little bit “positivistically”
would mean that one does not construct purely spiritual networks with
mathematics, but that one puts together three rods, measures the angles
and forms then the mathematical theorem of the sum of the angles in
the triangle. These would be a “positivistic” explanation.
I wanted to speak only about
the basis of the attitude and about the relation to that which theosophy
can be in life praxis. I wanted to show how in all fields and in particular
also in this field the theosophical way of thinking and theosophical
attitude could be fertile and useful. The prejudice is spread that theosophy
is something that the human being invents to have personal satisfaction.
But that is a bad theosophist who has this view. The true theosophist
realises that theosophy is life, whereas in the so-called practical
life so many attempts are tremendously impractical. It is painful to
see seeds everywhere in the single attempts where everybody wants to
mess about in the public life; if all impractical movements get together
in the big circle that does not face life in an unfamiliar way, but
wants to enclose life, then an improvement could probably result. Theosophy
itself cannot solve the question. But life pours out from that which
it gives. Next time we see how with the doctors another feature comes
in our life if they become practical theosophists. It concerns this
feature, this undertone of a renewed life. If we understand this, a
breath of theosophical attitude has to pour out about all branches of
the practical life reform. Then one understands the theosophical movement
and also all remaining life.
This has been stressed again
and again because certain problems cannot be improved, as long as one
does not want to deal with the things really because the human beings
judge, long before they have acquired the most exact knowledge of the
things. Those who want to intervene with the theosophical movement practically
could easily mess about also in other attempts. It would be easy to
lend a hand in certain fields if we expected anything only in the least
from it, as long as we do not develop the practical sense which many
people regard as something impractical.
It would be easy if we did
not know that the centre must be controlled, before one goes to the
periphery. It would be easy if we did not know that this is true: if
you want to create better conditions in the world, you must give people
the possibility to become better. In no field this remark is as justified
as in the field of jurisprudence. Although the theosophical movement
tries to have a practical, a stimulating effect in this field, we shall
realise that all disputes between Romanists and Germanists, between
historians and the representatives of natural law et etcetera disappear.
If we get to that which is real movement and life, if we attain the
attitude which asserts itself also against the external sensuous work
because life would reprimand us if we could not face it properly, then
we have become theosophists and real practitioners.