THE thought then hovered before me that the turn of the century must
bring a new spiritual light to humanity. It seemed to me that the
exclusion of human thinking and willing from the spirit had reached a
climax. A revolutionary change in the process of human evolution
seemed to me a matter of necessity.
Many were talking in this way. But they did not see that man will seek
to direct his eyes toward a world of real spirit as he directs them
through the senses toward nature. They only supposed that the
subjective spiritual temper of the soul would undergo a revolution.
That a real, new objective world could be revealed such a thought
lay beyond the range of vision of that time.
With the experiences that came to me from my perspective of the future
and from the impressions received from the world about me, I was
forced to turn the eyes of my mind more and more to the development
which marked the nineteenth century.
I saw how, with the time of Goethe and Hegel, everything disappeared
which knowingly takes up conceptions of a spiritual world into human
forms of thought. Thenceforth knowledge must not be
confused by conceptions from the spiritual world. These
conceptions are assigned to the sphere of faith and
In Hegel I perceived the greatest thinker of the new age. But he was
just that only a thinker. To him the world of spirit was in
thinking. Even while I admired immeasurably the way in which he gave
form to all his thinking, yet I perceived that he had no feeling for
the world of spirit which I beheld and which is revealed behind
thinking only when thinking is empowered to become an experience whose
body, in a certain measure, is thought, and which takes up into itself
as soul the Spirit of the world.
Since in Hegelianism everything spiritual has become thought, Hegel
represented to me the person who brought the ultimate twilight of the
ancient spiritual light into a period in which the spirit became
hidden in darkness from human knowledge.
All this appeared thus before me whether I looked into the spiritual
world or looked back in the physical world upon the century drawing to
an end. But now there came forth in this century a figure which I
could not trace on into the spiritual world Max Stirner.
Hegel was wholly the man of thought, who in his inner unfolding
strives after a thinking which goes ever deeper, and in going deeper
extends to farther horizons. This thinking, in its deepening and
broadening, becomes at last one with the thinking of the World-Spirit
which includes the whole world-content. And Stirner was all that man
unfolds from himself, bringing this wholly from his individual
personal will. What exists in humanity lies only in the juxtaposition
of single personalities.
I dared not just at that time fall into one-sidedness. As I stood
completely within Hegelianism experiencing this in my soul as my own
inner experience, so must I also wholly submerge myself inwardly in
Against the one-sidedness of endowing the World-Spirit merely with
knowledge must, indeed, the opposite appear, the assertion of man
merely as a will-being.
Had the situation been such that this opposition had simply appeared
in me as an experience of my own mind in its evolution, I would never
have permitted anything of this to enter into my writing or lecturing.
I have always observed this rule with regard to such mental
experiences. But this particular contradiction Hegel and
Stirner belonged to the century. Through this the century expressed
And, indeed, it is true that philosophers are not to be principally
considered in relation to their influence on their times. Certainly
one can mention very strong influences proceeding from Hegel. But this
is not the main thing. Philosophers show in the content of their
thinking the spirit of their age as a thermometer shows the warmth of
a place. In the philosophers that becomes conscious which lives
unconsciously in the age.
And so the nineteenth century in its two extremes lived through the
impulses expressing themselves through Hegel and Stirner: impersonal
thinking which most delights to yield itself to a contemplation of the
world in which man with his inner creative powers has no part; and
wholly personal will with little feeling for the harmonious
co-operation of men. To be sure, all possible social
ideals appear, but they have no power to influence reality. This
more and more takes on the form of what can come about when the wills
of individuals work side by side.
Hegel would have the thought of the moral take objective form more and
more in the associated life of men; Stirner feels that the
individuals (single persons) are harmed by everything
which thus gives harmonious form to the life of men.
My own consideration of Stirner was connected at that time with a
friendship which had a decisive effect upon very much in what we are
here considering. This was my friendship with the important Stirner
scholar and editor J. H. Mackay. It was while still in Weimar that I
was brought in contact by Gabrielle Reuter with this personality, to
me likewise altogether congenial. He had occupied himself with those
chapters in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity which deal with
ethical individualism. He found a harmony between my discussions and
his own social views.
At first it was the personal impression I received from; J. H. Mackay
that filled my soul when in company with him. He bore the
world in him. In his whole inner and outer bearing there
spoke world-experience. He had spent some time in both England and
America. All this was suffused with a boundless amiability. I
conceived a great affection for him.
When, therefore, J. H. Mackay came to reside permanently at Berlin,
there developed a delightful friendship between us. This also,
unfortunately, has been destroyed by life and especially by my public
discussion of anthroposophy.
In this instance I must only describe quite objectively how the work
of J. H. Mackay seemed to me at that time, and still seems, and what
effect it had upon me. For I am aware that he would express himself
quite differently about it.
Profoundly hateful to this man was everything in human social life
which is force, Archie. The greatest failure, he felt, was the
introduction of force into social control. In communistic
anarchy he saw a social idea in the highest degree objectionable
because this proposed to bring about a better state of humanity
through the employment of force.
Now it was a risky thing for J. H. Mackay to battle against this idea
and the agitation based upon it while choosing for his own social
thought the same name which his opponents had, only with another
adjective preceding it. Individualistic anarchy was his
name for what he himself represented, and that, too, as the very
opposite of what was then called anarchy. This naturally
led the public to form nothing but biased view concerning Mackay's
ideas. He was in accord with the American, B. Tucker, who stood for
the same conception. Tucker visited Mackay at Berlin, and in this way
I came to know him.
Mackay is also a poet of his conception of life. He wrote a novel
I read this after I had become
acquainted with the author. This is a noble work based upon faith in
the individual man. It describes penetratingly and with great
vividness the social condition of the poorest of the poor. But it also
sets forth how out of the world's misery those men will find a way to
improvement who, being wholly devoted to the good forces, so bring
these forces to their unfolding that they become effective in the free
association of men rendering compulsion unnecessary. Mackay had the
noble confidence that men could of themselves create a harmonious
order of life. He considered, however, that this would be possible
only after a long time, when by spiritual ways a requisite revolution
should have been completed within men. He therefore demanded for the
present that those individuals who were far enough advanced should
propagate the idea of this spiritual way. A social idea, therefore,
which would employ only spiritual means.
Destiny had now given such a turn to my experience with J. H. Mackay
and Stirner that here also I had to submerge myself in a thought-world
which became to me a spiritual testing. My ethical individualism I
felt to be a pure inner experience of man. It was by no means my
intention when I formulated this to make it the basis of a philosophy
of politics. Now at this time, about 1898, a sort of abyss had to be
opened in my mind in regard to this purely ethical individualism. It
had to be changed from something purely human and inward to something
external. The esoteric must be shifted to the exoteric.
Then, in the beginning of the new century, when I had succeeded in
stating my experience of the spiritual in
Die Mystik im Aufgange(2)
and Christianity as Mystical Fact,
ethical individualism again stood after the test in its rightful
Yet the testing took such a course that the outward expression played
no part in full consciousness. It took its course just below this full
consciousness, and because of this very proximity it could influence
the forms of expression in which, during the last years of the past
century, I spoke regarding things social. Certain discussions of that
time, however, which seem all too radical must be compared with others
in order to arrive at a correct conception.
One who sees into the spiritual world always finds his own being
externalized when he ought to express opinions and conceptions. He
enters the spiritual world, not in abstractions, but in living
perceptions. Nature likewise, which is the sensible copy of the
spiritual, does not represent opinions and conceptions, but places
these before the world in their forming and becoming.
A state of inner movement, which drove into billows and waves all the
forces of my soul, was at that time my inner experience.
My external private life became one of absolute satisfaction by reason
of the fact that the Eunicke family was drawn to Berlin and I could
live with them under the best of care after having experienced for a
short time the utter misery of living in a home of my own. My
friendship with Frau Eunicke was soon thereafter transformed into a
civil marriage. Only this shall be said concerning this private
affair. Of my private life I do not wish to introduce anything into
this biography except what concerns my process of development. Living
in the Eunicke home enabled me to have an undisturbed basis for a life
of inner and outer movement. Otherwise, private relationships do not
belong to the public. It is not concerned in these.
Indeed, my spiritual development is, in reality, utterly independent
of all private relationships. I am conscious of the fact that this
would have been quite the same had the shaping of my private life been
Amid all the movement in my life at that time came now the continual
anxiety concerning the possibility of an existence for the Magazine.
In spite of all the difficulties I faced, it would have gained a
circulation if there had been available to me the material means. But
a periodical which at the utmost could afford only sufficient
compensation to give me the bare necessities of a material existence,
and for which nothing whatever could be done to make it known, could
not thrive upon the limited circulation it had when I took it over.
So long as I edited the Magazine it was a constant source of anxiety
- The Anarchist.
- Mysticism at the Beginning of the Modern Spiritual Life.