ANOTHER collective work which represented the cultural attainments of
the nineteenth century was published at that time by Hans Kraemer. It
consisted of rather long treatises on the individual branches of
knowledge, technical production, and social evolution. I was invited
to give a description of the literary aspect of life. So the evolution
of fantasy during the nineteenth century passed through my mind. I did
not describe things like a philologist, who develops such things
from their sources; I described what I had inwardly
experienced of the unfolding of the life of fantasy.
This exposition also was important for me in that I had to speak of
phenomena of the spiritual life without having recourse to the
experience of the spiritual world. The real spiritual impulses from
this world that manifest themselves in the phenomena of poetry were
In this case likewise what was present to my mind was that which the
mental life has to say of a phenomenon of existence when the mind is
at the point of view of the ordinary consciousness without bringing
the content of the consciousness into such activity that it rises up
in experience into the world of spirit. Still more significant for me
was this experience of standing before the doorway of the spiritual
world in the case of a treatise which I had to write for another work.
This was not a centennial work, but a collection of papers which were
to characterize the various spheres of knowledge and life in so far as
human egoism is a motor force in each sphere. Arthur Dix published
this work. It was entitled
and was throughout applicable to the time the turning-point between the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The impulses of intellectualism, which had been effective in all
spheres of life since the fifteenth century, have their roots in the
life of the individual soul when these impulses are really
genuine expressions of their own nature. When man reveals himself
intellectually on the basis of the social life, this is not a genuine
intellectual expression, but an imitation.
One of the reasons why the demand for a social feeling has become so
intense in this age lies in the fact that this feeling is not
experienced with original inwardness in intellectualism. Humanity in
these things craves most of all that which it has not.
To my lot fell the setting forth for this book of
Egoismus in der Philosophie(2).
My paper bears this title only because
the general title of the book required this. The title ought really to have been
Individualismus in der Philosophie.(3)
I sought to give in very brief form a survey of occidental philosophy
since Thales, and to show how the goal of its evolution has been to
bring the human individual to experience the world in ideal images,
just as it is the purpose of my Philosophy of Spiritual
Activity to set this forth with reference to knowledge and the
Again in this paper I stand before the gateway of the spiritual
world. In the human individual were pointed out the ideal images
which reveal the world-content. They appear so that they may wait for
the experience whereby the mind may step through them into the world
of spirit. In my description I held to this position. There is an
inner world in this article which shows how far mere thinking comes in
its grasp of the world.
It is evident that I described the pre-anthroposophic life of the mind
from the most varied points of view before devoting myself to the
anthroposophic setting forth of the spiritual world. In this there can
be found nothing contradictory of my coming forward on behalf of
anthroposophy; for the world-picture which arises will not be
contradicted by anthroposophy, but extended and continued further.
If one begins to represent the spiritual world as a mystic, any one
has a right to say: You speak from your personal experiences.
What you are describing is subjective. To travel such a
spiritual road was not given me as my task from the spiritual world.
This task consisted in laying a foundation for anthroposophy just as
objective as that of scientific thinking when this does not restrict
itself to sensible facts but reaches out for comprehensive concepts.
All that I set forth in scientific-philosophic manner, and in
connection with Goethe's ideas is subject to discussion. It may be
considered more or less correct or incorrect; but it strives after the
character of the objective-scientific in the fullest sense.
And it is out of this knowledge, free of the emotional-mystical, that
I have brought the experience of the spiritual world. It can be seen
how in my Mysticism and Christianity as Mystical Fact the
conception of mysticism is carried in the direction of this objective
knowledge. And let it be noted also how my Theosophy is
constructed. At every step taken in this book, spiritual perception
stands as the background. Nothing is said which is not derived from
this spiritual perception; but, while the steps are being made, the
perception is clothed at first in the beginning of the book in
scientific ideas until, in rising to the higher worlds, it must occupy
itself more and more in freely picturing the spiritual world.
But this picturing grows out of the natural-scientific as the blossoms
of a plant from the stem and leaves. As the plant is not seen in its
entirety, if one fixes one's eye upon it only up to the blossom, so
nature is not experienced in her entirety if one does not rise from
the sensible to the spiritual.
Therefore that for which I strove was to set forth in anthroposophy
the objective continuation of science, not to set by the side of
science something subjective. It was inevitable that this very effort
would not at first be understood. Science was supposed to end with
that which antedates anthroposophy, and there was no inclination so to
put life into the ideas of science as to lead to one's laying hold
upon the spiritual. Men ran the risk of being excommunicated by the
habit of thought built up during the second half of the nineteenth
They could not muster the courage to break the fetters of mere
sense-observation; they feared that they might arrive at a region
where each would insist upon his own fantasy.
Such was my orientation of mind when, in 1902, Marie von Sievers and I
entered upon the leadership of the German section of the Theosophical
Society. It was Marie von Sievers who, by reason of her whole being,
made it possible to keep what came about through us far removed from
anything sectarian, and to give to the thing such a character as won
for it a place within the general spiritual and educational life. She
was deeply interested in the art of the drama and of declamation and
recitation, and had completed courses of study in these art forms,
especially in the best institutions in Paris, which had given to her
talent a beautiful development. When I became acquainted with her in
Berlin she was still continuing her studies in order to learn the
various methods of artistic speech.
Marie von Sievers and I soon became great friends, and on the basis of
this friendship there developed an united work in the most varied
intellectual spheres and over a very wide area. Anthroposophy, but
also the arts of poetry and of recitation, to cultivate these in
common became for us the very essence of life.
Only in this unitedly cultivated spiritual life could the central
point be found from which at first anthroposophy would be carried into
the world through the local branches of the Theosophical Society.
During our first visit to London together, Marie von Sievers had heard
from Countess Wachtmeister, an intimate friend of H. P. Blavatsky,
much about the latter and about the tendencies and the evolution of
the Theosophical Society. She was entrusted in the highest measure
with that which was once revealed as a spiritual content to the
Society and the story of how this content had been further fostered.
When I say that it was possible to find in the branches of the
Theosophical Society those persons who desired to have knowledge
imparted to them from the spiritual world, I do not mean that those
persons enrolled in the Theosophical Society could be considered
before all others as being of such a character.
Many of these, however, proved very soon to have a high degree of
understanding in reference to my form of spiritual knowledge. But a
large part of the members were fanatical followers of individual heads
of the Theosophical Society. They swore by the dogmas given out by
these heads, who acted in a strongly sectarian spirit.
This action of the Theosophical Society repelled me by the triviality
and dilettantism inherent in it. Only among the English theosophists
did I find an inner content, which also, however, rested upon
Blavatsky, and which was then fostered by Annie Besant and others in a
literal fashion. I could never have worked in the manner in which
these theosophists worked. But I considered what lived among them as a
spiritual centre with which one could worthily unite when one
earnestly desired the spread of spiritual knowledge. So it was not the
united membership in the Theosophical Society upon which Marie von
Sievers and I counted, but chiefly those persons who were present with
heart and mind whenever spiritual knowledge in an earnest sense was
This working within the existing branches of the Theosophical Society,
which was necessary as a starting-point, comprised only a part of our
activity. The chief thing was the arrangement for public lectures in
which I spoke to a public not belonging to the Theosophical Society
that came to my lectures only because of their content. Of persons who
learned in this manner what I had to say about the spiritual world and
of those who through the activity in one or another theosophical
tendency found their way to this mode of learning of these persons
there was comprised within the branches of the Theosophical Society
that which later became the Anthroposophical Society. Among the
various charges that have been directed against me in reference to my
work in the Theosophical Society even from the side of the Society
itself this also has been raised: that to a certain extent I used
this Society, which already had a standing in the world, as a
spring-board in order to render easier the way for my own spiritual
There is not the slightest ground for such a statement. When I
accepted the invitation into the Society, this was the sole
institution worthy of serious consideration in which there was present
a real spiritual life. Had the mood, bearing, and work of the Society
remained as they then were, the withdrawal of my friend and myself
need never have occurred. The Anthroposophical Society might only have
been formed officially within the Theosophical Society as a special
But even as early as 1906 things were already beginning to be manifest
and effective in the Theosophical Society which indicated in a
terrible measure its deterioration.
If earlier still, in the time of H. P. Blavatsky, such incidents were
asserted by the outer world to have occurred, yet at the beginning of
the century it was clearly true that the earnestness of spiritual work
on the part of the Society constituted a compensation for whatever
wrong thing had taken place. Moreover, the occurrences had been left
But after 1906 there began in the Society, upon whose general
direction I had not the least influence, practices reminiscent of the
growth of spiritualism, which made it necessary for me to warn members
again and again that the part of the Society which was under my
direction should have absolutely nothing to do with these things. The
climax in these practices was reached when it was asserted of a Hindu
boy that he was the person in whom Christ would appear in a new
earthly life. For the propagation of this absurdity there was formed
in the Theosophical Society a special society, that of The Star
of the East. It was utterly impossible for my friend and me to
include the membership of this Star of the East as a
branch of the German section, as they desired and as Annie Besant,
president of the Theosophical Society, especially intended. We were
forced to found the Anthroposophical Society independently.
I have in this matter departed far from the narration of events in the
course of my life; but this was necessary, for only these later facts
can throw the right light on the purposes to which I bound myself in
entering the Society at the beginning of the century.
When I first spoke at the congress of the Theosophical Society in
London in 1902, I said that the unity into which the individual
sections would combine should consist in the fact that each one should
bring to the centre what it held within itself; and I gave sharp
warning that I should expect this most especially of the German
section. I made it clear that this section would never conduct itself
as the representative of set dogmas but as composed of places
independent of one another in spiritual research, which desired to
reach mutual understandings in the conferences of the whole Society in
regard to the fostering of genuine spiritual life.
- Egoism in Philosophy.
- Individualism in Philosophy.