Rudolf Steiner said the following about this essay in Chapter XXXI of
The Course of My Life:
I experienced this standing before the portal of the spiritual
world even more significantly in an essay I had to write for another
volume. This volume was not devoted to the work of one century, but rather
was a collection of essays meant to characterize the various realms of
knowledge and life insofar as human egoism is a driving force
in the development of these realms. Arthur Dix published this volume. It
was entitled Egoism and was totally consistent with that period
the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century.
The impulses of intellectualism, which since the fifteenth century have
affected every realm of life, are rooted in the individual life of
the soul if they truly manifest their essential nature. If someone
expresses himself intellectually out of the social life, this is then not a
true intellectual manifestation but only an imitation.
One of the reasons why the call for social feeling in our age has rung out
so strongly is that in intellectuality this feeling is not experienced in
its original inwardness. Even in such matters, mankind's greatest craving
is for what it does not have.
The task given me in this volume was to portray egoism in
philosophy. My essay now bears this title only because the overall
title of the book demanded it. My title should actually be:
Individualism in Philosophy. I sought, in a very brief form, to
give an overview of western philosophy since Thales, and to show the
development of this philosophy toward an individual experience of the world
in ideal pictures (in Ideenbildern); I sought to do this in the same
way I attempted it in my
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
for man's cognitive and moral life.
With this essay I again stand before the portal of the spiritual
world. Within the human individuality the ideal pictures are
indicated that reveal the content of the world. They arise and wait to be
experienced, so that in them the soul can then advance into the
spiritual world. I stopped at this point in my presentation. An inner world
stands there that shows how far mere thinking comes in grasping the world.
One can see from this that, before devoting myself publicly to the
anthroposophical presentation of the spiritual world, I portrayed the
pre-anthroposophical life of the soul from the most varied points of view.
There is no contradiction between them and my stand on anthroposophy. For
the picture of the world that arises is not refuted by anthroposophy; it is
broadened and carried further by it.
If someone begins as a mystic to present the spiritual world, then everyone
is fully justified in saying: You are speaking of your personal
experiences. What you are portraying is subjective. To tread this kind of a
spiritual path did not arise for me out of the spiritual world as my task.
My task consisted in creating a foundation for anthroposophy just as
objective as scientific thinking is when it does not stop short at
recording sense-perceptible facts but rather presses on to comprehensive
concepts. What I presented scientifically philosophically, what I presented
natural-scientifically in connection with Goethe's ideas, this one could
discuss. One could consider it to be more or less correct or incorrect; it
did, however, strive to have the character of something objectively
scientific in the fullest sense.
And out of this activity of knowing, free of all emotional mystical
elements, I then drew forth the experience of the spiritual world. One can
see how, in my books
Mysticism at the Dawn of the New Age
Christianity as Mystical Fact,
the concept of mysticism is led in
the direction of this objective activity of knowing. And look especially at
the way my
is presented. With every step that is taken in
this book, spiritual vision stands there in the background. Nothing is said
that does not stem from this spiritual vision. But as the steps are being
taken, it is first of all, at the beginning of the book, natural-scientific
ideas in which this vision cloaks itself; then this vision, in ascending
into the higher worlds, must become ever more active in freely forming
pictures of the spiritual world. But these pictures grow from what is
natural-scientific like the blossom of a plant grows from its stem and
leaves. Just as the plant is not beheld in its completeness if one views
only its stem and leaves, so nature is not experienced in its completeness
if one does not ascend from what is sense-perceptible to the spirit.