[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

Highlight Words

Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Schmidt Number: S-3355

On-line since: 31st May, 2016

The Beyond of the Senses and the Beyond of the Soul

Berlin, 31 March 1917

The big progress of natural sciences is admired rightly. The present human being rightly likes to put himself in the way of thinking from which this progress of natural sciences has originated. However, thereby his thinking accepts certain forms. One has to say that just because many people project their thoughts in the scientific mindset they cannot be attentive to that which gives knowledge of the nature of the human soul and mind which gives knowledge of the most important riddles of human existence.

One gets if one pursues the course of the history of mind not only a general idea of this incapacity. If one looks in detail at what one has tried to perform just in the area of psychology in our time, one gets the impression directly that people with scientific mindset often disregard the points where knowledge of the soul, the knowledge of the most important questions of existence should arise. I want to choose the explanations of a thinker whom I have often mentioned here who can be respected, indeed, as someone who tried to exceed the only external, sensory existence and to point to something that lives in the spiritual behind the sensory. I would like to take certain thoughts as starting points which Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906), the philosopher of the unconscious, wrote down in the beginning of his Psychology. He says there that it is actually impossible to observe the soul phenomena, and that psychology is almost unable to observe the soul phenomena. Let us look at Hartmann's thoughts in this direction. He says:

“Psychology wants to state what is given; for that it has to observe it above all. However, the observation of the own soul phenomena is something special, because it interferes and changes that without fail to which it is directed to a lower or higher degree. Someone who wants to observe own tender feelings does considerably change these emotions by his attention.”

Hartmann means, one cannot observe the soul, because one has to observe emotions if one wants to observe the soul; but if one turns the attention to a tender feeling, it disappears in the soul; the soul escapes as it were from observation.

“Nay, they can even go through his fingers like water. A slight physical pain is increased by observation.”

He means, pain is a soul experience; yes, but how can we observe it? How can we find out what is there if pain lives in the soul in such a way that it becomes stronger if we start observing it. So it changes. We change what we want to observe by observation. On the other hand:

“If we recite anything, we may get stuck and we are confused if we want to ascertain the course.”

He means that it is a soul phenomenon if we recite anything. However, if now we want to start watching what happens there, actually, while we are reciting, we cannot do that. So we cannot observe this soul phenomenon of reciting. He continues:

“Strong feelings or even affects, like fear and rage, make us incapable to observe own soul phenomena. Observation falsifies the result, while it brings that into the given only which it expects to find. It seems almost impossible to concretise the psychic experiences of the present moment in such a way that one makes them the object of a coincident observation; either the experience does not let the coincident observation arise, or the observation falsifies and suppresses the experience.”

We realise that here somebody, as it were, recoils from the observation of the soul under the influence of thinking. If I want to grasp the psychic, I just change it by this psychic activity of grasping it. Therefore, an observation is impossible — Hartmann means.

Indeed, this is an exceptionally interesting example of the wrong tracks that just this research takes because of a certain inability. What would one gain then, actually, if we were able to observe, for example, a tender feeling really?

A tender feeling would remain completely the same what it is if it were observed in the soul. We would find out nothing but what the tender feeling is by observation. Nothing about the soul. That applies also to the other examples that Hartmann brings in. Since it matters that that never appears which we call soul in that what the moment offers. The soul can only face us really if we experience the changes of the single soul experiences. If we wanted to observe what exists in the soul at a moment, we would resemble someone who walks to a field in a certain season and sees the brown mould, and says to himself, this brown mould is spread out there. After a certain time he walks again to this field which is now green. Does he not say then if he is reasonable: the brown mould that I have seen recently has not shown everything that exists there? Only because I have observed the change at different times, I find out that there is not only mould spread out, but also that it has contained many sprouting seeds in itself.

Thus, the psychic presents itself if we become attentive: a tender feeling is extinguished if I turn a strong thought to its observation. This cooperation of the tender feeling and the strong observing thought is only the work of the psychic. So Eduard von Hartmann regrets not being able to observe what changes, while he should just observe the change. If he started from a viewpoint that goes deeper into the soul life and into the connection of the soul life with the physical life, then he would say the following, for example, about memorising. He would recognise that memorising is based on the fact that something mental which you have often exerted has imprinted itself in the bodily processes so that the body lets automatically happen while reciting the memorised, as it were, without the soul being present what has to happen, so that the things to be memorised re-emerge. Someone who knows to observe soul experiences knows that by memorising the soul as it were moves deeper into the body that it thereby is active more in the body than if we form present thoughts by direct contemplation that we have not memorised. However, if we let that automatically proceed which we have imprinted in the bodily from the mental, we disturb this automatism if we intervene with an immediately present thought which originates a level higher, namely in the soul.

You realise at once considering such things that Hartmann regrets that the different kinds of mental and bodily activities co-operate.

Eduard von Hartmann says: “Observation often falsifies the mental.”

Now, the usual science has more or less abandoned from really observing the mental during the last decades, at least from methodically observing the soul. However, certain flashes of inspiration appeared. Just those had such flashes of inspiration who the academic philosophers do not appreciate so much. Thus, for example, Nietzsche (Friedrich N., 1844-1900) had some flashes of inspiration. While he grasped the soul life more and more brilliantly but increasingly pathologically and recognised that that which proceeds on the surface of it is very different from that which happens in the depths of the human life.

One needs only to read such things like Nietzsche's discussions about the ascetic ideal to which some people dedicate themselves, and you will realise what I mean here, actually. How does one often describe the ascetic ideal? Well, one describes it in such a way that one has in mind on what someone prides himself who dedicates himself to asceticism in the usual sense: the fact that the human being himself practises more and more to neutralise his will and to become more and more weak-willed and unselfish. From this line of thought the ascetic ideal forms. Nietzsche asks, what is then, actually, behind this ascetic ideal? He recognises that someone who lives according to an ascetic ideal wants to get power. If he developed only his usual soul life, he would have a lower power than he wants to have. Hence, he practises his will, apparently to decrease it. However, in the depths of his soul he wants to attain big power just while he decreases his will. The will to power is behind the ideal of the lack of will, of unselfishness. That is Nietzsche's opinion. Indeed, a flash of inspiration is in it that should be regarded with the judgement, in particular with the self-knowledge of the human being.

We take a more obvious example. A person wrote to me once, I devote myself to a certain scientific direction; actually, I do not have the slightest sympathy for this scientific direction, but I consider it as my duty to be active in this direction because the present humanity needs it. I would rather do, actually, everything else than just that what I carry out there. I did not feel embarrassed to answer to the man concerned, he would appear as someone who has a superficial view of his soul. Deeply in the subconscious about which he knows nothing, a greed exists which wants to carry out just that about which he said that it is actually unpleasant to him, that he accepts it only as a mission. In truth, I said, the whole matter appears to me in such a way that he considers it as a mission because he wants to practise just these things due to the most selfish motives. There you can realise without going deeper into the soul life that the superficial soul life almost falsifies the subconscious one. However, this falsifying is just a strange activity of the soul.

Eduard von Hartmann just got to his hypothesis of the unconscious from such lines of thought as I have stated them, and because he did not pursue such lines of thought further, which I have added. He says: from that what happens in the soul as thinking, feeling, and willing what one has there as consciousness in the soul one can attain, actually, no view of the real soul. But because one has only this, one has generally to renounce a view about the real soul life and can put up only a hypothesis. That is why Hartmann puts up the hypothesis: behind thinking, feeling, and willing is the unconscious that you can never reach. From this unconscious the thoughts, feelings, and will impulses are surging up. However, what is down there in the unconscious, about which you can only have thoughts that are more or less probable but that are only hypotheses.

One has to say, someone who thinks in such a way obstructs the access to the soul life, to that what is beyond the usual soul life. Since Hartmann properly recognised that everything that is in the usual consciousness is nothing but picture. This belongs to the merits of Hartmann that he stressed repeatedly: what is in the usual consciousness originates because the soul gets its content reflected from the body, so that we have reflections only of that what we experience in thinking, feeling, and willing. Talking about the fact that in these reflections of the consciousness something real is contained resembles the assertion that the pictures that we perceive from a mirror are real. We come back just to this matter today. However, Hartmann, and with him countless thinkers obstructed the possibility to themselves to penetrate into the soul because they had an indescribable fear of the way which leads into the soul. However, this fear remains in the subconscious; it projects in the usual consciousness in such a way that one leads himself to believe in numerous reasons that say, you cannot exceed certain limits of knowledge.

Somebody who wants to penetrate really into the soul life must not stop at the usual consciousness, but go over to that what I have called the “beholding consciousness,” to a higher consciousness compared with the usual one. I have taken the following comparison: the human being lives in pictures while sleeping. The visions become conscious up to a certain degree. I have said in previous talks, the essentials are that the human being cannot relate his will to the things in the surroundings in these visions. At the moment of awakening, that remains which appears as pictures as it is in the dream; but now the human being relates to the surroundings with his will, and he integrates what proceeds in the dream usually only as pictures into his sensory surroundings. As well as now the human being wakes from the dream consciousness, he can manage by certain exercises to wake from the usual awake consciousness to a “beholding consciousness” by which he now does not integrate himself into the usual sensory world but into the spiritual world. With this beholding consciousness, the human being can penetrate into the beyond of the soul phenomena.

Just the most enlightened men of the present believe that one commits a sin against knowledge if one states that the human being is able to advance to such a beholding consciousness. Some people, especially philosophical ones, simply dismiss this beholding consciousness as a kind of clairvoyance. But the matter is in such a way that one can characterise it maybe best of all if one characterises the immense progress which took place in the relation of the human being to reality from Kant to Goethe. However, with it one commits a sin against the spirit of many philosophers. However, one has to commit this sin once. Kantianism started erecting barriers of human knowledge within the continental mental development.

The “thing in itself” is there put as something transcendent that the human knowledge cannot reach. Thus, Kantianism wants it, and thus many people of the nineteenth century, even of the twentieth century, want it with Kantianism. Goethe argued something very important against this principle of Kantianism in few short sentences. One could regard, actually, his small essay On the Beholding Judgement (1820) which is normally printed in his scientific writings as one of the greatest actions of modern philosophy, simply because in that what lives in this small essay, the starting point is given of a big development of the human spiritual life. Goethe says in this essay, Kant excludes the human being from the thing in itself and accepts only that the categorical imperative projects in the soul that orders what he should do. But if one should rise to the moral, Goethe thinks, to the ideas of freedom, of immortality, why should it be impossible to the human being to rise immediately also with his knowledge to that world in which immortality and freedom are rooted?

Goethe calls such a faculty of judgement that puts itself in such a world the beholding faculty of judgement. Goethe practised this beholding faculty of judgement perpetually in his considerations of natural phenomena. He gave a great example looking at the forms of plants and animals how you can apply the beholding faculty of judgement. Kant considered this beholding faculty of judgement as something demoniacal that one should absolutely leave that one should disregard. He called the use of this beholding faculty of judgement “the adventure of reason.” Goethe said against him, why should one not pass the adventure of reason courageously if one has tried to recognise in such a way as I did how the spirit lives in the natural phenomena?

However, with it only a beginning is given, but the beginning of a development that proceeds in such a way, as I have characterised it in these talks. I also want to point again to the fact that you find information and indications in my writings what you have to carry out to get from the normal consciousness to the beholding one. I described that, for example, in How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?, in Occult Science. An Outline and in my last book The Riddle of Man. As well as the soul has to invigorate itself so that it wakes within a world that is now also another in comparison to the usual day consciousness, as the usual sensory world of the day consciousness is different from the mere imagery of dreams. Out from the usual awake consciousness into a world of the beholding consciousness: just the excellent thinkers of modern time have avoided this way so much. One has the peculiar phenomenon that just the most enlightened heads stopped at Kant and did not find the way from Kant to Goethe to advance to the beholding consciousness which is only another form of that what Goethe meant with his beholding faculty of judgement.

Then, however, the human being attains the Imaginative knowledge at first that is not called “Imaginative” because it is something imagined, but because it lives in images that are not taken from the sensory world, but from a more intensive reality. Then the human being really lives in the etheric. With the usual awake consciousness, we become aware of the outer sensory world. With the Imaginative consciousness, we enter another world in which other things and beings are than in the usual sensory world. For somebody who still has no idea of this beholding consciousness it is indeed difficult to form a mental picture of it. That is also, why some dear listeners have said to me in the last times that they understand just these talks difficultly. The talks are not difficult in relation to the informed facts, but they are difficult because they deal with something that does not exist for the usual consciousness. They talk about results that are based on the beholding consciousness. But one can get an approximate idea also in the usual consciousness of that which is, actually, the very first of the beholding consciousness. Position yourself in a rather vivid morning dream from which you wake, and try to remember such a dream in which you have tried to live intensely. There you will have experienced that you have to imagine that which you feel connected as thoughts with your body as it were spread about the continuously flowing visions. You cannot distinguish yourself from that which is flowing in the visions, as you can distinguish yourself saying, I am standing here and I think about the things that are outdoors.

You do not perceive something outside and think about it, but you have the experience directly: in that which surges up and down there, the forces are which are active, otherwise, in my thinking. It is, as if you yourselves submerge in the objectively flowing life of the forces of thought. What one can imagine in the dream life only suspecting is particularly discernible in the beholding consciousness as a first impression. There you can no longer think, the objects are outdoors and I think about the objects within my head. No, there you feel embedded in a surging substantial sea in which you yourselves are a wave. The power of thought is not only in you, it is outdoors, it causes this waving and surging, this goes outward, inwards. That is, you feel once connected with it, then you feel that the power of thought is outdoors and flows there without you.

What one reaches this way while something substantial is connected with that which lives, otherwise, only in us as a thought is the real ether. Since the ether is nothing but something subtler substantial which is so ensouled everywhere that flowing thinking works in it that in reality thoughts fulfil the ether outdoors. Only in this manner, by development of your consciousness, you attain what one should really call ether. Then you also attain a more intimate relation between your soul and the surroundings. If you face the surroundings with your senses, you can never get such an intimate relation to the surroundings, as you have in this experience of the beholding consciousness which has really no borders between inside and outside, but where the ether penetrated and ensouled with thoughts flows into your soul life and flows from your soul life.

However, not before you have entered into this beholding consciousness, a higher self-knowledge can come into being. I have here to note something now that belongs again to the important results of spiritual research; however, it will go over also into the scientific research, in so far as this will find the confirmation of it as it will find the confirmation of those results of spiritual research which I have put forward in previous talks. Since the human being is a complex being, even if we look only at his body from without. If Goethe's point of view had become fertile sooner, one would also have applied Goethe's theory of metamorphosis to the human being. Goethe distinguished very nicely in what way with the plant the green leaf and the coloured petal are the same, only on different levels of existence, the latter is only a transformation product, a metamorphosis of the former. If one does not take the only theoretical thinking as starting point, but the view which lived in Goethe and applies this metamorphosis view to the human being in his whole complexity, you get around to recognising that the human being, while he carries a head and has the other organism, is a very strange being.

If one looks at the human being as he develops from the first childhood on and on, something of the variously important faces you which science does not appreciate enough today. I would like to stress only that in the very first childhood the head is bodily mostly developed. The head increases in seize four times in the whole life, while the rest of the organism increases in seize twenty times. Consider how different the speeds of the growth of the head and of the rest of the organism are. This is because head and the rest of organism are two different metamorphoses of the very same, but in a quite peculiar kind. The head appears straight away in a certain perfection; the rest of the organism is very imperfect compared with this, has to develop only slowly to the degree of perfection which it should reach in the physical life. I have mentioned already once that spiritual science shows where from this comes. The head points back to a long preceding spiritual development. We come while we embody ourselves as mental-spiritual beings from a spiritual world. What we experience there contains a sum of forces that develop mainly in the head at first; hence, the perfection of the head points to a development that the human being has behind himself.

The rest of the organism is as it were the same on an initial level. As paradoxical as it sounds, but it is this way. The head shows that it is a metamorphosed rest of the organism; the rest of the organism shows that it does not yet have become head. As well as the green leaf is not yet a petal, the coloured petal is a transformed leaf. That which the human being develops with the rest of his organism is assimilated in the soul. If the human being dies, that enters a spiritual world and develops between death and a new birth, which becomes the forces in a later life, which form the head, as well as the present head has developed from the organism of a former life on earth.

You can ask now, how can one know such a thing? You can know such a thing, as soon as you have the beholding consciousness. Since that really appears there what compels you to consider the human being as this duality: the human being of the head and the human being of the rest of organism. The head is as it were a tool of the etheric world as I have just described it, and the rest of the organism is a tool of this etheric world, too.

The human being has his physical organism not only like a section of the whole physical world, but he has, held together by the physical organism, an etheric organism in himself which you can only perceive with Imaginative knowledge. However, if you look at that which is etheric, then you realise the big difference between the etheric body of the head and that of the rest of the organism. Just as the head and the rest of the organism have quite different speeds of growth, their parts of the etheric body have quite different forces which cause different inner Imaginations. If one generally gets to the Imaginative world, you realise the interplay of the Imaginations of the etheric body of the head and of the rest of the organism.

This living cooperation in the human etheric organism is the contents of a higher self-knowledge. Because the human being recognises himself now really he can also assess certain soul experiences correctly. If that which I have stated were not in such a way as I have described it, the human being would never be able to remember. He would be able to form mental pictures after the sensory impressions, but they would always pass.

We can remember something, because the etheric body of the head interacts with the etheric body of the rest of the organism and that which works in the etheric body of the head causes changes in the etheric body of the remaining organism, which then work into the physical organism. Whenever anything takes place in his mental-bodily life that belongs to the memory a change appears in the etheric organism at first that continues in the physical organism. Only because something makes impressions into the physical body we can remember it. However, you can only observe now with the beholding consciousness what happens there from the etheric organism in the physical organism. This can be observed only if the beholding consciousness continues those exercises which I have characterised in the cited books if the beholding consciousness advances from the mere Imaginative knowledge to that which I have called there “Inspirative knowledge.”

With the Imaginative knowledge, we submerge in a world of the surging ether that is inspired by thoughts. If we continue the exercises, we strengthen our soul life even more; we get around to perceiving real spiritual beings within this surging life of thoughts that reveal themselves only in the spiritual. Because we get to the real perception of a spiritual world, we are able to perceive ourselves as spiritual beings among other spiritual beings in the spiritual world. Then something happens that I can characterise quite difficultly but that you can understand with some good will.

If you are imagining, and the imagined remains in your soul, and later this imagined is brought up again from the soul, you say, you remember. But this is based, as I have just explained, on something that goes forward in the physical organism. You cannot pursue it only with the usual consciousness. If you advance in the beholding consciousness, you can realise what goes forward behind the memory what goes forward in the human being in the time that proceeds from then on where he has grasped a thought, which now has disappeared and lives down in the physical organism, until it is brought up again. Everything that lives there beyond the thought that is reminded, you do not perceive if you cannot lift yourself out by the beholding consciousness, and cannot look at yourself from the other side as it were.

So that you do not only realise that a thought goes down, and feel it coming up again, but that you perceive everything that happens in between. This arises only to the Inspirative consciousness. Thus, the human being on one side arrives at a beyond of the soul that makes sure that he lives in spirit. However, he gets also to the beyond of the soul that works in that which lives unconsciously from the disappearance of a thought up to its recurrence what lives down there as the “unconscious.” One cannot reach it with the usual consciousness because the thought is reflected before in the organism; but if one gets behind this reflection if you exceed yourself and live in the beholding consciousness, you experience what goes forward between grasping the thought and the recollection in the human being. Now we want to retain that which the human being can perceive as it were beyond that stream by the beholding consciousness that is limited usually by the memory. Since we realise that we enter into a beyond of the soul with the beholding consciousness.

We keep this thought in mind, and we have a glance from the same viewpoint at some attempts, which have come out in the scientific age.

The scientific worldview reaches not only such wrong tracks to the soul life as I have characterised them, but also wrong tracks in certain respect if it wants to investigate what is beyond the senses. Indeed, in this respect the scientific research is in a strange situation today if it forms a worldview. It has recognised, actually, that in the consciousness only pictures of a reality exist. It takes a one-sided idea as starting point; but in spite of its one-sidedness this idea gives a certain view which is correct, namely that everything that lives in the consciousness consists of pictures. The scientific research takes its starting point from the idea that there is a quite spiritless and soulless reality of swinging unthinking ether atoms.

We have found the ether as a surging life of thoughts; the scientific worldview starts from the thoughtless, uninspired ether. These oscillations work on our senses, they conjure up the coloured, sounding world, while outdoors everything is dark and silent. Now, however, this thinking wants to come behind these pictures. What does it do? What it does there can be compared, for example, with a child that looks in a mirror. There it faces reflections of it and its surroundings. Now the child wants to know what is there, actually, behind these reflections. What does it do? It looks behind the mirror. However, there it sees something else than what it has searched. Alternatively, it smashes the mirror to see what is behind the glass. The scientific worldview does the same. It has the whole carpet of the sensory phenomena before itself, and it wants to know what lives behind the sensory phenomena. It goes so far that it approaches the material, the matter. Now it wants to know what is there outdoors. That means smashing the carpet that is like a mirror. It would not find that behind it what it searches. If now anybody says, there I have the red colour by the eye, and behind it certain oscillations are in the ether, he talks just as somebody who believes that the origin of that which appears in the mirror is behind the mirror.

Since just in such a way, as if you stand before a mirror, you see the picture of yourself from the mirror, and you are together with that which is in the surroundings, and with that what is reflected from itself, one is in the soul together with that which is behind the sensory phenomena. If I want to know, why there with me something else is reflected, there I cannot look behind the mirror, but there I have to look at them who are on the left and on the right who are with me of the same nature who are also reflected. If I want to investigate what is there outdoors behind the sensory phenomena, I have to investigate that in which I myself am; not by smashing the mirror, but while I investigate that, in which I am.

Indeed, one developed astute lines of thought about the ether in scientific respect. But all these lines of thought have led to nothing but to the fact that one has recognised nothing else, that one gets on the way of physical research only to the same which one also has in the sensory view before himself, save that one cannot perceive with the senses, because something is too subtle or runs too fast. One gets to no ether. This is transparent today after the nice researches with the vacuum tubes where one believed to have the ether palpable. Since one knows today that by these experiments nothing else comes into being than radioactive matter, not what can be called ether. Today just the ether research is going through a radical change. Since one will never get to something else on the way of physical research than to that what reflects. If you want to get further, you have to consider that but you can do this only with the beholding consciousness what is reflected together with you. This lives in the ether that is really inspired by thoughts. Hence, one finds if one asks for the beyond of the senses only an answer again with the beholding consciousness.

Since if you recognise the surging ether inspired with thoughts in yourself with Imaginative knowledge, you are also able to find it behind any outer sense perception. Behind that which the senses perceive the same lives which is found in us, if we penetrate into that which lives there in us while we grasp a thought and remember it again. Not on the way on which physics goes forward or went forward up to now you get to the beyond of the senses, but while you find that what is beyond the senses in your being. Between grasping a thought and remembering it again, the same process takes place that lives there outdoors and penetrates to my eye if I perceive red. The beyond of the senses and the beyond of the soul lead into the spiritual.

I had to lead you through an abstract line of thought today because I wanted to say in the context of these talks something about the perspective that has to arise from spiritual science. I wanted to show that real self-knowledge leads to the beyond of the soul that, however, if one enters into the beyond of the soul, one also stands in the beyond of the senses that one thereby finds the way, by the beholding consciousness, into the spiritual world. In this spiritual world the Intuitive consciousness discovers that what also takes place in our soul life, and what I have described in the preceding talks as that which as our destiny surges up and down in our experiences. The experience of destiny unites with the moral, with the events of destiny. If we only know that behind the experience of the senses no spiritless reality but an inspired reality exists, then our moral life also has place in the spiritual world that is beyond the soul and beyond the senses, as the material world that we perceive around ourselves has place in this outer world.

Spiritual science is regarded as something paradox even today; the things which I have described are regarded as follies; but they can be regarded also as facts which are simply described as outer events can be described. However, this approach of spiritual science is only digging in a tunnel of knowledge from one side; from the other side natural sciences are digging in the mountain. If both strive after the right direction, they meet in the middle. I would like to say, in a kind of negative way natural sciences meet spiritual science already today. Since strange things have arisen among the scientific thinkers of the last time. Indeed, those who mean to stand on the firm ground of the scientific research because they know what was discovered until twenty years ago, they do not yet know a lot of that which scientific thinkers are really doing. If one observes more exactly, one does quite strange discoveries.

Therefore, I have just stated Eduard von Hartmann as a thinker who at least points to a beyond of the senses and a beyond of the soul. However, he does not admit that it is possible to the beholding consciousness to penetrate to the beyond of the senses and the beyond of the soul. That is why, he says, that which lies beyond the senses and beyond the soul is the unconscious. About that, he puts up rather questionable hypotheses. However, these are only truths of thought. The thought does not reach these worlds. Solely the beholding consciousness reaches them as I have described it. But, at least: Hartmann penetrates to the notion of the fact that in the beyond of the senses and in the beyond of the soul something spiritual is even if he did not become aware of it. He gave a criticism of the materialistically interpreted Darwinism when he published his Philosophy of the Unconscious in 1868. The “ materialistically interpreted Darwinism” what Darwin found as single facts should not be discussed here believes without being able to explain anything mental that from the imperfect simplest living beings the more perfect ones originate by mere selection, by the struggle for existence. Because the more perfect ones develop by chance and overcome the imperfect ones, the perfect ones survive; thereby a sort of a developmental order from the imperfect to the perfect ones originates. Hartmann explained even then that chance was not enough to explain the development of organisms, but that certain, even if unconscious remaining forces must be effective if the living being develops from the imperfect to the more perfect one. Briefly, he searched something spiritual in the evolution; he assumed hypothetically that it could be really found beyond the senses and beyond the soul. Since one did not yet advance to the beholding consciousness in those days.

When now the Philosophy of the Unconscious had appeared, many scientifically thinking persons opposed this “dilettantish thinker” Eduard von Hartmann. Among those who criticised Hartmann at that time was Eduard Oscar Schmidt (1823-1886, zoologist). Haeckel (Ernst H., 1834-1919) and numerous of his disciples who were highly surprised now that under many writings, which refuted Eduard von Hartmann brilliantly, also a writing appeared by an anonym. Haeckel and others said: we consider him as one of ours. Then the second edition of this writing The Unconscious in the Light of Darwinism appeared. Now the author was called he was Eduard von Hartmann. Then one hushed him. — However, one noticed something else: in 1916, an interesting writing appeared which is abreast with this science. This writing is titled: The Origin of Organisms. A Refutation of Darwin's Theory of Chance. This book is written by the famous disciple of Haeckel, by Oscar Hertwig (1849-1922), Professor of Biology in Berlin. We experience the strange phenomenon that the generation of Haeckel's disciples whom he himself was very proud of writes books already that refute Darwin's theory of chance, which prevailed in the time, when one turned against Hartmann just in Haeckel's circles. What does Hertwig do whom I myself knew with his brother Richard (1850-1937, zoologist) as one of the most loyal disciples of Haeckel? He checks the “materialistic interpretation of Darwin's theory,” and refutes it bit by bit and quotes Eduard von Hartmann at some places. Hartmann appears in Hertwig's writing now again, and attains honours again. One starts now coming back again to that what Hartmann still moved into the unconscious. One starts now acknowledging the spiritual in the sensory.

However, this book by Oscar Hertwig is strange. Any former materialistic interpretation of Darwinism resulted in the fact that one said, we have perfect organisms, we have imperfect ones. The perfect ones have developed from the imperfect ones by their outer natural forces, but Hertwig comes back to the fact that one can prove if one investigates the first arrangement of the embryo of the perfect organism that it already differs from the imperfect organism that this view of Naegeli (Carl Wilhelm von N., 1817-1891, Swiss botanist) is right. Since in the perfect organism already is something else than in the imperfect one of which one believes that the perfect one has developed from it. The microscopic research has gone up to a border, but it has also reached nothing but that it is confronted with a mirror, and does not advance further than to the border of the sensory world. The result will be that many people who stand on the scientific viewpoint do not only notice as Hertwig does that the materialistic interpretation of Darwinism is impossible. They will rather acknowledge: if we generally want to get to an explanation of the sensory world, we cannot stop at the usual consciousness; there we do not come out of the sensory world, also not with ever so many telescopes. We come only out of the sensory world if we attain the beholding consciousness.

However, the philosophers are also not yet far enough to strengthen the soul so that they would recognise: the beholding consciousness is able to originate from this usual consciousness, as well as the wake consciousness emerges from the dream. I have already often said that I oppose against those whom I respect very much. Hence, I am allowed to say: from this inability to think generally realistically and to strive for this beholding consciousness, it has only also resulted that people consider Eucken (Rudolf E., 1846-1926) and others as great philosophers. Therefore, one can state that adhering to the usual consciousness has taken the sharpness of thinking from the human being that lets him realise that there are not such limits of knowledge as Kant states but such limits that one must overcome by the beholding consciousness.

There are people who suspect what I have said today. There is, for example, a personality (Richard Wahle, 1857-1935, The Tragicomedy of Wisdom (1915)) who suspects that the soul life thinking, feeling and willing is caused by the body, while the everlasting comes from the spiritual world, comes into existence at birth, works in the body, and leaves it at death, and that that which works in the body is not the true soul. This personality whom I mean acknowledges this. However, he speaks of the fact that we have only pictures in the usual consciousness. This personality calls them “incidents.” Behind them, those original factors are which one experiences in the beholding consciousness, the beyond of the soul and the beyond of the senses. However, he does not want to defer to this beholding consciousness. Thus, he faces the incidents, while smashing I would like to say at a thick mirror perpetually and saying, the original factors must be behind it. — However, he is raving. While he is running against the reflecting surface and does not want to get to the beholding consciousness, he believes that any philosophy has only raved. With Fichte, one can realise that he did not rave, but that he pointed in an important point to the beholding consciousness. That personality, whom I mean, now says: “Someone who cannot laugh there (with Fichte) can also not philosophise.” While this personality lets pass by all philosophers from Plato and Heraclitus up to the present ones, he calls these philosophies “the tragicomedy of wisdom.” You can find an interesting sentence on page 132: “We do not have more philosophy than an animal, and only the frantic attempt to get to a philosophy and the final resignation to ignorance distinguish us from the animal.”

This is the judgement of somebody about any philosophy, about all attempts to penetrate into the beyond of the soul and the beyond of the senses. He is really a frantic man who believes in his rage that the others are frantic.

I know very well that that which I say tastes bitter to some people. I can understand this absolutely. However, I have to point out once that it is necessary in the present to leave that what encloses itself in the sensory world and to submerge in that, which leads into the beyond of the soul, in the beyond of the senses. Since the world is not that which sets the limits of knowledge. Only the human being himself sets them.

Sometimes one can do rather interesting discoveries that it is the human being himself if he even does not at all want to look at the beholding consciousness that leads him to the real nature of the soul. I have just given a sample of a philosophical view of a university professor, Richard Wahle, who wrote The Tragicomedy of Wisdom. I could call another, the famous Jodl (Friedrich J., 1849-1914). This philosopher he does no longer live would have certainly regarded everything that is pronounced here as sheer madness. He expresses himself about the soul in the following way: “The soul has neither states nor capabilities, like thinking, imagining, joy, and hatred and so on, but these states are in their totality the soul.” Very witty! The whole philosophy of Jodl is intermingled with this wit. However, this definition of the soul is not more worth than if anybody says: the table does not have edges and a surface, but edges and a surface are the table.

I have called the worldview that I represent in these talks anthroposophy. This is referring to the Anthroposophy. An Outline (1882) by Robert Zimmermann (1824-1898, Austrian philosopher and aesthete) who was also a university professor who was, however, in opposition against anthroposophy. Since he would say what he already said against Schelling: “The philosopher must remain within that which is accessible to thinking. He must not appeal to anything that makes a special development of the soul necessary!”

One can speak in such a way, and then one practises anthroposophy as Robert Zimmermann did. There you find a scrub of thoughts in which you will not be interested, because he says not a single word about all questions of the soul and the spirit. From that what is connected with the beyond of the soul and the beyond of the senses what is connected with the question of immortality, with the question of destiny nothing is in that anthroposophy. Since the whole thinking of the last century has brought the big progress of natural sciences on one side, but on the other side also that attitude that the young Renan (Ernest R., 1823-1892, French author) expressed in the following way when he had lost faith in religious ideas because of the knowledge of the modern scientific way of thinking: “The modern human being is aware that he will never know anything of his highest causes or his destination.” This is, in the end, the confession of many people today, save that because the confession already exists so long many have come to a kind of daze and do not recognise that such a confession rankles the soul if it is new. This confession has obstructed the ways to itself which I have shown today to the beyond of the soul and to the beyond of the senses. Ernest Renan was at least someone who felt how one could live with such an obstruction. That is why he said as an old man: “I wanted, I would know indeed that there would be a hell, because better the hypothesis of the hell than nothing.”

Indeed, the non-recognition of the beholding consciousness does not lead to the knowledge of the origin and the nature of the human being as smashing at the mirror does not lead to the knowledge of those beings that are reflected in the mirror. Renan felt this. He felt that where former times have searched the spiritual origin of the human being his worldview puts nothing. His mind protested against it, while he pronounced in old age that he preferred to know that there is a hell than to believe that nothing is real. As long as the mind only protests in such way, humanity will not overcome the barriers of the worldview which has obstructed the ways to the beyond of the senses and the beyond of the soul up to now. Not before humanity resolves to advance to the strengthening of thinking, of the whole soul life to penetrate with the beholding consciousness into the spiritual reality, then only the mind but also the knowledge rise up against the compulsory power of materialism which keeps the human being from a knowledge of his real nature. I think that today one can already feel that we live at the starting point of those upheavals of the human soul life that lead from the knowledge of the scientific worldview to the beyond of the senses and the beyond of the soul, to the real origin of the human being, to the spirit.

With it, the human being will also be again able to connect that which lives in his destiny, in his moral existence with the world origin, as he can connect that which lives in the outer physical necessity. The human being will thereby ascend to a really uniform and adequate view of nature and soul.

© 2021 Steiner Online Library. All rights reserved.

Steiner Online Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 85-2621701. Donations are tax-deductible.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us