The Philosophy of
Psychoanalysis as Illuminated by an
of the Human Being
September 16, 1915
TODAY I am simply
going to add to what we talked about yesterday, and if possible, I would
like to take up a new topic tomorrow.
In the fourth lecture in
this series, I stressed that finding the right perspective is essential
to understanding any subject, whether it is the world in general, an
individual human being, social interactions, or any series of interrelated
facts. The belief that the truth can be arrived at by proceeding to
draw logical conclusions from some arbitrary point of departure is the
source of a great many errors. If we really want to understand something,
the first thing we have to do is to work out the right point of view from
which to approach it. We must realize that finding the right perspective
is essential to any studying we do; attempting to understand a subject
by approaching it from an arbitrary starting point actually causes a
lot of mistakes.
However, if people who are
aware of the principle of first discovering the right perspective became
acquainted with the psychoanalytic theory's point of departure and proceeded
from there, the results would be quite different. They might incorporate
certain materialistic affectations into psychoanalytic theory to begin
with, but they would soon be forced to adopt purer and nobler means
of understanding simply through having made the distinction between
the conscious and the unconscious mind. They would realize that dragging
in points of view of the sort we mentioned before is not objective but
a sign of arbitrary emotions belonging to subjective human nature.
The most significant aspect
of any true study is that it tends to lead us far beyond our original
point of departure. Rather than incorporating our own subjective impulses
into the subject, we are guided and spurred on by the subject itself.
Eventually, every true student becomes aware of how truly necessary
this principle is. It is indispensable in making any spiritual scientific
world view into a reality and equally indispensable to the structure
of a society in which such a world view is to be fostered. We must finally
realize that we have to take anthroposophy seriously and give it the
respect it deserves. That is, we must not incorporate previous subjective
habits into things belonging to our spiritual scientific philosophy,
but must rather let ourselves be guided by what that philosophy requires.
For example, in everyday life someone may be in the habit of always
arriving late instead of at the specified time. In ordinary bourgeois
life, that habit may be merely unpleasant or less than advantageous
for that person's advancement, but in our anthroposophical movement,
the whole way we deal with spiritual scientific truths ought to make
that kind of behavior an inner impossibility except in cases of dire
In the past few days, we
have talked a lot about dignity — not only the essential dignity
of spiritual science itself, but also the dignity of our own interactions
within the Society. We saw how important it is for us to spend time
together as members among ourselves, with no one else present. Of course,
making sure we arrive on time is a superficial thing, but in the past
few days people have still been coming late, even though the lectures
started at twenty past six. If we carry on like that, my friends, we
will never even be able to begin to realize the ideal of our Society.
In the somewhat attenuated circumstances that come about when we cannot
be sure that members will not continue to arrive once we have begun,
we will never be able to rule out the possibility of having uninvited
guests in our midst. It is simply inconsiderate to come late to a Society
function when the Society needs to make sure that everyone present is
actually a member; that is, when some of us have to go to the extra
effort of keeping an eye on the people entering until all members are
present. When the people standing at the door have come in, we need
to be able to shut the doors and know that everyone is here.
It should certainly not
be necessary to make a special point of talking about things like this,
but in spiritual science we have to be guided by the concept of symptomatology,
which simply means that any being tends to act the same way in important
instances as it does in less significant ones. People who don't even
manage to arrive on time for meetings will also not be able to act out
of the requisite sense of responsibility when it comes to something
important. A great deal of the damage that has become so blatantly evident
lately has come about because people were not particular enough about
certain things. It is really important for us to conduct the practical
affairs of anthroposophy with the conscientious exactitude I just mentioned.
We have seen an example of how we as members of a spiritual scientific
society interact on an ordinary everyday basis; this example, although
very mundane, is nonetheless indicative of what spiritual science requires
In our efforts to find the
right perspective on what we have spoken about aphoristically so many
times in the past few days, the main thing we have to keep in mind is
that the structure and organization of the world as a whole consists
of expressions and revelations of real spiritual entities. They are
present behind the revealed world, which conceals them from our perception.
As you know from many previous lectures, these beings are constantly
in movement, constantly inwardly active. At the moment, I am not talking
about any particular movement, but about their inner activity as a whole.
We have to imagine a certain degree of complexity in this movement if
we want to understand how the beings that stand behind certain phenomena
relate to the phenomena themselves. The following example will be familiar
to you from previous anthroposophical lectures.
We know that our physical
evolution began during the ancient Saturn period and that it continued
during the Sun period, when etheric development set in, and so on. But
what does our physical development on ancient Saturn mean in relation
to the structure of the cosmos as a whole? It would be totally inaccurate
to take our physical nature as it is now and assume that if we imagine
it in a much more primitive and simplified form, that's what the physical
human being would have looked like during the Saturn stage. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Perhaps it will help you understand
this if I tell you that there is absolutely nothing in the present-day
physical world, nothing on the physical plane as it exists now, that
bears the slightest resemblance to human physical existence during the
Saturn stage of evolution. In none of the forms and facts of the physical
world as we know it now is there any trace of what human physical development
was like during that evolutionary period. So if we want to understand
this ancient form of our physical existence, we must make the effort
to do so with a soul and spirit freed from the physical and etheric
I will call the world in
which we understand the makeup of our earliest potential for physical
existence during the Saturn stage
[writes on the chalkboard]
the world of the perception of physical human nature on Saturn. For
the time being, let me just say that we must leave the physical body
and undergo a higher form of development in order to achieve an understanding
of structures corresponding to physical human nature during the Saturn
Next, let us consider human
physical existence during the Sun period, which represents a progression
of physical evolution from the Saturn stage. It is impossible to understand
our physical Sun nature with our present-day physical organs of perception.
Once again, we must ascend into the spiritual world, but not as high
as the level required for comprehending human physical nature during
the Saturn period. In other words, we are able to investigate our physical
Sun nature at a somewhat lower level. We can call this
[writes on the board]
the world of the perception of physical human nature on the Sun.
For investigating physical
human nature as it evolved during the Moon period, a still less elevated
level of perception is required. As soon as we become capable of body-free
perception, we are able to comprehend everything that corresponds to
our physical Moon nature. Let us call this third stage in the relationship
of the human being to objective fact
[writes on the board]
the world of the perception of physical human nature on the Moon.
Continuing in the same vein,
we come to our physical nature during the Earth stage of evolution.
In order to understand this, we do not even need to leave the physical
body; we can grasp it with our physical organs of perception. This level
of cognition is the natural one for human beings during life on Earth,
and we can call it
[writes on the board]
the world of the perception
of physical human nature on Earth.
So, my friends, we have
looked at four different levels of the worlds of perception, levels
that can also be called
[writes on the board]
physical plane, soul world or astral plane, spirit world or Devachan
plane, and higher spirit world or higher Devachan plane.
If you follow what I have
been describing, you will know that we have to place the physical human
being of the Saturn stage here, the physical Sun-human here, the Moon-human
here, and the earthly physical human being here
This in no way contradicts our usual concepts, but is indicated quite
clearly in my book
An Outline Of Occult Science,
where I described
at length how what we recognize as human physical nature at the Moon
stage is not to be observed on the physical plane, but at a higher level,
and so forth.
[ Note 1 ]
It's all explained there very clearly.
Today we know that human
beings have descended during the course of their physical evolution
[line connecting the small circles].
The human being, to the
extent that we are speaking of our present-day physical nature, is a
descending spiritual being. This is one of the basic ancient principles
of any spiritual science. Thus, when considering our physical body,
we must realize that everything we can see of it at this Earth stage
in evolution is that aspect of ourselves that has descended the furthest.
However, there is also something
concealed in the physical body. It conceals something that is actually
Moon-like in nature, something more hidden that is Sun-like in nature,
and something still more deeply hidden that is Saturn-like in nature.
Thus, within the revealed physical body, inner character and inner essentiality
are concealed. In a sense, we can actually perceive only a quarter of
our physical body. The other three quarters are concealed behind the
perceptible body and are nobler and more spiritual in nature than the
aspect visible on the physical plane.
Looking at any part of our
physical body as it exists now on the physical plane, we have to realize
that all our physical organs are in constant inner movement; they are
constantly descending and evolving from the spiritual toward the physical.
We must understand that as they are growing and developing into their
proper form on the physical plane, all our organs are involved in a
descending course of evolution. They are in the process of evolving
downward from a more spiritual form of existence to a more material
In assessing the nature
and character of anything belonging to a human being, we must be guided
by the rule of always finding the right point of view. We are led to
the right perspective when we realize that from a certain point of view
— the one I have been discussing today — physical human
nature is in a process of descent. Therefore, when we look at human
development from childhood to maturity, the childhood stage of evolution
must be regarded as more spiritual and the mature stage as more material,
since a descent from the spiritual to the material has taken place in
between. We will not understand human physical development if we look
at it from any other point of view. It is only possible to understand
it if we are aware that a descent of the physical human being takes
place during growth and development, that a growing human being allows
something spiritual to descend deeper into matter.
The same principle applies
to the world as a whole. Thus, we also speak of cultural evolution.
For instance, once upon a time there was an ancient Indian cultural
epoch that evolved into the ancient Persian epoch, then into the Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian
epoch, then into the Greco-Latin epoch, and finally into our own cultural
epoch. However, we also know that former cultural epochs continue to
exist alongside more recent ones. I have showed you how this manifests
Applied to the human being,
this can show us how physical organs that have proceeded further along
the course of descent can exist side-by-side with others that are still
at earlier stages. We will gradually come to see that according to this
principle, we can distinguish two systems of organs within the human
being, although for today, I will only point this out aphoristically.
Let us first consider our
senses and all the organs that allow us to have sensory perceptions.
In terms of their physical structure, these sense organs are all at
a certain level; the spiritual has streamed downward to a certain level
in these organs. I'll make you a diagram of that
[sketches on the board].
Now, we said that human nature in its entirety consists of a downward
flow; it is moving in this direction
The upper horizontal mark indicates the position of the senses within this
downward flow, so we must think of all the organs of sensory perception
as being at level A.
Next, let's look at a
different system of organs, for instance the respiratory system. In order
to consider this, too, from the right point of view, we must find the
level to which it has descended. Eventually, we will find that the
respiratory system stopped at level B. While our sensory system descended
to level A, our respiratory system continued to descend until it reached
As you might imagine, this
process of descent can go on still further, so there could even be a
system of organs that has descended still further, to level C. And in
fact, our sexual organs have done just that.
Eventually, our physical
evolution reached its lowest point and a gradual re-ascent began. However,
we will not be able to talk about that today. I will indicate the lowest
point of descent with this curved shape at the bottom of the diagram.
This is where the earthly process of descent stopped. You can tell from
all this that our sensory organs are much more spiritualized than our
respiratory organs and everything else. And, as we will come to understand
ever more clearly, our sexual organs represent the lowest level of descent.
Therefore, all other components of our physical human nature are more
spiritual than that particular system of organs.
That was easy enough to
understand, wasn't it? However, the point I want to make is that psychoanalytic
theory, that disgusting philosophy, has been incapable of becoming aware
of this simple fact. Psychoanalysts claim that all of people's actions,
including mystical experiences, are nothing more than transformed sexual
energies. Psychoanalysts, or we might even say materialists in general,
take sexuality as their starting point and explain all other human phenomena
as metamorphoses of sexuality. I have already pointed out how in Freud's
theory everything that happens in a person's life is explained in terms
of transformed sexuality. For example, that babies suck on pacifiers
is explained as an expression of infantile sexuality, and so forth.
But what is the truth of
the matter? In reality, my friends, any other human daily activity is
more spiritual than sexual activity, and to arrive at the right perspective
on this subject, we have to look at things the other way around. Any
attempt to explain what people do by dragging in sexuality and eroticism
is completely wrong. The right way of looking at things is to explain
sexuality as the transformation of higher human activities into their
lowest earthly form.
Since I have been forced
to mention the ghastly claims of the psychoanalysts because they are
an unavoidable phenomenon of our times, let us take a look at one of
the worst of them, namely their contention that the loving childhood
relationship of a boy to his mother or a girl to her father is actually
a sexual relationship. Psychoanalysts claim that a girl's feelings for
her father and a boy's for his mother are sexual feelings, and that
boys always view their father as a rival and are unconsciously jealous
of him; girls, so they say, are similarly jealous of their mother. This
is one of the most terrible of the distortions psychoanalysts have perpetrated.
In their writings, as you know, they have even used this assumption
as the basis for explaining certain literary works such as the story
[ Note 2 ]
In looking for the right
perspective on this subject, we need to ask how adult sexuality develops.
As we have seen, it comes about through something spiritual sinking
down into matter. Our adult sexuality comes about through the descent
of something that was spiritual when we were children. The correct approach
is to avoid getting anything not specifically sexual mixed up with sexuality,
either consciously or unconsciously, and to realize that sexuality is
not yet present in children. Only when we are fully aware of all the
ramifications of this can we find the right perspective on the matter.
This is an extremely important point with regard to the education of
children, because all kinds of things can go wrong if childish mischief
is automatically interpreted as premature sexuality. All kinds of things
other than sexuality can be the reason for children misbehaving. Claiming
that there is already a sexual side to a child's character is just about
the same as insisting that tomorrow's rainy weather is already inherent
By now you will have realized
what we are dealing with here — the perspective that has been
applied is totally upside down and backward. Coming to such a distorted
perspective does not happen naturally, but only by forcing the issue
and arbitrarily dragging in our instincts. The whole psychoanalytic
approach is tinged with the lowest human instincts; it turns the world
upside down. Such an interpretation of the mother-daughter or father-son
relationship can only come about if the researcher's subjective instincts
get mixed up with the objective course of the investigation. Consequently,
in this instance (providing we go about it with all due exactitude),
it is perfectly all right to apply expressions usually reserved for
subjective human actions. While it would be foolish to apply subjective
expressions to a legitimate and objective science, it is possible to
do so in this case without relinquishing the objectivity of our point
Just imagine someone believes
that the hands of a clock are turned by little demons sitting inside
— we would call that foolish, of course. Clocks are mechanical
devices; there are no little devils inside. Reacting to it objectively,
however, we would never say that the person who attributes the clock's
functioning to demons is insulting the clock. But when psychoanalysts
attribute this sort of sexuality to children, instinctual subjectivity
invades their theory. Then it is justified to use subjective expressions
and say that the psychoanalytic theory insults human nature. We must
make an effort to be truthful and call a spade a spade. In our materialistic
world, a number of people have made it their task to cultivate a theory
that demeans not only individuals, but human nature in general, to the
extent that their whole scientific theory is nothing more than a compilation
of insults. When a sufficient number of people realize that this is
happening, we will start to see psychoanalytic theory for exactly what
it's worth. Then we won't be merely peddling with words any more, but
will be able to see things as they are. That's how we can come to clarity
on this issue.
Only after we have completely understood everything we have discussed
today can our understanding be allowed to lead to name-calling. When we
call psychoanalysis a smutty theory, that obviously really is name-calling;
however, our insight into the objective fact of the matter is what compels
us to call it by this name. After all, it would not be right for the
criticism to come from the same kind of subjective instincts as the
The unique thing about
spiritual science, however, is that an apparently abstract theory is
transformed into justified feelings and reactions. Those who have gone
through a real struggle to understand what psychoanalysis actually is
can freely call it a smutty theory without losing their objectivity.
It is as objective to call psychoanalysis a smutty theory as it is to
say that canvas is white and charcoal black. It is objective terminology
derived from true insight into human nature in its totality.
The purpose of our spiritual
scientific philosophy is to deepen our concepts, and not only our concepts
but our whole character, my friends. If we say that a Society intended
as the vehicle for this philosophy must be a living organism, then we
must also be able to see how the emotions expressed within the context
of the Society also develop out of this spiritual scientific philosophy,
so that even a radical expression such as “smutty theory”
can only be applied when it is firmly rooted in spiritual science and
when no personal instincts play a part in its use.
I am sure we will soon find
an opportunity for further discussion of related matters.