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Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Schmidt Number: S-3350

On-line since: 31st May, 2016

Human Soul and Human Body Considered Scientifically and Spiritual-Scientifically

Berlin, 15 March 1917

With the today's talk I am in a somewhat difficult position, because it will be necessary to outline results of a broad spiritual-scientific area, and it could be desirable to some listeners to hear proving details about this or that result to be reported today. I give such details in the next talks. Besides, I will adduce expressions, mental pictures of soul and body whose real explanation I have given in former talks; since I will strictly have to restrict myself at the object, at the statement of the coherence between human soul and human body.

Two spiritual attempts of modern time spread the biggest misunderstandings just about this object. If you go into these misunderstandings, you find that on one side the thinkers and researchers who tried to work on the field of the soul phenomena do not know what to make of the great admirable results of natural sciences. They cannot properly build a bridge as it were from their observations of soul phenomena to the bodily phenomena. On the other side, one has to say that the representatives of scientific research are as a rule so unfamiliar with the soul observations that they cannot build the bridge to the soul phenomena from the great results of modern natural sciences. Thus, psychologists and naturalists speak if they talk about human soul and human body quite different languages and cannot understand each other. Today just those are confused by this fact who try to gain insight of the big riddles of the soul and its coherence with the riddles of the world on basis of modern education.

At first, I would like to point to that in which the mistake is in the thinking, actually. Something peculiar has formed with references to the way in what way the human being positions himself to his concepts and ideas today. He does not think in most cases that concepts and ideas, even if they are well founded, are only tools to judge reality, as it faces us individually in every single case. The human being believes if he has formed a concept that this concept is immediately applicable to the world. The just characterised misunderstandings are based on this property of modern thinking. One does not consider today that a concept can be quite right, but that one can apply it quite wrong.

I want to explain this with maybe absurd examples that could occur in life. Anybody could have the indeed entitled conviction that sleep is a good remedy. If this mental picture is not correctly applied in the single case, such a thing can happen that somebody makes a visit somewhere; he finds an old man who is indisposed, is ill in this or that way. He tells his knowledge saying, I know that a healthy sleep is good. When he leaves the room, one can maybe say to him, well, did you not notice that the old man is sleeping perpetually? Alternatively, it can happen that another has the view that walking, movement is exceptionally healthy for certain illnesses. He advises this to somebody. The somebody has only to argue: you forget that I am a postman.

I want only to indicate the fundamental with it: the fact that one can have right concepts that, however, these concepts become only useful if you apply them correctly in life.

Thus, one can also find strictly provable right concepts in the different sciences, so that one can them hardly disprove. However, one has always to put the question: is one also able to apply these concepts in life? Are they useful tools to understand life? The illness of thinking which I have indicated with it and have explained with absurd examples is widespread in our thinking. Hence, some people do not realise where the borders of their concepts are where they have to extend their concepts by the facts. This is especially necessary in the area about which we want to speak today.

About that which science has been performed in this area one can always say, it is admirable and great. Important works exist also in psychology, but they give no explanation about the most important soul questions and cannot extend their concepts in such a way that one could resist to the collision from modern natural sciences which turn against anything spiritual still in any way. I would like to go back to two literary phenomena of the last time that contain research results of these areas. There you have a very interesting Guide to Physiological Psychology (1891, 5th edition 1900) by Theodor Ziehen (1862-1950). In this psychology he shows brilliantly, even if the still varying research results are partly supported with hypotheses, how one has to imagine the mechanism of the brain and the nerves after modern scientific observations to get an idea how our mental pictures associate with each other, how the nervous organism works. However, just in this field it is quite clear that the method of scientific observation directed to the soul leads to too narrow concepts that are not applicable to life. Theodor Ziehen can show that for all that which goes forward in the process of imagining counter-images can be found as it were within the nervous mechanism. If one examines the area of research concerning this question, one discovers that in particular the school of Haeckel performed quite extraordinary results. One needs only to point to the excellent works which Haeckel's disciple Max Verworn (1863-1921) has done in Göttingen about that which possibly goes forward in the human brain and nervous system if we connect one mental picture with the other, or, as one says in psychology: if one mental picture associates with the other.

Our thinking is based on this association of mental pictures. How one has to imagine this association of mental pictures, the realisation of memory pictures how there certain mechanisms exist that keep mental pictures, so that they can be got from memory later, that all is nicely shown by Theodor Ziehen. If one surveys what he has to say about the life of imagination and about that which relates to it as human nervous system, one can absolutely go along. Then, however, Ziehen comes to a strange additional result.

We know that the human soul life has not only imagination in itself. One must distinguish except imagining other soul operations or soul abilities, namely feeling and willing. Theodor Ziehen speaks in such a way, as if feeling is, actually, nothing but a quality of the mental picture; he does not speak of the real feeling, but of the emotional aspect of the sensations or mental pictures. The mental pictures are there. They are there, not only as we think them, but they have certain qualities, which give them their emotional aspects. So that one may say, concerning feeling such a researcher has to say, that which goes forward in the nervous system does not reach the feeling. Therefore, he ignores the feeling, actually, and considers it only as an adjunct of imagining. One may also say, while he investigates the nervous system, he cannot seize that soul element in the nervous mechanism that appears as emotional life. Hence, he ignores the emotional life as such. However, he also does not get to anything in the nervous mechanism that necessitates to speak of willing.

That is why, Ziehen downright denies that one is authorised to speak about willing in the scientific area. What happens if a person wants something? We assume that he is walking, that he is in motion. There one says such a researcher means the movement arises from his will. However, what is there as a rule, actually? Nothing but the image of movement. I imagine as it were what this will be if I move through space; and then nothing happens but that I see or feel myself, that means that I perceive my movement. The perception of movement follows the memory picture of movement; willing is nowhere to be found.

Ziehen downright abolishes the will. We realise that with the pursuit of the nervous mechanisms one does not get to feeling and also not to willing; hence, one must disregard more or less for the will even completely these soul areas. Then one normally says indulgently, well, we leave this to the philosophers, but the naturalist has no reason to speak of these things if one does not go with reference to soul performances as far as Verworn did who says that the philosophers have invented a lot in the human soul life that is not justified from the scientific viewpoint.

A significant psychologist of our time whom I often mentioned here got to a similar result as Ziehen did, Franz Brentano (1838-1917). However, Franz Brentano takes the soul as starting point. He tried to explore the soul life in his Psychology. It is typical that only the first volume of this work appeared and nothing else since the seventies.

Someone who knows the relations knows that just because Brentano works with concepts that are restricted in the characterised sense he could not get beyond the beginning. However, one thing is still exceptionally significant: the fact that he distinguishes “imagining” and “feeling” with his attempt to examine the soul phenomena and to cluster them in certain groups. But, besides, he does not get to willing. The will is to him only a subset of feeling. So a psychologist does not get to willing. Franz Brentano refers to such things like those that even the language indicates if it speaks of soul phenomena that the “willing” exhausts itself in nothing but in feeling. Since only a feeling is expressed indeed, if I say, I am unwilling against something. If I say, I am unwilling against something, I take the word “will” in such a way that the language expresses quite instinctively that the will is, actually, something that belongs to the feeling. You may learn from this example that it is impossible for this psychologist to get beyond a certain circle. Since undoubtedly is that what Franz Brentano gives careful psychological research; but it is also undoubted that the experience of the will, the transition of the soul life to the outer action, and the origin of the outer action from the will, is an experience which one cannot deny. Thus, the psychologist does not find what one cannot deny.

One cannot say now that all researchers standing on the ground of modern natural sciences are absolutely materialists who deal with the soul life and its coherence with the bodily life. Ziehen, for example, considers the matter as something wholly hypothetical. But he gets to the quite strange view that wherever we look nothing is round us but mental. If anything material is there outdoors, this matter must cause an impression on us first, so that that what we experience in our sense perception is already a soul phenomenon. We experience the world only by our senses now; hence, everything is mental phenomenon, everything is psychic. There the whole human field of experience would be, actually, a psychic one, and we would be not right to speak of the fact that something may be assumed different from hypothetically except ourselves, except our psychic experiences. We live after such views within the realm of the psychic and do not come out of it.

Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906) characterised this view drastically at the end of his Outline of Psychology (1908), and this characteristic is quite interesting even if it is absurd. He says, take the following example in the sense of this pan-psychism one just forms such words: two persons are sitting at a table and drink well, it was a better time coffee with sugar. One person is removed somewhat farther from the sugar bowl than the other is, and this goes forward externally for the naive human being that one person says to the other: give me the sugar bowl, please. The other person gives it. How has one to imagine this process Eduard von Hartmann means if pan-psychism is right, one has to imagine it in such a way that something goes forward in the human brain or nervous system that develops in the consciousness in such a way that the mental picture arises: I want sugar. However, the person concerned has no idea what is actual there outdoors. Then another mental picture associates with this image “I want sugar;” but this is only an emotional image that something that looks like another person because one cannot say what is objective, it makes the impression only passes the sugar bowl to him.

Physiology, Hartmann says, thinks that the following objectively happens: in my nervous system if I am one of the persons any process forms that is reflected in the consciousness as an illusion, “I ask for sugar.” Then the same process that has nothing to do with the process of consciousness sets the muscles in motion; there something objective comes about outdoors about which one does not know that it is reflected, however, again in the consciousness by which one receives the impression that one speaks the words “I ask for sugar.” Then the movements that are caused in the air go over to another person whom one again assumes hypothetically, and oscillations come into being in his nervous system. Because in this nervous system the sensitive nerves oscillate, the motor nerves are set in motion. And while this purely mechanical process happens, something is reflected again in the consciousness of the other person like “I give the sugar bowl” to this person, and what is associated with it further what can be perceived, the movement et cetera.

There we have the peculiar interpretation that that which really goes forward except us remains unknown to us, is only hypothetical, but appears in such a way that it is nervous processes which oscillate through the air to the other person, jump over from the sensitive to the motor nerves and carry out the outer action. This is completely independent of that which goes forward possibly in both consciousnesses; it takes place automatically. However, thereby one gradually gets around to gaining an insight of the coherence of that what takes place outdoors automatically with that what we experience, actually. Since what we experience has if one accepts the point of view of pan-psychism nothing to do with anything that would be objective outdoors. Strangely enough, the whole world is completely taken in the soul. Single thinkers had substantial arguments. If, for example, a businessman expects a telegram with certain contents, only one word has to be absent, and instead of joy listlessness, grief, pain can be released with him.

May one say there that that which one experiences in the soul goes forward only within the psychic, or has one not to suppose after the immediate results that really something has taken place outdoors that is witnessed in the soul? On the other side, if you position yourself on the viewpoint of this automatism, you could say, yes, Goethe wrote his Faust, this is right; however, this shows only that in his soul the whole Faust lived in his imagination. However, this soul has nothing to do with the mechanism that described this imagination. You do not get beyond the mechanism of the soul life to that which is there outdoors.

The view thereby gradually developed that the psychic is only a kind of parallel process of that which is outdoors in the world that it is only added to it, and that you cannot know at all what goes forward outdoors in the world. Then you can already get around to what I have got around that I call this viewpoint “illusionism” in my book The Riddle of Man. Now you will ask yourself, does this illusionism not rest on very good bases? This almost seems to be. It seems really that nothing at all is to be said against the fact that there something may be outdoors that works on our eye, and that the soul only transforms that into light and colours which is outdoors. Thus, you deal really only with something psychic that you never get beyond the borders of the psychic that you are never entitled to say, this and that corresponds to that which lives in the soul. Such things have only apparently no significance for the highest questions, for example, for the question of immortality. They have big significance for it, and I would like to hint at it today. However, I would like to take a starting point just from this basis.

That direction which I have characterised with it does not consider that with reference to the soul life, it only counts on that which happens if from the outside by the sensory world impressions are made on the human being, and the human being gets around to forming mental pictures of these impressions with his nervous apparatus. These views do not consider that that which happens there is only applicable to the contact of the human being with the outer sensory world, but shows particular results for this contact, even if one checks the matter in the sense of spiritual research. There appears that just the human senses are built in particular way. What I have to put forward here about the subtleties of their construction is often not yet approachable to the outer science. In the senses, something is built in the human body that is excluded from the general inner life of the human body to a certain degree.

You can symbolically consider the example of the eye. The eye is almost built like a quite independent being in our head; only certain organs connect it with the inside of the whole organism. In truth, all senses are relatively independent. Therefore, with the sense perception something particular happens that is never considered. The sensory outside world continues through our senses into our organs. What happens there outdoors by light and colour continues through our eye into our organism so that the life of our organism does not participate in it at first. Light and colour come into our eye so that the life of the organism does not prevent the intrusion of that which happens outdoors. Thereby the flow of the outer events partly penetrates our organism through our senses like a number of gulfs. Then the soul participates in that at first, which penetrates there, while it invigorates that which penetrates from the outside without life.

One recognises this exceptionally important truth by spiritual science. While we perceive with the senses, we invigorate perpetually that what continues from the flow of the outer events into our body. The sense perception penetrates that invigorating which continues as something dead into our organisation. Thereby, however, we have in the sense perception really the objective world immediately in ourselves, and while we process them emotionally, we experience them. This is the real process, and this is exceptionally important. Since with reference to the sense perception one cannot say that it is only an impression that it is only an effect from the outside; what goes forward outdoors goes up to our body, is taken up in the soul and is invigorated. In the senses, we have something, where the soul lives, without our own body living in it directly. One will get closer once also scientifically to the mental pictures which I have developed now if one forms correct views of the fact that with certain animals in the eyes and this can be extended to all senses certain organs are which do no longer exist with the human being. The human eye is simpler than the eyes of lower animals, even of closely related animals. If you ask yourselves once: why, for example, do certain birds still have the so-called pecten (oculi) in the eye, a special organ of blood vessels, why do other animals have the so-called xiphoid process, again an organ of blood vessels? Then one will realise that in the animal organism, while these organs project in the senses, the immediate bodily life still participates in that what happens in the senses as continuation of the outside world. Hence, it is not the sense perception of the animal at all in such a way that the soul experiences the projecting outside world directly. Since the soul with its tool, the body still penetrates the sense; the bodily life intermingles the sense. However, because the human senses are formed in such a way that they are invigorated emotionally, it is clear that we have outer reality in the sensation. Any kind of Kantianism, Schopenhauerianism, or modern physiology cannot stand against it, because these sciences are not yet suited to let penetrate their concepts into a correct view of sensation. Only while that which happens in the sense is absorbed in the deeper nervous system, in the cerebral system, it changes over into that where the bodily life penetrates directly, and, hence, inner events take place. So that the human being has the sensory district externally, and within this sensory district the zone is towards the outside world where this outside world can purely approach him, as far as it can just work on the senses. Since nothing else takes place.

However, if from the sensation a mental picture originates, we stand within the subjacent nervous system, then a nervous-mechanical process corresponds to any process of imagination; then something always takes place when we form a mental picture that is got from the sensory view that goes forward in the human nervous organism. Now we have to say, one can admire what natural sciences have performed concerning the processes which happen in the nervous system, in the brain if this and that is imagined. Spiritual science will have to get clear about the following: while we face the outside world with our senses, we face the real course of facts.

While we imagine, remember or think and do not take something outer up, but connect that which has been taken up from the outside, something lives in our nervous system; what lives there in its structures and processes is a wonderful image of the psychic, of imagination itself. Then spiritual science has to realise: as we face the outside world, we face our own body if we are given away to the play of thoughts which are taken from the outside world. However, one becomes aware of that normally. If the spiritual researcher proceeds Imaginatively, he recognises that, indeed, this remains dreamlike, but that it is in such a way that in the imagination the human being interprets his inner play in the brain and nervous system as he interprets the outside world, otherwise. One can recognise by strengthening of the soul life with meditations that one does not face this inner world of nerves different from the outer sensory world; save that with the outer sensory world the impression is strong which comes from the outside, and, therefore, one thinks that the outside world causes an impression; while that which comes from the bodily life does not force itself in such a way that one has the impression that the mental pictures play by themselves.

I have said, the soul considers, penetrating the body, the outer reality; on the other hand, the soul considers the events of the own nervous mechanism. However, a certain view has formed the idea and thereby the misunderstanding comes into being from this fact that this is generally the relation of the human being to the outer world. If this view puts a question, how does the outer world work on the human being? Then it either answers it according to the miraculous results of the anatomy and physiology of the brain, as I had to characterise what happens if the human being dedicates himself to the mental pictures with reference to the outside world, or lets them emerge from memory later. This is this view states generally the relation of the human being to the world. However, it has thereby to recognise that, actually, any soul life proceeds beside the outside world. Since it can be completely irrelevant to the outside world whether we imagine it or not; it proceeds as it proceeds; we add our mental pictures. There even a principle of this view counts: everything that we experience is psychic. But in this psychic the outside world lives once, the inside world lives just the other time. Namely, once, as the processes are outdoors, the other time, as the processes are in the nervous mechanism. Now this view takes as starting point: so all the other psychic experiences have to relate also in a similar way to the outside world, also feeling and willing. If now such researchers, like Theodor Ziehen, are honest, they do not find such relations. Hence, they deny the feeling partially, the will completely. Franz Brentano does not even find the will within the soul being. Where from does this come?

Spiritual science will once throw light on these matters if those misunderstandings that I have described today have disappeared if one uses spiritual science as an aid. Since the fact, which I have only indicated, is just this: the feeling has at first — as strange as it sounds nothing to do generally in its origin with the nervous life. I know very well that I contradict many assertions of modern science. I also know very well everything that can be argued reasonably. Today I can only state results without going into details. Ziehen is completely right if he does not find the feeling and the will in the nervous mechanism, so that he says, feelings are only tones, that means qualities, emphasis of the imagination; since in the nerves only imagination lives. The will does not at all exist for the naturalist, because the perception of a movement directly follows the mental picture of a movement. There is no will in between. In the nervous mechanism, nothing is of human feeling; but one does not draw this consequence, even if it is included. If the human feeling expresses itself in the body, what is connected with it? Which is the relation of feeling to the body if the relation of imagining to the body is in such a way as I have just described it? Spiritual science shows there that feeling is connected in a similar way as imagining with percipience and the inner nervous mechanism with everything that belongs bodily to respiration. Feeling has nothing to do at first in its origin with the nervous mechanism, but with the respiratory organism.

At least one obvious objection may be indicated here: yes, but the nerves excite everything that is connected with respiration! I come back to this objection once again with reference to the will. The nerves excite nothing at all of that which is connected with breathing. However, just in such a way as we perceive light and colour with our visual nerves, we perceive the respiratory process with those nerves that go to the respiratory organism only in vaguer way. These nerves that one normally calls motor nerves are nothing but sensitive nerves. They are there to perceive respiration. The origin of feeling is connected bodily with the respiratory process, and to that which belongs to it, which is its continuation in the one or the other direction in the human organism. One will think quite different about that which characterises the feeling bodily if one understands that one cannot say, certain flows come from any central organ, from the brain, they excite the respiratory processes, but just the opposite is true. The respiratory processes are there, they are perceived by certain nerves; thereby they come into relationship with them. However, it is not such relationship that the emergence of feelings is anchored in the nervous system.

Here we come to an area that is not elaborated in spite of the admirable natural sciences of the present. The bodily expressions of the emotional life will be wonderfully lighted up if one studies the finer respiratory changes and in particular the finer changes in the effect of the respiratory process, while the one or the other feeling proceeds in us. The respiratory process is quite different from that which takes place in the human nervous mechanism. About the nervous mechanism, one can say in a way, that it is a faithful reproduction of the human soul life. I would like to say comparatively, the nervous life is really a painting of the soul life. Everything that we experience emotionally with reference to the outer perception is reflected in the nervous system. Just this makes it comprehensible that the nervous life, in particular that of the head, is a faithful reproduction of the soul life already at birth which comes from the spiritual world and combines with the body.

What one argues today maybe just from the cerebral-physiological viewpoint against the connection of the soul coming from the spiritual world with the brain will be brought forward once as evidence. The soul wonderfully forms the head before birth or conception from the spiritual subsoil that is a creation of the human soul life. The head it becomes, for example, only four times heavier in the course of the human life than it is at birth, while the whole organism becomes 22 times heavier in this time the head already faces us as something perfect at birth. Already before birth, it is a picture of the psychic experience because the psychic experience works on the head from the spiritual world long time before generally physical facts happen which lead to the existence of the human being in the physical world. For the spiritual researcher this miraculous creation of the human nervous system that is a portrayal of the human soul life is just the confirmation at the same time that the soul comes from the spiritual, and that in the spiritual the forces are which make the brain a painting of the soul life.

The respiratory life and everything that belongs to it is an imprint of the mental-spiritual life that I would like to compare with the picture writing. The nervous system a real painting; the respiratory system only picture writing. The nervous system is built in such a way that the soul has to be left to itself to find out of the painting that it wants to experience in itself now. With the picture writing one has already to interpret, there one has to know something; there the soul has to deal more with the matter. The same applies to the respiratory life. The respiratory life is a less faithful expression of the mental experience; it is rather such an expression that I would like to compare with the relation of the picture writing to the sense of the picture writing. Hence, the soul life is more internal in the emotional life, less engaged in the outer processes. That is why this coherence escapes the unsubtle physiology. However, the spiritual researcher is just clear in his mind that the emotional life is freer, more independent in itself. Thus, we comprehend the body more if we consider it as a designer of the emotional life, than if we consider it only as a designer of imagination. However, because the emotional life is connected with respiration, the spiritual is more active in the emotional life than in that imagination which does not rise to Imagination, but is only a manifestation of the outer sensory experience. The emotional life is not getting brighter as little as the picture writing expresses clearer what it means as a picture expresses this; but just thereby that stands more in the spiritual which expresses itself in the emotional life, than the usual imagination. The respiratory life is less a tool than the nervous life is.

If we come now to the will, the matter is already in such a way that if one speaks as a spiritual researcher about the fact one may be decried as a bad materialist. However, the spiritual researcher already has to consider the whole soul in relation to the whole body, not only as it often happens today in relation to the nervous system. With what has one to begin, if one wants to consider the will? One has to begin with the lowest will impulses that still seem to be engaged completely in the bodily life, which are taken up in the bodily life. Where is such a will impulse? Such a will impulse simply expresses itself if we have, for example, hunger if certain materials are consumed in our organism and must be substituted. We get down to the area of the nutritional processes. We have descended from the processes in the nervous organism through the processes in the respiratory organism and get to the processes in the nutritional organism; and we find the most subordinate will impulses engaged in the nutritional processes.

Spiritual science shows now that we have generally to speak of the nutritional organism if we speak about the relations of the will to the organism. A similar relation as between imagining and the nervous mechanism, as between breathing and the emotional life exists between the nutritional organism and the will life of the human soul; it is only looser.

Indeed, now further things are associated with it. There one has completely to take stock of one thing that the spiritual science asserts only. For many years, I have represented it in narrower circles what I say now also here publicly as a result of spiritual science. Modern physiology believes to take stock of the fact that a sense impression travels to the sensitive nerve and if it admits a soul, is taken up by the soul. Then, however, there are except the sensitive nerves so-called motor nerves for modern physiology. There are not such motor nerves for spiritual science. I have dealt with the matter really for many years. With a paraplegic, the lower organism is as dead from a certain organ on. All these things are no disproof of that what I say, but if one figures them out in the right way, they are just a proof of what I say. There are no motor nerves. What modern physiology still considers as motor nerves are sensitive nerves. If the spinal cord is cut through at a place, then simply that is not perceived what goes forward in the leg, in the foot, and then the foot because it is not perceived cannot be moved; not because a motor nerve is cut through, but because a sensitive nerve is cut through which cannot simply perceive what happens in the leg. However, I can only indicate this, because I have to progress to the important results of this matter.

Someone who appropriates habits in relation to the mental-bodily experience knows that it concerns, for example, something quite different with that what we call an exercise, with piano playing and the like, from that which one calls today “milling the motor nerve tract;” it does not concern it. Since with all movements out of our will nothing but a metabolic process comes generally into consideration as a bodily process. What comes from the will impulse comes out of the metabolism. If I move an arm, the nervous system does not come into consideration but the will that the physiologists just deny; and the nerve is concerned with nothing but that that which takes place as a metabolic process as a result of the will impulse is perceived by the motor nerve which is a sensitive nerve in reality. We are concerned with it with metabolic processes in our whole organism as bodily causes of those processes that correspond to the will. Because all systems intertwine in the organism, these metabolic processes are connected of course also with cerebral processes. However, the will has its bodily shapes in metabolic processes; nervous processes as those only have to act in reality with it because they provide the perception of the will processes. Natural sciences will show that in future too. If we look, however, at the human being on one side as nervous human being, on the other side as respiratory human being and as metabolic human being if I am allowed to use this expression, we have the whole human being. Since all locomotor organs, everything that can move in the human body is connected with metabolic processes. The will directly works on the metabolic processes. The nerve is there only to perceive them.

It is awkward in a way if one has to contradict the apparently so profound view of the two kinds of nerves; but up to now nobody has found a considerable difference of the reaction or the anatomical construction of a sensitive nerve and a motor one. They are identical with reference to everything. If we exercise anything, we appropriate this exercise, while we learn to control the metabolic processes by our will. The child learns to control the metabolic processes, after it has fidgeted first in all directions and has not carried out any regulated will movement. If we play piano, for example, or have similar abilities, we learn to move the fingers in a way, to control the corresponding subtler metabolic processes with the will. The sensitive nerves that are, however, the usually so-called motor nerves notice more and more which is the right fingering and the right movement, because these nerves are there only to sense what happens in the metabolism. I would once like to ask somebody who can observe mental-bodily whether he does not feel with a more precise introspection in this direction that he does not mill motor nerve tracts, but that he learns to feel, to perceive, vaguely to imagine the subtler vibrations of his organism that he produces by the will. We practice self-perception there. We have to deal with sensitive nerves in the whole area. Someone should observe speech only once in this direction how it develops from the babbling of the child. It develops because the will learns to intervene in a speech organism. What the nervous system learns is only the subtler perception of the subtler metabolic processes.

The will expresses itself bodily in the metabolism. Movements are the expression of the metabolism. This one could very easily show if one reacted to the real scientific results of the present. However, this metabolism still expresses less than the respiration what happens mental-spiritually. If I have compared the nervous organism with a picture, the respiratory organism with a picture writing, I can compare the metabolic organism with the characters as we have them today in contrast to the picture writing of the ancient Egyptians. These are only signs; the mental must become even more internal there.

However, because in the will the psychic becomes even more internal, the soul which deals in the metabolism only loosely with the bodily comes with the biggest part of its being into the region of the spiritual. It lives in the spiritual. As by the senses the soul combines with the material, it combines by the will with the spirit. There the special relation of the mental-spiritual appears also. It again arises that the metabolic organism is only a temporary indication of that what is perfect picture in the nerve, in the head organism. The soul prepares in that which it performs in the metabolism what it carries over then through death for the further postmortal life in the spiritual realm. However, it also carries all that over by which it lives with the spiritual. It is internally most vivid just where it is connected with the material only loosely, so that for this area the material process works only like a sign of the spiritual; thus, it is just in the willing.

Therefore, the one has to develop the will especially if one wants to get to the spiritual beholding. This will has to be developed to the real Intuition not in the trivial sense, but in the sense as I have recently characterised it. One has to develop the feeling in such a way that it leads to Inspiration; the imagining can lead to Imagination. However, the spiritual thereby comes objectively in the soul life. Since as we have to characterise the sense impression in such a way that the outside world sends the senses like gulfs into us, so that we experience ourselves in them, we experience the spirit in the will. There the spirit sends its being into us. Nobody will realise freedom one day who does not recognise this immediate life of the spirit in the will.

On the other side, you see that Franz Brentano who investigates the soul only is right: he does not get to the will because he investigates the soul only, he gets the feeling only. The modern psychologist does not get involved with that which the will sends down into the metabolism because he does not want to become a materialist; and the materialist does not get involved with it because he believes that everything depends on the nervous system. Because the soul connects so much of its being with the spirit that the spirit can penetrate the human being in its original figure, the spirit sends its gulfs into the human being, is that which we put as a moral will, as a spiritual will in the world really an immediate life of the spirit in the soul. Because we experience the spiritual in the soul directly, the soul is not alone with itself in those mental pictures that form the basis of the free will as I have explained in my Philosophy of Freedom, but it is conscious in the spirit in other way. One misjudges this existence in the spirit only, even if the psychologist wants to know nothing about subtler will impulses that still are real experience. However, they cannot be found in the soul, but the soul experiences the spirit in itself, and while it experiences the spirit in the will, it lives in freedom.

However, with it the whole soul relates to the whole body, not only the soul to the nervous organism. With it, I have characterised the beginning of a scientific direction that will become fertile just by the discoveries of natural sciences. It will show that also the body if it is considered as an expression of the soul is a proof of the soul's immortality that I have characterised from quite different side in the last talk and will characterise in the next talk from another viewpoint.

A certain philosophical direction has sought refuge in the so-called unconscious because it could not manage with the mental-bodily life for the stated reasons. Their principal representative except Schopenhauer is Eduard von Hartmann. Indeed, the assumption of the unconscious in our soul life is justified. But in such a way as Eduard von Hartmann speaks of the unconscious, it is impossible to understand reality adequately. He explains in a strange way in the example, which I have mentioned, of the two persons facing each other and one of them wants the sugar bowl from the other, how the conscious submerges in the unconscious, and that what happens in the unconscious again emerges in the consciousness. However, one does not come close to the spiritual-scientific views with such a hypothesis. One may speak of the unconscious, but one has to speak in double way of it: one has to speak of the subconscious and of the superconscious. In the sense impression, something becomes conscious that is unconscious in itself, while it is invigorated in the way characterised today. There the subconscious penetrates into the consciousness. Likewise, if the nervous organism is considered internally in the play of the mental pictures, something unconscious emerges from below in the consciousness. But one must not speak of the absolutely unconscious, but one has to speak of the fact that the subconscious can emerge in the consciousness. Then the subconscious is only temporal, is only relative; the subconscious can become conscious. Likewise, one can speak of the spirit as the superconscious that comes in the ethical idea or in the spiritual-scientific idea, which penetrates the spirit itself in the area of the human soul life. There the superconscious comes into the consciousness.

You realise that many concepts and mental pictures are to be corrected. A free view of the true soul life will arise only from the correction of these concepts. At the end of this talk, I would only like to point out that the modern education diverts too much from the ideas that can give clearness in this field. On one side, it has narrowed the whole relation of the human being to the outside world to its relation to the human nervous organism. However, with it, a sum of mental pictures originated which are more or less materialistic; and because one has not gazed at other connections of soul and mind with the bodily, this view was narrowed. This restriction of the viewpoint was transferred to all attempts of the scientific generally.

That is why it happened that it cut me to the quick when I found a strange confession in an inaugural address, a relatively good talk, about Natural Sciences and Medicine which Professor Tschirch (Alexander T., 1856-1939, German-Swiss pharmacist) held at Bern, 28 November 1908, which arises from the intimated misunderstandings and from the inability to understand the relation of soul and body. Professor Tschirch says there: “However, I think that we do not yet need today to rack our brains whether we penetrate never “into the inside” really.”

He means, in the inside of the world. From this attitude, any antipathy arises against the possible spiritual-scientific research. Therefore, he continues: “We really are concerned with more important matters.” Well, one should ask someone who forms such a sentence concerning the big, burning soul questions generally for the seriousness of his scientific disposition if it were not comprehensible from the characterised direction that the thinking has taken, especially if one reads the next sentences. ““The insides of nature” with which Haller (Albrecht von Haller, 1707-1778, Swiss naturalist) probably meant something similar that Kant later called “the thing in itself” is for us at the moment ever so deeply inside that still millenniums will pass, until we have come close to it always provided that no new ice age destroys our culture.”

As these men earnestly say about the spiritual that is “inside,” we do not need today to care about it, but we can wait quietly for millenniums. If science answers this to the urgent questions of the human soul, the time is there to complement it with spiritual science. Since the characterised attitude has led to the fact that the soul has almost been abolished that the view could emerge: the soul is at most a concomitant of the bodily what still the famous Professor Jodl (Friedrich J., 1849-1914, psychologist, philosopher) represented as his conviction almost up to our days; but he is only one among many.

However, what does this way of thinking lead to? Well, it has celebrated true bacchanals when Jacques Loeb (1859-1924, German-American physiologist), a man whom I also appreciate because of his positive researches held a talk about Life, 10 September 1911, at the First Monists' Congress at Hamburg. There we realise that that which is based only on a misunderstanding already changes into an attitude, and becomes brutality in this human attitude compared with psychology, while that which must be only based on that conviction which comes from research, is almost made a question of power. Thus, he begins that talk saying:

“The question which I intend to discuss is that whether according to the state of our knowledge a prospect exists that life, that is the sum of life phenomena, can be completely explained physical-chemically. If we can affirm this question after serious consideration, we must also build up our social and ethical life on purely scientific basis, and no metaphysician can claim the right to give us instructions for our conduct of life which contradict the consequences of experimental biology.”

Here the whole knowledge should be conquered by that science about which Goethe lets Mephisto say: “It mocks at itself and does not know!”

Thus, you read it in the older version of Goethe's Faust, now you can read:

To understand some living thing and to describe it,
the student starts by ridding of its spirit;
then he holds all its parts within his hand
except, alas! for the spirit that bound them together —
which chemists, unaware they're being ridiculous,
denominate encheiresin naturae. (Verses 1936-1941)

There works what has developed on basis of those misunderstandings: abolishing any knowledge that is no mere interpretation of physical and chemical processes. However, no psychology will be prepared for such collision that cannot penetrate to the bodily of its own accord. I appreciate everything that such spirited men like Dilthey (Wilhelm D., 1833-1911), Franz Brentano and others have performed. But, the mental pictures which have been developed there are too indistinct, too weak to penetrate of their own accord so far that they could take it up with the scientific results. A bridge must be built between the spiritual and bodily. Just in the human being, this bridge must be built by the fact that we get to strong spiritual-scientific concepts that also understand the bodily life. Since one will just thereby understand the big questions of immortality, of death, of destiny and so on.

But if humanity gets no understanding of spiritual science, also no sense of the seriousness of our time, then we can experience that we are confronted with views as they are to be found in a book of the American scholar Snyder (Carl S., 1869-1946, economist, philosopher). In it you find a cute sentence which expresses, however, the attitude of the whole book The World Picture of Modern Natural Sciences (1907, translation of Fifty Years of Synthetic Chemistry, 1902) is found. The translator, Hans Kleinpeter (1869-1916, philosopher, disciple of Ernst Mach) points almost to the fact that this attitude must gradually change into the true enlightenment in the present and in the future. Now, I would like to read out a central sentence from this book:

“Whatever the brain cell of a glow worm or the sensation of the harmonies of Tristan and Isolde may be, the material of which they consist is, on the whole, the same one; it concerns apparently more a difference in the structure than one in the material state.” With it something essential should be said! However, it is an attitude that is connected already with that which I have explained today. It is deeply typical for the modern time that generally such things can find followers that they are put as something special.

I appreciate philology too, also those sciences that some people underestimate today. But if anybody came and said to me: Goethe was writing his Faust; beside him his writer Seidel (Philipp S., 1755-1820) was sitting, who maybe wrote a letter to his lover; the difference between the Faust and the letter of Seidel may have been in whatever, the ink is the same with both! Both assertions stand abreast, but the one is considered as a big progress of science, the other is ridiculous of course as the reaction of the listeners here has shown.

Against it one has to fall back and is based on that attitude which is also a scientific one, but has given the elements of a science only from the whole human soul and a deep consideration of the world, also from that which is in Goethe's scientific considerations. Goethe gave the first elements of that which spiritual science wants to develop further. I would like to close this talk, while I draw your attention to his general consideration of the relation of the spirit and the outer material being. While Goethe looks at Schiller's skeleton and understands the noble soul in its “partial” form, the relationship of the whole mind and soul to the whole human body, he stamps words in his nice poem which he headlined On Contemplating Schiller's Skull:

What more can a man win in life,
than to have God and nature manifest themselves to him? —,
to see how they make solid things melt into spirit,
how they solidly preserve that which the spirit has engendered.

We can apply these words to the human soul and body and say:

What more can a man win in life,
than that God-Nature manifests itself to him? —
to see how she makes the matter melt away in spirit,
how the spirit experiences itself in the matter.

While she shows him that the body is an expression and sign of the soul, and that it is just thereby the physical revelator of the immortal soul and the everlasting spirit.




Last Modified: 04-Jul-2018
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