The Arts Faculty and Theosophy
8th, June, 1905
Note: The transcript
of the four “faculty” lectures are deficient. It shows
not only noticeable gaps; the author of the transcript is also not
familiar with the topic of the lectures. He often made summaries
in haste as far as he understood the lecturer. That is why some
connections shifted. Although notices of other participants were
used, the deficiencies of the text could not be essentially corrected
except for some big misunderstandings.
In the order of the talks
on the relation of the universities to the theosophical movement it
is the fourth about theosophy and its relation to the arts faculty (in
Germany: faculty of philosophy). We have to consider the fact that
this is possibly of more significance to our education and culture than
the three other faculties, because the arts faculty encloses the scientific
disciplines which extend about the whole field of research. That is
why somebody who wants to become engrossed in wisdom and world view
without certain trend simply for the sake of knowledge and education
has to direct his looks at it. The arts faculty has experienced big
changes; however, it has grown out of an educational institution to
a sophisticating one. It was once the arts faculty a very typical name
that had to prepare for the study of theology, philosophy, and medicine.
You know that the university
originated in the 12th and 13th centuries, and we can still observe
up to the 18th century how somebody who wanted to climb up to the heights
by studying had to go through a philosophical preparatory study. This
was arranged in such a way that one did not aim at any certain professional
education, but at a formal education which should form the spiritual
training of a human being in a formal way. Among other things, rhetoric,
dialectic, astronomy and music were taught. The latter was understood
as an understanding of the harmonies in the universe and in the smaller
phenomena which surround us. One appreciated it to make only the mind
ripe. The feature of our time is to set little store by the formal education.
Besides, I must touch something
that looks very heretical in our time. Today a big tendency exists to
underestimate everything formal compared with the material. One makes
a point conceiving the matters rationally, bundling together as much
knowledge as possible. Who looks at the matters in such a way as it
is usual today, does not understand me. Who would not side immediately
if anybody said the following: there are two methods to learn languages.
A method, which is regarded as ridiculous, is that by which the human
being is tormented with pointless exercises, as such as: today, my father
has become fifty years old. Tomorrow, my aunt travels to Paris. One
smiles at such things and it is still the question whether one has any
cause of it.
One thinks today that one
could better take sentences from any great classic. Thus it has come
to avoid such banal sentences at school; one prefers sentences of the
classics who are then shredded and analysed and become thereby unenjoyable
for the pupil. On one side, we find the pointless, on the other side,
the picking to pieces. There one hardly finds anybody today who sides
the first way. Nevertheless, it is for the psychologist no question
that the first way is the right one. He is clear in his mind that the
human being must remain at the formal very long, that his reason is
invoked very late, and that we learn best of all if the things leave
us very uninterested as regards contents. During the years in which
the mind is most receptive, one has to develop it rightly at first.
We have to learn to talk fairly, before our thoughts are transformed
with it; one lets the reason mature in the subsoil, lets it develop
the ability of logic formally, then this precious good of humankind
slowly matures. It is clear that nobody can apply his reason to a problem
without further ado. So at first formal education, before that matures
which can appear as the best fruit in the human being.
The faculty of philosophy
was called arts faculty in the Middle Ages. It was an artistic mastery
of the mental material, and it contained an overwhelming quantity of
thoughts. Later on, the lower subjects of the arts faculty were assigned
for the high school. The modern arts faculty is unworthy of its name;
it is an aggregate.
This is not always the case.
The philosopher Fichte (1762–1814) headed the Berlin university
when it was founded (1810). At that time, any single scientific discipline
was integrated into a big organism. Fichte was convinced that the world
is a unity, and that any knowledge is a patchwork that is not steeped
in it. Why does one study botany, mathematics, history, for example?
We study these sciences because we want to obtain an insight into the
construction of the universe. In other times, the penetration in the
scientific disciplines would not have been so fateful. But the picture
of the unity of the world has disappeared. The arts faculty should pursue
science on its own sake. It did this once, but thereby it has collided
with the cultural life. Already Friedrich Schiller spoke in a talk at
the Jena university of the difference between the philosophical head
and the bread-and-butter scholar. At that time, it was not yet so bad.
Who is a philosophical head can study everything; the biggest points
of view present themselves to him from every science. He sees the biggest
world secrets in the plant as the psychologist realises them in the
human soul. Specialisation had to take place. We know too much today
to master everything. Great spirits like Leibniz, Leonardo da Vinci
and others could control the knowledge of their times. This is rare
today. We can only hope that the scientific disciplines get new life.
However, to the bread-and-butter scholar science is nothing but a cow
that gives him milk.
One would object nothing
if professional schools were established for studies that provide well-paid
jobs. However, this has no other value than learning any other trade.
From the point of view of world knowledge it is quite irrelevant whether
I become a shoemaker or a chemist. The consciousness should become general
that the professional study is not more valuable than any other study
in life. The chemist, botanist et etcetera is compared with the great
philosopher in the same position as the businessman. Who realises, however,
what it means to acquire philosophical education knows that there must
be sites where one pursues science for its own sake. In this respect,
it is not good that the university split up into scientific disciplines,
in particular in a time in which materialism has seized everything.
Nowadays, the arts faculty is nothing else than a preparatory site for
the grammar school teacher. Actually nothing at all would objected if
philosophy devoted itself to the task to train educated teachers. Training
the human soul belongs to the highest tasks of life. However, only someone
can solve them who is an artist of psychology and can undertake the
task to guide the souls. The human being was called a microcosm by the
great spirits of the world not without reason. There is no branch of
knowledge that one could not use to train a human soul. Hence, the pedagogues
do not want to cram the young human being with knowledge only, and he
will get to the formal quite naturally. Science takes a particular position
if one looks at it as a pedagogue. If anyone studies painting or music,
he is not yet a painter or a musician. That also applies to the pedagogue.
All knowledge is nothing to the pedagogue if it has not proceeded to
art as with the painter or musician, so that his mind, like physical
organs, has immediately absorbed what he knows, so that knowledge is,
as it were, completely digested. The human soul should be an organism
in which the soul food is transformed, is assimilated. Only then the
human being is a philosophical spirit. It is right that the universities
teach the scientific disciplines. However, another human being should
arise from them, a human being who has become an artist.
If one really applies the
theosophical way of thinking there, it does not depend on scientific
exams. As well as anyone does not own the quality of an artist who has
only scholarship, also anyone does also never become an artist who has
passed the necessary exams only. The problem of examinations must also
be seen in a new light. The examiner has not only to examine knowledge,
but also which kind of human being the examinee is, whether he has the
right philosophy of life, how much of it he has made his own, to which
extent he has become a new human being. This has gone unregarded in
our materialistic age. When the external appearance to the senses became
decisive, the modern arts faculty originated. All the other sciences
originated from philosophy. Once one had the consciousness of the connection
of all knowledge; but if one does not brand the Middle Ages as heretical,
one does rouse prejudices. However, in those days one felt on what it
depended for the world and for the human beings.
In 1388, a person was appointed
professor of theology and of mathematics in Vienna. Today, a professor
would faint about that. However, we know that mathematical thinking
can serve well for that where to theology leads us. Who learns to think
in the way that he exercises some mathematics, learns to think quite
differently, can also be a mystic without becoming a romanticist. Who
has not acquired a comprehensive knowledge, can abandon himself only
to a suggestion. With this he enters in a professional study. What can
he know if he has experienced a purely philosophical higher education,
what can he know about mathematics? Only mathematical concepts, having
no inkling of the fact that mathematics introduces in the great principles
of the universe.
It is not long ago when
one still knew this. In the Middle Ages, this view was not dangerous,
because it is not true that the iron theology of the Middle Ages put
everybody in irons. The best proof is that at the Paris university one
argued, for example, about such subject like: The Speeches of Theology
Are Founded on Fables or The Christian Religion Prevents from
Adding Something Superficial to Theology. It was possible at that
time to argue about these subjects. One argues differently today. Once
arguing was fertile because one had acquired formal education. Today
one can prove errors in reasoning very easily. But any arguing that
is based on errors in reasoning is infertile because one is not clear
in his mind that someone who argues has only to understand the technique
of arguing. In the Middle Ages, mathematics was regarded as the basis
of any knowledge, even of art. There could be the great idealism of
which our time cannot have any idea. A typical remark by Leonardo da
Vinci (1459–1519), this representative of the great idealism,
is that the mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences.
He was an artist and mathematician at the same time. The physical education
of his time lived in his soul. The way of thinking and the knowledge
of his time also speak to us from his paintings. He called the external
world the paradise of mathematics! Where he built bridges, thoughts
about the spirit of humankind flowed to him... [Gap].
The “sacrifice of
the world” means theosophically: the less someone acts for himself,
the more he is capable to put something of himself into the culture
of his time. It is not so important what we develop from ourselves,
as what we implant in the world. Not what we perfect in ourselves, but
what we give to the world is the pledge and the pound which is imperishable.
Leonardo da Vinci got thoughts about the spirit of humankind as thoughts
of mathematics from bridge building. The gods want free beings, they
do not want a thing in nature. What the human being creates consciously
in the world is an execution of the divine world plan. Something common
can become something sacred if it is for the benefit of humankind. If
we take this point of view, we have taken up the great idealism in ourselves,
and this idealism would have to flow through the whole arts faculty.
Within the frame of our arts faculty all scientific disciplines can
be probably placed. But it had to be the headquarters of the world view
as a core in the centre instead of taking the second place behind the
single scientific disciplines.
With the help of this central
philosophical science we would come to the artistic view. Only that
should receive the doctorate who has absorbed this central attitude
of having life in himself. The last exam of the philosopher would have
to be an examination of his life forms; the only honorary title of the
philosophical doctor would have to be founded on the fact that in the
human being the life contents of this life form is included. Otherwise,
the philosophical doctor is an arabesque, a pretension, a social form.
Not only knowledge belongs to the philosophical doctor, but a knowledge
transformed into art of living. One already had such consciousness.
Thus a philosophical doctor will have only the maturity as it is commensurate
with the philosophical head. A large dissemination of theosophy would
bring it about by itself, for it wants to develop the forces that slumber
in the human being. The theosophist is aware that the human being is
capable of development that like the child must develop also mind and
soul are capable to develop to higher stages. The human being is not
yet complete when he leaves the high school and the universities. Theosophy
asserts more and more that the human being is only in the beginning
of his development. The arts faculty should have the greatest say. It
should develop from the mathematical attitude into a spiritual direction;
everything should run up to this point. Theosophy is not so difficult.
It would be bound to occur that if there were a theosophical faculty
all sciences would become theosophical in the end.
Physiology is the science
of the phenomena in plants, animals and human beings. If in physiology
the equipment of the eye is considered et etcetera, these are pictures
to take the knowledge that the human being sees. Physiology teaches
us that basically all our sense impressions depend on our senses; it
teaches the subjective. In the end, it says that we know nothing about
that which is beyond our sense impressions. If we consider this, and
do not remain unthinking, but keep on investigating spiritually, we
get exactly to the same teachings which occultism gives us that everything
sensory is illusion and that the theory of sense energy, theosophically
treated, leads into big depths. One needs physiology; one must study
it and then top it with philosophy. One has no other choice. The philosophy
in the arts faculty is only a piece. It does no longer have any strength;
it is a discipline like other disciplines. This should not be; it had
to give the strength to the other disciplines. Instead of this, it has
received for its part the colouring from single professional disciplines.
The fact that one thinks
substantially materially results from the fact that philosophy and the
great world view do not have the saying, but rather psychology, which
came from other disciplines, has become an experimental science. If
one believes that psychology is done precisely only if one experiments
around with the human being like with an unliving crystal, one considers
the human being as something that has neither life nor soul. Psychology
can recognise nothing but the material expression. Theosophy would realise
that the studies of physiology and psychology are one and the same in
certain way and would integrate both into the big framework of knowledge.
The modern universities cannot do that and, therefore, they cannot carry
any idealistic world view into the world. The arts faculty is not able
to be the standard bearer of a philosophical attitude. The faculty should
not be an aggregate of the various disciplines, but allow them to grow
together to a common soul. Then it is taught theosophically without
transplanting theosophy to the universities. Otherwise, the arts faculty
remains an aggregate without spiritual bond. Knowledge should become
a living whole from whose single parts the spirit shines. It satisfies
us as theosophists if the prerogative belongs only to this philosophical
study and if it develops on this basis. Then it is well rescued in theosophy.
We want only what everybody wants for the welfare of the single sciences.
Should theosophy fulfil its task, it must not be a doctrine but life.
We have to be theosophists with every step, we have to impregnate everything
that we do in life with this living theosophical attitude. Then the
theosophical movement is more; it is like one of the most powerful cultural
factors of the present. However, it has to win influence on those who
are selected to lead our culture. We have to confess and represent theosophy
where we want to work in life. The world process is not anything dead,
but something living. The beings and not the relations cause the development
of the human mind. If theosophy is a world of the spirit, then theosophy
is one of the most powerful cultural factors of the present. It does
not depend on the reading of theosophical writings, but on the attitude
so that the human being is seized in the everyday life.