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The Eternal in the Human Soul. Immortality and Freedom

Schmidt Number: S-3496

On-line since: 31st August, 2018


The Historical Life of Humanity and Its Riddles


Berlin, 14 March 1918


In this time where so many people have the comprehensible need to orientate themselves about the earth-shaking events you often hear, history “teaches” this or that. One means that one could judge about any fact of the present because of similar facts of history. If we ask ourselves, which possibilities present themselves to the human beings to judge this or that on basis of historical experience, then, however, you get to a somewhat dubious judgement about what history “teaches.”

I would like to point only to two things, but I could increase them a hundred times. I would like to point to the fact that at the beginning of this world disaster many people were of the opinion that these critical events would last four, in the extreme case six months. One regarded such a judgement as completely entitled. You cannot say that these human beings had not applied all logical precautions to deliver such a judgement. Now, the facts themselves have taught such people rather thoroughly the opposite of that what they have believed. Just at this example, one also sees how narrowly that which history should teach is associated with the judgement of the social or other world relations, so that you can expect from a consideration of the historical life of humanity that also some light falls on the judgement you have to exert for the social and economic living together of the human beings.

However, I would like to bring in another example of the limited validity of the sentence, that history “teaches” this or that. An ingenious personality received a professorship of history at a German university more than hundred years ago. Really, from a brilliant conception of that which history gives and which one can apply to the human life, this man spoke the following words approximately: the single nations of Europe have become in the course of the human progress, as history teaches, a big family whose single members are still feuding, but can never tear each other apart. - Really, a significant personality believed to be able to judge in such a way out of his insight into the course of history at his inaugural lecture. This man was Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). He spoke these words in the eve of the French Revolution which contributed so much to that what one can call the tearing of the European nations, and particularly if he could see what happens in our present. It seems to me that from such facts Goethe got the sensation, which he pronounced in a wonderful sentence: “The best that we have from history is the enthusiasm which it excites.” It seems, as if he did this quotation just to reject the other fruits of the so-called historical knowledge and to appreciate that only which can arise as enthusiasm, as a certain positive mood from the historical documents.

Today we want to examine which position spiritual science has to take towards two opinions: history can be the great master of life, and the other: the best what one can have from history is the enthusiasm that it excites. At first it will be interesting just in case of the consideration of the historical life of humanity and the consequences which can be drawn from this consideration for the judgement of the social life to which view one has come in the present about the historical evolution beyond spiritual science. Since the historical life of humanity is attached to that what goes through every single person because every human being is cocooned in the historical evolution. And really, just in the present it is important to look at this judgement of the contemporaries because the judicious viewers of history think that also the judgement is in a crisis how one should found history. I would like to talk not in abstractions, but to attach my considerations to realities. There one must comply with examples that of course are single examples out of many.

I would like to comply, for example, with the judgement about history, how it should be anew founded in the present, which the famous Professor Karl Lamprecht (1846-1915) has done. You can find that which one can feel from his monumental German History (1891-1909), in a comfortable way summarised in his lectures What is History? Five lectures on the Modern Science of History (1905) which Lamprecht held partly in St. Louis, partly in New York at invitation of the Columbia University. There he tries to summarise what has arisen to him about the kind how history should be taught out of the requirements of the present. It is even more comfortable to get an idea of that what this famous historian wanted to say, actually, by the fact that he treated a segment of the historical evolution of humanity exceptionally clear in the second of these lectures. Lamprecht briefly told the whole development of the German people from the first Christian centuries up to now to the Americans. He told that in such a way as he meant that science of history has to become according to the requirements of the present. Now you can judge such things, actually, only properly if you can compare them anyhow. There just a lecture by Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) offers itself which he held on the development of the North American life, so that you can compare two spirits who are emotionally and spatially far from each other how they look as historians at the history of their peoples in each case.

Forgive if I let — not by courtesy but for stylistic reasons — the considerations of Woodrow Wilson precede. None who knows me more exactly states that I overestimate Wilson. I am also allowed to point to the fact that I already made my judgement about Wilson in a series of talks, which I held in Helsinki before the war, indeed, at a time when Wilson was already president of the United States (1913). At that time I already said that it is very unfortunate that at a position from which so much depends for humanity a personality is who is so frightfully narrow-minded in his judgement. Since although in those days still numerous people worshipped Wilson enthusiastically, for example, because of his books The New Freedom (1913) and Mere Literature and Other Essays (1896), one could prove that his independent judgement flowing from his personality is very much limited internally. Without being swayed by the present political events, I stress what I said before the war about the so misjudged, that is overestimated personality. I have to say this in advance, so that one does not doubt the objectivity of that which I still want to say about Wilson as a historian.

It is very strange if one compares how Wilson considers the history of his people with that what Lamprecht says about the history of Central Europe. One detects that he finds out the most succinct point almost instinctively to answer the question: when have we become, actually, Americans, and how have we become Americans? How has this happened in history? There he makes an exceptionally appropriate distinction between all those who were sooner in the union whom he considers, however, as “Not yet Americans” but as “New Englanders” who are because of their whole disposition, their mood “New Englanders,” and the later “real Americans.” There he distinguishes to a hair's breadth a prehistory of the union and lets the union start its historical becoming when the population crowded together on a narrow space in the east expands to the west of America when the people develop that disposition which he calls the disposition of the frontiersmen. Now he shows how America's history consists externally and mentally of the fact that the east expands to the west, and he shows rather obviously how the regulation of the land distribution, of the tariff question, even the regulation of the slave issue which he ascribes not to some principles of humaneness but to the necessities which arose from the settlement and the conquest of the west. All these questions are put in the development of modern America. The essentials of this talk consist in the fact that he shows how the historical becoming has grasped a sum of human beings from an outer situation, and that that which goes forward with these human beings can be understood strictly speaking from that what they had to undertake under the influence of the described conditions.

Various things are interesting if one pursues just these considerations of Wilson, and that what Wilson has performed, otherwise, as a historian. Just to get some thoughts on various things that are associated with the topic of the today's talk, a comparison of that what Wilson says about the most different historical objects with that which the Europeans say is very useful.

It has exceptionally astonished me at the most different places of Wilson's explanations that there is a strange correspondence — to me already strange because I would have preferred it would not be this way — of the contents of sentences, of the contents of thoughts what Wilson explains about the most different objects, and of that what, for example, the spirited Herman Grimm, often mentioned by me, said about various things of the historical course of humanity.

If one considers Herman Grimm as brilliant as I do and Wilson as prudent, as I must do, it may be quite unpleasant to someone if he reads Wilson sometimes and says to himself: it is peculiar, there I read a sentence that I could also read with Grimm. Although this is in such a way, although I have tested it with judgements that Wilson and Grimm made about the same personalities, like Macaulay, Gibbon and others, nevertheless, in spite of the often almost literal accordance, without having any relation to each other, it is obvious that in reality the attitudes of both men are completely different. Just on such occasion it becomes obvious that two persons can say the same but they do this from quite different mental undergrounds. In this case, it is particularly interesting because the colouring that the judgement receives in the one and the other case is associated with the roots of the one or the other personality in his respective national character. Just while one notices such resemblances, one discovers that the one is American and the other is German.

It can strike you quite externally, which difference exists there. There is a volume of essays by Grimm that contains as frontispiece a picture of Grimm as this happens today so often. The German issue of Wilson's essays Mere Literature also contains a picture of Wilson. One can compare the portraits. Already this proves something quite strange to someone who knows to judge such a thing. If you look at Grimm's portrait, after you were engrossed in what he says as a historian, then you can realise that every feature of his face expresses that every sentence and every turn is connected intimately with everything that this man has wrested from his soul. Then you look at the portrait of Wilson, after you have also read his book first: it seems as if this man could not have been present at all with that what was judged there in the book; a certain foreignness appears. If you realise this, a riddle of the way dawns how in this case two persons consider history, and you can ask yourself in what way is this resemblance and the strongly felt basic difference caused? Then there appears something very strange. Just that what Wilson says about the American people makes sense immediately, so that you know, this is true of the historical development of this people as he wants to show it. However, you get on gradually — only the psychological observation can prove that —: Wilson has not grown together so intimately with his judgement as we imagine this within Central Europe. Another relation between judgement and human being exists there than we are used.

I know that I say something paradox, but it is intimately connected with that what I would like to explain about the historical development of humanity. If it did not sound so superstitious, I would say, you find out for yourself that somebody like Wilson himself does not judge if he makes such suitable judgements as in this interpretation of history and at other places, but he is possessed by something in his soul. I would like to express myself somewhat different:

With such a personality like Wilson, you have the impression that in the soul something is that suggests this judgement from the inside of the soul. You do not have the impression that the own individuality has completely developed it; you rather have the feeling that something like a second personality, a second being is in the soul, which has suggested it.

If one looks at Wilson's appropriate judgements about the character of the American people where he says:


  • that already the outer appearance and behaviour shows the right American because he has the quickly movable eye

  • that he is inclined to take up courageous, but also adventurous lines of thought quickly

  • that he is little inclined, on the other hand, to be attached to his native country as other people are

  • that he likes a lot to make plans which can be carried out everywhere,


if you envisage this characterisation of the Americans by Wilson, then they have something in themselves that oppresses them externally: not the sensibly looking, quiet eye — I could also adduce the other characteristics —, but the quickly movable eye is a sign of the fact that something oppresses the American from the inside, and such suggestions continue to have an effect if the judgement of Wilson is accurate.

We compare what I had to say with an interpretation of history, which is spatially and mentally somewhat far away, with that what Lamprecht puts as his ideas about the historical development of Central Europe. These are original ideas. He tries to realise how this being of the Central European people has developed in the course of centuries, since the third century up to now. One notices that he has internally worked for everything that he says. One has not to agree with many things, in particular as a spiritual scientist; we will immediately have to speak of it. However, he gained everything from his immediate personality. It would be complete nonsense to say, any inner force would suggest something. He does not have it so easy. He has to grasp a thought bit by bit, has to overcome thoughts to get to a judgement. Only then, he gets to a conception of the historical development that is relatively new, even in the view of Ranke (Leopold von R., 1795-1886, German historian) and Sybel (Heinrich von S., 1817-1895, German historian), new insofar that Lamprecht understands historical development as the development of the whole soul. Lamprecht tries to pursue the mental dispositions of the people as mental expressions as the psychologist pursues the soul development of every single person.

Up to the third century, the German people developed according to Lamprecht in such a way that one can say, this development shows a symbolising tendency. Also the outer actions, also the political development run in such a way that one realises that it comes from the desire to interpret the world phenomena as symbols, to realise symbols everywhere, even to make the heroes symbols and to revere them as living personal symbols. Then comes the period from the third century to the eleventh, twelfth centuries. Lamprecht calls it the categorising one. There is no longer the desire to use symbols, but to establish types. One revers those persons whom one reveres whom one obeys in such a way that they work not like single individualities, but as types of a whole clan, a whole city.

Then the time comes from the twelfth to about the thirteenth centuries in which knighthood develops particularly; Lamprecht calls it the conventional time in which one judges and feels his will impulses in such a way as the convention demands it from human being to human being, from state to state, from people to people, the time of conventionalism. Then follows — it is important that Lamprecht notices this, although he does not figure the consequences out — the individualistic age with the turn of the fifteenth century where people really feel as individuals within a community. This lasts about up to the middle of the eighteenth century. There begins the age of subjectivism in which we still live where the human being tries to internalise himself, to work out of the depths of his personality, to work, to think and to want out of the depths of the subject. Lamprecht divides this age into two parts: the first lasts until the seventies of the nineteenth century to which the great classical period of Goethe, Schiller, and Herder belongs, and then since the seventies our time follows.

It is strange now, that Lamprecht, as the maybe most significant historian of the present, is completely clear in his mind that he has to look for an impulse first to see how the course of history goes on, and he investigated incessantly how one should start lining up that which the documents, the monuments, and the archives give in such a way how to tell and describe them so that on can call it history. So the most important question of history, the question of existence, became topical to Lamprecht.

He said to himself, one can get only to history — for he did not regard the historiography of Ranke, Sybel and others as history — if one tries to describe the mental development of a nation or of the whole humanity. Then one must have the possibility to observe this mental development to find some laws in this mental development. There it is interesting that a strange contradiction faces us in his whole approach after the habitual ways of thinking of the present. After the habitual ways of thinking, Lamprecht said to himself, the former merely individualistic approach cannot remain. How can one put the facts in order generally? There he says to himself, you have to look at the soul development in such a way that you describe it social-psychologically. This arises to him from a necessary way of thinking of modern time to take the social life, the common being together of human beings into consideration. He says this to himself on one side. Now he has no possibility to look at the social in the soul life or at the mental in the social life following a set pattern. He turns to the psychologists, asks how the psychologists look today at the single individual souls. Here they see in the individual soul the thoughts associating, the feelings ascending, the will impulses developing. Then he wants to apply this to the historical events, wants to investigate how the thought of the one human being works on the whole clan how the thoughts associate externally, as, otherwise, in the individual psychology a thought associates with the other. Thus, he wants to consider history social-psychologically according to the model of individual psychology.

There arises, as I have already indicated, a very noteworthy contradiction. He wants to get away from the individual interpretation of history and to get to the social-psychological one; but he takes the means from the consideration of the individual psychology. A strange contradiction that he does not notice at all.

Something else: if one is engrossed with that which this modern historian performs describing so clearly:


  • how a cultural age changes into the other,

  • how the feelings of the human beings become explosive at such transitions,

  • how there the thoughts associate with each other and separate,

  • how they follow in rapid succession,

  • how new feelings form,

  • how the will impulses work,


one has the feeling that the man misses the trees for the forest. I do not take stock in the saying that one misses the forest for the trees. I would like to know how somebody wanted to do that while he is in the forest and wanted to see the forest! One has to go far away to see the forest. One has the strange feeling that Lamprecht cannot exactly work out the differences of the single periods. Briefly, one gets to the result that he is a researcher who has gained a view of the historical development for himself who, however, could not find the means to present the question to himself: what is now, actually, this historical development of humanity? Is that already history what one attains from the documents, from the archives, or do we still search anything quite different?

Here you have to start if you want to consider the historical life and its riddles spiritual-scientifically. You have to put the question to yourself: is the object of history already found in the usual consciousness? Does one know already what one wants to judge if one approaches history? To answer these questions, however, I have to adduce something from spiritual science that is attached to things, which I have said here in former talks.

The human soul life is within the change of being awake and sleeping. However, the alternating states of sleeping and being awake are normally considered one-sidedly, while one says, the human being spends two thirds or also more of his life awake and a third sleeping. However, the things are not so simple. It is only obvious that the sleeping state continues into the awake life that we are only partly awake in a certain sense from awakening to falling asleep. We are in reality consciously awake only with the percepts of the outside world and the mental pictures that we form from these percepts. Compare only how the feelings are experienced. Someone who gradually learns to observe how feelings arise in the human soul, — I will come back to this issue in the next talk on the Revelations of the Unconscious and say something fundamental now only —, learns to compare the emotional life, the affects and passions with the dreams.

The dreams put pictures before us that are not penetrated with logic and moral impulses that we have only in the awake life. The visions differ indeed from the feelings from the passions and affects surging up and down, but there is something in which both are similar concerning the soul: it is the degree of consciousness in which we are given away to the visions. We have the same degree of consciousness if we are given away to our feelings, save that we accompany our feelings with mental pictures at the same time. If we get an idea about a vision, the light of the mental picture falls on the dream; then the dream becomes completely conscious, then we integrate it properly into the human life. We are doing this perpetually with our emotional life. We integrate our feelings into life by the mental pictures running parallel, but one experiences these feelings are with similar intensity as the dreams, so that the dreams continue in our wake day consciousness and become our world of feelings. You can easily realise that, however, also the deep, dreamless sleep continues in our awake life, namely as our will impulses. We know in the usual awake consciousness about these will impulses only if they are accompanied by mental pictures. We probably imagine what we should do, but it remains unaware to our usual day consciousness how the mental picture changes into the will impulse and then into the action, as we remain unaware in the deepest sleep. Only because we can imagine our will impulses, we accompany these sleeping impulses with the awake life.

Thus, the sleeping life continues perpetually in our awake day life. Even if our feelings, our affects, our passions are only dreamt by us, nevertheless, our emotional life is connected with something objective spiritual-mental as with our own spiritual-mental, with our mental pictures and percepts. However, the connections of the contents of feelings and will impulses with the objective spiritual are in the subconscious. We oversleep this connection with the spiritual-mental, and only that towers above the sea in which we are embedded this way, which we experience by our mental pictures and percepts. If you learn to behold in the spiritual world, you know: indeed, with the usual consciousness you cannot perceive the world in which our feelings submerge just with that part of our soul, which remains unaware to our usual consciousness, but you can it perceive with the beholding one. Since the soul can develop pictures from the contact with this spiritual world by the strengthened will or by the mental capacity strengthened by the will impulses.

The Imaginative cognition forms in it. It is the first level of supersensible beholding by which you get to the real spiritual world. This Imaginative cognition is the completely conscious beholding in a spiritual reality, so that the Imaginations are no imaginations, but reproductions of spiritual reality, although the soul does not experience them denser than the visions, save that you know that the visions have no reality value that, however, the Imagination points to an objective spiritual reality beyond us. You learn to recognise that with which the world of human feelings is connected, which is only dreamt for the usual consciousness; you learn to recognise it in its reality with the Imaginative beholding of the world. In the same way, you learn also to recognise that on the second level of higher consciousness, with the Inspirative consciousness in which the will impulses are embedded. You get to know the spiritual world as far as the will impulses that usually remain subconscious are also embedded in an objective spiritual reality.

If you have figured these things out and if you ask yourself for the real object of the historical course, then you realise what, actually, the historical development is. You do not experience this as that development which is experienced in the everyday life, while we get into contact with the object personally. No, this historical development is something else in which something strange is contained as it is contained in that, which the human being experiences as a feeling, as a will impulse. As the human being dreams his feelings, he dreams the real stream of the historical development. This knowledge is the stupefying result of that observation which turns away from the human being to historical development, and it shows that we cannot use these mental pictures, which control the outer conscious life, to grasp history anyhow. Since that which you experience in the everyday consciousness as a single human being is experienced in the awake state. However, in this awake day life history is not included at all. The human beings do not consciously experience history, but they dream it. History is the big dream of the development of humanity, and history never enters into the usual consciousness.

You may have an astute usual consciousness, you may be the most significant naturalist with that reason which can arrange the things according to cause and effect, and you may have that attitude which is especially appropriate to look properly at nature and to show her lawfulness. If you learn to recognise the real stream of historical development, you say to yourself, with any mental capacity that can understand nature, you cannot look into the historical development. This is not experienced in the usual consciousness like nature, but only on that level of consciousness, which you have also in the dream. It will be once for the interpretation of history one of the most significant results if one gets on


  • that one has to find the object of the interpretation of history first

  • that the stream of historical development is not at all there as nature is there

  • that also that which is there as nature, namely the facts which are registered in the archives as documents which one normally already calls history, are not at all history.


History is in reality only behind the facts; these facts emerge only from the historical development and are not the historical development.

Once Herman Grimm said to me, one could consider the historical life only if one pursued the developing imagination of the people. One can say that Herman Grimm was on the brink to doing a discovery, but he did not want to make the transition to spiritual science. Hence, it appeared to him to be the only fertile to look not only at the outer events and to line up them in such a way as the naturalist does it according to the laws of causality but to look at them in such a way that he saw through them really at the developing imagination of humanity. This was an imperfect expression of that which he could have recognised: the fact that the historical development also does not take place in that which imagination experiences, but is still much deeper in the subconsciousness in which the dreams are woven. As well as the depths of the sea surge up in the waves, the single events surge up in the course of history.

If we apply our usual reason to the historical development, we strangely meet the forces of decline only. Herman Grimm asked himself once why the historian Gibbon (Edward G., 1737-1794) portraying the first centuries of Christianity describes the decay of the Roman Empire only, but not the rise of Christianity. Grimm made a right aperçu, however, did not get on the reason. The reason is that Gibbon, although he is profound, applied that reason only to the interpretation of history, which one applies, otherwise, to the consideration of nature. There he could look only at the decline, not at the rise since one can only dream the rise. In the course of history that which is rising, growing, and sprouting is connected vividly with that what is declining, what is dying. That is why one can look with the usual reason only at the dead in the course of history. What does you need if you want to recognise the growing, the prospering element in the historical development, that what furthers the human being?

In ancient times, one looked deeper in this respect, but just in the ancient form. One did not tell history, one told myths and legends. These myths and legends that should describe the historical dreams of humanity were truer than the so-called pragmatic history. However, we cannot go back in the development of humanity to myths and legends, but we can do something else. We can make up our mind to bring up that what rests for the usual consciousness as dreams in the subconscious, while we apply the Imaginative knowledge to the historical development. With the historical development, humanity and science will recognise that it cannot even reach the object of consideration if it does not want to go over to the spiritual-scientific consideration. Below the consciousness, that remains which works in history, if one does not bring up the dream into the consciousness. Then, however, one has to bring up the dream in the supersensible consciousness that can imagine the spiritual. Imaginative cognition only will create history.

Then someone who can get to the heart of spiritual science and gets involved with the struggle of a man like Lamprecht, will realise that there a way is searched to a goal. However, where is this goal? Why does Lamprecht try to adduce everything to find history generally and, nevertheless, gets to nothing but to the usual psychology, although he believes that one has to apply social psychology? However, what the human being experiences as a social being what becomes his history, he dreams this, this also does not penetrate the individual psychology. There one has to apply that new psychology which spiritual science only can give. You find the demand with Lamprecht, you find the answer of the riddle of historical development in spiritual science. What will become, however, from all that for a conception of history? You see that Lamprecht does not get away from the intellectual consideration of the consecutive events. He considers that what happens up to the third, up to the eleventh centuries and so on even if he considers it brilliantly. But he does not get on to judge the events in such a way that he reaches that what the human being only experiences as a dream.

One can easily find proofs of that. I want to bring in one example only where Lamprecht advances to the modern time. Among the rest, he asks, which are the most significant cultural phenomena in these modern times? Consider that Lamprecht held the concerning talk in 1904! There he asks, which are the most significant cultural-historical moments that appear as achievements of humanity today? He wants to bring in the most significant soul phenomena of the beginning twentieth century. What does he bring in? The answer is very interesting, just for a man who attaches so much significance to the soul. First, he brings in the attempts to propagate unselfishness, an altruistic life of humanity, various societies for ethical civilisation that came especially from England and America to Europe in those days, and secondly, he brings in the peace movement as something especially outstanding. An approved historian of the present says this. Is such a conception of history on the right way, even if Lamprecht endeavours so much? About at that time I held a talk here about similar ideas and explained that the least of all typical ideas of the beginning twentieth century are just these both movements: the movements of ethical civilisation and especially the peace movement. At that time, I summarised my talk saying: this is just the typical that that time in which the peace movement appears especially loud will be the same time in which the biggest human wars will take place. However, a famous historian said the one thing, a crazy representative of anthroposophy said the other, and it goes without saying in the present to whom one listens.

The point is to recognise how one has to use the facts which one called history up to now so that it points you to the deeper currents of human development by this coherence between the human soul and that only dreamt spirituality which flows along as historical current. One can do this only if one replaces Lamprecht's and all other conceptions of history with that which I call symptomatic conception of history if one is aware that one has to use everything that one can find out in the archives, in the documents, briefly, with the usual conscious reason that one evaluates and appreciates it, while one relates it to something that is a symptom, an expression of it.

One does not consider the great men of history, their appearances, and actions, for their own sake if one wants to describe the historical development of humanity but only as symptoms. One is aware that one properly describes history if one is able to connect the right symptom with the underlying spiritual current of development. Symptomatic history will look quite different from history, which runs in such a way, that one only strings together the facts and tries to use individual psychology to the explanation and analysis of these facts as Lamprecht does it. Symptomatic history consists of the fact that one becomes aware of this attitude which Goethe had that one can approach, actually, a spiritual being only from all sides, that one can get to know it only by its symptoms if one realises that that at which one has looked as history up to now is only at the surface and positions itself quite strangely in life like dream contents.

Observe the dream contents, and you will realise that you often dream something quite different from what is directly attached to the most significant events of your day life. Nevertheless, it is anyhow associated as memory with your life, but in a much-concealed way, and it is associated with deeper forces of life. There is a reason why just this or that which works in the subconscious emerges symptomatically, while we do not dream anything significant that seems to be significant in the awake life, but maybe just something that appears to us as externally unimportant.

Symptomatic historical research has to consider events that control the situation for the outer reason as unimportant for the true history and apparently unimportant events as far-reaching symptoms. Only thereby, one will penetrate from the outside to the inside of the historical life. One cannot transfer the individual soul life to the historical development in such an external way. Of course, I can do here no enclosing interpretation of history to show how this symptomatic consideration grasps the essential in the development of humanity, but I can at least indicate something. I have said in a former talk, if the spiritual researcher learns to behold in the spiritual world and its development, then he notices that the results, as one expects them, normally do not happen this way. They happen as a rule different from one could expect them after the judgement that one has gained in the sensory world. I want to bring in an example:

One could expect that the historical events run in such a way that one could compare them to the childhood, youth, mature period, and old age of the human being. Indeed, some historians were under this illusion. These analogising considerations can be rather witty but have nothing to do with reality. However, something else appears. The result of which I have to inform you here is attained really with the same seriousness with which another scientific result is attained; I can state it, however, only as a result.

Lamprecht tries to find periods of historical development for the German people at first. I have already indicated: it is owed to a right impression that he determines a transition from an age to another around the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is also very typical that he calls this time the individualistic age. To spiritual-scientific research, an important incision likewise appears around the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However, while one spiritual-scientifically beholds in the current of the historical development, it becomes obvious that one has to go back further and has to disregard the borders of tribes or peoples. One has to envisage the general historical development of humanity. There the events combine for centuries, namely from the fifteenth century A.D. until the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. This age from the seventh century before the Mystery of Golgotha to the fifteenth century after it has its own character. This character changes from inner reasons in the fifteenth century more than modern people believe. Lamprecht recognises this, but he does not recognise the whole scope of this fact. Others have already pointed out from different viewpoints that one has to explain not for outer reasons, not even because of the emergence of Renaissance et cetera, but because spontaneously that significant reversal arises from historical life, from the souls of the human beings, which asserts itself in this time almost across the whole earth, but particularly across Europe.

It is remarkable that the most significant Germanist of the present, Konrad Burdach (1859-1936), has pointed to that in very nice essays. Burdach recognises from wholly literary-historical investigations that from the soul development of humanity something quite new has arisen in the spiritual configuration, in the activities of the human being.

Now we live in the period from the fifteenth century on. Spiritual science is able to go further back. Now there something very strange appears. If you look at the impulses that control the human beings since the fifteenth century historically, they are different from those, which controlled the human beings in the preceding period. However, one cannot say, the impulses of the preceding period relate to those of the following period in such a way as in the individual human life any life period relates to the following one. This is not the case. Rather the weird turns out that today the historical works in particular in that in the individual human nature, which develops until the twenties of life. The secret of our present development is that we develop those forces by the historical conditions, which belong to our individual life during the twenties. In the preceding age, the historical life of humanity especially grasped the thirties. One can show the matter also different. One can say, today our souls are organised so that we develop from childhood to the twenties, and that we carry that which we have developed during the twenties into the rest of life, so that the human being feels that his developmental period is finished after the twenties. One can prove this with wholly external things.

Scarcely anybody will state that somebody wants to learn earnestly today during his thirties, in a time where already the youngest people write essays in the newspapers. However, one will experience very easily that people say, one reads Goethe's Iphigenia, generally the classical writers, in the youth, nobody does that in his later life. One could still bring in other symptoms. However, if one goes back to the preceding period, one finds that the growing life lasted until the thirties. As paradox as it sounds today, it is in such a way, and one will once have this as a backed historical achievement. The Greek and Roman developed unlike the modern human being develops, and history happened in those days different because the human being remained longer able of development. Spiritual science shows that one gets, going back even further, to times where the human beings remained capable of development until the forties. So that one can say, one finds three consecutive periods in the historical life of humanity: one behind the eighth pre-Christian century in which we find human beings who feel young until the forties; then the period of the Greek and Roman cultures comes when the human beings remained young until the thirties; then the period in which they are capable of development until the twenties. If you reflect about that, you recognise that you cannot compare the historical development of humanity possibly with the course of the single individual life. In the individual life one grows older and older, humanity as such develops in reverse direction; it grows younger and younger, that is it remains younger and younger; it carries youth less and less into the later individual age.

Hence, the civilisation makes a younger and younger impression in the consecutive periods; that means, the human being carries that which he gains to himself in his youth more and more into the old age. One could have believed that in the time before the eighth pre-Christian century, if one had taken prejudices as starting point, one just finds a younger humanity, then an older one, and that we have now become much riper and older. One has to answer the question first what in the course of development, not in the single life, maturity and age do mean. However, you can consider this developmental process of humanity only in such a way as I have indicated now. You see, something quite different results from what one normally imagines as inner laws of cultural development if one looks really symptomatically at the historical development.

I want only to emphasise one thing in the end. One can also go into the whole attitude of the human beings in two consecutive periods. There you recognise that in the period which began with the eighth pre-Christian century another attitude was there than in the present period. If you consider the human soul spiritual-scientifically, you do not have the same comfort as the trivial psychology has it. Then you have to realise that there are three quite different shadings of the whole soul, and, hence, one distinguishes three soul members. I call one of them the sentient soul. In it the desires and passions are anchored, but it also connects the human being with the outer nature by his senses; then one distinguishes the intellectual or mind soul, and thirdly the consciousness soul in which the real self-consciousness is anchored. While now in the course of the historical development always other forces intervene in the human soul, the following turns out: during the period which lasts from the eighth pre-Christian up to the fifteenth post-Christian centuries where the European civilisation is coloured especially by the influence of the Greek-Latin culture particularly the intellectual or mind soul is working.

Hence, everything faces us that the human being accomplishes in the course of the historical development and in the outer life, in the social and economic life, as if his mind worked instinctively, as if he grasped the outer world with body and mind equally strongly. The human body and mind are balanced in this time, and the mind itself works instinctively. This becomes different with the big reversal in the fifteenth century. There the self-consciousness appears. There the consciousness soul becomes especially strong, there the human being does no longer have the mind instinctively, but he has to reflect everywhere. There the individuality starts forming. There he does no longer feel instinctively if he meets another human being: you have to behave to him this or that way. There he reflects, there he turns to the inside of his personality. So that we can say, the whole historical structure since the fifteenth century is characterised by the fact that the consciousness soul works since that time, while before the more instinctive intellectual or mind soul has worked. You cannot understand the Roman Law, nothing that comes from antiquity properly if you do not envisage this difference between the instinctive mind and that what in modern times works in intellectualistic way.

It arises that that which Lamprecht searches up to the fifteenth century is just the preparation of the consciousness soul in the German people. The German folk soul carried that into the coming period what flowed from the south, while it was just minded to further the stream of historical development from the intellectual or mind soul to the consciousness soul and its various nuances.

If one learns to recognise what really works there, then this shines into the details. Then you can ask yourself again, what is that, for example, what Wilson describes as the real nature of the American people? This is another nuance of the consciousness soul. The western nuance is experienced in its archetypal phenomenon, in its original characteristic here in Central Europe. Here the struggling egoity of the human being is really experienced which relates to the consciousness soul quite consciously which wants to penetrate with all forces of personality that what wants to enter life wholly consciously. This appears in another nuance in the American people where the human soul is like possessed by itself. It is sometimes disagreeable to face the truth. However, just the catastrophic events of our time necessitate a certain objectivity. Into the character of the historian Wilson, the light shines which spiritual science can spread.

Only in principle I could show which direction science of history has to take if it is fertilised by spiritual science in the same sense as I tried to show it for natural sciences eight days ago. Only if you consider history in such a way, you will realise how the human being is associated with that dreamt stream of the historical development that stirs him up. Then, however, it will appear that that which becomes known Imaginatively by the symptomatic interpretation of history is internally related to the human being as a historical being. Then you will realise that not the reason, but the subconsciousness, the dreamlike emotional life is connected with the historical development. Imagination will teach what works in the mood and in the will impulses of the human beings, while they are in the stream of the historical development. Then something else will arise than the belief that history can teach this or that. If it were able to teach as one normally imagines, then one would be able to find a connection between history and this usual reason. However, it does not exist. The connection is there with that what works in the depths of the soul, in the subconsciousness. The human being cannot learn, indeed, for his usual reason from history, but from the true history if he develops it more and more by the view of the spirit in history, then the historical impulses settle down in the feeling of the human being. If he faces a fact, if he is called for action or for the right feeling towards a fact within the social life, then his feeling will lead him properly. Then not his reason, but his whole soul is taught by such an interpretation of history.

With it let me summarise this consideration briefly. Goethe suspected that history, if it is recognised truly, works in the mood, in the feeling that it works if enthusiasm originates in the right way if antipathies or sympathies originate for what should be done or be omitted in a social situation. Briefly, Goethe said out of a right notion of that which spiritual science has to bring to light: the best that we can have from history is the enthusiasm, which it excites. Certainly, we cannot feel the intellectual judgement but the enthusiasm as a fruit of history if we can recognise the real historical development.




Last Modified: 02-Dec-2018
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