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Chance, Necessity and Providence

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

Chance, Providence, and Necessity

Rudolf Steiner

Eight lectures held in Dornach between August 23 and September 6, 1915

Translated by Marjorie Spock

Anthroposophic Press Rudolf Steiner Press

Hudson, New York London

The eight lectures in this book are published in German under the title Zufall, Notwendigkeit und Vorsehung: Imaginative Erkenntnis und Vorgdnge nach dein Tode (Vol. 163 in the Bibliographic Survey).

Published in the United States of America by Anthroposophic Press, Bell's Pond, Star Route, Hudson, N.Y. 12534.

Published in the United Kingdom by Rudolf Steiner Press, 38 Museum Street, London, WC1.

Copyright 1988 by Anthroposophic Press, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Steiner, Rudolf, 1861-1925.

[Zufall, Notwendigkeit und Vorsehung. English]

Chance, providence, and necessity : eight lectures held in Dornach between August 23 and September 6, 1915 / Rudolf Steiner ; translated by Marjorie Spock.

Translation of: Zufall, Notwendigkeit und Vorsehung.

1. Anthroposophy. 2. Chance. 3. Providence and government of God. 4. Necessity (Philosophy) 5. Free will and determinism. I. Title.

BP595.S894Z8313 1988

299'. 935—del 9 88-9673


ISBN 0-88010-261-6 cloth Anthroposophic Press 0-88010-262-4 pbk.

ISBN 0-85440-335-3 cloth Rudolf Steiner Press 0-85440-345-0 pbk.

Cover: Graphic form by Rudolf Steiner, 1921 Title lettering by Peter Stebbing

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and articles.

Printed in the United States of America


Lecture I, August 23, 1915 1

Probability and chance. Fritz Mauthner's studies of improbability. The difficulty of the search for truth.

Lecture II, August 27, 1915 17

Consciousness in sleeping and waking states. Perception of the aura. Nuances of consciousness.

Lecture III, August 28, 1915 35

Necessity and chance in historical events. Waking, sleeping, and memory. The etheric body and our concepts.

Lecture IV, August 29, 1915 53

Necessity as past subjectivity. The transition from the subjective to the objective realm.

Lecture V, August 30, 1915 65

Necessity and past, chance and present. Chance and karma. Providence and the experience of spiritual worlds flowing into our souls.

Lecture VI, September 4, 1915 87

Imaginative cognition leaves insights of natural science behind. The etheric body as instrument of perception in imaginative cognition.

Lecture VII, September 5, 1915 103

The physical body binds us to the physical world, the etheric body to the cosmos. The etheric body grows

younger in the course of the life. People dying young bring ether bodies with will and love forces into the spiritual world.

Lecture VIII, September 6, 1915 119

Physical body: dissolution at death. Etheric body: “in- binding” of the ether body into the ether world, in the process the spiritual world exudes gratitude. The objective world is what the gods have thought, expelled out of themselves, and forgotten. Just as human beings have to pull up memories again that had been forgotten in order to have ego consciousness, so the gods need the world to have consciousness of themselves.



Lecture I

August 23, 1915

My task today will be to discuss how hard it is for people to keep to the truth of a situation in their ordinary trains of thought. I want to convey to you how far from easy it is in thinking to keep all the factors involved so before us that the course of our thoughts doesn't go astray from reality, that we follow the thread of reality.

The theme proposed for us today is certainly more difficult than others we might choose. But there is inner moral value to be derived from the realization that truth is hard to get at and that it is very easy to go astray as we forge ahead in a train of thought in the attempt to arrive at the truth by means of strict logical reasoning.

You will find that what I am going to tell you today will make it easier to understand certain matters that will occupy us in the next lecture. I will be speaking then about the important concepts chance, necessity, and providence. And I want to begin today with an introduction that, though it has its difficulties, will nevertheless contribute something vital and significant, not only to our theoretical understanding, but to the feeling we will then be able to develop for the way to seek truth.

I have often had occasion to mention the fact that there is a contemporary philosopher by the name of Fritz Mauthner who has written a Critique of Language.1 This Critique of Language was intended to provide our period with something better suited to it than Kant provided for his time with his Critique of Pure Reason.2 For


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