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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

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



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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

Schmidt Number: S-4274

On-line since: 15th June, 2020

4th Lecture

The New Spirituality and the Christ Expereience of the Twentieth Century
Lecture 3

Dornach,
24 October, 1920

As early as 1891 I drew attention [1] to the relation between Schiller's Aesthetic Letters [2] and Goethe's Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. [3] I would like today to point to a certain connection between what I gave yesterday as the characteristic of the civilization of the Central-European countries in contrast to the Western and Eastern ones and what arises in quite a unique way in Goethe and Schiller. I characterized, on the one hand, the seizure of the human corporality by the spirits of the West and, on the other hand, the feeling of those spiritual beings who, as imaginations, as spirits of the East, work inspiringly into Eastern civilization. And one can notice both these aspects in the leading personalities of Goethe and Schiller. I will only point out in addition how in Schiller's Aesthetic Letters he seeks to characterize a human soul-constitution which shows a certain middle mood between one possibility in the human being — his being completely given over to instincts, to the sensible-physical — and the other possibility — that of being given over to the logical world of reason. Schiller holds that, in both cases, the human being cannot come to freedom. For if he has completely surrendered himself to the world of the senses, to the world of instincts, of desires, he is given over to his bodily-physical nature and is unfree. But he is also unfree when he surrenders himself completely to the necessity of reason, to logical necessity; for then he is coerced under the tyranny of the laws of logic. But Schiller wants to point to a middle state in which the human being has spiritualized his instincts to such a degree that he can give himself up to them without their dragging him down, without their enslaving him, and in which, on the other hand, logical necessity is taken up into sense perception (sinnliche Anschauen), taken up into personal desires (Triebe), so that these logical necessities do not also enslave the human being.

Schiller finds this middle state in the condition of aesthetic enjoyment and aesthetic creation, in which the human being can come to true freedom.

It is an extremely important fact that Schiller's whole treatise arose out of the same European mood as did the French Revolution. The same thing which, in the West, expressed itself tumultuously as a large political movement orientated towards external upheaval and change also moved Schiller — but moved him in such a way that he sought to answer the question: What must the human being do in himself in order to become a truly free being? In the West they asked: How must the external social conditions be changed so that the human being can become free? Schiller asked: What must the human being become in himself so that, in his constitution of soul, he can live in (darleben) freedom? And he sees that if human beings are educated to this middle mood they will also represent a social community governed by freedom. Schiller thus wishes to realize a social community in such a way that free conditions are created through [the inner nature of] human beings and not through outer measures.

Schiller came to this composition of his Aesthetic Letters through his schooling in Kantian philosophy. His was indeed a highly artistic nature, but in the 1780s and the beginning of the 1790s he was strongly influenced by Kant and tried to answer such questions for himself in a Kantian way (im Kantischen Sinne). Now the Aesthetic Letters were written just at the time when Goethe and Schiller were founding the magazine Die Horen (The Hours) and Schiller lays the Aesthetic Letters before Goethe.

Now we know that Goethe's soul-configuration was quite different from Schiller's. It was precisely because of the difference of their soul-constitutions that these two became so close. Each could give to the other just that which the other lacked. Goethe now received Schiller's Aesthetic Letters in which Schiller wished to answer the question: How can the human being come inwardly to a free inner constitution of soul and outwardly to free social conditions? Goethe could not make much of Schiller's philosophical treatise. This way of presenting concepts, of developing ideas, was not unfamiliar to him. Anyone who, like myself, has seen how Goethe's own copy of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is filled with underlinings and marginal comments knows how Goethe had really studied this work of Kant's which was abstract, but in a completely different sense. And just as he seems to have been able to take works such as these purely as study material, so, of course, he could also have taken Schiller's Aesthetic Letters. But this was not the point. For Goethe this whole construction of the human being — on the one hand logical necessity and on the other the senses with their sensual needs, as Schiller said, and the third, the middle condition — for Goethe this was all far too cut and dried, far too simplistic. He felt that one could not picture the human being so simply, or present human development so simply, and thus he wrote to Schiller that he did not want to treat the problem, this whole riddle, in such a philosophical, intellectual form, but more pictorially. Goethe then treated this same problem in picture form — as reply, as it were, to Schiller's Aesthetic Letters — in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily by presenting the two realms on this and on the far side of the river, in a pictorial, rich and concrete way; the same thing that Schiller presents as sense-life and the life of reason. And what Schiller characterizes abstractly as the middle condition, Goethe portrays in the building of the temple in which rule the King of Wisdom (the Golden King), the King of Semblance (the Silver King), the King of Power (the Copper King) and in which the Mixed King falls to pieces. Goethe wanted to deal with this in a pictorial way. And we have, in a certain sense, an indication — but in the Goethean way — of the fact that the outer structure of human society must not be monolithic but must be a threefoldness if the human being is to thrive in it. What in a later epoch had to emerge as the threefold social order is given here by Goethe still in the form of an image. Of course, the threefold social order does not yet exist but Goethe gives the form he would like to ascribe to it in these three kings; in the Golden, the Silver, and the Copper King. And what cannot hold together he gives in the Mixed King.

But it is no longer possible to give things in this way. I have shown this in my first Mystery Drama [4] which, in essence, deals with the same theme but in the way required by the beginning of the twentieth century, whereas Goethe wrote his Fairy-tale at the end of the eighteenth century.

Now, however, it is already possible to indicate in a certain way — even though Goethe had not himself yet done so — how the Golden King would correspond to that aspect of the social organism which we call the spiritual aspect: how the King of Semblance, the Silver King, would correspond to the political State: how the King of Power, the Copper King, would correspond to the economic aspect, and how the Mixed King, who disintegrates, represents the 'Uniform State' which can have no permanence in itself.

This was how, in images, Goethe pointed to what would have to arise as the threefold social order. Goethe thus said, as it were, when he received Schiller's Aesthetic Letters: One cannot do it like this. You, dear friend, picture the human being far too simplistically. You picture three forces. This is not how it is with the human being. If one wishes to look at the richly differentiated inner nature of the human being, one finds about twenty forces — which Goethe then presents in his twenty archetypal fairy-tale figures — and one must then portray the interplay and interaction of these twenty forces in a much less abstract way.

Thus at the end of the eighteenth century we have two presentations of the same thing. One by Schiller, from the intellect as it were, though not in the usual way that people do things from the intellect, but such that the intellect is permeated here with feeling and soul, is permeated by the whole human being. Now there is a difference between some dry, average, professional philistine presenting something on the human being in psychological terms, where only the head thinks about the matter, and Schiller, out of an experience of the whole human being, forming for himself the ideal of a human constitution of soul and thereby only transforming into intellectual concepts what he actually feels.

It would be impossible to go further on the path taken by Schiller using logic or intellectual analysis without becoming philistine and abstract. In every line of these Aesthetic Letters there is still the full feeling and sensibility of Schiller. It is not the stiff Königsberg approach of Immanuel Kant with dry concepts; it is profundity in intellectual form transformed into ideas. But should one take it just one step further one would come into the intellectual mechanism that is realized in the usual science of today in which, basically, behind what is structured and developed intellectually, the human being has no more significance. It thus becomes a matter of no importance whether Professor A or D or X deals with the subject because what is presented does not arise from the whole human being. In Schiller everything still has a totally personal (urpersönlich) nature, even into the intellect. Schiller lives there in a phase — indeed, in an evolutionary point of the modern development of humanity which is of essential importance — because Schiller stops just short of something into which humanity later fell completely.

Let us show diagramatically what might be meant here. One could say: This is the general tendency of human evolution (arrow pointing upwards). Yet it cannot go [straight] like this — portrayed only schematically — but loops round into a lemniscate (blue). But it cannot go on like that — there must, if evolution takes this course, be continually new impulses Antriebe) which move the lemniscates up along the line.


New Spirituality: lecture 4, image 1

Schiller, having arrived at this point here (see diagram), would have gone into a dark blue, as it were, of mere abstraction, of intellectuality, had he proceeded further in objectifying what he felt inwardly. But he drew a halt and paused with his forms of reasoning just at that point at which the personality is not lost. Thus, this did not become blue but, on a higher level of the Personality — which I will colour with red (see diagram) — was turned into green.

Thus one can say: Schiller held back with his intellectuality just before that point at which intellectuality tries to emerge in its purity. Otherwise he would have fallen into the usual intellect of the nineteenth century. Goethe expressed the same thing in images, in wonderful images, in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. But he, too, stopped at the images. He could not bear these pictures to be in any way criticized because, for him, what he perceived and felt about the individual human element and the social life, did simply present itself in such pictures. But he was allowed to go no further than these images. For had he, from his standpoint, tried to go further he would have come into wild, fantastic daydreams. The subject would no longer have had definite contours; it would no longer have been applicable to real life but would have risen above and beyond it. It would have become rapturous fantasy. One could say that Goethe had to avoid the other chasm, in which he would have come completely into a fantastic red. Thus he adds that element which is non-personal — that which keeps the pictures in the realm of the imaginative — and thereby came also to the green.

Expressing it schematically, Schiller had, as it were, avoided the blue, the Ahrimanic-intellectuality; Goethe had avoided the red, excessive rapturousness, and kept to concrete imaginative pictures.

As a human being of Central Europe, Schiller had con-fronted the spirits of the West. They wanted to lead him astray into the solely intellectual. Kant had succumbed to this. I spoke about this recently [5] and indicated how Kant had succumbed to the intellectuality of the West through David Hume. Schiller had managed to work himself clear of this even though he allowed himself to be taught by Kant. He stayed at the point that is not mere intellectuality.

Goethe had to do battle with the other spirits, with the spirits of the East, who pulled him towards imaginations. Because at that time spiritual science was not yet present on the earth he could not go further than to the web of imaginations in the Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. But even here he managed to remain within firm contours. He did not go off into wild fantasy or ecstasies. He gave himself a new and fruitful stimulus through his journey to the South where much of the legacy from the Orient was still preserved. He learnt how the spirits of the East still worked here as a late blossoming of oriental culture; in Greek art as he construed this for himself from Italian works of art. It can therefore be said that there was something quite unique in this bond of friendship between Schiller and Goethe. Schiller had to battle with the spirits of the West; he did not yield to them but held back and did not fall into mere intellectuality. Goethe had to battle with the spirits of the East; they tried to pull him into ecstatic reveries zum Schwärmerischen). He, too, held back; he kept to the images which he gives in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Goethe would have had either to succumb to rapturous daydreams (Schwärmerei) or to take up oriental revelation. Schiller would have had either to become completely intellectual or would have had to take seriously what he became — it is well known that he was made a 'French citizen' by the revolutionary government but that he did not take the matter very seriously.

We see here how, at an important point of European development, these two soul-constitutions, which I have characterized for you, stand side by side. They live anyway, so to speak, in every significant Central-European individuality but in Schiller and Goethe they stand in a certain way simultaneously side by side. Schiller and Goethe remained, as it were, at this point, for it just required the intercession of spiritual science to raise the curve of the lemniscate (see diagram) to a higher level.

And thus, in a strange way, in Schiller's three conditions — the condition of the necessity of reason, the condition of the necessity of instincts and that of the free aesthetic mood — and in Goethe's three kings — the Golden King, the Silver King, and the Copper King — we see a prefiguration of everything that we must find through spiritual science concerning the threefold nature of the human being as well as the threefold differentiation of the social community representing, as these do, the most immediate and essential aims and problems of the individual human being and of the way human beings live together.

These things direct us indeed to the fact that this threefolding of the social organism is not brought to the surface arbitrarily but that even the finest spirits of modern human evolution have already moved in this direction. But if there were only the ideas about the social questions such as those in Goethe's Fairy-tale and nothing more one would never come to an impetus for actual outer action. Goethe was at the point of overcoming mere revelations. In Rome he did not become a Catholic but raised himself up to his imaginations. But he stopped there, with just pictures. And Schiller did not become a revolutionary but a teacher of the inner human being. He stopped at the point where intellect is still suffused with the personality.

Thus, in a later phase of European culture, there was still something at work which can be perceived also in ancient times and most clearly, for modern people, in the culture of ancient Greece. Goethe also strove towards this Greek element. In Greece one can see how the social element is presented in myth — that is, also in picture form. But the Greek myth, basically, Is image in the same way that Goethe's Fairy-tale is image. It is not possible with these images to work into the social organism in a reforming way. One can only describe as an idealist, as it were, what ought to take shape. But the images are too frail a structure to enable one to act strongly and effectively in the shaping of the social organism. For this very reason the Greeks did not believe that their social questions were met by remaining in the images of the myths. And it is here, when one follows this line of investigation, that one comes to an important point in Greek development.

One could put it like this: for everyday life, where things go on in the usual way, the Greeks considered themselves dependant on their gods, on the spirits of their myths. When, however, it was a matter of deciding something of great importance, then the Greeks said: Here it is not those gods who work into imaginations and are the gods of the myths that can determine the matter; here something real must come to light. And so the Oracle arose. The gods were not pictured here merely imaginatively but were called upon (veranlasst) really to inspire people. And it was with the sayings of the Oracle that the Greeks concerned themselves when they wanted to receive social impulses. Here they ascended from imagination to inspiration, but an inspiration which they attained by means of outer nature. We modern human beings must certainly also endeavour to lift ourselves up to inspiration; an inspiration, however, that does not call upon outer nature in oracles but which rises to the spirit in order to be inspired in the sphere of the spirit. But just as the Greeks turned to reality in matters of the social sphere — just as they did not stop at imaginations but ascended to inspirations — so we, too, cannot stop at imaginations but must rise up to inspirations if we are to find anything for the well-being of human society in the modern age.

And we come here to another point which is important to look at. Why did Schiller and Goethe both stop at a certain point — the one on the path towards the intellectual (Verstandiges) and the other on the path to the imaginative? Neither of them had spiritual science; otherwise Schiller would have been able to advance to the point of permeating his concepts in a spiritual-scientific way and he would then have found: something much more real in his three soul-conditions than the three abstractions in his Aesthetic Letters. Goethe would have filled imagination with what speaks out in all reality from the spiritual world and would have been able to penetrate to the forms of the social life which wish to be put into effect from the spiritual world — to the spiritual element in the social organism, the Golden King; to the political element in the social organism, the Silver King; and to the economic element, the Bronze, the Copper, King.

The age in which Goethe and Schiller pressed forward to these insights — the one in the Aesthetic Letters and the other in the Fairy-tale — was not yet able to go any further. For, in order to penetrate further, there is something quite definite that must first be realized. People have to see what becomes of the world if one continues along Schiller's path up to the full elaboration (Ausgestaltung) of the impersonally intellectual. The nineteenth century developed it to being with in natural science and the second half of the nineteenth century already began to try to realize it in outer public affairs. There is a significant secret here. In the human organism what is ingested is also finally destroyed. We cannot simply go on eating but must also excrete; the substance we take in has to meet with destruction, has to be destroyed, and has then to leave the organism. And the intellectual is that which — and here comes a complication — as soon as it gets hold of the economic life in the uniform State, in the Mixed King, destroys that economic life.

But we are now living in the time in which the intellect must evolve. We could not come to the development of the consciousness-soul in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch without developing the intellect. And it is the Western peoples that have just this task of bringing the intellect into the economic life. What does this mean? We cannot order modern economic life imaginatively, in the way that Goethe did in his Fairy-tale, because we have to shape it through the intellect (verständig). Because in economics we cannot but help to go further along the path which Schiller took, though in his case he went only as far as the still-personal outbreathing of the intellect. We have to establish an economic life which, because it has to come from the intellect, of necessity works destructively in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In the present age there is no economic life that could be run imaginatively like that of the Orient or the economy of medieval Europe. Since the middle of the fifteenth century we have only had the possibility of an economic life which, whether existing alone or mixed with the other limbs of the social organism, works destructively. There is no other way. Let us therefore look on this economic life as the side of the scales that would sink far down and therefore has to work destructively. But there also has to be a balance. For this reason we must have an economic life that is one part of the social organism, and a spiritual life which holds the balance, which builds up again. If one clings today to the uniform State, the economic life will absorb this uniform State together with the spiritual life, and uniform States like these must of necessity lead to destruction. And when, like Lenin and Trotsky, one founds a State purely out of the intellect it must lead to destruction because the intellect is directly solely to the economic life.

This was felt by Schiller as he thought out his social conditions. Schiller felt: If I go further in the power of the intellect (verständesmassiges Können) I will come into the economic life and will have to apply the intellect to it. I will not then be portraying what grows and thrives but what lives in destruction. Schiller shrank back before the destruction. He stopped just at the point where destruction would break in. People of today invent all sorts of social economic systems but are not aware, because they lack the sensitivity of feeling for it, that every economic system like this that they think up leads to destruction; leads definitely to destruction if it is not constantly renewed by an independent, developing spiritual life which ever and ever again works as a constructive element in relation to the destruction, the excretion, of the economic life. The working together of the spiritual limb of the social organism with the economic element is described in this sense in my Towards Social Renewal (Kernpunkte der Sozialen Frage). [6]

If, with the modern intellectuality of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, people were to hold on to capital even when they themselves could no longer manage it, the economic life itself would cause it to circulate. Destruction would inevitably have to come. This is where the spiritual life has to intervene; capital must be transferred via the spiritual life to those who are engaged in its administration. This is the inner meaning of the threefolding of the social organism; namely that, in a properly thought out threefold social organism, one should be under no illusion that the economic thinking of the present is a destructive element which must, therefore, be continually counterbalanced by the constructive element of the spiritual limb of the social organism.

In every generation, in the children whom we teach at school, something is given to us; something is sent down from the spiritual world. We take hold of this in education — this is something spiritual — and incorporate it into the economic life and thereby ward off its destruction. For the economic life, if it runs its own course, destroys itself. This is how we must look at things. Thus we must see how at the end of the eighteenth century there stood Goethe and Schiller. Schiller said to himself: I must pull back, I must not describe a social system which calls merely on the personal intellect. I must keep the intellect within the personality, otherwise I would describe economic destruction. And Goethe: I want sharply contoured images, not excessive vague ones. For if I were to go any further along that path I would come into a condition that is not on the earth, that does not take hold with any effect on life itself. I would leave the economic life below me like something lifeless and would found a spiritual life that is incapable of reaching into the immediate circumstances of life.

Thus we are living in true Goetheanism when we do not stop at Goethe but also share the development in which Goethe himself took part since 1832. I have indicated this fact — that the economic life today continually works towards its own destruction and that this destruction must be continually counterbalanced. I have indicated this in a particular place in my Towards Social Renewal. But people do not read things properly. They think that this book is written in the same way most books are written today — that one can just read it through. Every sentence in a book such as this, written out of practical insight, requires to be thoroughly thought through!

But if one takes these two things [Goethe's Fairy-tale and Schiller's Aesthetic Letters], Schiller's Aesthetic Letters were little understood in the time that followed them. I have often spoken about this. People gave them little attention. Otherwise the study of Schiller's Aesthetic Letters would have been a good way of coming into what you find in my Knowledge of the Higher Worlds — How is it Achieved? Schiller's Aesthetic Letters would be a good preparation for this. And likewise, Goethe's Fairy-tale could also be the preparation for acquiring that configuration of thinking (Geisteskonfiguration) which can arise not merely from the intellect but from still deeper forces, and which would be really able to understand something like Towards Social Renewal. For both Schiller and Goethe sensed something of the tragedy of Central European civilization — certainly not consciously, but they sensed it nevertheless. Both felt — and one can read this everywhere in Goethe's conversations with Eckermann, with Chancellor von Müller [7], and in numerous other comments by Goethe — that if something like a new impulse from the spirit did not arise, like a new comprehension of Christianity, then everything must go into decline. A great deal of the resignation which Goethe felt in his later years is based, without doubt, on this mood.

And those who, without spiritual science, have become Goetheanists feel how, in the very nature of German Central Europe, this singular working side by side of the spirits of the West and the spirits of the East is particularly evident. I said yesterday that in Central European civilization the balance sought by later Scholasticism between rational knowledge and revelation is attributable to the working of the spirits of the West and the spirits of the East. We have seen today how this shows itself in Goethe and Schiller. But, fundamentally, the whole of Central European civilization wavers in the whirlpool in which East and West swirl and interpenetrate one another. From the East the sphere of the Golden King; from the West the sphere of the Copper King. From the East, Wisdom; from the West, Power. And in the middle is what Goethe represented in the Silver King, in Semblance; that which imbues itself with reality only with great difficulty. It was this semblance-nature of Central European civilization which lay as the tragic mood at the bottom of Goethe's soul. And Herman Grimm, who also did not know spiritual science, gave in a beautiful way, out of his sensitive feeling for Goethe whom he studied, a fine characterization of Central-European civilization. He saw how it had the peculiarity of being drawn into the whirlpool of the spirits of the East and the spirits of the West. This was the effect of preventing the will from coming into its own and leads to the constantly vacillating mood of German history. Herman Grimm [8] puts it beautifully when he says: 'To Treitschke German history is the incessant striving towards spiritual and political unity and, on the path towards this, the incessent interference by our own deepest inherent peculiarities.' This is what Herman Grimm says, experiencing himself as a German. And he describes this further as 'Always the same way in our nature to oppose where we should give way and to give way where resistance is called for. The remarkable forgetting of what has just past. Suddenly no longer wanting what, a moment ago, was vigorously striven for. A disdain for the present, but strong, indefinite hope. Added to this the tendency to give ourselves over to the foreigner and, no sooner having done so, then exercising an unconscious, determining (massgebende) influence on the foreigners to whom we had subjected ourselves.'

When, today, one has to do with Central European civilization and would like to arrive at something through it, one is everywhere met by the breath of this tragic element which is betrayed by the whole history of the German, the Central European element, between East and West. It is everywhere still so today that, with Herman Grimm, one can say: There is the urge to resist where one should give way and to give way where resistance is needed.

This is what arises from the vacillating human beings of the Centre; from what, between economics and the reconstructing spirit-life, stands in the middle as the rhythmical oscillating to and fro of the political. Because the civic-political element has celebrated its triumph in these central countries, it is here that a semblance lives which can easily become illusion. Schiller, in writing his Aesthetic Letters, did not want to abandon semblance. He knew that where one deals purely with the intellect, one comes into the destruction of the economic life. In the eighteenth century that part was destroyed which could be destroyed by the French Revolution; in the nineteenth century it would be much worse. Goethe knew that he must not go into wild fantasies but keep to true imagination. But in the vacillation between the two sides of this duality, which arises in the swirling, to and fro movement of the spirits of the West and of the East, there is easily generated an atmosphere of illusion. It does not matter whether this illusionary atmosphere emerges in religion, in politics or in militarism; in the end it is all the same whether the ecstatic enthusiast produces some sort of mysticism or enthuses in the way Ludendorff [9] did without standing on the ground of reality. And, finally, one an also meet it in a pleasing way. For the same place in Herman Grimm which I just read out continues as follows: 'You can see it today: no one seemed to be so completely severed from their homeland as the Germans who became Americans, and yet American life, into which our emigrants dissolved, stands today under the influence of the German spirit.'

Thus writes the brilliant Herman Grimm in 1895 when it was only out of the worst illusion that one could believe that the Germans who went to America would give American life a German colouring. For already, long before this, there had been prepared what then emerged in the second decade of the twentieth century: that the American element completely submerged what little the Germans had been able to bring in.

And the illusionary nature of this remark by Herman Grimm becomes all the greater when one finally bears in mind the following. Herman Grimm makes this comment from a Goethean way of thinking (Gesinnung), for he had modelled himself fully on Goethe. But he had a certain other quality. Anyone who knows Herman Grimm more closely knows that in his style, in his whole way of expressing himself, in his way of thinking, he had absorbed a great deal of Goethe, but not Goethe's real and penetrating quality — for Grimm's descriptions are such that what he actually portrays are shadow pictures, not real human beings. But he has something else in him, not just Goethe. And what is it that Herman Grimm has in himself? Americanism! For what he had in his style, in his thought-forms, apart from Goethe he has from early readings of Emerson. Even his sentence structure, his train of thought, is copied from the American, Emerson. [10]

Thus, Herman Grimm is under this double illusion, in the realm of the Silver King of Semblance. At a time when all German influence has been expunged from America he fondly believes that America has been Germanized, when in fact he himself has quite a strong vein of Americanism in him.

Thus there is often expressed in a smaller, more intimate context what exists in a less refined form in external culture at large. A crude Darwinism, a crude economic thinking, has spread out there and would in the end, if the threefolding of the social organism fails to come, lead to ruin — for an economic life constructed purely intellectually must of necessity lead to ruin. And anyone who, like Oswald Spengler, [11] thinks in the terms of this economic life can prove scientifically that at the beginning of the third millenium the modern civilized world — which today is actually no longer so very civilized — will have had to sink into the most desolate barbarity. For Spengler knows nothing of what the world must receive as an impulse, as a spiritual impulse.

But the spiritual science and the spiritual-scientific culture which not only wishes to enter, but must enter, the world today still has an extremely difficult task getting through. And everywhere those who wish to prevent this spiritual science from arising assert themselves. And, basically, there are only a few energetic workers in the field of spiritual science whereas the Others, who lead into the works of destruction, are full of energy.

One only has to see how people of today are actually completely at a loss in the face of what comes up in the life of Present civilization. It is characteristic, for instance, how a newspaper of Eastern Switzerland carried articles on my lectures on The Boundaries of Natural Science during the course at the School of Spiritual Science. And now, in the town where the newspaper is published, Arthur Drews [12], the copy-cat of Eduard von Hartmann, holds lectures in which he has never done anything more than rehash Eduard von Hartmann, the philosopher of the unconscious. [13] In the case of Hartmann it is interesting. In the case of the rehasher it is, of course, highly superfluous. And this philosophical hollow-headedness working at Karlsruhe University is now busying itself with anthroposophically-orientated spiritual science.

And how does the modern human being — I would particularly like to emphasize this — confront these things? Well, we have listened to one person, we now go and listen to someone else. This means that, for the modern human being, it is all a matter of indifference, and this is a terrible thing. Whether the rehasher of Eduard von Hartmann, Arthur Drews, has something against Anthroposophy or not is not the important point — for what the man can have against Anthroposophy can be fully construed beforehand from his books, not a single sentence need be left out. The significant thing is that people's standpoint is that one hears something, makes a note of it, and then it is over and done with, finished! All that is needed to come to the right path is that people really go into the matter. But people today do not want to be taken up with having to go into something properly. This is the really terrible and awful thing; this is what has already pushed people so far that they are no longer able to distinguish between what is speaking of realities and what writes whole books, like those of Count Hermann Von Keyserling, [14] in which there is not one single thought, just jumbled-together words. And when one longs for something to be taken up enthusiastically — which would, of itself, lead to this hollow word-skirmishing being distinguished from what is based on genuine spiritual research — one finds no one who rouses himself, makes a stout effort and is able to be taken hold of by that which has substance. This is what people have forgotten — and forgotten thoroughly — in this age in which truth is not decided according to truth itself, but in which the great lie walks among men so that in recent years individual nations have only found to be true what comes from them and have found what comes from other nations to be false. The disgusting way that people lie to each other has fundamentally become the stamp of the public spirit. Whenever something came from another nation it was deemed untrue. If it came from one's own nation it was true. This still echoes on today; it has already become a habit of thought. In contrast, a genuine, unprejudiced devotion to truth leads to spiritualization. But this is basically still a matter of indifference for modern human beings.

Until a sufficiently large number of people are willing to engage themselves absolutely whole-heartedly for spiritual science, nothing beneficial will come from the present chaos. People should not believe that one can somehow progress by galvanizing the old. This 'old' founds 'Schools of Wisdom' on purely hollow words. It has furnished university philosophy with the Arthur Drews's who, however, are actually represented everywhere, and yet humanity will not take a stand. Until it makes a stand in all three spheres of life — in the spiritual, the political and the economic spheres — no cure can come out of the present-day chaos. It must sink ever deeper!

Notes:

1. See Rudolf Steiner's own review (GA 51) of his lecture to the Vienna Goethe Association (Wiener Goetheverein) on 27 November 1891 entitled Über das Geheimnis in Goethes Rätselmarchen in den 'Unterhaltu deutscher Ausgewanderter' (On the Secret in Goethe's Enigmatic Fairy Tale in 'Conversations of German Emigrants) in Literarisches Frühhwerk, Vol III, Book IV, Dornach, 1942. See also Goethe's Standard of the Soul (Goethes Geistesart in ihrer Offenbarung durch seine 'Faust' und durch sein 'Märchen von der grünen Schlange und der Lilie') (GA 22). Return

2. See On the Aesthetic Education of Man published in 1795 in the Die Horen. This work arose from letters sent by Schiller to the Duke of Augustenburg between 1793 and 1795. Return

3. Published in the Die Horen in 1795 as the close to the short story Conversations of German Emigrants. Return

4. See The Portal of Initiation — A Rosicrucian Mystery, 1910, in Four Mystery Dramas, (GA 14). Return

5. See Lecture One of this volume. Return

6. See Towards Social Renewal, 1919, (GA 23). For what follows on here, see Chapter Two. Return

7. See, for example, the conversation with Chancellor von Müller on 8 June 1830 and that with Eckermann on 11 March 1832. Return

8. Herman Grimm (1828–1902). The quotations are from his essay Heinrich von Treitschke's German History (Heinrich von Treitschhes Deutsche Geschichte) in Contributions to German Cultural History, (Beitrage zur Deutschen Kultur-geschichte) Berlin, 1897, page. 5 Return

9. Erich Ludendorff (1865–1937), German general. Return

10. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), American writer and philosopher. Return

11. Reference is made here to Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) and his work Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline and Fall of the Occident), the first part of which was published in 1918. Return

12. Arthur Drews (1865–1935), Professor of Philosophy at the Technical University at Karlsruhe, spoke on 10 October 1920 in lectures organized by the free religious congregation at Konstanz on 'Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy'. He repeated this lecture on 19 November in Mainz. His articles opposing Anthroposophy were published as a collection under the title Metaphysik and Anthropasophie in ihrer Stellung zur Erkenrunis des Obersinnlichen (Metaphysics and Anthropasophy in their Position Regarding Knowledge of the Supersensible), Berlin, 1922. Return

13. Eduard von Hartmann (1842–1906), Philosophie des Unbewucsten: Versuch einer Weltanschauung (Philosophy of the Unconscious: An Attempt at a World-View), Berlin, 1869. Return

14. Count Hermann Keyserling (1880–1946). Compare, for example, the chapter 'Für and wider die Theosophie' ('For and Against Theosophy') in Philosophic als Kunst (Philosophy as an Art), Darmstadt, 1920. Return




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