[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

Self Observation

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

Highlight Words

Self Observation

On-line since: 31st October, 2016



In consciousness-filled deeds; when we are fully aware of the motive-forces of what we do; is there then the possibility of self-originated activity? Chapter I indicated the “What” of our enquiry; Chapter II indicates the “How.” We are now told in what way we must read these pages if we are to understand them, — in what way we must look for freedom if we are to find it.

What light does our interest in art, philosophy, religion, science throw upon our nature as human beings?

We watch a play. A moment ago, these magnificent dramatis personae were making up their faces and putting on their costumes. A moment ago, where now stands a solemn temple or a gorgeous palace, there was a litter of boards and boxes. We are well aware that the whole thing is humbug. But the greatest minds of the world have made it their life-aim to fake up such make-believes. And as we sit and watch, we undergo experiences essentially greater than any that “real life” can offer. What do such happenings tell us about ourselves? ... Socrates made a convert of Plato in the streets of Athens. He has made numberless other such converts from those days to these in the streets of Rome and Alexandria and Paris and London and Delhi and Pekin. The Dialogues of Plato, says Emerson, “are the germ of the Europe we know so well.” What is the significance of such phenomena for our understanding of our own being? ... What, in all its miracle-working power has brought into existence what we call “Modern Science?” What magic evoked the truth-seeking energies of Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Haeckel, Einstein? … Speaking for mankind throughout the ages, Augustine declared: — “Tu nos fecisti ad Te et inquietum est cor nostrum donee requiescat in Te;” “Thou has made us for Thyself and restless is this heart of ours until it rests in Thee.” (If nowadays there are many who assert that they share no such feeling, it may be retorted that this is perhaps because they do not fully know themselves; and that possibly the prevalence of nervous disorders is a sort of cosmic revenge upon us human creatures for denying the basis of our being.) What does this longing to be re-integrated in the World-Whole tell us about the way we are made?

This chapter is called “Der Grundtrieb zur Wissenschaft.” Dr. Steiner is asking us to note in the history of the human race and in our own experience, how infinitely much we are affected by religion, philosophy, art and science. Fundamentally; centrally; essentially; we are (he urges) beings who seek enlargement of consciousness. We are not content to be as we are. Impelled by a thirst which we are never able more than slightly, more than momentarily, to slake, we listen to music and poetry, we search for knowledge, we engage in meditation.

There are all sorts of stupid ways of looking at a human being. The only true way is to see ourselves as invisibly motivated at the centre by “Der Grundtrieb zur Wissenschaft.” It is this hard lesson that we are required to learn. It is this that we must take to heart. It is this that, if we would read these pages victoriously, we are called upon to be ... To read the “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” as one reads some university text-book will bring no result except disappointment. It is necessary to bring to the reading much more than a clever head. At the outset. Dr. Steiner postulates in the reader a mood of fundamental sincerity. If we try to read these pages with our self as it now is — with this unexamined prejudice at this point and with this obscurantist feeling at the next — we shall thereby render ourselves incapable of seeing anything more than words. Only if we continually overcome our present mental limitations; only if we persistently bring latent resources to bear upon what we read; shall we be able to take into ourselves what Dr. Steiner is presenting to us.

© 2021 Steiner Online Library. All rights reserved.

Steiner Online Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 85-2621701. Donations are tax-deductible.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us