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Self Observation

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

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Self Observation

On-line since: 31st October, 2016



The Naive Realist accepts the “evidence of his senses” as conclusive. He regards as final what is brought to him through his psycho-physical organisation. He virtually pays no heed to his thinking. He ignores what Thinking mediates to him. He accepts, as if they were full reality, mere perceptuals and particulars, — a world of shreds and patches. His experience consists of unknown peripheral items, — of things “shot at him, as if from out of a gun,” — of things which, without Thinking, he cannot make over into true inner experience of his own, of things accordingly not comprehended.

If within such a philosophical context; if from these obscure sources; we attempt to find the motives for our conduct, we are condemned to act without any clear knowledge of what we are about. We are in a state of confused self-deception. We cannot thus have deeply grounded confidence in our moral action. We shall submit ourselves to the pressure of some outer or inner peripheral authority or influence. Not clearly aware of any higher alternative, we shall obey the State or be ruled by social conventions or bow down to some imposing ecclesiastical organisation, etc., etc.

The Monist regards what is contributed by the psycho-physical organisation as merely a part-reality; he affirms that only when this part-reality is supplemented and fulfilled by Thinking does it become full reality. He holds that our senses give us only the materials wherewith to build; it is Thinking that erects the cloud-capped towers, the solemn temples, the gorgeous palaces, the great globe itself. At the stage of “appearance for the senses,” we get nothing more than mere isolated blobs of experience; only when we go on to think, do these meaningless particulars become assembled and related into groupings and wholes and laws and actualities.

We now no longer make little of our Thinking. We make much of it. We have come to know that by means of it we have been translated into reality. We see that it is this Thinking of ours that makes sense of our human existence. We see that it is Thinking that supplies all the meanings and all the values. We realise, at long last, that here within our own selves is something we can know through and through, something we can trust to the uttermost.

We have now discovered the true, the altogether pure, the Divinely-appointed source of human activity. We are henceforward under no necessity of turning for moral direction to intermediaries. We know that within our own selfhood speaks authentically the Primal and the Ultimate. Human morality consists in listening to and giving effect to what is declared by the Highest within ourselves. In so far as we are of this kind, we are “free.”

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