Anthroposophy, A Fragment
V. Processes in the Human Being
In the preceding chapter, we considered the astral being only from the point of view of how it appears in feeling-like experiences as a sort of reflection of the processes of our life organs. These experiences, however, are not the only ones that belong to the astral human being. To these we must add, first of all, our capacity for movement. We do not move only in response to impulses occurring as a result of the life processes. Our impulses for movement lie in our inner life, insofar as this is independent of the life processes. But self-reflection will show that the impetus for these impulses certainly does not always come from the I-human being. Rather, these impulses for movement generally present themselves as instinctive experiences and therefore belong to the same domain as the instinctive. experiences that are linked to the life processes. That is, they belong to the astral being.
In addition, what can be called instinctive desires also appear as experiences belonging to the astral being. Desires come about as the result of sense perceptions. But self-reflection shows that, when sensory perception is taken up by the I-being, it first leads to a judgment. This judgment then works on the astral being when a desire arises. Within the I-being, the following experience takes shape: what is being perceived is valuable; our interest in it is awakened. If this interest is then to become a desire, the judgment must be taken up by an impulse coming from the astral human being. Desires also develop on the basis of experiences related to the life processes. The feeling-like experiences described earlier are, however, not yet desires. The experience of hunger, for example, is not yet a desire; similar to a judgment, it merely points our attention to the corresponding life process. The actual desire is an independent experience which the astral human being adds to the feeling of hunger. There are also desires that have their roots in the astral being, without incitement from the life processes or outer perceptions. Certain drives belong to the domain from which such desires spring.
A third type of independent experience belonging to the astral human being arises when we reflect on how something inserts itself between the process of sensory perception and the I-being's experience. This is the "image" that arises out of the interplay between sensory experience and the I, based on the former. Sensory experience is transient, lasting only as long as the sense organ in question is focused on the object. The image remains, however; but this "image" does not, in itself, belong to judgment, to the activity of the I. judgment bases itself on this image. The image comprises an experience of the astral being, not of the I-being. We can also call this image a sensation if we take this term to refer to the content of a sensory experience rather than the experience itself. In this sense of the word, sensations are the astral human being's third type of independent experience.
In the same way that we speak of sense organs with regard to the physical being and life organs with regard to the etheric being, we can speak of impulses for movement, of desires, and of sensations with regard to the astral human being. Again, the organs for these experiences cannot originate in the astral human being itself, because the astral being must possess these organs before it can make these experiences possible. The organs must be formed out of a world lying outside of the astral human being. Because the impulses for sensation, desire, and movement are rooted in the astral human being itself, which is in a way an observer of what must develop within it, the forces shaping the organs in question can originate only in the sphere in which the entire astral human being originates. This, therefore, presupposes the existence of a world that, although lying outside it, is of the same essential nature as the astral human being.
The nature of this world can again reveal itself by means of the astral human being's innermost experience. This we can recognize to be the "sensations" or "image sensations" in the sense described above. In our desires and impulses for movement, we see, however, something that points beyond this inner experience. Our desires and our "pulses for movement must be roused from a world similar to the world of images, whose unfolding we witness as astral human beings.
We can distinguish between the astral human being as it experiences itself inwardly in images, desires, and impulses for movement, and the astral human being as the revelation of a world lying outside of desires and impulses for movement. In order to distinguish the second astral human being from the first, we will call the second the "astral body." Like the ether body, it cannot be perceived by our senses because it does not generate organs of physical: perception, but only of sensation, desire, and impulse for movement. It is immediately clear that desire and impulse for movement cannot convey sensory perception; but we must recognize that this is also true of sensation insofar as it is of the same nature as the forces that build up the astral body. For also the image that comes about by means of a sense experience detached from this experience persists as content of the astral human being. The forces that shape the organs of the astral human being must be thought of as similar to a detached image, and not as a sense-perceptible experience. As long, however, as we think of this image as deriving its content from a sense experience, it cannot be used to illustrate the forces out of which the astral body takes shape. In order for such an image to come about, a sense organ is necessary. It must be an image of the same sort, but of different origin. An image of fantasy is of this sort. But as long as an image of fantasy originates in the merely personal whim of the I-human being, it naturally cannot be considered to characterize the world in question. It must emanate from a reality lying outside both the I-being and the astral being.
Taking all this into account, we can arrive at an idea of how the astral body must be constituted. It is, in line with the indications we have arrived at, a body of images rooted in reality, which enkindles out of itself the forces of desire and movement.
The domains corresponding to sensory experiences could have been pictured on a peripheral circle, on which those separate forces are distributed that manifest in the sense organs as their causes. In the domains corresponding to the life processes, we could have chosen the picture of the corresponding separate forces flowing over one another. We must describe them as "flowing over one another," because the individual life processes do not interpenetrate. Breathing, for example, is close to the process of maintaining, because the organ of breathing must continually be built up anew by the maintaining process. But, although the organ of breathing experiences the influence of the maintaining process, the process, of breathing itself is not changed. Thus, the two processes of breathing and maintaining pass each other by.
This is different with the processes of movement, desire, and "image sensation." These three processes work as follows. Image sensations are effectively at work within desires; desires live on into the impulses for movement. We are therefore justified in saying that, when image sensation meets the force of desire, the former penetrates the latter, and the content of the image sensation lives on in the desire. In the same way, the desire — together with the image sensation — lives on in the movement. We can therefore picture the forces of the world out of which the astral body is formed as three force formations: the formation that corresponds to image sensations works on the formation that streams forth desires, while both the effects of the first two formations persist in the formation for movements.
It will now be easy for us to recognize that the world we have described here as the one in which the astral body originates is the same as the one described in the preceding chapter as the astral world. For the life processes must first transform themselves into life instincts before they can exist as impulses in the astral human being. Life instincts, image sensations, desires, and impulses for movement thus belong to the astral human being, to the extent that this astral being presupposes the existence of the lower spiritual world and has its own origin in the astral world.