Anthroposophy, A Fragment
X. The Human Form
Based on the above considerations, we can state the following formative principles with regard to the human being.
We are presupposing:
1. A higher spiritual world; in it lie forces that shape the configurations that constitute sense experiences within self-determined substance. Impressed into these configurations are the dispositions for the life organs.
2. A lower spiritual world; in it lie the formative forces of the life organs. The forces active in the higher spiritual world shape those configurations molded by previously interiorized substance. The forces of the lower spiritual world join to these configurations those that first interiorize outer substance. This differentiates the life organs into organs that generate and organs that nourish. The configurations shaped by the higher spiritual world are transformed into dispositions for sense organs that are nourished by interiorized substance. The formative forces of the lower spiritual world join to these dispositions for senses those that interact with outer substance.
3. The astral world; in it lie the formative forces of the sense organs. However, the life organs must also be shaped out of this world in such a way that they can incorporate the sense organs into themselves.
4. The physical world; in it lie the sense experiences of the human being.
We must now recognize that these four worlds work into each other, that the forces of each higher one persist in the lower one. Since the organs we have named derive from the forces of higher worlds, we can say only that these organs are subject to the influences of higher worlds even when they appear in the lower worlds. The 'higher worlds' forces do not work from the physical world upon the sense organs; the two spiritual worlds' forces do not work from the astral world upon the life organs; and the higher spiritual world's forces do not work from the lower spiritual upon the disposition for the life forces characterized above. From this it follows that, out of the Physical world, the forces of the higher worlds must show themselves to be effective in a different way than they do when they are working directly out of their own world. The forces of the higher spiritual world can affect the human being, who is endowed with sense organs, life organs, and organ dispositions, only as formative forces. They can determine the form and location of the organs. Thus, the form and location of the human body's organs result from the effect of the higher spiritual world as it works into the physical world.
In the perception of concept, the I experiences concepts; the inverted form of the sense of life generates the living concepts of the higher spiritual world. Within the physical world, these living concepts can act only as formative forces. Clearly, the human being owes the ability to perceive concepts to upright posture. Apart from the human being, no being on Earth has perception of con-cept, none the same kind of upright posture. (A simple reflection can show that an apparently upright posture in animals is due to something other than inner forces.) Thus, the direction from below upward can be seen as the direction that relates to the perception of concept when the inverted sense of life is not involved in the process. From this we may conclude that a direction from above downward applies to the inverted sense of life. It would be more accurate to say, "a direction approximating from above downward." This is because, in the direction of growth from below upward, something should be seen that is antipodal to the inverted sense of touch. Inasmuch as, in the sense of the earlier exposition, the I constitutes an antipode to the sense of touch, the vertical direction of the body's growth upward as bearer of the I can be seen as a continual overcoming of downward-bearing weight, where the latter indeed constitutes an inversion of the experience of touch.
From all this, a polarity can be pointed to in the human body, between "above-downward" and "below-upward," as if a current were streaming from below upward in such a way that the inverted sense of life, working from above downward, is overcome 1The printed sheets corrected by Rudolf Steiner end here. The remaining text is taken from the manuscript. Now in this inverted sense of life, the higher spiritual world working into the physical human body must be seen. We can therefore say: the human body, inasmuch as it is the bearer of the I, strives upward; the physical human body, inasmuch as it shows the effects of the higher spiritual world in its form, strives from above downward. Insofar as the bodily aspect of the human being expresses the image of an entity belonging to the higher spiritual world, the human being can be seen as the interpenetration of two directions of force, as the meeting of the I body and the physical body. In the experience of I, the human being belongs to the physical outer world, but at the same time constitutes an image of this experience raying back into itself. This is an image of what has been characterized as the sense experiences sufficient unto themselves in the higher spiritual world. Thus we may see the body, inasmuch as it is the bearer of the I, as an image of substance interiorizing itself.
A different polarity appears in "back-to-front" and "front-to-back." The sense organs, together with the nerves belonging to them, constitute organs that essentially manifest their growth pattern from front-to-back; if they are imagined — as is certainly justified — growing in a way that their formative forces are antipodal to the original direction of growth stemming from the lower spiritual world, then this original direction may be looked for in the direction from back-to-front. We can then say that the closure of the human form toward the back is similar, with regard to the lower spiritual world, to the closure from below upward, with regard to the higher spiritual world. Furthermore, with regard to the process of molding their outer shape, the life organs would be worked on from front-to-back by those forces of the lower spiritual world that cannot work on the human being out of the physical world; from back-to-front, however, the forces of the lower spiritual world would work into the physical human world. Within these latter forces is expressed what we may call, in the sense of our earlier considerations, the astral human being. Thus, inasmuch as the astral human being shows itself in its bodily manifestation, it strives from back-to-front in just the same way as the physical human body strives upward.
The third polarity would then be that of right-left and left-right. The symmetry of the human form with regard to this direction suggests that here the forces face each other in equal measure. We come to this result when we ascertain a concurrence, in these directions, of the human bodily form with the formative forces of the sense organs, insofar as the human bodily form has already formed the human bodily organs out of the lower spiritual world. 2This sentence reflects a probable typographical error in the German edition: Leibesorgane = "the bodily organs" rather than Lebensorgane = "life organs." — TRANS. In the left half of the forward-facing body we would therefore have to imagine the formative forces of the astral world for the sense organs, insofar as these forces do not continue their action into the physical world, as working from the left half of the body toward the right; those forces of the astral world that do continue to work on the bodily form so that their effect manifests in the bodily form would have to work toward the left. Since these forces have to work on organs already determined out of the lower spiritual world, they will show themselves in an effect that is inwardly directed, as the forces of the higher and lower spiritual worlds show themselves in outwardly manifested formations. (Evidence for what has been said can be found referred to in anthropology as the pathways of the senses, which cross in the organism.)
This points to an interpenetration of the astral world with the human ether body, inasmuch as the latter comes to expression in the bodily form. We can therefore say:
1. The forming of the physical human body in the direction from above downward is determined out of the higher spiritual world. 2. The form of the human body, inasmuch as it is the bearer of the astral human being, points to the direction from back-to-front. 3.The form of the human body, inasmuch as it is the bearer of the life processes, points to the directions from right-left as well as left-right. 4. The result of these forming processes would then be the actual physical human form.
For this form to arise, however, the formative forces mentioned must interpenetrate. Such an interpenetration can only be imagined if the human being stands in the physical world so that the forces of the outer physical world are taken hold of along the right-left and left-right direction by the forces of the astral world — so that, in its formative development, the possibility remains open to continued formation in the direction of back-to-front and, after that, the direction from above downward. How this comes about can only be pictured when a direction is imagined that runs right-left and left-right in principle, is active toward all sides, and is then altered in the forward direction and transformed again when pulled upward.
For this to result in the human form, however, these forces must be imagined as antipodal to forces from the physical world, which are, however, not operative out of the physical world. These latter forces are operative directly out of the higher worlds, as we have characterized above [but work all the way into the physical world]. Only the latter may be sought in the human physical disposition. Only as such a disposition does the human being relate to the other forces. 3That is, those forces not working all the way into the physical world. — TRANS. If we thus seek indications of higher worlds from the human being within the physical world, we may not look to the life processes and how they relate to the corresponding organs, nor to the life of the sense organs, and also not to the brain, but solely to the how, to the form of the human figure and its organs. This "how" can show that it is indeed possible to perceive indications of the spiritual worlds even in the physical human being. (The difference between human beings and animals with regard to the higher worlds can thus be derived from a consideration of their respective bodily forms, inasmuch as the animal is differently aligned to the directions of space. This different alignment shows, however, that the higher worlds work differently on animals than they do on human beings.)
Anthroposophical considerations can be made fruitful, when the above considerations are applied to the specifics of the human bodily form, and will prove to be in complete harmony with anthropological observations in each case. It has been indicated how the organs of hearing, sight, and so on, are latent organs transformed in the process of becoming, and how the organ of taste is an inverted organ of smell. Such indications can result in mental pictures that must be rediscovered in the forms of the organs. The asymmetrical organs are comprehended when it is understood that their shapes were molded in a way that made it possible to exclude the forces active in the "left-right" and "right-left" of the astral world.
Having acknowledged, as we have done above, an inversion or turning "outside-in" of the sense organs, it can be readily allowed that such a transformation can also be caused by other principles. Let us consider the Organ of hearing. The organ of hearing has been brought into relationship to the sense of balance. It is conceivable that the activity manifesting itself in the sense of balance diverts a latent organ, not yet particularized as an organ of hearing, and directed inward, from its original direc-tion of development. The sense of tone would arise if a different activity were to direct itself onto the corresponding latent organ. The latter could be brought into relationship to the experiences of the sense of self-movement. This sheds light on the fact that the organ of hear-ing comes to expression in an organ inclined toward outer substance, while the organ for the sense of tone cannot be outwardly perceptible. The experience of the sense of self-movement corresponds to the inside of the body, while the experience of the sense of balance comes to expression in relationships to the outer directions of space. Accordingly, we could also call the organ for the sense of tone an organ of hearing that has been held back within the body.
For the experience of the I itself, which does not correspond to any sense experience, no particular organ would come into consideration, but only the striving upward of the other latent organs. Thus we may recognize the organs of the senses of tone and concept as formations whose physical form is determined by their inclination toward the I-experience.
Within this, where the body as I-bearer participates from within, the inversion of the formative forces can be recognized, and it can be said that when the body as I-bearer regresses the formation of an organ, the signature of the configurations of the higher spiritual world must be recognizable in the image of this organ. One such organ is that of speech (the larynx). If the sequence of organs of the ear, the sense of tone, and the sense of concept can be seen as a continual bodily interiorization of the disposition for sense, then the organ of speech can be recognized as the inversion of the sense of tone. In this case the tone does not become a sense experience that strives inward toward the I by way of an organ, but is creative sensory content at rest in itself, a truly inverted sense experience. The formative development of the larynx corresponds exactly to these conditions.
We can then also look for an organ,that corresponds to a capability in the human being that lies between speaking and I, just as comprehension lies between hearing and I. Through this organ, something would have to arise out of the human being that is not as meager in content as the I-experience, and whose manifestations do not yet flow over directly into the outer world. This would ,be the organ in the human brain that corresponds to imagination or fantasy. 4The German word Phantasie can have either of these meanings, that is "fantasy" or "imagination." — TRANS. We will gradually learn to distinguish between the organ of concept and the organ of fantasy in the brain.
Since the forming forces of the three higher worlds, in some sense, resound in the form of the physical human body, we must also recognize that the formative forces of the two higher spiritual worlds are able to work directly onto the astral body out of the astral world; and, finally, that effects stream directly from the higher spiritual world into the dispositions for life organs, as they are present in the lower spiritual world. The form and location of the heart, the organs of respiration and circulation, the systems of muscles and bones, and so on, can result when such forces are taken into account.
The form of the human body within the physical world shows that its development did not simply result from an adaptation to conditions foreign to the inner human being. This form, rather, ultimately expresses, in image form, what is characteristic of the I. The disposition for development of the human being must be imagined as offering points of contact for the forces of the higher spiritual worlds when specific forms develop out of the disposition.
In the sense-perceptible world, only contents of sensation are present for perception, contents that the I confronts as image sensation when it perceives itself. Image sensation, however, belongs to the astral world. In the I's experience of itself, therefore, image sensation hovers, as it were, freely in space.
It is possible, as we have seen, to recognize an inverted sense of smell in the sense of taste. If, instead of thinking that the sensation of smell is caused by the impacting substance, we think of the experience of smell itself as self-experience in the I that becomes a component of the I then we can see the astral I's desire or impulse for movement as this I's response to something that proceeds from substance and is incorporated into the I, without physical mediation. In addition to the image experience behind the experience of smell, then, there is also an astral response to the desires and movement impulses of the I.
In the case of sound, we can clearly distinguish between what frees itself from the external object and what is perceived of the object by senses other than the sense of hearing. And what has freed itself is self-experience of the I. We can certainly say that when an object is heard, only the vibrating object belongs to the world in which the I is not included and unable to identify itself with the sense experience.
In the sense of self-movement, the position and change in form of our own organism is perceived. Here, then, it is not far-fetched to think that, in addition to the I's self-experience, only an astral counter-effect to an impulse for movement needs to be assumed.
If, now, nothing but sense experiences are present in the physical world, then within this world only sense experiences can be spoken of. However, since a physical body must have sense organs to be able to have sense, experiences, for the human being in this physical world, nothing exists but sense experiences and the perception of I as astral image experience. The I has no other possibility than to experience objects of the outer world and thereby to find sense experiences combined in manifold ways. What happens in this case, then, is nothing but sense experiences hovering freely in space.
Let us, however, assume that the human form as such is not without meaning but that the orientation and position of one organ in relation to another is significant. Let us consider the physical world from this point of view. Then it is significant that the organ of taste is an inverted organ of smell. This is because of the following: Let us imagine the experience of smell, as it appears as image sensation. In so doing, however, let us not deny the capacity of space-filling substance to present this experience as image sensation, in the same way that the I-perception is image sensation hovering freely in space. Then we must acknowledge that it is of significance which part of the surface of the human form is oriented toward an object; to receive the image sensation emanating from the object, sometimes this and sometimes that sense organ must be oriented toward it. For the human being in the physical world, however, it can only be concluded that the human being perceives a smell in one instance, a taste in another, depending on the organ used. If, however, the I were to encompass not only I-perception in the physical world, but were to underlie the bodily form in such a way that it experienced all image experiences as its own, the image sensation present in this I, the image sensation of smell in one instance, that of taste at another would be self-experience of the I. If we were dealing not with the finished, but with the bodily form in development, no I-perception would be present; the self-experience of the I would have to be totally different.