8 February 1916, Berlin
I have a few things to add to the four lectures on freedom and necessity which more or less form a connected whole. Let us take another look at one of our basic truths of spiritual science, the structure of the human being that we have become so well acquainted with. We consider man as a synthesis of four members: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the I. If we confine ourselves to what is in the physical world, to the part of the human being that is given, we can state that in our ordinary waking condition we have in the first place the physical body. We know our physical body for the very reason that we can obviously observe it externally with our senses, and everyone else in the physical world can observe it in the same way and has to agree with us that the physical body exists. Therefore, in the physical world this physical body can be perceived from outside.
A simple reflection can convince you that you cannot observe what we usually call the etheric body. It escapes ordinary physical observation. The astral body also escapes ordinary physical observation, and the I even more so, for the essence of the I, as we have often said, can be so little observed externally that human beings cannot even name it from outside. If someone were to call out the word “I” to you, you would never come to the conclusion that he could mean your I. He can only mean his own I. The I as such is never named from outside. Yet it is obvious that we know something about it. We name it from within. Thus we can say after all that while the etheric and the astral body are inaccessible on the physical plane, as things stand now, the I is not inaccessible. We refer to it by saying “I.” Nevertheless, it remains a fact that the I cannot be seen in the same way as the physical body or any other physical object. It cannot be perceived at all by the senses.
What does the fact that we know something about the I and that we come to the point of naming it actually tell us about the I? Philosophers often say, “Human beings have direct certainty of the I. They know firsthand that the I exists.” In fact, there are philosophers who imagine they know merely from philosophy that the I is a primary being, that it cannot be dispersed or die. Yet anyone with sound thinking will immediately respond to this philosophical opinion by saying, “However much you prove to us that the I cannot be dissolved and therefore cannot fade away, it is quite enough that after death, probably for eternity, the I is to be in the same condition it is in between falling asleep and waking up.” Then of course we would no longer be able to speak of an I. Philosophers are mistaken if they imagine there is any reality in the I they speak of. If we speak of something that really exists, we are speaking of something entirely different.
Between falling asleep and awakening the I is not there, and a person cannot say “I” to himself. If he dreams about his I, it sometimes even strikes him as though he is encountering a picture of himself, that is to say, he looks at himself. He does not call himself “I” as he does in ordinary daily life. When we wake up, it is in regard to our true I as though we were to strike against the resistance of our physical body. We know, don't we, that the process of waking up consists of our I coming into our physical body. (Our astral body also does so, but for the moment we are interested in the I.) The experience of coming in feels like hitting our hand against a solid object, and the counterthrust, so to speak, that this experience engenders is what brings about our consciousness of our I. And throughout our waking day we are not really in possession of our I, for what we have is a mental image of our I reflected back from our physical body. Thus what we normally know of the I from philosophy is a reflection, a mirror image of the I. Do we have nothing more than this ego reflection? Well, this reflection obviously ceases when we go to sleep. The I is no longer reflected. Thus on falling asleep our I would really disappear. Yet in the morning when we wake up, it enters our physical body again. So it must have continued to exist.
What can this I be, then? How much of it do we possess so long as we are active solely on the physical plane? If we investigate further, we have, to begin with, nothing of this I within the physical world except will, acts of will. All we can do is will. The fact that we are able to will makes us aware of being an I. Sleep happens to be a dimming of our will; for reasons we have often discussed we cannot exert our will during sleep. The will is then dimmed. We do not will during sleep. Thus what is expressed in the word I is a true act of will, and the mental picture we have of the I is a reflection that arises when our will impinges on our body. This impact is just like looking into the mirror and seeing our physical body. Thus we see our own I as an expression of will through its effect on the body. This gives us our mental image of the I. Therefore, on the physical plane the I lives as an act of will.
So we already have a duality on the physical plane: our physical body and our I. We know of our physical body because we can picture it with our observation outside in space; and we know of our I through the fact that we can will. Everything else underlying the physical body cannot at first be discovered through physical observation. We can see how the physical body has developed and what it is composed of. Yet the description we have to give of this composition in the course of our passage through the Saturn, sun, moon, and earth evolutions remains a mystery if we consider the physical body only. Everything underlying the physical body is a mystery to physical observation in the physical world.
How the will enters our physical body, or enters into what we are, is a further mystery. For you can become conscious of your will, can't you. Therefore, Schopenhauer 1Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788–1860, German philosopher. regarded the will as the only reality, because he had an inkling that in the will we actually become conscious of ourselves. But of how this will enters into us we know nothing at all on the physical plane. On the basis of the physical world, we know only that in our I we can take hold of our will. I pick up this watch, but how this act of will passes through the etheric body into the physical body and actually turns into a picking up of the watch remains a mystery even for the physical body. The will descends straight from the I into the physical body. Nothing else remains in the I but the inner feeling, the inner experience of the will.
The way I have described this here has actually been applicable to the greater part of humanity only for the past few centuries, and this fact is usually overlooked. As for us, we have studied the matter so much that it ought to have become second nature with us. If we look back to the middle of medieval times, it is pure fancy to imagine that people lived then in exactly the same way as they do today. Humanity evolves, and the way human beings relate to the world changes in the different epochs.
If we go back beyond the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries, we find many more people than we do now who not only knew of the physical body but who really knew that something lived in the physical body that we nowadays call the etheric body, people who actually perceived something of the aura of the physical body. By the Middle Ages of course these were only the last remnants of an ancient perception. Even in the tenth century, though, people did not look into a person's eyes like we do today when we simply see the physical eyes. When they looked at other people's eyes, they still saw something of the aura, the etheric. They had a way of seeing uprightness or falsehood in the eyes, not through any kind of external judgment but through direct perception of the aura around the eyes. It was also like this with other things.
In addition to perceiving the aura of human beings, people then saw it to a far greater extent than now in animals and also in plants. You all know the description in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds that if we observe one seed, we see it shining differently from other grains of seed. 2Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, (Hudson, N.Y.: Anthroposophic Press, 1986). Nowadays this perception can only be achieved through training, but in earlier centuries it was still quite an ordinary, everyday phenomenon. People did not first have to investigate, possibly with a microscope, what plant a seed came from — even that can in many cases no longer be done today — for they were able to determine such things from the light aura surrounding the seed. And in the case of minerals too, you will find descriptions in old writings classifying them in a certain way according to their value in the world. When the ancients looked at gold, what they described was not invention, for to them gold really appeared in a different way from silver, for instance. When they connected gold with sunlight and silver with moonlight, this was really founded on observation. When they said, “Gold is pure sunlight that has been condensed, silver is moonlight,” and so on, they expressed what they saw in the same way as they still saw elemental life in the outside world, the elemental aura that modern people have lost sight of because modern mankind has to evolve to freedom, which can only be acquired by a complete restriction of observation to what is physically objective.
Just as human beings have lost the ability to see these auras, they have also lost another ability. Today, we must acquire a feeling for how very different it was when the ancients spoke of the will. They had much more of a feeling of how the will, which nowadays lives only in the I, entered the organic realm, the astral body as we would say today. They still felt the I continuing on into the astral body. This can be explained in a quite specific field.
The fact that painters believe they can no longer manage without a model is due to their having totally lost the faculty of experiencing in any way at all how the I continues on into the organism, into the astral body. Why is it often precisely the old portraits that people admire today? Because they were not painted as they now are, where the artist merely has a sitter to copy, and is duty bound to copy everything that is there. In the past people knew that if a person forms the muscles round his eyes in a particular way, then what lives in his I enters in a very definite way into his astral body and produces this form of the muscles. If we were to go back as far as ancient Greece, we would be quite wrong to imagine that the ancient Greeks used a model for the wonderful forms they created. They had no models. If a particular curve of the arm was required, the sculptor, knowing how the will brought the I into the astral body, created the curve out of this experience. As this feeling for what was going on in the astral body faded away the necessity arose to adhere as strictly to a model as is customary today.
The essential difference is that in fairly recent times human beings have come to the point where they see the outer world devoid of all its aura and see themselves inwardly with no awareness of the fact that the will ripples into the astral body and throughout the whole organism. Things have only been like this for a short while.
After a much longer time has elapsed, a new age will arrive for humanity. Then even more will have been taken away from both the outer aspect of the physical plane and from man's inner awareness. We know that at present we are only a few centuries into the fifth post-Atlantean epoch that began in the fourteenth century, for we count the fourth post-Atlantean epoch from approximately the founding of Rome till the fifteenth century, and the fifth post-Atlantean epoch from the fifteenth century till as long again; so we are now only in the first third of it. But mankind is steering toward an entirely different kind of perception. We are moving toward a time when the outer world will be far more bleak and empty. Nowadays when a person looks at nature, he believes it to be green and the vault of heaven to be blue. He sees nature in such a way that he believes the colors to be the outcome of a natural process.
In the sixth post-Atlantean epoch he will no longer be able to believe in the colors of nature. At present the physicists only talk about there being nothing outside us but vibrations, and that it is these that, for example, bring about red in us. What the physicists dream of today will come true. At present they only dream of it, but it will then be true. People will no longer be able to distinguish properly between a red face and a pale one. They will know that all those things are caused by their own organism. They will consider it a superstition that there are colors outside that tint objects. The outer world will be grey in grey and human beings will be conscious of the fact that they themselves put the colors into the world. Just as people today say, “Oh, you crazy anthroposophers, you talk about there being an etheric body, but it is not true, you only dream it into people!” People who then see only the outer reality will say to the others who still see colors in their full freshness, “Oh, you dreamers! Do you really believe there are colors outside in nature? You do not know that you are only dreaming inside yourself that nature has these colors.” Outer nature will become more and more a matter of mathematics and geometry. Just as today we can do no more than speak of the etheric body, and people in the world outside do not believe that it exists, people in the future will not believe that the capacity to see colors in the outer world has any objective significance; they will ascribe it purely to subjectivity.
Humanity will have a similar experience in regard to the relationship of the will in their J to the outer world. They will reach the point where they will have only the very slightest awareness of the impulses that come to expression in their will. They will have scarcely any awareness of the unique personal experience of willing anything out of the I. What is willed out of the I will only have a very faint effect on a person. If all that mankind receives by nature continues along the lines described, then in order to do anything at all people will need either long practice or outer compulsion. People will not get up of their own accord, but will have to learn it until it becomes a habit. The mere resolve to get up will not make the slightest impression. This would be an abnormal condition at present, but natural evolution as such is tending in this direction. People will have less belief in moral ideals. Outer dictates will be necessary to activate the will.
This would be the natural course of events, and those who know that what comes later is prepared beforehand know that the sixth epoch is being prepared in the fifth. After all, you can see with half an eye that a large part of humanity is tending in this direction. People are aiming more and more at having everything drummed into them, at being spoon-fed, and consider it the right procedure to be told what to do. As I said, we are now roughly in the first third of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, i.e., in an age in which — although the physicists already have the ideal of the sixth age — there is still the belief that colors really do exist outside, and that it is a human attribute to have a red or a pale face. Nowadays we still believe this. We can of course allow ourselves to be persuaded by the physicists or physiologists that we imagine colors, but we do not really believe it. We believe that the nature we live in on the physical plane has its own colors.
We are in the first third of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, which will obviously have three thirds. During these three thirds post-Atlantean humanity has to pass through various experiences, the first one being that people have to become fully conscious of what I have just described. People must realize fully that in their considerations of the physical body they have completely lost sight of what is behind the physical, totally lost sight of it in all respects. In the second third of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch — if spiritual science has been successful — there will be more and more people who will know with certainty that something more, something of an etheric-spiritual nature, is bound up with what we see around us. People will begin to be conscious of the fact that what existed in earlier times for clairvoyance, and is now no longer a part of our relation to the world, must be rediscovered in a different way. We will not be able to rediscover the aura that used to be seen, but if people accept and practice exercises, such as those given in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, they will realize that they can rediscover along a different path that an auric element surrounds and interpenetrates the human being and everything else in the world. People will acquire a consciousness of this once again.
People will also become aware that they are able to grasp moral impulses once again. However, they will have to take hold of them with a stronger resolve than they do today, for there is a natural tendency in the will to gradually lose its impelling power. The will must be taken hold of more firmly. This kind of will can be developed if people are determined to exercise the strong thinking necessary for the understanding of the truths of spiritual science. People who do understand these truths will be pouring more strength into their will, and they will therefore acquire, instead of a will that is deteriorating to the point of paralysis, a powerful will, able to act freely out of the I.
As humanity progresses, merely natural development will be counteracted by the efforts people make: on the one hand, efforts to do the exercises of spiritual science in order to become aware once more of the aura, and on the other hand, efforts to strengthen themselves by means of the impulses coming from spiritual science for the invigorating and activating of the will.
It is actually as follows. What has to be developed by spiritual science in the second third of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch does not yet exist at all. What is the position of human beings today when they observe the external world? And how do scientists stand in this regard? It is very instructive to look at the position of present-day science, especially present-day scientists — of course only in so far as this science presents the natural relation of human beings to their environment. When they look at outer, physical nature, whether it is the mineral, plant, animal, or human kingdom, neither modern scientists nor ordinary human beings have the power really to enter into what they observe. Physicists carry out experiments and then describe them. But they do not venture to fathom the mysteries of what they are describing. They do not feel able to search more deeply into the processes the experiments reveal. They remain on the surface. In relation to the outer world they are in exactly the same situation as you are when you are on a different plane when dreaming. You dream because your etheric body radiates the experiences of the astral body back to you. Anyone observing nature or making an experiment nowadays also observes what it radiates back to him, what it presents to him. He only dreams of nature. The moment he were to approach nature as spiritual science does, he would wake up. But he does not want to. In this first third of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch people only dream of nature. Human beings must wake up! Occasionally someone does wake up out of his dream, and says, “What is out there is no mere dream; there is something living within it.”
Schopenhauer's philosophy was an awakening of this kind, but he did not know what to do with it. It gave offense to those who philosophized cleverly in the modern way such as the eminent philosopher Bolzano of Bohemia did in the first half of the nineteenth century. 3Bernhard Bolzano, 1781–1848, mathematician and logician from Bohemia. If you see his copy of Schopenhauer, you will find that he wrote in the margin, “Sheer madness!” Of course, it struck him as sheer madness, because the following statement was really made out of a kind of delirium, “There is something resembling will in outer nature.”
And when modern science remains true to itself and, as it were, draws its own conclusions, what will it arrive at? Dreaming about the physical body! It has no inkling that there is something besides the physical body, otherwise it would have to speak of an etheric body, an astral body, and an I. It does not want to grasp reality, however, but only what presents itself. The modern physicist or physiologist feels like a somnambulist. He is dreaming and if someone shouts at him, which happens if someone talks to him about spiritual science, he falls down just like a somnambulist who is shouted at. And the impression he has is, “I am now in a void!” He cannot change immediately and has to go on dreaming. Just when he thinks he is most awake in relation to external nature he is dreaming most of all.
What will be the outcome? The modern physicist or physiologist will gradually lose all possibility of finding anything in the outer world except for his mental images of it. He will even gradually lose the capacity to form any idea of anything beyond his own mental images of the outer world. What is left for him if he relinquishes the human body to the scientist? The human body is there in front of him and he observes it in great detail, but he leaves it to the scientist or the medical profession to tell him what changes take place if one or another part does not function normally. He dissects this physical body very carefully. But he stops at that and has no notion that there is anything beyond it. In this physical body there is no trace of an I or of will.
What would this scientist actually have to do? He would have to deny the 1 and the will altogether and say, “There is no will, no trace of it exists in the human being, for we cannot find it.” Down in the organism is where the will is hidden, imperceptibly. As we have said, it is only taken hold of, felt, and experienced in the I. Thus, the will would have to be shown in order to prove the existence of the I. That is to say, if a scientist who is only dreaming now were to be absolutely honest, we would hear him say to his audience, “When we speak of the human being, we ought really to speak of will. To us scientists that is an impossibility. The will is nothing. It is an absolutely unfounded hypothesis. It does not exist.” That is what he ought to say if he were to be quite consistent. He would dream of external processes and deny the will.
I have not merely invented what I have just told you. It is an inevitable conclusion of the modern scientific view. If a scientist were to follow his way of thinking to its logical conclusion, he would arrive at what I have just told you. It is not mere invention on my part. I have brought along as an example the Introduction to Physiological Psychology in Fifteen Lectures written by the celebrated Professor Dr. Ziehen of Jena. 4Theodor Ziehen, 1862–1950. Published Theory of Knowledge on the basis of Psycho-Physiology and Physics in 1913. He endeavors here to describe what is manifest in the human being as a creature of body and soul. In the course of these lectures, he speaks about all the aspects of the sensations of smell, taste, hearing, sight, and so on. I will not bother you with all that, but will just discuss a few passages in the fifteenth lecture about the will. There you will find statements such as the following:
From the countless material stimuli of the outer world we isolated stimuli of the cortex which correspond in the psychological realm to sensations. We then followed these sensations to the brain cortex along the associative fibers into the motor zone from where the material stimulus was led once again towards the muscular system at the periphery where it caused muscular contraction. This transcortical process corresponded on a soul level to the association of ideas, and the resultant movement we designate psychologically as action. We were able to derive the latter sufficiently satisfactorily from the sensation and from the memory pictures of previous sensations, mental images functioning according to the laws of the association of ideas, to be able to pursue the psychic process to its final stage. At this point, however, we encounter a hypothesis that used to be almost universally taught by psychology and which the ordinary human understanding has always arrived at apparently unconsciously. I refer to the assumption of a distinct will as the cause of our actions.
Ziehen goes on to show that there is no sense in speaking of such a will, that physiologists do not find anything in any way corresponding to this word “will.” He also shows in the particular way he interprets the effects of forces that one might call depravity of will, that there too, it is not a matter of will but of something quite different, so that we cannot speak of will at all.
You see how consistent this is. If people get no further than dreaming of the external physical world, they cannot arrive at the will. They cannot find it at all. All they can do if they create a world view, is to deny the will as such and say, “So there cannot be a will.” The so-called monists of our time do this often enough. They deny the will. They say the will as such does not exist at all. It is only a mythological creation. Ziehen expresses himself a little more cautiously of course, but he still arrives at some strange results though he will no doubt take care not to take them to the ultimate conclusion. I would like to read you a few more statements from his last lecture, from which you will see that although he drew the conclusions, he nevertheless still plays around with the nonexistence of the will. For he says, “What about the concept of responsibility?”
He cannot find the will, but in answer to the question about the concept of responsibility he says,
This does indeed contradict physiological psychology. For this told us that our actions are based on absolute necessity, (i.e., in the physical sense) and are the necessary product of our sensations and memory pictures. Thus we can blame a person for a bad deed just as little as we can blame a flower for its ugliness. Therefore an action is still bad — also in a psychological sense — but not directly blameworthy. The terms blame and responsibility, to put it briefly, are a religious or social matter. So we can disregard them here. To recapitulate, psychology does not deny absolute laws of aesthetics and ethics, provided they are seen to be in another sphere, but psychology itself is confined to the empirical realm, to empirical laws only.
This is perfectly natural. If external nature is only dreamt about, then we see some people doing one good deed after another and others who keep on attacking people for no reason at all. Just as one flower is beautiful and another ugly according to natural law, one person may be what is called a good person. But on no account should the goodness or hatefulness be explained as meaning more than a flower's beauty or ugliness. So the logical conclusion is,
We can blame a person for a bad deed just as little as we can blame a flower for its ugliness. Therefore an action is still bad — also in a psychological sense — but not directly blameworthy. The terms blame and responsibility, to put it briefly, are a religious or social matter. [Not a matter of understanding but purely a religious or social matter.] So we can disregard them here. To recapitulate, psychology does not deny absolute laws of aesthetics and ethics, provided they are seen to be in another sphere, but psychology is confined to the empirical realm, to empirical laws only.
Ziehen continues to express himself cautiously, and does not yet create a world view. For if one does form a view of life from this, there is no longer any possibility of holding a person responsible for his actions if one takes the stand of the author of this book, this lecture. This is what comes of people dreaming about the outer world. They would wake up the moment they accept what spiritual science says about the outer world. But just think, these people have a science that makes them actually admit that they know nothing at all about what points the way from the external body to the human I. Yet what is bound to be living in the I? First of all the laws of aesthetics, second the laws of logic. All these must live in the I. Everything that leads to the will must live in the I. There is nothing in this science that can in any way live as a real impulse in the will. There is nothing of that sort in this science. Therefore something else is necessary.
If this science were the only one the world had today, you can imagine people saying, “There are ugly flowers and there are beautiful flowers and nature necessarily makes them so. There are people who murder others, and there are people who do good to others, and they also are like that by nature.” Obviously, everything appealing to the will would have to be discarded. So why is it not discarded? You see, if we no longer take the I into account, and if we do not accept it as part of what we can know through observation of our world, we must find it in some other way. If we do not want to continue to uphold “social or religious laws,” as Ziehen does, we must somehow get people to accept them in another way. That is to say, if we dream with regard to the outer world and with regard to what we see, then what we will has to be stimulated in some other way.
And this way can only be the opposite of dreaming, namely, ecstasy. What lives in the will must enter into it in such a way that the person under no circumstances stops to think about it or realize fully that it is an impulse of will. That is to say, what has to be aimed for in an age like this is that a person does not attempt to have a clear view of the will impulses he accepts, but they should work in him — and this is a fitting image — like wine does when a person is drunk. An impulse that is not brought to full consciousness works in the same way as intoxicating drink does when it robs a person of the full possession of his wits. That is to say, we live in an age when one has to renounce a really close examination of will impulses. Religious denominations would like to provide impulses, but these must not be examined at any price. On no account ought the motivating ideas be submitted to objective scrutiny. It should all enter into the human being by means of ecstasy.
We can actually prove this all over again in the present time. Just try with an open mind to really listen to the way religious impulses are spoken of nowadays. People feel most comfortable if they are told nothing about why they should accept one or the other impulse, but are spoken to in such a way that they become enthusiastic, fired up, they are given ideas they cannot fully grasp and that surround them with mystery. And the most highly acclaimed speakers are the ones who fill people's souls with fire, fire, and yet more fire, and who pay least attention to whether everybody has conscious hold of himself. The dreamers come along and say, “We examine the Gospels. Even if we go so far as to admit to the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, we find no evidence at all that there was in fact a supersensible being dwelling in him.” We need only remember how many dreamers there are who simply deny the existence of Christ because it cannot be proved on the external physical plane. On the other hand, there are theologians who cannot prove it either, and who therefore speak about the Christ in as vague a way as possible, appealing as much as possible to the feelings, drives, and instincts.
An example of this kind of thing took place in a strange way in public very recently. On the one hand, there were the dreamers — it began with Eduard von Hartmann in the realm of philosophy, and Drews made a lot of propaganda out of it — and these dreamers went so far as to deny the whole message of the testaments by showing that the Mystery of Golgotha is not a historical occurrence. 5Eduard von Hartmann, 1842–1906, German philosopher. Arthur Drews, 1865–1935, philosopher. Denied the existence of Jesus. Certainly, it cannot be proved on the plane of external history but has to be approached on the spiritual plane. Now these dreamers had opponents. Read all the literature on this issue and you will see no sign of any thought, no sign of anything scientific; the whole thing consisted of words one can only describe as drunken and intoxicating words. No sign of thorough study! The opponents are appealing the whole time to what will excite unmotivated instincts. This is how things stand in our life of soul. On the one hand, there is dreaming, which is supposed to provide a world view grounded in natural science, and on the other hand, there is intoxication, which people are supposed to acquire from the religious confessions.
Dreaming and intoxication are the principal factors controlling mankind today. And just as the only way to stop people from dreaming is to wake them up, the only way to overcome intoxication is to look at our inner impulses in total clarity. This means giving people spiritual science that, far from making the soul drunk, awakens the soul to spiritual impulses. But people are not yet ready to go along with this. I have said before that if we offer the challenge of spiritual science to a hardened monist of the Haeckelian school, one who desires only to prove his monism on the basis of natural science, he falls on his face with a thud, metaphorically speaking, he falls down with a loud thud as a matter of course. That is the obvious thing to happen, for he immediately feels he is in a void and his consciousness is completely bowled over. If you take an ordinary person, someone who wants to base his whole world view on natural science, they mean nothing to him; he cannot understand a thing. If he is honest, he will say, “Here we go again, it makes my head spin.” Which means he plops down with a thud.
Concerning intoxication, if someone allows himself to sober up properly, it is a straightforward matter of embarking on a truly ennobled inner religious life. The fact that he can familiarize himself with the impulses coming from spiritual science will enable his belief to deepen into concrete concepts. But if you approach someone who does not want to awaken his soul to the ideals of spiritual science, yet you bring them to him and want him to accept them, that is to say, if you bring spiritual science to someone who is completely under the sway of modern theology, he will sober up, in a strange way, like people who have been drunk and have not quite recovered from the organic aftereffects. He gets a hangover. You can really notice it.
If you observe theologians nowadays — and we can do this especially well in the Dornach area where the theologians take more notice of it — if you observe them in cases where spiritual science is familiar to them but still undigested, and if you listen to them, you will find that all they say is basically a kind of hangover, caused by the fact that they ought to acquire ideas and knowledge about spiritual matters, yet still prefer to be drunk with ecstasy over them and to introduce them into people's mental organization in an entirely unmotivated way. They shrink from becoming sober because they cannot bear the thought that it will not bring them enlightenment but a throbbing headache.
These things must absolutely be seen in their historical necessity. If it can come about that spiritual science brings people at least the rudiments of an understanding of how to regain in a new way the sight of what has been lost, how to motivate the will once again, then humanity will acquire in freedom what nature can no longer give us. You see then that a certain necessity underlies our program. The kind of lecture I gave last Friday and have often given, drawing your attention to the development of thinking on the one hand and the development of will on the other, showed how thinking proceeds until we discover the will in it and come out of ourselves through thinking. It also showed how we find the other spectator on the other side, and demonstrates that through the very fact that we bring thinking to the point where we can emerge out of ourselves, we will have a chance not to fall flat on our faces when we are shouted at and awakened.
We fall down only because we cannot understand * outer processes and have nothing to hold on to when we are awakened from our dreams. What one has to hold on to, so as not to get into the kind of inwardly inorganic, disordered state we call a hangover, is what one can acquire through developing one's thinking. This comes about when the inner spectator I spoke of can emerge unhindered from our inner being. Thus what should be imparted to humanity above all is intimately connected with the real inner laws of human progress.
Yet if you think about what has been said here today and often before, and bear in mind its implications, you will avoid certain obvious mistakes. Some mistakes, of course, will be extremely difficult to avoid, and I will point out just one of these today. Again and again individuals among us say, “There are, for instance, the followers of this or that confession,” assuming in this case that we live among a more or less Catholic population “who have their Catholic priest.” Our friends very often believe that if they explain to this priest that we do represent Christianity, speak about the Mystery of Golgotha in the right way, and do not deny the existence of Christ, we will be able to gain the priest's friendship.
This way of thinking is completely wrong. You will never win these people over by showing them that we do not deny what they are duty bound to preach. We simply cannot do that. Actually you would get on better with these people if you were in a position to say that you are people who do not believe in Christ. Then they would say, “You see, there are people who do not believe in Christ. They do not belong to us. We shall stick to our community who are content to learn from us about Christ through ecstasy.” They do not say that, but that is how they act. Yet when other people besides them affirm the existence of Christ and even maintain they have positive knowledge of Christ, and we become the sort of people who follow our own way, and who want to present Christ in a different way from them: they then become far worse enemies than they would be if our friends were to deny the existence of Christ. For they consider it their privilege to present Christianity, and our mistake is precisely to present it in another way.
Therefore you only make certain theologians furious with spiritual science if you tell them, “We speak of the Christ.” You would make them far less angry if you were able to say — which of course you are not — “We deny the existence of Christ.” What infuriates them is that we refer to Christ in a different context. Out of the best intentions in the world our friends will very easily say, “What do you want? We are on a completely Christian footing.” That is the worst thing you can possibly say to them, for that is just what goes so much against the grain with them.
This touches again on an area where we encounter freedom and necessity in a very special way. The main thing I keep trying to bring home to people is that we should not take these ideas lightly. Freedom and necessity are among the most important human concepts, and you have to realize time and again that we have to gather a great number of ideas to arrive at a more or less correct understanding of the concepts of freedom and necessity.
Where would it lead if present-day humanity were to follow nothing but natural necessity? People would obviously dream more and more, until they had nothing left but a dreary grey in grey, and they would become less and less able to use their will, until they: reached actual paralysis of the will. That is necessity. Out of the freedom of spiritual science people must obviously work to counteract this; for the time is now dawning when we will have to acquire our essential freedom out of an inner necessity which we ourselves acknowledge. Of course we might all say, “We are not going to concern ourselves with what is supposed to happen.” In that case things would come about as described. Yet that things can be different is a necessity, a necessity, however, that can only be taken hold of through understanding. We might call it a free necessity, a genuine and absolute necessity.
Here again the concepts freedom and necessity come very close together. It might sometimes have seemed as though I was only playing with the words “dreaming and intoxication.” That was most certainly not the case. You can find individual examples, and I could tell you many, many more, of the way people speak, as though in a kind of dream, about outer reality. For instance, a particular objection is often raised against what I say in anthroposophical lectures. A pet remark is, “But how can you prove that?” meaning that people require to have what is presented to them proved by comparing it with outer reality. They assume that an idea is valid only if one can point to its physical counterpart, and that this external counterpart is the proof. This is such an extremely obvious idea, that people think they are great logicians if they say, “You see, it all depends on being able to prove that a concept links up with its counterpart in outer reality.”
You can easily point out that this is no great logic but proper dream logic. When people say things like this, I usually give the answer that even where the external sense world is concerned you cannot prove reality, for if someone had never in his life seen a whale, you could never prove the existence of whales through logic alone, could you? Pointing to the reality is something quite different from proving a thing. So much for dream-logic.
I can put it even more plainly. Suppose I paint a portrait of a living person, and someone gives as his objective opinion “This portrait is very like the person,” and goes on to explain that this is so because when he compares the portrait with the person, they both look the same. The likeness is due to the fact that the portrait agrees with reality. Does the correspondence to external reality cause the likeness? Why does he say the picture is like the model? Because it corresponds to external reality. The external reality is what is true. Now imagine that the model dies, and we look at his portrait thirty years later. Is it no longer like him, thirty years later, because it does not agree with external reality any more? The person is no longer there. We can assume that he was cremated a long time ago. Does the likeness depend on the external reality being there? Clear thinking knows it does not. In the case of dream-thinking one can say that in order to prove anything one has to be able to point to external reality. But this is only true for dream-thinking, dream-logic. For surely, just because a person passes from existence to nonexistence, a portrait of him does not change from being like him to being unlike him!
You see, many things can be made into a necessity if people want to adapt their logic accordingly, especially when we find in every article about logic nowadays “The truth of a concept consists in, or can be proved by, the fact that one can point to the external reality in the physical world.” But this definition of truth is nonsense, and this becomes evident in cases like the comparison with the portrait. If you consult so-called scientific books today — not the kind that deal with pure science — all they do is give descriptions, and if we stick to descriptions, what does it matter if we remain in mere dreams? If some people want to describe nothing more than the dream of outer life and do not pretend to build a world view, let them. However, a world view based on this is a dream view. And we can see that. Wherever this step is taken, you usually find dream-philosophy.
It is quite ridiculous how unable people are to think, that is to say, to think in such a way that their thinking is based on the element on which it ought to be based. I have copied out a statement Professor Ziehen makes on page 208 of these lectures, in which he wants particularly to point out that we cannot find the will that underlies an action. He puts it like this, “Thinking consists of a series of mental images, and the psychic part” — that is, the soul content — “of an action is also a series of mental images with the particular characteristic that the last link in the chain is a mental image of movement.”
There is the clock. The will is eliminated, isn't it? I see the clock. That is now a mental image. The will does not exist and I see the clock. This clock has an effect on me in some way by setting my cerebral cortex into some sort of motion, and then passes from the cerebral cortex into a kind of motor zone, as physiology tells us. One thing passes on to the next. This is the thought image of movement. I have first of all an image of the clock, and the image of the movement succeeds the activity of the imagining the movement, not by way of will but by way of the image of movement. “I have only a series of mental images,” says Ziehen. Thinking consists of a series of mental images, and the psychic part of an action is also a series of mental images. The will is unquestionably eliminated. It is not there. First of all I observe the clock and then the movement of my hand. That is all.
You can track down the logic this contains by translating this statement into another one. You can just as well say, “Thinking consists of a series of mental images. So far so good. And when we look at a machine, the psychic process is just another mental image, with the particular characteristic that the last link in the chain is a mental image of a moving machine.” One is exactly the same as the other. You have merely eliminated the machine's driving power. You have merely added the mental image of the moving machine to what you were thinking before.
This is what this dream-logic consists of. Where the outer world is concerned, a person who applies dream-logic does of course admit the existence of impulses of some sort, but not in the case of the inner world, because he wants to eliminate the will. Ziehen's whole book is full of dream-logic of this kind, eliminating the will. At the same time of course the I is also being eliminated, which is interesting. According to him, the I is also nothing more than a series of mental images. He actually explicitly says so.
The following interesting thing can happen. Forgive me if I let you into some of the intimate secrets involved in the preparation of a lecture like today's. I had to give today's lecture, didn't I? I wanted to bring you not just an overall picture of what I had to say but also some details. So I had to get this book out and look at it again, which I did. I could of course not read you the whole book but had to limit myself to a selection of passages. I certainly wanted to show you that today's world view based on dream-science cannot include the will, the will is really not there. I have shown you what the author has to say about it in this book of his. I wanted to draw your special attention to what the author says about the will, that is to say, what he says against it. So I look up “will” at the back of the book; aha, page 205 and following, and turn there to see what he says about it. I did tell you today too, though, that in the first instance the will is only perceptible in the physical world in the I. So when we speak of the true I, we actually have to speak of the I that wills. Therefore I also had to show you how the person who has nothing but a dream view based on science speaks of the I. To show you that he simply denies the will, I read you the passage from “Mental image of movement” to “the will is eliminated.”
I also wanted to read you something briefly on what he says about the I. So I turned to the index again — but I does not occur at all! That is entirely consistent, of course. So we have as a matter of course a book on physiological psychology or psychiatry that does not mention the I! There is no reference to it in the index and, if you go through it, you will see that only the mental image of the I occurs, just a mental image of course. The author lets mental images pass, for they are only another word for mechanical processes of the brain. But the I as such does not figure at all; it is eliminated.
You see it has already become an ideal, this eliminating of the I. But if humanity follows nature, then by the sixth post-Atlantean epoch the I will be eliminated altogether in earnest, for if the impulses of will proceeding from the center of one's being are lacking, people will hardly speak of an I. During the fifth epoch human beings have had the task to advance to talking up an I. But they could lose this I again if they do not really search for it through inner effort. Those who know anything at all about this aspect of the world could tell you things about the number of people one already meets who say they sense a weakness of their I. How many people are there today who do not know what to do with themselves, because they do not know how to fill their souls with spiritual content? Here we are facing a chapter of unspeakable misery of soul that is more widespread in our time than one usually imagines. For the number of people unable to cope with life because they cannot find impulses within themselves to support their I in the world of appearances is constantly growing.
This in turn is connected with something I have often spoken about here, namely, that up to now it was essential that people should work towards acquiring a conception of their I. And we live in the time when this is finally being properly acquired. You know that in Latin, which was the language of the fourth epoch, the word ego was only used as an exception. People then did not speak of the I, it was still contained in the verb. The more world evolution, and language too, approached the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, the more the I became separated. The Christ impulse is to help us find this I in the right way. The fact that in Central Europe in particular this I is uniting itself in its purest form with the Christ impulse is expressed in the language itself, in that through the inner necessity of evolution the word for I (German: Ich) is built up out of the initials of Christ: I-C-H, Jesus Christ.
This may well seem a dream to those who want to stay nowadays in the realm of dream-science. Those who wake themselves from this dream view of life will appreciate the great and significant truth of this fact. The I expresses the connection the human being has to Christ. But people have to cherish it by filling it with the content of spiritual science. However, they will be able to do this only if with the help of science they make freedom a necessity. Really, how could people have said in earlier times that it used to be the normal thing for people to remember previous incarnations? Yet for our coming earth lives it will be normal.
Just as in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch human beings have to take hold of their I and bring it to life, so it will be the normal thing in the future for people to have a stronger and stronger memory of their previous lives. We could just as well say, “Spiritual science is the right preparation for remembering earlier lives in the right way.” But those who run away from spiritual science will not be able to bring this memory of past lives up into consciousness. Their inner being will feel something lacking.
That is to say, people will fall into two categories. One group will know that when they examine their innermost soul, it will lead them back into earlier lives. The others will feel an inner urge that comes to expression as a longing. Something does not want to emerge. Throughout their whole incarnation something will not want to come up, but will remain unknown like a thought one searches and cannot find. This will be due to insufficient preparation for remembering previous earth lives.
When we speak of these things, we are speaking of something real, absolutely real. You have to have properly taken hold of the I through spiritual science if you are to remember it in later earth lives. Is there anything you can remember without making a mental picture of it? Need we wonder that people cannot yet remember the 1 when they did not have a mental picture of it in earlier epochs? Everything is understandable with true logic. But the dream-logic of the so-called monism of our time is obviously always going to oppose what has to come into being through the true logic of spiritual science.