Spiritual Scientific Notes on Goethe's Faust, Vol. II
12. In Place of Homunculism and Mephistophelianism
19 January 1919, Dornach
In the two lectures following the performance of the later Walpurgis-night scene, from the second part of Faust, I hoped to evoke the feeling that, in the whole of his inner life, Goethe was in reality on the path to the supersensible world. I wanted you to feel that he succeeded, as perhaps no other artist, no other poet, has ever done, in developing an artistic creation out of this spiritual life, so that in this creation neither the art not the wisdom falls short and, in its own place, each of the spheres — of striving and wisdom — achieves harmonic expression.
I should not like you to think that in what has been said I have been wishing to give an interpretation of this poem; that was not at all my aim. For in this sphere I consider interpretation to be utterly useless. All that was attempted in these studies was to create the possibility for you to absorb and enjoy a poem, a work of art, in the same element in which it was created. Such studies should simply teach the language, as it were, the spiritual language, in which such a work is written, and should not expound or interpret, for as a rule that too often results in misconstruction and misinterpretation.
Now, if we keep to this mood in the matter, the following may perhaps be of use. You see, there are two fundamental feelings at the base of all striving for knowledge, of every kind of striving towards spiritual experience. One of these feelings comes from man having to think, having to form ideas, as he lives his life between birth and death in the physical body. I think you will agree that we should not be complete human beings, were we not to think about things and about ourselves. Then, too, if we wish to make our lives fuller in the physical body, between birth and death, we have not only to think but also to will. And feeling lies midway between thinking and willing; sometimes it partakes more of thinking and forming ideas, sometimes more of willing. Hence, for the purpose of our proposed study, we may ignore feeling, and consider the one pole of forming ideas, thinking, and then turn to the other pole of human activity, the willing. Man is a thinking and a willing being. But there are special features about this thinking and willing. The trivially-minded, average man looks upon what can be attained as the attainment of a goal if, on the one hand, he thinks as clearly and forcibly as possible, in his own opinion, at least, and if he wills in accordance with his needs. What distinguishes the man of learning who is fundamentally honest, is that he finally admits, when he tries to advance on the path of thinking, that with his thinking in the physical body he still only goes a certain distance towards his goal.
With this thinking, my dear friends, it is exactly as if a man were striving towards a goal; he cannot see it though knowing in what direction it lies. He wants to hasten towards it, but although he knows where the goal must be, it is wrapped in darkness. He imagines it will only become clear when he reaches it. And while he is feeling that he is still nowhere near the goal but a considerable distance from it, some being seems to seize from from behind, and to stop him going farther. And he says: Thinking, the forming of ideas, drives me in a certain direction, then I am stopped; were I to pursue the path of thought in this direction, I should never be able to reach the goal thinking itself has indicated. — Thus he comes to one of the boundaries to which he is by nature subject in the life between birth and death. And it may be said that whoever has never experienced the suffering and blows of fate arising from the goal of thought, has certainly no very deep cognitional life. If, by the inner constitution of his soul, a man can fancy he is able to reach the goal of thought by thinking, he is doomed to superficiality. We can be preserved from superficiality only when by trying to think as deeply and clearly as possible, we begin to feel harassed by the hindrances to thought. This feeling of being frustrated in thought is a profound human experience, without which we cannot pass beyond superficiality into a really deep comprehension of life.
And this is not the only boundary set to the human being's full experience between birth and death; the other is encountered where the will is unfolded. This is the sphere in which there germinate men's desires arising out of the life of instinct. Man is driven to willing in the crudest sense through hunger and thirst and other instincts; and there is then a rising scale from instinct up to the purest spiritual ideals. In all these impulses, from grossest instincts up to spiritual ideals, willing is deployed. But now, if we are to try and establish ourselves in life with our will that passes over into action, we again come to a boundary. Fundamentally, Goethe's aim in Faust was to establish Faust in life by means of his will, so that he should be able to experience all that makes life happy, all that shatters life, all that gives freedom and all that is sinful. And if we try to take our stand in life with the will that passes over into action, the will translated into deed, we again find ourselves up against a boundary. But now it is a different feeling that arises. It is not so much that in our thinking we are stopped and hindered from reaching our goal, but rather that, while we are willing, we are seized upon, and our willing goes on no longer in accordance with our own wishes. In the act of willing one is snatched away. Someone else arises in our willing, who carries us off.
This then is the second feeling which, when experienced by man, leads him out of superficiality into a profound conception of life. Self-satisfied philistines, it is true, are of the opinion that a man reaches his goal by sufficiently developing his thinking and willing. But it is on these paths of complacency and self-satisfaction that the superficiality of life lies. There does not lie here what makes it possible in life's testing, after suitable probation and the crossing of an abyss, to enter another world, a world that cannot be lived through with the consciousness developed in the life between birth and death. A man is tested when, with suitable intensity, he realises in his soul the two boundary lines already referred to. Men must understand precisely from what Goethe has given, that it is not merely the bliss of endeavor — often imaginary and based on pure illusion — that can be experienced, but rather what leads a man to his goal over all hindrances, disappointments and disillusions. And whoever strives to avoid disillusionment, and refuses to transform, to metamorphose, the whole human being in certain moments of life, cannot press forward to knowledge of man, to the understanding of man.
We need not realise, my dear friends, that in this connection the Christ-permeated conception of the world and of life must, in the near future, experience a significant change. Hitherto, Christianity through the way it has developed in the different religious denominations is, usually, only at its initial stage. If we want to describe this development, we might say that it has created the feeling in man that Christ did once exist. And even this feeling that Christ once existed has been lost again in the materialistic research of the nineteenth century. What Christ brought into the world, Christ's connection with the striving of the human soul, into all this life will first pour in future through the researches of Spiritual Science, and through a spiritual kind of cosmic feeling — a supersensible experience. This will be seen if, to begin with, in this intellectual age, the majority of mankind can only have the experience in Imaginations, in imaginative pictures.
But these two basic feelings of which I have just spoken as arising from the two boundaries of self-knowledge and self-comprehension, these two feelings must find a crossing-point from a passive to an active Christianity. Just think how, for many people in the past, Christ has been nothing more than a helper in straits where a man is unable to help himself. Think of the strange way in which the Roman Catholic Church took on, at a certain time, the forgiveness of sins; anyone might sin as much as he liked, provided he repented and did due penance afterwards, he was forgiven. In short, Christ was there to help in time of need, to make good what men as a whole had no intention themselves of making good. And then look at the other, more Protestant error, where a man remains passive too, arranging his worldly life, his worldly activities, to suit himself, and then perhaps expecting that merely by belief in Christ, by a passive feeling of being united with Christ, he will be saved. This twofold passive relation to Christ belongs, and must belong, to the past. And what is to take its place must be a relation to Christ that is an active force, a going to meet Him, so that Christ does not do for a man what the man does not want to do, but gives him power through His being to do it himself. An active Christianity — or rather a Christianity that comes to activity — is what must take the place of passive Christianity in which actually (forgive the trivial mode of expression) a man does what he pleases on the physical plane, making God into a kindly friend who pardons everything if only man turns to Him at the right moment.
This my dear friends, will at the same time mark the dividing line between the age which must now belong to the past, the age that has led to so terrible a human catastrophe, and the age that must come. It is only when this coming age has passed over from a Christianity that is passive to one that is active, that it will be qualified to heal those evils that have already shown themselves and will continue to do so increasingly so long as the principles of the past prevail. These evils are rooted deep in human hearts and souls; and they must be healed if earth-evolution is to proceed.
The two basic feelings of the boundaries to thinking and willing may also be described by saying: The one boundary makes it clear that a man cannot arrive at knowledge of his own nature. As human beings we are so constituted that we cannot, on the one hand, arrive at our own human nature, cannot with our thinking reach ourselves. In willing we do this, for willing actually proceeds form ourselves; in willing we lose ourselves; but here another seizes us — another cosmic being is formed simply according to the principle of this duality. He is a dual being, not a monad, but a dual being. The one member of this twofold being cannot reach itself, the other loses itself.
Hence man is never correctly represented when shown as a mere monad, but only when an effort is made to show him as standing midway between being unable to reach himself, and losing himself. And when it is possible for men to feel both at the same time with all intensity, then he feels himself rightly as a man on earth. When he feels a kind of oscillation between the two, then he feels himself man on earth. In spite of this oscillation, what must be arrived at is repose of being. This repose of being is attained in the physical sphere by the pendulum, the balance; in the spiritual, moral sphere, man must be able to attain the condition of repose reached by the balance and the pendulum. He must not aspire to a position of absolute rest; that would make him indolent and corrupt. He should strive for the state of repose midway between the beats, midway between the not-reaching and the losing himself.
In order to develop these feelings correctly it is essential that other feelings be added concerning life and reality.
You know, my dear friends, I have often called your attention to the one-sided way in which evolution is understood today. Think how the whole of evolution is now conceived as if what comes after were always the result of what went before. Actually, the man of today thinks of the successive stages of evolution almost like a set of cardboard boxes fitting into one another. And then, as for development, one box represents the human being between birth and the seventh year; then the second is taken out, and that is the human being from seven to fourteen; the third from fourteen to one-and twenty, and so on — one always coming out of another. To modern man the most acceptable idea is evolutionary advance in a straight line.
This is really at the bottom of all the grotesque notions that are learnt at school nowadays, notions which in future will be regarded as scientific lunacy of the enlighted period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To imagine thus that there was once a nebular condition (the Kant-Laplace theory) and that then, one after another, cardboard box out of cardboard box, the successive stages always proceeded out of the earlier — this is an abnormal idea of present-day science. For things are not like that. Just think how evolution in the individual man between birth and death appears, to even a moderately unprejudiced observation! The actual limit of the first period in life is the change of teeth, as we know — the cutting of the second teeth. I have often drawn attention to this. How what is this second cutting of teeth at about the seventh year, at the close of the first life-period? It is a consolidation, a hardening, of the human being, when a hardening process takes place in men. It is like a drawing together of all the life-forces, so that eventually the densest, most mineralised part, the second teeth, can appear. It is a real concentration and densification of all the forces of life.
The second period in life ends at puberty. And the case here is exactly the reverse. Here there is no concentration of life-forces but, on the contrary, a rarefication of them all, a dispersal, an overflowing. An opposite condition pulses in the organism. And then again, only in a more refined way, in the twenty-first year when the third life-period ends, consolidation takes place in man, the forces of life are once more drawn together. With the twenty-eighth year there is again expansion. The twenty-first year has more to do with the placing of what is within man,the twenty-eighth more with his attitude to the whole wide universe. Approximately at the thirty-fifth year there is again a kind of contraction. That is the middle life — the thirty-fifth year.
Thus, evolution does not go in a straight line but, rather, in waves: contraction, hardening; softening, expansion. That is essentially the life of man as a whole. By being born here in the physical world, we contract into our individual skins; while we are living our life between death and a new birth, we are increasingly expanding.
What follows from all this, my dear friends? It follows that the idea of evolution going in a straight line is of no help at all; it leads mankind astray, and we must reject it. All evolution proceeds rhythmically; all evolution goes with the rise and fall of waves — expanding, contracting.
Contraction, expansion. Goethe sensed this in its elementary stages. Read his Metamorphosis of Plants; read his poem The Metamorphosis of Plants, and you will see how he follows the particular formation from foliage leaf to foliage leaf, then to petal, stamen, on to pistil; how he describes it as a continuous expansion, contraction, not only in external forms, the saps also expand with their forces and again contract — expand, concentrate; expand, concentrate. When in the eighties of the last century I wrote my first introduction to Goethe's scientific works, I tried to reconstruct his archetypal plant, tried to bring into a picture this expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction — on and on right up to the blossom. No one can really understand life who does not picture it in rhythm, as a progressive rhythmic process. It must be repeatedly emphasised that to imagine evolution as proceeding in a straight line does not help us to a true understanding of life.
The same applies to the understanding of man's historical life. In the most recent number of the periodical Das Reich (October 1918) where I dealt with Lucifer and Ahriman in life, I pointed out how luciferic and ahrimanic periods alternate rhythmically in historic evolution. Life never proceeds in a straight line; it goes in waves. But while this is so, it is associated also with an external change. And only by looking clear-sightedly into these relations can we arrive at a deeper comprehension of life. Those who think of evolution as proceeding in a straight line, say: First there existed the most undeveloped animals, then more and more perfect ones, up to the apes, and out of these developed man. — If we apply this to what is moral — I have often called your attention to this — if we extend this further, it follows that the genuine, thorough-going Darwinian says: We already see in the human kindliness, and so on. This again is a worthless idea, for it takes no account at all of the rhythm of life. According to this idea evolution goes on in a straight line, one cardboard box coming out of another. In reality the matter is like this. Imagine the most highly developed animals with their proclivities further developed in a straight line — this way you do not arrive at man, you would never come to man. But the more highly developed animals would evolve those very qualities you find attractive in the animal kingdom, in a most unattractive way. What you admire in animals as companionableness, as incipient good-will and social behaviour, when further developed turns to its rhythmic opposite — to the principle of evil. Mad man developed according to Haeckel's idea, then, my dear friends, there would have evolved from the anthropoid apes a human society inevitably destined to develop the war of all against all. For in all these aptitudes, good as they may be in animals, there lies the further evolutionary impulse to clash together in violent and most bloody conflict. That is rhythm, a wave-like rise and fall, and no one finds what is hidden in nature who does not see the possibilities of evolution in rhythm. To look only on the outside of events can never teach us to realise what in reality is there. Man was able to develop only because, in the higher animals, their evolutionary possibilities did not come to anything, for these were met by another wave of cosmic becoming which subdued the tendency to evil, in a way overcame it, by what men were meant to be in the very beginning. So that we have to picture it thus: The animal kingdom rises to a certain height; then comes the other wave to meet it, and this deadens the evil development.
My dear friends, reincarnation can also be regarded from the moral point of view. What would man have become had he just been born, over and over again on the physical plane, and being thus born physically on the physical plane, he had not been met by all that is constantly being taken up into the spiritual world and again sent down; were man not thus ensouled after birth then he would live always at war on earth. They would only with to live in conflict and would develop the most terrible fighting instincts. These fighting instincts rest on the foundation of the human soul; they are rooted in the human organism. But they are paralysed, if I may so express it, by what comes from above out of the supersensible, from those human beings who are constantly taken up into the spiritual world. This is expressed also in the outward form, my dear friends. It is altogether grotesque for those with inner sight when the human head is represented as having gradually evolved from the animal head. It is indeed complete nonsense. The truth is that, were the animal head to develop further, a fearsome monster would emerge in what, in the present incarnation, you evolve out of the lower part of your body. Were that alone to form the head, were it to form the head out of itself, the result would be a real abortion of a head — a horrible animal-monster. For that is where the possibility of such a monstrosity lies. Only because the spiritual comes from above and, as it were, washes up against it, is the human head able to arise. It springs from the relationship of two forces, the one pressing upward from the body, the other coming to meet it from the cosmos. This human head is constructed in a state of equilibrium; and it is because of its equilibrium that we are not able to deal freely with what we bring with us from the spiritual world. We slip into our physical head and cannot there clearly express what we actually are, when we hurry into existence through birth. If we could think as we did before birth, we should not think a Homunculus, we should think a man, a Homo.
You remember in my Christmas lecture at Basle (December 22, 1918) not long ago, I mentioned in passing that, before his birth, Nikolaus von der Flüe saw scenes that he lived through as a man after his birth. But when a man is born, and does not overcome being asleep in his cognition — that is, when he cannot develop waking existence outside his body, but thinks only with his body — then he never thinks a man but only a Homunculus. A man never reaches the real man by seeking to enter into himself through the head. It is really a fact thgat he seeks to enter in but is held back; somewhere in the middle of man there exists what his is unable to reach. This is within man himself, yet he remains Homunculus and does not come to Homo.
Actually were we in possession of every technical resource, we should put into the phial that represents Homunculus on the stage, only a horrible little monstrosity, small, and therefore not unattractive; and this is really what would come into being were it left to the human body alone, out of itself, to produce something. There would come forth a sort of animal that nevertheless would be no animal but a human abortion; something on the way to becoming human yet not quite succeeding. Neither do we succeed if we do not make the approach by way of this path to becoming men, this path that does not reach man. We do not then succeed for we do not thus enter inside ourselves.
And again, if man grasps himself through his will, he is immediately seized upon by another being. Then he loses himself, then all kinds of strange motives and impulses surge up into his willing. Only when a man endeavours to bring the inner forces into equilibrium does he succeed in becoming complete man.
Now, my dear friends, with what I have said compare three different passages in the second part of Goethe's Faust that you can now have the opportunity on witnessing. Think of the sublime moment when Faust appears before Manto. Goethe is trying here to shed over the whole incident the inner repose of the human soul called forth by experiencing equilibrium. Faust would like, on the one hand, to avoid the sentimentality of the abstract mystic, and one of his last speeches is “O, could I from my path all magic ban”. He did not want external magic, he wanted to find the inner path to the supersensible world. He is near it, and then again far from it. As I explained yesterday Goethe is perfectly honest when Faust is standing before Manto. But Faust, my dear friends, does not hold to this abstract repose; he is tossed from pillar to post. Hence from the one side he is continually thrown to the opposite, where man loses himself through the will. Compare all this with what happens to Faust in the scenes where he is developing his life with Mephistopheles. There you have always the Faust of will, who, however is continually losing himself by his impulses being seized by Mephistopheles. This is where a man goes astray in his willing, where he will lose himself; here you have all the dangers that threaten man's moral impulses. And this is expressed with tremendous depth in Goethe's Faust.
Then take the moment when Mephistopheles joins the Phorkyads, when he himself takes on the form of a Phorkyad, and in all his ugliness goes as far as admitting it. Previously he was lying, but when the Phorkyads surround him he is obliged to admit his ugliness. Read the speech of the Phorkyads again; they too acknowledge their ugliness, and are in a certain way honest in their ugliness. In this moment you have a contrast to that sacred and sublime moment when Faust stands before Manto. What makes us lose ourselves in motives of will is clearly seen when Mephistopheles appears for the last time in the Classical Walpurgis-Night. Faust appears for the last time visibly, in the external drama, precisely in this scene with Manto — Mephistopheles in the scene with the Phorkyads. Goethe wished to indicate from the depths of his profound experience that, fundamentally, what makes us lose ourselves in the motives of will can only be set right if we not merely abhor it morally, but also experience it as something offending our taste. This was at the root of Schiller's feeling too, when he placed what is moral in such close connection with the aesthetic in his Aesthetic Letters.
This is just what is so distressing, my dear friends, that in the recent development of mankind culture has been brought to such a high pitch as, for instance, we see in Schiller's Aesthetic Letters, and this has all been forgotten. Imagine how Schiller believed that in these letters, written in the first place to the Duke of Augustonburg, he had brought about a deed of political significance. Whoever grasps the following two facts in their true depth learns much concerning the evolution of mankind. First he learns that Schiller's Aesthetic Letters were the outcome of his conception of Goethe's urge towards becoming; and, secondly, that this could be forgotten, that this forgetting has largely contributed to the present human catastrophe. Those who keep these two facts before them indeed learn much about the evolution of humanity.
And, from the point of view of drama, how great is the moment when in the terrible scene where Mephistopheles is among the Phorkyads we are shown how what is morally impermissible lives in man like a feeling that is aesthetically offensive. There, shown in all its atrocity, is the impulse, the essential impulse, that drives man to lose himself in the pole of will. Should a man fail to recognise this it will prove his ruin; only by realising it is one freed from it. You will find this expressed in the last scene of my first Mystery Play, The Portal of Initiation. There it is shown how only knowledge, a clear conception of who it is who tempts and seduces us, can save us from being led astray. It is therefore essential in the age of the consciousness-soul now entered that, in order to overcome temptation, we should strive in the right way to come to know the tempter, not allowing ourselves to sink down into a merely external knowledge of nature and a merely abstract mysticism.
In short, my dear friends, abstract mysticism, the ‘easy understanding of the divine within’, from which nothing results but a terrible egotistical abstraction — this abstract mysticism is just as bad as materialism.
As I said, take three moments in Goethe's Faust. Take purely artistically what you can feel as Faust stands before Manto; what you feel when Mephistopheles becomes a Phorkyad among the Phorkyads. And take the third moment when Homunculus crashes against Galatea's shell-chariot — feel what this Homunculus is. We come from the spiritual world seeking through conception and birth for physical existence. In this physical existence we meet with what, out of this physical existence, is given us as our physical body. Every evening we go back into the world that we leave at birth; every morning we, as it were, repeat our birth when we plunge again into our physical body. Then we can feel how, coming in from without, we do not arrive at what man is; we meet only with Homunculus, the manikin, the human being in embryo, and we realise how difficult it is to come to the real man. We might arrive at the real man could we contrive to have a perfectly clear conception just before waking, when all the evolutionary possibilities of the night are exhausted. This clear conception, my dear friends, would be a world-conception, it would be such that we should no longer feel ourselves hemmed in by any boundary, but feel as if poured out over the whole universe, over all cosmic light, all cosmic sound, all cosmic life, and in front of us a kind of abyss. One the far side of this would be a continuation of what we were feeling before we met the abyss on waking — namely, warmth. Warmth flows out over the abyss. Now, however, we cross the abyss by waking, into air, water and earth of which our organism is composed. Certainly we are approaching man, and by letting Homunculus fructify in the spiritual world, we have prepared ourselves to understand man. But in the ordinary course of life we do not do what I have just mentioned. The living conception we develop when sleep should have had its effect upon us before we wake, would have to be brought with us into waking life. This conception would be an experiencing ourselves in light, in cosmic sound, in cosmic life, a meeting with the beings of the higher hierarchies, just as here the physical body comes into connection with the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. This conception, developed concisely just before waking when sleep has done its work upon us, we should have to bring deep down into our physical body; then we should be able to understand what this human body is. But alas “the Gods will not suffer it”. We plunge down; it flashes, flames up, and we hardly notice it. Instead of looking into ourselves, we hear with our external ears; instead of feeling ourselves within our skin, we feel what is outside with our sense of touch. If we did not sink down into what we are able to reach only by the physical eye, the physical ear, through physical sound and physical touch, Homunculus would receive new life and become man, but against the resistance of the elements he is dashed to pieces. The light of the eye flames up instead of cosmic light, we begin to hear physical sound in the ear instead of cosmic sound, the life of the body is aroused instead of cosmic life — Homunculus is shattered. If we experience this consciously, we experience the end of the Classical Walpurgis-night. Thus, this end scene is taken from actual, true life.
These things are not there merely to be spoken of on Sunday afternoons in the Anthroposophical Society. They are there as truth, to become gradually known to mankind, so that as impulses they may with their being penetrate what must be accepted in the future evolution of man, if he is to advance to what can save and not destroy. For men will really find the correct connection with reality only if they adopt new concepts and from now onwards they begin to see what has always been extolled as the great achievement of the nineteenth century is at an end.
You see, my dear friends, it is not surprising that, from a certain point of view, this achievement of the nineteenth century, that continued into the twentieth, should be felt to be perfect. It is not to be wondered at all. Is it not true that before the tree becomes bare in autumn, it is in its fruiting in its most perfect stage of development. This natural science of the nineteenth century, that still haunts the twentieth, al these technical perfections that have reached a certain height, are the tree before it yields its fruit. All from which it has grown has to wither, and it is not enough that the tree should go on growing, a fresh seed must be sown in the field of human culture, a new tree must be planted. It does not suffice to think we understand the evolution of animals, to think of them as having advanced to the stage of man. It is not enough that frequently some spirit arises, who first writs articles of genius about animals, and later, to follow these, a book about the origin of man. Rather is it essential that men should discard the idea of a straight line in evolution, that they should learn to understand the rhythm of life, flowing like the waves of the sea, that they should learn how, in the inner being of man, the way does not go straight on, but across two boundaries. At the one boundary we feel almost suffocated, for someone seizes us and will not allow us to go where our thinking would take us. On the other side we feel as if the powers of Mephistopheles were dragging us to destruction. We must find the balance between what belongs to Homunculus and what belongs to Mephistopheles, between not being able to reach ourselves in Homunculus, and grasping the self only to lose it in Mephistopheles. The understanding of this equilibrium is what modern man must gain. And Goethe, foreseeing this in feeling, lived himself into this understanding when with absolute honesty he tried in his Faust to speak as he did of the riddle of humanity.
Mankind must strive to grow out of what today is the typical point of view of the crowd. Nothing is more resented at present than this striving, and nothing is more injurious to mankind than this hostility against any effort to rise above the commonplace. On the other hand, as long as this resistance is not definitely opposed by those who recognise the necessity of penetrating into the supersensible, there can be no sure human evolution. At the end of the nineteenth century Hamerling, in his Homunculus sought to make what we might call a last appeal to mankind out of the past, by presenting all that is decadent in modern humanity as Homunculism.
We might picture this to ourselves, my dear friends; suppose someone were now to read this Homunculus of Hamerling's which appeared at the end of the eighties of the nineteenth century. I have given many lectures about it, even before the war I actually spoke of it, not without a certain significance. Let us suppose then that someone reads Hamerling's Homunculus and lets work upon him what Hamerling imagines as the evolutionary progress of his Homunculus. He thought it out at that time, when men had already broken away from Goethe and all that he gave, and wished to hear no more of it. Hamerling represented the evolution of his Homunculus, how he was completely under the sway of materialistic thinking, how he lived in a world where people did not enrich themselves with spiritual treasure but became millionaires instead. Homunculus was a millionaire. He pictured the world where men treat even spiritual matters with frivolity, the world in which journalism — with respect be it mentioned — that was already developing, has since sunk yet deeper into the slough. We assume then that someone reads this Homunculus, and he might say: Why, yes, this Hamerling who died in 1889, had, when he wrote his Homunculus, with his physical eyes actually only seen mankind as it then was, hurrying on its chosen path. He might continue: Had people then taken seriously what Hamerling emphasises in his Homunculus, had they let it work upon them a little more deeply and not just as a literary production, but as something to be taken in earnest, then indeed they would not have been surprised to learn that, because of men being as they then were, our present world-catastrophe had of necessity to arise. This is what anyone reading Homunculus today might say to himself. What is there in the development of this world-catastrophe to astonish us, when a writer in the eighties of the last century was able to represent the man Homunculus in this way? But, underlying this representation of man, of Homunculus, is at the same time the appeal not to stop short at the life that can give us only Homunculism, but to cross the abyss where Spiritual Science speaks of the supersensible knowledge that alone can change Homunculus into Homo. And so it might be said: Mankind is placed in the Homunculism which, in the scent we are today presenting, finds itself in a world the man of today is not very eager to enter — in a world leading to the region of the Phorkyads, between Homunculism and Mephistophelianism. Goethe divined this and represented it in his Faust; he also divined that a path must be made that will avoid the crags of fantastic, abstract mysticism, as it avoids the other crags of a phantom-like conception of nature, remote from all reality,a path that leads to supersensible knowledge where fresh social impulses will be found.
This is a very deep layer of consciousness. Let us penetrate it, let us permeate our feeling with it, let us learn to understand the language of this sphere of consciousness, coming as it does from the region where we feel: Through thinking, a man cannot reach himself; through willing he loses himself. To be unable to reach oneself in thinking is Homunculism; losing oneself in willing is Mephistophelianism. And when we feel this then we enter into such profound scenes with a language that makes intelligible what forms the conclusion of the Classical Walpurgis-night. Ultimately, everyone views the universe according to how the forces he has received enable him to represent it. But the present task of mankind consists in raising those forces, so that much of the universe may be seen that, to man's hurt, has not been seen during the last decades.
Thus, going deeply into such a profound scene as the one we are now producing, is a way for men to advance in the direction which mankind at this time should take. What lies in true Goetheanism is what mankind at this time should take. What lies in true Goetheanism is what mankind must seek. This is not the Goetheanism of the professors, not the Goetheanism of the Goethe Society at the head of which is not a Goethe enthusiast at all but a former finance minister bearing the significant name of Kreuzwendedich; neither is it all that men thought they must make out of Goethe's teaching at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. What must be sought will become something good and a good impulse towards man's advancement in the direction he must go — if in the coming age he is to find salvation and not destruction.