Origin and Destination of Humanity
XXI. The Faculty of Law and Theosophy
18 May 1905, Berlin
Note: The transcript of the four “faculty” lectures are deficient. It shows not only noticeable gaps; the author of the transcript is also not familiar with the topic of the lectures. He often made summaries in haste as far as he understood the lecturer. That is why some connections shifted. Although notices of other participants were used, the deficiencies of the text could not be essentially corrected except for some big misunderstandings.
If any issue seems to be far away from theosophy, then from the issue of this talk that tries to connect the study of law and the juridical life with the theosophical movement. Someone can only accept this as entitled who realises how deeply the theosophical movement is understood as a practical one by those who are involved in it who know its whole significance. The real theosophist takes no stock in theories and dogmas. However, the essentials of the theosophical movement are that it intervenes in the immediate life. If one speaks possibly of the theosophical movement that it has no connection with the practical life, then this may be due only to a complete misjudgement or misunderstanding of this movement.
Compared with the theosophical movement, a big number of the remaining movements appear eminently impractical because they are partial movements, without knowledge of the big connection and without knowledge of the great principles of life. Just in this respect, some question of life will occupy us. What could intervene in our life even deeper than jurisprudence? Of course, in the sense of the theosophical world view we deal less with the right or the laws. Rather we have to do it with the real relations as they face us, namely with those which face us in the figure of the human being itself, actually in our jurisprudence in the figure of our practical lawyers themselves. Hence, the topic does not have the heading The Faculty of Law and Theosophy for nothing.
Above all, it concerns the question: how does one instruct the human beings who are appointed to intervene in the violated right and compensate it? How does the university train the necessary elements, how does it instruct the lawyers? In the last talk on the divinity faculty and theosophy which could demonstrate the much more intimate relation of theosophy to our university, I had to tell you how the matters are correlated. Not so much the materialistic way of thinking as the rather deep, in the human souls deeply rooted ways of thinking of our time are those which put a certain main feature into our life. This will occupy us still more today.
You see, with one single fact I could illustrate the situation in which we are if we touch the topic: the faculty of law and the theosophical movement. Who has dealt with the faculty of law only in some degree knows the name Rudolf of Jhering (1818–1892) not only because of his writing: The Struggle for Law (1872). Everybody also knows, which significance his great work has: Laws as Means to an End (1877–1883).
In this work something is created that is basic for a whole sum of principal views in our conception of legality and in our jurisprudence. Jhering was certainly one of our most significant legal scholars. Who was lucky to be present once at a talk of Jhering knows how impressively this teacher of law has spoken. It was something frank in his nature. I still remember that Jhering said in a lesson: I have spoken for the last time about this or that question; I have considered the thing once again and have still to inform about essential changes. Among those who have done something similar in other fields the physicist Helmholtz (1821–1894) has to be mentioned who had such great results with his significant works, in spite of the modest way in which he worked. I instance Jhering because he worked originally and deeply.
He was an excellent lawyer who deeply intervened in jurisprudence of our days. In his work Laws as Means to an End you find an important sentence. I would like to read out it literally: “If I have ever regretted that my development took place in a period when philosophy got to discredit, it concerns the present work, too. What the young man missed at that time under the disfavour of the ruling mood, the mature man could not catch up.” Such a remark points to a deep lack concerning the education of the lawyers. What has lacked here, you find this not only expressed in the whole public life, as far as it is dependent on juridical relations, but also in the literature, not only the juridical one, but the whole literature, as far as this is influenced by juridical thinking. You find it also in all reform literature. You find it everywhere, also in the practical life because the most important is absent, namely a real knowledge of life and of the human soul.
Why is it absent? Because our impractical practitioners have no idea how the everyday life is connected with the deep principles of the single human soul. Look around with our economists, look around with those who write or speak in the service of a reform movement. Who has a mathematically trained thinking who is able to build up his chain of thoughts strictly logically sees that it is absent everywhere, and he remembers a significant speech that John Stuart Mill (1806–1873, English philosopher) held where he says that it is necessary above all that a real education of thinking, an education concerning the most elementary principles of the soul life penetrates our public relations.
It doesn't take much to train his thoughts in this way as it would be necessary to become a reformer really. Three weeks would be enough if one got involved in a real theory of principles of thinking. Indeed, then you have only the possibility to think correctly and educated, but who thinks correctly and educated, puts aside a lot of what is written today because he cannot endure what a jumble of impossible thinking is contained in it. Realise only once that this is a practical question in the most remarkable sense. If one wanted to build a tunnel and started drilling and digging with the knowledge of the usual bricklayer on one side of the mountain and believed that he came out without fail on the other side and has built a big tunnel, you would presumably consider him a fool. But today in all fields of life one does this in almost the same manner.
What is necessary to construct a tunnel, a railway, a bridge? The knowledge of the first principles of mathematics and mechanics and of that what enables us from the start to foresee something of the layers and formations of the mountain. Only a skilled engineer is able to initiate such a work really, and only that is the real practitioner who approaches the praxis on the basis of the complete theory. The world completely overlooks the most important questions of life, nay, one calls just those impractical people who believe that knowledge is necessary to solve the big questions of life. So we see the failed tunnels in all fields of human life because of insufficient basic knowledge. People do not realise that it is necessary, before one approaches a practical reform movement, to acquire the whole basic knowledge of the human soul and to get things straight concerning the possibilities and impossibilities in this and that field.
This comes to the fore in the explanations of the great lawyer concerning the basic education. For he missed such a basic philosophical education concerning his science and admitted that sincerely. Hence, you see that I am faraway to criticise a single person or an institution. I wanted only to give a characteristic of the relations that face us in life. Then our question will answer itself the easiest which practical significance the theosophical movement has for jurisprudence.
Jurisprudence developed most unfavourably in the course of the historical relations because it developed as it expresses itself in the most different legal systems and schools only in a time in which the materialistic thinking had already seized all circles. The other sciences go back to the older times, and those which rest on natural history have their support in the steady facts which does not allow to deviate so easily in all directions.
Of course, someone who builds a bridge wrong sees very soon the results of his dilettantish action. It is not so simple, however, with the facts that face us in the spiritual field. There one can fudge, and one can contend whether a thing is good or bad. There is apparently no objective criterion. However, there will also be objective criteria gradually in this respect. I said that Jhering missed a basic philosophical education with himself. I say that one can miss this where one intervenes in our life.
You may say that philosophy is not theosophy. But that matters. In certain respect, philosophy was the basic discipline of all remaining studies for some time in the 16th, 17th centuries, even in the 18th century until the 19th century. We have seen last time which disadvantage it has brought to theology that philosophy was no longer this basis of the studies. But in theology there is a substitute of the lacking philosophical study. There is no substitute on the field of law. When the old high schools had developed from the old schools, philosophy was caught a little bit between two stools. Once there were pre-studies at all universities where the students got an overview of the manifold disciplines by which they could also get an overview of the principles of life. Nobody advanced to the higher faculties without having acquired a real knowledge of the principles of life. Now one considers philosophising redundant because one believes that the high school gives the general education. But today also this has disappeared in the high schools. Only few old-fashioned people represent the point of view even today that one should do a little logic and psychology also in the high school.
Thus it happened that the study of law became a one-sided professional study. The other faculties have basically also no own pre-studies which provide a general, real knowledge of life and a deep sight into the riddles and the questions of life. Hence, the students early approach the special questions and must necessarily obsess about these special problems more and more. Thus it happened that the lawyer is already steered in a particular direction during his education. This does not refer to details; but someone who has been filled with particular forms of concepts for years can no longer get away from these concepts. The requirements are those that he must consider everybody as a fool who has kept a certain freedom of thinking with regard to such concepts that have become quite solid for him during his academic years.
Philosophy became something that has no connection with life in a certain respect just in that time in which our modern thinking developed. In the Middle Ages, there was no philosophy which was separated, I mean, which was separated practically from theology. Everything that philosophy treated went back to the big and comprehensive questions of existence. This has changed in modern times. Philosophy has emancipated itself; it has become a science because it has no longer any direct connection with the central issues of life. I will explain this in the talk on the arts faculty in detail. That is why it has happened that one could study philosophy for centuries without connecting anything really living with its terminology. In the 18-th century there still was something that made philosophy the world wisdom. When Schelling, Hegel and Fichte came, the immediate life was grasped. However, these spirits were not understood. A short heyday was there in the first time of the 19-th century. Then, however, one generally did not understand how to connect philosophy really with life and to found such a connection between life and the highest principles of thinking in all fields as it exists between mathematics, the differential calculus and the bridge building.
We want that those who work on life realise that it is necessary to have certain requirements as one must have studied mathematics before one constructs a bridge. Theosophy does not want to teach dogmas, but a way of thinking and an approach to life; the approach to life which should be the opposite of messing about everything, which should found a view of life on serious principles. You need to know nothing about the principles and, nevertheless, you can be a good theosophist if you simply want to go to the origin of the matters. Philosophy is to blame if it is discredited by those who prepare themselves for the big questions of life, because it should just be a kind of world wisdom. Those who developed our legal wisdom to the legal system could not go back to the philosophical attitude. The natural sciences still go back to mathematics, of course, go back to the rational, to mechanics et etcetera, and anybody cannot be a naturalist who does not know these first principles really.
The development of law shows the necessity to acquire an awareness of the fact that also the law must arise from a basic education which is as certain as the mathematical one. It is interesting that that nation which developed the right in the most eminent sense became great in the history of humanity by the development of law that the Roman people, magnificent just in this field, was small concerning that way of thinking which one must demand also for this field: the Romans did not achieve a single mathematical theorem! A totally unmathematical and inexact way of thinking formed the basis of the Roman thinking. Hence, the prejudice crept in the course of centuries that it would be impossible to have such a basis for the fields of jurisprudence and social science as one has it for the remaining technical fields.
I would like to quote a typical symptom of this fact. Fifteen years ago, an important lawyer acceded the presidency of the university of Vienna, Adolf Exner (1841–1894). He was a significant teacher of the Roman right. He spoke about the political education with his appointment. The whole sense of his talk was that it would be a mistake to appreciate the natural sciences so much, because the scientific thinking is not suited to intervene anyhow practically in the social and ethical questions of existence. Against it, he emphasised the necessity that would be founded upon the view of the juridical relations. Then he explained how the juridical conditions cannot be influenced by the scientific thinking. He says: in the natural sciences we look into the first principles. We see how in simple cases the matters are, but in the complex cases of life nobody can lead back the matters to such simple condition.
It is typical that a great man of our time not even sees that it would be our task to create a thinking as clear and transparent in the field of life as we were able to create it in the fields of the external sensuous natural phenomena. This must be just our task to realise that we can be effective only practically in the external field of the big tunnel construction if we are able to lead back all matters of life also to sharp concepts as we are able to lead back the rough matters to mathematical concepts. Jhering says in his book Laws as Means to an End that it is a big lack of our law education as well as in our practical legal life that the human beings who have to introduce anyway in the law are not trained in such a way to work immediately educationally, immediately technically learning, teaching and working in life. Then he says that one can be a lawyer, as well as one is a mathematician who has solved his task if he has carried out his calculation.
Again Jhering does not realise that mathematics has real significance only, since the thinking of the natural sciences has gained significance. One has found the way from the head to the hand if anything becomes practical activity. Then everything is of practical significance that is connected with jurisprudence and the social ethics if it is as clear as it is with mathematics which is necessary if one builds a tunnel. Then one also realises that any partial attempt looks in such a way, as if anybody carved stones, heaped them and believed that a house would come into being. Nothing is conquered or built in the field of the feminist movement or any other social movement unless a plan forms the basis of the whole. Otherwise the carving of stones would be an eminently impractical work.
It does not matter that we stuff ourselves with theories and we could derive all details from the big principles if we absorbed the system. We have to work free of dilettantism and to implement the big principles in life, in the immediate life. We have to work like the engineer works with that what he has learnt even if he has a much lower task, namely to intervene in the lifeless existence. We have to work like somebody works, after he has investigated the whole principles and has recognised them correctly. It is important to recognise the real principles of existence and to be connected with them. Otherwise nothing can be accomplished in the field of law in particular.
It is quite certain that hardly a lawyer leaves our institutions who is not prejudiced by a system of concepts unless he has before got to know the science of life in the conceivably biggest circumference. It is hard to speak popularly just about this question today. One cannot go into particular examples of the legal life, because today, unfortunately, it is a fact that jurisprudence is the most unpopular science, not only because it is liked least of all, but also because it has the least effect.
The juridical thinking can hardly be proportioned with healthy thinking and harmonised even less with life. Many among you doubt that one can obtain firm principles in jurisprudence and in the social life as one can gain them for the natural sciences directed to the sensuous. One requirement would be that our time again would get involved to seek where the human being still had a higher exact thinking and where one tried once to bring some concepts to a clear shape similar to mathematics. Everybody has the possibility, to familiarise himself on the cheap. Take a Reclam booklet in hand: The Self-Sufficient Trading State by Johann Gottlieb Fichte. I am far away to defend the contents of this booklet or to attribute any significance to it for our modern life. I wanted only to show how one can also proceed in this fields as practically as mathematics proceeds with the bridge building. Nevertheless, life becomes something particular in a given case. Someone who puts up general principles cannot apply them in life. It is just the same case with the natural sciences. Real ellipses, real circles exist nowhere. You know that one of Kepler's laws is this that the planets orbit the sun. Do you believe that this is applicable in this simplicity? Realise once whether the earth really depicts an ellipse which we draw on the board. Nevertheless, it is most necessary that we approach reality with such things, although they do not exist really.
Mathematics also does not exist in the immediate life, and, nevertheless, we use it in the immediate life. Not before one will see that there is anything, also in relation to the legal life, that is positioned to life like mathematics to nature, one will also be able to have a healthy view of this legal life again. However, the knowledge exists that there is a kind of mathematics, a way of thinking for the whole life; this knowledge and nothing else is theosophy!
Mathematics is nothing else than an internal experience. You can nowhere learn externally what mathematics is. There is no mathematical theorem which would not have resulted from self-knowledge, the self-knowledge of the mind in time and space. We need such self-knowledge. There is such self-knowledge also for the higher fields of existence. There is a mathesis as the Gnostics say. It is not mathematics what we apply to life, but something similar. There is such a thing also concerning jurisprudence and medicine, also concerning all fields of life and, above all, also concerning the social cooperation of the human beings. Any talking of mysticism as of something unclear is based on the fact that one does not know what mysticism is. Therefore, the Gnostics, the great mystics of the first Christian centuries, called their teachings mathesis because they formed a self-knowledge from it. If one has recognised this, one also knows what theosophy wants, and that one should be afraid without theosophical attitude to lift even a finger concerning the practical questions of life, as one must also be afraid to drill the Simplon Tunnel without knowledge of geology and mathematics.
This is the big severity that forms the basis of the theosophical world view, and what we have to keep in sight also clearly if we talk about such questions like about jurisprudence. Only then we have a healthy juridical education again if our greatest lawyers do not have to complain of a lacking basis of our knowledge if one has developed an awareness again, how that would be as I have suggested. This is the mishap of jurisprudence how it has developed during the last centuries when one did no longer know that there is such a thing like mathesis. The great philosopher Leibniz was a magnificent lawyer, a great practitioner and a great mathematician; who knows philosophy, knows him only too well. This may be to you a guarantee that Leibniz had a right view of these matters. What does he say about a juridical education without a basic practical training? He says: you will be in the legal life like in a labyrinth from which you find no exit. So single reforms are sought just concerning the legal life. There is a legal alliance; it is led by a former theologian. He tries in certain way to substitute our juridical concepts by something healthier. But also here one sees how from the sciences which are less accustomed to an exact thinking than the mathematicians and the physical scientists also nothing beneficial results. You find everywhere that the real insight of the question of fault is absent. Not before one recognises what is concerned, one realises that one has to know life before one has the norms of life. Only then we will have a healthy study.
The lawyer should study knowledge of life at first. How is our lawyer confronted with the questions of the soul life today, and how would he have to face it? Not only in such a way that he depends on the experts. He is confronted with the matters like a dilettante. The deep look into the soul life only enables him to draft a bill. But only he is able to judge somebody who has deviated from the law. You can only project your thoughts into the law of human life if you have exercised psychology. I do not want to speak of the theosophical view about the development of the human soul. The world still is too far back to have a deeper understanding of the more intimate problems of life. However, actually, everybody would have to see what is said with the words: true study of the soul and of the social life.
This would have to be the basis, the first instructions which the lawyer receives at the university: extensive study of the human being. Not until he has studied the human being as such, also as soul, namely in such clean sphere as the physical scientist tries to study the scientific problems, not until he can delve into in the soul life like a mystic, he is ripe to treat real soul questions that have an effect, that are ordered according to a plan in the public life.
Is it not sad if today in the economics the most unbelievable bustles about, also with so-called experts? Imagine that simple concepts that the economist could realise are not yet decisively grasped. Take the difference between productive and unproductive labour. You cannot decide there if you do not realise how productive and unproductive labour have an effect in the public life. Any such work is completely useless without this clarity. It can still happen that two significant economists argue whether a branch of the public life like the business activity is a productive or unproductive activity.
It is a defamation of theosophy in certain respect if one attributes any nebulosity to it. Those who know the intentions of theosophy emphasise over and over again that it strives for extreme clarity, for the most mellow way of thinking in all fields of life according to the pattern of mathematics. If this is the case, the most favourable must be expected from a fertilisation of our legal life by our movement. Then it will be the result of such a fertilisation that the future lawyer learns how spiritual facts are working in the human life. He realises that whole fields remain unproductive because he cannot get involved in understanding suggestion or other soul phenomena that are due to inner or outer causes.
The suggestions work so tremendously in our public life that one can easily realise that in big assemblies of thousands of human beings not free conviction but suggestion by the speaker works on the listeners. And the listeners spread the suggestion, so that many actions come about under the influence of a suggestion. However, somebody who intervenes in the practical life must know and observe such imponderables. If one knows to observe this way well, one also gets around to realising which effects such suggestions have.
There you already have such a network which extends about our life. There one tells to us what should happen in this or that field of life. If we know life, we know that it gives us nothing but a sum of suggestions at first. The one gives those of the social question, the other of the national question, the third of a third question. If theosophy has become a common property of humanity, it is never possible that somebody who has to deal with the public life does not figure such a thing out. And if you realise how the suggestions work and determine our legal conditions, then you realise that these conditions can only be cured by the theosophical way of thinking. Then it will become also clear that an essential part of that what is done in our faculty of law, a big part of mere knowledge could be cancelled, because the lawyer can also acquire this in practice. Everybody knows what practical work is. One can overcome the practical in much shorter time if one has settled down in the big questions of existence that comprise the big questions of life by themselves, the questions which the lawyer cannot touch like the question of responsibility. How does one debate about that, as for example Lombroso (Cesare L., 1836–1909) in Italy? It is impossible to somebody who figures them out to put up such pros and cons as this normally happens. This is only possible because there people take part who are not practically trained.
Which right do we have to punish? This is also a question which is answered in the most different way. All these matters are not to be solved with the means of our modern practical jurisprudence. If, however, the lawyer cannot get involved deeper in it, he acts without understanding the last principles. Then he must act dependently. But the lawyer has to be a really free man. We have to demand this from nobody more than from the lawyers. Savigny (Friedrich Karl von S., 1779–1861), the significant legal teacher, said once: law is nothing for itself, but it is an expression of life; hence, it also had to be created out of life
Take once the most various views of law which one had in the course of the 19th century, and you realise how little these views were born out of the real practise. There are schools of natural law which believe to be able to derive the law from the human nature. Later one said: the one thinks the right this way, the other that way, the one nation this way, the other nation that way. Then there came the historical law. An interesting attempt was also lately made with the positivistic law. Various experiments were done which do not start from the indicated attitude. To have a historical view of law is as impossible as a historical view of mathematics. It is impossible to found the law historically. It is not possible to prove this important sentence now. To investigate something a little bit “positivistically” would mean that one does not construct purely spiritual networks with mathematics, but that one puts together three rods, measures the angles and forms then the mathematical theorem of the sum of the angles in the triangle. These would be a “positivistic” explanation.
I wanted to speak only about the basis of the attitude and about the relation to that which theosophy can be in life praxis. I wanted to show how in all fields and in particular also in this field the theosophical way of thinking and theosophical attitude could be fertile and useful. The prejudice is spread that theosophy is something that the human being invents to have personal satisfaction. But that is a bad theosophist who has this view. The true theosophist realises that theosophy is life, whereas in the so-called practical life so many attempts are tremendously impractical. It is painful to see seeds everywhere in the single attempts where everybody wants to mess about in the public life; if all impractical movements get together in the big circle that does not face life in an unfamiliar way, but wants to enclose life, then an improvement could probably result. Theosophy itself cannot solve the question. But life pours out from that which it gives. Next time we see how with the doctors another feature comes in our life if they become practical theosophists. It concerns this feature, this undertone of a renewed life. If we understand this, a breath of theosophical attitude has to pour out about all branches of the practical life reform. Then one understands the theosophical movement and also all remaining life.
This has been stressed again and again because certain problems cannot be improved, as long as one does not want to deal with the things really because the human beings judge, long before they have acquired the most exact knowledge of the things. Those who want to intervene with the theosophical movement practically could easily mess about also in other attempts. It would be easy to lend a hand in certain fields if we expected anything only in the least from it, as long as we do not develop the practical sense which many people regard as something impractical.
It would be easy if we did not know that the centre must be controlled, before one goes to the periphery. It would be easy if we did not know that this is true: if you want to create better conditions in the world, you must give people the possibility to become better. In no field this remark is as justified as in the field of jurisprudence. Although the theosophical movement tries to have a practical, a stimulating effect in this field, we shall realise that all disputes between Romanists and Germanists, between historians and the representatives of natural law et etcetera disappear. If we get to that which is real movement and life, if we attain the attitude which asserts itself also against the external sensuous work because life would reprimand us if we could not face it properly, then we have become theosophists and real practitioners.