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Fruits of Anthroposophy
GA 78

V. From Sense Perception to Spirit Imaging

2 September 1921, Stuttgart

The spiritual science of Anthroposophy aims to go beyond sensory perception, towards perception of things spiritual. It aims to progress from the intellectual approach — which we have to use in everyday life and in science as we know it — to other forms of soul activity, activities that permit insights to be gained into worlds that, while they are in evidence in the realm of the senses, nevertheless are not immediately accessible to the senses and to the intellect. Such inner soul activities are alive in what I have referred to in my written works as Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

When the term Imagination is used, it should not be taken to mean something vague and mysterious that is arrived at by abandoning the insights to be gained by clear, reasoned thinking and instead concentrating on something dimly stirring in the soul. On the contrary, it should be taken to mean something achieved by making full use of the insights gained with the rational mind, while also developing the mind further by activating latent soul forces. Such soul activity does not come to life within the usual intellectual concepts but initially does so in a world of images. Further development should, however, bring such images to expression in concepts that are as lucid as the insights gained by the intellect. In my books, I have described the spiritual exercises that are necessary to develop soul forces that in ordinary life and for ordinary science are hidden, in order to achieve imaginative perception.

I should like to begin today by giving you a brief picture of the imaginative perception that can be achieved by the method described in my books.

This imaginative perception is not to be found in the abstract ideas formed in our ordinary logical thinking. On the other hand, neither should it be thought that such perception is a matter of mere fancy. Let us start by looking at it in quite an everyday way. Consider the type of experience a person has when memories are recalled from the dim recesses of the mind, and also when such memories come up as though of their own accord, triggered by one thing or another. Clearly picture in your mind's eye such a recalled memory, for this will also be the way in which Imaginations are alive within the soul. They are alive with the same, and indeed often much greater, intensity.

By the way they appear, by their specific content, memories reveal the nature of an experience a person may have had years ago. Imaginations on the other hand, if they are genuine cognitive Imaginations called up in the soul, will be found not to relate primarily to personal experience. They may be exactly the same in character as memories, but they relate to a world that is not accessible to the physical senses, though nevertheless entirely objective, a world alive and active within the sense-perceptible world, but not revealing itself through the organs of sensory perception.

This is how one might characterize the more external aspect of imaginative perceptions from a positive point of view. Taking the negative approach, it is possible to say what these imaginative perceptions are not. They are not a kind of vision, or hallucinations and so on. On the contrary, they develop man's soul faculties in a direction opposite to the one the soul finds itself in when subject to visions, hallucinations and the like. Imaginative perceptions are healthy soul experiences. Visions, hallucinations etc. are unhealthy soul experiences. What are the characteristic features of visionary, hallucinatory activity, the features that matter to man? One characteristic is egoity subdued, clear awareness of Self subdued.

When we approach the world that is real to our senses with healthy commonsense and perception, we do so in what may be called a clear awareness of our own egoity. All the time we are looking at the outside world in a healthy way, having a healthy regard for our position in that outside world, we need to distinguish to some extent between our Self and the content of our Self. If we are overwhelmed by the content of consciousness, of Self, so that the necessary awareness of Self is partly paralysed, unhealthy conditions will result, including those of visionary, hallucinatory activity. Anyone able to consider these issues without prejudice will know that in the sphere of healthy sensory perception we are always to some extent aware of our own egoity, and he will know that visionary, hallucinatory activity is at a level below such healthy, normal sensory experience. He will not feel the least temptation to take such reduced levels of consciousness for revelations from a world that ranks higher than the world of the senses.

A person's attitude to these things may be taken as a criterion for their understanding, or lack of understanding, of genuine anthroposophical spiritual science. Anyone thinking he can gain more valid insights into the world by visions and hallucinations than by sensory perception really cannot be said to have a true feeling for Anthroposophy. Sensory perception brings us into relationship with the outside world. Visionary, hallucinatory activity takes this relationship down to a lower level of awareness, reducing to the level of subjectivity what in sensory perception definitely takes a purer, more objective form. The content of experience gained at this lower level has arisen in an unhealthy way out of the organism itself. It pervades our sensory perception and in case of illness drives them out altogether, replacing them with something that is pathological.

Keeping firmly in mind what I have just said, it will be essential, in all circumstances and for any form of cognitive Imagination, not to tune down the relationship we have to the objective world outside us, in the sphere of the senses, paralysing it, but to tune it up and let it receive the stimulus of active life.

It is reflection on our own Self, on the I, which raises sensory perception above the level of mere visionary, hallucinatory, dreamlike experience. Having grasped this, we can also see why the spiritual scientist insists on the necessity, if cognitive Imagination is to be achieved, of doing specific exercises. Initially these will not reduce the inner intensity of our sense of egoity, but rather increase and enhance it.

This brings me to something that is most eminently necessary for the achievement of knowledge not directly accessible to the senses, something that may present a risk — not for the organism, but primarily for the mental and specifically the moral condition of man — unless all the rules outlined in my books Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Occult Science are observed.

The sense of egoity needs to be enhanced, reflection on the Self to become more powerful. If people do not take the preventive measures I have so often described, which will enable them to tolerate such an increased sense of egoity without taking harm morally and psychologically, an element of megalomania, delusion of grandeur, is bound to arise in the soul (I am not in this case speaking of the pathological condition).

One often sees this when people are in the early stages of doing the exercises that are to help them gain knowledge of things not perceptible to the senses. They want to skip the necessary preparations, with the result that they do not gain in humility but really develop a kind of megalomania. This has to be said openly, for surely no one who has achieved genuine anthroposophical knowledge would wish to close his eyes to the fact that such megalomania is indeed often unleashed in people who have some ulterior motive or other in declaring themselves followers of Anthroposophy. When the sense of egoity is enhanced in this way, something quite specific occurs. It is this: it is possible to increase the same sense of egoity, it is possible to make the ego much more aware of its existence, to a very much higher degree than in everyday life. How does this enhancement first of all show itself?

In everyday life, and also in everyday science, there is something I would call ‘awareness of the moment’. We need to get a clear idea of what this awareness of the moment really means. This can be done by distinguishing the way we experience an event where we are right in the here and now, an event we perceive with our senses, grasp with our intellect, of which we form concepts here and now, and to which we may also relate at this moment due to will forces being stirred. Take a good look at your soul life when it is in the position just described, and compare it with the inner state of your soul life when it is given up to a complex of memories. Consider the nature of the soul content which memory presents in the form of images. Something we experienced, say, ten years ago, in what was then the here and now, comes to experience in the present moment, though with less intensity than something we experience right now. It comes to experience as something that is objective where our awareness of the moment is concerned. Our awareness of the moment looks back through the memory concept to something we experienced ten years ago. Compare the intensity of experience in the case of a present event with that relating to a past event. Compared to our experience of the present event, how little are we involved with our total personality in something that for the moment we are only conscious of through memory images.

This changes when a person progresses to cognitive Imagination, for now experience can be managed at will, without the person being overcome by it. What happens is that the experience of egoity gradually increases to such an extent that ego experience arises for the whole of our past life, which normally is only memory, as though we were really living in those past experiences as in something immediately present. Awareness of the moment is expanded, becoming an awareness moving with the river of time. That is the first stage in the experience of cognitive Imagination. The I, the ego, is allowed to flow out into the experiences one has had in this life, from the moment of birth. When I speak of our not being overcome by such intensified experiences, I mean that anyone who advances to such a level of perception in the right way will be in a position to have deliberate control of such outflowing of the ego into the past. He will be able to determine the beginning and end of the process, in all other respects remaining the same person he was before, reflecting at the same level of everyday consciousness. There must be nothing overwhelming, and what we achieve has to be subject to deliberate choice just as much as the capacity for another form of perception, the use of any other complex of judgements in ordinary life, is subject to the deliberate choice of the person making such judgements. Otherwise there is no sound foundation to these things. It does however mean a considerable intensification of the ego when an aspect of ourselves that normally lives only in the moment is expanding its power of experience to cover the whole of one's life.

For moments of perception when imaginative perception is to be the capacity used, one does in a sense become another person, in so far as one is now not merely living in the present with a certain sense of egoity but is living within time, having completely taken time into one's experience. In normal experience only the present moment is subjective; the rest of the course of time, including all one has experienced from birth, really is objective. It will be found that when capacities for inner perception are thus systematically developed we are in fact entering into objectivity. The first way of entering into objectivity consists in entering into the flow of time in the area I have outlined to you.

In the course of this enhancement, egoity reaches a kind of culmination. What happens is that egoity first has to become enhanced through exercise, but will then, in the process of enhancement, come to a point where laws inherent in the situation cause enhancement to cease. From a certain point onwards the ego will then of its own accord come to reduce the intensity. It is only up to a certain point that the ego is able to achieve further enhancement in developing perception with regard to its inner life. After this, it will experience a decrease in its sensing of egoity, as the curve moves downwards. What happens is that the ego abandons the experience of its own concerns — which had been the first thing to develop in experiencing the flow of time — and moves out into experience that now is no longer limited to the river of its own time and into experience of the cosmic life of the universe. This is an experience that does not, in the first place, appear in the form of abstract intellectual concepts but as something we may call Imagination, because it takes the form of images. The experience is exactly of the same kind as that described for the way one comes to understand freedom in my Philosophy of Freedom, yet the content of this experience is such that the images entering into consciousness do not present a content personal to ourselves, but a universal content, just as our sensory perceptions have universal content.

It is possible in spiritual research to describe every single step, indeed even the smallest of steps, that leads from ordinary intellectual perception to the development of imaginative perception. When this imaginative perception first occurs it is — and we certainly may call it this — an inner experience of destiny. And this brings me to a point where a distinction must be made between the process of seeking knowledge of things beyond sensory perception and that of seeking ordinary knowledge, the latter today considered the only objective knowledge. The ordinary search for knowledge will in most cases proceed without disasters and sudden reversals. What the whole person, not just the brain person, experiences in the search for ordinary knowledge is very much secondary to the actual process of perception. Yes, a scientist may experience a certain pleasure and satisfaction when making a new discovery, but the pleasure felt in what has happened, in the invention, the discovery, only bears a very distant relation to the method of discovery used. Neither have other traumatic experience and sudden reversals, things we may call the tribulations of examinations and the like, anything to do with the process of acquiring knowledge. We can have those in our normal experience of making discoveries, but they have nothing to do with the process of discovery as such. Yet, on the other hand, when we progress from ordinary intellectual perception to imaginative perception, it is the whole, the complete person who is involved in experience, representing inner destiny.

Such inner destiny is experienced particularly when at some point or other in the development of such perception it happens that, having first of all had more inward experiences, still connected with the person, these experiences shift outwards, into being able to see through the secrets of the cosmos. Let me give you an example that will at the same time also — figuratively speaking — take you a little into the laboratory of the spiritual scientist. It happened quite a long time ago now. I had been going through a process of inner deliberation and assessment that specifically concerned the question as to what is the state of soul experience of someone who is forced, due to his life impulses, to become a materialist, and what is the position of a person who feels driven by his life impulses to become an idealist or a spiritualist — ‘spiritual’ here being the term used in German philosophy — or how such soul constitutions acquired in the world stand in relation to each other. I tried to put myself objectively into the inner experience that fills the idealist, the spiritualist; I tried, as it were, to slip into the state of mind that can take hold of a person in this way. For this is the only way of really coming to understand the world of the soul from the inside, by being a materialist with the materialist, of one's own free will, though only for the purpose of trying it out, and on the other hand also trying out being an idealist or spiritualist in the same way. This puts one in a new relationship to the very way in which a person logically represents, in all he is, what then becomes the content of his life philosophy.

I am of course only referring to the method here. Anyone who has in honesty, with inner integrity, gone through something of the kind I have just described, will perceive karmic elements also in these specific soul states, for you come to see, in quite a different way, how people can be compelled towards materialism or spiritualism. You will cease being sharply critical in the usual sense, judging others harshly and entirely from your own point of view, and so on. Soul experience is taken to another level, it becomes different in kind.

Having gone through this for some time, one discovers that meditations like these, that take hold of the soul life, are something of a real soul process, going straight towards the development of faculties for objective cognitive Imagination. If the soul has prepared itself in the way I have described, it will have achieved a state where suddenly there will arise before it the insight needed to experience, in perception, how the movement of the sun through the Zodiac, something normally regarded as merely a physical, mechanical process, is indeed a living, cosmic, organic process. Something previously only presenting itself as a mechanism figured in the cosmos has achieved real content as an image. I have seen something new in the cosmos. Such widening of awareness in things relating to the cosmos is karmic. It shows us what it means to have strengthened the ego by carrying out certain intellectual operations with much greater intensity, and when a certain culmination has been reached to feel this ego flow out into the world, so that we then stand right in the world with our ego. This is an experience that points to a karmic element in the process of gaining such insights, a process of cognition that does indeed involve the whole person. It is this involvement of the whole person, as distinct from the ordinary process that only involves the head aspect of man, that is the true distinguishing mark. My intention here has been to show clearly that the road to cognitive Imagination is not something I would present in some vague, mystic form but a process that can be just as accurately defined as the solution of a particular mathematical problem. The capacity for cognitive Imagination acquired by such means is there in the soul in the same way as mathematical, geometrical forms are present in the soul, in great clarity and lucidity. The soul content gained is not one we give ourselves up to in a nebulous way, as a secret inner experience. It is a soul content as lucid and as much connected with a sense of our own reality being maintained as a mathematical soul content.

This has been a somewhat superficial presentation of an imaginative life coming to reside in the soul that will then lead to insights into the world which lies beyond sensory perception, in a way to be described later. It is however important always to remember that the search for such forms of knowledge and the efforts made to achieve them do not represent something arbitrary wanting to come into the culture and civilization of man as it is developing in the present day but rather something that arises with a certain necessity, out of the very development of the present age. Today, it is necessary to work in a very conscious way to achieve the imaginative perception I have described, and this will then also be able to find expression in concepts, having taken the roundabout route via pictorial imaging. In earlier periods of man's evolution this was aimed at in a more instinctive way. The progress of human evolution has been such that earlier times did not gain insight through the logical and empirical reasoning that has come to be acknowledged as the right way for us since the middle of the 15th century. In earlier times, Imaginations were sought instinctively, in a way, and were also achieved in that fashion.

At the time when spiritual vision was of this instinctive type, it was not possible to clothe it in concepts. Today we are able to express ourselves in concepts; we are able to do so through science and because of the way we are used to dealing with the inorganic sphere by forming concepts. But that is something which has arisen only from the time of Galileo and Copernicus. Before that, people were unable to use concepts in this way. The concepts used by the Greeks were something completely different. They used pictures, pictures created with lines, or perhaps also combinations of colours. Let me mention just in passing that in earlier periods of man's evolution knowledge was not handled in the same general fashion, one might say democratic fashion, as it is handled today. Instead, those who had gained insight and knowledge formed special groups, relatively small groups that it has become the habit to call secret societies and the like. Traces of these, though always misleading traces, are still to be found in all kinds of orders and similar groups. Those gaining insight shut themselves away in small groups. They carefully prepared the people they admitted to their groups, so that they might achieve such insights as were thought to be important without danger to their moral life. And symbolic, pictorial presentations were used to teach what could be experienced in instinctive Imaginations. Such images represented the body of knowledge taught in the old schools of wisdom, just as today the body of knowledge is in books, but in those days the teaching aids were entirely in the form of pictures that had their origin in the mind of man.

Now I do not want to talk to you in rather nebulous terms. Let me therefore call to mind something quite definite — one particular symbol. One symbol coming up again and again was used to depict imaginative perception of the process of cognition in man himself. The process was not described in the way a modern expert in the theory of knowledge would do so. It was beheld in a form of instinctive clairvoyance, and they represented what they saw by drawing a picture of a serpent biting its own tail. That image showed a major characteristic of the process of attaining to knowledge. But in fact the picture I have described to you is only something that came to be used later, more or less for popular presentation. The actual symbolic images were carefully guarded secrets in the groups, guarded because there was a certain desire for power, the desire to be the ones in the know while others were not in the know. The picture shown in public, of the serpent biting its own tail, should in fact be the image of a serpent that not merely bites its own tail but swallows it, as it were. As much of the tail as enters into the mouth becomes spiritualized. And then something would show itself that would need to be painted in subtler colours — if the serpent itself had been painted in strong colours — as a kind of aura for the serpent. The result was a somewhat more complex image. If we try to express it in simple words, we need to use the expression Dr Unger was using in his lecture this morning, though he actually kept apologizing for using it. (It is indeed necessary, in a way, to apologize for many things, even if they are perfectly justifiable today, when speaking on the basis of Anthroposophy.) Dr Unger repeatedly used the term ‘invert.’ Imagine you have an elastic ball and push the upper part in, so that it becomes inverted. What has been above is below, and we have a kind of bowl or dish instead of a sphere. Now imagine the inversion continuing not just as far as the bottom of the sphere but beyond it, passing through it, as it were. The sphere through which the inverted part has passed now has a halo of light around it, and this has arisen from the inverted part. It is a figure we cannot easily make a drawing of, but it represents, in simplified form, the symbol used in those secret societies to indicate the process of attaining to knowledge, to stimulate a vision of this process in the people who were to learn from such vision.

As I have said, those figures were kept a deep secret, because of a certain feeling of power. They were obtained only by achieving inner vision of a cosmic process. There was no other way of developing a sense for the inner experience and understanding of such figures. To use an expression that perhaps is a little light-weight in relation to the process concerned, I would say: Inner spiritual contents arose to give people something for which they attempted to find symbolic expression, in something that might be understood in itself. Those were fixed instinctive Imaginations.

Then, in more recent times, discoveries were made in science that in a certain sense came to be epitomized in the work of Haeckel. 1Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, German biologist, 1834–1919. With reference to his ‘Gastraea,’ see Rudolf Steiner's comments in his Riddles of Philosophy. Haeckel had a certain way of gaining an overview of whatever he was working on, a way we may indeed call brilliant. Out of the background I was able to outline to you yesterday, 2Lecture given in Stuttgart on 1 September 1921. (Translator) he felt the need to make drawings of what his researches into animal nature showed him, i.e. everything concerned with the physical organization of the animal. If you open Haeckel's books and look at his drawings (others have of course also made drawings, but Haeckel, I would say, made them the fundamental core of his whole thinking process) showing the early stages of embryonic development, the stages by which he hoped to show that ontogeny 3Ontogeny — basically the embryonic development of the individual. (Translator) is a shortened recapitulation of phylogeny, 4Phylogeny — an animal's pedigree in terms of evolutionary descent. (Translator) you will find drawings that would remind anyone who knows of these things of the instinctive Imaginations recorded by the wise men of the past. Haeckel studied the initial stages of embryonic development known as gastrulation, the development of a cup-like form where the cells do indeed become arranged in a way that resembles the inversion of one half of a sphere into the other. He came to visualize a hypothetical entity, the Gastraea, that was once supposed to have had that form in the course of phylogenetic evolution, a form he felt was now being repeated at this early stage of embryonic development, the gastrula stage. In other words, what Haeckel drew was supposed to be a faithful reproduction of processes occurring in the world that is accessible to our senses, faithful though obtained only through evidence of the outer senses, and perhaps slightly coloured by his imagination and expressed as a hypothesis.

I am mentioning something to you that may be of no interest whatsoever to many people today, yet it must be regarded, by anyone following the path of knowledge with integrity, as a truly outstanding fact in cultural development. Haeckel drew the outside world and arrived at the beginnings of symbolic figures that were considered highly esoteric in an earlier age, figures still preserved here and there, though very much in secret. Within certain power-hungry organizations it is considered downright treason to speak of them. In the past, these figures had emerged from inner experience; they were records of instinctive Imaginations. This means nothing less but that science has arrived at a point — in progressing to insight into processes within the animal organism — where scientists have to draw things representing external processes in the same way as long ago people drew what emerged from an imaginative life that arose freely in the soul, achieving cosmic insight by intensification of the inner life. Inner experience was used to create symbols that completely and utterly resemble those now achieved by drawing what is seen in the outside world. More and quite different ones will be found as science progresses. This is an utterly outstanding fact in the history of cultural development.

We have now reached a point in human evolution, as far as the achievement of knowledge is concerned, where empirical, outside observation of animal life forces images upon us that formerly were found in the innermost recesses of the soul. Exoteric study today yields contents that once formed part of the most profound esoteric life. Haeckel arrived at this in a wholly naive fashion. The process is a great deal more interesting if we observe it in a mind that did not so much arrive at it in naive fashion, for example, Goethe who, as I showed you yesterday, went through the stages of his cognitive experience with some awareness. In the 1790s, Goethe drew his archetypal plant for Schiller, a symbolic plant. He sketched a few lines to show what he felt to be the plant that appears in all plant forms, in metamorphosis. Schiller said: ‘That is no empiricism, that is an idea.’ Goethe's reply was: ‘Then I see my idea with my own eyes.’ Goethe was aware that he had drawn something objective, something he had seen in the plant world. How was he able to do so? In my writings on Goethe, I have on several occasions described the inner process by which Goethe was impelled to look at plant life in such a way that he arrived at this theory of metamorphosis.

In the meantime, a younger man who at one time used to visit me a great deal, has published a dissertation in Berlin — that is a few years ago now — on Swedenborg's influence on Goethe. 5Hans Schlieper, Emanuel Swedenborgs System der Naturphilosophie besonders in seiner Beziehung zu Goethe-Herderschen Anschauungen. Dissertation of 16 February 1901. Berlin: G. Schade, 1901. This dissertation is one of the most outstanding literary works in our day. Such things generally disappear from sight in the great mass of unread dissertations that are published. This dissertation on Goethe's philosophy of nature in relation to Swedenborg shows how Goethe arrived at certain conceptual categories for the very reason that as a young man he had fully entered into Swedenborg's state of mind, categories that were then more or less unconsciously to lead him to his morphological Imaginations relating to the plant world. It is most interesting to look at Goethe's relationship to Swedenborg in this respect.

Where Swedenborg is concerned, the situation is that he certainly was an eminent scientist when at his peak. Until his fortieth year, he evolved conceptual categories that enabled him to proceed in a truly scientific manner, in accordance with the state of science in his day, and a scientific association is now publishing his previously unpublished scientific work as something of the greatest value. Until he reached the age of forty, Swedenborg was one of the leading, representative scientists of his day. This was because synthesizing ideas were alive in his mind that made it possible for him to present the wider contexts of natural processes. Then he fell ill, in a way, and into his sick organism poured the conceptual categories he had previously evolved for the study of nature. Certain mystical natures are now revering something in Swedenborg that is his former scientific attitude of mind metamorphosed through disease.

A healthy spiritual vision will be unable to see the spiritual worlds the way Swedenborg did. It will see nothing of the personifications, of the pictures entirely deriving from his own constitution that only need a few changes to be completely like life on earth, providing we remove a certain weightiness from it. I will not go into details about the basis of Swedenborg's illness, but in order to avoid misunderstanding let me point out that Swedenborg's achievements as a seer can nevertheless be of tremendous interest, because something has flowed into this that came from a great, far-seeing mind capable of scientific thinking. All this conceptual synthesis, as one might call it, that emerged in Swedenborg held the most tremendous fascination for Goethe when he was a young man. and Goethe evolved in a healthy way, in his morphology, in his penetration of the plant world based on characterization and scientific study, what in Swedenborg had developed into pathological visions.

This connection between Goethe and Swedenborg is of the greatest interest, for here a road was taken in a pathological direction by one person, while another, with greatest intensity, went in a direction that was healthy. And the concepts formulated by Goethe when he came to evolve his plastic vision of the plant world are already part way towards the kind of drawings or ‘paintings’ I would say, using the term very widely, that Haeckel felt impelled to use for the organic world of the animals. But Goethe was more alert. He was so alert that he followed Swedenborgianism only in so far as it was healthy. Yet Goethe, too, inevitably came to create images of the outside world in pictures that in earlier times, when men acquired knowledge in more inward ways, arose or were brought up from within. In Goethe's day, cognitive life had already reached a point, at least for Goethe and those who understood him, where it was necessary to look in the outside world for the same picture language that had formerly been found in instinctive Imaginations.

The development of man progresses, and it would be wrong to remain based on instinctive Imaginations. Life in Imaginations now has to be worked towards in full awareness, as I have described at the beginning of today's talk. The result will be as follows. Using the rational intellect, we are able to represent the inorganic world around us in measure, weight and number, to arrive at constructive concepts of a world which has its being in measure, weight and number. Moving up into the plant world, into animal nature, such intellectual analysis is not enough, for the very reason that the scientific approach has made some progress in our age. We need another form of presentation.

In dealing with inorganic nature, man uses his rational mind and lets this inorganic nature become part of his inner life and so arrives at knowledge, at insight into this world, in terms of measure, weight and number. Yet when man tries to apply to the plant world, the animal world, the same approach he is already using in his study of the inorganic world — a way not open to earlier ages with their instinctive Imaginations — he finds he simply cannot rely on a way of comprehension with mind and soul that is based entirely on intellectual concepts. Instead, we find Goethe arriving more consciously and Haeckel quite naively and unconsciously, at a form of presentation reminiscent of earlier, instinctive Imaginations. This serves to indicate that the progress that has gradually been made in the observation of nature is the very reason why, on advancing from mineral to plant, from animal to man, and to the acquisition of knowledge about the world altogether, we have to use higher levels of cognition, have to advance from our ordinary intellectual comprehension to Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. More will be said about this in the following talks. It will then be obvious that there are still other healthy spheres, in addition to those frequently enumerated, which can be used to relate to present-day science, a science to which Haeckel brought a certain touch of his own. The relationship has to be a living one. It is necessary to consider this science in depth, in order to show how its own further development has made it necessary to enter into imaginative life in full conscious awareness. In what follows, an objective presentation of the sources of anthroposophical knowledge will show that when I came to evolve the anthroposophical view at the turn of the century it really was a matter of showing how it is necessary to progress from what Haeckel put forward — or at least hinted at, rather naively, in relation to outer nature — to a true spiritual science.

The point is that in the approach Haeckel developed to the study of nature only the pictures he drew had in fact real significance. In these pictures he developed all kinds of concepts. He took these concepts from his own period. I have often said, when lecturing on Haeckel, that we should take the first pages of his much-maligned book Die Welträtsel (The Riddles of the Universe), where the reality of animal nature is shown positively and constructively, and tear off the final pages, which are the greater part of the book, full of polemics. This would still leave us with a book of great value for anyone wanting to find the right way of entering into organic nature today. But the concepts Haeckel extracted from all that, the concepts presented in the part of the book I am saying we should tear off, these derive from the general conceptual approach of more recent origin. And these concepts have gradually become dead concepts as far as organic nature is concerned.

Haeckel was working with living views and with dead concepts. This is something I have often had to refer to in lectures on Haeckelism, and I therefore wrote my pamphlet Haeckel und seine Gegner 6Haeckel und seine Gegner (Haeckel and his opponents), 53 pages, Minden i.W., 1900 Reprinted in Methodische Grundlagen der Anthroposophie 1884–1901. GA 30. English Translation in: Three Essays on Haeckel and Karma. London: Theosophical Publishing Co. 1914. This is based on the feeling that while Haeckel expressed his views in dead concepts that are not appropriate, his opponents used their own dead concepts in opposing his views. So even in those days the issue was the same as we have it today when spiritual science concerns itself with science: it would be wrong for spiritual science orientated in Anthroposophy to approach science with criticism, using dead concepts. Instead, it is necessary to take up the views science has achieved, the advances made in research into nature, and take them forward into living concepts. The knowledge gained in science should not be opposed in a dead spirit, but taken onwards to the living spirit.