The Renewal of Culture
2 December 1921, Berne
I have been asked to lecture this evening on The Necessity for a Renewal of Culture. During the past few days I have been speaking to you on the spiritual science of Anthroposophy. This is a field which may be dealt with generally by any individual, if he thinks that he can communicate to others this or that result of special investigations or impulses. For this is the expression of an individual impulse — although one must of course bear in mind that it is something which, from certain standpoints, may be of interest to all.
But I have quite a different feeling in regard to this evening's subject. In the present time, when one has to speak of the necessity for a renewal of culture, one only has the right to do so if one can perceive that this subject really corresponds to a general demand, that people are filled by the desire for a renewal of culture, and believe in what may be called a renewal of culture. An individual must therefore more or less interpret a generally ruling view. For in regard to such a subject, arbitrary individual opinions would only be an expression of lack of modesty and conceit.
The following question therefore arises: Does this subject correspond to-day to a generally ruling feeling, to a sum of feelings which exists in wide circles? If we look in an unprejudiced way into the hearts and souls of our contemporaries, if we study their soul-moods and their general frame of mind, we may indeed believe that this subject of the necessity for a renewal of culture is in many respects justified.
Do we not see that in the most varied spheres of life many of our contemporaries feel that something must penetrate into our spiritual life and into the other branches of human life, something which in some way corresponds to the longing which manifests itself so clearly?
To-day we come across searching souls in many fields of artistic life. Who has not noticed these searching souls? We find them above all among modern youth. Particularly there we find that youth expects something which it cannot obtain from the things offered by the generally prevailing spirit of the times. Especially in the sphere of ethical-religious life we come across such seeking souls. Innumerable questions, expressed and above all unexpressed, questions which live only in the depths of feeling, are now reposing in human hearts. If we consider social life, then the course of the world's events and all that takes place, as it were, within this domain, takes on the aspect of one great question: Where must we look for some kind of cultural renewal of our social life?
The individual, however, who considers these different questions, may nevertheless not go further than the belief that he can but offer a small contribution towards these problems, arising out of a generally felt need in this domain. But perhaps the explanations resulting from anthroposophical spiritual research contained in the last lectures which I gave to you here, entitle me to set forth a few facts on the subject chosen for to-day, even though the spiritual science of Anthroposophy knows that in regard to many things which people are now seeking, it can at the most offer a few impulses which can bear fruit; yet it is the very aim of anthroposophical research to offer such impulses, such germinating forces.
At Dornach, in Switzerland, we have tried to establish the School for Spiritual Science, the Goetheanum. Here we can say that at least the attempt has been made to fructify the single scientific spheres by adding to the results obtained in medicine, natural science, sociology, history, and many other fields by the highly significant methods of recent times, the results which can be obtained through direct investigation of the spiritual world itself.
In the pedagogical-didactical field, the effort has been made to obtain some practical results through the Waldorf School in Stuttgart. Attempts have even been made to achieve results in the economic field. But there we must say that present conditions are so difficult, that these newly founded economic undertakings must first pass the test showing whether they are able to — I will not say attain — but at least encourage what so many modern people are seeking to find.
Let me therefore begin with this quest. I cannot speak of course from the standpoint of your nation, where I have the great pleasure of being your guest; I can only speak to you from an international standpoint. Those who have open hearts, minds and souls for the longings of that section of mankind which counts most for the future, those who observe this in an unprejudiced way, cannot help turning their gaze to the young people and their quest!
Everywhere we find that our young people are filled with the longing, arising out of an altogether indefinite feeling, for something quite new. The earnest, significant question must therefore rise up: Why do our young people not have full satisfaction in the things which we as older people could offer to them? And I believe that this very quest of youth is connected with the most intimate and deepest soul-impulses, which give rise in men's hearts in the present time to this general sense of seeking.
I believe that in this respect we must penetrate deeply into human souls, if the call for a renewal of culture, which can now be heard plainly, is to be judged according to its true foundation. We shall have to look into many depths of human soul-life; above all we cannot deal only with the characteristics of modern culture, but we shall have to survey a longer stretch of time.
If we do this in an unprejudiced way, we find that in an international respect the special soul-configuration of modern humanity has been prepared during the past three, four or five centuries, and we also find that these last three, four and five centuries reveal something completely new, compared with the spiritual constitution which still existed in the Occident during the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries, derived from a still earlier epoch. Whenever we survey these earlier times of spiritual life in the Occident, we find that man's soul-spiritual conception was not so strictly separated from his physical or sensory conception, as was the case later on and during the present time.
In earlier centuries, when the human being turned his senses towards the physical world which constituted his environment, he always knew that a spiritual element also lived in the objects which he perceived though his senses. He no longer had such a highly spiritual conception of the world as, for instance, the ancient Egyptian, or even the ancient Greek, who saw the external embodiment of soul-spiritual beings in the world of the stars, but he still had some inkling of the fact that a spiritual essence permeated everything in his physical environment.
Again, when the human being of earlier centuries looked back upon his own self, he did not strictly separate his physical-bodily part from his soul, i.e. from thought, feeling and will. I might say that by being conscious of his soul, he was at the same time conscious of the members of his body, of the organs of his body, and he also perceived a soul-spiritual essence in these bodily organs, he felt a soul-spiritual essence in his own organism. In the world outside he experienced this soul-spiritual essence, and within his own self he also experienced a soul-spiritual essence.
He thus felt a certain relationship, a certain intimacy with the world around him. He could say to himself: What lives within me, also lives in a certain respect within the universe, and Divine-spiritual beings, who lead and guide the world, placed me into this universe. He felt connected with the universe and had a feeling of intimacy with it. He experienced, as it were, that he formed part of the great soul-spiritual-physical organism of the universe.
This is a feeling which we do not fully understand to-day, because during the past centuries the times have undergone a complete change. This change appears not only among theoreticians and scientists, but it reveals itself in every human heart, in every human soul. It does not merely reveal itself in the way in which modern people contemplate the world, but also in the way in which spirit is embodied in matter in artistic creation and in the enjoyment of art. It reveals itself in our social life, in the way in which we face our fellowman, in the understanding which we have for him, and in what we demand from him. Finally, it reveals itself in the feelings which we have concerning our own ethical-religious impulses, in the way in which we experience the Divine within our own heart and soul, in our attitude towards the impulse which gave to the earth in the deepest way the key to the spirit underlying earthly existence in our attitude towards the deeper inner meaning of Christianity.
We can therefore say: What people thus search for in widest circles must in some way be related with this change. What is the nature of this change?
Now the last centuries have seen the dawn of an age which is frequently described as the age of intellectualism. But it was not intellectualism, an abstract use of the understanding which in the past made people feel so closely connected and acquainted with the surrounding world — as I briefly explained to you just now. Only in the course of human evolution has modern man thoroughly learned to have full confidence in the intellect and in the understanding, when contemplating the world, and even when experiencing it.
Now, however, there are two conditions of human life which are interrelated: inwardly, intellectualism and confidence in the authority of reason, of the understanding, and outwardly, faith in the phenomena of Nature and a sense for the observation of Nature's phenomena.
Inwardly, modern man developed an inclination to set everything under the rule of an intellectualistic observation based on reason. As a natural consequence, this inner capacity above all, could only be applied to the phenomena of Nature, to everything which can be observed through the senses, to everything which can be analyzed or combined in the form of thoughts. These two things, I might say, the indisputable observation of Nature and the development of the intellect, were the two great, important means of education used during recent centuries: they exercised their strongest influence upon civilised humanity during the 19th century and have also carried their fruits into the 20th century.
One of the characteristics connected with the use of the intellect is that in a certain way our inner experience becomes isolated. The use of the intellect (it clearly reveals itself in its picture-character) in a certain way estranges feeling; it takes on a cold, prosaic life-nuance, and in reality it can only develop in the right way through external Nature, through everything which constitutes the surrounding world.
Through this connection, through this relationship of man with the world, deeply satisfying explanations can be found in regard to Nature, but it does not supply in the same measure as in the past the possibility to discover oneself, as it were, within external Nature. The soul-spiritual element which shone out to the men of olden times from a world filled with colour, sound, warmth and coldness, and from the year's seasons, could be experienced as something which was related to what lived in their inner being.
Through our feeling, we can no longer directly bring into our own inner being the whole external life of Nature, which we learn to know through the intellect — all that we discover through intellectual research in physics, chemistry and biology. We can certainly strive to investigate biologically man's inner organic structure; we can even go as far as seeking to investigate the chemical processes of the human organism. But if we apply the investigation of external Nature to the human organism in order to understand it, we shall never find that this manner of investigation also takes hold of our feeling, that it can be summed up in a religious-ethical feeling towards the universe, and that finally it can be expressed in the feeling: "I am a member of the universe: Soul-spiritual is the universe, and I too am soul-spiritual."
This feeling does not shine out of the things which could be learnt during recent centuries through the magnificent impulses of natural science. Consequently, the very forces which brought the best and most significant fruit and which transformed the whole existence of modern man, at the same time estranged him from his own self.
The fact that he stands within the universe and admiringly looks upon his mathematical conception of the spatial world, of the stars and their movements, the fact that he can unfathom with a certain scientific reverence what plants, animals, etc., contain, is accompanied (in spite of all the problems which are still unsolved) by a certain feeling of satisfaction; people are filled with satisfaction that on the one hand it is possible for them to solve the riddles of Nature by using their intellect and their reason; but there is one thing which cannot be reached along this path, namely a Knowledge of Man's True Being.
The science dealing with the stars, the science which exists in the form of physics and chemistry, the science of biology, and in more recent times even the science of history, do not reveal anything in reply to man's deepest longing concerning his own being. And hence arose more and more the need to seek for something else.
Their quest is none other than the quest of modern man for the human being. Though we may do our utmost to summarize the true nature of this quest in different spheres everywhere, we find that men now really wish to solve the riddle of their own being, the riddle of man.
This is not merely something which may interest theoreticians, but something which deeply penetrates into the constitution of every human soul. To all who are interested in such things it is undoubtedly a source of deepest longing when the investigation of Nature leads to the desire to discover also what lies concealed behind the great expanse of Nature's life: namely, man's being, which greatly transcends all that can be gathered from the external kingdoms of Nature.
But I might say: At this point, the great riddle, the search for the nature of man, really begins. At this point we also understand the fact that we have allowed our feelings and our whole education to be influenced by forces which thus came to the fore during recent centuries. External life reflects this in every way. Far more than we think, external life reflects the forces which came to the fore in the spiritual life of humanity during its more recent course of development, as described just now.
We not only enquire in vain after man's true being from a theoretical standpoint — oh no! — but to-day we pass each other by, and under the influence of our modern education we have not the capacity to understand our fellow-men inwardly, we lack the capacity to look with a kind of clairvoyant sympathy into the human soul and into what lives in it, a capacity which still existed in many civilisations of the past. Not only theoretically have we lost the understanding for the human being, but in every moment of the day we lack a sympathetic comprehension, a sympathetic, feeling contact with our fellow-men. Perhaps this appears most clearly of all in the social question; in its present form it shows us that we have indeed lost this understanding for our fellow-men.
For why does the call for social reforms, for a social renewal, resound so loudly? Because in reality we have grown utterly unsocial. As a rule, we demand most loudly of all the very things which we most sorely lack, and in the loud call for socialism, a truly unprejudiced person can hear the truth, that we no longer understand each other and are unable to build up a social organism, because we have grown so unsocial. Consequently, we cling to the hope that our understanding, which has reached such a high stage of development through intellectualism, may after all lead us back to an organic social structure.
The social question itself shows us above all how estranged we have become from each other as human beings. In quite recent times the religious question confronts us, because we have lost the immediate inner experience of being directly connected with the divine essence of the universe; we no longer feel the voice speaking within our own self as an expression of the Divine-spiritual. The call for a religious renewal also arises through a really felt need.
If we now look more deeply into the seeking life of modern times, by setting out from such aspects, we find that the intellectual culture, the intellectual contemplation which gradually made even human feeling grow pale, is after all something which is connected with a definite age of human life.
We should not fall a prey to any illusion: for in regard to his intellect, the human being really awakes only when he reaches the age of puberty; his intellectual powers awake at that time of his life when he is ready to work in the external world. But intellectualism is never our own personal property, a force which can move our soul during childhood, or soon after when we go to school. In this early life the soul's configuration must differ from its later configuration. The intellectual element in modern life cannot and must not develop during childhood and in early youth, for it would have a chilling, deadening, paralyzing effect upon the forces of youth.
Thus it came about (in order to understand the present time and its longings we must penetrate into more intimate details of life) that we now grow into a culture which deprives us — though this may sound paradoxical — in our mature age of the most beautiful memories of our childhood.
If we look back in memory upon our experiences of childhood, we cannot draw up with sufficient intensity and warmth the undefined feelings and memories which frequently live in unconscious depths and which sometimes can only rise up in nuances of thoughts and memories. We reach the point of being unable to understand ourselves completely. We look back upon the life of our childhood as if it were a riddle. We no longer know how to speak out of our full human being, and into the language which we speak as grown-ups we can no longer bring that shading which re-echoes what the child experiences in its living wisdom, when it turns its innocent eyes to the surrounding world, when it unfolds its will during the early years of its existence.
We do not study history in a true way if it does not show us that among the people of olden times, the speech of men who had reached a mature age always re-echoed the development of childhood. We live through our childhood unconsciously, but in such a way, that this unconscious life of the soul still contains in an intensive form what we brought with us through birth, through the union with the physical body, what we brought with us from the soul-spiritual life of our pre-existence.
Those who can observe a child, those who have an open soul and mind for this kind of observation, will discover the greatest mystery when they see how week by week the child unfolds what the human being brings with him into the earthly-physical world from a soul-spiritual existence. What man's eternal being unconsciously brings into the human members, into the whole human organisation, so that it lives and pulses through the body, brings about an inner permeation with soul-spiritual forces, which however encounter a kind of chilling substance, when later on the intellect which really exists only for earthly concerns comes to the fore.
Those who to-day have enough self-observation for such intimate things, know that a kind of thin fog spreads over that which seeks to enter our mature consciousness from our childhood; they know that it is impossible to bring into words which have grown old the living experiences of childhood, because these exercise a soul-spiritual influence, and live within the child in a far more intensive soul-spiritual form than they can later on live in an intellectualistic state.
A witty writer of the 18th and 19th century once wrote: During his first three years of life, man learns far more than during his three years at the university. I do not mean to hurt the feelings of university students, for I can appreciate them, but I also believe that in regard to our whole, full manhood, we learn more during the first three years of life, when we form our organism out of our still unconscious wisdom, than we can ever learn later on. Yet our modern culture strongly develops the tendency to forget these most important three years of life, at least it has the tendency to prevent their coming to expression in a corresponding living way in that which manifests itself later on as the expression of our mature culture. But this fact exercises a great influence upon our whole civilised life. If we are unable to colour, animate, and spiritualize our mature speech and the thoughts of mature life with the forces which well up from our own childhood — because the intellect gives us pictures, a spiritual world in pictures, but is unable to absorb spiritual life, the life of the spirit itself — if we are unable to do this, we cannot speak to youth in a living and intensive way. We then speak out of a lost youth to a living youth round about us.
This is the feeling which we discover in modern youth, this is the feeling expressed in their search and which may be characterised as follows: "You old people speak a language which we cannot understand; you speak words which find no echo in our hearts and souls." — This is why the call for a renewal of culture is to be heard above all in the longings of our young people, and we must realize that by going back to a comprehension of the spiritual we must again learn to speak to youth in the right way, and even to speak in the right way to children.
My dear friends, those who permeate their inner being with the truths which anthroposophical spiritual research seeks to grasp through the soul's living being and not through abstract thoughts, take hold of something which does not grow old, which even in mature years does not deprive them of the forces of childhood; they feel, in a certain way, the more spiritual forces of childhood and of youth entering their maturer life. They will then find the words and the deeds which appeal to youth, the words and deeds which unite them with the young.
It was this observation of youth's mood of seeking which led to the endeavor to create at the Waldorf School in Stuttgart above all a body of teachers able to speak to children out of a spiritual rejuvenation reached in maturer years, to speak to children once more as if they were real friends. To those people who acquire something of genuine spirituality in their life, every child is a revelation, they know that the child, the small child and the older child, can — if they have an open heart for this — give them more than they can give to the child. Though this may sound paradoxical, it is nevertheless the note which may lead to a kind of renewal of culture in this sphere.
If we let this shed light on the other things which confront us in life, we must say to ourselves if we clearly perceive that man is in search of man and that he must seek him; that is to say, if we can see that the human being who has become one-sided through intellectualism goes in search of the full whole human being, we shall come across this same fact very definitely in many other spheres of life to-day.
If we survey the times which have given rise to the great achievements of modern culture, achievements which cannot be prized highly enough, we find that modern civilisation could only be gained by forfeiting something of man's whole being. Man looked out into the world's spaces. He could build instruments enabling him to discover the nature and the movements of the stars. It is only since a few centuries, however, that results which thus confront us have developed in such a way as to supply a mathematical physical picture of the universe. To-day we no longer feel how in the past men looked out into the universe and perceived in the stars' courses a revelation of the spirit in the cosmos, in the same way in which we now perceive in the physiognomy of a human being the revelation of his soul and spirit. An abstract, dried-up mathematical-mechanical element now appears to us in the cosmos, although in itself it is one which cannot be prized highly enough. We look up to the sky and perceive nothing but an immense world-mechanism. The ideal has more and more gained ground to perceive this world-mechanism everywhere. And what has grown out of it to-day
Though to many contemporaries this may still seem contradictory, I think that to an unprejudiced observation it is everywhere clearly evident that the social sphere of humanity which surrounds us everywhere and which constitutes our modern civilisation, now sends out its answers to the concept of world-mechanism.
For to-day our social and also our ethical and juridical life, and in a certain way — as I will immediately show you — even our religious life, have taken on a mechanistic character.
We can see that in millions and millions of men there lives the view that the historical evolution of mankind does not contain spiritual forces, but only economic forces, and that everything which lives in art, religion, ethics, science, law, etc., is a kind of fog rising out of the only historical reality, out of economic life. Economic forms are realities and their influence upon men — this is what many people say to-day and one's heart should feel the great tragedy of such statements — gives rise to what develops in the form of law, ethics, religion, art, etc. This is their view: they think that all this is an ideology.
This has driven us in a direction which has, to be sure, produced great results in the spiritual life of the Occident, but to-day it has reached the opposite pole of what once existed in ancient better times of the past in the civilisation of the Orient — though even the Oriental culture has now become decadent. It was a one-sided culture, but our modern culture is also one-sided.
Let us bear in mind that once upon a time — in the East above all — there lived a race which described the external physical world as Maya, as the great illusion, for it only looked upon man's inner life as the true reality, man's thoughts, sensations, feelings and impulses of the will were the only reality. Once upon a time there was this other one-sided conception of perceiving the true essence and reality only in man's inner being, in the world of his thoughts, feelings and sensations, and of seeing in the external world nothing but Maya or the great illusion.
To-day we have reached the opposite conception, which is also one-sided. From the standpoint of modern culture we see the physical world everywhere round about us, and we call it the true reality. Millions of people see reality only in the physical course of economic processes and consider man's inner life an ideology, with the inclusion of everything which has proceeded from it in the development of culture. What millions and millions of people now designate an ideology is after all the same thing which the Orientals once called Maya, illusion — it is simply a different word, and used to be sure, in the opposite sense. The Oriental could have applied the word “ideology” to the external world, and “reality” to his inner being. Modern culture has reached the stage that countless people now apply these words in an opposite one-sidedness.
Our social life reveals something of which we can say: It has resulted in great and significant triumphs for science, but it has brought difficulties into human life itself, into the ethical and social life of men. But this mechanisation of life which now faces us does not only live in the ideas of millions of men, it really also exists. Our external life has become mechanised, and with our modern culture we are now living in a time which supplies man's answer in the social, ethical and religious spheres of life.
What first arose as a conception of the world in the great age of Galileo, Copernicus and Giordano Bruno, the conception which was then born, demands to be sure that it should be permeated with humanity in a different way from what has been the case so far. For the mechanisation of our human life is, as it were, the answer of civilisation to the mechanical character of our intellectual, scientific life.
We can see this in every detail. To-day we study natural science. We study the development of animal species from the lowest, simplest, most imperfect forms right up to man. Guided by highly praiseworthy scientific thought, we then place man at the end of this line of organic beings. What does this teach us in regard to him? That he is the highest animal. This is, of course, significant in a certain way, but we thus only learn to know man in his relationship to the other beings, not as he experiences himself as man. We learn to know what man develops in regard to the other beings, but not what constitutes his own self. Man loses himself in as much as he contemplates the external world in accordance with the admirable principles of modern natural science.
And hence the search for the human being, since through the great achievements of modern time, man has in a certain way, lost himself. And if we then look at the communal life in the social organism, we find that their reciprocal actions compel men to live as they do. In regard to this necessity we have gone very far in modern times. Into every sphere of social life there has entered a division of work. As regards the external mechanised life of modern times we must work so as to realize the truth of the words: All for one and one for all! In regard to external life we have had to learn to work one for the other.
But also, here we can see that for those who have not preserved old traditions but who have grown into the most modern form of life, human labour has become completely separated from the human being and that our modern understanding only enables us to grasp the external nature of man. Our conception and feeling in regard to human labour, through which we help our fellow men and work together with them, has therefore become a purely external one. We no longer observe the man and how he develops his work out of his soul-spiritual existence on earth, we do not see how human labour is the outcome of a man with whom we are closely bound up through feeling, who is a being like us. We see him and we do not feel that he is working for us. No, in the social life of to-day we look at the product, we see how much human labour has flowed into it and we judge human work in so far as we find it in the product.
This is so deeply rooted in people's minds, that by enhancing this great error of modern times Karl Marx reached the point of designating everything circulating as human labour in the form of goods produced for human consumption, as a crystallised condensed labour. We now judge labour separated from the human being, in the same way in which we have acquired the power of observing Nature apart from man. Our judgement of human labour is really infected by what we have learned to know concerning man and by the way in which we look upon him through natural science. This only leads us as far as the Nature-side of man, only as far as the fact that man is the highest animal: we do not penetrate as far as man's innermost being.
Even when we observe man in his work, we do not see how this work comes from him, but we wait instead until the product is there and only seek the work in something which has become emancipated from the man. And there stands man among us as a social being who knows that he must put into labour his human nature and frequently his human dignity, and he sees that this human dignity and the way in which labour comes out of his inner self, is not valued human work is only valued when it has streamed into the external product which is then brought on to the market; labour is there something which has been submerged in the wares, something which can, as it were, be bought and sold.
So in this connection, too, we see how man has lost himself. He has forfeited, as it were, a piece of his own self — his work — to the mechanism of modern civilisation.
We see this above all in the juridical part of the social organism. If we observe how the spiritual, mental, life prevails among us in modern times we find that the spirit only exists in abstract thoughts; that we can only have confidence in abstract thoughts and forget that the spirit lives within us in a direct way, that the spirit enters into us whenever we occupy ourselves with it, that our soul is not only filled by thoughts, but that our soul is really penetrated by the spirit whenever we are spiritually active. Mankind has lost this connection with the spirit, while its conception of Nature has become great. This in regard to the spiritual life.
In regard to our juridical, social and political life, the example of human labour has shown us that something which is connected with the human being has been torn away from him. When we observe the human soul in its intercourse as man with man, we do not see feeling flashing up and growing warm when one person looks at another's work. There is no warm feeling for the man at his work. We do not see the work developing in connection with man, but we only see something which can no longer kindle the other man's warm sympathy; we see the labour after it has left the man, and has flowed into the product.
So in this sphere, too, in the sphere of human intercourse and juridical life, we have lost man.
And if we look at the sphere of economics: in the economic life man must procure for himself what he needs for his consumption. The things which he needs for his own consumption are those for which he develops his capacities. Man will work all the better for others, for himself and for the whole human community, the more he develops his capacities. The essential point in economic life is the development of human faculties. When it is a question of people, an employee will find it advantageous to work for a capable employer. This is quite possible, for those whose work is guided by others physically or spiritually, soon recognize that they fare better with a capable leader than with an incapable one.
But does our modern economic striving tend above all to bear in mind the economic life and activity of mankind and to ask everywhere: Where are the more capable people? If we were to look upon this living element in man, upon this purely human element, if people were placed into economic life in accordance with their capacities, so that they might achieve their best for their fellows: that could achieve a conception, a culture, able to discover the human being in man.
But the characteristic of our modern culture is just this, that it cannot discover the human being in man, and to an unprejudiced observation it is evident that we have gradually lost the power of judging people rightly, in accordance with their capacities and gifts.
To be sure that testing entity, the examination, through which men's capacities are supposed to be shown, has acquired a great importance in our modern civilisation. But its chief aim is not to discover how a person can most capably work in life, for the mechanised way of living requires something else. In many respects indeed, there is the call to-day to let the best man fill the best place according to requirement, but this generally remains a pious wish, and we see that economic life above all — as well as other spheres, such as spiritual and juridical life — becomes severed from the human being. We do not consider the human being above all and his living connection with economic life, but we consider instead the best way in which he can become connected with something which is not really related to man. We see that economic life as well is separating itself from man. It is therefore no wonder that the call for a renewal of our present culture should arise in every sphere of life under the aspect of a search for the human being.
Things are not much better in the sphere of art. If we look back into the times of ancient Greece, we think that the Greek tragedians wrote their dramas in the same way in which we write them now. Yet the Greek conception of life in no way resembles the present one. The Greek spoke of Catharsis, the purification which must take place through the drama. What did he understand by catharsis or purification? He meant that a person participating in the action of such a tragedy or of some other piece, experienced something in his soul which made him pass through certain feigned emotions. But this had a purifying effect, and thereby a healing effect upon him, reaching as far as the physical organism; it had above all a purifying and healing effect upon the soul. And the most important thing in Greek drama consisted both in a higher spiritual impulse and, I might say, in a medical impulse; the Greek saw a kind of healing process in what he wished to impart to his fellow-men through his highly perfected art.
We cannot of course, become Greeks again; I am merely telling you this as an elucidation of the fact that we have actually entered into a mechanised way of living which is, as it were, a denial of the human being, and that this explains the deep longing which passes through the modern world as a search for man.
The spiritual science of Anthroposophy in order to support this search for the human being, strives for what may be called the threefold division of the social organism. This is subjected to many misunderstandings. It only seeks ways, however, which will lead, in the life of the spirit, to the rediscovery of no mere abstract spirit, a pallid thought world, at most a reflecting upon the spirit; which will lead, in the juridical-political life, to the rediscovery of not merely the work that flows into the product, but the valuing of man's work, that human valuing of work which arises in the communal life when man as man confronts his fellows in pure humanity.
And in the economic sphere, the threefold division of the social organism aims at the forming of Associations in which people unite as consumers and producers, so that they can guide economic life in an associative way, out of the most varied human spheres of interest.
We judge economic requirements purely through the mechanism of the market. The Associations are meant to unite people as living human beings who recognize the requirements in economic life; they are to form an organism that can regulate the conditions of production determined by the common life of men and by a knowledge of these requirements arising from such a joint life.
The threefold division of the social organism thus seeks to connect these three members-spiritual life, juridical life and economic life — in such a way within the social organism that the human element may everywhere be found again in the free life of the spirit, that does not serve economic interests nor proceed from these, that does not serve political interests nor proceed from these, but that stands freely upon its own foundation and seeks to develop human capacities in the best way. This free life of the spirit seeks to show man the human being — it shows the human being to man.
In the free Life of the Spirit the human being can be found by experiencing the spirit, thus unfolding in a harmonious way the human capacities; from such a relatively independent spiritual life, it will then be possible to send into the political-juridical life and into the economic life the men with the best capacities, thus fructifying these spheres. If the economic life or political life dictate what capacities are to be developed, they themselves cannot prosper. But if they leave the life of the spirit completely free, so that it can give to the world out of its own foundations what every individual brings into existence out of divine-spiritual worlds, then the other spheres of life can become fruitful in the widest sense of the word.
The States-life should cultivate what men can develop as the feeling of legal rights, as moral disposition inasmuch as they face each other as equals. The Economic Life should discover man through the necessary Associations in keeping with his needs and capacities in the economic sphere. The threefold division of the social organism does not aim at a mechanical separation of these three spheres, but by establishing a relative independence of these three spheres it seeks to enable man once more to find through these three spheres of life the full humanity which he has lost and which he is seeking to discover again.
In such a sense we may indeed speak of the necessity for a renewal of culture. And this is particularly evident if we look still deeper into man's inner being, into that inner part where, if he seeks to be fully man, and experience fully his dignity and worth as a human being, he must connect himself with the divine-spiritual; where he must experience and feel his own eternal being, that is to say, when we look at men's common religious life.
My dear friends, I only desire of course to say that these are the convictions of anthroposophical spiritual science; I do not wish to press anyone to accept this particular solution of to-day's subject. Anthroposophy seeks above all to recognize once more the place of Christianity in the evolution of the earth. It points to the Mystery of Golgotha, as Anthroposophy can unravel it in the spiritual world. Historical evolution is then traced in relation to the Mystery of Golgotha.
A spiritual study of human history reveals that in primeval times humanity possessed a kind of primeval revelation, a kind of instinctive primeval wisdom, which gradually disappeared and grew fainter, and this would have increased as time went on. If nothing else had occurred, we should now be living within a pallid spiritual life deprived of wisdom, a spiritual life that could have nothing in common with the warmth of our soul-life had not earthly existence been fructified at a certain moment by something which came from outside the earth.
Spiritual science, in the sense of Anthroposophy, can once more draw attention to the man Jesus, who at the beginning of our era, wandered upon the earth in Palestine. We see that modern external Christianity more and more considers this man Jesus merely as a human being, whereas in older times people saw in Jesus a Being from spiritual worlds transcending the earth, Who had united Himself with the man Jesus and Who had become Christ Jesus.
By investigating the spheres outside the earth with the aid of spiritual observation, spiritual science does not only draw attention to the man Jesus, but also to the Christ Who descended from heavenly heights, as a Principle transcending the earth and penetrating through the Mystery of Golgotha into human life on earth. And since the Mystery of Golgotha, the evolution of humanity on earth has become different, for a fructifying process from the heavenly worlds took place.
Modern culture leads men to concentrate their attention more and more upon the man Jesus, thus losing that feeling of genuine religious devotion gained by looking upon Christ Jesus, a feeling which alone can give us satisfaction. By looking only upon the man Jesus, people really lose that part in Jesus which could be of special value to them. For the human being in man has been lost. Even through religion we do not know how to seek in the right way the man in Jesus of Nazareth.
Through a deepening of the spiritual-religious life, anthroposophical spiritual science once more discloses the source of religious devotion, in other words, it leads to the search of the divine in man within the human being himself, so that it can also rediscover in the man Jesus the super-earthly Christ, thus penetrating to the real essence of Christ Jesus. Anthroposophy does not in any way degrade the Mystery of Golgotha by saying that what formerly existed outside the earth afterwards came down to the earth.
And what does one experience in the present age of modern culture by pursuing such a goal?
The tendency of anthroposophical spiritual science to consider what transcends the earthly sphere has led people to retort that Anthroposophy is not Christian, that it cannot be Christianity because it sets a super-earthly, cosmic Being in Christ Jesus in place of the purely human being. They even think that it is an offence to say that Christ came down from cosmic spaces and penetrated into Jesus. Why do they think this? Because people only see the mathematical-mechanical cosmos, only the great machinery, as it were, when they look out into the heavenly spaces, and this attitude affects even religion, even man's religious feeling. Consequently, even religious people, and those who teach religion to-day, think that religion would be mechanised if Christ were to be sought in the cosmic spaces before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. Yet spiritual science does not mechanize religion, nor does it deprive Christianity of its Christian element; instead it fills external life with Christianity by showing: out there in the cosmos is not mere mechanism, not merely phenomena and laws which can be grasped, through mathematics and natural science — there is spirituality.
Whereas modern theologians often believe that Anthroposophy speaks of a Christ coming down from the sun, from the lifeless cosmic space into Jesus, what is true is that Anthroposophy also sees the spiritual in the realms outside the earth, and considers it a blessing for the earth that the heavenly powers sent down their influence through this Being Who gave the earth its meaning by passing through the Mystery of Golgotha, by coming down from heavenly heights and uniting Himself with the evolution of humanity upon the earth.
The spiritual science of Anthroposophy thus really seeks to render religious life fruitful again and to fill it with real warmth; it seeks to lead man back to the original source of the divine. And this is sought by listening to what lies in the call for a renewal of our culture.
We have watched the development of a magnificent science and are full of admiration for the achievements of this modern science which have brought about such great results in our civilisation. But in addition to this, we realize that there exists the call for a renewal of religious life, for a renewed religious deepening. On the one hand, we are to have a science which has nothing to do with religion, and at the same time we are to have a religious renewal. This is the dream of many people.
But it will be a vain dream. For the content of religion can never be drawn out of anything but what a definite epoch holds to be knowledge. If we look back into times when religious life was fully active, we find that religions were also filled with the content of knowledge of a definite epoch, though in a special form, with the breath of reverence and piety, with true devotion and (this is especially significant) with a feeling of veneration for the founder of the particular religion.
Our present time, our modern civilisation, will therefore be unable to draw any satisfaction out of a religious content which does not harmonize with the knowledge which is accessible to modern people. That is why anthroposophical spiritual science does not seek a religion in addition to science, but it endeavors instead to raise science itself to a stage where it can once more become religious. It does not seek an irreligious science, and beside it an unscientific religion, but a science which can cultivate a religious life out of its own sources. For the science which Anthroposophy seeks is not based in a one-sided way upon the intellect, but it embraces the whole human being and everything which lives in him. Such a form of science does not have a destructive influence upon religious life, and above all it has no destructive influence upon Christian life, but will shed light upon it, so that one can find in the Mystery of Golgotha which entered the evolution of the earth the eternal, supersensible significance which was bestowed upon humanity through this event. If we look upon the Mystery of Golgotha, religious enthusiasm and inner religious happiness will enter our feelings and in a moral way also our will, and this religious life cannot be destroyed, but can be illumined in the right way by the truths which we can see and comprehend in regard to Christ Jesus, and His entrance into the earthly development of humanity.
Spiritual science therefore tries to meet the search for the human being. As I already explained to you, this lecture is only meant to be a small contribution to the hoped-for and longed-for renewal of our modern culture. It only seeks to explain the way in which it is possible to view the significance, the deep, inner, human significance of the longings which can find expression in a problem such as the renewal of modern culture.
In my lecture I also wished to show you that this call for a renewal of culture is really at the same time a call for knowledge for the development of a new feeling of the true human nature. The problem dealing with the nature of this search which strives after a renewal of modern culture is one which really exists, and we must seek to gain a real feeling of the true being of man, a full experience of the human being. Perhaps it is justified to believe that we may interpret this call for a renewal of culture, a call which is in many ways not at all clear and distinct, by saying to ourselves: The striving human being is now confronted in a really significant way by the renewal of a problem which resounded in ancient Greece and which now re-echoes from there in the call: "O man, know thyself!"
Assuredly the noblest endeavors of hundreds and thousands of years have been spent in the attempt to solve this problem. To-day it is more than ever the greatest problem of destiny. No matter how individual persons may reply to the question, how are we to reach a renewal of culture (I think I indicated this to some extent) the answer will somehow have to lie in the following direction: How can we rediscover by a fully human striving man himself, so that in contact with his fellow-man (who in his turn should devote himself fully to the world and his fellows) man may once more find satisfaction in his ethical, social and intellectual life? This constitutes, I think, the problem dealing with a renewal of our modern culture.