Differentation of Primeval Wisdom into East, Middle, West
14 November 1919, Dornach
From our last lectures you will have seen how man comes to a kind of illusory idea of the outer world; but as a matter of fact, what are usually understood as the connections of nature are inwardly dependent on humanity itself; and we can only gain a true view of the world when we consider the earth and indeed the universe, in its entirety — which means when we regard man as being part of the world — and visualise the interchange, the inter-relation between man and the world. Otherwise we always come to an unreal, a mere abstract grasp of the mineral kingdom; at most understanding something of the plant and animal worlds, which no longer play any strong part in the present concept of nature.
When one speaks of the connections of nature, it is, as a rule, merely the mineral connections in nature to which one refers. To these, if one so desires, that short episode which one calls History, is added; but as a truth of quite a different nature.
From this view, which does not extend to man in his real being, humanity in our present age has to come right away. From diverse points of view we have brought forward the reason why humanity must abandon this view of things, a view which, as you know, has in a sense been necessarily developed in the last three or four centuries.
To-day I will only mention that human beings, with reference to their external knowledge, their external cognition, will become more and more dependent on the physical body with its necessities, unless they can rise in their own evolution to the production of a higher knowledge, through the very effort of their own Will. And in the future it is a question of this:- either humanity will simply succumb to a view of the world gained by remaining just as one was at birth, acquiring no other concepts than those one has already through being placed on the earth through birth, and by means of the ordinary education customary to-day.
That is the one possibility. The other is this: That humanity will cease to believe that, simply from being Born as human beings on earth, they can judge of everything real; and they will then be able to build up a real evolution of man, such as is indicated by Spiritual Science. That is the other path; humanity will have to traverse this latter path, otherwise the earth simply faces its downfall.
What I have just said, can also be observed geographically, when it acquires a quite special significance for the present.
If we only go far enough back in the evolution of the earth, we find man is not rooted in earthly existence itself; for before the evolution of the earth, he had already undergone a long previous development. You find this evolution described In my Outline of Occult Science. You know that man was, in a sense taken back again into a pure Spiritual existence, and from this pure Spiritual existence, he has descended to earthly existence. Now it is a fact that, because of this descent of man into earthly existence, there has been taken away from humanity, a comprehensive, one might call it — an inherited Wisdom — a primeval Wisdom, which was of such a nature that it was one and the same, uniform, for the whole of humanity. You will find such things described in more detail in those lectures which I have called The Folk-Souls, a course given in Christiania. So this inherited Wisdom was a uniform thing. When I naw speak of knowledge, I mean not merely that which is usually called knowledge in Science to-day, but everything which man can absorb in his soul life as a view of his cosmic environment and of his own life.
Now this primeval knowledge specialised itself in such a way that it became different according to the different territories of the earth. You will see this better if you go into those chapters in Occult Science dealing with this matter. But even externally, if you just look at what we call the civilisation of the different earthly races, you may say: That what the human beings of the different races upon earth have known, differed from the beginning. One can distinguish an Indian civilisation, a Chinese civilisation, a Japanese civilisation, a European civilisation. And again, in this European civilisation there is a special culture of its own for each of the various European territories. Then we have an American civilisation and so on. But if we ask: How it it that this primeval or inherited wisdom became specialised, how did it become ever more and more differentiated? We must answer: The inner relationships, the inner dispositions of these races were to blame for this. Indeed we find that there is always an adaptation of the inner relationship of the different races to the external conditions of the earth. We can to some extent get an idea of this differentiation if we try to find out the connection between, let us say, what forms the Indian civilisation and the climatic geographical conditions of the land of India. In the same way we can get an idea of the special nature of the Russian culture, if we consider the relationship between the Russian and his earth. Now we must say, in reference to these relationships, that humanity to-day — as indeed in many other connections — has arrived at a kind of crisis. This dependence of man on his territory gradually, in the course of the 19th century, increased to the utmost conceivable extent. Of course, it is true that human beings have emancipated themselves from their territories. That is true. they consciously have emancipated themselves from their territories; but they are nevertheless dependent in a certain way upon these territories. Te can see that if we compare, let us say, the attitude of a Greek to ancient Greece, and say that of a modern Englishman or German to their countries. The Greeks still had much of the ancient wisdom in their civilisation and education, they were perhaps more physically dependent upon their land of Greece than the modern human being on his country. But this stronger dependence was modified, because the Greeks were inwardly filled with this ancient wisdom. This wisdom has however gradually faded away from humanity, and we can point almost exactly to the time in the middle of the 15th century when the direct understanding for certain treasures of wisdom ceases, and how even the traditions of such treasures gradually faded away in the 19th century. Artificially, as I might say, like plants in a forcing house, certain of these treasures were still preserved in all sorts of secret societies, which sometimes pursued very evil practices with them. But such societies still preserved a primeval wisdom even in the 19th century. (In the 19th century it was somewhat different), but in the 19th century they still preserved some things of which one can say: They are like plants in a forcing house. What have the symbols of the Freemasons to do with the ancient wisdom from which they originated? They are like plants raised in the forcing house, compared with plants growing freely in nature. Not even so much likeness still remains between the masonic symbols and that ancient wisdom!
Just because humanity is losing that inner permeation with this old wisdom, men are really becoming all the more dependent upon their territories and unless they can again acquire a treasure of Spiritual Science which can develop freely, they will be differentiated all over the earth according to their territories.
As a matter of fact, we can distinguish three types which we have studied already from other points of view. To-day we can say that unless the impulses of Spiritual Science are spread abroad in the world, from the West there will come none but economic truths, which can indeed produce many other things out of their bosom; none but economic thought and ideas would prevail in the West. From the East there would come over what once were essentially Spiritual truths; Asia,, even if in very decadent ways, would confine itself more and more to Spiritual truths.
Central Europe would cultivate the more intellectual sphere; and this would make itself specially felt in the uniting of something of the traditions of ancient times with what streams over from the West as economic truths, and with what streams over from the East as Spiritual truths. Human beings living in these three main types of earthly division, would specialise more and more in this direction.
The tendency of our present age tends absolutely towards making this specialisation of humanity a really dominant principle. We can say, my dear friends — and I beg you to take this very seriously, that unless a Spiritual Scientific impulse permeates the world, the East will gradually become absolutely incapable of managing its own Economic Life, of developing its own economic thinking. The East would come into a position of being able to produce only; that means, of actually cultivating the soil, of working upon the immediate products of nature with the instruments transmitted from the West. But all that has to be administered by human reason, would develop in the West.
From this point of view the catastrophe of the World War which has just run its course, is nothing but the beginning of the tendency: (I will express it in popular phraseology) — to permeate the East by the West in an economic way. That means making the East a sphere in which people work, and the West a sphere in which economic use is made of what is derived from nature in the East. The boundary between the East and the West need not be a fixed one; it is moveable.
If this tendency which is dominant to-day, goes further, if it is not permeated Spiritually, then without any doubt at all the following would have to arise. One need simply utter it hypothetically. The entire East would economically be an object of booty for the West; and man would regard this course of development as the proper course laid down for earthly humanity. It would be regarded as quite justifiable and obvious. There exists no other means of introducing into this tendency that which does not make half of humanity slaves and the other half employers of these slaves, than by permeating the earth with a common Spirituality which man must acquire once more.
If one utters these things to-day most people prefer to reject them. The man of to-day is only too inclined to wave these things aside with a movement of his hand, for the simple reason that it is externally uncomfortable for him to face the true reality. He says to himself: “Well, even if this economic permeation of the East does come about, it will not take place yet awhile, not in my lifetime.” Certainly those who have children, do think a little more earnestly, because of their children; but then they like to fog themselves a little in the hope that better times may come, and so forth.
But to realise in their inner being that there exists no other means of fashioning the future of humanity into a form worthy of human beings, than by not permeating merely the earth economically, but also Spiritually is a thought very few people pursue for themselves to-day, because of a certain love of ease.
We may say that humanity has received the present configuration of its life of civilisation from three sides, and it is extremely interesting to fix one's mind on these three sides of this earthly life of civilisation, especially for the task we have set ourselves in these lectures.
If one surveys the whole earth-sphere from East to West, one must say: “Everything which man possesses in the way of ethical truths, of moral truths, has come from the East”. One can say that the form in which the East, with its general view of the Cosmos, has developed its ethical truths, the form of its general cosmology, and so on, has now been lost; but certain Ethics have remained over as relics of oriental thought and feeling.
It is infinitely interesting from this point of view to read the speeches which Rabindranath Tagore held, which are collected under the title of Nationalism. You will see if you read these speeches that there is hardly anything now to be found in them of that great Cosmic Wisdom teaching, which at one time, lived in the feelings of men in the East. But one who can read with understanding these speeches of Tagore collected under the title Nationalism will say: the moral pathos which lives in them and which indeed is the chief essence of these speeches, the ethical will which lives in them, that bitter moral criticism which exercised against the individual mechanism of the West, and against all the still more evil political mechanism of the West, lives as Ethos in these speeches of Tagore, could not have been uttered unless there stood behind them the ancient primeval wisdom of Asia; even though it no longer lives externally in men's consciousness. With that wisdom, created out of the stars, the moral truths were permeated which resound from out of the East, and this comes to us when such people as Rabindranath Tagore speak.
If, without prejudice, one investigates everything which has developed in this way of culture in the West, in Central Europe, one must say: What lives there, whether it be in philosophers or non-philosophers, in the simple or most educated — that which ethically and morally permeates the humanity of the West has all trickled over from the East, from Asia. The East is the real home of Ethos, of ethics.
If we now Look towards the West, the civilisation of which has transpired before the eye of history, we see how muck enters into the consideration of the reasoning, intellectual working-man, of world phenomena. There what rests an the principle of utility comes into consideration.
There is a great contrast, of which humanity should become aware, between what lives as pathos in the speeches of Tagore, and everything which develops in the West as the stand-point of utility.
To speak radically, one might say, that the sort of thing we meet with in philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, or in national economists such as Adam Smith or intellectual philosophers such as Bergson, anything of this nature remains for the Asiatic, even if he tries to understand it, something which lies completely outside his being. He can grasp as an interesting fact that such things are said by human beings, but he will never be tempted to produce things which relate simply to external human utility, from out of his own nature.
The Asiatic thoroughly despises the European and American nature, because it always refers him to the standpoint of utility, which can only be dominated with the intellect, with the understanding. So it has come about that this way of thinking, which is connected with the idea of utility, is above all the product of the West.
As I have previously drawn your attention to the fact that over the earth the ancient wisdom, has specialised itself according to Races, so we can now distinguish these great types. The ethical type in the Orient, in the East; the intellectual utilitarian type in the West, the Occident, while in between there is, always trying to press forward, what I want to call the third type, the Aesthetic, which is just as much characteristic of Central Europe, as the ethical type is of the East and the utilitarian type of the West.
We need merely remind ourselves of a certain phenomenon, in order to be able to bring forward a proof drawn from external facts: how it is that just in Central Europe this Aesthetic type seeks to make itself felt. While in the West the French Revolution partially raged and partially bore its consequences, and the East was still immersed in Spiritual dreams, we see e.g. Schiller writing his letters concerning the aesthetic education of man. These are directly concerned with the French Revolution, but they seek to solve the problem thrown up politically by the French Revolution, they seek to solve it humanistically, in a purely human way. They seek to make man inwardly a free human being. It is interesting to note that the whole method of observation of Schiller in those Aesthetic letters rests an this: that on the one side he rejects the pure utilitarian intellectual standpoint, and an the other he rejects the merely ethical standpoint. You see, this ethical standpoint had once already been rationalised, intellectualised. Everything in the world goes through different metamorphosis and then reappears in another form. And so although this ethical standpoint of the East is certainly not intellectual, yet one can grasp it with one's intellect, one can intellectualise it, one can (Königsbergerise) it, and it then becomes Kantian. That happened; and from Kant there comes this beautiful saying: “Duty, thou mighty, exalted name, thou hast nothing within thee of an attractive or insinuating nature, but requirest solely and simply the subjection of man to morality”.
Schiller an the other hand, said, “I gladly serve my friends, yet unfortunately I do so with inclination. Therefore I reproach myself that I am not virtuous”. Schiller as a real Central-European man, could not take into himself this Kantian, this Königsbergian intellectualising of ethics. For him no man was a complete human being who had first to subject himself to duty in order to fulfil his duty. For Schiller a man was only a complete human being who felt in himself the desire to do what was of moral value. Therefore Schiller rejected the ethical rigourism of a Kant. But he also rejected the purely intellectual principle of authority, and he saw in the production and enjoyment of Beauty, (thus in the Aesthetic behavior of man), the highest, free expression of human nature. He wrote his Aesthetic letters, one might say, as a personal description of Goethe. Schiller had only with difficulty struggled to acquire an appreciation of Goethe. He had started with jealousy, with inner antipathy to Goethe; and one may say that there was a time in Schiller's youth when any talk of Goethe left a bitter taste in his mouth. Then they became acquainted; and they learnt not only to honour each other, but to understand each other. Then Schiller wrote one might say as a kind of Spiritual biography, a Spiritual description of Goethe, his letters upon the Aesthetic education of man. Nothing which stands in these Aesthetic letters could have been written unless Goethe had previously lived a life which was to Schiller an example of what stands in them. Schiller wrote a letter to Goethe at the beginning of their friendship which I have often quoted: “For a long time I have followed the path of your life, although from a far distance.” And now he described Goethe, according to his spirit, which was really that of a reincarnated Greek; and we see how the first dawn of the Aesthetic spirit of Central Europe is united with Greece.
And now as regards Goethe, we see how he works his way up from an intellectual element, to a recognition of truth, which can be just as well understood through art as through science. If you follow how Goethe with Herder studied the Ethics of Spinoza, how Goethe then went to Italy and wrote home that, in the works of art which he sees proceeding out of the Greek spirit, he sees Necessity, he sees God. — then one must say, the intellectualism of Spinoza becomes Aesthetic in Goethe, on his Italian journey, in the contemplation of those works of art. Goethe bears testimony that the Greeks created their works of art according to the same laws which nature herself follows, laws which Goethe believed he was now on the track of. That means, Goethe is not of the opinion that when a man creates a work of art he is merely creating a thing of phantasy. Science is strictly true. No, Goethe was of the opinion that what lies in a true work of art absolutely gives the deeper, true, content of the life of Nature. Now that is an Aesthetic view of the world, and so we must say: Occident, West — intellectualistic utilitarian; Central earth-regions — Aesthetic; the East — ethical, moral. It is absolutely true, my dear friends, that wherever it be, whether in the past or in the Centre or in the lest, wherever ethical truths have appeared — they have originally sprung up from the East. It is no matter whether utilitarian truths spring up in the Centre, or in the East they all originally spring from the West. Beauty arises from the Central region.
One can follow everywhere the path of these three elements in the life of man in this way, down to the very details.
You see, my dear friends, when through one's karma one is destined to found Anthroposophy in Central Europe, then in this Anthroposophy something must live of that Goethe-faith, which is after all, the same element that lives in art; that is, the element of truth. That same element which is expressed in painting, in sculpture, and even in architecture must live also in the thought structure of truth. One must come to say, what I attempted to say in the first chapter of my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity — that the philosopher, the man who founds a World-conception, must be an artist in ideas. One usually rejects the concepts of an artist of ideas. In that book I had to accept it; it all sprang from one and the same spirit.
When one produces something of this kind, all the ideas one expresses have a definite character, which bear the colourings of what I have just described. Books are written, form instance, much as that bit Aime Blech, which recently appeared as a Pamphlet, containing all kinds of evil, consciously evil calumnies. Books are written in which, for instance, it is stated that in what is brought forward from this side as Anthroposophy, there are, of course many beautiful things, but they are opposed to the clarity of the French mind!
Certainly Anthroposophy contradicts intellectuality, the barren, rhetorical grasp of ideas; such minds would much prefer the coarse, material ideas which can be grasped in sharp outlines, so as one can follow these things down to the minutest details. I could bring forward many an example, entering into details which would make clear what I have shown you in general outline; but I will rest content with the example I have already given you, which is a very interesting one.
Now the point in question is that we should clearly realise that e.g. in the West morality, art and intellectualism are simply not being produced. No! Art, is taken over from the Central regions, and Ethics, from the East; and they are then inserted into the intellectual-utility-element, just as in the Centre a kind of ethical element is cultivated, and everything which has been taken up, especially in the 19th century into the Aesthetic element has come over from the West. It would be interesting to follow for once the path of biology from this point of view. If you read Goethe's Theory of Metamorphosis to-day, you can find in that a grand theory of evolution, but the West would always consider that theory spoilt by its Aestheticism. In the 19th century, over the entire earth which is dependent an the West, the Darwinistic element penetrated into the theory of evolution, and brought in the Utilitarian-standpoint, the doctrine of purpose, of aim. You find that doctrine of “purpose” entirely excluded in Goethe, because he is everywhere permeated by Aestheticism.
It must not be the case in the future, that men are thus economically differentiated, as it were, to such an extreme degree that they will not learn from each other. Because that would mean that there would gradually spread over Asia a certain Ethos, such as one finds advocated in the fire-sounding words of Rabindranath Tagore. In Central Europe there would sp read in another form — that which certain Nietzsche-fops have already advocated — a certain “Beyond-ness” of good and evil, a certain Aestheticism, even in moral ideas. We see here the triumphant march of this Aestheticising making itself felt, especially towards the end of the 19th century. And then the merely utilitarian standpoint would pour out over the West, cleverness in the utilitarian standpoint, a caricature of the Spiritual element from the utilitarian standpoint, etc., etc.
The permeation of humanity by a real Spiritual element can alone help mankind. We assume, of course, that this Spiritual element shall be taken in full earnestness — that men shall develop the will to regard things as they present themselves to-day to one who is really prepared to be unprejudiced. This War-Catastrophe has brought many extraordinary things to the surface, amongst which are phenomena, which are in part uncomfortable to the highest degree, but which can teach us much, I will mention one such phenomenon.
In the German literature of the day there appear — one simply cannot keep pace with what comes out in this way — but almost every week there appear slimy excretions, as I must call them — the explanations of different men concerning their share in the course of the War and of political events — and we can read what such heads — I say expressly such heads — as Iagow Bethmann (Michaelis has, I think, still spared us), Tirpitz, Ludendorf, and a whole row of others which one can name. It is unpleasant, in one way,to read this stuff, but from another point of view, it is interesting to the highest degree.
You see, one can read such books as those written by Bethmann or Tirpitz, from quite opposite points of view. But their points of view depend very often an whether the author has been treated with the toe or the heel of the boot for a certain time. Bethmann was favoured for a time by the “All Highest”, whereas Tirpitz was treated with the heel of the boot. Hence their different points of view!
And so we will enter further into the view-point; it is not so much a question of that, but of seeing what spirit lives in the writings.
Now one can experience the following: I once made the following experiment. After allowing myself to be saturated with the dreamy writings of Bethmann and Tirpitz, I turned back to certain utterances (very dear to me;, of Herman Grimm, which indeed have been found chauvinistic by non-Germans. But again that is just a point of view. It is simply a question with me of the spirit which lives in them.
At the first view one can put this question: How does the spirit, the way of thinking, the inner soul-constitution of the Bethmann and Tirpitz writings compare with what lives in Herman Grimm's political observations? Here we must say: Herman Grimm felt that Goethe had lived and had not lived in vain; to him he was a living presence. To, Bethmann and Tirpitz Goethe was not there. I will not say they had not read him, it might have been better if they had left him unread; but as far as they were concerned he was not there. And at first I had to say to myself; what stands in these books sounds as if it were written by a medieval serf — with the logic of a medieval Serf.
Especially interesting, for instance, is the logic of Ludendorf. He is the one who was so greatly praised for the idea of having Lenin transported in a sealed wagon, through Germany to Russia! Ludendorf is the real importer of Bolehevism into Russia! Now he simply had not the cheek to deny that in his book, although he had cheek enough for many things. So he says, that to send Lenin to Russia was a military necessity, and that the political government should have avoided the evil consequences, but did not do so. Such is the logic of these gentlemen. But I do not wish to assert that Clemenceau has better logic; and I beg you not to think that I take sides with any Party. Neither Lloyd George nor Wilson have any better logic. This, however, is not so easy to substantiate.
One may say that at first sight, but the matter goes further. One finds on comparing things that one must go further back still. An extraordinary similarity exists between the Tirpitz and Ludendorf way of thinking, and those human beings who guided the so-called civilisation of Rome in the 1st and 2nd pre-Christian centuries. And if we wish to establish an intimate community of soul between these, we may say that it is as if the old method of thought of the ancient pre-Christian Rome again appeared, and as if everything which has happened since then, including Christianity itself, (even if these gentlemen externally speak of Christ, and so on), had never taken place.
You see, it is often supposed, when one says of the Luciferic that it remained behind in humanity — that one means something only external to the world. But this principle of remaining behind, expresses itself quite strongly within the world. One can say the pre-Caesar greatness of old Rome has re-arisen in such people, and everything which has happened in Europe since that time is really non-existent for them.
My dear friends, this phenomenon must be observed in an unprejudiced way to-day. It must be kept in mind; because only by so doing can one win a strong standpoint for judging the present. This present age makes great demands on man's capacity for judgment. All this must be said, if one speaks of how necessary it is that the present age should be permeated by Spiritual impulses. Superficially considered it is easy to say the present age must be permeated Spiritually; but, my dear friends, the matter is not quite so simple as this. You need only investigate where Spiritual Impulses found their way to some extent into humanity to see whether they have always borne the right fruit. One must in conclusion also say the following. Let us consider certain brochures, certain pamphlets which have been written, some written indeed by members of long standing. There are such written, wherein what figures here as Spiritual Science, is really placed before the world, but inverted, turned upside down, as it were. These are plants which have grown on the soil on which we attempt to give Spiritual treasure to humanity to-day. And anyone who thinks that this process, has run its course — of our so-called followers into its opposite what is transmitted as Spiritual Science to-day, must be a simpleton. For it most certainly is not yet finished. It is by no means so easy to reckon with this fact, that Spiritual truths must be brought to humanity, because as humanity is to-day it tends above all to differentiate into the three types which I have characterised: the Ethical, the Aesthetic, the intellectual; and further differentiations again within these.
Now Spiritual truths are not adapted to be taken up in their purity by human beings who approach them with such differentiations. Just think how on all sides to-day human beings tend to shut themselves off in their national chauvinism, and if you try to take up generally human and spiritual truths with national chauvinism, you transform them thereby into the opposite. It is impossible simply to impart what is now desirable from a certain point of view, for human beings tend to such differentiations as I have described. Therefore it is necessary above all that the interest of man should be awakened from the side which already exists. It is necessary that, in a certain sense, one should link on to what is already there, continually bearing in mind the tendency men have to turn away from that ancient treasure of wisdom and put nothing else in its place except the territorial differentiation on this earth. It does not do to spread Spiritual truths among humanity, without also spreading a certain Ethos.
Many people have read
How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds.
These books have been read considerably for some
time. They have objected that the first counsels given there
are ethical, and that they must be in ethical agreement with
them. They are right. right The first counsels given
must be ethical and form an extract of the best
Ethos of earthly civilisation. But, on the other hand, it is
also necessary to cultivate a certain artistic element, and
that has made quite special difficulties in the
Anthroposophical Movement; for without the Anthroposophical
Movement there existed a certain disinclination at first
towards artistic things. An abstract, Aesthetically
indifferent, symbolism was striven for. There still exists
to-day, movements which call themselves Theosophical which
rejects everything artistic. Therefore it was a good fate, a
good Karma, of our Movement that we were able to make
artistic experiments here in Dornach, and that we could work
them out away from the abstract symbolic element. Perhaps if
things had gone according to the desires of many, we should
see many a black cross with red roses or something like
roses, as the deep symbol of our building. We have of course,
to beware of this symbolism, and strive to create from out of
the artistic element. That had to be linked an to the best
traditions, of human civilisation — if I may call
impulses traditions. Above all one thing must be considered,
that these are deep and earnest truths, and they must run
somewhat as follows: whoever wishes to attain true knowledge
must cultivate in himself a sense for truth! When one speaks
radically about this question, my dear friends, one comes in
touch with something which sounds repellent to many to-day,
because this rigorous striving everywhere for the truth is
something which is extraordinarily unpleasant to many people
to-day, truth being something which they want at least to
touch-up in life. But untruth, even if untrue from
sentimentality, does not go with that strong sense for truth,
demanded e.g. by a real devotion to these truths which
to place in the world.
My dear friends, in this connection the religious confessions have sinned especially, because they have inserted something which can no longer be united with a pure sense for truth. Certain kinds of piety are carried out into the world which satisfy human egoism far more than human feeling for truth. Therefore it is quite specially necessary that real attention should be paid to the cultivation of inner truthfulness, as is so often pointed out in our Anthroposophical writings. As you know, life itself demands from human beings to-day many untrue things, and we may say there exists to-day two distinct tendencies, which evoke in man a certain disinclination to look at facts in their true light. To-day the tendency exists to characterise things from personal preference and not according to the facts. To-day a man is called practical who is in a certain sense a man of routine; one who with a certain brute force works within his own sphere regardless of any consideration, and puts aside everything which does not serve to promote his own particular objects. From this standpoint one distinguishes “practical” men and “visionaries”; and with a certain world-historic untruth, the consequences of these things have shown themselves in a terrible way, in the course of the 19th century, and up to our own day. Indeed it was difficult before this great testing came over humanity through the catastrophe of the World War, to say something of what ruthlessly characterises these things. I am shortly publishing a collection of a few of my more important early writings — articles written in the eighties and nineties, in order to show how, as it were through small slits, I even then attempted to utter many truths. Among these articles there is one on Bismarck, the Man of Political Successes, in which I attempted to show that the success of this personality depended upon the fact that he could never see much further than his nose! But, as you know, it is no use to cast these things in the face of the world if no one is there who can take them up. Now, however, we must start from this basis, that the World-War Catastrophe can teach us many things. Of course, for most men, nothing is to be learnt from these facts. They have a certain fund of opinions, and do not alter them. They are not able to understand what underlies the statement that we must learn from the facts.
I always tell each person whom I conduct round the Goetheanum, that if I had to design such a building a second time, I would do so quite differently. I would certainly never make it in the same way again. There is nothing, of course, against the present building, but I myself would not make it in the same way again, because obviously, one has learnt something from what one has made, and which stands there as an accomplished fact.
To-day I read with astonishment that Field-Marshal Hindenburg said, if he had to conduct the World-War over again he would do it in exactly the same way.
Indeed these things are read, but they are read carelessly; and people do not notice that one must gain an understanding of the age from the teachings which are given in such a bitter way through this world catastrophe. Whatever one reads and what constantly resounds in one's ears from the world to-day, should be taken with the corresponding background, and one should always be able to say: In important things a revision of judgment is essentially and constantly necessary. It was right as far as could be seen externally, to call Bismarck a practical man, until the World-Catastrophe came. Hermann Grimm regarded Bismarck as a tower of practical excellence. But the World War catastrophe has taught us that Bismarck was a visionary, and the opinions of his judgment have had to be altered; for his idea of the creation of an Empire was naturally only a phantasy.
You see, I just want to make you see clearly that it is life itself, and must be life, which teaches us to discover illusions, even in the sphere of moral history. I have shown you how one must substantiate these illusions in the sphere of natural connections, noting how in nature things stand side by side, and that is how natural investigators describe them. Thus we must say that humanity shares in the occurrences of nature, and that what natural science says about this is simply a web of illusions.
To-day I wanted to make comprehensible to you how we must learn the very facts of history and of life to correct things; because, often for long periods, they only show themselves outwardly as illusion. Men who were naturally regarded by many as practical, must now of necessity be regarded as visionaries. One must accustom oneself to-day to revise one's judgment in this manner. At each step in life, there is not only opportunity enough but also a necessity for revising one's judgment. And one is only in the right mood, the mood the Anthroposophical Movement seeks to acquire, when one says to oneself: “I must revise my opinions, perhaps even about the most important things in life.” Opinions about natural connections, can as a rule, be revised through the study of Spiritual Science. Judgments about life one can only revise when one really develops in oneself the mood necessary for the Anthroposophical Movement.