The Study of Man
25 August 1919, Stuttgart
The education and teaching of the future will have to set particular value on the development of the will and the feeling nature. It is constantly being emphasised, even by those who have no thought of a new educational impulse, that special attention must be paid, in education, to the feeling nature and to the will. But with the best will in the world they can accomplish little in this sphere. Feeling and will are left more and more to what is called chance, because there is no insight into the real nature of will.
By way of introduction I should like to say the following: it is not until the nature of the will is really known that it is possible to understand even a part of the other emotive powers, a part of the feelings. We can ask the question: what is a feeling in reality? A feeling is very closely related to will. I may even say that will is only the accomplished feeling, and feeling is will in reserve. Will which does not yet express itself, which remains behind in the soul, that is feeling: feeling is like blunted will. On this account the nature of feeling will not be understood until the nature of will has been thoroughly grasped.
Now you will know from what I have already developed that nothing that lives in the will fully takes shape in the life between birth and death. Whenever a man makes a resolution with his will there is always something over, something which is not exhausted even up to his death; a remainder of every resolution and act of will lives on and continues beyond death. During the whole of life, and especially in the age of childhood, notice must be taken of this part of the will which remains.
We know that when we observe man in his totality, we consider him as body, soul and spirit. The body, at least the main constituents of it, is born first. (You will find details about this in the book Theosophy. Thus the body is involved in the stream of inheritance and bears the inherited characteristics. The soul, in the main, is a principle which comes out of prenatal existence and unites itself with the body; it descends into the body. But the spiritual part of man to-day is only present in embryo — though in future this will be different. And now, when we want to lay the foundations for a good theory of education, we must pay heed to this embryonic form of the spirit in the man of this epoch in evolution. Let us first of all be quite clear as to what it is that exists in embryo for a far distant future of humanity.
First there is, in embryonic form, what we call the Spirit-Self. We cannot include the Spirit-Self among the constituents or members of human nature when we are speaking of the present-day man; but there is a clear consciousness of the Spirit-Self in men who are able to see into the spiritual. You know that the whole oriental consciousness, in so far as it is educated consciousness, calls this Spirit-Self Manas, and that Manas is always spoken of in the oriental spiritual teaching as indwelling in man. But amongst western peoples too, even if they are not exactly “learned,” there is a clear consciousness of this Spirit-Self. And I say deliberately: that this clear consciousness exists; for amongst the people, at least before they had completely absorbed the materialistic point of view, that part of man which remains over after death was called the Manes: people said that after death there remains over, the Manes — Manas is the same as the Manes. I say that the people have a clear consciousness of this, for the people in this case use the plural, the Manes. We who from a scientific standpoint connect the Spirit-Self more with man before death, use the singular form, “the Spirit-Self.” The people who speak of the Spirit-Self more realistically from a naive knowledge use the plural number because at the moment in which a man passes through the gate of death, he is received by a plurality of spiritual beings. I have already pointed this out in another connection: we each have a spirit who leads us personally, belonging to the Hierarchy of the Angels; over them we have the spirits belonging to the Hierarchy of the Archangels, who enter into a man immediately he passes through the gate of death, so that he then exists in a certain way in the plural, because many archangels have entered into his being. The people feel this very clearly because they know that after death man perceives himself (to a greater or lesser degree) as a plurality, in contrast to his appearance in this life which is a unity. Thus the Manes live on in the naive folk consciousness as the plural aspect of the Spirit-Self, of Manas.
A second higher principle of man is that which we call Life-Spirit. In the Life-Spirit we come to something which is less perceptible in present-day man. It is something of a very spiritual nature in man which will develop in the very distant future of humanity. And then there is the highest in man which at present is only in the very earliest embryonic stage, the real Spirit-Man.
But although these three higher principles of human nature are only present in embryo in the earthly life of the man of to-day, yet, albeit under the guardianship of higher spiritual Beings, they develop in a very significant way between death and a new birth. Thus when man dies and enters again into the spiritual world, these three principles develop very markedly, pointing, in a measure, to a future existence of humanity. Thus just as a man in his present life develops in soul and spirit between birth and death, so after death he goes through definite development, only then he is attached, as it were by an umbilical cord to the spiritual beings of the higher Hierarchies.
Let us now add to these scarcely perceptible higher members of man's nature others which we can already perceive. These express themselves in the three soul principles: the Consciousness soul, the Intellectual or Mind-soul, and the Sentient soul. These are the true soul constituents of man. If to-day we want to speak of the soul of man as it lives in the body, then we must speak of the three soul principles just mentioned. If we are speaking of his body, we speak, as you know, of the sentient body (which is the finest of all and is also called the astral body), the etheric body and the grosser physical body, which we see with our eye and which external science analyses. With these we have the whole man before us.
Now you know that the physical body as we have it belongs also to the animals. It is only when we compare this whole man, according to these nine principles, with the animal world that we can arrive at a useful picture of the relation of man to the animals. I mean a mental picture which enters truly into the life of feeling and which the Will itself can apprehend. We must know that just as the soul of man is clothed with a physical body the animal also is clothed with a physical body, which, however, in many ways is formed differently from that of man. The physical body of man is not really more perfect than that of the animal. Think of some of the higher animals, the beaver, for instance, how he builds his dams. A man could not do this unless he had learned it, unless indeed he had gone through a very complicated training for the purpose, including the study of architecture and kindred subjects. The beaver makes his dam by means of the organisation of his body. He is so related to his environment that he uses the very forces which build up his own physical body in the construction of his dam. His physical body itself is, in this respect his teacher. We can observe the wasps and bees, also the so-called lower animals, and we shall find something inherent in the form of their physical bodies which is not in the physical body of man to the same degree of intensity. This is all that we include in the concept instinct; and we can only make a real study of instinct if we consider it in connection with the form of the physical body. If we study all the different species of animals as distributed in the world we shall find that the forms of their physical bodies always give us the clue to the study of the different kinds of instinct.
When we want to study the will, we must first seek it in the sphere of instinct and we must be aware that we find instinct in the forms of the physical bodies of the various animals. If we were to look at the chief animal forms and were to draw them, we should then be able to draw the different spheres of instinct. The form of the physical body in the different animals is a picture of what the instinct is as will. You see that when we are able to apply this view of things it brings meaning into the world. We contemplate the animal bodies and see them as a picture drawn by Nature herself to express what existence holds.
Now in our physical body, forming and permeating it throughout, there lives the etheric body. To the external senses it is super-sensible, invisible. But when we look at the will nature we find the following: just as the etheric body permeates the physical body so it also takes hold of what in the physical body manifests as instinct. And then instinct becomes impulse. In the physical body will is instinct: as soon as the etheric body dominates instinct, will becomes impulse*. (*German Trieb: another translation would be Drive, as used in some modern psychology).
Now, when instinct — which one can understand more concretely in external form — is viewed as impulse, it is very interesting to observe how it becomes more inward, and also more of a unity. When speaking of instinct, either in animals or in its weaker form in man, we shall always regard it as something stamped upon the being from without: whereas impulse, more inward in its nature, also comes more from within, because the super-sensible etheric body transforms instinct into impulse.
Now man has also the sentient body. That is of a still more inward nature. In its turn it takes hold of impulse, and then not only is this made more inward, but instinct and impulse are both lifted into consciousness, and in this way desire arises. You find desire also in the animal, as you find impulse, because the animal has also these three principles, physical body, etheric body and sentient body. But when you speak of desire you will quite instinctively regard it as something of a very inward nature. You describe impulse as a thing which manifests in a uniform manner from birth to old age; while in speaking of desire you speak of something which is created afresh by the soul every time. A desire is not necessarily something belonging to the character; it need not be attached to the soul, but it comes and goes. Thus we see that desire has more of the soul character than mere impulse.
And now let us put the question which cannot apply to the animal: when man takes up into his ego — i.e. into his sentient soul, intellectual or mind-soul, and consciousness soul — the instinct, impulse and desire of the body what do they become? We do not distinguish so clearly here as we do within the body, because in the soul, particularly just now, everything is mixed up more or less. Psychologists of to-day are puzzled to know whether to keep the principles of the soul completely apart or let them intermingle. Some psychologists are haunted by the old, strict differentiation between will, feeling and thought; in others, e.g. in the more Herbartian psychologists, everything is directed more to the side of the mental picture, while in the followers of Wundt it goes more to the side of will. They have no true conception of how to deal with the membering of the soul. This is because in actual practical life the ego really permeates all the capacities of the soul, and in the present day human being the differentiation with regard to the three members of the soul does not appear clearly even in practice. Hence language has no words for differentiating the will nature in the soul — instinct, impulse, desire, when it is taken hold of by the ego. But instinct, impulse and desire in man when taken hold of by the ego we generally call motive, so that when we speak of the will impulse in the individual soul, in what belongs to the “I,” we are speaking of motive; and we realise that animals can have desires, but no motives. It is only man who can raise the level of desire by bringing it into the soul world, and hence comes the urge to conceive a motive inwardly. It is only in man that desires grow into a true motive of will. It is a description of the nature of will in man to-day to say: in man instinct, impulse and desire from the animal world still persist, but he raises them to motive. Anyone considering the will nature in man to-day will say: “If I know the man's motives, then I know the man.” But not quite! For when the human being develops motives, something is sounding quietly in the depths, and this gentle undertone must now be very, very carefully observed.
I beg you to distinguish what I call this undertone very carefully from anything of a mental image, or conceptual nature. I do not now mean what is more of the nature of mental picture or idea in the will impulse. You can, e.g., have the following idea: something I wished to do, or did, was good; or you can have some other idea; but that is not what I mean. I mean something that can be faintly heard beneath the impulse of will, but which is still of the nature of will. There is something which always works in the will when we have motives; that is, the wish. I do not now mean the strongly developed wishes out of which the desires are formed, but an undercurrent of wishes that accompany all our motives. They are always present. We perceive this wishing particularly clearly when we carry out something which arises out of a motive in our will, and then we think it over and say to ourselves; what you did then you could do much better. But what is there we do in life, without a feeling that we could have done it better? It would be sad if we were completely contented with anything, for there is nothing which we could not do better still. And this is where we see the difference between a man who is somewhat more civilised and one who is not so advanced, for the latter always has the tendency to be satisfied with himself. The more advanced man never wants to be so thoroughly satisfied with himself because he has always in him the soft undertone of a wish to do better, even to do differently. There is much sinning in this domain. Men regard it as a tremendously noble thing to repent of a deed; but that is not the best that can be done with a deed; for often repentance is based upon sheer egoism: one would like to have done something better in order to be a better man. That is egoistic. Our efforts will only cease to be egoistic when we do not wish to have done a thing better than we have done it, but consider it far more important to do the same thing better next time. The intention which a man has is the more important thing, not the repentance — the endeavour to do the same thing on another occasion. And in this intention wish sounds as an undertone; so that we may well ask the question: What is this undertone of wish which accompanies our intention? For anyone who can really observe the soul this wish is the first element of all that remains over after death. It is something of this remainder which we feel when we say: we ought to have done it better: we wish we had done it better. In the wish, in the form in which I have described it to you, we have something which belongs to the Spirit-Self.
Now the wish can become more concrete, it can take on a clearer form, Then it becomes similar to an intention. Then there is formed a kind of mental picture of how a thing would be done better if it had to be done again. I do not, however, lay the greatest stress on the mental picture, but on the feeling and the will elements which accompany each motive, the intention to do a thing better in a similar case. Here the so-called sub-conscious in man plays a prominent part. If in your ordinary consciousness to-day you perform an action out of your own will, you do not necessarily make an idea in your mind of how you will do it. But the other man living in you, the “second” man, he always forms — not indeed as a mental picture, but in the region of the will — a clear picture of how he would act if he were again in the same position. Be sure you do not undervalue such knowledge as this. Above all do not fail to appreciate this second man who lives in you.
That so-called scientific line of thought which calls itself analytical psychology, “psycho-analysis,” talks a lot of nonsense about this “second man.” This psycho-analysis usually starts from the following classic example in setting forth its principles. I have already told you this story, but it is good to call it to mind again. It is as follows: A man gives an evening party at his house, and it is known that, immediately after the party is over, the lady of the house is going away to a Spa. There are at the party various people, among them a lady. The party is given. The lady of the house is taken to the train that she may travel to the Spa. The rest of the party leaves and with them the lady already mentioned. She, with the other members of the party, is overtaken at a crossroads by a carriage which, coming round a corner from another street, is not seen until it is quite close. What do the people coming from the party do? Of course they avoid the carriage by going right and left, with the exception of the lady. She runs as fast as she can in front of the horses down the middle of the street. The coachman does not stop and the rest of the party are terrified. But the lady runs so fast that the others cannot follow her, and she runs until she comes to a bridge. And even then it does not occur to her to get out of the way. She falls into the water, but she is saved and brought back to her late host's house. And there she is able to spend the night.
You find this as an example in many works on psychoanalysis. But something in it is always falsely interpreted. For the question is: what was at the back of this whole incident? The will of the lady. What did she really want to do? She wanted to return to her host's house as soon as his wife had gone away, for she was in love with him. This, however, was not a conscious wish, but something which had its seat in the sub-conscious. And this sub-consciousness of the second man, within us, is often much more shrewd than a man is in his upper consciousness. So clever was the sub-conscious in this case that the lady arranged the whole proceeding up to the moment in which she fell into the water in order to be able to return to her host's house. In fact she saw prophetically that she would be saved. Psycho-analysis tries to get at these hidden soul forces, but it only speaks in general of a “second man.” But we are able to know that there does exist in every man what is at work in the subconscious soul forces, and that it often shows itself to be extraordinarily clever, much cleverer than the ordinary activity of the soul.
In every man there dwells, underground, as it were, the “other” man. In this other man there lives also the “better” man, who always makes up his mind, when he has done a thing, to do it better next time, so that always, as an undertone to every deed, there is the intention, the unconscious, subconscious intention to do it better when a similar occasion arises.
Not until the soul is freed from the body does this intention become a resolution. This intention remains like a seed in the soul, and the resolution follows later. The resolution has its seat in the Spirit-Man, the intention in the Life-Spirit and the pure wish in the Spirit-Self. When you then consider man as a being of Will you can find all these component parts in him: instinct, impulse, desire and motive, and then, playing in as a gentle accompaniment: wish, intention and resolution which are already living in Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man
This has a great significance in the development of the human being. For what is thus present under the surface, waiting for the time after death, is expressed in man in image form between birth and death. We describe it there in the same words. We experience wish, intention and resolution through our mental picturing. But we shall only experience wish, intention, resolution as they accord with true manhood when these things are developed and nurtured in the right manner. What wish, intention and resolution really are in deeper human nature, does not appear in the external man between birth and death. Images of them appear in the life of mental pictures. If you only develop ordinary consciousness you know nothing at all of what “wish” is. You have only an idea, a mental picture of a “wish.” Hence Herbart maintains that the very idea of a wish contains activity and effort. It is the same with intention; you have only a mental picture of it. You want to do something or other which involves a real activity in the depths of the soul, but you do not know what goes on in the depths. And now as to resolution, who knows anything about that? Ordinary psychology speaks only of a “general willing.” Yet the teacher and educator has to enter into all these three soul forces in order to guide and regulate them. To be a teacher and educator one must work with what is taking place in the depths of human nature.
It is of the utmost importance that the teacher or educator should realise continually: it is not enough to base our teaching on ordinary life, it must come forth from an understanding of the inner man.
Popular socialism is prone to this mistake of arranging education on the basis of everyday life. This is how the current Marxist socialism would like to establish the education of the future. In Russia this has already happened. In the Lunatscharsky school reform there is something terrible. It is the death of all culture. Many dreadful things have come out of Bolshevism, but the most dreadful of all is the Bolshevist method of education, which would entirely eradicate all that former ages have contributed to human culture. This will not be achieved in the first generation but will certainly be attained in following generations, with the result that all culture will soon vanish from the face of the earth. Some people must see this. You have heard in this very room people singing a song of praise to Bolshevism, who have not the faintest idea that through it the Devil has entered socialism.
We must take great care that there are men who know that progress in the social sphere demands and depends upon more intimate understanding of the human being in the sphere of education. Hence it must be known that the educator and the teacher of the future must understand the innermost being of man, must live with this inner being and that the ordinary intercourse which takes place between adults cannot be applied to education. What do the ordinary Marxists want? They want to run the Schools socialistically; they want to do away with all authority and let the children educate themselves. Something dreadful would come out of this!
We once visited a boarding-school and wanted to see one of the most important lessons, a religion lesson. When we entered the classroom one little ruffian was lying on the window-sill, kicking with his feet out of the window; another was lying on his stomach with his head outside, and all the pupils were behaving in similar fashion. The religion teacher entered and read a story by Gottfried Keller, which the children accompanied with all sorts of racket. Then, when the lesson came to an end, they went out to play. I had the impression that the boarding-school was nothing more than a stable for animals (the sleeping quarters were only a few paces away). Of course we must not make too much of such things. Much good may live underneath them. But they give a good impression of what the future has in store for the life of culture.
What do we commonly find advocated? That children should have the same sort of relationship with each other as is usual among adults. But this is the most spurious thing that can be done in education. People must realise that a child has to develop quite different powers of soul and of body than those which adults use in their intercourse with each other. Thus education must be able to reach the depths of the soul; otherwise no progress will be made. Hence we must ask ourselves: what part of education, what part of teaching affects the will nature of man? Once and for all this problem must be faced.
If you think of what was said yesterday you will remember that everything intellectual is will grown old, will in its old age. Thus all ordinary exhortation, anything in the form of a concept has no effect upon a child at the usual school age. Let us once more summarise what has been said, so that we may be clear on this point: feeling is will in the becoming, will that has not yet become; but the whole human being lives in the will, so that in a child too the subconscious resolutions must be reckoned with. But let us at all costs guard against believing that we can influence a child's will by all the things we have thought out so well — in our own opinion. We must ask ourselves how we can have a good influence on the feeling nature of the child. This we can only achieve by introducing actions which have to be constantly repeated. You direct the impulse of the will aright, not by telling a child once what the right thing is, but by getting him to do something to-day and to-morrow and again the day after. It is not the right thing to begin by exhorting the child and giving him rules of conduct: you must lead him to do something which you think will awaken his feeling for what is right, and get him to do it repeatedly. An action of this sort must be made into a habit. The more it becomes an unconscious habit, the better it is for the development of the feeling; the more conscious a child is of doing the action repeatedly, out of devotion, because it ought to be done, because it must be done, the more you are raising the deed to a real impulse of will. A more unconscious repetition cultivates feeling: fully conscious repetition cultivates the true will impulse, for it enhances the power of resolution, of determination. The power of determination, which is dormant in the sub-conscious, is spurred and aroused when you lead the child to repeat things consciously. In cultivating the will, therefore, we must not expect to do what is of importance in cultivating the intellect. Where the intellect is concerned we always consider that when an idea is given to a child, the better he “grasps” it, the better it is: the single presentation of the thing is of the greatest importance: after that it has to be retained, remembered. But a thing taught once and afterwards retained has no effect on feeling or will: rather the feeling and will are affected by what is done over and over again, and by what is seen to be the right thing to do because circumstances demand it.
The earlier, more naive patriarchal forms of education achieved this in a naive patriarchal way: it simply became a habit of life. In all the things which were used in this way there is something of educational value. Why, for instance, should we use the Lord's Prayer every day? If a man nowadays were expected to read the same story daily, he simply would not do it; he would find it far too dull. The man of to-day is trained to do things once. But men of an earlier time not only said the same Lord's Prayer every day, they also had a book of stories which they read at least every week. And for this reason their wills were stronger than those produced by the present methods of education: for the cultivation of the will depends upon repetition and conscious repetition. This must be taken into consideration. And so it is not enough to say in the abstract that the will must be educated. For then people will believe that if they have good ideas themselves for the development of the will and apply them to the child by some clever methods, they will contribute something to the cultivation of the will. But in reality this is of no use whatever. Those who are exhorted to be good become only weak nervous men. Those become inwardly strong to whom it is said in childhood: “You do this to-day and you do that, and both of you do the same to-morrow and the day after.” And they do it merely on authority because they see that one in the school must command. Thus to assign to the child some kind of work for each day that he can do every day, sometimes even the whole year through, has a great effect upon the development of the will. In the first place it creates a contact amongst the pupils; then it also strengthens the authority of the teacher, and doing the same thing repeatedly works powerfully on the children's will.
Why then has the artistic element such a special effect, as I have said already, on the development of the will? Because, in the first place, practice depends upon repetition; but secondly because what a child acquires artistically gives him fresh joy each time. The artistic is enjoyed every time, not only on the first occasion. Art has something in its nature which does not only stir a man once but gives him fresh joy repeatedly. Hence it is that what we have to do in education is intimately bound up with the artistic element.
We will go further into this to-morrow. I wanted to show to-day that the education of the will must be brought about in a different way from the education of the intellect.