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In the next video I am going to use the scientific research method of comparative study to go through chapter 8, The Factors Of Life, to draw conclusions from comparing two self observations and then follow the logic in the chapter. Here is a sample diagram.


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Revised to improve readability
The Philosophy Of Freedom
Chapter 8 The Factors Of Life

8.0 Knowing Personality
[1] LET us briefly review the results gained in the previous chapters. The world appears to me as a multiplicity, a sum of separate details. As a human being, I am myself one of these details, a thing among other things. We call this form of the world simply the given. Insofar as we just encounter it and do not explain it through our conscious activity, we call it percept. Within the world of percepts we perceive our Self. This perception of Self would simply remain as one percept among the many others, if something did not emerge out of this self-perception capable of connecting all percepts, and also the sum total of all percepts with the percept of our own Self. This something that emerges is not mere perception. Neither is it, like percepts, simply given. It is produced by our activity. It seems at first to be bound up with what each of us perceives as his Self. But its inner meaning reaches beyond the self. It adds conceptual definitions to the single percepts. These conceptual factors relate to each other and form a whole. This something conceptually defines what we gain in self-perception in the same way as it defines all other perceptions, and places it as subject, or “I,” over against the objects. This “something” is thinking, and the conceptual factors are concepts and Ideas.

Thought, therefore, first manifests itself in connection with the percept of self. But thought is not merely subjective, for it is only with the help of thought that the Self can define itself as subject. How the Self relates to itself in thought determines our personality. Through it, we lead a purely conceptual existence. Through it, we are aware of ourselves as thinking beings. This determination of our lives would remain a purely conceptual (logical) one, if it were not supplemented by other determining factors of our Selves. Our lives would be spent in establishing purely conceptual relationships between percepts themselves, and between them and ourselves. If we call the establishment of a conceptual relationship an "act of cognition," and the resulting change achieved in the self “knowledge,” then, according to the above assumption, we would have to consider ourselves as only cognizing or knowing beings.

8.1 Feeling Personality
[2] However, this assumption does not hold up to the facts. We do not relate percepts to ourselves only through concepts, but also through feeling, as we have already seen. Therefore we are not beings with solely a conceptual content. The Naive Realist sees in the emotions more real life of the personality than in the purely conceptual activity of knowledge. From his viewpoint he is entirely right to describe it in this way.

8.2 Reality Of Personality
The way a feeling first appears on the subjective side, is exactly the same as the percept on the objective side. Therefore, according to the basic principle of naive realism — that everything that can be perceived is real — it follows that feelings guarantee the reality of one's own personality.

8.3 Knowledge Of Feeling
Monism, however, recognizes that if it is to be present in its full reality, a feeling requires the same addition as do all percepts. A feeling as it first wells up is an incomplete reality that lacks its second factor, the concept or Idea. This is why in life feelings, like percepts, always appears before knowledge.

8.4 Knowledge Of Self
At first, we merely feel ourselves as existing. It is only in the course of our gradual development that we struggle through to the point where the concept of Self emerges from within the blind mass of feelings that fill our existence. What emerges later, however, is from the beginning inseparably bound up with our feelings.

8.5 Knowledge Of The World
This is why the naive person is led to believe that in the feeling of existence he immediately relates himself to what is there, what exists. While in thought, he relates to what exists indirectly only after it is mediated through knowledge.

8.6 World-Connections
The connection between things in the world must be felt before he will believe he has grasped it. He attempts to make feeling the instrument of knowledge rather than thought.

8.7 World-Principles
Now a feeling is something entirely individual, something equivalent to a perception. So the Philosopher of Feeling makes a principle that has significance only within his personality into a world principle. He tries to inject himself into everything. What the Monist strives to grasp by means of concepts, the Philosopher of Feeling tries to attain through feeling. He looks on his own felt union with objects as more direct, with nothing else coming in between.

8.8 Universal-Principles
[3] The tendency just described, the Philosophy of Feeling, is Mysticism. The error in the mystical form of intuition is that it wants to experience in feeling what should be attained as knowledge. The Mystic tries to elevate feeling, which is individual, into a universal principle.
[4] A feeling is a purely individual activity. It is the effect of the external world on the subject, insofar as this effect is expressed in a purely subjective experience.

8.9 Willing Personality
[5] There is another expression of human personality: willing. The Self, through thought, lives within the universal world-life. By means of thinking, in a purely conceptual way, it relates the percepts to itself, and itself to the percepts. In feeling, the Self experiences the immediate effect of objects on itself as subject. In willing, the opposite is the case. In willing, too, we have a perception before us, namely, the personal relation of the Self to the objective world. And whatever is not a conceptual factor in our act of will, is just as much a mere object of perception as is any other object in the external world.

8.10 Voluntarism
[6] From this point of view, what the Self accomplishes through this willing is a process that is experienced immediately. The adherent of this philosophy believes that, in the will, he has really got hold of one end of the world process. While all other events can only be followed from the outside by means of perception, he is confident that in his willing he directly experiences a real process. He makes the form of existence in which the will appears within the Self into the fundamental reality of the universe. His own will appears to him as a special case of the universal world process. The universal world process, then, is considered to be universal will. The will becomes the principle of reality just as, in Mysticism, feeling becomes the principle of knowledge. This way of viewing things is Voluntarism (Thelism). It makes something that can only be experienced individually into the dominant factor of the world.

8.11 Naive Experience Of Mysticism And Voluntarism
[7] Voluntarism cannot be called a science anymore than can Mysticism. For both maintain that a conceptual interpretation of the world is inadequate. In addition to a conceptual principle, both demand a real principle as well. But since perception is the only way to comprehend these so-called real principles, it follows that what Mysticism and Voluntarism are both saying is that we have two sources of knowledge: thought and perception, with perception appearing here as an individual experience of feeling and will. Since the immediate experiences that flow from one source cannot be taken up directly into the thoughts that flow from the other, perception (immediate experience) and thought remain side by side without higher mediation. Beside the conceptual principle that we attain by means of knowledge, there is supposed to exist a real principle that cannot be grasped by thought, but can be immediately experienced. In other words, Mysticism and Voluntarism are both forms of Naive Realism, because they embrace the doctrine: What is immediately perceived (experienced) is real. Compared with Naive Realism in its primitive form, they are guilty of the further inconsistency of making a particular instance of perception (feeling or willing) into the exclusive means of knowing reality. Since they can do this only if they cling to the general principle that everything perceived is real, they would also have to attribute an equal value of knowledge to external perceptions.

8.12 Universal Will
[8] Voluntarism turns into Metaphysical Realism when it asserts the existence of will in realms where it is not possible to experience it immediately in the same way as it is in one’s own subject. A hypothetical principle is assumed outside the subject, for which the sole criteria for its existence is subjective experience. As a form of Metaphysical Realism, Voluntarism is open to the criticism made in the previous chapter, namely, it has to overcome the contradictory element in every form of Metaphysical Realism, and recognize that the will is a universal world-process only to the extent it is conceptually related to the rest of the world.

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Revised 3/18/2017. Finished voice-over and editing.

Spectator Watches
Observer: As a spectator, I remain completely without influence over the course of an observed event. The event takes place independent of me. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I cannot tell in advance what will happen. I must wait to see what will happen, and can only follow it with my eyes.
Thinker Predicts
Thinker: The situation is different when I begin to reflect on my observation. The purpose of my reflection is to establish concepts of the event. The conceptual process depends on me. It requires my active involvement for it to take place. After I discover the concepts that correspond to the event, I can predict what will happen.
Inner Truth: Our desire for inner truth, compels us to seek for concepts that relate to the events we observe.
Everyday State
Observer: In the everyday state, we observe a tree and think about it. While we are looking at something, our thoughts, opinions, and views are stirred up in the background. I remain passive in the everyday state. My thought activity happens without any participation on my part.
Exceptional State
Thinker: If I want to directly observe my thought, I must become active and enter the exceptional state by directing my attention within. By means of introspective observation, I am able to observe my thoughts and examine them. While we study many things in the world, we do not normally study our thoughts.
Inner Truth: When we enter the exceptional state and observe inner truth, we find that it is different than all other things.
Feeling Passively Happens
Observer: While observing an object, such as a rose, a feeling of pleasure is kindled. We remain passive as the feeling just happens to us. When I know the feeling an event arouses in me, I learn about my personality.
Concept Actively Formed
Thinker: To form thoughts about the table, I must be active. I am definitely aware that forming concepts requires my activity. Concepts and ideas are brought forth by our thinking effort. By knowing the concepts that correspond to an event, I learn about the event.
Inner Truth: We must be actively involved in the thinking process, if we are to produce inner truth.
Confront Object

Observer: The object appears before me, as something that is ‘objectively there’ in my field of observation. I see myself before something that is not of my doing. I confront it. I must accept it before I begin my thinking process.
Contemplate Object
Thinker: While I am reflecting on an object, I am absorbed in it. My full attention is immersed in the object. This is thinking contemplation. What is peculiar about thinking is that I forget my thoughts while I am thinking about the object. When I think, I do not look at the thinking I am producing, because I am focused on the object I am thinking about.
Inner Truth: We immerse ourselves in thinking contemplation to produce inner truth.
Confront Thought
Observer: To confront thought we must enter the exceptional state by directing our attention within. As we have discussed, we cannot observe our present thinking while it is taking place. Because for thinking to take place, my full attention must remain on the object I am thinking about. So to reflect on my thoughts, I must recall to mind what is now a past thought. It is the same whether I observe my own earlier thoughts, or follow the thought-process of another person, or set up an imaginary thought-process in the conceptual sphere.
Contemplate Thought
Thinker: We use thinking contemplation to study thought, just as we use it to study objects in the world. To think about our thinking requires two steps. First, I have to create a thought-process. Next, I become immersed in it with my full attention. The reason it requires two steps is because it is not possible to create, and contemplate what we have created, at the same time.
Inner Truth: We must create inner truth, before we can contemplate it.
Observed Event Unknown
Observer: When we outwardly observe an event in the world, we do not know the surrounding context and the connections between the parts of the event. Without going beyond the observed phenomena, we cannot know why thunder follows lightning.
Thought Known
Thinker: When I observe a thought-process, I observe something I create out of my own activity. This is why I know it more directly, and more intimately than any other process in the world. I know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how it takes place. And I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. This does not necessarily mean I have the correct concepts of thunder and lightning, but I do know why I connect them.
Inner Truth: Because I create inner truth, I known it more directly and more intimately than anything else in the world.
Thinking Brain
Observer: The transparent clarity of thinking becomes known to us by observing our thought. It does not require any knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. How one physical process in my brain causes or influences another while I am carrying on a thought-process is irrelevant. In our Materialistic age, it is necessary to point out that we can discuss thinking without entering the field of brain physiology.
Pure Thinking
Thinker: Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking, such as occurs in mathematics. What I observe in studying a thought-process is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder. What I observe is my "reason" for bringing these two concepts into a certain relationship. Observation shows that in linking thought with thought, I am guided by the content of my thoughts.
Inner Truth: When thinking produces inner truth, the linking of thoughts is guided by the content of my thoughts.
Certain Of Thought
Observer: Every normal person, if they are willing, has the ability to observe thought. This observation is the most important that can be made. What I observe is my own creation. All other things and events are there independent of me and are, at first, unfamiliar. With thought I know how it comes about and clearly see its conditions and relationships. My thought is the only thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it into existence. This firm point gives us reasonable hope that we can successfully understand the world.
Certain Of Existence
Thinker: It is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole. As a thinker, I define my reason for existence with the self-supporting content of my thought activity. From this firm point of knowing why I exist, I can ask: "Do other things exist in the same, or in some other way?
Inner Truth: I know inner truth with absolute certainty. This establishes a firm point to know myself, to know the world, and to know my reason for existence.
Remain Within Observation
Observer: To experience pure observation, we try to remain passive while the object makes an impression on us. But what goes unnoticed is that our thoughts mingle with what we see, and even intermix with the observation process itself. When I weave a web of thoughts around an object, I go beyond the observation. This raises the question, "What right do I have to do this?” “Do my thoughts relate to my observation?”
Remain Within Thought
Thinker: When we observe our thought, we do not have this problem of relating our thought to the outer world. Even though thoughts hover in the background while we observe thought, we add nothing unfamiliar. The relationships between thoughts are clear. When we think about our thoughts, we remain within the transparency of pure thinking.
Inner Truth: When we think about inner truth, we remain within the same familiar element, the realm of thought.
Know Nature, Then Create Nature
Observer: Nature already exists. If we want to create it again, we first have to know the principles of Nature. We have to observe the Nature that already exists to gain the knowledge needed to create it a second time. We copy the conditions of Nature’s existence in order to produce it again.
Create Thought, Then Know Thought
Thinker: What is impossible with nature—creating before knowing—we achieve with an act of thinking. We first create thought, then gain knowledge of it. If we wait to think until we already have knowledge, we would never think at all. We must resolutely dive straight into thinking and only afterward, by observing our new insight, gain knowledge of what we have done.
Inner Truth: We first create inner truth, then we gain knowledge of it.
Dependent Thinker
Observer: When we perceive an object or event, the observation-process unconsciously weaves our thoughts into it. When the dependent thinker thinks about the event, he merely extracts the thoughts he has already projected into it. His thinking produces nothing new. The dependent thinker must depend on others for ideas. He looks to others to explain his view of the world.
Independent Thinker
Thinker: An independent thinker is not dependent on others. He originates his own view of the world. Others are not able to explain his views in a truer way than he can. While thoughts are, at first, unconsciously projected into what we observe causing perception bias, the independent thinker consciously analyzes the object to produce different thoughts. In thought, we also have a principle of self-subsistence. When we observe a horse, the idea we form alters it, because we all have differently functioning senses and intelligence. But when we observe our own thought, it is not altered. The independent thinker is able to form a self-supporting and self-subsisting worldview. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.
Inner Truth: Inner truth is self-supporting and self-subsisting, it is not dependent on anything else.
Start With Observation
Observer: The researcher turns immediately to the objects he wishes to understand. Certainly we need to consciously observe the object of our study before thoughts about it arise. But what good does it do to start with the object and subject it to our thinking, without first knowing whether thoughtful contemplation can offer insight into things?
Start With Thinking
Thinker: What is the starting-point for understanding the world? We must first examine thinking in a completely impartial way, without reference to a thinking subject or a thought object. There is no denying that we must understand what it means to think, and what it means to know, before anything else can be understood.
Inner Truth: The starting point for a human being to understand the world, is to understand the meaning of inner truth.
Correctness Of Thought
Observer: Some say the problem with knowing the world by means of thinking is that we cannot be sure whether our thought is right or wrong. They argue over what is the correct thought.
Application Of Thought
Thinker: It is understandable that some will have doubts whether we can know the world by means of thought. But it does not make sense to doubt the rightness of thought, when the thought is considered by itself. Thought is a fact and it is meaningless to speak of a fact as being right or wrong. At most I can have doubts about whether thought is rightly applied. It is the task of The Philosophy Of Freedom to show how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.
Inner Truth: When considered by itself, inner truth is a certain fact. But we can have doubts about whether it is correctly applied to the world.

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University Education and the Demands of the Present Time

Rudolf Steiner

Originally printed in Magazin für Literatur 1898, 67. Jg., Nr. 19. From CW 31, Collected Essays on Culture and Current Events, 1887-1901

[This translation from the German by TO. The German title is “Der Universitätsunterricht und die Erfordernisse der Gegenwart,” p. 235ff in Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte, 1887-1901, Dornach 1989.]

We are now living in the time of reformation. The “people” want, from the bottom up, to bring about new conditions of governance from above down. Therefore, one should not be surprised when thoughts of reformation emerge from various quarters regarding the most conservative institutions of our public life: the universities. I am not speaking of such superfluous things as the so-called “Lex Arons.” [From Wikipedia: “Martin Leo Arons (1860-1919) was a German physicist and social democratic politician. He was the namesake of the Lex Arons, a law which disallowed members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (German: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands SPD) to teach at Prussian universities.” (] It will be a harmless law, if not abused. But what law does not give rise to abuse! If one abuses this law, then it will be harmful; if one does not abuse it, then it is unnecessary. But it is futile constantly to pose the question to the legislative assemblies: “Toward what end?” After all, one also had the wish to do something, to speak about something, and … to need to reform something. I would like to speak about something else, which appears to me important because it originates from a man who has experience in the relevant area, and whose occupation it is to generate improvement in one sphere to which he has devoted himself with all his powers. Ernst Bernheim has just published a pamphlet that deals with the theme of University Education and the Demands of the Present Time. [Universitätsunterricht und die Erfordernisse der Gegenwart, Verlag S. Calvary & Co., Berlin 1898.] The author knows how to uncover deeply-seated detrimental tendencies. Detrimental tendencies that are known. For he proceeds from the notion that “today” students skip class more often than was the case in any previous time, and that this, measured by the most modest of standards, is desirable. And — certainly in contrast to many of his colleagues — the author does not seek for the cause of this in the students themselves, but rather in the peculiarities of university education. He discovers that the lecture courses for the students have become too uninteresting. He finds the reason for this fact in the trend toward specialization in the sciences, which currently necessitates that the lecturers compose their so-called private lectures from narrow areas of study involving the elaboration of infinite details.

“Earlier, such a course would cover, for example, general world history, general history of ancient times, of the Middle Ages, and of more recent times; now hardly anyone undertakes to provide such courses of study; one lectures on the history of the Middle Ages, for example, in particular fragments, such as the history of the migrations of peoples, of the time of the German Caesar, from the Interregnum until the Reformation — indeed, in still shorter fragments; in addition, constitutional history, economic history, church and art history are studied in separate colleges. Now this is very well and good for one who wants to train as a researcher and — to stay with our example — has chosen to take something of the Middle Ages into his field of work; but one who intends to become a teacher and wants to take his state examination in history sees himself so overwhelmed with this kind of lecture course — in which he must get to know antiquity, the modern era, etc., in the same manner — that he does not know which way to turn. At first, he sets out with the confidence of a newcomer — boldly taking on five, six, seven private lectures; but soon his strength does not suffice to be attentive and taking notes for so many hours a day. In the best case, one will be so sensible as to abandon several of the courses completely and limit oneself to the regular attendance of only a few — and thereby hold as a top priority the commitment not to allow the task originally taken up to fall into such complete lawlessness that one ultimately ends up disgusted with the whole thing, discouraged and indifferent.”

Bernheim raises these conditions in relation to the question of whether it is at all justified to maintain the establishment of private lectures, considering the now sweeping specialization of the sciences. Today, if the teacher intends to bring forward all the details of his area of expertise, then he has to lose himself to such a great extent in the specific that he has no time left to offer the great, essential vantage-points according to his personal understanding. In addition to this is the fact that it is no longer even necessary to provide this sum of details in the lecture courses. For we currently possess compendiums of these details, which are excellent, and whose current level of comprehensiveness would earlier have been inconceivable to us. On the basis of these considerations, Bernheim comes to the conclusion that one should structure the private lectures differently. They should comprise much shorter periods of time. In them, one should renounce the enumeration and critical evaluation of the particular details, and instead set oneself the task of holding orientation lectures in which one develops an overall understanding of a certain subject, a general point of view. By contrast, [the author further proposes that] the practical exercises at the universities, the work in seminars, should see a greater expansion. Such work should not, as is currently the case, begin only in later semesters, but already at the beginning of university studies. Here the students should learn the methods of scientific investigation; here one should concretely train oneself to become a researcher.

I do not fail to see the benefits to be had from a college education established in the sense of these suggestions. In particular, it seems to me very advantageous to reformulate the private lectures in the sense envisioned by the author. For it cannot be denied that much of what is said today at the lectern is actually easier and more convenient to gain from the existing manuals. And most importantly, such a reform will better allow the personality of the university professor to emerge into the foreground. And nothing works on people more than precisely the personality. A receptive spirit will be more inspired by a peculiar, even if ever so subjectively colored perspective, than by a myriad of “objective” facts.

In contrast, I would not so readily agree with Bernheim's proposal concerning the practical exercises. It may be beneficial for the average student if, under the guidance of a professor, he or she were to learn the method of research, down into the details. But one should not always concern oneself with the average person. One could do so if it were true that the gifted spirit breaks through no matter what, even against all fettering hindrances. But that is not in fact true. The things one does to help the average person hinder the gifted spirit in the unfolding of his individuality. They cause his originality to atrophy. And if the institutional examinations require one to have proof — as is the case for the present writer — of having taken part in a certain number of practical exercises, then for the one who intends to go his own way, such a measure becomes a shackle. The focal point of university education must consist in the personal inspiration brought about through the professor. Thus we see the value of lectures on general themes that are furthermore delivered from a personally-won point of view. As for the exercises, let those partake in them who have the need. But at the time of examination, do not ask someone what he has pushed himself through during his time of study, but rather what he is now able to achieve. How he has attained his competence must be a matter of indifference. One can offer practical exercises for those who need them, but one should not make them into an obligation for those who are able to meet the requirements of the examination without them.

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Count and Countess von Brockdorff

Count and Countess von Brockdorff enabled Rudolf Steiner to link up with the theosophical movement in Germany.

Count Brockdorff was defeated as Kgl. Prussian Rittmeister frequent change of location. He married his wife Sophie in 1870 in Potsdam, where her only daughter was born in 1871. In 1879 the marriage was divorced. A few days after his son Ludwig's second marriage in 1881, his second wife, Anna, died. Rosenhagen. In 1885, Sophie and Cay Lorenz married for the second time in Darmstadt, living mainly in Berlin until 1902 when they moved to Algund near Meran.

They both joined the Theosophical Society in November 1893 and in June 1894 he was one of the founding members of the "German Theosophical Society". They had come to know theosophy through Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden. In 1900, Count Brockdorff was officially secretary of the small company, but above all, the couple headed the lodge in Berlin. In their spacious apartment, they set up a library of theosophical works available to members. In this "theosophical library" the public lectures took place, to which often open and controversial discussions followed. The small circle of cultured listeners was not limited to members, nor were the lecturers throughout theosophists.

In September 1900, they invited Rudolf Steiner to a lecture on the recently deceased Friedrich Nietzsche. After another lecture on "Goethe's secret revelation" he began in October to hold his lecture series on "The mysticism", whose written work a year later appeared in book form (GA 7). Steiner's second theosophical book - "Christianity as Mystical Fact" (GA 8) - which he appropriated to Brockdorff, was also created after a lecture series held there. Rudolf Steiner later recalled the number of about 20 listeners.

On the initiative of Countess Brockdorff, "The Vâhan" was published, the German edition of the official English periodical of the Theosophical Society; the magazine had to cease publication shortly after her death in 1906. For the realization of Rudolf Steiner's magazine "Lucifer" she sat down financially and with enthusiasm.

In 1902, the Brockdorffs retired for old age. Previously, they asked Rudolf Steiner to take over the management of the company, he became a member in January 1902 and accepted the task. Brockdorff, who was committed to founding a German section of the Theosophical Society, suggested Steiner as Secretary General. The founding of the section took place on 20 October 1902 in the Brockdorff apartment, but they had already moved to Algund near Merano in September. Marie von Sivers (Marie Steiner), whom Rudolf Steiner had met at his lectures at the end of 1900, took over the apartment, the library and the shops of the company.

After 1902, the Brockdorffs took a back seat. The count used to care for his seriously ill wife until her death. The correspondence with HübbeSchleiden shows that he continued to maintain contact with the theosophist Franz Hartmann and rejected the "Order of the Star in the East", which propagated the young Indian Krishnamurti as the "coming world teacher" and the reincarnation of Jesus. Since April 7, 1913, he was a member of the Anthroposophical Society. He died in 1921 in Meran, where his third wife Alexandrine, b. Freiin von Buddenbrock, whom he married in Wiesbaden in 1910, lived until 1955.

Hans-Jürgen Bracker

Literature: Bresch, R .: Little Vahan, in: Vah 1905/06, No. 12; GA 28, 7, 1962; Bock, E .: Rudolf Steiner studies, Stuttgart 1967; Froböse, E .: At the opening of the new series, in: BGA 1973, No. 41; Hartmann 1975; Groddeck, M .: Rudolf Steiner, the builder of the Goetheanum, in: BGA 1978, No. 61/62; Lindenberg, Chronicle 1988, Wiesberger, H .: Marie Steiner-von Sivers. A life, Dornach 1988.

© Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls - Biographien Documentation -


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Heart Thinking

Mathematics and 'Control of Thinking'
By Lori MacKinder, M.A.

Heart Chakra
The heart chakra, a 12-petalled lotus flower, is the chakra of our current time to develop. Although we commonly associate the heart as the center of our love, our compassion, and the warmth and coolness of our soul it is also the chakra of a new organ of perception: Heart-thinking. Heart thinking is an organic and “living” thinking vs. the linear thinking associated with our head. Heart thinking is not “feeling- thinking”, it is moral imagination brought forward into life.

Florin Lownders, author of Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart, The Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of Rudolf Steiner, (2005) shares that the six basic exercises given by Rudolf Steiner embody a means for developing and strengthening this mentioned organic and “living” thinking and the heart chakra.

According to the writings of Rudolf Steiner, six of the twelve petals of the heart chakra were already actively present within past evolutionary stages of humanity. Thus, we do not have to develop those six petals to encourage our Heart-Thinking maturity; they appear on their own and begin to rotate when we start working on the remaining six. (How to Know Higher Worlds, 1994, pg. 118)

Control of Thinking
This article will focus on the first step: Control of Thinking. When most of us think of math, we cringe and quickly dispel the idea of a daily practice of mathematics with comments such as, “I was never good at math” or “that is what calculators are for” and the like. However, control of thought is the first of the exercises given by Steiner to kindle the development of the 12 petalled lotus flower and Heart-Thinking.

To expound further Steiner explained,

“Controlling our thinking processes develops the 12 petalled lotus flower (heart chakra). Thoughts that flit about like will-o‘-the-wisps and follow each other by chance rather than in a logical, meaningful way distort and damage the form of this flower. The more logically our thoughts follow one another and the more we avoid all illogical thinking, the more perfectly this organ develops its proper form.” (Pg. 120)

Steiner recommends holding our attention for 5 minutes per day on a simple man-made object, such as a paper clip and contemplating its origin and process of becoming to kindle this type of controlled thinking. Mathematics offers a more supported path for logical thinking than a paper clip however, and cultivates the will in thought just as prominently.

When performing a mathematical equation correctly, one must move in a proper sequence. Within this action, it is as if the thinking is supported, keeping the thoughts contained and focused within the task at hand. Math equations offer instant feedback for our thinking when a problem is solved correctly (or incorrectly), informing us that we followed logical thought (or not). In lower school, long division is used. Multiple steps in a sequence must be performed to arrive at a correct answer, and can then be checked for accuracy. In middle school, solving algebraic equations for a variable using the solve-and-check method exercises this muscle of will in thought. Finally, in high school, all the higher levels of mathematics further the student in this thought training. The steps of a geometric proof, advanced algebraic equations and trigonometric identities are all a valiant kindling for this chakra and control of thinking. Focused controlled thinking is the key in this first step of kindling Heart-thinking.

In a time when many Waldorf schools are cutting back on math in the curriculum and touting the benefits of the study of humanities and art, perhaps a reminder needs to be observed. A daily dosage of mathematics is where will in thought is created and helps the children of today start to develop this important chakra. It is a form of meditation, in a way. Any of us can adopt a rhythm of 15 – 20 minutes of clear thinking and will in thought that strengthens and imbues heart thinking through daily mathematics.

When the Waldorf teacher holds this higher reason to perform mathematics in their daily lesson with fun and praise, they work diligently with their students toward awakening the forces within. In this way, as the students embark into the world upon graduating, they are fortified and enlivened for their individual destiny with the beginnings of Heart-Thinking already present and aroused. As adults, taking up the study of mathematics as part of a personal growth path, can reignite control of thinking, lead one towards Heart-Thinking, and ultimately will provide numerous benefits to the student of life.
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Rudolf Steiner History up to 1900

In order to present these ideas in their historical context, a brief overview of
Steiner’s development and of the emergence of the anthroposophical movement is
in order. Steiner was born in 1861 in a town on the periphery of the
Austro-Hungarian empire.[1] He spent his student years in Vienna, where he
concentrated on natural sciences and became involved in German nationalist
student organizations.[2] After editing several volumes of Goethe’s scientific
writings, Steiner moved to Weimar in 1890 to work at the Goethe and Schiller
archive, eventually assisting at the Nietzsche archive as well.[3] He received a
doctorate in philosophy from the University of Rostock in 1891 with a thesis on
Fichte’s epistemology, and in 1893 published what he considered his
philosophical magnum opus, The Philosophy of Freedom.[4] In 1894 Steiner first
met Ernst Haeckel and by the end of the decade became a vocal defender of
Haeckel’s controversial evolutionary doctrine of Monism, one of several
attempted syntheses of science and religion from the era.[5] By the time he
moved to Berlin in 1897, Steiner’s outlook combined elements of German Idealism,
Romanticism, Nietzschean bohemianism and a radical individualism heavily
indebted to Max Stirner.[6]

Failing to establish himself in an academic career, Steiner pursued a series of
literary and educational occupations, editing a prominent Berlin cultural
journal, the Magazin für Litteratur, from 1897 to 1900 and teaching at the
Workers’ Educational School, founded by the Social Democrats, from 1899 to
1904.[7] Steiner also participated in the literary circle known as “Die
Kommenden.”[8] Many of his views on religion in the 1890s displayed a basically
atheist cast of mind, and Steiner at this time was harshly critical of the
established Christian churches as well as of esoteric spiritual alternatives.
His involvement in Monist circles was particularly intensive around the turn of
the century, above all within the Giordano Bruno League, although it is
difficult to assess the impact of this phase on Steiner’s later intellectual
development, not least because of the remarkably ambivalent ideological and
political character of the Monist movement overall.[9]

Between 1900 and 1902 Steiner underwent a profound transformation from
unaffiliated free-thinker to committed occultist. His conversion to Theosophy,
consolidated in January 1902 with his entry into the Theosophical Society, is
somewhat difficult to explain biographically. While Steiner had briefly flirted
with theosophical notions around 1890, his published discussions of Theosophy
during the 1890s were without exception scathingly critical.[10] The
epistemological position outlined in his philosophical works from that decade,
moreover, is decidedly this-worldly and makes no reference, even obliquely, to
the “higher worlds” that stand at the center of theosophical and
anthroposophical thought.[11] Within the space of two years, however, Steiner
was a convinced Theosophist. Without minimizing the anomalies involved in
Steiner’s conversion to an occult worldview, it is worth emphasizing that
fin-de-siècle Theosophy was a notably labile construct that attracted many
people seeking a “synthesis of science, religion, and philosophy.”[12] A number
of personal and circumstantial factors appear to have played a role in Steiner’s
theosophical turn, but there was an unmistakable element of genuine conviction
as well.[13]

Soon after joining the Theosophical Society, Steiner became General Secretary of
its German section, a position he held until 1912, when he broke with mainstream
Theosophy and founded his own movement, establishing the Anthroposophical
Society at the end of 1912. In 1913 Steiner moved the headquarters of the
Anthroposophical Society to the village of Dornach in Switzerland. From then
until his death in 1925, Steiner continued to develop anthroposophy as a
worldview and as a movement, overseeing a steady rise in membership and in
public profile in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in particular.[14]


[1] There is no scholarly biography of Steiner. Anthroposophist biographies are
invariably hagiographic, albeit to different degrees; the best of them is
Christoph Lindenberg’s two-volume work Rudolf Steiner: Eine Biographie
(Stuttgart: Freies Geistesleben, 1997). Lindenberg’s earlier compilation Rudolf
Steiner: Eine Chronik (Stuttgart: Freies Geistesleben, 1988) is also very useful
for basic data on Steiner’s life. Of the shorter biographies the most generally
reliable is Gerhard Wehr, Rudolf Steiner: Leben – Erkenntnis – Kulturimpuls
(Zurich: Diogenes, 1993). Popular biographies have also been written by
non-anthroposophist aficionados of the occult; see Colin Wilson, Rudolf Steiner:
The Man and His Vision (Wellingborough: Aquarian Press, 1985), and Gary Lachman,
Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to his Life and Work (New York: Tarcher, 2007).
Both are at times overly credulous toward anthroposophical sources. For a
helpful overview see James Webb, “Rudolf Steiner” in Richard Cavendish, ed.,
Encyclopedia of the Unexplained, Magic, Occultism and Parapsychology (London:
Routledge, 1974), 235-40. Steiner began writing an autobiography near the end of
his life; it remained unfinished and includes only cursory attention to his
theosophical and anthroposophical career after 1900, while the earlier years are
systematically re-interpreted through the lens of Steiner’s mature
anthroposophical perspective. The autobiography nonetheless remains a crucial
document of the late Steiner’s self-perception and self-presentation. See Rudolf
Steiner, Mein Lebensgang (Dornach: Philosophisch-anthroposophischer Verlag,
1925); authorized English translation: Steiner, The Course of my Life (New York:
Anthroposophic Press, 1951). The most comprehensive account of Steiner’s
intellectual development is available in Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in
Deutschland: Theosophische Weltanschauung und gesellschaftliche Praxis 1884–1945
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007), 435-957.

[2] Steiner served as treasurer, librarian, and for half a year as chairman of a
German nationalist student association, the Deutsche Lesehalle at the Technical
College in Vienna, in the early 1880s; cf. Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner: Eine
Biographie, 62, and Steiner, Mein Lebensgang, 86-87. For background on the
Deutsche Lesehalle see among others William McGrath, “Student Radicalism in
Vienna” Journal of Contemporary History 2 (1967), 183-201. Two of Steiner’s
influential early teachers, Karl Julius Schröer and Robert Zimmermann, may have
facilitated his entry into German nationalist cultural circles in Austria. On
Zimmermann’s involvement in German nationalism see William Johnston, The
Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History 1848-1938 (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1972), 287-89; for Schröer’s views see Karl
Julius Schröer, Die Deutschen in Österreich-Ungarn und ihre Bedeutung für die
Monarchie (Vienna: Deutscher Verein, 1879). On Steiner’s relationship to Schröer
see Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 441-48. Schröer introduced Steiner to
Goethe scholarship, while Steiner later borrowed the term “anthroposophy” from

[3] On Steiner as a crucial figure in initiating the iconic status of Goethe as
a paragon of conservative Kulturkritik, along with Julius Langbehn, Houston
Stewart Chamberlain, and the circles of the Conservative Revolution, see Karl
Robert Mandelkow, Goethe in Deutschland: Rezeptionsgeschichte eines Klassikers
vol. I (Munich: Beck, 1980), 193-199. See also Mandelkow, “Goethes
Naturauffassung im Urteil der Rezeptionsgeschichte” in Mandelkow, Gesammelte
Aufsätze und Vorträge zur Klassik- und Romantikrezeption in Deutschland
(Frankfurt: Lang, 2001), 77-86, particularly 81. Chamberlain praised Steiner’s
works on Goethe; see Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Immanuel Kant: Die
Persönlichkeit als Einführung in das Werk (Munich: Bruckmann, 1905), 120-21.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, Philosophie der Freiheit (Berlin: Emil Felber, 1894; the
publication actually appeared in November 1893). The book did not find a
substantial philosophical echo but received some attention in the broader press.
The reception in Germany was mixed; the review in the Philosophisches Jahrbuch
1895 was largely critical, while the anonymous reviewer for the Frankfurter
Zeitung was generally positive. The text of these and other contemporary reviews
is available in David Marc Hoffmann and Walter Kugler, eds., Dokumente zur
“Philosophie der Freiheit” (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1994), 423-500. For
reactions outside of Germanophone Europe see e.g. the largely negative review in
The Philosophical Review 4 (1895), 573-74, or the similarly critical review by
Giovanni Gentile of the revised 1918 edition of the book in La Critica 18
(1919), 369-72. While the work generally preaches an individualist message and
discounts the significance of racial and ethnic categories, it also contains
passages characterizing “race, people, nation” as a “naturally given totality”
and emphasizing the importance of such ‘natural’ traits: “Each member of a
totality is determined, as regards its characteristics and functions, by the
whole totality. A racial group is a totality and all the people belonging to it
bear the characteristic features that are inherent in the nature of the group.
How the single member is constituted, and how he will behave, are determined by
the character of the racial group.” Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom (London:
Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), 203. Steiner goes on to say that free individuals
strive to overcome these generic qualities, a trope which later took on crucial
significance in his mature anthroposophical teachings about race and ethnicity.

[5] See Ernst Haeckel, Der Monismus als Band zwischen Religion und Wissenschaft.
Glaubensbekenntniss eines Naturforschers (Bonn: Strauss, 1893). For context see
Niles Holt, “Ernst Haeckel’s Monistic Religion” Journal of the History of Ideas
32 (1971), 265-80, and Mario Di Gregorio, From Here to Eternity: Ernst Haeckel
and Scientific Faith (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005), 188-261 and
487-98. For Steiner’s vigorous defense of Haeckel, in terms strikingly at odds
with those he was soon to adopt upon turning to theosophy, see Rudolf Steiner,
Haeckel und seine Gegner (Minden: Bruns, 1900). On Steiner’s correspondence with
Haeckel and his intense commitment to Monism around the turn of the century see
also Anthroposophie January 1934, 137-48. For anthroposophical perspectives see
Johannes Hemleben, Rudolf Steiner und Ernst Haeckel (Stuttgart: Freies
Geistesleben, 1965), and Karl Ballmer and Hans Gessner, Ernst Haeckel und Rudolf
Steiner (Besazio: Fornasella, 2003).

[6] On Steiner’s relationship to Nietzsche see Steven Aschheim, The Nietzsche
Legacy in Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 214-15; on
Stirner’s influence on Steiner see Hans Helms, Die Ideologie der anonymen
Gesellschaft (Cologne: DuMont, 1966), 278, 333-39. For Steiner’s own views see
e.g. Rudolf Steiner, Friedrich Nietzsche, ein Kämpfer gegen seine Zeit (Weimar:
Felber, 1895), and Steiner, “Max Stirner” Magazin für Litteratur 1898, reprinted
in Rudolf Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur 1884-1902 (Dornach: Rudolf
Steiner Verlag, 1971), 211-19, as well as the numerous references to Nietzsche,
Stirner, and Haeckel in Rudolf Steiner, Methodische Grundlagen der
Anthroposophie 1884-1901 (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Nachlaßverwaltung, 1961).

[7] On Steiner’s teaching at the workers’ school in Berlin see Vernon Lidtke,
The Alternative Culture: Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1985), 163-64. Steiner’s lectures at the school are collected
in Rudolf Steiner, Über Philosophie, Geschichte und Literatur (Dornach: Rudolf
Steiner Verlag, 1983).

[8] In addition to Jewish authors such as Ludwig Jacobowski and Stefan Zweig,
the later Nazi theorist Dietrich Eckart also belonged to the circle Die
Kommenden around 1900 and came into contact with Steiner there; cf. Helms,
Ideologie der anonymen Gesellschaft, 483.

[9] For an incisive analysis of “the politically highly ambivalent Monist
movement” see Gangolf Hübinger, “Die monistische Bewegung” in Hübinger, Kultur
und Kulturwissenschaften um 1900 vol. II (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag,
1997), 246-59 (quote at 247). Hübinger concludes that “Monism, oscillating
between middle-class left social reform and völkisch ideals of the New Right,”
never achieved a clear or coherent political profile (258). Cf. also Frank
Simon-Ritz, “Die freigeistige Bewegung im Kaiserreich” in Uwe Puschner, Walter
Schmitz, and Justus Ulbricht, eds., Handbuch zur ‘Völkischen Bewegung’ 1871-1918
(Munich: Saur, 1996), 208-23, and Matthias Pilger-Strohl, “Eine deutsche
Religion? Die freireligiöse Bewegung – Aspekte ihrer Beziehung zum völkischen
Milieu” in Stefanie von Schnurbein and Justus Ulbricht, eds., Völkische Religion
und Krisen der Moderne (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2001), 342-66. On the
confluence of scientific and religious themes within Monism see Frank
Simon-Ritz, “Kulturelle Modernisierung und Krise des religiösen Bewußtseins:
Freireligiöse, Freidenker und Monisten im Kaiserreich” in Olaf Blaschke and
Frank-Michael Kuhlemann, eds., Religion im Kaiserreich: Milieus – Mentalitäten –
Krisen (Gütersloh: Kaiser, 1996), 457-73. On the relations between Monism and
occultism see Monika Fick, Sinnenwelt und Weltseele (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1993).
On the Giordano-Bruno-Bund in the context of fin-de-siècle Monism see Andreas
Daum, Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert: bürgerliche Kultur,
naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit, 1848-1914
(Munich: Oldenbourg, 1998), 214-16. For general background see Paul Ziche, ed.,
Monismus um 1900: Wissenschaftskultur und Weltanschauung (Berlin: Verlag fur
Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2000); Frank Simon-Ritz, Die Organisation einer
Weltanschauung: Die freigeistige Bewegung im Wilhelminischen Deutschland
(Gütersloh: Kaiser, 1997); Volker Drehsen and Helmut Zander, “Rationale
Weltveränderung durch ‘naturwissenschaftliche’ Weltinterpretation? Der
Monistenbund – eine Religion der Fortschrittsgläubigkeit” in Volker Drehsen und
Walter Sparn, eds., Vom Weltbildwandel zur Weltanschauungsanalyse:
Krisenwahrnehmung und Krisenbewältigung um 1900 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1996).

[10] Steiner’s correspondence from 1890-1891 suggests a clear interest in
esoteric ideas, albeit a temporary one, specifically connected to the Viennese
theosophical circles around Marie Lang and Friedrich Eckstein; see Rudolf
Steiner, Briefe vol. I (Dornach: Selbstverlag Marie Steiner, 1948). For
Steiner’s published polemics against theosophical and other occult tendencies
see Rudolf Steiner, “Allan Kardec, Der Himmel und die Hölle” (1891) in Steiner,
Methodische Grundlagen der Anthroposophie, 493-95; Steiner, “Das Dasein als
Lust, Leid und Liebe” (1892) in ibid., 510-11, attacking a recent anonymously
published book by a
leading Theosophist, Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden, whom Steiner later came to view as
a theosophical colleague and mentor; and above all Steiner’s fundamental
critique, “Theosophen,” published in his Magazin für Litteratur in 1897 and
reprinted in Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur, 194-96. In another 1897
text Steiner expressed stark disapproval of “Christian and mystical notions”;
see Steiner, Goethes Weltanschauung (Weimar: Felber, 1897), 81. See also the
published report from 1893 on Steiner’s critical lecture in Weimar on spiritism
and related phenomena, in which he roundly rejected supernatural explanations
and the notion of “otherworldly beings” (“jenseitige Wesen”) and endorsed
Haeckel’s Monism: “Hypnotismus mit Berücksichtigung des Spiritismus,” unsigned
report originally published in the newspaper Deutschland, March 26, 1893;
reprinted in Beiträge zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe 99 (1988), 11-12. Similar
sentiments appeared in Steiner’s 1893 Philosophy of Freedom and his 1895
Nietzsche book as well. As late as 1900, Steiner still flatly rejected the
notion of a “supernatural order of the world” (“übernatürliche Weltordnung”):
Steiner, Haeckel und seine Gegner, 30.

[11] Anthroposophists generally consider Steiner’s early work fully consistent
with his mature views, a claim which Steiner himself often reiterated after
1902. The 1918 second edition of Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom, for example,
contains numerous passages that have been fundamentally altered from the
original edition, while Steiner’s foreword to the second edition nonetheless
emphatically insists that no substantive changes have been made.

[12] The quoted phrase is the subtitle of the central theosophical text, Helena
Blavatsky’s 1888 work The Secret Doctrine. Other prominent converts to Theosophy
sometimes displayed a similar background and trajectory; Annie Besant, for
example, Blavatsky’s eventual successor as head of the international
Theosophical Society, had been an avowed atheist and actively involved in social
reform efforts before turning to esoteric endeavors. For perceptive studies of
this process see Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and
Belief (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), and Catherine Wessinger,
Annie Besant and Progressive Messianism (Lewiston: Mellen, 1988); for an
alternative account of Besant’s turn to theosophy that emphasizes the role of
evolutionary thought see Mark Bevir, “Annie Besant’s Quest for Truth:
Christianity, Secularism, and New Age Thought” Journal of Ecclesiastical History
50 (1999), 62-93. On the specifically German context around 1900 see Ulrich
Linse, “‘Säkularisierung’ oder ‘Neue Religiosität’? Zur religiösen Situation in
Deutschland um 1900” Recherches Germaniques 27 (1997), 117-41.

[13] Steiner was originally invited to speak to a theosophical gathering in
Berlin in 1900. His choice of a theosophical career, after some hesitation (in
the course of 1900-02 Steiner applied unsuccessfully for several jobs, including
university lecturer and newspaper editor), brought him economic security and a
position of authority within a community of like-minded souls. His about-face
regarding Theosophy may have involved a desire for social recognition of his
prodigious talents, an urge to teach, and gratitude that at least the
theosophists appreciated his abilities and wanted his leadership. Steiner’s
increasingly close personal involvement with active theosophist Marie von
Sivers, whom he met in 1900 and eventually married, played an important role as

[14] For brief discussion of Steiner’s place within the broader religious
landscape of early twentieth century Germany see Thomas Nipperdey, Religion im
Umbruch: Deutschland 1870-1918 (Munich: Beck, 1988), 145-46; a more thorough
analysis is available in Bernhard Maier, Die religionsgeschichtliche Stellung
der Anthroposophie (Munich: Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Religions- und
Weltanschaungsfragen, 1988).

Peter Staudenmaier

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© Tom Last 2017