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Steiner Free Spirit Essay's Published 1887-1900

1887-1900 Collected Essays from Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom Period

"At the back of my mind there always lurked this question: how could the epoch be persuaded to accept the ideas of The Philosophy of Freedom? If you are prepared to take the trouble, you will find that everything I wrote for the Magazin für Literatur is imbued with the spirit of The Philosophy of Freedom." Rudolf Steiner 

The essays in this volume are divided into four main sections: The first part contains Rudolf Steiner's contributions to the daily politics of the "Deutsche Wochenschrift" (Vienna 1888), which represented the national interests of Germany in Austria.

The second part contains cultural and contemporary articles, which Rudolf Steiner wrote especially for the "Magazin für Literatur" published by him in Berlin.

In the third part, Rudolf Steiner's contributions on Nietzsche and the Nietzsche Archive are compiled.

The fourth part contains smaller book reviews and various other contributions.

CONTENTS Source of the journals pages 716/717

PDF download link (German)


Essays from "German weekly" 1888, VI. vintage

The week, December 30, 1887-5. January 1888, No. 1. , 17
DieWoche, fifth-ll.Januarl888, No.2 20
The week, 12.-18. January 1888, No. 3 22
The week, 18.-24. January 1888, No. 4 26
The week, 25.-31. January 1888, No. 5 30
The week, 1.-7. February 1888, No. 6 39
The week, 8.-15. February 1888, No. 7 43
The week, 15.-22. February 1888, No. 8 47
The week, 22.-29. February 1888, No. 9 50
The week, 1.-7. March 1888, No. 10 53
The week, 7.-14. March 1888, No. 11 56
The week, 14.-21. March 1888, No. 12 62
The week, 22.-28. March 1888, No. 13 64
The week, March 29-4. April 1888, No. 14 67
The week, 5.-11. April 1888, No. 15 70
The week, 11.-18. April 1888, No. 16 74
The week, 18.-25. April 1888, No. 17 76
The week, April 26th-2. May 1888, No. 18 78
The week, 3.-10. May 1888, No. 19 80
The week, 11.-16. May 1888, no. 20 82
The week, 17.-23. May 1888, No. 21 85
The week, 23.-30. May 1888, No. 22 88
The week, May 31 -6. June 1888, No. 23 90
The week, 6.-13. June 1888, No. 24 93
The week, 14.-20. June 1888, No. 25 96
The Week, June 21-27, 1988, No. 26 ........ 99
The week, June 28-4. July 1888, No. 27 102
The week, 5.-11. July 1888, No. 28 105
The week, 11.-18. July 1888, no. 29 108
The German national thing in Austria. The parlamen
Tarische representation of the Germans .111
German weekly 1888, VI. Jg., No. 22
The German national thing in Austria. The Germans
Clericals and their friends 116
German weekly 1888, VI. Jg., No. 25
The German education system (in Austria) and Mr.
vonGautsch 121
German weekly 1888, VI. Gen., No. 23
Monsignor Greuter 127
German weekly 1888, VI. Jg., No. 26
The Emperor's words 130
German weekly 1888, VI. Jg., No. 26
Papacy and Liberalism 134
German weekly 1888, VI Jg., No. 28
The Germans in Austria and their next tasks 139 Deutsche Wochenschrift 1888, VI. Jg., No. 29



Cultural and contemporary articles, which Rudolf Steiner wrote especially for the "Magazin für Literatur" published by him in Berlin.

General Assembly of the Goethe Society 149
Chronicle of the Vienna Goethe-Verein, V. Band, 6th ed., No. 5, May 25, 1891

Moltke As Philosopher 154
Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 15, April 9, 1892

Maximilian Harden "Apostate" 158
Literary Mercury, Xu. Gen., No. 27, 2 July 1892

A "Society For Ethical Culture" in Germany. .164
Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 40, October 10, 1892

A "Society for Ethical Culture" 169
The Future, Volume I, No. 5, October 29, 1892

J.M.Bosch "Human Compassion" A contribution to the foundation of Scientific Ethics 176
Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 50, December 17, 1892

Adolf Gerecke "The Hopelessness Of Morality" 177
Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 51, December 24, 1892

Old And New Moral Concepts 180
The Future, II. Volume, No. 16, January 14, 1893

Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxony 187
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 14, April 8, 1897

Catholicism And Progress 189
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 37, 18 September 1897

The Desire Of The Jews For Palestine 196
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No., 38, 25 September 1897

Goethe Days in Weimar
Report on the 13th General Assembly of the Deutsche Goethe-Gesellschaft. , 20
Supplement to the Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 232, Oct. 14, 1897

Kuno Fischer on the Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxony 207 Magazine for Literature, 66th Y., No. 41, 16 October 1897

Goethe Days in Weimar. Report on the 13th General Assembly of the Deutsche Goethe-Gesellschaft. .212 Magazine for Literature, 66th ed., No. 42, October 23, 1897

Theodor Mommsen's letter to the Germans of Austria 214
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 45, November 13, 1897

The daily conversation of today 217
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, no. 46, 20 November 1897

The instincts of the French 221
Magazine for Literature, 66th Y., No. 49, 11 December 1897

Emile Zola to the youth 225
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 7, February 19, 1898

Zola's oath and the truth about Dreyfus 230
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 9, March 5, 1898

Contemporary High School Reform 232
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 9, March 5, 1898

University education and the requirements of the Ge
currently 235
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 19, May 14, 1898

The Goethetag in Weimar. Report on the 14th General Assembly of the German Goethe-Gesellschaft. , 239 Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 24, 18 June 1898

The Social Question 247
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 28, 16 July 1898
Freedom and Society 251
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 29 and 30, 23 and 30 July 1898
Bismarck, the man of political success 263
Magazine for Literature, 67th Jg., No. 32, 13th August 1898
Friedrich Jodl «Essence and goals of the ethical movement
in Germany »272
Dramaturgical Sheets, 1st Gen., No. 32, 13 August 1898
Jules Michelet 274
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 33, August 20, 1898
Literary Wisdom and Devil Island 276
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 37, 17 September 1898
Dreyfus letters 277
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 41, 15 October 1898
John Henry Mackay and Rudolf Steiner. The individuali
Stark Anarchism: An Opponent of «Propaganda of the
Did". Open Letter to Dr. Ing. Rudolf Steiner, Out
donor of the "Zeitschrift für Literatur" 281
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 39, September 30, 1898
Answer to John Henry Mackay 283
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 39, September 30, 1898
Correction 287
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 41, 15 October 1898
Joseph Müller "Reform Catholicism" 288
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 41, 15 October 1898
School and college 289
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 49, 50, 3, 17 December 1898
College and Public Life 301
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 50 and 51, 17 and 24 December 1898
Moritz von Egidy. Died on December 29, 1898. ,
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 2, January 14, 1899
On the problem of the journalist and critic. On the occasion of the death of Emil Schiff on January 23, 1899. , , Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 5, 4 February 1899
Professor Schell 324
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 10, March 11, 1899
About the apprenticeship 327
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 11, 18 March 1899
The literature on the woman question 329
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 11, 18 March 1899
Heinrich von Treitschke «Politics» 335
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 11, 18 March 1899
Collegium logicum 337
Magazine for Literature, 68th year no. 12, 25th March 1899
Gutenberg's act as a landmark of cultural development. .341
German Book and Stone Printer 1900, 6th volume, No. 9
The printing art. To celebrate the five hundredth birthday
their creator's day 354
Magazine for Literature, 69th Y., No. 25, 23 June 1900
A monument 360
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 40, 6 October 1900
Thomas Babington Macaulay. Born on Oct. 25, 1800 367 Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 42, October 20, 1900
Max Müller 373
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 47, 24th November 1900
Ahasuerus 378
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 35, September 1, 1900



Rudolf Steiner's contributions on Nietzsche and the Nietzsche Archive. 

Nietzscheanism 453
Literary Mercury, XII. Gen., No. 14, April 2, 1892
Friedrich Nietzsche «So Spoke Zarathustra», IV. Part.
Recent publication from Nietzsche's estate. - A book
for all and none. Fourth and last part 460
Literary Mercury, XII. Gen., No. 24, June 11, 1892
Kurt Eisner «Psychopathia spiritualis. Friedrich Nietzsche
and the apostles of the future »467
Literary Mercury, XIII. Gen., No. 4, January 28, 1893
Communication and correction 469
Supplement to the Allgemeine Zeitung (Munich) No. 215 and 217, 17 and 24 September 1896
Nietzsche Archive 470
Hamburger Fremdenblatt, October 3, 1896
Nietzsche in pious illumination 471
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 33, August 20, 1898
A real "disciple" Zarathustra 475
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 43, October 29, 1898
Friedrich Nietzsche and the Berliner Tageblatt .... 479 Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 5, 3 February 1900
Friedrich Nietzsche as a poet of the modern world
Look 482
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 49, 8 December 1900
Short excerpt from a lecture. About F. Nietzsche. , 486 Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 39, September 29, 1900
Friedrich Nietzsche, died on August 25, 1900. , , 489 Entertainment Sheet of the Forward, No. 165, August 28, 1900
Haeckel, Tolstoy and Nietzsche 497
Magazine for Literature, 70th Y., No. 45, 9 November 1901
The Nietzsche Archive and its charges against the previous editor. A revelation
I. The publication of Nietzsche's works 505
II. On the characteristics of Mrs. E. Förster-Nietzsche. .519
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 6, February 10, 1900
The Second Coming of Nietzsche .... 529 A defense of Nietzsche's so-called "Second Coming". From Dr. E. Horn pepper
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 15, April 14, 1900
Response to the above 538
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 15, April 14, 1900
The so-called second coming of the same from Nietz
cal. A continuation of my reply to E. Horn
effers essay "A Defense of the so-called" Wie-
dergleich der Gleichen) by Nietzsche »549
Magazine for Literature, 69th Y., No. 16 and 17, 21 and 28 April 1900
Mrs. E. Förster-Nietzsche and her knight of funny shape. An answer to Dr. Seidl's "unmasking". , 571 The Society, XVI. Jg., Volume IL Issue 4, May 1900
594 response
The Future 1900, VIII Jg., 31st Volume, No. 33
Letter from Rudolf Steiner to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. , 598
The alleged "fight for the Nietzsche edition". .601 Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 27, 7 July 1900



Smaller book reviews and various other contributions.


C. Andresen "The Development of Man" .... 617 Literary Mercury, XL, no. 40, October 3, 1891
Jürgen Bona Meyer «Temperament and temperament
treatment »618
Literary Mercury, XI. Jg., No. 41, October 10, 1891
E. Kulke «On the evolution of opinions» 619
Literary Mercury, XII. Gen., No. 2, January 9, 1892
E. Martig "Psychological Psychology with Application
on education »621
Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 12, March 19, 1892
Franz Lauczizky «Textbook of Logic» 622
Literary Mercury, XII. Gen., No. 9, February 27, 1892
Dr. R. Biese «Principles of Modern Humanity Education» 623
Literary Mercury, XII. Gen., No. 37, September 10, 1892
Prof. Dr. Kirchner «Green Germany». A ramble
by the recent German poetry 626
Literary Mercury, XIII. Gen., No. 32, August 19, 1893
Woldemar von Biedermann 628
Magazine for Literature, 66th Y., No. 11, 18 March 1897
To our readers 629
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 27, 10 July 1897
Alfred von Arneth 630
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, no. 32, 14th August 1897
Henry George 631
Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 44, 6 November 1897
announcement 632
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 1, 8 January 1898
A letter from Blaise Pascal 633
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 10, March 12, 1898
Karl Biedermann «The First German Parliament» .... 634
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 14, April 9, 1898
Dr. Kurella «Socialism in England» 635
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 18, May 7, 1898
Science and Press 635
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 20, 21 May 1898
About popular university courses 636
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 30, July 30, 1898
Heinrich Kiepert 638
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 31, 6th August 1898
To the lecture of Prof. Pietzker about "Naturwissen
academic instruction »639
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 41, 15 October 1898
Louis Dollivet "Rooms Juif!" 640
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 43, October 29, 1898
Moriz Lazarus "Ethics of Judaism" 640
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 43, October 29, 1898
Announcement for the year 1899 641
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 1, 7 January 1899
Eduard Samson. Died on 2 May 1899 642
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 19, May 13, 1899
Postscript to an essay «begins the 19th century
with the coming New Year's Day? »643
Magazine for Literature, 68th Y., No. 50, 16 December 1899
Lecture by Karl Lamprecht 646
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 4, January 27, 1900
Ernst goal «from today». Thoughts on the threshold of
century 647
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 10, March 10, 1900
Against the "Lex Heinze" 651
Magazine for Literature, 69th year, No. 10, March 10, 1900
Lex Heinze 652
Magazine for Literature, 69th Y., No. 21, May 26, 1900


The Goethetage in Weimar 655
Vmtl. Weimar newspaper 1897
School and College 660
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 49, December 10, 1898
University education and public life 661
Autoreferat, leaflet [December 1898]
Information from the publisher
To this issue 665
Notes on text 667
Name Index 703
References of journals 716
Overview of the Rudolf Steiner Complete Edition. , , 719


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Adolf Gerecke "The Hopelessness Of Morality"

Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 51, December 24, 1892
Google translate: German to English


The author seeks to prove the irrelevance, indeed harmfulness, of moral commandments or norms for human action. He sees the establishment of such norms as a consequence of the more or less consciously represented world-view of dualistic philosophers and religious founders. According to the latter, the laws of the morality of the soul are to be implanted, whereby it controls the sensuality and refines the merely physical existence into a moral one.

Gerecke is trying to show that there is not a special spiritual addition to the physical nature of man. For him, human sensations are only the result of an external impulse to our organism. Knowledge arises through the mechanical play of the new external impulses with the ongoing effects in the existing organism. Emotions and desires are to him the reaction of the organic forces relationship to such impressions. If an effect on an organism is such that its metabolism is promoted, pleasure is inhibited and becomes pain. We bring sympathy to a person when the effects of his presence on our organism are such that the latter finds himself encouraged in his activity, in the other case the presence of the person triggers antipathy. Since man does not have the power to set up the outside world in such a way that he acts on him in a manner he desires, he is also unable to establish his acts, which are dependent on them, according to norms which are quite foreign to this external world. and that come solely from within. Our affections and desires, our passions and sympathies are in the sense of Gereckes the result of the mechanical world process. However, the effects of moral legislation on them are meaningless. They can not change the necessary course of our physical life; they can only work in the same way as the material agents in the way that they produce desires and affects.

According to Gereckes conviction, this usually happens in a harmful way. Any moral teacher or statesman "who, in the interest of his social system, seeks to control the antipathic and sympathetic emotions, who, more correctly, makes the foolish and criminal attempt to force men --through the power of the law and the powers of persuasion-- the effects thereof is to suppress emotions, I call an educator of criminals "(p. 183). Gerecke believes that by the process of suppressing desires, other more unusual and refined ones emerge. "The desire for control, or even eradication of desires is tantamount to the same education to the extreme" (p 190).

I must confess that rarely has a book caused me bitter feelings like this. The author, I am convinced, has good faculties to serve science in the sense that is required at present, if we are to overcome the often unsatisfied conceptions of the past. The path leading to a prosperous future lies indeed in the overcoming of dualism and in the foundation of monism, which rejects the acceptance of two worlds. The future will see man's ethical life emerge from the same source from which natural events spring. Moral laws will only be considered as special cases of natural laws. Therefore, they will no longer be sought in abstract norms, but in concrete individual life.

The author of this book suspects this, rather: a kind of unconscious conviction of it haunts him. But his imagination life is polluted by the banal intuitions of materialism. This world-view knows no difference between man and a machine. At least no qualitative. What in their sense man has other than, for example, the clock, is only the complexity of the substances and forces that compose it. There can be nothing more harmful in the spiritual realm than this world-view. It therefore causes tremendous devastation in the human mind because it is shallow and superficial, and the shallow and shallow views are always the best food for the great masses. That in Gerecke we are dealing with a writer who had much to do in his training before he took up his pen, is proved by his incredibly awkward style. Too bad that the man did not work on himself a little bit, with a better style would probably have come to more thorough thoughts. However, this book is useless for anyone.

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Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 50, December 17, 1892
Google translate: German to English

A contribution to the foundation of scientific ethics.

The assertion of rationalist ethicists that only such an act can be regarded as truly moral, whose motive forces are not caused by the egoism of the individual, has been severely contradicted by the statements of more recent psychologists, who ultimately attribute all human activities to egoistic motives. Even the seemingly selfless actions are to have their reason in selfish feelings, according to this latter view. The psychological constitution of the individual should be such in the bearer of so-called selfless deeds that his sense of self is lifted when it brings its sacrifices to the world. In contrast to this current, the author of this work seeks to ascertain the existence and nature of human compassion and to prove that the latter is the cause of unegoistic actions.

Based on the investigations of Herbert Spencer he shows how the others feelings in our own ego, when we perceive a certain emotional expression (cry - trembling, etc.) in the other person, because we know that a corresponding emotional expression also occurs in us with the living in the feelings of others. Furthermore--and going beyond Spencer--the author finds that the perception of another's emotional expression can directly awaken the corresponding feeling in us, without first interposing the idea of the emotional expression that we ourselves have made.

Based on these facts, the author comes to basic ethical terms that do justice to the demands of ethical altruism as well as the findings of psychology. For "though the actions of the well-wishers as well as those of the most reckless egoist are always determined by his own ups and downs," the well-wishers conduct is not calculated quite like that of the egoist to the highest possible own future happiness. In short, we have to do with a very readable, serious claims in every way appropriate writing.

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A "Society for Ethical Culture"

Rudolf Steiner, The Future, Volume I, No. 5, October 29, 1892
Google translate: German to English


Why did Friedrich Nietzsche think deliriously about the great questions of human morality? It would have been much easier to hear Felix Adler, the professor of philosophy from America, about the "common morality common to all good people" and to proclaim what he had heard from the German people as a doctrine of salvation. So it has made an elite of German educated and established a "Society for Ethical Culture," the purpose of which is to make that "common" the main carrier of educated people. I notice right from the start that there are men among the founders of society who I esteem. The founding itself, however, arises from a backward conception of life.

Official philosophers, who today still call the old Kant-grip cripple Nietzsche-ruminate on him, firmly stand by the view that there is such a thing as a "morality common to all good people"; Modern thinking that captures its time and looks a bit too far into the future is beyond. "Act so that the principles of your action may be valid for all men"; this is the core of Kant's moral teaching. And in every key, this saying sounds to our ears from the confessions of those who call themselves Liberals, Liberals, Humanity Apostles, and so forth. But today there is already a circle of people who know that this sentence is the death of all individual life, and that on the life of individuality all cultural progress is based. What is special about every human being, must emerge from it and become part of the process of development. If one disregards this special, which everyone has for himself, then only a banal "general" remains, which can not bring mankind by a margin. A few rules of convenience for the intercourse, that is all that can come out as "common good to all good people". The ethical life of man, in the true sense of the word, does not begin until these laws based on utility hear.

And this life can only come from the center of the personality and will never be the result of implanted tenets. There is no universal human ethics. To the Kantian proposition, modern sentiment must reciprocate the very opposite: act just as, according to your particular individuality, only you can act; then you contribute most to the whole; because then you accomplish what others can not do. This is what all the people of history have said. Therefore, there are so many different moral conceptions, as there are peoples, ages, and basically as many as there have been and are individuals. And if this natural law were replaced by that which is held to be correct by the moral philosophers who think in the Kantian sense: a bland monotony of all human action would be the necessary consequence. Such "general" moral principles have often been established; but no man has ever set his life after. And the realization that this is a business for idle minds should characterize all modern thought.

I can well imagine what objections to these sentences are raised. "That justifies the pure anarchy!" "If only one lives out, then one can not think of a common work!" Had I not really heard such objections, I would find it superfluous to touch them with only a few words. It is here, as already said, the speech of the ethical life of man. What is below its level is not subject to moral standards; this is only judged according to its expediency and inappropriateness.

Here to do the right thing is the task of social bodies; Ethics has nothing to do with it. The state may watch over the usefulness or harmfulness of human actions and provide the most appropriate; the ethical value of my actions is something that I have to deal with as an individual with myself. There may be rules of expediency of action, and their observance may be enforced by force; Rules of moral action do not exist. Anarchism is not to be rejected because it is immoral, but because it is inappropriate. In the realm of morality alone the principle can apply: to let live and to live.

It is not surprising that in America, where in an eminently material cultural life everything that goes beyond concern for the basic needs of life is consumed by the idea of ​​"ethical societies". In Germany, where there is still a sense for the higher tasks of humanity, but should not be imitated. Wherever one thinks of it, the physical life is as comfortable as possible. It may be desirable to look for the comfortable means of finding moral principles, because moral impulses are lacking. But in a cultural area where there is a true spiritual life, the particular moral life can only be the result of the prevailing world view. My attitude in life will depend on how I relate to both, in my view of nature and the human world. The custom is always a necessary consequence of the knowledge of an age, people or people.

For this reason, great individualities who proclaim new truths to their ages will always give a new stamp to life. A Messiah of a new truth is always the herald of a new morality. A moralist who has only behavioral measures to give without knowing anything special about nature or people is never heard. Therefore, there can be nothing more wrong than the measure adopted by the constituent assembly of the "ethical society" of wanting to influence the improvement of ethical life by disseminating moral writings. It is quite understandable to me that one has completely ignored German writings and initially only thinks of translations of American books.

In Germany one would not find much useful for this purpose. Here books on ethics make only the school philosophers who are biased in the unfashionable Kantian doctrine. But they write a completely incomprehensible school language for those circles on which the "ethical society" reckons. Out-of-school philosophers, however, have no moral principles. Here, the moral-individualistic way of thinking has already settled in deeply. The American books of this type contain mostly trivia, which is to be read only emotional-minded old girls or immature schoolboys. The right German, scholarly, or unlearned, Philistine will buy many, and many a glorious one to tell about them; he will not read it.

Men of some knowledge, who have not quite come to sleep because of our sad school philosophy in thought, know that in the majority of these books there are only wisdom about which one hundred years ago we, the advanced ones, only had one yawn. But it is lamentable to hear it that youth education should be inoculated with these desolate moral maxims. Herr von Gizycki spoke the sharpest words about the pedagogically reprehensible influence of purely confessional education. Hardly any modern thinker will argue with him about that. But what the denominations do with their moral principles, the "ethical society" wants to imitate with the universal human. But here and there nothing is achieved but the killing of the individual and the subjugation of life through lifeless, rigid laws.

In the place of the clerics of religions, the priests of general-human morality should step. With these, however, it is even worse ordered than with those. The confessional moral doctrines are the results of certain worldviews that make up the legitimate cultural content of humanity; the universal human moral doctrine is a sum of commonplaces; they are scraps of all sorts of moral notions that do not stand out against the background of a great conception of time. Anyone who thinks that it is viable or even suitable to reform the ethical content of our culture, is thus giving its psychological insight a bad testimony.

We are faced with a reshaping of our whole world-view. All the pain that a sex struggling with the highest questions has to endure weighs on us. We feel the agony of questioning; the happiness of the solution of the great riddle shall bring us a Messiah, which we daily expect. Our time of suffering may be long, for we have become demanding; and we will not be put off so soon. But this much is certain: whatever he will announce to us, the reformer: with the new knowledge the new morality will come. Then we will also know how to set up the new life. To put the educated now old cultural remnants as the eternal moral good of humanity means to blunt them for the perception of the fermentation phenomena of the time, and make them unsuitable for participation in the tasks of the nearest future.

Among the statutes of the "Society for Ethical Culture" are yes also some that will have a favorable effect. The initiation of a more lively discussion of religious questions, the pursuit of a better life for the poorer classes of society are things that deserve all recognition. But all this has nothing to do with the basic tendencies of society, which want to push all conceptions of ethical life back to a level surmounted by modern consciousness. 

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A "Society For Ethical Culture" in Germany

Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 40, October 10, 1892
Google translate: German to English


It does not go on like we did until now. The deep-seated morality must be helped again! This is what a number of well-meaning people thought, and they founded an "Association for Ethical Culture." News from Berlin has just gone through the newspapers that this new institution has come into being for the salvation of humanity and the invitation to join. And among the founders we find some name that belongs to a person whom we revered. The purpose of the association should be to emphasize the general and human in relation to all religious and moral peculiarities of the individual religions and cultures and to make this the bearer of his worldview and way of life. This should be pursued by a literary (existing in lectures, discussions and writers edition) and a practical (charity act and urge on improvement of the situation of the needy population) club activity. In view of the first part of the program, a discussion of this association probably belongs to this section of a literary journal.

The fundamental error underlying this is the belief in a universal human morality. Just as "human in general" is not possible, but only a conceptual fiction, so little can one speak of ethics in general. Every people, every age, and indeed every individual has its own morality. The thinker can then seek out the commonality of all these moral views; he can search for the driving forces which are equally effective in all. But the result obtained by it has only a theoretical value. It is infinitely important to the knowledge of the ethical nature of man, of his moral nature. It can never be made the bearer of life. And there can be nothing more satisfying than that this is not possible. In the place of the individual living out of the national and human natures, of the ages and individuals, there would otherwise be the stereotypical action of moral dolls, which would always be pulled by the threads of the universal human moral doctrine.

Nowhere else than in the moral life can the principle apply: live and let live! The morality of a person or of an age is the unconscious result of his view of life and world. According to a certain way of thinking and feeling, action gains an individual character; and never can be thought of a separate care of the latter. An elite of educated people is working today on reshaping our view of life, both in terms of science and religion and art. Everyone does his share. What comes out of it will become decisive for our actions. The cultivation of knowledge, of truth, of artistic intuitions can be the content of common aspirations. It will then automatically lead to a common ethics in many things. Show everyone what he knows, put on the public map what he has done; in short, he lives out in every direction: then he will be more to the whole than to go before her with the pretense of being able to tell her how to behave. Many of our contemporaries are finally tired of talking about what we should and should not do. They demand insight into the world course. If they have them, then they also know how to behave in the world they know. And those who do not have this insight and yet come to them with their good teachings for our actions, they are regarded as Moralsophist. Our task within humanity results simply from our knowledge of the nature of that part of it to which we belong. For those who recognize the truth of these sentences, aspirations, as they underlie the "Association for Ethical Culture," are considered unfashionable and backward.

We have very different things to do than think about how we should behave. Our whole life is basically in a transitional period because our old views no longer exist for the modern consciousness and because the materialism which the natural sciences want to replace us with is merely an opinion for foolish people. We may soon be at the point where anyone speaks the redemptive word that solves the riddle of the world from which humanity has raised it to the present. We are again suffering from the great questions of knowledge and the highest art problems. The old has become rotten. And when it has been found, the great solution many people will be able to believe for some time, when there will be the new gospel, will be, as always in this case, the new custom as a necessary consequence of itself arise. New worldviews naturally bring forth new moral teachings.

The Messiah of Truth is always the Messiah of Morality. Folk educators, who have much for our heart, but nothing for our head, we can not need. The heart follows the head, if the latter has only one definite direction. If efforts in America, such as the "Association for Ethical Culture," have long been on the order of the day, we Germans have no reason to imitate it. Among the peoples with predominantly practical, material tendencies, a certain slackness with regard to questions of knowledge is torn. The vivacious interest in questions of knowledge and truth, which is still native to us in Germany, does not exist there. It is therefore convenient for them to be comfortable on the couch of a general human moral teaching. What she thinks about that, she does not inhibit the stereotyped morality. They do not know the torment of the thinker, not that of the artist. At least not those who belong to the societies for ethical culture. But who, like the German, has ideal life in his life, who wants to advance in the spiritual, for whom the path must be free and open, not mislaid by moral regulations and measures of popular education. It must, in order to repeat a frequently used word, everyone be able to be blessed in his own way. Therefore, no modern thinker can join the club in question or endorse its tendencies.

I do not doubt that the word "tolerance" that society has inscribed on its banner will exert its talmi-gold effect on broad strata of society. Certainly it will do as much with it as with the no less misused others: liberalism and humanity. Goethe said that he did not want to know about liberal ideas, only sentiments and feelings could be liberal. A liberated liberal, when I once quoted the intuition of the great poet, was soon finished with his verdict: it was just one of the many weaknesses that Goethe had in himself. However, it seems to me to be one of the many views that Goethe shares with all those who are energetically active in the spiritual sphere: the reckless advocacy of what is known and perceived as true, which at the same time combines with the highest respect for the foreign individuality. Only those who are themselves can recognize the other, who also means something. The average person, who wants everything and therefore nothing, demands just as much beside his own. Anyone who lives according to the template also wants to design the others accordingly.

Therefore, all people who have something to say are also interested in the others. But those who have absolutely nothing to say, speak of tolerance and liberalism. But they mean nothing more than that a general home should be created for everything insignificant and flat. They just do not have to reckon on those having responsibilities in the world. For them it is hurtful to expect them to bow under the yoke of any generality; be it that of a general art norm or that of a general morality. They want to be free, to have free movement of their individuality. The rejection of any norm is the very essence of modern consciousness. Kant's principle: Live in such a way that the maxim of your actions can become universal is discarded. In his place must come: Live as best as your inner being; live out completely, completely. Just when every one of the whole gives what no one else but only he can give, then he does the most for them. But Kant's principle demands the performance of what everyone can do evenly. But whoever is a real person does not care. The "Society for Ethical Culture" understands our time badly. That proves their program.

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Maximilian Harden "Apostate"

Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, Xu. Gen., No. 27, 2 July 1892
Google translate: German to English


For decades, our educated were in love with a brittle beautiful. She had serious features, a pale complexion, dark hair, no fullness; and rarely was there anything like passion in her face. Nobody could be so warm in their presence. It was not always like being with her. Only on in the big markets, where public opinion is offered, one stood proudly by their side. If one wanted to spend a comfortable hour, if one lived only for oneself and one's immediate surroundings, and did not need to give his words the tone that made them seem suggestive of the crowd, then one got rid of the companion. But one also did great and boasted of the chaste relationship.

The woman is called the "faithfulness to principle".

We have a time behind us that has driven the worship of the "principle" to disgust. Original feeling, individual judgment was nothing; With a few principles that you kept coming up with and you judged everything you wanted to make a living. Man was little, the principles to which he swore everything. We did not care about the individual, but whether it was liberal or conservative, national or cosmopolitan, materialistic or idealistic.

There are signs that things are getting better. Latecomers are still to be seen in abundance, latecomers who still sing the old song. But you can see how the understanding of the individual is on the increase. Nothing can prove this more clearly than the success of Maximilian Harden's two «Apostata» volumes. These include the essays that Harden has published in recent years in various German journals on contemporary events and contemporaries. People were always looking for these articles in the places where they could be hoped to find them. It was curious what Harden said about an incident, because one appreciated the peculiar personality of this writer. And you never felt deceiving, because Harden knew something to say, which would have occurred to no one else. And one more thing: Harden is not content to just say his opinion so easily. He knows that you are nourished by foods without added spices, but that they taste better with the same. Harden is noble enough to let his opinions appear only in such a garment that not only the content but also the shell is of interest.

We like it better when someone encourages us than when he wants to convince us. I do not like them who write thin and thick books to teach their peers a conviction. I think it's just tactless. It always requires stupid readers who should be instructed. Most of our writers do not want to talk to us about their subject matter, but demand that we let them teach us. It is only because this attitude is so widespread that so much is written that the Graces do not even want to squint with a contemptuous sidelong glance. We love to read Harden because he does not have a trace of such sentiment. One feels treated as a human while reading his writings. And you are not used to it with authors. He does not push anyone's conviction, but he says his opinion; and it will interest the others, even if he does not share them. Yes, she will be much more useful to him than the one he can immediately sign in full. This is usually the case only for the most banal things.

The unconscious respect Harden has for his reader characterizes him as the type of a distinguished writer. As such, one thing is peculiar to him. That's the audacity of the Judgment and the self-confident way in which he is born. Harden's judgment never clings to that leaden timidity that dares to utter only "modestly" or "with reservation" or "irrelevant," but it is definite, sharp, unreserved. The mind of a right-human reacts not indefinitely, blurred, unclear on anything that approaches him, but violently, sharply. Whoever does not place this vehemence and sharpness in the expression of his views, does not deserve that his fellow-men are interested in him. He remains uninteresting. For he lacks that high sense of truth, which is the characteristic of a distinguished man. Who is true, speaks more or less paradoxically.

Nor can one of our sayings demand that it be absolutely true, for the whole truth will presumably come to light only through the infinite number of one-sidednesses in their connection. Who is afraid to say something paradoxical, and therefore the tips of his off saying as much as possible mitigates, that will accomplish nothing but more or less bland, banal talk. Harden's claims are now as acute as possible. Anyway, he does not need a file to blunt his sharpening, but he's probably a very sharp instrument to sharpen what you can touch with his finger without cutting. We are dealing with a writer whom we often enthusiastically agree with, often annoying us excessively about him. The authors are also the most wretched creatures you never have to worry about. Except, of course, is only the case, if one is annoyed only about stupidity.

How fine Harden's view is, as the article, which opens the second collection of the "Apostate" shows. He is talking about Harden's visit to Prince Bismarck, which took place a few weeks ago. We get a picture of the overwhelming individuality of this monumental personality, as we can not wish it better. This is the real art of the characteristic: to place in a picture the very lines that best represent the represented individuality. And Harden understands that masterfully. Incidentally, other passages of his "Apostate" volumes show how he, too, appreciates the great chancellor. Harden knows that man acts according to individual principles and the philistines according to principles. And his hatred of all philistinism is not slight. Eugen Richter gets away badly. Worst in the concluding article of the second volume: "Duck pond". How could Harden, the idol worshiper of the individual, hate other than the one who wants to substitute for human Tyrannis one of abstract principles.

That Richter could never understand that all useful things must come from the will of the personality, and that one can never come to terms with general principles of reality, made him the enemy of the greatest statesman whom he would otherwise regard as the greatest political accomplice have to. Bismarck, on the other hand, could rightly view a man with resentment, who has no feeling for the factual, but who, time and time again, uses the "liberal principles."

Harden's understanding of the individual also makes him a sensitive psychologist. All those who rear up and claim to want to see everything psychologically could learn much from Harden. Just read his article on Guy de Maupassant. Psychological essays also want to write our young Germans; but it is not right, because they are full of dogmas and arbitrary conditions. And the real can not be dictated, but only observed. Nobody can judge an artist if he approaches the latter with art demands. Only those who are under the impression of full reality, without prejudice, can also see clearly.

But very few people can think of something when they look at an individual piece of reality in such an unbiased way. They have a recipe in their pockets, and their verdict is that they say whether reality is consistent with their recipe or not. But this is not Harden's way of doing things. His way of looking at things is unreceptive, wholly subjective, so quite on a case-by-case basis. The recipe people, of course, have it more convenient. You do not need to try again and again to come to a judgment. Seldom will a judgment as subjective as Harden's accord with the state or social norm. What everybody says should not be written down. But it is not always entirely harmless to oppose the "norm," and the charges of all kinds, which were so belated on Harden's innocent head in the course of the last year, testified officially that something aroused in the general public.

Whenever anyone complained of the shamefulness of a woman, Harden searched for deeper social forces; and what he has taught the trial of Prague-Schweitzer should be recommended for consideration of similar occurrences of consideration of other circles. I do not ask a writer if he has "right" or "wrong" principles. For I know how little it is on such "rightness" or "falsehood"; but I ask if he is a whole man, a right person who, even if he is wrong, still has to be respected. What many people can tell me, I do not hear that, because I can usually say that myself; but what few can tell me, I ask for that. Many are happy if they only hear or read what they themselves realize. Others say to such things: lost time. The latter will resort to Harden's "Apostate" volumes.

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Moltke As Philosopher

Rudolf Steiner, Literary Mercury, XII. Jg., No. 15, April 9, 1892
Google translate: German to English


It is always of particular interest to hear important people, whose sphere of life and activity is far removed from the field of theoretical consideration of the world, to speak about the great riddles of our existence and the ultimate causes of world development. And even a man like Moltke, who was often able to see fate run for entire states determined by his personality. The meaning of such a relation is known only to those who understand it, what great, deeply affecting experiences have to mean for our whole being, as they suddenly spread out a different color over a large number of our ideas. How many people are suddenly changed in their whole character by an experience of overwhelming impact! And worthless are the doctrinal minds of those people whose lives have never been affected by fatalities, high joys and deep disappointments.

What might have happened in the soul of Chief of Staff Moltke in hours before the important decisive battles with Austria and later with France!
In such moments something very special is spoken into the ear by the cosmic spirit; Words that are difficult to understand for people with workday experience.
It is now printed in the German reader world, as Moltke thought about world context and human destiny.

Let us seek to clarify the main features of his worldview. Moltke is convinced of the consistent law of the whole universe. He also believes that he may claim that the laws that cause the smallest and greatest events here on our earth are valid in every part of the universe. What happens on Sirius should be no less subject to the same reasons as the phenomena which occur daily before our eyes. And Moltke thinks of all human activity as being within the circle of this lawfulness. But our reason must also have this world-law in it; for only under this condition can she find rationality everywhere in the world. Coincidence of reason and reality is for Moltke a postulate of his views.
Ultimately, our philosophical general sees the whole world harmony as an outpouring of the divine Spirit, who has also established that world and human reason are in harmony.
Although these views coincide exactly with the mathematical-mechanical world-view prevalent in the circles of contemporary natural scholars-Du Bois-Reymond must be delighted with this Federal Cooperative-the thought seems correct

Moltke must be sought in his profession as a military leader the reason for the emergence of the same.
The commander's resolutions are, in the strictest sense of the word, the result of considerations based on mathematical and dynamic presuppositions. Just as the mathematician and mechanic only have an invoice result from given accounting approaches, so too only a very specific action can appear as the necessary consequence of given facts for the army commander. He implements this with a necessity, like that with which a stone falls to the ground. The activity of the human spirit appears here completely integrated into the mathematical-mechanical world event, as a mere continuation of it. And man proves to be the executor of eternal, universal laws of the world.

But what must necessarily suffer from such a view is the feeling for individuality and for the personal freedom of man. In the army leadership, without question, the individual must take a back seat, first against the laws of military knowledge, and secondly against the organization of a many-limbed body. Who draws a conclusion from such a field to the universal essence of all being, whose convictions must be one-sided. The psychologist, however, knows that every person who has a certain profession makes the latter the center of his world judgment. Everybody has the need to continually draw concrete examples from his experience to the general views which fill his mind. They are not merely meant to confirm the general, but to make it clear above all others.

It is now of course, that the general considered those laws as the general for which he finds examples within his world of experience. But these are the mathematical-mechanical ones. But what falls short in such a conclusion is the world of freedom. Within Moltke's views, space for the latter is as little a matter of space as it is of the mechanical world-view of contemporary natural science. What with the former the settling into military L? even and bustle, in the case of the latter, causes the one-sided view of the external event and the mathematical side of the nature of nature. Moltke regards the universe as a great troop body, the nature teachers of the present like a multi-unit machine. He generalizes the laws of martial art, these the rules of mechanics. In both ways a one-sidedness emerges in the fullest sense of the word, which can not be psychologically comprehensible, but can not exist before the forum of an all-encompassing view of life and the world. How necessary it is to measure every thing by its own measure, and not to bring in experiences from any other field, is one of the highest realizations of the human mind. To understand theoretically, to understand it, many people will, but from there to the transition into the innermost essence of our psychic organism is still a long way. Before you get to it, you have to have many experiences. Experiences that do not take place on the scene of world events, but in the depths of our interior. A philosopher is not the one who knows the sum of the existing philosophical doctrines and perhaps has multiplied them a few new ones, but only one who has undergone the heavy spiritual struggles, by which one does not learn truths, nor conceives, but experiences. What can least be learned and conceived, but what must be experienced, is the principle that every thing is to be regarded according to its indigenous individuality. This latter consideration is the necessary antithesis to Moltke's conception that a law goes through all world beings. Within this one lawfulness, however, innumerable kinds of law are possible, which are to be looked upon carefully in particular.

However interesting the views of the great general are for the psychologist, for they show how a strict integration into a sphere the basic characteristics of the latter as the leitmotifs of a whole Human life, and that the life of the reader can not be otherwise actuated than that of the thinker, who is not particularly dedicated to details, and who is equally warm and cool and contemplating.

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General Assembly of the Goethe Society

Rudolf Steiner, Chronicle of the Vienna Goethe-Verein, V. Band, 6th ed., No. 5, May 25, 1891
Google translate: German to English


This year's General Assembly of the Goethe Society May 8, 1891 was a particularly solemn celebration, as it took place in the middle of the feast week, dedicated to the memory of that important moment for German art, as the Weimar Court Theater opened a hundred years ago under Goethe's direction has been. The unity of both festivals also found a special expression in the fact that Prof. Suphan, the director of the Goethe-Archiv, was in a position to report on an important record finding, which refers to Goethe's theater management. The meeting was very numerous visited. Her Royal Highnesses, the Grand Duke, the Grand Duchess, the Grand Duke and the Grand-Grand-Duchess, as well as the Princesses Auguste and Olga of Saxe-Weimar, honored the congregation with their visit. Foreign guests were present: Minister von Goßler, Privy Councilor von Loeper, Wildenbruch, Bodenstedt, Spielhagen, Julius Wolff, W. Freiherr von Biedermann, Privy Councilor Freiherr von Bezecny, Lud. Aug. von Frankl, Erich Schmidt, Jul. Rodenberg and many others. It was chaired by Privy Councilor Loeper, who welcomed the company and expressed regret that the president of Simson was prevented from appearing due to health concerns. Privy councilor Hofrat Dr. Ruland the annual report, which showed that the number of members at 31 December 1890 amounted to 2988; the assets of the company on that day amounted to 37,289 marks, of which 21,396 marks serve as reserve funds.

As Christmas presents became a publication for the members of the Goethe-Gesellschaft about Goethe's relationship to the Weimar Theater on the basis of the above-mentioned documentary evidence of Dr.-Ing. C. A. H. Burkhardt and dr. Julius Choose promised. The keynote speech was given by Prof. dr. Valentin from Frankfurt a. M. "On the classic Walpurgis Night". The lecturer endeavored to refute those views which in Goethe's "Faust" everywhere want to see contradictions and defects in the unified composition of the same. In spite of many gaps and unevenness in the course of the action, Faust was a self-consistent, unified poetry. He is the counterpart to Wilhelm Meister. But while in the latter work the poet lets his heroes find in the real world the goal of his endeavor, he places in Faust's soul such a tremendous urge for human perfection that it becomes impossible to gratify him in this finite world. Faust's quest is for an infinite, eternal. But after such, which is not only the sum of everything finite, but goes into the depth of all essence. Me-phistopheles can not understand the latter. He only knows that former infinity. Hence he leads Faust from enjoyment to enjoyment. But what Faust seeks, he can not grant him. Therefore, the role of Mephistopheles changes in the course of the play. He becomes the leader of Faust, whom he was in the first part, and in the second part of the henchman, who brings in the external means for Faust's higher purposes, which latter he no longer suspects. He gives Faust the key to the homes of the mothers, but remains completely uncertain about his fate in this spiritual kingdom. Faust finds in Mephistopheles's "Nothing" the meaning picture of all beauty, Helena, and brings it to the upper world, but at first only as a dream image, as a shadow. It needs the incarnation, the bodily existence. This can only be achieved by creating from the forces of nature a human germ capable of changing the shadow of beauty to real life. This is the homunculus. He becomes the leader of Faust in classical antiquity, dissolves there to continue to work as that force that shapes the bodies of nature's elements around the spirit of Helena. So Faust is in possession of this only woman; he alone can not be satisfied, for no finite, whether in the past or in the present, can satisfy him. Only when he wants to banish all magic from his life, when he renounces any finite, selfish enjoyment and lives only in the anticipation of a happiness that he has created but no longer enjoys, he has reached the highest moment to which he would like to say: "Stay, you are so beautiful". Faust's soul is lost to Mephistopheles, who believed that he could hold on to finite pleasures.

This lecture was followed by Prof. Suphan's messages about the files found. These are a large part of the old theater archive. They were found in a barely accessible corner of the part of the castle known in Weimar under the name of the "Bastille" and by S. königl. Your Highness made the Grand Duke a gift to the Goethe and Schiller archives on December 24, 1890. There are seventy-eight bands de and fascicles. One part consists of the so-called "directing files", that is the documents that are available from the management of the Court Theater Commission established in 1797. This commission consisted of Goethe, von Luck and Kirms, later Goethe, Kirms and Kruse. The second part are the files of the branch stages, which were played in the summer time by the members of the Weimar Theater. 35 volumes belonging to it refer to the Lauchstädter Theater and are from the years 1791 to 1814. In this series, the documents relating to the famous Leipzig guest performance of 1807 are included. Three volumes relate to the theater in Halle since 18n, seven Erfurt (1791-95 and 1815), ten Rudolstadt (1794-1805), one Jena, three Naumburg. A large part of these documents is dictated and reviewed by Goethe. A manuscript of the prelude "What We Bring" (from the hand of the writer's mind) is in the midst of the files, as well as 44 letters from Goethe to Kirms, 34 to other persons. The former treat not only purely business but also objects of literary and artistic interest. Schiller's letters also belong to the collection, one in which he expresses his approval for the Wallenstein performance in Lauchstädt. The relationship of Karl August to the theater is evident from many documents. Of particular importance are those pages which show the care with which Goethe directed the theater and how nothing was too small for him to deal with. *

According to these reports, Prof. Suphan gave the special report on the Goethe Archive and Goethe -

* The mentioned publication of the Goethe Society, which will approach the members as this year's Weihnachtsgabe, is to lead the title: "Documents to the history of Goethe theater management 1791 to 1817", of CAH Burkhardt and J. Wählel library.

With regard to the former, it was emphasized that in recent times the scientific literary content of Goethe was also sighted and processed for output. The work of Prof. Bardelebens from Jena and the writer of these lines have progressed so far that probably during the course of this year the readers of the Weimar Goethe Edition will see a larger part of the discovered estate. He will make a major contribution to making the pioneering work of Goethe in the scientific field finally clear even to the greatest doubters. Goethe tackled the morphology in such a way that it has not yet been overtaken by scholarship; In the field of osteology there are works on the skulls of mammals and the form of animals, with which a method is introduced into anatomy, which only decades later was recognized by Merkel and others as the right one.

The library became particularly valuable through purchases of valuable pieces the older literature and increased by numerous donations. On the part of the Grand Duke, 106 letters from Wieland have been donated to the Archive. A significant enrichment has experienced the same by the acquisition of the manuscript estate of Otto Ludwigs, which is edited by Erich Schmidt.

Privy Councilor Ruland now refunded the report on the Goethe National Museum. The general assembly was followed by a communal lunch, with which Minister Gross to the Emperor, Privy Councilor von Loeper to the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess, Erich Schmidt to the Weimar Theater and Minister von Goßler put on the Goethe Society drinking spells. Ludw. Aug. von Frankl delivered a festive greeting from Vienna. The festival ended with a performance of Paul Heyse's new play The Bad Brothers in the Hoftheater.

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By Robert Jan Kelder

Members of this site might be interested in my partial online translation of "The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom) as a Basis for Artis..." by Herbert Witzenman, a personal student of Rudolf Steiner,  with whom I worked and studied in Dornach. See also his work on the basis of soul observation or introspection  entiteld "The Virtues - Seasons of the Soul". He has also coined the term "Social Organics" as an abbreviation for Rudolf Steiners idea of the threefold social organism, which is the necessary organizational form for a society of free spirits.

Of his various writings on that topic, I have introduced and translated two booklets: "The Just Price - World Economy as Social Organics" and "Charter of Humanity - The Principles of the General Antroposophical...". My abstract for that theme entitled "Rudolf Steiner's Idea of Social Organics - A New Constitutional Principle of Civilization", tracing the four phases in the development of that idea from 1917 to 1923/24 by Rudolf Steiner has been accepted for a conference in Moscow organized by the Telos Institute in New York  in the beginning of September. 

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By Andrew

[The POF 1.12] "All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity did it not strive to enhance the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we have shown the importance of their results for humanity."

Science as an enterprise functions through individuals. Nothing is done in science that doesn't take place first in one, then in a shared community of people's thinking, knowing, and acting.

"..The final aim of the individuality can never be the cultivation of any single faculty, but only the development of all capacities which slumber within us.

[1.13] This book, therefore, does not conceive of science and life in such a way that a person must bow down before the world of ideas and devote their powers to its service ((A curious description of the doctrine of determinism)). On the contrary, it shows that they take possession of the world of ideas in order to use them for their human aims, which transcend those of mere science." R.S.

We each have but one life to experience and make our impression on the world with. There is no greater determining factor on our behavior and personality then our perception of the world in which we are living. Perception is radically altered by the concepts we bring to bear on our experience of the world.

[4.3] "There is a far-reaching difference between the ways in which, for me, the parts of a process are related to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts."

Just as choosing to know the rules to a complex game you choose to play is indispensable in succeeding, we may conclude that by virtue of being alive(playing a game), we have a (self determined) moral imperative to seek true knowledge about our lives and the reality which constitutes it. That is, the pursuit of knowledge is a personal process by which the existential value of all our lives hinges. Humanities collective progress concerning this situation comes down to us as a massive conceptual heritage. By deciding to participate you become one of those who uses the method of science(philosophy) to increase the existential value of humanity, and consequentially yourself.

Where does humanity stand as a whole in terms of possessing and accessing true knowledge of reality? How rich is our existential existence?

The feeling that we have it all figured out is a persistent enemy of knowledge both in our personal lives, and in the greater development of humanities understanding. To forget this is to guarantee yourself to be partially blinded to reality, a potentially hazardous endeavor. The remedy? Do not forget to revel in contemporary mysteries, periodically. The primary "mystery centers" (by volume) of our time are the great branches of academia and universities. To be involved is to participate in or follow the vanguard endeavors of philosophy and science.

One of these fundamental "known-unknowns" which persists in our age of scientific discovery was relatively recently named "the hard problem of consciousness" by philosopher David Chalmers. Popularly, it walks hand in hand with the problem of how humans could have any kind of freedom. But it gets deeper than that. We have quite a few running mysteries in contemporary science. Perhaps the one which looms largest, although not popularly, is the problem of the Big Bang and its initial cause(s). Known in some circles as science's "one free miracle" given which it could explain everything else. The nature of the solar system, Earth, as well as our galaxies behavior are still hotly debated. The question of the origin of life has captured our imaginations. Another one which pops up on the social conscience is the mysteries surrounding Quantum Mechanics. Exotic terms like "dark matter" "dark energy" and "anti-matter" provide chaff for fiction writers and consumers. In fact, every branch of science has its mysteries, it's anomalies. Our exposure to them depends on how closely we associate with the field.

But when Chalmers coined his term he meant something a little more than a mere collection of anomalies. A "hard problem" is insurmountable. It's a crack in the foundation, under it, all through it. This contradicts a narrative called the "Gap Theory of Scientific Progress." That is, all that we have left to do is fill in the little missing pieces of a mostly complete and smoothly functioning scientific theory of the world. The cult classic "Structures of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn is a must read on this subject. Predictably according to Kuhn, these two philosophers of science (not practicing scientists entrenched within a paradigm) are signaling to their specialized peers that there is indeed a bifurcation running through the heart of our current scientific paradigm. Curiously, being able to spot the problem doesn't guarantee you know it's cause.

"The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences—how sensations acquire characteristics, such as colors and tastes."

"It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does."

The problem revolves around the proper explanation regarding the boundary between a personal or subjective experience(that of redness for example) and the universal or objective cause of it. What is given prior to analysis is the subjective experience, so it's status as a "real" entity in reality cannot be questioned. Given something like the experience of redness, we now need to explain what kind of process can account for this. In our attempts to do so we turned to the object outside our body which caused it. Here the problems begin. We have one definite category of reality, the "subjective." The next step we imagine is to find a cause for the so called effect. Notice again how Chalmers frames the problem.

"It is widely accepted that experience arises from a physical basis,"

Wide acceptance is a hallmark of paradigm science, but as a Kuhn tells us, this is often in the final moment where stumbling blocks are met. Chalmers follows the contemporary imperative to introduce a second category of reality which fits the role of objective cause, a dualism. Why do this? Our current science has long followed a Materialist ideology in its attempts to explain objects, with much perceived success. In fact the problem today is that we have become so accustomed to this approach that it appears to us self evident. By introducing this physicalist dualism we have created an insolvable conceptual snare. A hard problem. A question of how to bridge two sides of reality. Most recently, certain philosophers have predictably suggested we could just hack of the problematic subjective side. This is the parable about sawing the branch you're perched on. We cannot be so coarse as to simply deny the conduit for which the whole problem arises originally, within consciousness(subjectiveness).

According to Kuhn, a paradigm shift often moves from one center to another pre existing center. So what existing philosophical tradition will be the inherent of the progress of western science? I would like to survey briefly a candidate theory championed by a little known early 20th century philosopher.


Published in 1890, the then strictly academic philosopher Rudolf Steiner's essay 'Atomism, and it's Refutation' is a short, straight forward, conceptual dismantling of the theory of atoms as fundamental constituents of reality. Pointing to the exact issues Chalmers does, Steiner considers inherent contradictions in (still) current theories of sense impression. The cause of the problem for Steiner revolves around the particles fundamental conceptual ineptness to fulfill its designated role within the system. Even then, the paper stood in radical opposition to contemporary Physics, which regards the particle as the true bearer of reality. With a sense of extreme anachronism he dismisses the whole reliance of particles within his model. I wonder how many more essay were ever published in this vein? This type of thinking went out of vogue as Materialism flowered in the 19th century. Let's revisit what was once and may become again a central paradigm Steiner deems 'Monism.'

"To recapitulate. The physicist explains all sense-perceivable, all sense-perceptible qualities by motion. So, what moves cannot yet have qualities. But what has no qualities cannot move at all. Therefore, the atom assumed by physicists is a thing that dissolves into nothing if judged sharply.

So, the whole way of explanation falls. We must ascribe to color, warmth, sounds, etc., the same reality as to motion. With this, we have refuted the physicists, and have proved the objective reality of the world of phenomena and of ideas."

- Atomism and its Refutation, R. Steiner

In the POF, particularly in chapters 6 through 8 of the original English translation, Steiner goes about dismantling the reality of atoms in even greater depth.

[8.4] "Every kind of reality which is assumed to exist outside the sphere of perception and conception must be relegated to the limbo of unverified hypotheses."

[8.12] The dualist believes that the whole world would be dissolved into a mere abstract scheme of concepts, did he not posit the existence of real connections beside the conceptual ones. In other words, the ideal principles which thinking discovers are too airy for the Dualist, and (s)he seeks, in addition, real principles with which to support them."

[6.30] "To form a link between subject and object is impossible for any real process, in the naive sense of the world "real," in which it means a process which can be perceived."

[8.11] "Dualism makes the mistake of transferring the opposition of subject and object, which has meaning only within the perceptual world, to pure conceptual entities outside this world. "

[8.22] "The imperceptible forces of which perceptible things are the bearers, are in fact, illegitimate hypotheses from the standpoint of Naïve Realism. But because naïve realism knows no other realities, it invest it's hypothetical forces with perceptual content. It thus transfers a form of existence (the existence of percepts) to a sphere where the only means of making an assertion concerning such existence, via sense perception, is lacking.

[8.23] This self-contradictory theory leads to Metaphysical Realism."

[8.4] Position and motion are extracted from the rich world of percepts. They are then transferred to the fictitious world of atoms. And then we are astonished that we fail to involve concrete life of the principles of our own making, which we have borrowed from the world of percepts."

[16.1] Monism declines to seek outside the world the ultimate grounds of the world which we perceive and think. For monism, the unity which reflective observation adds to the manifold multiplicity of percepts, is identical with the unity which the human desire for knowledge demands, and through which the desire is fully satisfied."

Steiner is trying to express to us a scientific world view in which we can no longer see a bottom up physicalist approach as valid. This, as mentioned was radical for his time, and has only grown more so as we descended into the assumption of atoms as real entities of nature. However, it's radical nature does not displace the fact that his published views were also in a sense, surprisingly predictive of things to come. As the quantum revolution unfolded just after his death, it ushered in many more problems which forced exoteric Science(as we have seen) to deal once again with the shortcomings of a Materialist approach to explaining reality. The Materialist's precious particles underwent such a radical conceptual barrage that it has fractured their trust in them, if at least in the forward thinking radical minds of our time. Those who allow themselves to entertain such dilemmas without referring to the refuge of dogma and pushing ahead indifferently, within a specialized micro set of "reality."

Since Steiners death, anyone who reckoned with the conceptual shortcomings posed by this Materialist view in light of further unfolding discoveries have famously failed to overcome them. Einstein, the worlds most famous genius worked on a unifying theory for decades. Never achieving this goal.

"Hence it is clear that the space of physics is not, in the last analysis, anything given in nature independent of human thought. It is a function of our conceptual scheme."

"One has to find a way to avoid the continuum(together with space and time) altogether. But I have not the slightest idea what kind of elementary concepts could be used in such a theory."

- Einstein

Einsteins conceptual hang up, like many before and after him, is due to his being guilty of making the mistake Steiner associates with Metaphysical Realism above. Einstein needs there to be a "real" natural process to unify perception with reality, beside our conceptual understanding. His refusal to give up this requirement proves to be an unconscious assumption, hence his inability to think around it.

"(Einstein's) adherence to the continuum did not (quoting Einstein) 'originate in a prejudice, but arises out of the fact that I have been unable to think up anything organic to take its place.' "

There exists a host of curious quotes from the famous QMers, Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, Bohm and Feynman illustrating their bafflement. What we must take from this is not that the obscure Steiner was that much more brilliant, a polymath genius in the rough (that he may none the less prove to be so, eventually). These men were highly skilled thinkers. The take away must be that reality is not necessarily unknowable, but indeed so coherent that no amount of genius can make it fit in to a bad replica (a bad theory). It proves Materialism is on a dead end track. Steiner's real advantage was one of perspective.

Steiner insists that progress rests upon our acceptance of thoughts ability to access universal ideal principles which in reality are the "underside" (or nexus point) of our perceptual content. We can think of it as replacing the vague notions of "forces of nature" and "laws of nature."

[8.28] "Monism replaces forces by ideal relations which are supplied by thought. These relations are the laws of nature. A law of nature is nothing but the conceptual expression for the connection of certain percepts."

Steiner replaces the assumption of a visual boundary(or some other sense boundary) between us and reality, with a conceptual one. Where before we had no ability (even aided by technological development i.e. Electron Scanning Microscopes etc.) to transcend this boundary with our natural perception, thought bridges the so called gap.

This system has absolute implications for every field of science for which particles are related. Given that physics has been classically, the darling of the sciences, it's tenants are like tracks each other science has followed in tail. The picture we get is of a change in the vanguard of the philosophy of science. A paradigm shift. This as mentioned is already occurring. Things like the Relativity/Quantum Mechanics face off of the 1920s, and later String Theory are the pre-tremors. The stage is set for a major ground shift to occur, and I believe Steiner, even by 1900 was uniquely positioned to predict its outcome in a way that nearly no other mind would be or is still able to still. (With exception in my opinion to the work done by contemporary physicists Tom Campbell)

The system Steiner gave us prior to the dawning of our contemporary physics is one where the absolute "limits" of our perception are unrequitedly accepted, in that we do not seek to push through them, or class them as the prime barrier to our perceiving reality. Instead for Steiner, the barrier is between the content of the self and the world as a unity. The barrier is pre-conditioned by nature, but it is not absolute. Through our thinking we recursively cross the boundary between the manifold of broken off (subjective) percepts and the unified conceptual world of which they came. Reality does not emerge into perceptions from the very small, it emerges from the unity of concept with percept, provided by thinking. Physicists want to dive in and "see" reality, if only they're technology can extend their sensory perception. What they fail to realize is that there never was a world below the visual to see! This is an extraordinary realization. When they look in smaller and smaller portions of space, they should instead be examining their thinking. By uniting the correct universal concepts with the perceptions as given, a scientist can know reality.

Steiner DOES want us to accept the validity of a realm of reality for which we cannot "see." But he cautions rigorously against building theories in the air. So what realm is he pointing to? He wants to open our scientific eyes to a world that is composed of objects and processes which have a conceptual side completely bound together with its perceptible side, forming an all encompassing whole. A whole in which the human being is perfectly situated to grasp.

Science must abandon the idea of bottom up atomistic physics and begin again with this new method. A "New Science" in the tradition of Goethe and others. Luckily it hardly means a full 180. We can not lose the baby as the saying goes. All of the conceptual principals Materialist have put in place along the way must remain! It is merely the cumbersome model of particle physics that will go, and with it all of the pesky misapprehensions it ushers in. A welcome change. As our conception of the world changes, our perception changes. When we live in a new world we become new beings. Think of what language has done for our species, perhaps a "new science" can do something similar?

100 years down the line, there does now exist academic precedents for these ideas outside of Steiner. To quote the Digital Physics Wikipedia page, "In physics and cosmology, digital physics (also referred to as digital ontology or digital philosophy) is a collection of theoretical perspectives based on the premise that the universe is describable by information. According to this theory, the universe can be conceived of as either the output of a deterministic or probabilistic computer program, a vast, digital computation device, or mathematically isomorphic to such a device."

Here the word 'information' takes on a central role, becoming a buzz word in some circles. This takes little effort to transform into the concept the word concept points to. The world is fundamental related by concepts (information).

There now exists a breed of highly scientific, brilliant individuals who feel the need to theorize once again beyond Materialism. I believe they deserve to be influenced by the greatest ideas mankind has brought forth on the subject, therefore I believe they deserve to devour Steiner's opinions on the subject. What I see as needing to happen is a collaboration between philosophers, scientists, and the material produced by Steiner before (and after) 1900. As Steiner may help shed light on exoteric Science's dilemmas, so too should exoteric Science help shed much needed light on our obscure polymaths later esoteric Anthroposophical system. Neither exoteric nor esoteric science's content and participants should be scoffed out without visitation accompanied by an understanding of this new more comprehensive science. I encourage qualified individuals to help undertake the testing of this exciting potential revolution in the way we relate to reality as a species.

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By Robert Jan Kelder

(Robert Jan Kelder)
Members of this site might be interested in my partial online translation link of  "The Philosophy of Freedom as a Basis for Artistic Creation" by Herbert Witzenman, a personal student of Rudolf Steiner,  with whom I worked and studied in Dornach. See also his work on the basis of soul observation or introspection  entiteld "The Virtues - Seasons of the Soul". He has also coined the term "Social Organics" as an abbreviation for Rudolf Steiners idea of the threefold social organism, which is the necessary organizational form for a society of free spirits.

Of his various writings on that topic, I have introduced and translated two booklets: "The Just Price - World Economy as Social Organics" and "Charter of Humanity - The Principles of the General Antroposophical...". My abstract for that theme entitled "Rudolf Steiner's Idea of Social Organics - A New Constitutional Principle of Civilization", tracing the four phases in the development of that idea from 1917 to 1923/24 by Rudolf Steiner has been accepted for a conference in Moscow organized by the Telos Institute in New York  in the beginning of September. Robert Jan Kelder website:


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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.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Arons)] 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 - www.kulturimpuls.org


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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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Mysticism Is A Superficial World View

Goethe writes to Jacobi: “God has punished you with metaphysics and set a thorn in your flesh, but has blessed me, on the other hand, with physics."

What Goethe wants to see is the essential being of things that expresses itself within his world of ideas. The mystic also wants to know the essential being of things by immersing himself in his own inner being; but he rejects precisely that innately clear and transparent world of ideas as unsuitable for attaining higher knowledge.

The mystic believes he must develop, not his capacity for ideas, but rather other powers of his inner being, in order to see the primal ground of things. Usually it is unclear feelings and emotions in which the mystic wants to grasp the essential being of things. But feelings and emotions belong only to the subjective being of man. In them nothing is expressed about the things. Only in ideas do the things themselves speak.

Mysticism is a superficial world view, in spite of the fact that the mystics are very proud of their “profundity” compared to men of reason. The mystics know nothing about the nature of feelings, otherwise they would not consider them to be expressions of the essential being of the world; and they know nothing about the nature of ideas, otherwise they would not consider them shallow and rationalistic.

Mystics have no inkling of what people who really have ideas experience in them. But for many people, ideas are in fact mere words. They cannot acquire for themselves the unending fullness of their content. No wonder they feel their own word husks, which are devoid of ideas, to be empty.
--Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science, XVIII Goethe's World View in his Aphorisms in Prose

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Philosophy of Freedom Summary

Humanmindmania Encyclopedia
Philosophy of Freedom posted by Dr.Pouse Poulose

The Philosophy of Freedom, the fundamental philosophical work of the philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner, focuses on the concept of free will. Originally published in 1893 in German as Die Philosophie der Freiheit, the work has appeared under a number of English titles, including The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path.

Steiner initially divides the problem of free will into freedom of thought and freedom of action. He argues that inner freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perception, which reflect the outer appearance of the world, and our cognition, which gives us access to the inner structure of the world; and that outer freedom arises when we bridge the gap between our ideals and the constraints of external reality, letting our deeds be inspired by what he terms moral imagination. Steiner considers inner and outer freedom as integral to one another, and that true freedom is only achieved when they are united. more...

Historical context
The work followed an epistemological study Steiner presented as his doctoral dissertation at the University of Rostock in 1891, later published as the book Truth and Knowledge.

Following Schiller Steiner describes how from two sides of our existence, our experience works to make us unfree. We can easily recognize that our natural being, that part of us we share with the animal world - our physical body, drives and desires, prejudices and habits - tends to determine our deeds and soul life. Just as constraining, however, are the dictates of conscience and abstract ethical or moral principles. Freedom, he says, is only possible because these various constraining factors work in contradictory directions. Between the impulses of our two natures, neither of which is individualized, we find the freedom to choose how to think and act. By overcoming the dictates of both our 'lower' and 'higher' sources of experience, by orchestrating a meeting place of objective and subjective elements of experience, we become true and free individuals. Freedom for Steiner thus does not lie in uninhibited expression of our subjective nature, but in the conscious unification of this with the objective constraints of the world.

At least since Kant's time, most western philosophy has recognized that dualism is innate to human consciousness. This dualism arises because we perceive the outer nature of the world and its inner nature in radically separated ways. Our sensory perceptions inform us about the outer appearance of the world, while our thought life penetrates its inner nature. This division is particular to and defines human experience. Steiner suggests that we actually have the capacity to overcome the dualism of experience by reuniting perception and cognition. When contemplating our own thinking activity, we are perceiving what we are thinking, and thinking what we are perceiving. Steiner suggests that freedom arises most purely at this moment, when free ideation arises out of ego activity; this is, for Steiner, spiritual activity.

Steiner proposes that once we have brought the two sides of our experience into harmony, we need to forge a new synthesis of these at every moment in a situationally-appropriate, free deed. Steiner coined the term moral imagination for this act of creative synthesis. He suggests that we only achieve free deeds when we find a moral imagination, an ethically impelled but particularized response to the immediacy of a given situation. This response will always be individual; it cannot be predicted or prescribed. This radical ethical individualism is, for Steiner, characteristic of freedom.

A detailed look at the philosophy
In the first part of the Philosophy of Freedom, Steiner discusses the epistemology of freedom, focusing on the conditions necessary for freedom in thinking. In the second part he examines the metaphysics of freedom, focusing on the conditions necessary for freedom of action.

Understanding freedom
Steiner begins by defining the importance of consciousness, in particular of rational thought, for the attainment of freedom. He explores the various compulsions of motives on different levels, and points out that freedom only exists if we overcome the force of the various motives acting within us. In his 1919 lectures on The Study of Man, Steiner further differentiated these motives into seven levels: reflexes, drives, desires, motifs, wishes, intentions, and commitments.

Steiner then takes up Schiller's exploration of the polarity between the moral compulsion of our rationality and the animal compulsion of our bodily nature (see Schiller's essay in letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man) to show that freedom is possible where compulsion from neither of these polar aspects of the human being dominates. He quotes Goethe here:

Two souls dwell, alas, in my breast
Each would from the other split;
One clutches, in its dullish lust
Tight to the world with its organs' grip;
The other raises itself forcibly from dust:
High ancestral fields are its quest.
Faust I, lines 1112-7

The polarity in consciousness is between perception through the senses, which gives us access to the outer nature of things, and perception through thinking, which gives us access to the inner nature of things. Steiner treats thinking as an organ of perception as valid as the senses themselves; both are subject to illusion and distortion, but both can reveal true aspects of the world to us. Our consciousness is dualistic in that the two sides of the world (and of every object or element of the world), the inner and the outer, are only available to us split between two modes of perception. It is then the work of the human mind or spirit to reconcile these two, to bring our thoughts about a given aspect of the world and our perceptions of this into harmony.

Steiner emphasizes that thinking is unique in its access to the true inner reality of the world. We can be conscious of our thought processes in a way that we cannot be of our feelings, will or perceptions. Because of this, we can be sure that our thoughts are truly objective, while our feelings about a thing (for example) may say more about our subjective reactions or condition than about the phenomena to which they seem to be directed. In addition, we correct our perceptions (for example, when these include perspective distortions) through our conceptual framework. Thinking is thus necessary if we are to properly interpret our perception.

Steiner also emphasizes that modern science depends upon these same two elements of perception and thinking. Perception alone is not science, but is at best the gathering of data. Only when we group and analyze a mass of perceptions can we obtain scientific clarity about it. On the other hand, mathematics is a kind of thinking in which thought itself forms the perceptions; no sense-perceptions are needed to form a basis for mathematical principles. Mathematics could be said to be a science of the inner side of things, where we need not know anything about their outer appearance.

A critical analysis of various philosophical directions' relation to the dialectic of our experience, to this polarity of our outer and inner worlds, concludes with the appeal for a higher monism. Though our experience leads us to an illusion of dualism, in reality we are experiencing two sides of a single phenomenon when we perceive it and think about it: two sides of a single, unified world. All the conclusions of dualistic philosophies - in particular Kant's assertion that there are limits beyond which our understanding can never go - are thus mistaken. There are limits beyond which our understanding does not presently go, but both our perception and our thinking can be extended far beyond their momentary abilities. The telescope and microscope offer us radical extensions of the range of our perceptions; we can look to extend our powers of thought as vigorously as we have extended our powers of perception. Steiner thus throws down a gauntlet to the philosophy of his (and our) time: it is not enough simply to define the limits of possible knowledge, it is necessary to work to extend these as well.

Exercising freedom
Steiner begins the second section of this work by emphasizing the role of self-awareness, of the awakening of the ego, in objective thinking. Here he modifies the usual description of inner and outer experience by pointing out that our feelings, for example, are given to us as naively as outer perceptions. Both of these, feelings and perceptions, tell about objects we are interested in: the one about ourselves, the other about the world. Both require the help of thinking to penetrate the reasons why they arise, to comprehend their inner message. The same is true of our will. Whereas our feelings tell how the world affects us, our will tells how we would affect the world. Neither attains to true objectivity, for both mix together the world's existence and our inner life in an unclear way. Steiner emphasizes that we experience our feelings and will - and our perceptions as well - as being more essentially part of us than our thinking; the former are more basic, more natural. He celebrates this gift of natural, direct experience, but points out that this experience is still dualistic in the sense that it only encompasses one side of the world.

This all is by way of introduction and recapitulation. Steiner then introduces the principle that we can act out of the compulsions of our natural being (reflexes, drives, desires) or out of the compulsion of ethical principles, and that neither of these leaves us free. Between them, however, is an individual insight, a situational ethic, that arises neither from abstract principles nor from our bodily impulses. A deed that arises in this way can be said to be truly free; it is also both unpredictable and wholly individual. Here Steiner articulates his fundamental maxim of social life:

Live through deeds of love, and let others live with understanding for each person's unique intentions.

Here he reconnects with Schiller's polar view of the influences on human nature, stating that morality transcends both the determining factors of bodily influences and those of convention:

A moral misunderstanding, a clash, is out of the question between people who are morally free. Only one who is morally unfree, who obeys bodily instincts or conventional demands of duty, turns away from a fellow human being if the latter does not obey the same instincts and demands as himself.

For Steiner, morality is completely situational and individual; true morality depends upon our achieving freedom from both our inner drives and outer pressures. To achieve such free deeds, we must cultivate our moral imagination, our ability to imaginatively create ethically sound and practical solutions to new situations, in fact, to forge our own ethical principles and to transform these flexibly as needed - not in the service of our own egotistical purposes, but in the face of new demands and situations. This is only possible through moral intuitions, immediate experiences of spiritual realities that underlie moral judgments. Moral imagination and intuition allow us to realize our subjective impulses in objective reality, thus creating bridges between the spiritual influence of our subjectivity and the natural influence of the objective world in deeds whereby "that which is natural is spiritual, that which is spiritual is natural".

Steiner concludes by pointing out that to achieve this level of freedom, we must lift ourselves out of our group-existence: out of the prejudices we receive from our family, nation, ethnic group and religion, and all that we inherit from the past that limits our creative and imaginative capacity to meet the world directly. Only when we realize our potential to be a unique individual are we free. Thus, it lies in our freedom to achieve freedom; put another way, only when we actively strive towards freedom do we have some chance of attaining it.

Philosophical antecedents

The 'Philosophy of Freedom' appears to build chiefly on the work of three philosophers: Fichte, Schiller and Franz Brentano (the teacher of both Steiner and Edmund Husserl). Fichte's distinction between formal and material freedom gives the structure to Steiner's presentation: the first half of the book is essentially about formal freedom, the second half about material freedom. Schiller's ideas about human freedom existing in a dynamic polarity between the compulsions of our rational, 'higher' being and those of our sensual, 'lower' being permeate the whole. Brentano's description of soul life as composed of perception, will impulses, feelings and thinking clearly form the basis of Steiner's psychology. It is worth noting that Steiner was a student of Brentano's at the University of Vienna, had studied Fichte intensively from an early date and quotes Schiller's Aesthetic Education extensively in many of his lectures.

Vladimir Solovyov, whom Steiner mentioned frequently in later lectures, may also have been an important influence. Solovyov's description of the fundamental dichotomy in human consciousness corresponds precisely to Steiner's:

In human beings, the absolute subject-object appears as such, i.e., as pure spiritual activity, containing all of its own objectivity, the whole process of its natural manifestation, but containing it totally ideally - in consciousness.

Steiner's philosophy neither evaluates the moral value of an action according to its consequences (utilitarianism), nor does it allow any categorical imperative, whether Kantian or otherwise, to be the moral arbiter of human actions. For Steiner, the highest morality exists when a deed actively connects a person's inner life with the external world through deeds of love by means of individually developed moral imaginations.

To live in love towards our actions, and to let live in the understanding of the other person's will, is the fundamental maxim of free men. - Chapter 9

Only to the extent that a man has emancipated himself in this way from all that is generic, does he count as a free spirit within a human community. No man is all genus, none is all individuality. - Chapter 14

(translations: Michael Wilson)

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© Tom Last 2017