The cognitive faculty of mankind has developed gradually. Attention has repeatedly been drawn to the fact that in the Atlantean epoch a large proportion of humanity was clairvoyant and able to gaze into the spiritual worlds, and that certain remnants of this old clairvoyance were still present in post-Atlantean times. After the Atlantean epoch, in the periods of the civilizations of ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea — even as late as the Graeco-Latin age — there were numbers of human beings, many more than modern man would ever imagine, who possessed the heritage of this old clairvoyance; the astral plane was open to them and they could see into the hidden depths of existence.
But humanity was to advance to a form of knowledge acquired through the outer senses and through the spiritual faculties connected with the senses. Man was gradually to emerge altogether from the spiritual world and to engage in pure sense-observation, in intellectual, logical thinking. By degrees he was to make his way to non-clairvoyant cognition, because he must pass through this stage in order to regain clairvoyant knowledge in the future. But such knowledge will then be united with the fruits of cognition based upon the senses and the intellect.
At the present time we are living in an intermediate period. We look back to a past when man was clairvoyant, and to a future when this will again be the case. In our present age the majority of human beings are dependent upon what they perceive with their senses and grasp with their intellect.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 114 – The Gospel of St. Luke – Lecture Two – Basel, September 16, 1909
Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield
Previously posted on January 14, 2015