In the past years, when one brought forward the spiritual-scientific world-conception in this or in that place and certain people thought that they had to assert their own views in the face of the spiritual-scientific world-conception, one could frequently hear the following argument: Kant has already proved by his philosophy that there are limitations to man’s knowledge; human knowledge cannot reach the spheres which the spiritual-scientific world-conception tries to reach. Then they bring forward certain interesting things showing how Kant is supposed to have proved that human knowledge cannot reach the spiritual world. If spiritual science was upheld in spite of all, then they came along and said: This person rejects everything that has been proved by Kant! Of course, this more or less implied: What a foolish person he must be, for he rejects strictly proved facts!
But this is not the case: The spiritual scientist does not deny that Kant is absolutely right, for it is evident that he demonstrated this clearly. But my dear friends, suppose that someone had stated that the plant consists of minute cells, at a time when the microscope had not yet been invented, but that these cells could not be found because human eyes are unable to see them. It might have been proved that the cells do not exist and this would have been quite correct, for the constitution of the human eye does not permit us to penetrate into the plant’s organism to the extent of seeing these tiniest cells. The proof would be absolutely correct and it could not be overthrown. Yet in the course of human development the microscope was discovered as an aid to the human eye, so that in spite of the strictest proof to the contrary, people were able to recognise the existence of these tiniest cells.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Subconscious Forces – Vienna, 9th May 1915
Previously posted on May 11, 2018