If dogs could write

There is a creature familiar to us all that has a better sense of smell than you or I, namely the dog. Dogs have a much more delicate sense of smell than human beings. And you know to what use this is put nowadays. Think of the police dogs that through their sense of smell find persons who have run away after committing some crime. The dog picks up a scent at the spot where the crime was committed and follows it until it leads to the criminal. The dog has very delicate olfactory nerves. It is extremely interesting to study this fine sense-perception and to see how these olfactory nerves are connected with the rest of the dog’s organism. Behind its nose, in its brain the dog has a very interesting organ of smell. Its nose is only one part. The larger part of a dog’s organ of smell is situated behind the nose, in the brain.

Now let us compare the dog’s organ of smell with that of the human being. The dog has a brain that is clearly made for smelling, a brain that becomes an organ of smell. In the human being the greater part of this “smell-brain” has been transformed into an “intelligence-brain.” We understand things; the dog doesn’t understand things, he smells them. We understand them because at the place where the dog has his organ of smell, we have that organ transformed. Our organ of intelligence is a transformed organ of smell. In us there is only a tiny remnant left of this “smell-brain.” That is why our sense of smell is inferior to the dog’s. 

And so you can imagine that when a dog runs over the fields, he finds everything terribly interesting; so many smells come to him that if he were able to describe it, he would say the world is all smell. If among dogs there were a thinker like Schopenhauer, he would write interesting books!


Schopenhauer wrote a book called “The World as Will and Idea” — but he was a man and his organ of smell had become an organ of thinking. The dog could write a book called “The World as Will and Smell.” In the dog’s book there would be a great deal beyond the discernment of a human being, because while a human being forms an idea, a mental image of things, a dog smells them. And it is my private opinion that the dog’s book — if the dog were a Schopenhauer — would actually be more interesting than the book that Schopenhauer himself wrote!

Source : Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars – Lecture IX: The sense of smell – Dornach, 9th August, 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn