A brilliant man, Fabre d’Olivet, made a right comparison when he wished to show how the highest, noblest, purest in human nature arises out of pain. He said that the arising of wisdom and beauty out of suffering is comparable to a process in nature, to the birth of the valuable and beautiful pearl. For the pearl is born from the sickness of the oyster, from the destruction inside the pearl-oyster. As the beauty of the pearl is born out of disease and suffering, so are knowledge, noble human nature and purified human feeling born out of suffering and pain.
So we may well say with the old Greek poet, Aeschylos: Out of suffering arises learning; out of learning, knowledge. And just as in respect of much else, we may say of pain that we have grasped it I only when we know it not only in itself but in what proceeds from it. As so many other things, pain too is known only by its fruits.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death: THE ORIGIN OF SUFFERING – Berlin, 8th November, 1906
Translated by M. Cotterell and V. E. Watkin
Antoine Fabre d’Olivet (1767-1825)