The spiritual researcher realises with many souls that these or those talents go back to former lives and he beholds how inventive forces, intellectual forces developed by misfortunes in a certain age which can provide services to humanity.
One has to look only reasonably how for these or those performances which are of original kind a certain human age is necessary. Great inventors get around to uncovering certain forces from the depths of life in a certain age by straining their abilities in the extreme. It needs not be an epoch-making invention; it can also be something that completely serves the usual everyday life. This can be because this soul had to go through conditions of life, which destroyed the body at that time. The soul thereby gains inventive forces that control, direct, and penetrate the physical world.
You cannot “prove” with the outer usual logic that such things can be investigated. However, this can be done only what has been shown so often in these talks that the spiritual researcher gets around to observing with a strictly regulated methodology of his soul life what goes forward when a soul experiences any misfortune which leads to this or that, or even to death.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 63 – The Meaning of Immortality of the Human Soul – Berlin, 4 December 1913
American Great Inventors