Theory / Experience / Knowledge

It is only actual experience that gives knowledge; no theory ever does so. Every theory starts from some special domain and then proceeds to generalize. True knowledge can only be acquired when we start from life and from experience. We must not therefore consider the laws of gravity by themselves, or the laws of plant life, or the laws of animal instinct, or the laws of mental coercion, because if we do, we think only of their details, generalize them, and then arrive at entirely false conclusions. We must have in mind where the Nature-forces are revealed in their cooperation and mutual interaction.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 219 – Spiritual Communion: Lecture III: From Man’s Living Together with the Course of Cosmic Existence Arises the Cosmic Cult – Dornach, December 29, 1922

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A seer can also be mistaken in some details 

No one can describe the spiritual world in its entirety; it is more complex and vaster than our physical world. I admit that the spiritual researcher can be mistaken in some details, just as one can be mistaken in the physical world, if one wants to determine, for example, the height of a mountain. But no more than such a mistake in detail can be a reason to deny the physical world, no more, may the reality of the spiritual realm be rejected because of a flaw in some specific detail.

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Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 88 – Über die astrale Welt und das Devachan – Berlin, October 28, 1903 (page 32)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on April 27, 2020

A seer can also be mistaken in some details 

No one can describe the spiritual world in its entirety; it is more complex and vaster than our physical world. I admit that the spiritual researcher can be mistaken in some details, just as one can be mistaken in the physical world, if one wants to determine, for example, the height of a mountain. But no more than such a mistake in detail can be a reason to deny the physical world, no more may the reality of the spiritual realm be rejected because of a flaw in some specific detail.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 88 – Über die astrale Welt und das Devachan – Berlin, October 28, 1903 (page 32)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger