Sound judgment

How often human beings do not see in an unconfused way what exists, but rather what they crave to see! In how many cases do men believe something, not because they have discerned it, but because it is acceptable to them to believe! Or what errors arise because one does not go to the bottom of a thing, but forms a hasty judgment! All these reasons for deception in ordinary life might be multiplied indefinitely. What tricks are played upon sound judgment by partisan feeling, passion, and so forth. If such errors of judgment in ordinary life are disturbing and often disastrous, they are the greatest conceivable danger to the wholesomeness of the supersensible experience. No general rule can be given to the student for his guidance in the higher worlds, beyond the advice to do everything possible for his healthy power of discernment and for his sound, independent judgment.  

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 12 – The Stages of Higher Knowledge – Chapter 4: Inspiration and Intuition

Translated by by Lisa Monges and Floyd McKnight

Previously posted on March 4, 2018

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Total errors are not so harmful as half- or quarter-truths

It is a fact that in real life, total errors are not so harmful as half- or quarter-truths. Total errors are soon seen through, whereas half- and quarter-truths mislead people. They live with them, these partial truths become a pan of life and cause the most horrible devastation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – The Ahrimanic Deception – Zurich, October 27, 1919

Translated by M. Cotterell / Revised by William Riggens

Previously posted on October 29, 2012

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Inversion of cause and effect

An example will demonstrate how necessary it is to think about things in a really practical manner. Let us imagine that for some reason or other a man climbs a tree. He falls from the tree, strikes the ground, and is picked up dead. Now, the thought most likely to occur to us is that the fall killed him. We would be inclined to say that the fall was the cause and death the effect. In this instance cause and effect seem logically connected. But this assumption may completely confuse the true sequence of facts, for the man may have fallen as a consequence of heart failure. 

To the observer the external event is exactly the same in both cases. Only when the true causes are known can a correct judgment be formed. In this case it might have been that the man was already dead before he fell and the fall had nothing to do with his death. It is thus possible to invert completely cause and effect. In this instance the error is evident, but often they are not so easily discernible. The frequency with which such errors in thinking occur is amazing.

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Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Practical Training In Thought – Carlsruhe, January 18, 1909

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

About Psychoanalysis

We have often noted how important it is for the researcher in the field of anthroposophical spiritual science, to connect his considerations with what is offered by the moving forces of our own age. It may be said that all sorts of people who feel drawn to psychoanalysis today are earnestly searching for the spiritual foundations of existence, for the inner realities of the soul of man. And it may be called a curious characteristic of our own time that so many of our contemporaries are becoming aware of quite definite, and most peculiar forces in the human soul. The psychoanalysts belong to those who, simply through the impulses of the age, are forced to hit upon certain phenomena of soul life.

It is especially important also not to remain entirely oblivious of this movement, because the phenomena of which it takes cognizance are really present, and because in our own time they intrude themselves for various reasons upon the attention of human beings. Today they must become aware of such phenomena.

On the other hand it is a fact that the people who concern themselves with these things today lack the means of knowledge required for the discussion and, above all, for the understanding of them. So that we may say: psychoanalysis is a phenomenon of our time, which compels men to take account of certain soul processes, and yet causes them to undertake their consideration by inadequate methods of knowledge. This is particularly important because this investigation, by inadequate methods of knowledge, of a matter that quite obviously exists and challenges our present human cognition leads to a variety of serious errors, inimical to social life, to the further development of knowledge, and to the influence of this development of knowledge upon social life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 178 – Psychoanalysis in the Light of Anthroposophy – Dornach, 10th November 1917

Translated by May Laird-Brown

Previously posted on March 15, 2017

Half- or quarter-truths have far worse effects than complete errors

Half- or quarter-truths have far worse effects than complete errors. Thus it is a half- or quarter-truth which underlies what is so frequently described today as analytical psychology or psychoanalysis. People are truly seeking but they are groping in the dark; they divine that many things are hidden in the foundations of the soul, but they cannot resolve to take the real steps into the spiritual world, so as to find what is hidden there, in the depths of the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – The Influence of the Dead on the Life of Man on Earth – Zurich, 3 December 1916

Previously posted on August 30, 2017