About psycho-analysis

Many of the things I have been saying have, it is true, dawned upon psycho-analysts in a distorted, caricatured form. But they are not able to look into what lives and weaves in human nature, so distort it all. From what I have put before you today in a quite external way, you can see the necessity of acquiring a subtle, delicate knowledge of the soul if one wants to handle such things at all; otherwise one can know nothing of the relations between dreams and external reality as realised by man in his life. Hence I once described psycho-analysis as dilettantism, because it knows nothing of man’s outer life. But it also knows nothing of man’s inner life. These two dilettantisms do not merely add, they must be multiplied; for ignorance of the inner life mars the outer, and ignorance of the outer life mars the inner. Multiplying d x d we get d-squared: d x d = d2. Psycho-analysis is dilettantism raised to the second power.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – ANTHROPOSOPHY, AN INTRODUCTION: 7. Dream-life and External Reality – Dornach, 8 February 1924

This translation has been made by V. Compton Burnett from the German text (first published 1927, third edition 1959) entitled Anthroposophie: eine Einführung in die anthroposophische Weltanschauung. Zugleich eine Anleitung zu ihrer Vertretung vor der Welt. Second English edition edited by Owen Barfield.


Discussion begins only when there is a lack of knowledge

Here we see verified a great historical law that should be of special significance to the spiritual scientist: As long as people knew what the Lord’s Supper was, they did not discuss it. They began to discuss it only after they had lost direct knowledge of it. 

Let us consider the fact that people discuss a particular matter as an indication that they do not really know it. Where knowledge exists, knowledge is narrated, and there is no particular desire for discussion. Where people feel like discussing something, they have, as a rule, no knowledge of the truth. Discussion begins only when there is a lack of knowledge, and it is always and everywhere the sign of decline regarding the seriousness of a subject matter when discussions about it are to be heard. Discussions portend the decline of a particular trend. 

It is very important that time and again in Spiritual Science we learn to understand that the wish to discuss something should actually be construed as a sign of ignorance. On the other hand, we should cultivate the opposite of discussion, and that is the will to learn and the will to gradually comprehend what is in question.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 109 – Christianity in Human Evolution: Lecture II: Leading Individualities and Avatar Beings – Berlin, February 15, 1909

Translated by Frances E. Dawson, and Edited by Gilbert Church


A person should speak only of what he knows and  not make statements about something he does not know

The opinion that there are limits to human cognition that cannot be overstepped, compelling man to stop short before an invisible world, must be replied to by saying that there can be no doubt about the impossibility of finding access to the invisible world with the kind of cognition referred to here. Whoever considers that form of cognition to be the only possible one cannot come to any other opinion than that the human being is denied access to a possibly existent higher world. 

Yet the following may also be stated. If it is possible to develop another kind of cognition, this then may well lead into the supersensible world. If this kind of cognition is considered to be impossible, then we reach a point of view from which all talk about a supersensible world appears as pure nonsense. From an impartial viewpoint, however, the only reason for such an opinion can be the fact that the person holding it has no knowledge of this other kind of cognition. Yet how can a person pass judgment upon something about which he himself admits his ignorance? 

Unprejudiced thinking must hold to the premise that a person should speak only of what he knows and  not make statements about something he does not know. Such thinking can only speak of the right that a person has to communicate what he himself has experienced, but it cannot speak of the right that somebody declare impossible what he does not know or does not wish to know. We cannot deny anyone the right to ignore the supersensible, but there can never be any good reason for him to declare himself an authority, not only on what he himself can know, but also on all that a man can not know.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges

No one should imagine himself to be better than others

Anthroposophists must feel part of the whole and, to some extent, responsible for all that happens. […] No one should imagine himself to be good or even much better than other people. We must be permeated by the thought that we can’t be much better than others. What is the advantage of making a few happy when our lifestyle reduces many to unhappiness? Ignorance is the root of suffering. Ignorant as we often are, we help sharpen the knife for those who use it for evil.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 266a – Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden – Berlin, 15 February 1904 (page 34-35)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on August 26, 2017

The anthroposophical world view is not unscientific

The fact that Anthroposophy expresses a different world-view from that of physics, need not mean that it must therefore be unscientific. The Anthroposophical findings only come from a different source – from being awake in spiritual realms. In the same way that you have to grope about in the dark and feel your way about if there is no light in a room but you get a totally different impression once the room it is filled with light, the spiritual researcher also sees everything in a new light when his spiritual eyes are opened. This person has not suddenly become less scientific just because his experiences have been enriched by a broader view. The logic of the Anthroposophist is just as valid as the logic of the physicist. It only transpires in another region. It is a remarkable display of ignorance, if people reject as unscientific our research, before they have even tried it. We use the same thought processes in spiritual realms as the natural-scientists use in the physical realm; therefore, the Anthroposophical research method harmonises with that of science.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spirituelle Seelenlehre und Weltbetrachtung – Berlin, 6 October 1904 (page 394)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on April 22, 2017