Passionless thinking

There is usually only one area where we have pure thoughts, that is in mathematics. When people calculate, their passions are usually very little involved. Because the majority of people everywhere wish to exercise their feeling and critical faculty they have no love for mathematics. Here one cannot vote in parliamentary fashion. Mathematical truth is recognised by man through truth itself; a problem can only have one solution. Whether one or a million people hold their own view about it, the problem must find the same solution. Nowhere should we need majority decisions, if it were possible in all spheres to make decisions in a way as free from emotion, as objectively, as in mathematics. In Europe one can only point to this as to an ideal, in the hope that one day, in other spheres of life, judgements will be, reached equally objectively and free from emotion.

Thinkers would not disagree so violently if they would take all the factors into consideration completely objectively, for truth cannot approach man in different ways. People hold different opinions because with their instincts and passions they are involved in their ideas in different ways. […..] No philosophy dealing with human matters was expressed so objectively, with such pure mathematical thinking, as the Vedanta philosophy which is truly philosophical in the highest sense of the word. Whoever imbues himself with this, knows what the following means: ‘I need no other person in order to know whether something is true.’ Whoever actually raises himself to this clear, passionless thinking, needs no other opinion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM: Lecture XXI – Berlin, 19th October 1905

Translated by Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett



About truths and opinions (3 of 5)

I have already commented on the fact that today there is really general agreement upon the truths of mathematics alone, for these are the most trivial of all. No one can say that he finds mathematical truths through external experience; we find them through inwardly realizing them. If one wants to show that the three angles of a triangle make 18o°, then one draws a line through the apex which is parallel to the base and lays the three angles together fan-wise; then angle a = d, b = e, c = itself, and so the three angles are equal to a straight line, that is, 18o°. Anyone who has once grasped this knows that it must be so, once and for all, just as one knows that 3 x 3 = 9 after it has once been grasped.


To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture IX – Berlin, 1st June 1908


Previously posted on July 24, 2018

Truth is the leader of mankind towards unity and mutual understanding, and also the precursor of justice and love

Truth is a lofty goal. This is shown by the fact that truth, in the sense intended here, is recognised today in one limited realm only. It is only in the realm of mathematics that humanity in general has reached the goal of truth, for here men have curbed their passions and desires and kept them out of the way. Why are all men agreed that three times three makes nine and not ten? Because no emotion comes into it, Men would agree on the highest truths if they had gone as far with them as they have with mathematics. The truths of mathematics are grasped in the inmost soul, and because they are grasped in this way, we possess them. We would still possess them if a hundred or a thousand people were to contradict us; we would still know that three times three makes nine because we have grasped this fact inwardly. If the hundred or thousand people who take a different view were to get away from themselves, they would come to the same truth.

What, then, is the way to mutual understanding and unity for mankind? We understand one another in the field of reckoning and counting because here we have met the conditions required. Peace, concord and harmony will prevail among men to the extent that they find truth. That is the essential thing: that we should seek for truth as something to be found only in our own deepest being; and should know that truth ever and again draws men together, because from the innermost depth of every human soul its light shines forth.

So is truth the leader of mankind towards unity and mutual understanding, and also the precursor of justice and love. Truth is a precursor we must cherish, while the other precursor, anger, that we came to know yesterday, must be overcome if we are to be led by it away from selfishness. That is the mission of truth: to become the object of increasing love and care and devotion on our part. Inasmuch as we devote ourselves inwardly to truth, our true self gains in strength and will enable us to cast off self-interest. Anger weakens us; truth strengthens us.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul / Paths of Experience – Volume One: Lecture 3: The Mission of Truth – Berlin, 22nd October 1909

Translated by C. Davy and C. von Arnim


The occultist asserts nothing else than what any other scholar asserts in his own field

The mystic, the occultist, does not assert anything that a scholar cannot assert in his field. Let’s say that someone tells you a mathematical truth. If you haven’t studied mathematics you don’t have the necessary knowledge to verify this truth. No one will deny that to judge a mathematical truth the necessary capacities must be attained first. No authority can decide about such a truth, only the individual who has experienced it can judge. And only someone who has experienced an esoteric truth can judge it. 

Our contemporaries, however, demand that the occultist prove what he says to the satisfaction of every average intelligence. They stand by the sentence: what is true must be provable and everyone must be able to understand it. The occultist, however, asserts nothing else than what any other scholar asserts in his own field, and he demands nothing more than every mathematician also demands.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 89 – Theosophic/Esoteric Cosmology: Spiritual Cosmology – Berlin, 26th May, 1904

Translation: Frank Thomas Smith

Previously posted on May 13, 2017

About truths and opinions (5 – End)

If mathematical truths were not so simple and obvious then the passions aroused in acknowledging them would lead to many difficulties. For if covetousness entered in then perhaps many housewives would determine that 2 x 2 = 5 and not 4. These things are only so obvious and simple that they can no longer be clouded by sympathy and antipathy. Continually wider regions will be grasped by this form of truth and more peace can come to mankind if truth is grasped in this manner.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture IX – Berlin, 1st June 1908