Mental diseases (1 of 2)

It is folly simply to use the expression “mental disease”; the spirit is always healthy, and cannot fall sick in the true sense of the term. To talk of mental diseases is sheer nonsense. What happens is that the spirit’s power of expression is disturbed by the bodily organism, as distinct from a disease of the spirit or the soul itself. The manifestations in question are symptoms, and symptoms only.

Now one must sharpen one’s eye for the concrete separate symptoms. Perhaps you will be in a position to see the primary tendency or disposition, and then the further development of, for example, a religious mania: — of course the technical terms here are none of them precise. There is great confusion of terminology in this field, but let us for the moment use an accepted term. As I have said, these manifestations are only symptoms. But let us assume that this condition develops — we must be able to form some picture of how it develops. And, having found this picture, we shall require to keep a sharp look-out for any abnormalities in the formative process of the lung of those individuals who display this symptom of “religious mania.” Note; not anomalies in the process of breathing but in the process of lung formation, in the pulmonary metabolism. 

For even the current term “brain disease” is not wholly correct; “mental disease” is a wholly false and misleading term, and “brain disease” at least half mistaken; for all phenomena of cerebral degeneration are secondary. The primary elements are never manifested in the upper organic sphere, always in the lower. The primary factors always lie in the organs belonging to the four main groups or systems, the liver, kidneys, heart and lung systems. In the case of an individual inclined to those forms of insanity in which all interest in the external world and active life dies out, and man begins to brood and follows delusions, it is before all things necessary to obtain precise knowledge of the pulmonary process. This is extremely important.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine: Lecture XIII – Dornach, 2nd April, 1920

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Previously posted on June 15, 2018

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Strange nonsense

[…] the strangest nonsense becomes self-understood. To Descartes, as you know, is due the saying ‘I think, therefore I am.’

Countless clever thinkers have accepted this as true: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Yet the result is this: From morning until evening I think, therefore I am. Then I fall asleep. I do not think, therefore I am not. I wake up again, I think, therefore I am. I fall asleep, and as I now do not think, I am not. This then is the consequence: A man not only falls asleep, but ceases to be when he falls asleep. There is no less fitting proof of the existence of the spirit of man than the theorem: ‘I think.’ Yet this began to be the most widely accepted statement in the age of evolution of Consciousness (the age of the Spiritual Soul). When we point to such things today, it is like a sacrilege — we cannot help ourselves!


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 237 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume III – Lecture I – Dornach, 1st July 1924

Translated by George Adams & D.S. Osmond

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Previously posted on May 18, 2018

About the theory of relativity

I would have to go into many things were I to explain in detail what I have put forward simply as facts. It is time such things were discussed, for clear ideas corresponding to facts are needed. Otherwise it is not possible to refute such brilliant nonsense as, for example, the theory of relativity which has made Einstein a figure of renown.  

The theory of relativity seems so self-evident: for example, when a cannon is fired at a distance the sound is heard after a certain interval; if one moves nearer to the cannon the sound is heard sooner. Now, according to the theory of relativity if one moved with the speed of sound one would not hear it for one would go with it. If one went even faster than the sound, then one would hear something which is fired later, before one would hear what was fired earlier. 

This idea is generally accepted today but it has no relation whatever to reality. To go as fast as sound would mean to be sound and to hear none. These quite distorted ideas exist today as the theory of relativity and enjoy the greatest respect.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 176 – The Karma of Materialism: Lecture 2 – Berlin, August 7, 1917

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Albert Einstein

The more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something

Nowadays one can, as some intelligent left-wing socialists do, prove without a doubt that Marxism is intrinsically true; one can, from another point of view, just as easily prove that Marxism is complete nonsense. It is possible these days to prove most things. We need to understand this.

These days, children are instilled with the notion that they ought to prove things. However, therein lies something incredibly tragic, this capability to prove things so readily, so rigorously and thereby be so easily convinced of a concept. Because of all the ways to become convinced of something, the easiest is the current method to prove matters. There is no easier means to acquire a conviction today than to prove a conviction to be the right one. Precisely by proving something in this way, people have lost their sensitivity, lost the ability to sense that beliefs in life must be fought for and acquired, that one needs to conquer a conviction if it should become an integral part of the soul.

Why is this so? Why are we so easily convinced of something? It happens because we have become accustomed to superficial thinking. These days people tend to stay on the surface with their thinking; they do not bother to penetrate deeply into things. Moreover, the more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something. This is particularly important to understand. The thinner the concepts are – and on the surface of things all concepts are thin and abstract -, the better these concepts seem to provide arguments for what one wants to believe and assume from completely different substrates, from very unconscious subjective feelings, from arbitrary will impulses, subconscious beliefs and assumptions.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Soziales Verständnis aus geisteswissenschaftlicher Erkenntnis – Dornach, October 18, 1919 (page 147-148)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on September 19, 2019

Knowledge of man / Social conditions (1 of 2)

You people study what is in my Occult Science, and to do that you have to develop certain concepts that most people would still call “utter madness.” A few days ago, I got yet another letter from someone studying Occult Science, and he said that nearly every chapter was pure nonsense. You can understand people saying it is pure nonsense. Why, it is quite obvious that they often say it these days. Yet these people who do not put themselves out to accept the kind of concepts that lead to Saturn, Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, and do not get down to developing ideas about a world that is not limited to the senses will also not acquire any knowledge of man. 

They do not see the human being in the other person but notice at the most that one person has a more pointed nose than the other, and one has blue eyes whereas the other has brown. But they notice nothing of man’s inner being that manifests as his soul and organizes his body. The same force which enables us to take an interest, and I am not saying now that it enables us to have super-sensible occult powers, but the same force that enables us to take an interest in super-sensible knowledge also gives us the kind of knowledge of man that we need today.

To be continued 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Social Understanding Through Spiritual Scientific Knowledge – Dornach, October 4, 1919

Prviously posted on Januariy 30, 2017