Our opinions do not depend at all on whether to us something is proved logically

So many people take care if they have seen into a worldview so that they are convinced of it to convincing also other people. They believe that it is a very creditable endeavour if they say, because I understand it so clearly, nevertheless, I should be able to convince everybody. However, this is naive. Our opinions do not depend at all on whether to us something is proved logically. This is possible in the fewest cases.

Since the opinions and convictions are formed from quite different subsoil of his soul — from his will nature, from his mood and feeling nature, so that someone can understand your logical discussions, your astute conclusions very well. Nevertheless, he does not at all accept them because that what a human being believes and what he confesses does not flow from his logic and his understanding, but from the whole personality, that is from those members, where the will, where the mood arise. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 60 – Predisposition, Talent and Education of the Human Being – Berlin, 12 January 1911


Tolerance for other opinions

It is the most extraordinary thing that nobody nowadays really ever listens to anybody else. Is it ever possible to start a sentence without someone interrupting to state his own view of the matter, with a resultant clash of opinion? It is a fundamental characteristic of modern civilization that nobody listens, that nobody respects anyone’s opinion but his own, and that those who do not share his opinions are looked upon as dunces.

But when a person expresses an opinion, my dear friends, it is a human being’s opinion, no matter how foolish we may think it, and we must be able to accept it, to listen to it. […]

If one has acquired a little wisdom, one even takes pleasure in hearing people say something foolish, if you will forgive my putting it so bluntly. One sometimes finds such stupidities cleverer than the things people of an average degree of cleverness say, because they often issue from a far greater humanness than underlies the average cleverness of the average of clever people. An ever deepening insight into the world increases one’s interest in human foolishness, for these things look different at differing world levels. The stupidities of a person who may seem a fool to clever people in the ordinary physical world can, under certain circumstances, reveal things that are wisdom in a different world, even though the form they take may be twisted and caricatured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 257 – Awakening to Community – Dornach, 4th March 1923

Translated by Marjorie Spock

Previously posted on February 24, 2019


Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge

Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge of the things which must gradually be made clear to the world through spiritual science. Today there are undoubtedly many people who argue: — “Why should we learn so many things through spiritual science? Must we become schoolboys again? Feelings or experiences seem to be the most important thing in it.” Indeed, feeling is precisely what should be taken into consideration — but, first of all, the right kind of feeling must be acquired.

The same thing applies to everything. A painter also would find it far more pleasant if there were no need for him to learn the elements of his art, and so forth, and if he were not obliged to paint his final picture slowly and gradually on the canvas. It would be far more pleasant if he could just breathe on the canvas, and so produce his finished picture! The peculiar thing in the world today is this — that, the more we reach the soul-spiritual sphere, the more people fail to understand that a mere breathing on the canvas does not suffice! In the case of music, few people will admit that a man who has learnt nothing at all can be a composer; this is quite obvious to them. They will also admit this in the case of painting — although less strictly than in the case of music — and in the case of poetry they will admit still less that study and training is necessary. This is why there are so many modern poets. No age has been so unpoetical as our present age, in spite of its many poets! Poets need not learn much — they are simply expected to write (although this has nothing to do with poetry) — at least orthographically; it suffices if they are able to express their thoughts intelligibly.

And less still is expected from philosophers. For it is taken for granted that anyone may express his opinion concerning all kinds of things which belong to a conception of the world, or life-conception. Everybody has his own point of view. Again and again we find that careful study, entailing the application of all means available to an inner activity, in order to investigate and know at least something of the world, counts for nothing in the present day. Instead, it is taken for granted that the standpoint of one who has toiled and worked in order, to venture to say at least a few things concerning the secrets of the universe is equivalent to the standpoint of one who has simply made his mind to have an opinion!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness – Munich, 25th February 1912


Previously posted on September 29, 2017

Love is higher than opinion

Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled. Hence it is deeply significant that in Anthrosophy no religion is attacked and no religion is specially singled out, but all are understood, and so there can be brotherhood because the adherents of the most varied religions understand one another.

This is one of the most important tasks for mankind today and in the future: that men should learn to live together and understand one another. If this human fellowship is not achieved, all talk of occult development is empty.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE ELEVEN – THE POST-ATLANTEAN CULTURE-EPOCHS – Stuttgart – 1st September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Different viewpoints

A wrong judgement can only be established if one looks at the vantage point from which the perception comes. One would come to terms with one another much better in the world of human viewpoints in many instances if this is always considered. One would then find that the variety of opinions in many cases only arises from the differences of points of view. Moreover, only through the diverse viewpoints can the essence of something be grasped. The mistakes made in this direction do not occur because people reach different opinions, but they arise when everyone holds his or her opinion to be the only correct and justified way to look at something.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 45 – Anthroposophie/Ein Fragment – I. Der Charakter der Anthroposophie (page 12-13)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on November 15, 2018