Immorality exists only because people have no knowledge  

No one who really knows the consequences of immorality can in truth be immoral, for one is called upon to teach the true consequences that result from the causes. One should in fact direct people’s attention to them while they are still children. Immorality exists only because people have no knowledge. Only the darkness of untruth makes immoral actions possible.

Bron: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bielefeld, March 6, 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.

Previously posted on August 6, 2014


If man were not to develop anything else but intelligence he would become an evil being

Since the middle of the fifteenth century, a gradual transformation of intelligence is taking place. Although it is still very much like that of the Greeks it is undergoing a transformation, and we are in the beginning of it. In the coming centuries and millennia this intelligence will become something very, very different. Even today it shows a tendency toward what will come in future, a tendency merely to grasp what is error, untruth, deception; a tendency to ponder only what is evil.

The mystery pupils and especially the initiates had known for some time that human intelligence approaches its development toward evil, and that it becomes more and more impossible to recognize the good through mere intelligence. Mankind finds itself today within this transition. We may say, it is still barely possible, if men exert their intelligence and do not bear especially wild instincts in themselves, to look toward the light of what is good. But human intelligence will more and more develop the inclination to plan evil, to bring error into knowledge, and insert evil into man’s moral life.

This is one of the reasons initiates called themselves men of anxiety. Indeed, if one observes the evolution of mankind from this aspect as I have just done, it causes anxiety, precisely because of the way intelligence is developing. It is not for nothing that it fills modern man with pride and haughtiness. This is the pre-taste of intelligence becoming evil in the fifth post-Atlantean age, which is beginning now. If man were not to develop anything else but intelligence he would become an evil being on earth. If we want to think of a wholesome future for mankind, we must not count on the one-sided development of intelligence. In Egypt and Chaldea, it was good; later it entered into a relationship with the forces of death; and it will enter into a relationship with the forces of error, deception, and evil.

This is something about which mankind should have no illusions. In an unbiased fashion humanity should reckon with the fact that it has to protect itself against this one-sided development of intelligence. It is not in vain that precisely through the anthroposophically oriented science of the spirit another element will be added by taking in what can be gained through a renewed perception of the spiritual world. This cannot be grasped by intelligence, but only if we take into ourselves what the science of initiation brings down from the spiritual world through vision.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 296 – Education as a Social Problem: Lecture V: The Metamorphoses of Human Intelligence: Present Trends and Dangers – Dornach, 16 augustus 2021


Rudolf Steiner by Bernhard Hoetger

How uttering an untruth affects the worth of our ego

Now in our life on earth there is only one member of our being whose development we can work at in the real sense, and that is our ego. What does it mean to work at the development of the “I?” To answer this question we must realize what it is that makes this work necessary. 

Suppose a man goes to another and says to him, “You are wicked.” If this is not the case the man has told an untruth. What is the consequence of the ego’s having uttered an untruth such as this? The consequence is that from this moment the worth of the ego is less than it was before the utterance was made. That is the objective consequence of the immoral deed. Before uttering an untruth our worth is greater than it is afterwards. For all time to come and in all spheres, for all eternity the worth of our ego is less as the result of such a deed. 

But during the life between birth and death a certain means is at our disposal. We can always make amends for having lessened the worth of our ego; we can invalidate the untruth. To the one we have called wicked we can confess, “I erred; what I said is not true,” and so on. In doing this we restore worth to our ego and compensate for the harm done.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: III: Man’s Journey Through the Planetary Spheres and the Significance of a Knowledge of Christ – Hanover, November 18, 1912

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on December 28, 2016

Second English translation of this text

What does a false statement (lie) mean to the ego?

In life on earth we have only one human being, whose development we can really work on, that is our ego. In a certain way we can work on the development of our ego. What does it mean in a spiritual sense: working on the development of the ego?

If we are to answer this question, we must be clear about what it takes to work on the “I”. Let’s suppose someone attacks another and says to him, “You are a bad person.” If that is not true, then the person has said an untruth. What does such a false statement mean to the “I”? Yes, this statement of the “I”, which is an untruth, means that the “I” has become less valuable from that moment on.

That is the objective consequence of immorality. Before we have said a falsehood, we are worth more than after we have said the falsehood. The value of the ego becomes less for all spaces and all times, for all infinity and all eternity, if you have made it less by such a thing.

Now, however, one thing is available to us in the life between birth and death. If we can overcome our lies, we can always improve what we have done that has made our self less valuable. We can confess to the person we said, “You are a bad person,” “I was mistaken, what I said is not right,” and so on. Then we have restored the value of our I, then we have compensated for the damage we have added to our I.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Okkulte Untersuchungen über das Leben zwischen Tod und neuer Geburt – Hanover, November 18, 1912 (pages 43-44) 

Translated by Robert W. Gorter, MD, PhD

Opposition and defence

I want to stress once again that it is not enough to merely disprove opposition as it has frequently happened, when from this or that side the opposition turns against us — I have mentioned this already the day before yesterday. Such dismissals which have to be made now and then out of necessity, are worthless, supports nothing really, because today there are definite categories or groups of people who are active in a spiritual or other life, who have nothing to do with people who represent a rebuff and with whom it somehow comes down to a defence, a rebuff, but here we have people who do not care to spread the truth but with whom it finally comes down to spreading untruths.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 203 – Opponents of Anthroposophy – Dornach, February 8, 1921

Translated by Hanna von Maltitz

Previously posted on December 20, 2016