Rudolf Steiner: "Mysticism is a superficial world view."

Submitted by Tom Last on Thu, 08/05/2010 - 3:55pm.

Goethe writes to Jacobi: “God has punished you with metaphysics and set a thorn in your flesh, but has blessed me, on the other hand, with physics."


What Goethe wants to see is the essential being of things that expresses itself within his world of ideas. The mystic also wants to know the essential being of things by immersing himself in his own inner being; but he rejects precisely that innately clear and transparent world of ideas as unsuitable for attaining higher knowledge.

The mystic believes he must develop, not his capacity for ideas, but rather other powers of his inner being, in order to see the primal ground of things. Usually it is unclear feelings and emotions in which the mystic wants to grasp the essential being of things. But feelings and emotions belong only to the subjective being of man. In them nothing is expressed about the things. Only in ideas do the things themselves speak.

Mysticism is a superficial world view, in spite of the fact that the mystics are very proud of their “profundity” compared to men of reason. The mystics know nothing about the nature of feelings, otherwise they would not consider them to be expressions of the essential being of the world; and they know nothing about the nature of ideas, otherwise they would not consider them shallow and rationalistic.

Mystics have no inkling of what people who really have ideas experience in them. But for many people, ideas are in fact mere words. They cannot acquire for themselves the unending fullness of their content. No wonder they feel their own word husks, which are devoid of ideas, to be empty.
--Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science, XVIII Goethe's World View in his Aphorisms in Prose

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