The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception
12. Intellect and Reason
By Rudolf Steiner
Making distinctions is the task of the intellect (Verstandes). It has only to separate concepts and maintain them in this separation. This is a necessary preliminary stage of any higher scientific work. Above all, in fact, we need firmly established, clearly delineated concepts before we can seek their harmony. But we must not remain in this separation. For the intellect, things are separated that humanity has an essential need to see in a harmonious unity. Remaining separate for the intellect are: cause and effect, mechanism and organism, freedom and necessity, idea and reality, spirit and nature, and so on. All these distinctions are introduced by the intellect. They must be introduced, because otherwise the world would appear to us as a blurred, obscure chaos that would form a unity only because it would be totally undefined for us.
The intellect itself is in no position to go beyond this separation. It holds firmly to the separated parts. To go beyond this is the task of reason (Vernunft). It has to allow the concepts created by the intellect to pass over into one another. It has to show that what the intellect keeps strictly separated is actually an inner unity. The separation is something brought about artificially, a necessary intermediary stage for our activity of knowing, not its conclusion. A person who grasps reality in a merely intellectual way distances himself from it. He sets in reality's place — since it is in truth a unity — an artificial multiplicity, a manifoldness that has nothing to do with the essential being of reality.
The conflict that has arisen between an intellectually motivated science and the human heart stems from this. Many people whose thinking is not yet developed enough for them to arrive at a unified world view grasped in full conceptual clarity are, nevertheless, very well able to penetrate into the inner harmony of the universe with their feeling. Their hearts give them what reason offers the scientifically developed person. When such people meet the intellectual view of the world, they reject with scorn the infinite multiplicity and cling to the unity that they do not know, indeed, but that they feel more or less intensely. They see very well that the intellect withdraws from nature, that it loses sight of the spiritual bond joining the parts of reality.
What was felt is clearly seen as a unity by Reason.
Reason leads back to reality again. The unity of all existence, which before was felt or of which one even had only dim inklings, is clearly penetrated and seen by reason. The intellectual view must be deepened by the view of reason.
In reason's view of the world the human being merges with the world in undivided unity.