Steiner Rudolf - The theory of knowledge implicit in Goethe's world conception


Author : Steiner Rudolf
Title : The theory of knowledge implicit in Goethe's world conception
Year : 1924

Link download : Steiner_Rudolf_-_The_theory_of_knowledge_implicit_in_Goethe_s_world_conception.zip

Preface to the New Edition of 1924. This epistemology of the Goethean world view was written by me in the middle of the 1880's. Two thought-activities were living in my soul at that time. One of these was directed toward Goethe's creative work and was striving to give shape to the view of the world and of life that emerges as the moving power in this creative work. It seemed to me that something fully and purely human held sway in everything that Goethe gave the world as he created, contemplated, and lived. It seemed to me that nowhere in recent times were inner certainty, harmonious completeness, and a sense for reality with respect to the world as fully represented as in Goethe. From this thought arose the recognition that the way Goethe conducted himself in the activity of knowing is also the one that emerges from the essential being of man and of the world. On the other hand, my thoughts were living within the philosophical views prevalent at that time regarding the essential being of knowledge. In these views the activity of knowing was threatening to encapsulate itself within the being of man himself. Otto Liebmann, the gifted philosopher, had made the statement that human consciousness cannot reach beyond itself. It must remain within itself. Whatever, as true reality, lies beyond the world that consciousness shapes within itself, of this it can know nothing. In brilliant writings Otto Liebmann elaborated this thought in relation to the most varied areas of man's world of experience. Johannes Volkelt had writ ten his thoughtful books Kant's Epistemology and Experience and Thinking. In the world given to man he saw only a complex of mental pictures that arise through man's relationship to a world which in itself is unknown. He did, in fact, concede that within the experience of thinking necessity manifests itself when thinking reaches into the world of mental pictures. In a certain way one feels as if one were bursting through the world of mental pictures into reality when thinking becomes active. But what has been gained by this? One could thereby feel justified in forming judgments in thinking that say something about the real world; but with such judgments one still stands entirely within the inner life of man; nothing of the essential being of the world penetrates into him. In epistemological questions, Eduard von Hartmann, whose philosophy was of real use to me even though I could not accept its basic premises or conclusions, took exactly the same standpoint that Volkelt then presented in detail. It was everywhere acknowledged that the human being, in his activity of knowing, strikes up against certain limits through which he cannot penetrate into the realm of true reality. Confronting all this there stood for me the fact - inwardly experienced, and known in the experiencing - that man with his thinking, if he deepens it sufficiently, does live in the midst of world reality as within a spiritual reality. I believed I possessed this knowledge as one that can stand in human consciousness with the same inner clarity as that which manifests in mathematical knowledge. In the face of this knowledge the opinion cannot persist that there are limits of knowledge such as those believed to have been established by the trend of thought just described. ...

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