AN ANTHROPOSOPHICAL INTRODUCTION
TO THE HUMAN ORGANIZATION
Valdemar W. Setzer
(This is a translation of the original text in Portuguese present version: Oct. 16, 2006)
Part 2 of 3
2. The three members of the soul
In general, when something has three different aspects forming a totality, it is possible to recognize two of them as being polar, that is, with opposed characteristics, and the third as having characteristics of the other two. Thus, of the three members of the human organization, body, soul and spirit, the first one is polar to the last, and the middle one, containing aspects of both, connects them, harmonizing the whole. The body is characterized by its relatively rigid form. The human physical body is adapted to the conditions of the physical world in which we live and has needs stemming from this fact. On the other hand, the spirit has the characteristic of being directed not to the material world, but to the spiritual one, being as versatile as the ideas that reside there. It is not due to the body that we have freedom, which goes against rigidity, because everything that totally adapts itself to physical needs cannot be entirely free. For example, nobody has the freedom of jumping a distance of 20 m, or has the freedom of stopping to drink or eat (this may eventually be done, but the result will be a destruction of the body). But we have total freedom in relation to purely spiritual activities, such as concentrating our thinking on a certain subject chosen in freedom among various themes. This freedom may reflect upon physical actions, for instance when our spirit decides that we should perform some physically possible task, such as reading a chapter of a book without interruption; if the phone rings, we may fulfill our decision and avoid answering it.
The soul stays between the body and the spirit, having characteristics of both. R.Steiner, with his clairvoyant perception, observed that the soul has three members or constituents, which he called Sentient Soul, Intellectual and Temper Soul and Consciousness Soul. I am using here partly traditional translations correspondent to the originals Empfindungseele, Verstandes- und Gemütseele and Bewusstseinseele. On section 2.3 I justify my own choice of 'temper' as a translation for Gemüt.
2.1 The Sentient Soul
This member of our soul is more directed to the body. Through it we
may have inner sensations caused, for instance, by sensorial perceptions,
as expounded in section 1. It is with this part of the soul that the human
being starts having a really, non-physical inner life, albeit dependent
of the impulses that arrive through the physical body. In the latter,
system is the one more connected to the sentient
soul, transmitting to it both the sensorial impressions as well as the
inner ones detected by the nervous system.
Animals also have a Sentient Soul. Nevertheless, ours has different aspects, because it is influenced by the other two and by the spirit. For example, we may become conscious of the sensations we are feeling, something animals cannot, because they do not have self-consciousness, which we have due to the higher soul member to be examined in the next section.
Feelings that we have in common with animals, such as fear, pain, sympathy or antipathy, are also manifestations of the Sentient Soul. I call them 'lower feelings'.
2.2 Consciousness Soul
Let's us move to the opposite pole. This member of the soul is more
related to the spirit. It is the one that gives us the possibility of
having self-consciousness, for example of a sensation we are feeling.
With it we may act independently of our body, and live in introspection
within our world of thoughts. With it we may observe the spiritual world,
which is what we do when we have an 'intuition', this unscientific inner
activity (in the sense of classical science), because it is an idea that
apparently comes 'from nothing'. In our model, intuition is a perception
of the spiritual world of ideas. With this perception, provided by our
consciousness soul, we have a 'new idea'.
When we concentrate in ourselves, in a meditative process, and after lots of training, our Consciousness Soul may start having conscious and controlled perceptions of our own soul or of the spiritual world. On the other hand, an intuition is a non-controlled perception. For those that already know the basics of Anthroposophy, let me clarify that I am using here the common understanding of the word 'intuition', and not the particular state of consciousness described by Steiner with this name.
It is also through our Consciousness Soul that our higher individuality manifests itself. Obviously, animals do not possess this member of the soul, because they have neither freedom, nor self-awareness, nor a higher individuality in the human sense. In fact, as will be seen later, animals do not even have a biography in the human sense.
2.3 Intellectual and Temper Soul
In the original German, Steiner called this member of the soul Verstandes- und Gemütsseele, clearly giving it two different aspects. It is usually translated as Intellectual and Mind Soul. Seele is 'soul'. Verstand means 'understanding' so 'intellect' suits well. But Gemüt does not have a good, direct translation, meaning something more akin to feelings (the phrase "er ist ganz Gemüt" means "he is full of feelings"). 'Mind' implies much more, for example, American Heritage Dictionary, 2000 Electronic (R) Edition says it "is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination." So 'mind' encompasses the intellect and thus does not express the desired different aspect of this soul member, somewhat opposite to the intellect. This is the reason I have chosen 'temper' to describe this aspect. Another possibility could have been 'disposition'.
Being an intermediate member of the soul, it has characteristics of the other two members of the global human organization. The temper is more directed to the body, and the intellect to the spirit.
It is due to this member of the soul that we have the ability of reasoning in a logical way. With this ability humans begin to be essentially distinct from animals, which do not have this soul constituent. It is through it that the spirit starts to manifest itself. As a matter of fact, assuming that the model for the human organization presented here is true, it is undue to call humans 'rational animals'. This expression tends to diminish the human being, reducing it to an animal, just with somewhat different characteristics. The fact that we have common characteristics with animals does not justify using that expression. Even physically (e.g., in the erect posture and in the form of the vertebral column) we are essentially different from animals, that is, we have characteristics that do not occur in animals. Animals have much in common with plants, e.g. organic tissues, the principles of growth, reproduction and regeneration, etc. Nevertheless, we do not call animals 'movable plants', why should we call humans 'rational animals'?
The aspect of 'temper' of this soul member is connected to habits and feelings, part of which is furnished by our corporeal constitution. For example, the sympathy which we feel for somebody we meet for the fist time stems four a reaction of the soul to the perception provided by the sensorial contact, mainly through vision and, eventually, an unconscious soul perception. The feeling of fear, which we feel when faced with some danger, also depends on our sensorial perception of the dangerous object or situation. Both sympathy and fear are also felt by animals. But an animal can never feel, compassion for someone who is suffering, as we do with this member of our soul. It is even possible that an animal tries to help another of the same species which is suffering, but it is not possible to say that this action is moved by compassion. Fundamentally, it is an automatic action, proper of the species. I call compassion a 'higher feeling', in contraposition to 'lower feelings' (see section 2.1).
When we read a romance or a biography and we feel emotions, we have feelings awaken by something an animal cannot produce: an inner image, for example of a person being described by the text. This image is formed in our soul, and is not produced by an external bodily impulse. After all, one does not see the character of that person in the printed letters, which are essentially ink over paper, 'dead letters'. Moreover, appreciating a text as literary art, we experiment an esthetical feeling; this is another example of a 'higher feeling', which animals do not have.
Our rhythmic system, that is, the respiratory-circulatory system, is intimately associated to this member of the soul. In fact, when we have a strong emotion, both respiration and blood circulation change rhythm. It is not by chance that the heart is associated to feelings and courage, as in 'Richard the Lion-Hearted'. Another indication is the fact that when we face a danger and feel a great fear the blood leaves our periphery and tends to concentrate in our interior, of which the heart is its center. A materialistic conception of the human being could say that our heart beats more rapidly because the adrenal gland injected adrenaline into the blood. But what made this gland be activated? It could be said that it was an impulse originated in the brain. But what made this impulse appear? It cannot be just the sensorial perception of the object, because this perception is neutral and just by itself does not make us feel fear. Trying to follow all these physical processes, one always reaches a blind alley. The same with vision: according to the present conception, packets of electromagnetic waves reach the retina. The optical nerve transmits electrical signals to some regions of the brain; brain neurons also interact through electrical impulses. Where, then, is our perception of the viewed object, the correspondent mental representation and the sensations that it rouses? It seems to me that only the hypothesis of the existence of non-physical processes interacting with the physical ones could explain our sensorial experiences. Recall that the present knowledge about the neural functioning is minimal, and does not permit the establishment of mechanical causes and effects between the sensorial perception of some frightening situation and a physiological reaction due to a feeling such as fear. The need for the hypothesis of the existence of a non-physical soul is more apparent when a person blushes out of shame or becomes, as it is said in Portuguese, 'violet of rage' ('roxo de raiva'). Why do we feel shame? It is our Consciousness Soul, acting together with the Intellectual and Temper Soul (when we think about the consequences of our acts or we recognize the falsity of our arguments) which make our feeling shame and recognizing that we perpetrated an immoral act. This makes the Intellectual and Temper Soul feel the feeling of shame and thus activate the peripheral blood vessels, which dilate, giving the appearance of a red face. By the way, Steiner called the attention that blushing of shame has some opposite characteristics to becoming white of fear; in the former, the blood goes to the periphery (our consciousness soul is trying to 'hide' behind our blood), and in the latter the blood leaves the periphery (giving more energy to evade or face the danger).
3. Historical development
As it happens with everything from a truly spiritualist view, the history of humanity is a manifestation of the spirit. Steiner formulated very interesting explanations for historical events based on his conscious spiritual perceptions, using concepts of the human organization introduced by him. For example, he showed what were the spiritual impulses involved in the phenomenon Jeanne D'Arc, unconceivable from a materialist conception of history. Just how a simple illiterate and ignorant shepherd could command the French army in successive victories, planning battles against the British? In this case, there was a divine inspiration that oriented her as declared by herself.
But what interests us here is the explanation Steiner gives of some historical changes, real discontinuities, which he verified to be due to the beginning of the full manifestation of each of those three members of the soul that have been just expounded. According to him, these members began to manifest themselves successively starting at quite precise times, and their sudden manifestations were the ground for historical changes which will be situated in the sequel. Let us begin with the soul member that developed at last, and gradually go back covering the other two.
3.1 The advent of the Consciousness Soul
The consciousness soul started to fully manifest itself at the beginning
of the 15th
century. This caused the truly discontinuity in
the human cultural evolution, represented by the sudden appearance of
a scientific interest towards nature, e.g. with Copernicus (1473-1543),
Galileo (1564-1642) and Kepler (1564-1642); geographical discoveries;
renaissance art, specially some first representations of face expressions
and geometrical perspective which officially began with Brunelleschi
(1377-1446; see the wonderful book by Arthur Zajonc Catching the Light
- The Entwined History of Light and Mind.
New York: Bantam, 1995);
and the sudden interest in registering the authorship of works of art,
e.g. the well-known monogram which Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) engraved
in his prints; etc.
Before the 15th century, the human being did not have a sufficient separation in relation to the external world, to the point of scientifically investigating it. For example, regarding a sunny sky, clearly one saw the Sun moving during the day. It is necessary to have quite a bit of personal isolation in relation to this strong sensorial impression, to imagine that, during the day, the Earth is moving around its axis and that the Sun remains still.
It is interesting to observe that Copernicus formulated his heliocentric system simply to facilitate the calculations of eclipses (that is, an abstract mental activity). Placing the Sun instead of the Earth at the center of the planetary system, he just diminished the number of necessary epicycles to generate the observed trajectories. Epicycles were imaginary circles, with nothing at their centers, traced by planets during the supposed circular trajectory of their centers around the Earth or the Sun, thus resulting in the observed elliptical trajectories. Kepler, in turn, struggled a lot to abandon the traditional idea that all planet movements should be circular, adopting elliptical orbits which ended up with the epicycles. Through his theory of gravitation, only much later, in 1687, Newton theoretically explained the elliptical orbits. And still much later, in 1851, Foucault, with his pendulum, introduced the first experimental proof that the Earth moved around its axis during day and night. But at that time Newtonian theory was already commonplace, and most of humanity was satisfied with a purely theoretical, abstract explanation leading to the heliocentric model, showing how much the separation from the sensorial reality had been attained.
Steiner said that this sudden change in the human being was due to the beginning of the full manifestation of the Consciousness Soul. This manifestation will be completely developed in about 15 centuries from now. Thus, he denominated our historical time 'Age [or Epoch] of the Consciousness Soul'. It is characterized precisely by a greater consciousness of the self, greater freedom, greater separation in relation to Nature and greater sense of individuality. Unfortunately, all these characteristics may be exaggerated, as for instance in individualism leading to unrestrained egotism. In economy, we have this situation since the 18th century, with the ideas of Adam Smith, who in this book Wealth of Nations (1776) proposed the satisfaction of personal ambitions and egotism as a means of attaining the general social well-being. A mysterious 'invisible hand' would end up regulating everything. Unfortunately, his approach, fully manifested in the present 'capitalist jungle', is clearly leading to increased social misery and unbalance, as well as to the destruction of the physical world.
Due to the development of this member of the soul, the human being also deviated from the spiritual worlds, that are not perceived even intuitively. This leads to a materialism which totally negates any origin or spiritual characteristic of the human being. The phrase by Nietzsche (1844-1900) "God is dead" would be unthinkable before the Age of the Consciousness Soul. In this age the human being has been left alone, abandoned by the high spiritual beings which created his spiritual essence "similar to God" (not his physical body similar to divine beings, because the latter do not have physical bodies!). This abandoning was necessary, otherwise the human being could not have acquired freedom. One could trace a progressive path, in whose beginning the human being was just a spiritual being, in contact with the divinity. However, at that time he was unconscious, his individuality was not developed and he was totally directed this is magnificently represented by the biblical image of Paradise. Gradually, humans got more physically condensed (together with the Earth and the other physical beings), acquiring his corporeal form, becoming more and more earthly. He was the last one to condense to the point of leaving fossils; he was preceded to this stage by animals whose fossils thus show up before, giving a wrong impression that humans were the last to appear. This is correct as far as the physical body is concerned, but not the spiritual essence: in the beginning was the (spiritual) human being.
This separation from spiritual worlds, whose beginning is well represented by the Genesis image of Temptation, has already reached a level in which humans acquired what this separation had to accomplish and should start returning to the spiritual worlds without losing everything positive that was gained in the way. The Fall into matter was not a human initiative. In fact, if at that time he was unconscious of himself, and had no freedom, as portrayed in the image of Paradise, the human being could not be responsible by what was wrongly denominated 'Original Sin'. In German, the expression is somewhat more adequate: 'Erbsünde', 'Inherited Sin' the descendants of those primitive humans inherited their fall into matter. Divine beings were responsible for this fall! Now humans should again have a contact with the divine worlds, but by their own, free conscious decision. They may count with the help of divine beings, that is, beings who do not have physical bodies, having 'higher' constituent members than humans. For this, humans should, in freedom and in full consciousness, look for them. I am speaking here of 'good' divine beings who are ready to help the human being, according to a path of global cosmic evolution. Nevertheless, they cannot interfere with the acquired freedom, otherwise they would impair humans of accomplishing their necessary evolution. So, they cannot force humans to follow this path. On the other hand, there are other divine beings who are opposed to this development. They may be collectively classified as 'Evil'. The existence of Good and Evil is absolutely essential for the development of human freedom: the latter has no sense without the possibility of choosing between both. If we did not have this possibility of choosing, we would still be unconscious in Paradise, among "little angels with pink gowns playing lyres, what a boredom!" as ironized in his lectures by the late Dr. Rudolf Lanz, certainly the greater intellectual introducer of Anthroposophy in Brazil. Thus, Evil was a necessity! As Mophistopheles answers to Faust, when asked who he was: "Ich bin ein Teil diejen'gen Kraft, die stets das Böse will, und stets das Gute schafft" ("I am a part of that force who always craves for evil but always ends up doing good"). The problem is that those 'evil' spiritual beings do not have any problem forcing humans in whatever direction.
Let us not proceed here with much more on Evil; it is just worth mentioning that it has various aspects. The more visible ones in our days are: 1. The tendency, most common in our days, of totally separating humans from the spiritual worlds, turning them totally to matter, and making them consider themselves as animals (e.g. in evolutionary Darwinism) or, even worse, as machines (e.g. in most of the research and principles of Artificial Intelligence see my paper "A.I. Artificial Intelligence or Automated Imbecility? Can machines feel and think?"). According to Steiner, in this case "the human being gets lost in the world." 2. The tendency of totally separating the human being from matter, turning him into a spiritual being without consciousness and freedom. This form manifests itself partly in everything that deals with diminishing consciousness, as irrational enthusiasms or fundamentalisms, psychotropic drugs, advertisement, etc. In this case, according to Steiner, "the world loses the human being." These two influences want to conquer the human being to themselves, and in general work together, although representing opposite poles. 3. The simple destruction of the human being, as may presently be seen in genocides, wars, the easiness with which people kill each other, the destruction of the physical body through various forms of pollution, etc. (In the age of the Consciousness Soul, wars do not correspond to the present human organization; the correct way of resolving conflicts personal and between states or peoples is through negotiations.)
Only a spiritualist view of the world similar to the one I am expounding here, directed to understanding (that is, expressed through concepts) and not to feelings (mysticism), may recognize the first two influences, leading to a necessary balance between them, that is, between spirit and matter, and may avoid the third one. In fact, falling under the influence of the first tendency, one may regard the human being as a machine, but then there is no more moral and ethics, because machines do not have them. Matter is absolutely essential: it is through our physical actions that we have the possibility of choosing among various paths and exercise freedom. Without our physical body we would not be able to exercise unselfish love which, according to Steiner, is the great mission of the human development in our times. As we have seen, it is the physical body which permits the reflection of our willing, sensations, feelings and thoughts to our consciousness. On the other hand, without the spirit we would petrify into matter, becoming automata-machines, and there would be no more chance of individual development. The soul is fundamental in establishing the necessary balance between both because, as it involves feelings, it is, for example, essential for the individual not falling into dry, lifeless ideas. We should also not be conducted solely by the heart (that is, by feelings, by the soul), without being conscious through thinking (that is, by the self-consciousness of the spirit) of what we are deciding or doing and its consequences. Moreover, we should not decide in a pure rational way, without this decision being fertilized by feelings. An example of this situation is the following soulless reasoning: as there is excess of people on Earth, let us eliminate the laws that prohibit a person to kill others. It is interesting to observe that social laws are never purely rational; they always contain a factor outside of pure thinking, stemming from the way people feel things should be.
3.2 The advent of the Intellect and Temper Soul
According to Steiner, this soul component began to develop and strongly act upon the human being around the 7th century B.C. Actually, one may recognize at that time a historical discontinuity: great personalities begin to appear in various regions of the world, changing in special ways the course of culture and spirituality. In the East, where the aspect of temper stands out, through a mysticism directed primarily to the feelings, we have the great Buddha (born around 563 B.C.), whose ideal was to eliminate human suffering, and also Lao Tse (~604 B.C.) and Confucius (551). In the Middle East, we have the biblical prophets such as Amos (~750), Jeremiah (~626), Nahum (~612), Habakkuk (~605), etc. In Greece, where the rational aspect stands out, we have philosophers such as Pherokides of Siros (~550), Plato (~427), Aristotle (384) and mathematicians such as Thales of Mileto (~624), Pythagoras (6th century). But the aspect of temper, of feelings, is also present, through the extraordinary Greek art, as with Aeschylus (524), Sophocles (~496), Euripides (~480) and Aristophanes (~448). It is there that the concepts of Polis and citizenship appear, replacing the strong feeling of belonging to a tribe connected through consanguinity (as was the case, e.g. with the ancient Hebrews). It is interesting to observe how Plato's dialogues seem to stem from the pleasure of using the new capacity of reasoning, in mental elucubrations which unfold continuously. Aristotle establishes an 'earthly Logic', based upon formal reasoning. In the Roman Empire there is a progress: the concept of citizen of the empire appears. Law is not given by the divinity anymore, as before (for example, in Moses' social laws, or in social rules dictated by the ancient Mysteries), but is established by human beings.
In that epoch, mainly in its beginning, the human being still felt connected to divine beings, but could not directly experience them. Hence the Greek myths, which produced an erroneous image of divine beings behaving and having the same problems and weaknesses as humans. The latter still heard the divine voice, but in states of trance, such as the Hebrew prophets and the Greek pythonesses. Observe that none of them say "in truth, I tell you" as Christ, a great precursor, was going to do; they felt like being the transmitters of the divine voice and not the creators of their own thoughts. Thus, Homer (~850 B.C.) begins the Iliad and the Odyssey invoking the inspiration given him by the Muses ("sing oh Muse, the feats of the Pelean hero..."), that is, by divine beings (in this case, feminine because it involves an act of creation). As a matter of fact, how could Homer describe the city of Troy, which had been destroyed more than 400 years before (~1200 B.C.)and whose memory had disappeared, if not by non-physical inspiration?
It is impressive to observe the evolution of Greek theater plays, from Aeschylus to Euripides. In the former, humans still felt themselves surrounded by divine beings, represented by the choir, and in the latter it is already possible to notice a separation from them. But even in Euripides the human being does not feel himself the master of his destiny for example, Oedipus is not able to avoid it. Characters have standard, non-individual human problems; therefore, modern Psychology borrows them as standards. On the other hand, with Shakespeare (1564-1616), with the advent of the Consciousness Soul, we have individuals with their unique problems, such as Hamlet, Richard III and Lear. In Greek theater there is a revolt against divine beings, for not being possible to experiment them anymore and not being able to understand them. This begins only through the activity of the Consciousness Soul (hence the appearance of a person like Steiner, who is able to consciously investigate and conceptualize the spiritual world).
3.2 The advent of the Sentient Soul
Steiner locates this advent around the 30th
The Sentient Soul leads to an inner experience of the world. There is
nothing rational. For instance, the blocs of the pyramids were sculpted
so that they would precisely fit each other out of a deep sense of what
the stone is, and not using calculations.
Culture at that age is mainly located in the Middle East, where we have the Chaldean, Babilonic, Hebrew and Egyptian cultures. Great personalities also appear, such as Hamurabi, Abraham, Moses and many pharao-priests in Egypt. The Hebrews turned the divinity into something abstract, which should be sought for in the inner life of everyone. This was an essential step for the separation from the spiritual world. Steiner says that for them, each person had to be a priest. Moreover, they introduced for the first time a formal definition of what is a good and a bad person: a person was good if she followed the written commandments and precepts of social behavior. It is also interesting to see through the biblical stories how the divinity progressively distances from humans.
It would be very interesting to prolong the description of these three epochs, but this would go beyond the simple illustration of how the concepts of a super-sensible organization of the human being may lead to a fascinating understanding of history, as introduced by Steiner. History becomes a consequence of the changes in the human organization, and not of cultural changes which happened by chance. It is also stimulating and comforting to find more substantial and deep concepts, which are based upon a different human organization than the present one. On the contrary, for example, a Marxist explanation, using historical determinism, reduces every historical occurrence to just one concept which may eventually seem natural in our times, such as class struggles. But it simply turns history into something extremely unplausible and boring when applied to cave men, to ancient India, to ancient Greece, to the Middle Ages, etc., considering that humans and their problems had always been the same.
4. Social relationships
In this section I am going to expound some ideas I developed through study, reflection and observation, as well as inspirations acquired through various lectures and courses given on related subjects.
To the three members of the human soul correspond what I call the three social capacities.
4.1 Sentient Soul
With our Sentient Soul it is possible to exercise what I call Social
Interest and Sensitivity
Having social interest means opening oneself to another person, getting interested in her/his life, biography and problems. In the same way that the advent of the Sentient Soul provided the human being with an interest towards the world, through that member of the soul everyone may get interested in other people. Some persons have this interest as an innate capacity, but this is disappearing due to the increasing isolation provided by the Consciousness Soul. This is particularly noticeable in Central Europe. Today it is necessary to practice that interest, out of a conscious decision of our spirit.
The social interest corresponds to a gesture of opening our inner self to the exterior. The opposite gesture, of absorbing something, corresponds to what I call social sensitivity. Through it we may perceive the needs and abilities of another person, and if there exists a good social relation between him/herself and ourselves.
It is very important to realize that every human being has three aspects in the social realm; she/he is: 1. A person with needs; 2. A person with abilities; 3. A person who relates with other people. It is a law of human nature that this has to be so; this law is as inexorable as physical laws. Everybody has needs, from physical (food, transport, housing, etc.) to soul needs (words of comfort, tenderness, culture, etc.) to spiritual needs (understanding the world, having space for the realization of his/her abilities, etc.). Every adult person has abilities (professional, social, scientific, artistic, etc.). The needs of everybody are satisfied by others through social interaction, which may involve a direct contact (e.g. the cultural needs of students being satisfied by a teacher or professor exercising teaching abilities during classes) or an indirect contact (e.g. at this moment, some people are working at power plants, providing for the production and distribution of electric power, so that I may use my computer and see around if it is dark). In general, we are not conscious of indirect social relations, but it is useful to think that lots of people are working to provide for our present and future needs; this establishes an empathy towards those unknown people and society as a whole. As a matter of fact, those three aspects constitute the fundamental social characteristics of humans which gave origin to Steiner's social ideas and movement called The Threefold Social Organization ('Soziale Dreigliederung').
Suppose someone enters a supermarket, collects the necessary items, proceeds to the cashier, pays the bill and goes out without having noticed who was the cashier, without having greeted and thanked him or her, etc. This way, the cashier is treated as a machine an extension of the cash register machine. This shows a lack of social interest. Maybe the cashier needs to be treated as a human person; a way of doing this is to direct him/her some words, smiling to him/her, asking if the day has been too busy, etc. Ignoring the other person, mainly when we have a contact with him/her, is a manifestation of an atrophy of the Sentient Soul. The attention we give another person is a manifestation of that soul member if it is not done due to a social obligation or an automatic action, but stemming from a genuine interest and sensitivity towards the other.
The interest we may show towards other people, as well as the perception of their needs and abilities, and being conscious of the type or interaction that is taking place with them, is obviously connected to our bodily capacity of opening ourselves to the other person through our senses. Recall that the soul aspect of the Sentient Soul is mainly related with our bodily part.
4.2 Intellectual and Temper Soul
Socially, the use of this soul member leads, on one hand, to understanding
the other person, and on the other hand to having compassion
what I am going to call 'withjoy
' with him/her. Understanding requires
conscious thinking about the other person and trying to enter in touch
with his/her essence, and not being directed by appearances. Compassion
means suffering with another person, when the latter is feeling some physical
or psychical pain. 'Withjoy' means rejoicing with the joy of another person.
They have to do with the capacity of perceiving and feeling (up to a certain
point) the feelings of another person. Here we also have both gestures
of inner (suffering) and outer (rejoicing) movements.
Recall that it is impossible to feel the feelings of another person, because feelings are absolutely personal and subjective. Nevertheless, it may be possible to consciously recognize the feelings of the other and proceed to share with her/him similar feelings.
Observe that trying to understand the other person and to perceive and share his/her feelings is completely different than perceiving the needs and abilities of the other, and if there is a social interaction with him/her. The capacity of feeling with the other does not follow a pure sensorial perception, but is the outcome of establishing a soul contact with the other person. It corresponds to a real perception of the other's soul.
Remember that the Intellect and Temper Soul is an intermediate element in the soul constitution, thus being more related to the soul as a whole. Furthermore, animals do not have this member of the soul; in fact, obviously they do not think, as we saw in section 1.3. Moreover, I think animals do not feel compassion; when an animal sees another one of the same species suffering, it may show some signs of sadness, but it seems to me that this is an automatic reaction, quite different from human compassion.
Feeling the sufferings and joys of another person increases our possibility of understanding his/her problems and of creating solutions to them. Understanding the other and recognizing his/her soul condition is the only genuine path to tolerance.
4.3 Consciousness Soul
As has been seen, our spirit manifests itself directly through the Consciousness Soul. From the social point of view, this means exercising what I call Social Responsibility and Action. It is with our spirit, through the Consciousness Soul, that we feel the moral responsibility of doing some social action. But it is not enough to feel this responsibility: it is necessary to transform it into action. Every conscious action, resulting from a conscious decision, is the manifestation of our spirit through the Consciousness Soul which, as we saw, is more directed to the spirit.
Important social actions are: consciously activating the Sentient Soul to perceive the needs and abilities of the other person and if there is a good social interaction with him/her, as well as consciously activating the Intellectual and Temper Soul to perceive if one is understanding the other person and sharing his/her suffering and joy.
Here we also have an inner gesture, of feeling responsibility, and an outer gesture of executing an action.
Finally, it is interesting to observe that, when meeting another person, a social attitude leading to unselfishness and social construction is thinking the following: "What are his/her needs that I may satisfy with my abilities? What are his/her abilities, and how may I provide him/her with space for exercising and developing them? Am I doing something to improve our relations in order to accomplish those deeds?" On the other hand, an anti-social attitude leading to egotism and social destruction is thinking the following: "What are my needs that can be satisfied by his/her abilities? What are my abilities and how may I force them upon him/her? Are our relations suitable to me?" I consider it a social law, as valid as physical laws, the fact that the first set of attitudes are socially constructive, and the second set are socially destructive for the individual, for social groups and for society as a whole.
4.4 Synthesis and further considerations
Thus we have three aspects of social activity. Initially, we have to open ourselves to the other person, and have the capacity of detecting what are his/her needs, abilities and what kind of interaction is happening between us. Next, or in parallel, we have to share her sufferings and joys, and try to understand her. Finally, it is not enough to stay there: we have to feel the responsibility of helping the other, satisfying his/her needs, making it possible for him/her to exercise his/her abilities, taking care of our interaction, and then executing some social action towards him/her. These attitudes may be constantly exercised and produce an important social self-development.
Having just one of the three aspects may lead to aberrations. Hitler certainly had an enormous social sensitivity, because he knew how to lead his people and satisfy their needs, both physic as emotional but in no way their spiritual needs. He even exercised social action, because he knew how to make social works that for a while improved the life condition of his people, which was suffering from the consequences of the stupid Versailles Treaty. But he certainly did not have compassion not even to his own people because, seen that the war was going to be lost (when he failed to conquer the Soviet Union), he considered that the German people did not have the right of continuing to exist. Thus, he gave orders to its destruction, but his generals did not obey him (Sebastian Haffner, Anmerkungen zu Hitler. Frankfurt: Fischer, 1990). His example shows what does it mean having an incorrect view of what the human being is: he treated tens of millions of people as animals (for example, transporting them in cattle trains and literally caging them in concentration and extermination camps). He did not recognize the existence of the spirit within each human being. The mystical influences in the Nazi government have been extensively studied; it is a good example that mysticism is not adequate to our times. It is directed primarily to the soul, in general through emotions and an inner well-being, but does not recognize the spirit, which seeks to understand truth and seek the universal good as has been characterized here.
The lack of recognition of the spirit is one of the tragic characteristics of our times. Not even our soul organization as a non-physical real member is recognized. To modern psychology, at most the soul is an abstraction, a conceptual tool otherwise it would not use so much animals to reach conclusions about the human being. What is prevalent today is a totally materialistic view of this being, denying any member of our organization which is not the result of physical and chemical processes. This leads to a much worse conception than Hitler's, who viewed humans as being just animals. As we have seen, animals have souls, and it is possible to have a moral attitude toward them: not killing them without need or by pleasure (hunting), not mishandling them, etc. The tendency of preservation of species such as whales, without a deep scientific justification (they are at the end of the food chain), shows a positive development of a soul sensitivity towards nature the deep origin of the whole ecological movement.
The mentioned worse conception views the human being as a machine. This is linguistically wrong, because all machines were designed and built by humans (eventually, using other machines), but humans were not. The dangerous point here is that there is no moral involved with machines only with their use. It is possible to love animals, but loving a machine is an aberration.
I conjecture that the conception of the human being as a machine a typical view of scientists doing research in Artificial Intelligence (see my paper on it, already mentioned in section 3.1) will lead to much worse social disasters than Nazism and Communism, registered trademarks of the horrors of last century. From matter it is not possible to derive a respect for human life. Thus, the solution for the deep social problems of our times is to develop a non-materialist view of the universe, and in particular of the human being. This view has to be a conscious one, based upon understanding, and not mystical, based upon feelings, faith and religious dogmas. Another danger comes from apparent spiritualist views which depict the spirit as a manifestation of matter, as in the case of the quantum mechanical explanations by Amit Goswami. He says that the what he calls 'soul' is a "quantum monad" and explains psychic phenomena and reincarnation through quantum non-locality, that is, he uses physical concepts to deal with immaterial 'substances' and beings (see his book The Physics of the Soul, Humpton Roads Publ., 2001). I hope I am contributing to show that it is possible to develop a coherent view of the world ('Weltanschauung') which does not mix spirit and matter; it is not a dualist view, because it considers the spirit as being the origin of everything, and matter being a condensation of the former. Moreover, I have shown that the concepts expounded here about the non-physical human organization corresponds to what can be observed and may lead to practical applications, such as the social attitudes given in this section. In the next sections this approach will be quite extended.
5. The three corporeal members.
Let us go deeper into some aspects of the non-physical human organization. The attentive reader may have formulated at the beginning of this text a particular doubt: what about the life aspects? Is what we call 'life', for example of a plant, due exclusively to physical and chemical processes? Obviously, it is not for materialistic science, the phenomenon 'life' is a great unknown. Where are then these life processes, and what is their cause? To enter in this subject, it is necessary to cover the three corporeal members, also conceptualized by Rudolf Steiner.
5.1 The Physical Body
Let us observe a recently died human being. What we can see is his pure Physical Body, without any life manifestation: he does not breath, his heart does not beat, there is no metabolism. He is totally rendered to forces of nature, which decompose his body.
5.2 The Ether Body
Let us now observe an adolescent in deep sleep. Contrarily to the dead person, life processes are going on normally: he breathes, the heart is beating, metabolism (anabolism, catabolism, and the processes they are involved with, such as digestion, growth, regeneration of organs and tissues, etc.) follows its course, he grows and, mainly, something in him acts against the forces of nature.
Rudolf Steiner says that a clairvoyant observation may verify that in this sleeping physical body acts a second, non-physical corporeal element, which he denominated, following a certain esoteric tradition, the Ether Body. This non-material 'body' is responsible for all mentioned vital functions, as well as for establishing and maintaining the organic forms of the physical body, hence Steiner's alternate denomination of Body of Formative Forces ('Bildekräfteleib'). In fact, for example, how is it possible to explain through purely physical and chemical processes that the human ears, which do not stop growing with age, maintain a reasonably symmetric form? It does not help saying that this is due to the DNA. As Rupert Shelldrake called the attention in his book A New Science of Life (Los Angeles: Tarcher/St. Martin 1987), the DNA at a finger tip is the same as at an earlobe, but in one case it would 'produce' a finger and in the other case the earlobe. By the way, it is known, for example, that a change in the DNA of certain plants may produce modifications in the form of the future plant, but it is not known exactly what is the exact process that makes de DNA regulate the form during growing and regeneration (see my essay "Considerations about the DNA hype"). To explain life and other phenomena, Shelldrake postulated the existence of a 'morphgenetic filed' which pervades all matter. As far as life processes are concerned, the Ether Body plays the role of that field, with one essential difference: Sheeldrake's field is physical, but the Ether Body is not.
The Ether Body establishes and controls the form and processes of the Physical Body, and is responsible for growth, organ and tissue regeneration, as well as for heredity. Just the DNA does not produce heredity; it is necessary something that leads the DNA to the manifestation of heredity. After all, DNA is like a model; it is necessary the action of something on it so that it produces, for example, a certain organ, in the same way that a baking pan alone does not produce a cake for this it is necessary to have a cook which uses the pan and puts ingredients in it, puts it into the oven, etc. An interesting aspect of this metaphor is that every time the pan is used, the result is a slightly different cake or quite a different one, depending on the ingredients and the actions performed during its preparation. It is also possible to modify this image associating the DNA to the cake ingredients: it is necessary that someone mixes them and a pan to give it its final form and structure.
Let us examine what that sleeping adolescent does not have. He does not make voluntary movements, does not have consciousness (e.g. pain is not felt in deep sleep), neither perceptions nor feelings. All of these processes are due to another corporeal member later on we will make a distinction in relation to the soul activity, in which we have located some of these processes.
5.3 The Astral Body
Let us now observe an awaken child with just a few months of age. She has all the vital processes which occurred in the sleeping person, but she shows limb and chin movements and, mainly, consciousness, sensorial perception and feelings. According to Steiner, these additional activities are due to a third corporeal member, denominated by him, also following esoteric traditions, the Astral Body. As with the Ether Body, it is also immaterial, it is super-sensible. But its non-physical 'substantiality' differs from the 'substantiality' of the Ether Body, and is more 'subtle' than the latter.
It is due to the presence of the Astral Body that the human being has the manifestations that we recognize in the small awaken child and which do not occur in the sleeping person.
The attentive reader must have noticed that some of these manifestations are those of having sensorial perceptions and feelings. When the Sensitive Soul was covered, it was mentioned that precisely due to it we have inner sensations produced from sensorial perceptions. Well, the Astral Body may be considered as the non-physical instrument of sensations. Their inner experience is made by the Sensitive Soul. A similar situation happens with the eye and vision. The eye is the instrument for capturing light impulses, but certainly it is not the eye that sees: the image is innerly formed. According to materialistic scientists, this is done by the brain, but they are not able to prove it. It is done by the Sensitive Soul, would say a spiritualist, also without being able to prove it, because it is not a physical process. It would be necessary to develop the organs of super-sensible observation to be able to observe this process.
Now it is possible to be a bit more precise with another human and animal characteristic: instincts are not in the soul, but in the Astral Body.
5.4 The 'I'
But what does an awaken adult has that a small child with a few months of age does not have? The latter does not have self-consciousness: generally, only at around age 3 the child who did not have an undue accelerated development (e.g., forced by the use of TV, video games and computers, or the influence of an exaggerated intellectual environment), refers to herself as 'I'. Contrary to an adult, this small child does not assume a vertical position, does not walk, does not have speech, thinking, freedom, responsibility, and the manifestation of a higher self that is, the individuality that goes beyond physical individual traces as well as her particular tastes and instincts.
Steiner adds a fourth element to the human organization, which he denominated the I, and did not consider it to be corporeal as the three previous ones, but purely spiritual. It is due to this 'I' that an adult has all the characteristics that are not found in an infant. To simplify these matters, let us consider this 'I' to be identical to what was called 'spirit' in the threefold organization formed with soul and body. Its 'substantiality' is still of a higher nature, more subtle than that of the Astral Body. It is due to it that the human being participates in the spiritual worlds, the Platonic world of ideas, as was characterized when the spirit was covered.
Each human being has an individual, unique 'I', distinct from those of other humans. It is what was called above 'higher self'.
We have, then, three corporeal members: the Physical Body, and the other non-physical two, the Ether and Astral bodies. The first one is the only physical one, where are located all the physical and chemical processes. The other two are not physical, being composed of etheric and astral non-physical 'substantialities', respectively. With the Ether Body we have mainly the vital functions, and with the Astral mainly consciousness. A fourth element, the 'I', gives the purely spiritual manifestations, such as higher individuality, self-consciousness, freedom and moral. Through it humans are able to enter in touch with universal truths and the universal Good. The human organization encompassing the three corporeal member plus the 'I' is called the fourfolded human organization.
In the sequel, we will examine some interesting applications of the concepts involved in the fourfold human organization, providing for the understanding of many important phenomena.
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