THE CREATION OF AN OVERWORLD
Towards the end of the Gipsy Scholar’s lecture in the living room of his Caravan in the heart of Amsterdam, as related in Chapter 68 of The Golden Tip, he talks about the refounding of the Anthroposophical Society by Rudolf Steiner in 1923/24 in Dornach, Switzerland based on essentially the same social organic principles as those on which the new science of world economy is based.
What exactly these living principles are can be read in the first of four social aesthetic studies Herbert Witzenmann wrote: The Principles of the Anthroposophical Society (ISBN 978-90-73932-17-3). For this series of essays he wrote in 1984 the following introduction, which is a fitting ending to The Golden Tip, because it supplements the realistic portrayal of the entanglement of the upper and underworld with an idealistic overtone, no less objective in its own right.
“This series of essays entitled Social Aesthetic Studies, which is being introduced by this first volume, would in earlier times hardly have needed a justification for its text supply as is probably the case today. Bringing the social in connection with the aesthetic seems in view of our present state of affairs only to arouse estrangement. For is it not obvious that the conditions in which we are actively and passively embroiled lack on the one hand all measure of good taste, while on the other hand the utilities that we regard as necessary require at most a glossy varnish, yet scarcely beauty itself. With every glance that we direct backward more than 150 years we become aware, be it with amazement or fright in view of our habitual wasteland or snug self-deception, what great value the previous civilizations attached to the harmonic development of their outward appearance, what pride the great figures of that world took in the creation of an overworld. And the more we follow the epochs backwards, the clearer the collective force of national cultures in works of beauty come to mind. To establish the noble was not compulsory labour but joyful confession, existence was not the passive consumption of impressions, but the cultivation of expressive faculties throughout all branches of the realm. Those peoples created themselves in the process of creating their environment, not in order to build a buffer of utilities to safeguard their survival, but to paint an image (however instinctive) of their self-knowledge as that which in itself is bliss and therefore holy.
Social aesthetics is the science of the future, just as aesthetizing, beautifying all measure of things holds the future of science. An aesthetic science must establish the future of our civilization, in so far as our civilization is still granted a future. Aesthetizing as represented here, however, is not aesthetic sentimentality. On the contrary, it bears witness to a form of knowledge or cognition that is conscious of the basic demand of our time, because it does justice to the demand that it must direct to itself. This is the unbiased observation of its own activity. For out of the chaotic, formless material presented by our sense perceptions, cognition after all gives rise, through the evidence of the idea, to the consciousness-form of our world. This is not mere reproduction, but a co-creative, co-producing of reality, a reality that in its pre-cognized form is reduced through our bodily sense-organs to its primordial state.
More about this ontological process of knowledge is brought forward in this series of essays (as also in other works by the author). At the height of his cognitional existence, man is therefore not a mere squatter, who by the terror of information overload and the stress of the survival of the fittest is jammed into an accidental niche spanned by the force of circumstances. He is rather a creative architect of expression, who even surmounts his creation of a consciousness-formed world with his own stature of freedom that he builds up in the process. The meaning of his existence lies in imparting new meaning to the world in the fulfillment of his own search for meaning and to recognize and continually re-examine his creative task in the mirror of the expressionist world that he designs around him. In view of the fact that materialism with its lash of horror and stupor of happiness has driven present-day man out of the dignity of his mission, it has delivered him to the squander and squalor of the meaningless void. Social aesthetics has to reinstall him in his office and responsibility, not to ensure that he survives, but that he dares to ‘overbecome’ (German: Überwerden).
If our world does not replace its superstition of utilitarianism with passion for beauty, it will surround itself with a robotic gigantism ever higher and therefore ever more in danger of collapsing, and at the same time undermine itself with the horror of its post-modern dreariness. The aesthetic approach is the only practical one. Whoever counters that life must be lived before it can be draped with the blossoms of beauty, may bear the answer that it would be more consistent to abstain from such a senseless life that debases itself instead of grasping its spur in dignity than to yield to the fascination of fear and greed.
The first volume of these Social Aesthetic Studies contains the revised and enlarged text of the long sold out publication The Principles of the Anthroposophical Society – A Basis of Life and Path of Training. Added to this were an also revised and enlarged new edition of the essays A Path to the Spiritual Goetheanum and On the Nature of The Free School of Spiritual Science by the author, which add essential view points to the discourse of the first essay.
In the appendix, the text of the "principles" (originally called statutes) of the Anthroposophical Society is printed on which Rudolf Steiner based its reestablishment during the turn of the year 1923/24. Thereby, a publication has been created, which may serve as a useful guidance for every newcomer to the Anthroposophical Society, but which may perhaps also be welcomed by those who have already joined and are reconsidering their decision. This book is furthermore intended as study material for those wishing to acquaint themselves with an important field of the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner, not only in a receptive but also in a cognitive manner. May it as a social aesthetic study further contribute to an understanding of the times in which we live and to overcoming humanity’s current needs.”
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