The Mystery of the Human Temperaments
This is the 2nd of 4 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at various cities, in the Winters of 1909 and 1912. A title these lectures were published under is: Anthroposophy in Everyday Life.
19 January 1909, Karlsruhe
Translated by Frances E. Dawson
It is an oft-repeated and a justifiable opinion, with regard to all the realms of human spiritual life, that man's greatest riddle here in our physical life is man himself. And we may truly say that a large part of our scientific activity, of our reflection, and of much besides in man's life of thought, is applied to the solving of this human riddle, to discerning a little wherein the essence of human nature consists. Natural science and spiritual science try to solve from different sides this great riddle comprised in the word Man. In the main, all the more profound natural scientific research seeks to attain its final goal by bringing together all the processes of nature, and so forth, in order to comprehend the external laws. And all spiritual science seeks the sources of existence for the sake of comprehending, of fathoming, man's being and destiny. If then, on the one hand, it is unquestioned that in general man's greatest riddle is man himself, we may say that in relation to life this expression may have a still deeper significance, in that it is necessary on the other hand to emphasize what each of us feels upon meeting another person: namely, that fundamentally each single person is in turn an enigma for others and for himself because of his special nature and being. Ordinarily, when we speak of this human enigma, we have in mind man in general, man without distinction regarding this or that individuality; and certainly many problems appear for us when we wish to understand human nature in general. But today we have not to do with the general riddles of existence, but rather with that enigma, not less significant for life, which each person we meet presents to us. For how endlessly varied are human beings in their deepest individual essence!
When we survey human life we shall have to be especially attentive to this riddle which each person presents, for our entire social life, our relation of man to man, must depend more upon how in individual cases we are able to approach with our feeling, with our sensibility, rather than merely with our intelligence, that individual human enigma which stands before us so often each day, with which we have to deal so often. How difficult it is regarding the people we meet to come to a clear knowledge of the various sides of their nature, and how much depends in life upon our coming to such clear knowledge regarding those people with whom we come in touch. We can of course only approach quite gradually the solution of the whole riddle of the human individual, of which each person presents a special phase, for there is a great gap between what is called human nature in general and that which confronts us in each human individual.
Spiritual science, or as we call it more recently, Anthroposophy, will have a special task precisely regarding this individual enigma — man. Not only must it give us information about what man is in general, but it must be, as you know, a knowledge which flows directly into our daily life, into all our sensibilities and feelings. Since our feelings and sensibilities are unfolded in the most beautiful way in our attitude toward our fellow men, the fruit of spiritual science, of spiritual scientific knowledge, will be revealed the most beautifully in the view we take of our fellow men because of this knowledge.
When in life a person stands before us, we must always, in the sense of this spiritual science, or Anthroposophy, take into consideration that what we perceive outwardly of the person is only one part, only one member, of the human being. To be sure, an outer material view of man regards as the whole man what this outer perception and the intellect connected with it are able to give us. Spiritual science shows us, however, that the human being is something very, very complicated. And often, when one goes more deeply into this complexity of human nature, the individual is then also seen in the right light. Spiritual science has the task of showing us what the innermost kernel of the human being is; what we can see with the eyes and grasp with the hands is only the outer expression, the outer shell. And we may hope to come to an understanding of the external also if we are able to penetrate into the spiritual inner part.
In the great gap between what we may call human nature in general and what confronts us in each individual, we see nevertheless many homogeneous characteristics in whole human groups. To these belong those human qualities which today form the subject of our consideration, and which we usually call the temperament. We need only utter the word ‘temperament’ to see that there are as many riddles as men. Within the basic types, the basic colorings, we have such a multiplicity and variety among individuals that we can indeed say that the real enigma, of existence is expressed in the peculiar basic disposition of the human being which we call temperament. And when the riddles intervene directly in practical life, the basic coloring of the human being plays a role. When a person stands before us, we feel that we are confronted by something of this basic disposition. Therefore it is to be hoped that spiritual science is able to give also the necessary information about the nature of the temperaments. For though we must admit that the temperaments spring from within, they nevertheless express themselves in the whole external appearance of the individual. By means of an external observation of nature, however, the riddle of man is not to be solved; we can approach the characteristic coloring of the human being only when we learn what spiritual science has to say about him.
It is of course true that each person confronts us with his own temperament, but we can still distinguish certain groups of temperaments. We speak chiefly of four types, as you know: the sanguine, the choleric, the phlegmatic, and the melancholic temperament. And even though this classification is not entirely correct in so far as we apply it to individuals — in individuals the temperaments are mixed in the most diverse way, so we can only say that one temperament or another predominates in certain traits — still we shall in general classify people in four groups according to their temperaments.
The fact that the temperament is revealed on the one side as something which inclines toward the individual, which makes people different, and on the other side joins them again to groups, proves to us that the temperament must on the one side have something to do with the innermost essence of the human being, and on the other must belong to universal human nature. Man's temperament, then, is something which points in two directions; and therefore it will be necessary, if we wish to solve the mystery, to ask on the one hand: In how far does the temperament point to what belongs to universal human nature? and then again on the other: How does it point to the essential kernel, to the actual inner being of the individual?
If we put the question, it is natural that spiritual science seems called upon to give enlightenment, for spiritual science must lead us to the innermost essential kernel of the human being. As he confronts us on earth, he appears to be placed in a universality, and again on the other side he appears as an independent entity. In the light of spiritual science man stands within two life streams which meet when he enters earth existence. And here we are at the focal point of the consideration of human nature according to the methods of spiritual science. We learn that we have in the human being, first of all, that which places him in his line of heredity. The one stream leads us from the individual man back to his parents, grandparents, and further ancestors. He shows the characteristics inherited from father, mother, grandparents, and all preceding ancestors farther and farther back. And these attributes he transmits again to his descendants. That which flows down from ancestors to the individual man we designate in life and in science as inherited attributes and characteristics. A man is placed in this way within what we may call the line of heredity; and it is known that an individual bears within him, even in the very kernel of his being, qualities which we must certainly trace back to heredity. Very much about an individual is explicable if we know his ancestry, so to speak. How deeply true are the words uttered with regard to his own personality by Goethe, who had such a deep knowledge of the soul:
My father gave my build to me,
Toward life my solemn bearing,
From mother comes my gayety
And my delight in yarning.
Here we see how this great knower of human nature has to point even to moral qualities when he wishes to refer to inherited characteristics. Everything we find as transmitted from ancestors to descendants interprets for us the individual person in a certain respect, but only in a certain respect; for what he has inherited from his ancestors gives us only one side of the human being. Of course the present-day materialistic conception would like to seek in the line of ancestry for everything under the sun, would like even to trace back a man's spiritual being (his spiritual qualities) to ancestry; and it never wearies of declaring that even a man's qualities of genius are explicable if we find signs, indications, of such characteristics in this or that ancestor. Those who hold such a view would like to compile the human personality, so to speak, from what is found scattered among the ancestors. Anyone who penetrates more deeply into human nature will of course be struck by the fact that beside these inherited attributes, in each man something confronts us which we cannot characterize otherwise than by saying: That is his very own; we cannot say, as a result of close observation, that it is transmitted from this or that ancestor. Spiritual science comes in here and tells us what it has to say about it. Today we are able to present only sketchily what is involved in these questions, to indicate only sketchily the findings of spiritual science.
Spiritual science tells us: Certainly it is true that the human being is placed in the stream which we may call the stream of heredity, the stream of inherited attributes. Besides that, however, something else appears in an individual, namely, the innermost spiritual kernel of his being. In this are united what the individual brings with him from the spiritual world and what the father and mother, the ancestors, are able to give to him. With that which flows down in the stream of the generations is united something else which has its origin, not in the immediate ancestors, the parents, and not in the grandparents, but which comes from quite other realms, something which passes from one existence to another. On the one side we may say: A man has this or that from his ancestors. But if we watch an individual develop from childhood on, we see how from the center of his nature something evolves which is the fruit of foregoing lives, something he never can have inherited from his ancestors.
What we see in the individual, when we penetrate to the depths of his soul, we can only explain to ourselves when we know a great comprehensive law, which is really only the consequence of many natural laws. It is the law of repeated earth lives, so greatly tabooed at the present time. This law of re-embodiment, the succession of earth lives, is only a specific case of a general cosmic law.
It will not appear so paradoxical to us when we think the matter over. Let us observe a lifeless mineral, a rock crystal. It has a regular form. If it is destroyed, nothing of its form remains which could pass over to other rock crystals. The new rock crystal receives nothing of its form. Now if we rise from the world of minerals to the world of plants, it becomes clear to us that a plant cannot originate according to the same law as a rock crystal. A plant can originate only when it is derived from the parent plant. Here the form is maintained and passes over to the other entity. If we rise to the animal world, we find that a development of species takes place. We see that the 19th century considered this discovery of the development of the species as among its greatest results. Not only does one form proceed from another, but each animal in the body of the mother repeats the earlier forms, the lower evolutionary phases of his ancestors. Among the animals we have a rising gradation of species. Among human beings, however, we have not only a gradation of species, a development of kinds, but we have a development of the individual. What a man acquires in the course of his life through education, through experience, is just as little lost as the animal's succession of ancestors.
A time will come when a man's essential core is traced back to a previous existence. It will be recognized that the human being is a fruit of an earlier existence. This law will have a peculiar destiny in the world, a destiny similar to that of another law. The opposition against which this teaching has to assert itself will be overcome, just as the opinion of the scientists of earlier centuries was overcome: that the living can originate from the lifeless. Even into the 17th century the learned and the unlearned had no doubt whatever that from ordinary lifeless things not only lower animals could be evolved, but that earthworms, even fish, could originate from ordinary river slime. The first who declared energetically that the living can originate only from the living was the great Italian natural scientist, Francesco Redi (1627 to 1697), who showed that the living derives only from the living. That is a law which is only the forerunner of another: namely, that the soul-spiritual derives from the soul-spiritual. On account of this teaching he was attacked, and only with difficulty escaped the fate of Giordano Bruno. Today burning is no longer the custom; but anyone who appears with a new truth today, for instance, anyone who wishes to trace back the soul-spiritual element to the soul-spiritual, would not be burned, to be sure, but would be looked upon as a fool. A time will come when it will be considered nonsense to think that a man lives only once, that there is not something permanent which unites itself with his inherited characteristics.
Spiritual science shows how that which is our own nature unites with what is given to us by heredity. That is the other stream into which the individual is placed, the stream with which the present civilization does not wish to have anything to do. Spiritual science leads us to the great facts of so-called re-embodiment, of reincarnation, and of karma. It shows us that we have to take into consideration the innermost essential kernel of man as that which descends from the spiritual world and unites with something which is given by the line of heredity, unites with what it is possible for the father and mother to give to the individual. For the spiritual scientist that which originates from the line of heredity envelops this essential kernel with outer sheaths. And as we must go back to father and mother and other ancestors for what we see in the physical man as form and stature, and so forth, for the characteristics which belong to his outer being, so we must go back to something entirely different, to an earlier life, if we wish to comprehend a man's innermost being; perhaps far, far back, beyond all hereditary transmission, we may have to seek the human being's spiritual kernel which has existed for thousands of years, and which during these thousands of years has entered again and again into existence, again and again has led an earth-life, and now in the present existence has united itself again to what it is possible for father and mother to give. Every single human being, when he enters into physical life, has a succession of lives behind him. And this has nothing to do with what belongs to the line of heredity. We should have to go back more than centuries if we wished to investigate what was his former life when he passed through the gate of death. After he has passed through the gate of death he lives in other forms of existence in the spiritual world. And when again the time comes to experience a life in the physical world, he seeks his parents. Thus we must go back to the spirit of man and his earlier incarnations, if we wish to explain what in him confronts us now as the soul-spiritual part. We must go back to his earlier incarnations, to what he acquired in course of them. We have to consider how he lived at that time, what he brought with him, as the causes of what the individual possesses today in the new life as tendencies, dispositions, abilities for this or that. For each person brings with him from his former life certain qualities of his life. Certain qualities and his destiny he brings with him to a certain degree. According as he has performed this or that deed, he calls forth the reaction, and feels himself thus to be surrounded by the new life. So he brings with him from earlier incarnations the inner kernel of his being and envelops it with what is given him by heredity.
Certainly this one thing should be mentioned, because it is important, since actually our present time has little inclination to recognize this inner kernel of being, or to look upon the idea of reincarnation as anything but a fantastic thought. It is considered today to be poor logic, and we shall hear materialistic thinkers objecting over and over again that what is in man arises entirely through heredity. Just look at the ancestors, he says, and you will discover that this or that trait, this or that peculiarity, existed in some ancestor, that all the individual traits and qualities can be explained by tracing them in the ancestors. The spiritual scientist can also point to that fact, and he has done so. For example, in a musical family musical talent is inherited, etc. That is all supposed to support the theory of heredity. Indeed, the law is expressed point blank, that seldom does genius appear at the beginning of a generation; genius stands at the end of a line of heredity. And that is supposed to be a proof that genius is inherited. Here one proceeds from the standpoint that some person has a definite characteristic — he is a genius. Someone traces back the peculiar abilities of the genius, seeks in the past among his ancestors, finds in some ancestor signs of a similar characteristic, picks out something here and there, finds this quality in one, that in another, and then shows how they finally flowed together in the genius who appeared at the end of the generation; and he infers from it that genius is transmitted. For anyone whose thinking is direct and logical that could at best prove the opposite. If finding qualities of genius among the ancestors proves anything, what does it prove? Surely nothing else than that man's essential being is able to express itself in life according to the instrument of the body. It proves nothing more than that a man comes out wet if he falls into the water. Really it is no more intelligent than if some one wishes to call our special attention to the fact that if a man falls into the water he gets wet. It is only natural that he takes up something of the element into which he is placed. Surely it is quite self-evident that the qualities of the ancestors would be carried by that which has flowed down through the line of heredity, and has finally been given through father and mother to the particular human being who has descended from the spiritual world. The individual clothes himself in the sheaths which are given to him by his ancestors. What is intended to be presented as proof of heredity could much better be looked upon as proof that it is not heredity. For if genius were inherited, it would have to appear at the beginning of the generations and not stand at the end of a line of heredity. If anyone were to show that a genius has sons and grandchildren to whom the qualities of genius are transmitted, then he would be able to prove that genius is inherited; but that is just not the case. It is limping logic which wishes to trace back man's spiritual qualities to the succession of ancestors. We must trace back spiritual qualities to that which a man has brought with him from his earlier incarnations.
If now we consider the one stream, that which lives in the line of heredity, we find that there the individual is drawn into a stream of existence through which he gets certain qualities: We have before us some one possessing the qualities of his family, his people, his race. The various children of the same parents have characteristics conditioned in this way. If we consider the true individual nature of a human being, we must say that the soul-spiritual essential kernel is born into the family, the people, the race; it envelops itself with what is given by the ancestors, but it brings with it purely individual characteristics. So we must ask ourselves: How is harmony established between a human essence which perhaps has acquired centuries earlier this or that quality and the outer covering with which it is now to envelop itself, and which bears the characteristics of family, people, race, and so forth? Is it possible for harmony to exist here? Is it not something in the highest sense individual which is thus brought into earth life, and is not the inherited part at variance with it? Thus the great question arises: How can that which has its origin in quite other worlds, which must seek father and mother for itself, unite with the physical body? How can it clothe itself with the physical attributes through which the human being is placed within the line of heredity?
We see then in a person confronting us the flowing together of two streams; of these two streams each human being is composed. In him we see on the one side what comes to him from his family, and on the other what has developed from the individual's innermost being; namely, a number of predispositions, characteristics, inner capacities and outer destiny. An agreement must be effected. We find that a man must adapt himself to this union, in accordance with his innermost being on the one side, and on the other in accordance with that which is brought to him from the line of heredity. We see how a man bears to a great degree the physiognomy of his ancestors; we could put him together, so to speak, from the sum of his various ancestors. Since at first the inner essential kernel has nothing to do with what is inherited, but must merely adapt itself to what is most suitable to it, we shall see that it is necessary for a certain mediation to exist for that which has lived perhaps for centuries in an entirely different world and is again transplanted into another world; the spirit being of man must have something here below to which it is related; there must be a bond, a connecting link, between the special individual human being and humanity in general, into which he is born through family, people, race.
Between these two, namely what we bring with us from our earlier life and what our family, ancestors and race imprint upon us, there is a mediation, something which bears more general characteristics, but at the same time is capable of being individualized. That which occupies this position between the line of heredity and the line which represents our individuality is expressed by the word TEMPERAMENT. In that which confronts us in the temperament of a person we have something in a certain way like a physiognomy of his innermost individuality. We understand thus how the individuality colors, by means of the qualities of temperament, the attributes inherited in the succession of generations. Temperament stands right in the middle between what we bring with us as individuals and what originates from the line of heredity. When the two streams unite, the one stream colors the other. They color each other reciprocally. Just as blue and yellow, let us say, unite in green, so do the two streams in man unite in what we call temperament. That which mediates between all inner characteristics which he brings with him from his earlier incarnation, on the one side, and on the other what the line of heredity brings to him, comes under the concept temperament. It now takes its place between the inherited characteristics and what he has absorbed into his inner essential being. It is as if upon its descent to earth this kernel of being were to envelop itself with a spiritual nuance of that which awaits it here below, so that in proportion as this kernel of being is able best to adapt itself to this covering for the human being, the kernel of being colors itself according to that into which it is born and to a quality which it brings with it. Here shine forth the soul qualities of man and his natural inherited attributes. Between the two is the temperament — between that by which a man is connected with his ancestors and that which he brings with him from his earlier incarnations. The temperament balances the eternal with the transitory.
This balancing occurs through the fact that what we have learned to call the members of human nature come into relation with one another in a quite definite way. We understand this in detail, however, only when we place before our mind's eye the complete human nature in the sense of spiritual science. Only from spiritual science is the mystery of the human temperament to be discovered.
This human being as he confronts us in life, formed by the flowing together of these two streams, we know as a four-membered being. So we shall be able to say when we consider the entire individual: This complete human being consists of the physical body, the etheric body or body of formative forces, the astral body, and the ego.
In that part of man perceptible to the outer senses, which is all that materialistic thought is willing to recognize, we have first, according to spiritual science, only a single member of the human being, the physical body, which man has in common with the mineral world. That part which is subject to physical laws, which man has in common with all environing outer nature, the sum of chemical and physical laws, we designate in spiritual science as the physical body.
Beyond this, however, we recognize higher super-sensible members of human nature which are as actual and essential as the outer physical body. As first super-sensible member, man has the etheric body, which becomes part of his organism and remains united with the physical body throughout the entire life; only at death does a separation of the two take place. Even this first super-sensible member of human nature — in spiritual science called the etheric or life body; we might also call it the glandular body — is no more visible to our outer eyes than are colors to those born blind. But it exists, actually and perceptibly exists, for that which Goethe calls the eyes of the spirit, and it is even more real than the outer physical body, for it is the builder, the moulder, of the physical body. During the entire time between birth and death this etheric or life body continuously combats the disintegration of the physical body. Any kind of mineral product of nature — a crystal, for example — is so constituted that it is permanently held together by its own forces, by the forces of its own substance. That is not the case with the physical body of a living being; here the physical forces work in such a way that they destroy the form of life, as we are able to observe after death, when the physical forces destroy the life-form. That this destruction does not occur during life, that the physical body does not conform to the physical and chemical forces and laws, is due to the fact that the etheric or life-body is ceaselessly combating these forces.
The third member of the human being we recognize in the bearer of all pleasure and suffering, joy and pain, instincts, impulses, passions, desires, and all that surges to and fro as sensations and ideas, even all concepts of what we designate as moral ideals, and so on. That we call the astral body. Do not take exception to this expression. We could also call it the “nerve-body.” Spiritual science sees in it something real, and knows indeed that this body of impulses and desires is not an effect of the physical body, but the cause of this body. It knows that the soul-spiritual part has built up for itself the physical body.
Thus we already have three members of the human being, and as man's highest member we recognize that by means of which he towers above all other beings, by means of which he is the crown of earth's creation: namely, the bearer of the human ego, which gives him in such a mysterious, but also in such a manifest way, the power of self-consciousness.
Man has the physical body in common with his entire visible environment, the etheric body in common with the plants and animals, the astral body with the animals. The fourth member, however, the ego, he has for himself alone; and by means of it he towers above the other visible creatures. We recognize this fourth member as the ego-bearer, as that in human nature by means of which man is able to say “I” to himself, to come to independence.
Now what we see physically, and what the intellect which is bound to the physical senses can know, is only an expression of these four members of the human being. Thus, the expression of the ego, of the actual ego-bearer, is the blood in its circulation. This “quite special fluid” is the expression of the ego. The physical sense expression of the astral body in man is, for example, among other things, the nervous system. The expression of the etheric body, or a part of this expression, is the glandular system; and the physical body expresses itself in the sense organs.
These four members confront us in the human being. So we shall be able to say, when we observe the complete human being, that he consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. That which is primarily physical body, which the human being carries in such a way that it is visible to physical eyes, clearly bears, first of all, when viewed from without, the marks of heredity. Also those characteristics which live in man's etheric body, in that fighter against the disintegration of the physical body, are in the line of heredity. Then we come to his astral body, which in its characteristics is much more closely bound to the essential kernel of the human being. If we turn to this innermost kernel, to the actual ego, we find what passes from incarnation to incarnation, and appears as an inner mediator, which rays forth its essential qualities.
Now in the whole human nature all the separate members work into each other; they act reciprocally. Because two streams flow together in man when he enters the physical world, there arises a varied mixture of man's four members, and one, so to speak, gets the mastery over the others, and impresses its color upon them. Now according as one or another of these members comes especially into prominence, the individual confronts us with this or that temperament. The particular coloring of human nature, what we call the actual shade of the temperament, depends upon whether the forces, the different means of power, of one member or of another predominate, have a preponderance over the others. Man's eternal being, that which goes from incarnation to incarnation, so expresses itself in each new embodiment that it calls forth a certain reciprocal action among the four members of human nature: ego, astral body, etheric body and physical body; and from the interaction of these four members arises the nuance of human nature which we characterize as temperament.
When the essential being has tinged the physical and etheric bodies, that which arises because of the coloring thus given will act upon each of the other members; so that the way an individual appears to us with his characteristics depends upon whether the inner kernel acts more strongly upon the physical body, or whether the physical body acts more strongly upon it. According to his nature the human being is able to influence one of the four members, and through the reaction upon the other members the temperament originates. The human essential kernel, when it comes into re-embodiment, is able through this peculiarity to introduce into one or another of its members a certain surplus of activity. Thus it can give to the ego a certain surplus strength; or again, the individual can influence his other members because of having had certain experiences in his former life.
When the ego of the individual has become so strong through its destiny that its forces are noticeably dominant in the fourfold human nature, and it dominates the other members, then the choleric temperament results. If the person is especially subject to the influence of the forces of the astral body, then we attribute to him a sanguine temperament. If the etheric or life-body acts excessively upon the other members, and especially impresses its nature upon the person, the phlegmatic temperament arises. And when the physical body with its laws is especially predominant in the human nature, so that the spiritual essence of being is not able to overcome a certain hardness in the physical body, then we have to do with a melancholic temperament. Just as the eternal and the transitory intermingle, so does the relation of the members to one another appear.
I have already told you how the four members express themselves outwardly in the physical body. Thus, a large part of the physical body is the direct expression of the physical life principle of man. The physical body as such comes to expression only in the physical body; hence it is the physical body which gives the keynote in a melancholic.
We must regard the glandular system as the physical expression of the etheric body. The etheric body expresses itself physically in the glandular system. Hence in a phlegmatic person the glandular system gives the keynote in the physical body.
The nervous system and, of course, what occurs through it we must regard as the physical expression of the astral body. The astral body finds its physical expression in the nervous system; therefore in a sanguine person the nervous system gives the keynote to the physical body.
The blood in its circulation, the force of the pulsation of the blood, is the expression of the actual ego. The ego expresses itself in the circulation of the blood, in the predominating activity of the blood; it shows itself especially in the fiery vehement blood. One must try to penetrate more subtly into the connection which exists between the ego and the other members of the human being. Suppose, for example, that the ego exerts a peculiar force in the life of sensations, ideas, and the nervous system; suppose that in the case of a certain person everything arises from his ego, everything that he feels he feels strongly, because his ego is strong — we call that the choleric temperament. That which has received its character from the ego will make itself felt as the predominating quality. Hence, in a choleric the blood system is predominant.
The choleric temperament will show itself as active in a strongly pulsating blood; in this the element of force in the individual makes its appearance, in the fact that he has a special influence upon his blood. In such a person, in whom spiritually the ego, physically the blood, is particularly active, we see the innermost force vigorously keeping the organization fit. And as he thus confronts the outer world, the force of his ego will wish to make itself felt. That is the effect of this ego. By reason of this, the choleric appears as one who wishes to assert his ego in all circumstances. All the aggressiveness of the choleric, everything connected with his strong will-nature, may be ascribed to the circulation of the blood.
When the astral body predominates in an individual, the physical expression will lie in the functions of the nervous system, that instrument of the rising and falling waves of sensation; and that which the astral body accomplishes is the life of thoughts, of images, so that the person who is gifted with the sanguine temperament will have the predisposition to live in the surging sensations and feelings and in the images of his life of ideas.
We must understand clearly the relation of the astral body to the ego. The astral body functions between the nervous system and the blood system. So it is perfectly clear what this relation is. If only the sanguine temperament were present, if only the nervous system were active, being quite especially prominent as the expression of the astral body, then the person would have a life of shifting images and ideas; in this way a chaos of images would come and go. He would be given over to all the restless flux from sensation to sensation, from image to image, from idea to idea. Something of that sort appears if the astral body predominates, that is, in a sanguine person, who in a certain sense is given over to the tide of sensations, images, etc., since in him the astral body and the nervous system predominate. It is the forces of the ego which prevent the images from darting about in a fantastic way. Only because these images are controlled by the ego does harmony and order enter in. Were man not to check them with his ego, they would surge up and down without any evidence of control by the individual.
In the physical body it is the blood which principally limits, so to speak, the activity of the nervous system. Man's blood circulation, the blood flowing in man, is that which lays fetters, so to speak, upon what has its expression in the nervous system; it is the restrainer of the surging feelings and sensations; it is the tamer of the nerve-life. It would lead too far if I were to show you in all its details how the nervous system and the blood are related, and how the blood is the restrainer of this life of ideas. What occurs if the tamer is not present, if a man is deficient in red blood, is anemic? Well, even if we do not go into the more minute psychological details, from the simple fact that when a person's blood becomes too thin, that is, has a deficiency of red corpuscles, he is easily given over to the unrestrained surging back and forth of all kinds of fantastic images, even to illusion and hallucination — you can still conclude from this simple fact that the blood is the restrainer of the nerve-system. A balance must exist between the ego and the astral body — or speaking physiologically, between the blood and the nervous system — so that one may not become a slave of his nervous system, that is, to the surging life of sensation and feeling.
If now the astral body has a certain excess of activity, if there is a predominance of the astral body and its expression, the nerve-system, which the blood restrains to be sure, but is not completely able to bring to a condition of absolute balance, then that peculiar condition arises in which human life easily arouses the individual's interest in a subject, but he soon drops it and quickly passes to another one; such a person cannot hold himself to an idea, and in consequence his interest can be immediately kindled in everything which meets him in the outer world, but the restraint is not applied to make it inwardly enduring; the interest which has been kindled quickly evaporates. In this quick kindling of interest and quick passing from one subject to another we see the expression of the predominating astral element, the sanguine temperament. The sanguine person cannot linger with an impression, he cannot hold fast to an image, cannot fix his attention upon one subject. He hurries from one life impression to another, from perception to perception, from idea to idea; he shows a fickle disposition. That can be especially observed with sanguine children, and in this case it may cause one anxiety. Interest is easily aroused, a picture begins easily to have an effect, quickly makes an impression, but the impression soon vanishes again.
When there is a strong predominance in an individual of the etheric or life-body — that which inwardly regulates the processes of man's life and growth — and the expression of this etheric body — that system which brings about the feeling of inner well-being or of discomfort — then such a person will be tempted to wish just to remain in this feeling of inner comfort. The etheric body is a body which leads a sort of inner life, while the astral body expresses itself in outer interests, and the ego is the bearer of our activity and will, directed outward. If then this etheric body, which acts as life-body, and maintains the separate functions in equilibrium, an equilibrium which expresses itself in the feeling of life's general comfort — when this self-sustained inner life, which chiefly causes the sense of inner comfort, predominates, then it may occur that an individual lives chiefly in this feeling of inner comfort, that he has such a feeling of well-being, when everything in his organism is in order, that he feels little urgency to direct his inner being toward the outer world, is little inclined to develop a strong will. The more inwardly comfortable he feels, the more harmony will he create between the inner and outer. When this is the case, when it is even carried to excess, we have to do with a phlegmatic person.
In a melancholic we have seen that the physical body, that is, the densest member of the human being, rules the others. A man must be master of his physical body, as he must be master of a machine if he wishes to use it. But when this densest part rules, the person always feels that he is not master of it, that he cannot manage it. For the physical body is the instrument which he should rule completely through his higher members. But now this physical body has dominion and sets up opposition to the others. In this case the person is not able to use his instrument perfectly, so that the other principles experience repression because of it, and disharmony exists between the physical body and the other members. This is the way the hardened physical system appears when it is in excess. The person is not able to bring about flexibility where it should exist. The inner man has no power over his physical system; he feels inner obstacles. They show themselves through the fact that the person is compelled to direct his strength upon these inner obstacles. What cannot be overcome is what causes sorrow and pain; and these make it impossible for the individual to look out upon his contemporary world in an unprejudiced way. This constraint becomes a source of inner grief, which is felt as pain and listlessness, as a sad mood. It is very easy to feel that life is filled with pain and sorrow. Certain thoughts and ideas begin to be enduring; the person becomes gloomy, melancholic. There is a constant arising of pain. This mood is caused by nothing else than that the physical body sets up opposition to the inner ease of the etheric body, to the mobility of the astral body, and to the ego's certainty of its goal.
And if we thus comprehend the nature of the temperaments through sound knowledge, many a thing in life will become clear to us; but it will also become possible to handle in a practical way what we otherwise could not do. Look at much which directly confronts us in life! What we see there as the mixture of the four members of human nature meets us clearly and significantly in the outer picture. We need only observe how the temperament comes to expression externally.
Let us, for instance, take the choleric person, who has a strong firm center in his inner being. If the ego predominates, the person will assert himself against all outer oppositions; he wants to be in evidence. This ego is the restrainer. Those pictures are consciousness-pictures. The physical body is formed according to its etheric body, the etheric body according to its astral body. This astral body would fashion man, so to speak, in the most varied way. But because growth is opposed by the ego in its blood forces, the balance is maintained between abundance and variety of growth. So when there is a surplus of ego, growth can be retarded. It positively retards the growth of the other members; it does not allow the astral body and the etheric body their full rights. In the choleric temperament you are able to recognize clearly in the outer growth, in all that confronts us outwardly, the expression of what is inwardly active, the actual deep inner force-nature of the man, of the complete ego. Choleric persons appear as a rule as if growth had been retarded. You can find in life example after example; for instance, from spiritual history the philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the German choleric. Even in external appearance he is recognizable as such, since in his outer form he gave the impression of being retarded in growth. Thereby he reveals clearly that the other members of his being have been held back by the excess of ego. Not the astral body with its forming capacity is the predominant member, but the ego rules, the restrainer, the limiter of the formative forces. Hence we see as a rule in those who are preeminently men of strong will, where the ego restrains the free formative force of the astral body, a small compact figure. Take another classical example of the choleric: Napoleon, the “little General,” who remained so small because the ego held back the other members of his being. There you have the type of the retarded growth of the choleric. There you can see how this force of the ego works out of the spirit, so that the innermost being is manifest in the outer form. Observe the physiognomy of the choleric! Take in comparison the phlegmatic person! How indefinite are his features; how little reason you have to say that such a form of forehead is suited to the choleric. In one organ it is shown especially clearly whether the astral body or the ego works formatively, that is in the eye, in the steady, assured aspect of the eye of the choleric. As a rule we see how this strongly-kindled inner light, which turns everything luminously inward, sometimes is expressed in a black, a coal-black eye, because, according to a certain law, the choleric does not permit the astral body to color that very thing which his ego-force draws inward, that which is colored in another person. Observe such an individual in his whole bearing. One who is experienced can almost tell from the rear view whether a certain person is a choleric. The firm walk proclaims the choleric, so to speak. Even in the step we see the expression of strong ego-force. In the choleric child we already notice the firm tread; when he walks on the ground, he not only sets his foot on it, but he treads as if he wanted to go a little bit farther, into the ground.
The complete human individual is a copy of this innermost being, which declares itself to us in such a way. But naturally, it is not a question of my maintaining that the choleric person is short and the sanguine tall. We may compare the form of a person only with his own growth. It depends upon the relation of the growth to the entire form.
Notice the sanguine person! Observe what a strange glance even the sanguine child has; it quickly lights upon something, but just as quickly turns to something else; it is a merry glance; an inner joy and gaiety shine in it; in it is expressed what comes from the depths of the human nature, from the mobile astral body, which predominates in the sanguine person. In its mobile inner life this astral body will work upon the members; and it will also make the person's external appearance as flexible as possible. Indeed, we are able to recognize the entire outer physiognomy, the permanent form and also the gestures, as the expression of the mobile, volatile, fluidic astral body. The astral body has the tendency to fashion, to form. The inner reveals itself outwardly; hence the sanguine person is slender and supple. Even in the slender form, the bony structure; we see the inner mobility of the astral body in the whole person. It comes to expression for example in the slim muscles. It is also to be seen in his external expression. Even one who is not clairvoyant can recognize from the rear whether a person is of sanguine or choleric temperament; and to be able to do this one need not be a spiritual scientist. In a sanguine person we have an elastic and springing walk. In the hopping, dancing walk of the sanguine child we see the expression of the mobile astral body. The sanguine temperament manifests itself especially strongly in childhood. See how the formative tendency is expressed there; and even more delicate attributes are to be found in the outer form. If in the choleric person we have sharply-cut facial features, in the sanguine they are mobile, expressive, changeable. And likewise there appears in the sanguine child a certain inner possibility to alter his countenance. Even to the color of the eyes we could confirm the expression of the sanguine person. The inwardness of the ego-nature, the self-sufficient inwardness of the choleric, meets us in his black eye. Look at the sanguine person in whom the ego-nature is not so deep-rooted, in whom the astral body pours forth all its mobility — there the blue eye is predominant. These blue eyes are closely connected with the individual's invisible inner light, the light of the astral body.
Thus many attributes could be pointed out which reveal the temperament in the external appearance. Through the four-membered human nature we learn to understand clearly this soul riddle of the temperaments. And indeed, a knowledge of the four temperaments, springing from a profound perception of human nature, has been handed down to us from ancient times. If we thus understand human nature, and know that the external is only the expression of the spiritual, then we learn to understand man in his relation even to the externalities, to understand him in his whole process of becoming; and we learn to recognize what we must do concerning ourself and the child with regard to temperament. In education especially notice must be taken of the kind of temperament that tends to develop in the child. For life's wisdom, as for pedagogy, an actual living knowledge of the nature of the temperaments is indispensable, and both would profit infinitely from it.
And now let us go further. Again we see how the phlegmatic temperament also is brought to expression in the outer form. In this temperament there predominates the activity of the etheric body, which has its physical expression in the glandular system and its soul expression in a feeling of ease, in inner balance. If in such a person everything is not only normally in order within, but if, beyond this normality, these inner formative forces of ease are especially active, then their products are added to the human body; it becomes corpulent, it expands. In the largeness of the body, in the development of the fatty parts, we see that which the inner formative forces of the etheric body are especially working on. The inner sense of ease of the phlegmatic person meets us in all that. And who would not recognize in this lack of reciprocal action between the inner and the outer the cause of the ofttimes slovenly, dragging gait of the phlegmatic person, whose step will often not adapt itself to the ground; he does not step properly, so to speak; does not put himself in relation to things. That he has little control over the forms of his inner being you can observe in the whole man. The phlegmatic temperament confronts one in the immobile, indifferent countenance, even in the peculiarly dull, colorless appearance of the eye. While the eye of the choleric is fiery and sparkling, we can recognize in that of the phlegmatic the expression of the etheric body, focused only upon inner ease.
The melancholic is one who cannot completely attain mastery over the physical instrument, one to whom the physical instrument offers resistance, one who cannot cope with the use of this instrument. Look at the melancholic, how he generally has a drooping head, has not the force in himself to stiffen his neck. The bowed head shows that the inner forces which adjust the head perpendicularly are never able to unfold freely. The glance is downward, the eye sad, unlike the black gleam of the choleric eye. We see in the peculiar appearance of the eye that the physical instrument makes difficulties for him. The walk, to be sure, is measured, firm, but not like the walk of the choleric, the firm tread of the choleric; it has a certain kind of dragging firmness.
All this can be only indicated here; but the life of the human being will be much, much more understandable to us if we work in this way, if we see the spirit activating the forms in such a way that the external part of the individual can become an expression of his inner being. So you see how significantly spiritual science can contribute to the solution of this riddle; but only if you face the whole reality, to which the spiritual also belongs, and do not stop merely with the physical reality, can this knowledge be practically applied in life. Therefore only from spiritual science can this knowledge flow in such a way as to benefit the whole of humanity as well as the individual.
Now if we know all that, we can also learn to apply it. Particularly it must be of interest to learn how we can handle the temperaments pedagogically in childhood. For in education the kind of temperament must be very carefully observed; with children it is especially important to be able to guide and direct the developing temperament. But later also it is still important, for anyone in self-education. For the person who wishes to train himself it is invaluable that he observe what is expressed in his temperament.
I have pointed out to you here the fundamental types, but naturally in life they do not often appear thus pure. Each person has only the fundamental tone of a temperament, besides which he has something of the others. Napoleon, for example, had in him much of the phlegmatic temperament, although he was a choleric. If we would govern life practically, it is important to be able to allow that which expresses itself physically to work upon our soul.
How important this is we can see best of all if we consider that the temperaments can degenerate, that what may appear to us as one-sidedness can also degenerate. What would the world be without the temperaments — if people had only one temperament? The most tiresome place you could imagine! The world would be dreary without the temperaments, not only in the physical, but also in the higher sense. All variety, beauty, and all the richness of life are possible only through the temperaments. Do we not see how everything great in life can be brought about just through the one-sidedness of the temperaments, but also how these can degenerate in their one-sidedness? Are we not troubled about the child because we see that the choleric temperament can degenerate to malice, the sanguine to fickleness, the melancholic to gloom, etc.?
In the question of education in particular, and also in self-education, will not the knowledge and estimation of the temperaments be of essential value to the educator? We must not be misled into depreciating the value of the temperament because it is a one-sided characteristic. In education the important thing is not to equalize the temperaments, to level them, but to bring them into the right track. We must clearly understand that the temperament leads to one-sidedness, that the most radical phase of the melancholic temperament is madness; of the phlegmatic, imbecility; of the sanguine, insanity; of the choleric, all those explosions of diseased human nature which result in frenzy, and so forth. Much beautiful variety results from the temperaments, because opposites attract each other; nevertheless, the deification of the one-sidedness of temperament very easily causes harm between birth and death. In each temperament there exists a small and a great danger of degeneracy. With the choleric person there is the danger that in youth his ego will be determined by his irascibility, by his lack of self-control. That is the small danger. The great danger is the folly which wishes to pursue, from the impulse of his ego, some kind of individual goal. In the sanguine temperament the small danger is that the person will lapse into fickleness. The great danger is that the rising and falling tide of sensations may result in insanity. The small danger for the phlegmatic is lack of interest in the outer world; the great danger is stupidity or idiocy. The small danger in the melancholic is gloominess, the possibility that he may not be able to extricate himself from what rises up within him. The great danger is madness.
When we contemplate all that, we shall see that a tremendously significant task in practical life lies in the directing and guiding of the temperaments. It is important for the educator to be able to say to himself: What will you do, for example, in the case of a sanguine child? Here one must try to learn from the knowledge of the entire nature of the sanguine temperament how to proceed. If other points of view must be considered concerning the education of the child, it is also necessary that temperament, as a subject in itself, be taken into account. But in order to guide the temperaments the principle to be observed is that we must always reckon with what is there and not with what is not there.
We have a child of sanguine temperament before us, which could easily degenerate into fickleness, lack of interest in important things, and, instead, become quickly interested in other things. The sanguine child is the quickly comprehending, but also the quickly forgetting child, whose interest it is difficult to hold upon anything whatever, just because interest in one subject is quickly lost and passes over to another. This can grow into the most frightful one-sidedness, and it is possible to notice the danger if we look into the depths of human nature. In the case of such a child a material-minded person will immediately come forward with a prescription and say: If you have a sanguine child to bring up, you must bring it into reciprocal activity with other children. But a person who thinks realistically in the right sense says: If you begin with the sanguine child by working upon forces which it does not at all possess, you will accomplish nothing with it. You could exert your powers ever so seriously to develop the other members of human nature, but these simply do not predominate in this child. If a child has a sanguine temperament, we cannot help him along in development by trying to beat interests into him; we cannot pound in something different from what his sanguine temperament is. We should not ask, What does the child lack? What are we to beat into him? But we should ask, What as a rule does a sanguine child possess? And that is what we must reckon with. Then we shall say to ourselves: We do not alter these characteristics by trying to induce any sort of opposite quality in this child. With regard to these things which are rooted in the innermost nature of man we must take into consideration that we can only bend them. Thus we shall not be building upon what the child does not possess, but upon what he does possess. We shall build exactly upon that sanguine nature, upon that mobility of the astral body, and not try to beat into him what belongs to another member of human nature. With a sanguine child who has become one-sided we must just appeal to his sanguine temperament.
If we wish to have the right relation with this child, we must take special notice of something. For from the first it becomes evident to the expert that if the child is ever so sanguine, there is still something or other in which he is interested, that there is one interest, one genuine interest for each sanguine child. It will generally be easy to arouse interest in this or that subject, but it will quickly be lost again. There is one interest, however, which can be enduring even for the sanguine child. Experience shows this; only it must be discovered. And that which is found to hold a special interest must be kept in mind. And whatever it is that the child does not pass by with fickle interest we must try to bring before him as a special fact, so that his temperament extends to something which is not a matter of indifference to him. Whatever he delights in, we must try to place in a special light; the child must learn to use his sanguineness. We can work in such a way that we begin first of all with the one thing that can always be found, with the forces which the child has. He will not be able to become lastingly interested in anything through punishment and remonstrance. For things, subjects, events, he will not easily show anything but a passing, changeable interest; but for one personality, especially suited to a sanguine child — experience will show this — there will be a permanent, continuous interest, even though the child is ever so fickle. If only we are the right personality, or if we are able to bring him into association with the right personality, the interest will appear. It is only necessary to search in the right way. Only by the indirect way of love for one personality, is it possible for interest to appear in the sanguine child. But if that interest, love for one person, is kindled in him, then through this love straightway a miracle happens. This love can cure a child's one-sided temperament. More than any other temperament, the sanguine child needs love for one personality. Everything must be done to awaken love in such a child. Love is the magic word. All education of the sanguine child must take this indirect path of attachment to a certain personality. Therefore parents and teachers must heed the fact that an enduring interest in things cannot be awakened by drumming it into the sanguine child, but they must see to it that this interest is won by the roundabout way of attachment to a personality. The child must develop this personal attachment; one must make himself lovable to the child; that is one's duty to the sanguine child. It is the responsibility of the teacher that such a child shall learn to love the personality.
We can still further build up the education upon the child's sanguine nature itself. The sanguine nature reveals itself, you know, in the inability to find any interest which is lasting. We must observe what is there. We must see that all kinds of things are brought into the environment of the child in which he has shown more than the ordinary interest. We should keep the sanguine child busy at regular intervals with such subjects as warrant a passing interest, concerning which he is permitted to be sanguine, so to speak, subjects not worthy of sustained interest. These things must be permitted to affect the sanguine nature, permitted to work upon the child; then they must be removed so that he will desire them again, and they may again be given to him. We must cause these things to work upon the child as the objects of the ordinary world work upon the temperament. In other words, it is important to seek out for a sanguine child those objects toward which he is permitted to be sanguine.
If we thus appeal to what exists rather than to something which does not exist, we shall see — and practical experience will prove it — that as matter of fact the sanguine force, if it becomes one-sided, actually permits itself to be captured by serious subjects. That is attained as by an indirect path. It is good if the temperament is developed in the right way during childhood, but often the adult himself has to take his education in hand later in life. As long, indeed, as the temperaments are held in normal bounds, they represent that which makes life beautiful, varied, and great. How dull would life be if all people were alike with regard to temperament. But in order to equalize a one-sidedness of temperament, a man must often take his self-education in hand in later life. Here again one should not insist upon pounding into oneself, as it were, a lasting interest in any sort of thing; but he must say to himself: According to my nature I am sanguine; I will now seek subjects in life which my interest may pass over quickly, in which it is right that the interest should not be lasting, and I will just occupy myself with that in which I may with complete justification lose interest in the very next moment.
Let us suppose that a parent should fear that in his child the choleric temperament would express itself in a one-sided way. The same treatment cannot be prescribed as for the sanguine child; the choleric will not be able easily to acquire love for a personality. He must be reached through something else in the influence of person upon person. But in the case of the choleric child also there is an indirect way by which the development may always be guided. What will guide the education here with certainty is: Respect and esteem for an authority. For the choleric child one must be thoroughly worthy of esteem and respect in the highest sense of the word. Here it is not a question of making oneself loved through the personal qualities, as with the sanguine child, but the important thing is that the choleric child shall always have the belief that the teacher understands the matter in hand. The latter must show that he is well informed about the things that take place in the child's environment; he must not show a weak point. He must endeavor never to let the choleric child notice that he might be unable to give information or advice concerning what is to be done. The teacher must see to it that he holds the firm reins of authority in his hands, and never betray the fact that he is perhaps at his wits' end. The child must always keep the belief that the teacher knows. Otherwise he has lost the game. If love for the personality is the magic word for the sanguine child, then respect and esteem for the worth of a person is the magic word for the choleric.
If we have a choleric child to train we must see to it before everything else that this child shall unfold, bring to development, his strong inner forces. It is necessary to acquaint him with what may present difficulties in the outer life. For the choleric child who threatens to degenerate into one-sidedness, it is especially necessary to introduce into the education that which is difficult to overcome, so as to call attention to the difficulties of life by producing serious obstacles for the child. Especially must such things be put in his way as will present opposition to him. Oppositions, difficulties, must be placed in the path of the choleric child. The effort must be put forth not to make life altogether easy for him. Hindrances must be created so that the choleric temperament is not repressed, but is obliged to come to expression through the very fact that certain difficulties are presented which the child must overcome. The teacher must not beat out, educate out, so to speak, a child's choleric temperament, but he must put before him just those things upon which he must use his strength, things in connection with which the choleric temperament is justified. The choleric child must of inner necessity learn to battle with the objective world. The teacher will therefore seek to arrange the environment in such a way that this choleric temperament can work itself out in overcoming obstacles; and it will be especially good if these obstacles pertain to little things, to trifles; if the child is made to do something on which he must expend tremendous strength, so that the choleric temperament is strongly expressed, but actually the facts are victorious, the strength employed is frittered away. In this way the child gains respect for the power of facts which oppose what is expressed in the choleric temperament.
Here again there is another indirect way in which the choleric temperament can be trained. Here it is necessary first of all to awaken reverence, the feeling of awe, to approach the child in such a way as actually to arouse such respect, by showing him that we can overcome difficulties which he himself cannot yet overcome; reverence, esteem, particularly for what the teacher can accomplish, for his ability to overcome objective difficulties. That is the proper means: Respect for the ability of the teacher is the way by which the choleric child in particular may be reached in education.
It is also very difficult to manage the melancholic child. What must we do if we fear the threatened one-sidedness of the melancholic temperament of the child, since we cannot cram in what he does not possess? We must reckon with the fact that it is just repressions and resistance that he has power within himself to cling to. If we wish to turn this peculiarity of his temperament in the right direction, we must divert this force from subjective to objective activity. Here it is of very special importance that we do not build upon the possibility, let us say, of being able to talk him out of his grief and pain, or otherwise educate them out of him; for the child has the tendency to this excessive reserve because the physical instrument presents hindrances. We must particularly build upon what is there, we must cultivate what exists. With the melancholic child it will be especially necessary for the teacher to attach great importance to showing him that there is suffering in the world. If we wish to approach this child as a teacher, we must find here also the point of contact. The melancholic child is capable of suffering, of moroseness; these qualities exist in him and we cannot flog them out, but we can divert them.
For this temperament too there is one important point: Above all we must show the melancholic child how people can suffer. We must cause him to experience justifiable pain and suffering in external life, in order that he may come to know that there are things concerning which he can experience pain. That is the important thing. If you try to entertain him, you drive him back into his own corner. Whatever you do, you must not think you have to entertain such a child, to try to cheer him up. You should not divert him; in that way you harden the gloominess, the inner pain. If you take him where he can find pleasure, he will only become more and more shut up within himself. It is always good if you try to cure the young melancholic, not by giving him gay companionship, but by causing him to experience justifiable pain. Divert his attention from himself by showing him that sorrow exists. He must see that there are things in life which cause suffering. Although it must not be carried too far, the important point is to arouse pain in connection with external things in order to divert him.
The melancholic child is not easy to guide; but here again there is a magic means. As with the sanguine child the magic word is love for a personality, with the choleric, esteem and respect for the worth of the teacher, so with the melancholic child the important thing is for the teachers to be personalities who in some way have been tried by life, who act and speak from a life of trial. The child must feel that the teacher has really experienced suffering. Bring to his attention in all the manifold occurrences of life the trials of your own destiny. Most fortunate is the melancholic child who can grow up beside a person who has much to give because of his own hard experiences; in such a case soul works upon soul in the most fortunate way. If therefore at the side of the melancholic child there stands a person who, in contrast to the child's merely subjective, sorrowful tendencies, knows how to tell in a legitimate way of pain and suffering that the outer world has brought him, then such a child is aroused by this shared experience, this sympathy with justified pain. A person who can show in the tone and feeling of his narration that he has been tried by destiny, is a blessing to such a melancholic child.
Even in arranging the melancholic child's environment, so to speak, we should not leave his predispositions unconsidered. Hence, it is even advantageous if — strange as it may sound — we build up for the child actual hindrances, obstructions, so that he can experience legitimate suffering and pain with regard to certain things. It is the best education for such a child if the existing tendency to subjective suffering and grief can be diverted by being directed to outer hindrances and obstructions. Then the child, the soul of the child, will gradually take a different direction.
In self-education also we can again use this method: we must always allow the existing tendencies, the forces present in us, to work themselves out, and not artificially repress them. If the choleric temperament, for example, expresses itself so strongly in us that it is a hindrance, we must permit this existing inner force to work itself out by seeking those things upon which we can in a certain sense shatter our force, dissipate our forces, preferably upon insignificant, unimportant things. If on the other hand we are melancholic, we shall do well to seek out justifiable pain and suffering in external life, in order that we may have opportunity to work out our melancholy in the external world; then we shall set ourselves right.
Let us pass on to the phlegmatic temperament. With the phlegmatic child it will be very difficult for us if his education presents us with the task of conducting ourselves in an appropriate way toward him. It is difficult to gain any influence over a phlegmatic person. But there is one way in which an indirect approach may be made. Here again it would be wrong, very wrong indeed, if we insisted upon shaking up a person so inwardly at ease, if we thought we could pound in some kind of interests then and there. Again we must take account of what he has.
There is something in each case which will hold the attention of the phlegmatic person, especially the phlegmatic child. If only through wise education we build up around him what he needs, we shall be able to accomplish much. It is necessary for the phlegmatic child to have much association with other children. If it is good for the others also to have playmates, it is especially so for the phlegmatic. He must have playmates with the most varied interests. There is nothing to appeal to in the phlegmatic child. He will not interest himself easily in objects and events. One must therefore bring this child into association with children of like age. He can be trained through the sharing of the interests — as many as possible — of other personalities. If he is indifferent to his environment, his interest can be kindled by the effect upon him of the interests of his playmates. Only by means of that peculiar suggestive effect, only through the interests of others, is it possible to arouse his interest. An awakening of the interest of the phlegmatic child will result through the incidental experiencing of the interest of others, the sharing of the interests of his playmates, just as sympathy, sharing of the experience of another human destiny, is effective for the melancholic. Once more: To be stimulated by the interest of others is the correct means of education for the phlegmatic. As the sanguine child must have attachment for one personality, so must the phlegmatic child have friendship, association with as many children as possible of his own age. That is the only way the slumbering force in him can be aroused. Things as such do not affect the phlegmatic. With a subject connected with the tasks of school and home you will not be able to interest the little phlegmatic; but indirectly, by way of the interests of other souls of similar age you can bring it about. If things are reflected in this way in others, these interests are reflected in the soul of the phlegmatic child.
Then also we should particularly see to it that we surround him with things and cause events to occur near him concerning which apathy is appropriate. One must direct the apathy to the right objects, those toward which one may rightly be phlegmatic. In this way quite wonderful things can sometimes be accomplished in the young child. But also one's self-education may be taken in hand in the same way in later life, if it is noticed that apathy tends to express itself in a one-sided way; that is, by trying to observe people and their interests. One thing more can also be done, so long as we are still in a position to employ intelligence and reason at all: we can seek out the very subjects and events which are of the greatest indifference to us, toward which it is justifiable for us to be phlegmatic.
We have now seen again how, in the methods of education based upon spiritual science, we build upon what one has and not upon what is lacking.
So we may say that it is best for the sanguine child if he may grow up guided by a firm hand, if some one can show him externally aspects of character through which he is able to develop personal love. Love for a personality is the best remedy for the sanguine child. Not merely love, but respect and esteem for what a personality can accomplish is the best for the choleric child. A melancholic child may be considered fortunate if he can grow up beside some one who has a bitter destiny. In the corresponding contrast produced by the new insight, by the sympathy which arises for the person of authority, and in the sharing of the justifiably painful destiny, — in this consists what the melancholic needs. They develop well if they can indulge less in attachment to a personality, less in respect and esteem for the accomplishment of a personality, but can reach out in sympathy with suffering and justifiably painful destinies. The phlegmatic is reached best if we produce in him an inclination towards the interests of other personalities, if he can be stirred by the interests of others.
The sanguine should be able
to develop love and attachment for one personality.
The choleric should be able to develop esteem and respect for the accomplishments of the personality.
The melancholic should be able to develop a heartfelt sympathy with another's destiny.
The phlegmatic child should be led to the sharing of the interests of others.
Thus do we see in these principles of education how spiritual science goes right into the practical questions of life; and when we come to speak about the intimate aspects of life, spiritual science shows just in these very things how it works in practice, shows here its eminently practical side. Infinitely much could we possess of the art of living, if we would adopt this realistic knowledge of spiritual science. When it is a case of mastering life, we must listen for life's secrets, and these lie behind the sense perceptible. Only real spiritual science can explain such a thing as the human temperaments, and so thoroughly fathom them that we are able to make this spiritual science serve as a benefit and actual blessing of life, whether in youth or in age.
We can also take self-education in hand here; for when it is a question of self-education, the temperaments can be particularly useful to us. We become aware with our intellect that our sanguineness is playing us all kinds of tricks, and threatens to degenerate to an unstable way of life; we hurry from subject to subject. This condition can be countered if only we go about it in the right way. The sanguine person will not, however, reach his goal by saying to himself: You have a sanguine temperament and you must break yourself of it. The intellect applied directly is often a hindrance in this realm. On the other hand, used indirectly it can accomplish much. Here the intellect is the weakest soul-force of all. In presence of the stronger soul-forces, such as the temperaments, the intellect can do very little; it can work only indirectly. If some one exhorts himself ever so often: “For once now hold fast to one thing” — then the sanguine temperament will again and again play him bad tricks. He can reckon only with a force which he has. Behind the intellect there must be other forces. Can a sanguine person count upon anything at all but his sanguine temperament? And in self-education too it is necessary to try to do also what the intellect can do directly. A man must reckon with his sanguineness; self-exhortations are fruitless. The important thing is to show sanguineness in the right place. One must try to have no interest in certain things in which he is interested. We can with the intellect provide experiences for which the brief interest of the sanguine person is justified. Let him try to place himself artificially in such situations; to put in his way as much as possible what is of no interest to him. If then we bring about such situations in ever such small matters, concerning which a brief interest is warranted, it will call forth what is necessary. Then it will be noticed, if only one works at it long enough, that this temperament develops the force to change itself.
The choleric can likewise cure himself in a particular way, if we consider the matter from the point of view of spiritual science. For the choleric temperament it is good to choose such subjects, to bring about through the intellect such conditions as are not changed if we rage, conditions in which we reduce ourselves ad absurdum by our raging. When the choleric notices that his fuming inner being wishes to express itself, he must try to find as many things as possible which require little force to be overcome; he must try to bring about easily superable outer facts, and must always try to bring his force to expression in the strongest way upon insignificant events and facts. If he thus seeks out insignificant things which offer him no resistance, then he will bring his one-sided choleric temperament again into the right course.
If it is noticed that melancholia is producing one-sidedness, one must try directly to create for himself legitimate outer obstacles, and then will to examine these legitimate outer obstacles in their entire aspect, so that what one possesses of pain and the capacity for suffering is diverted to outer objects. The intellect can accomplish this. Thus the melancholic temperament must not pass by the pain and suffering of life, but must actually seek them, must experience sympathy, in order that his pain may be diverted to the right objects and events.
If we are phlegmatic, have no interests, then it is good for us to occupy ourselves as much as possible with quite uninteresting things, to surround ourselves with many sources of ennui, so that we are thoroughly bored. Then we shall completely cure ourselves of our apathy, completely break ourselves of it. The phlegmatic person therefore does well to decide with his intellect that he must take interest in a certain thing, that he must search for things which are really only worthy to be ignored. He must seek occupations in which apathy is justified, in which he can work out his apathy. In this way he conquers it, even when it threatens to degenerate into one-sidedness.
Thus we reckon with what is there and not with what is lacking. Those however who call themselves realists believe, for example, that the best thing for a melancholic is to produce conditions that are opposed to his temperament. But anyone who actually thinks realistically will appeal to what is already in him.
So you see spiritual science does not divert us from reality and from actual life; but it will illuminate every step of the way to the truth; and it can also guide us everywhere in life to take reality into consideration. For those people are deluded who think they can stick to external sense appearance. We must go deeper if we wish to enter into this reality; and we shall acquire an understanding for the variety of life if we engage in such considerations.
Our sense for the practical will become more and more individual if we are not impelled to apply a general prescription: namely, you must not drive out fickleness with seriousness, but see what kind of characteristics the person has which are to be stimulated. If then man is life's greatest riddle, and if we have hope that this riddle will be solved for us, we must turn to this spiritual science, which alone can solve it for us. Not only is man in general a riddle to us, but each single person who confronts us in life, each new individuality, presents a new riddle, which of course we cannot fathom by considering it with the intellect. We must penetrate to the individuality. And here too we can allow spiritual science to work out of the innermost center of our being; we can make spiritual science the greatest impulse of life. So long as it remains only theory, it is worthless. It must be applied in the life of the human being. The way to this goal is possible, but it is long. It becomes illuminated for us if it leads to reality. Then we become aware that our views are transformed. Knowledge is transformed. It is prejudice to believe that knowledge must remain abstract; on the contrary, when it enters the spiritual realm it permeates our whole life's work; our entire life becomes permeated by it. Then we face life in such a way that we have discernment for the individuality, which enters even into feeling and sensation and expresses itself in these, and which possesses great reverence and esteem. Patterns are easy to recognize; and to wish to govern life according to patterns is easy; but life does not permit itself to be treated as a pattern. Only insight will suffice, insight which is transformed into a feeling one must have toward the individuality of man, toward the individuality in the whole of life. Then will our conscientious spiritual knowledge flow into our feeling, so to speak, in such a way that we shall be able to estimate correctly the riddle which confronts us in each separate human being.
How do we solve the riddle which each individual presents to us? We solve it by approaching each person in such a way that harmony results between him and us. If we thus permeate ourselves with life's wisdom, we shall be able to solve the fundamental riddle of life which is the individual man. It is not solved by setting up abstract ideas and concepts. The general human riddle can be solved in pictures; this individual riddle, however, is not to be solved by this setting up of abstract ideas and concepts; but rather must we approach each individual person in such a way that we bring to him direct understanding.
That is possible, however, only when we know what lies in the depths of the soul. Spiritual science is something which slowly and gradually pours itself into our entire soul so that it renders the soul receptive not only to the large relations but also to the finer details. In spiritual science it is a fact that, when one soul approaches another, and this other requires love, love is given. If it requires something else, that will be given. Thus by means of such true life wisdom we create social foundations, and that means at each moment to solve a riddle. Anthroposophy works not by means of preaching, exhortation, harping on morals, but by creating a social basis on which one man is able to understand another.
Spiritual science is thus the sub-soil of life, and love is the blossom and fruit of such a life, stimulated by spiritual science. Therefore spiritual science may claim that it is establishing something which will provide a base for the most beautiful goal of the mission of man: genuine, true, human love. In our sympathy, in our love, in the manner in which we approach the individual human being, in our conduct, we should learn the art of living through spiritual science. If we would permit life and love to stream into feeling and sensibility, human life would be a beautiful expression of the fruit of this spiritual science.
We learn to know the individual human being in every respect when we perceive him in the light of spiritual science. We learn to perceive even the child in this way; we learn little by little to respect, to value, in the child the peculiarity, the enigmatic quality of the individuality, and we learn also how we must treat this individual in life, because spiritual science gives to us, so to speak, not merely general, theoretical directions, but it guides us in our relation to the individual in the solving of the riddles which are there to be solved: namely, to love him as we must love him if we not merely fathom him with the mind, but let him work upon us completely, let our spiritual scientific insight give wings to our feelings, our love. That is the only proper soil which can yield true, fruitful, genuine human love; and this is the basis from which we discover what we have to seek as the innermost essential kernel in each individual. And if we permeate ourselves thus with spiritual knowledge, our social life will be regulated in such a way that each single person, when he approaches any other in esteem and respect and understanding of the riddle “man,” will learn how to find and to regulate his relation to the individual. Only one who lives in abstractions as a matter of course can speak from prosaic concepts, but he who strives for genuine knowledge will find it, and will find the way to other people; he will find the solution of the riddle of the other person in his own attitude, in his own conduct.
Thus we solve the individual riddle according as we relate ourselves to others. We find the essential being of another only with a view of life which comes from the spirit. Spiritual science must be a life-practice, a spiritual life-factor, entirely practical, entirely living, and not vague theory.
This is knowledge which can work into all the fibers of man's being, which can rule each single act in life. Thus only does spiritual science become the true art of living — and that could be particularly shown in the consideration of those intimate peculiarities of man, the temperaments. Thus the finest relation is engendered between man and man when we look a person in the face and understand not only how to fathom the riddle, but how to love, that is, to let love flow from individuality to individuality. Spiritual science needs no theoretical proofs; life brings the proofs. Spiritual science knows that something can be said “for” and “against” everything, but the true proofs are those which life brings; and only step by step can life show the truth of what we think when we consider the human being in the light of spiritual-scientific knowledge; for this truth exists as a harmonious, life-inspired insight which penetrates into the deepest mysteries of life.