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An Outline of Occult Science by Rudolf Steiner


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In placing a book such as this in the hands of the public, the writer must calmly anticipate every kind of criticism regarding his work which is likely to arise in the present day. A reader, for instance, whose opinions are based upon the results of scientific research, after noting certain statements made here touching these things, may pronounce the following judgment: "It is astounding that such statements should be possible in our time. The most elementary conceptions of natural science are distorted in such a manner as to denote positively inconceivable ignorance of even the rudiments of science. The author uses such terms, for instance, as 'heat' in a way that would lead one to infer that he had let the entire wave of modern thought on the subject of physics sweep past him unperceived. Any one familiar with the mere elements of this science would show him that not even the merest dilettante could have made these statements, and they can only be dismissed as the outcome of rank ignorance."

This and many a similar verdict might be pronounced, and we can picture our reader, after the perusal of a page or two, laying the book aside,--smiling or indignant, according to his temperament,--and reflecting on the singular growths which a perverse tendency of thought may put forth in our time. So thinking, he will lay this volume aside, with his collection of similar freaks of the brain. What, however, would the author say should such opinions come to his knowledge? Would he not, from his point of view, also set the critic down as incapable of judgment or, at least, as one who has not chosen to bring his good will to bear in forming an intelligent opinion? To this the answer is most emphatically--No! In no sense whatever does the author feel this, for he can easily conceive of his critic as being not only a highly intelligent man, but also a trained scientist, and one whose opinions are the result of conscientious thought. The author of this book is able to enter into the feelings of such a person and to understand the reasons which have led him to form these conclusions.

Now, in order to comprehend what the author really means, it is necessary to do here what generally seems to him to be out of place, but for which there is urgent cause in the case of this book, namely, to introduce certain personal data. Of course, nothing will be said in this connection but what bears upon the author's decision to write this book. What is said in it could not be justified if it bore merely a personal character. A book of this kind is bound to proffer views to which any person may attain, and these views must be presented in such a way as to suggest no shade of the personal element, that is, as far as such a thing is possible.

It is therefore not in this sense that the personal note is sounded. It is only intended to explain how it was possible for the author to understand the above characterized opinions concerning his presentations, and yet was able to write this book.

It is true there is one method which would have made the introduction of the personal element unnecessary--this would have been to specify in detail all those particulars which would show that the statements here made are in agreement with the progress of modern science. This course would, however, have necessitated the writing of many volumes, and as such a task is at present out of the question, the writer feels it necessary to state the personal reasons which he believes justify him in thinking such an agreement thoroughly possible and satisfactory. Were he not in a position to make the following explanations, he would most certainly never have gone so far as to publish such statements as those referring to heat processes.