Anthroposophy, A Fragment
VIII. The World Underlying the Organs of Life
The consideration of the I's experience in the organism of I-concept and in the organisms of concept and tone resulted in an image similar to that of a plant form unfolding from above downward. The remainder of the human being in its entirety can likewise be imagined as what confronts the I-experience from below upward, constraining the downward stream of the I-experience and, to a degree, holding it at bay within itself, In this remainder the being is found that enters existence through birth. This being is the temporal precondition of what strives — in the image above — from above down-ward. We can thus say that what works from below upward to confront the I-experience appears on Earth at birth. What was earlier described as the activities forming the sense organs must, therefore, already have taken place within this human being. In that case the forming of these sense organs can only be imagined such that the organ-forming forces bore themselves as streams into the human, striving from below upward. Here, the image of forces converging inward from different sides comes to mind. These forces encircle the human being, and they must also experience a constraint like that encountered by the I-experience streaming downward from above in the entire human being striving upward from below.
What this constraint is becomes clear when we think of the forces that form the sense organs encountering those forces present in the life processes. If we think of the inverted sense of balance working counter to the activity of the force of sound, we have the disposition for the organ of hearing. If we imagine the inverted sense of smell working counter to the force of the warmth experience, we have the disposition for the organ of warmth. The organ of warmth is spread out over the entire human being. This fact fits into the picture formed by letting the inverted sense of taste run in the opposite direction from the inverted senses of smell and balance. The inverted sense of smell then runs through the entire body, and the inverted sense of taste runs from the other side, which, together with the force of the experience of light, shows itself active in molding the organ for the sense of sight. Within the sense of taste itself, the substance that is active in molding its organ discloses itself in the sense of smell. It finds itself constrained by the organism that was built up by the remaining senses. In the sense of smell, inwardness of substance works toward the inwardness of substance. Here we come to the image of a peripheral circle from which the organ-molding forces proceed, working on the human being, as it were, at the circle's center. If these were the only organ-molding forces, a totally different configuration and order of the sense organs would result than is the case in reality.
What arises in reality can, however, only occur if the organ-molding forces are constrained as they unfold.
Suppose that the organ-molding force for the latent organ of hearing is strengthened in one place and diminished in another; it will then make itself especially noticeable in one place. This is precisely what happens when other forces work on the organ-molding forces themselves. The question then arises as to whether anything in the human being points to the existence of such forces outside us. To begin with, the life processes show something special. They carry on even when, during sleep, sensory experiences are at rest. This shows that formative forces must be at work in their organs even when the senses are turned off. So the forces that shape the sense organs are, in a way, only one side of organ-molding activity. Before the life processes can be present, they must be prepared by the organ-molding forces of the life organs.
Now, the forces in which the organs of life are grounded are even further removed from human consciousness than the ones that build up the sense organs. In the sense organs, forces show their effects that reveal themselves through the sense organs. However, the forces that build up the organs of life are not revealed in these organs, but only their effects — that is, the organs themselves. By means of the organ of warmth, we sense warmth; by means of the sense of life, we sense the organs of life. The coming about of the life organs thus presupposes the existence of a different world than does the forming of the sense organs. However, the sense organs do have to integrate harmoniously with the life organs. Thus, for sense organs to come about in their appropriate shape, the disposition for the senses must already be present in the forces that build up the life organs. This, however, points to the existence of a world in which the formative forces of the life organs work in such a way as to predispose the sense organs within the life organs without, however, forming the sense organs themselves. Only after the life organs have been formed do these forces imprint the sense organs into the form of these life organs.
Now, not all sense organs need to be present already in the same way in the organ-forming forces of the life organs. The organs of the so-called sense of touch do not need to be present at all, since they only reflect the experiences of the life organs back into themselves. From the senses of life, self-movement, and balance, what has significance only when the sense organs are imprinted on the life organs, may be absent as well. Thus, that which is related to the feeling-like experiences of the senses of life and self-movement with regard to the sense organs themselves is not present in these dispositions. With this, however, we have pointed to a world in which is found the organ-molding forces of the life organs and the dispositions for the organ-molding forces for the senses of hearing, warmth, sight, taste, and smell.
If the sense organs now imprint themselves on pre-existing life organs, the formative forces of the life organs must have created a foundation within the life organs. On this foundation, the life organs develop the life processes, and into the life processes the organ-molding forces of the senses pour their currents. These organ-molding forces thus experience a constraint in the life organs. Their activity impacts against this constraint. The senses can be developed only in places where the life organs permit this to happen. The very image of the human being shows that the polarity of left-right and right-left is worth considering with regard to the distribution of the sense organs we have mentioned. The bilateral symmetry in the structure of the human being shows that the life organs and sense organs relate in two different ways. If we look at the sense organs in a person who is facing us, we can see that the right ear, for example, inasmuch as it owes its origin to the stage in which the forces that mold the organs of life prevail, has been shaped from left to right, and that it has then become a sense organ, because the forces molding the sense organs confront the just described forming process from right to left. The reverse would hold true for the left ear. Something similar would apply to the other symmetrically distributed sense organs.
Inasmuch as we are beings who experience by means of sense organs, our origin can be sought in the world described earlier as the world from which the astral human being stems. If we also consider that the forces molding the sense organs are the inversions of sense experiences themselves, we may assume that we are talking about the world out of which the astral human being stems, when we presuppose an entity that shapes our sense organs through forces impacting as it were from outside. This is because it has shown itself that inverted sense experiences flow into the human being when the sense organs are molded. Thus image sensations are roused through these forces. But image sensations, in addition to desire and impulses for movement, point to the astral body of the human being. If we also now imagine the forces that mold the sense organs as inversions of movement impulses and desires, we have an idea of how the human astral body, as shaper of the sense organs, hails from a world that is imperceptible to the senses.
A realm where the world of sense experience is grounded is thus assumed, which has been called the "astral world." We must then take everything we experience sense-perceptibly as immediate reality and presuppose the existence of an astral world concealing itself within. The former is called the physical world. It is grounded in the astral world. We have now seen that the astral world is grounded in yet another world. The organ-molding forces of the life organs, and the disposition for the senses of hearing, warmth, sight, and taste, are rooted in that other world. Since that world contains the formative forces for the life organs, we can say that human beings themselves — inasmuch as the formative forces for the life organs are present in their bodies — also originate in that world. If we call the sum total of the forces that shape the life organs in the human being (in the sense of page 147) the human "etheric body," then we can recognize that this etheric body has its origin in the world lying beyond the astral world. This world has been called the "lower spiritual world," by which, again, nothing more is meant than what has been asserted here. 1See, for example, Rudolf Steiner's At the Gates of Spiritual Science and The Theosophy of the Rosicrucian , where "lower spiritual world" is also called "lower devachan." — Ed.
Among the life processes are now three processes whose organs point to a world above and beyond the one in which, in accordance with the above, the origin of the life organs is to be sought. In generating, the living physical body repeats its own formation; in growth, it augments what subsists with something new, made out of the substance of what subsists; in maintaining, what subsists acts on what subsists; and in secreting, something that the life process contains is excreted from it. These are, therefore, life processes that take place within the organs of life. This is not the case in nourishing, warming, and breathing. These processes are possible only when the life organs take up something from a world external to themselves.
Among the sense experiences are five whose organs similarly point beyond the world where the origin of the organs corresponding to the other sensory experiences is to be sought. According to what was described earlier, the sense of taste is an inverted sense of smell, inasmuch as the sense of taste turns inward the experience that, through the sense of smell, was sensed on contact with outer substance, so that the smell of the substance already located within the body is tasted. The sense of taste therefore presupposes a substance already located within the organism. The organ of smell, however, presupposes the substance of the outer world. For the sense of sight, we can conclude, from what we have considered above, that its organ comes about when an entity is active in this inception who does not treat color experiences in the way that occurs when they are sensed through the sense of sight, but rather shifts them into an activity that is contrary to the one from which the organ of taste is built-up. When such an activity is latent in an organism, an organ of sight can thus come about through a transformation of a latent organ of taste into an organ of sight. Whereas an organ of smell is inconceivable without contact with an outer substance, and an organ of taste is an organ of smell turned inward, thus presupposing a substance located within, the organ of sight can come:about when an organ of taste, latently present, is not developed to its completion, but transformed within. Substance must then pour toward this organ along an inner path. It is the same with the organ of warmth. It can be seen as an organ of smell whose formation has ben arrested and transfigured for the same reason given for the sense of sight. (The organ of taste is thus seen as an organ of smell that has simply been inverted — that is, turned inside out — while the organ of warmth is to be seen as a transformed organ of smell.) In the same way, the organ of hearing would result from a transformed organ of balance; the organ for tone as an organ of self-movement that has been arrested prematurely in its formation; and the organ for concept as an organ of the sense of life that has been transformed right in its inception. The formation of these organs therefore presupposes no external substance, but it suffices that the substance streaming within is taken hold of by higher formative forces than those prevailing in the sense of smell.
For the organ of smell, on the other hand, contact with external substance is necessary. Now the sense of balance does presuppose contact with outer substance, but it does presuppose a relationship to the three directions of space. If these directions existed in empty space, there could be no sense of balance — it can exist only when space is permeated by substance and when the permeation by substance is pervaded by forces, to which the human body brings itself into relationship. But if an interrelationship is to come about, forces must relate to other forces. Thus, the human body must counter within itself the three forces of space-permeating substance with three forces in its own substance. The human body must therefore possess an organ that not only relates to outer substance, as does the organ of smell, but through which its three directions of force can be sensed.
Now, we have shown above that the inverted sense of balance can be thought of as being active in formative development of the organ of hearing. Let us now suppose that this inverted sense of balance were to develop an existing disposition for hearing to a stage beyond the formative deVelopment of an organ of hearing — that is, the formative development is not completed in the moment when an organ of hearing is formed, but goes on developing from there. The disposition for hearing would then turn into an organ of balance. In the same, way, it can now be imagined that the inverted sense of self-movement would develop a disposition for the organ of tone, beyond the inherent nature of the disposition for tone. Through a corresponding organ, the human being would not perceive tone, but would sense the relationship that exists to forces of outer substance. And if the inverted sense of life were to develop an organ of concept far beyond its formative development, it would sense the relationship of its own substance to outer substance through a resulting organ. For this to be possible, not only would the substance have to prove operative within the human body, but it would have to be able, from the outside, to let its forces play into the human body, without touching the body. We would then find in the senses of balance, self-movement, and life three organs that would require the outer world in order to come about. For the sense of touch, this is clear from the very beginning, since it recognizes an outer world only through a concealed judgment, therefore definitively presupposing an outer world.
Thus we can say that the organs of taste, sight, warmth, and hearing are organs which can be formed in an organism through the forces of substance streaming around within it; for the senses of smell, balance, self-movement, life, and touch, outer substance together with its forces proves to be a prerequisite.
Just as the life organs point to the outer world of substance in breathing, warming, and nourishing, so do the organs of the senses mentioned above. On the other hand, secreting, maintaining, growing, and generating, and the organisms of taste, sight, and hearing, tone, concept and I presuppose inner formative principles that can only work on interiorized substance.