There are certain magical formulas which operate throughout the centuries of Man’s mental history in ever new ways. In Greece one such formula was regarded as an oracle of Apollo. It runs: “Know Thyself.” Such sentences seem to conceal within them an unending life. One comes upon them when following the most diverse roads in mental life. The further one advances, the more one penetrates into the knowledge of things, the deeper appears the significance of these formulas. In many a moment of our brooding and thinking, they flash out like lightning, illuminating our whole inner being. In such moments there quickens within us a feeling as if we heard the heart-beat of the evolution of mankind. How close do we not feel ourselves to personalities of the past, when the feeling comes over us, through one of their winged words, that they are revealing to us that they, too, had had such moments!
We feel ourselves then brought into intimate touch with these personalities. For instance, we learn to know Hegel intimately when, in the third volume of his Lectures on the Philosophy of History we come across the words: “Such stuff, one may say, the abstractions that we contemplate when we allow the philosophers to quarrel and battle in our study, and make it out to be thus or so—mere verbal abstractions!
No! No! These are deeds of the world -spirit and therefore of destiny. Therein the Philosophers are nearer to the Master than are those who feed themselves with the crumbs of the spirit; they read or write the Cabinet Orders in the original at once; they are constrained to write them out along with Him.