What Do I Mean by “Waking Up in the Other”?

The perception of the other takes place in the tension between self-surrender and self-assertion. When two people meet, we attempt to put the other to sleep, so to speak, in order to assert ourselves. If we listen to the words of the other and perceive their thinking, we merge with them for a moment. But since the sensory object consciousness then disappears, it falls asleep. We immediately defend ourselves against this, distance ourselves from the thoughts of the other, and are awake again. Since we are social in the union with the other and antisocial in the necessary repulsion from them, and since this relationship is the prerequisite of all social life in modernity, Rudolf Steiner calls this oscillation the primal social phenomenon. […] One “I” can find itself in the other in a higher sense in a successful conversation, just as it can receive the other I into itself. By consciously accomplishing something that remains unconscious in ordinary conversation, an awakening in the other begins.

From Martin Kollewijn, introduction to Erwachen am Menschen: Werde ein Mensch mit Initiative (Human Awakening: Become a Person with Initiative), collected writings by Rudolf Steiner, Impulse 11, Stuttgart 2010.

Translation Laura Liska
Graphic Sofia Lismont

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