Gustav Landauer - Mystical Anthropology

Mystical Anthropology

In mystical anthropology man has within him a divine spark or the "uncreated base of the soul", which goes to make up the actual human nature and at the same time is one with God. In the Bible it says "Man is an image of God". To define the actual nature of man, Landauer explicitly refers to Meister Eckhart. Therefore, according to Landauer, our "individual", firmly "standing on itself" and "deeply retreating into itself" is at the same time "our most general", which connects us with the whole "all-one" world and leads us to unity with it. Landauer says in "Skepsis und Mystik" (see: Skepsis und Mystik 1978, p. 17): "The deeper I return home into myself, the more I am blessed with the world". For Landauer sinking into one's self means being blessed with the world. In Neoplatonism or according to Meister Eckhart the "search in one's own heart" in the end leads to the recognition or to the "vision of God". Another difference in mystical anthropology between Landauer and Eckhart is the "concept of heredity" which Landauer propagates. The individual is the result of a long chain of ancestors which are all still present by executing power over a person. The upright carriage of man e. g. is a visible sign of this power of the first humans over us. Heredity leads us back, beyond human and animal ancestors, all the way to the inorganic world. This thought is confirmed in "Skepsis und Mystik" by the mystical idea that man has the whole world in himself. Thus, our complete ancestry is within us. Landauer also connects the concepts of "mankind" and "human nature", which, in addition to that, he defines as divine.

Of course the world is emphasized in comparison to the human individual. In turn, the human individual is subordinate to the human race. The individualization is a result of the "Will of the World" and not the will of the individual or the "human race". In 1895 Landauer still adhered to the thesis, that individuals are the result of the will of the human race. Around this time he also declared that the more someone stepped out of the mass as an own independent self the larger would be his influence on mankind. On the other hand in Skepsis und Mystik (Scepticism and Mysticism) he wrote that the world had to separate off the individuals so that it could flare up and appear within them, for: "The world wants to become". Until 1900 Landauer started out that the individual had to fulfil himself in order to come up to the primordial idea of progressing mankind. After 1900 the human being could any time "coincide with the world", that is to say man can fulfil himself any time. Utopia is thus moved from the future into the eternal presence, which can be mystically experienced. Thus the future course of Socialism (Anarchism) does not depend on a certain development stage of mankind.

For Landauer seclusion is necessary in order to break through to the human race. In Skepsis und Mystik (Scepticism and Mysticism) he writes:

"The firmer an individual is footed on himself, the deeper he retreats into himself, the more he isolates himself from the influences of his surroundings, the more he finds himself coinciding with the world of the past and with what he originally is".

By "originally" Landauer means the human community, which is stronger, more noble and much older than the frail influence of the state or society.

The seclusion not only has consequences for the individuals themselves. By the seclusion the individuals are also returned to the unity with the world.

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