Sentient soul

From AnthroWiki

The sentient soul (GermanEmpfindungsseele) is part of the human soul. It not only mediates all perceptions or sensory impressions, but is also the seat of all drives, desires, passions and the impulses of our will (Lit.:GA 127, p. 42f).

„What we call the sentient soul can be there in life without being much penetrated by thought. The sentient soul is first of all that which receives the outer impressions. It is that part of the human soul which sends the perceptions of the senses into the inner being. It is this sentient soul which then allows to rise within that which connects itself as a feeling of pleasure and displeasure, as an inner joy, as an inner feeling of pain, to that which is brought and observed from without. This sentient soul is first of all that from which rise the drives and instincts and passions and affects of human nature.“ (Lit.:GA 58, p. 119)

Aristotle referred to the sentient soul as the orectikon (Greekὀρεκτικόν; Latin: anima sensitiva). In Hebrew tradition she is called Nephesh (Hebrewנפש). According to Isaac Luria, Nephesh enters man at birth, Ruach, the intellectual soul, but not until sexual maturity around the age of 14, and Neshama, the consciousness soul, with the birth of the I around the age of 21, and only then does Nephesh, the sentient soul, become an independent member of the human being.

Origin and Development of the Sentient Soul

The first seeds of the sentient soul were already created on the Old Moon by the Spirits of Motion belonging to the Mars sphere, which worked in the astral body of the human beings (Lit.:GA 13, p. 212). During the Earth's evolution it appeared for the first time, when in the polar time the Earth condensed up to the fire state (Lit.:GA 13, p. 222). Closely related to this is the so-called Martian passage through the Earth. Martian beings are the stimulators for the development of the sentient soul (Lit.: GA 98, p. 197f, GA 102, p. 59f). It is then further formed by the unconscious work of the human I on the astral body. It is a transformed part of the astral body. This dozy unconscious work on the astral body began in the lemurian time and reached its climax in the Egyptian-Chaldean culture. As an independent member, the sentient soul is born at the age of 21. Through spiritual training, the sentient soul is gradually transformed into the intuitional soul (Lit.:GA 145, p. 177).

Relation to the Karma forces

Of the 12 karma forces, the nidanas, which lead man again and again into physical existence, the last four adhere to the sentient soul. They are present in the animal as well as in the human being (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 121):

9. upadana = comfort in existence
10. bhava = birth
11. jati = what has urged to birth
12. jaramarana = that which liberates from earthly existence.

Drive soul

The experiences of the sentient soul arise when that which is volitional within us pushes outwards, collides with the outer world. These will-like impulses primarily include drives, desires and passions, which is why the feeling soul can also be called the drive soul (Lit.:GA 60, p. 239).

„When we first speak of the feeling soul, we do not only mean that in our soul which is able to connect with the outer world through perception, through sense impressions, but we also mean the seat of all that we can call drives, desires, passions, also the seat of all that is will impulses in the human soul. If we want to get an idea of what the soul of feeling actually is within our spiritual life, it is most appropriate to imagine how everything that is willful, everything that gives us impulses from within to seek a relationship to the outer world, is the essence of the soul of feeling, and how it depends on the soul of feeling that it is also the most important mediator of the reception of outer impressions of perception. That is why it is called the sensitive soul. When a human being receives an impression of sound or colour, the sensitive soul is at work. Even when the passions rise, in the case of affects, anger, fear, anxiety, the sensation soul essentially rules.“ (Lit.:GA 127, p. 42f)

Sentient Soul and I-Consciousness

In the sentient soul the I-consciousness has hardly awakened, the I only broods dully within it.

„In the sentient soul, this I is so active that the human being is hardly aware of his I. In this respect, he is in the sentient soul only dully conscious. In this respect, he is given over to all drives and passions in the sentient soul. The ego broods dully in what we call the sentient soul. The I then first works its way out, first comes to light in the intellectual or mind soul and only becomes quite clear in the consciousness soul.“ (Lit.:GA 121, p. 52)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.