The Urge to Criticise


With certain illnesses whose symptoms are well known to neurologists, one can make the strange observation that patients offer inner resistance to any attempt to cure the illness because they find their sick state almost bestows a particular importance upon their own precious personality, and therefore they really do not want to be rid of the complaint at all.


Not too far removed from such pathological conditions are regrettably all too many today who have been overcome with a widespread, plague-like addiction to criticism, to the extent that they would no longer feel at ease, were they unable to discover everywhere around them ever new causes for a justified, or often extremely inappropriate negation of the activities and work of their neighbours.


Those sick with the urge to criticise meant here are no longer even aware that a normal and healthy need for a critical attitude only begins when an examination, based firmly on knowledge and sure of its own certainty, discovers relevant moments in the work and deeds of others during which the intention of reaching the goals they set out to reach is at risk, or an impure intention comes to light.



Criticism which does not emerge from the degenerated urge to criticise is always ‘benevolent’, for the powerful will of its healthy urge strives in its exercise for the welfare of the criticised individual, or for the well-being of fellow men in need of protection from this individual.


Criticism which emerges from a consistently healthy urge to criticise is always open to correction through teaching and will never resist this in the narrow-minded obstinate belief that it knows better.


The need to criticise which emanates from a pathologically neurotic urge seeks in contrast only its own satisfaction; it feels an acute lack if it fails to provide itself with this habitual, almost lustful form of self-satisfaction.


Lacking a clear understanding of these things are many who pride themselves on ‘having something to say’ about everything their neighbours do and create; they have allowed their originally healthy urge to criticise to degenerate into a hypertrophy through continuous self-willed over-stimulation…


These comments are also relevant to all those who have maintained their urge to criticise in a healthy condition; for the best defence against its possible degeneration is continual vigilance against the danger which threatens it.



There is indisputably a certain sensual pleasure in releasing the reins of one’s critical desire and enjoying at the expense of others the effect that uninhibited negation always causes, whether in the form of joyful acceptance or as indignant refusal.


But it is this pleasure in particular which must be resisted; for those who succumb to it frequently will find it impossible to keep their critical faculties healthy.


We are not talking here about a harmless game which should not be denied to anyone.


Too much misery is stoked up everyday by hasty and flippant criticism as a fateful consequence of pathologically degenerated urge to criticise. Therefore it is about time to oppose this evil with a resolute will.


We are not speaking here of professional criticism concerned with the arts, literature, music and theatre, for in this sphere the position of critic is mostly held by publicists who have sufficient orientation in these areas to be able to carry out criticism of works where one can expect a positive effect.


One will also rarely encounter among professional critics those sick with the urge to criticise; although professional criticism is in no way free from error, the criticised work still continues to exist and can in the course of time force a revision of the erroneous judgement.


It is a different matter with wild statements made by the adherents of a degenerated urge to criticise about their neighbours’ activities and words; for here ignorance, impertinence or malevolence can stifle the seeds of any good effect and make any subsequent correction impossible.



This applies particularly in the sphere of public human community life, where numerous people take the individual right to co-determine the conditions of his external life as a right to carry out ignorant criticism of all and sundry, thereby unswervingly bringing about the miserable degeneration of their urge to criticise.


Here this type of degeneration in particular is as infectious as an epidemic…


Since every individual feels he has the right to criticise, even if he has no specialised knowledge with regard to the deeds or words he sets out to criticise, so a critical statement made by others has the effect on him of an extremely suggestive challenge to express himself in the same way. Then, however, vanity sees to it that the inflated personality of the critic himself has precedence over all objective criticism…


Those intoxicated with the widespread addiction to criticism have a particular liking for the catchphrase as a very convenient and ever effective sophism.


Even the most stupid one can become a virtuoso in using catchphrases which always are, and will remain safe bait for lazy thinkers and those with no independent judgement.


The popularity of the catchphrase is enough in itself to expose the criticism using it as being an irresponsible attempt to show the usually scanty intellect of the critic as important and significant.



One may well say that every form of criticism loses relevance and value to the extent it finds refuge in well tried out catchphrases. –


Criticism as the exercise of the healthy urge to criticise scarcely acknowledges the catchphrase.


The urge to criticise untouched by intoxication awakens the responsibility of the critic before it is exercised.


The healthy urge to criticise does not set out to emphasise the personality of an individual in its exercise, but seeks co-operation in making a condition, an institution or other human form of work more perfect.



The urge to criticise raises man high above the animal!


Even the most intelligent animal accepts its environment as it is, and expresses not even the slightest suggestion of genuine critical behaviour.


Joyful acceptance, or rejection and resistance found in the behaviour of animals towards their external world are merely expressions of the urge for self-preservation and should never be interpreted as the products of critical consideration.


The human urge to criticise assumes an intuition of a more perfect state of affairs than can ever be encountered here on earth.


If, like the animal, man were at home here in the life of the physical world of phenomena, – how could he be critical of the world outside him!? –


Only because the spiritual within him recognises greater perfection than the earthly world surrounding him, could man develop the urge to criticise within him.


The experience of his originally given spiritual existence, today no longer present in his consciousness, is nevertheless the cause of his critical behaviour with respect to the physical world now surrounding him.


Ejected by his will’s own striving from the conscious sphere of pure experience of essential spiritual phenomena, the eternal spiritual substance,  now experiencing itself in the human animal of this earth in a physically  sensory way, continues to carry the memory of his once experienced state of being. As the earthly brain cannot participate in such memory without more ado, it will nonetheless participate intuitively through the effect of  influence. –


Every result of the healthy urge to criticise is determined by unconscious comparison of what is offered within the earthly sphere with the form of absolute perfection which it would take on in a spiritual phenomenon.


We humans here on earth live under the influence of two ideals of perfection which are vastly different from each other. We may ignore our dual striving, or – like all those not completely encrusted in their earthly natures – suffer bitterly from it…


If we were only of an earthly-sensory nature, this dual striving and all the misery emanating from it would be impossible.


And so physical existence tells us with brutal vehemence what ‘perfection’ means for it, whilst we also assimilate through the same physical brain purely spiritual influence. This gives to us the idea of a perfection against which everything perfect in the earthly sense seems to us condemned to remain in a state of imperfection. – –



It must lead to an inner conflict if someone strives to bring things which are completely subordinated to physical laws to a perfection which only exists within the spiritual!


All striving for the ‘spiritualising’ of the corporeal belongs in this category…


Offered to us is only the sublime possibility of embodying the spirit here in the physical world, yet also this embodiment of the spirit can only be carried out in the way of physical-sensory perfection, –  hence, with respect to the perfection of the eternal spirit, it is forever to be seen as ‘imperfect. – – –



Now the urge to criticise, spiritually born yet only manifested in the physical sphere, leads us to the erroneous supposition that we might bring things existing within physical-sensory phenomena to a perfection which is only possible in the spiritual.


This causes us to have exaggerated expectations of ourselves and of those living with us, – leading to the hypertrophy of the uninhibited urge to  criticise! –


Truly, those who can realize what is here to be realized should finally understand that criticism of deeds and activities in their human environment is only justified – so that the urge to criticise can be maintained in good health – if very careful heed is given to the conditions governing all the work of the human spirit here on earth.


Even the most perfect physical accomplishment of man within the physical world of phenomena remains imperfect compared to what means perfection to the eternal essential spirit. –



So much more forbearance is required where according to the situation it is not even possible to expect ‘perfection’ in physical terms…


The urge to criticise is the intoxication with which the ‘serpent’ in ‘paradise’ infects humanity. Perhaps one can now better understand, after the words of explanation given here, the tempting words which were whispered by the satanic principle to man in the mythical narrative:


“You will be as gods, – knowing good and  evil!” – – –


Really bleak and ultimately transient ‘gods’ are those who partake of such ‘knowledge’!


As far as the eternal essential spirit is concerned everything ‘evil’ is but temporal, transient error whose physical reality is ‘non-existent’ to spiritual consciousness, for, only that which experiences itself in the spirit alone, is eternal perfection: – the originally propagated and eternally self-propagating ‘good’. – – –



And now a word on self-criticism!


That this form of the urge to criticise can also lead to degeneration if not guided by proper insight might perhaps be most easily comprehended by those who themselves suffer from this degenerate urge…


Criticism of one’s own behaviour can promote or hinder in the same way as our criticism of others can be of advantage or hindrance.


In both cases the exercise of the urge to criticise can only bring benefit if first of all goodness is sensed and valued, before one looks for the mistakes and faults in oneself or one’s neighbours. –


A single positive value can outweigh the abundant presence of all mistakes and faults!


Legend tells us that Sodom was destroyed because the sins of thousands made it ripe for annihilation; but for the sake of ‘ten righteous souls’ the whole city would have been spared…


Bô Yin Râ