Heinrich Bluecher (1899-1970) was an exceptional, admired and controversial teacher at his places of work, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and the New School of Social Research in New York City. For the first time, this website presents the complete lecture series »Sources of Creative Power«, which he gave at the New School in 1953/54, and which has been recorded on audiotapes by his students. Podcasts introduce his lectures by focusing on the main figures Bluecher talked about and by which he developed his own philosophical approach in a »troubled time of a troubled man.«

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Podcast Introductions to Selected Lectures

Podcast 1: Overview

Lecture I (Fall 1953)

Podcast 2: Lao-tze

Lecture XI + Lecture XII (Fall 1953)

Podcast 3: Buddha

Lecture XIII + Lecture XIV (Fall 1953)

Podcast 4: Zarathustra

Lecture I + Lecture II (Spring 1954)

Podcast 5: Abraham

Lecture V + Lecture VI (Spring 1954)

Podcast 6: Homer

Lecture VII + Lecture VIII (Spring 1954)

Podcast 7: Socrates

Lecture XII + Lecture XIII (Spring 1954)

Podcast 8: Jesus of Nazareth

Lecture XIV + Lecture XV (Spring 1954)

The »Sources of Creative Power« Lectures

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture I

9/25/1953 – Podcast 1

Now I don’t know why you want to take this course; I almost do not know why I want to give it. The reasons why, the different reasons why you are here and want to take the course might come out by and by in the first hour of this course which we will usually use for discussion. Those reasons might, I hope, be very …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture III

10/9/1953

We made an attempt in the last session, and we did it for two full hours, to try out how our plan would work of taking ourselves as the ones who give first testimony to indications of our situation, of the situation of modern man in the world. I was very pleased with the discussion I found in the last two hours and I think …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture IV

10/16/1953

With the question? ›What has really happened in the development of the human mind and its endeavors and its achievements in our time?‹ we found that many negative things, really dangers, were involved in this spiritual situation — the situation of our sciences, of our studies, of philosophy. And there were great chances …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture V

10/23/1953

We talked in the last lecture about the spiritual situation of man’s mind today as to his creative and productive forces. The situation that prevails between the sciences, philosophy, art, religion — we have found that they have driven apart but, on the other hand, that every one of those capabilities in a way seemed to come …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture VI

10/30/1953

… phenomenon … time and space … basic condition. If something in those fundaments goes wrong, 1 then we are in a very critical status and that is what I wanted to leap up to. Now, in our next discussion hour we will go on to look nearer at this funny change that has occurred as to time. Perhaps there is one also as to space …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture VII

11/6/1953

All the men we have considered have had, strangely enough, to do with relations. They are all people who established a new possibility of human relations, of the power of human beings to relate. We are especially handicapped in this point in our situation. We found that the well related world picture of man, as we have it …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture VIII

11/12/1953

NAs we found in our historical studies over the last 120 years, almost all phenomena that man produces in the world are intimately inter-related. In all the different fields of his endeavors in a given period certain common denominators prevail. That has formerly been the general ideas of such a period or the culture of …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture IX

11/20/1953

Now we have found that there seems to be a change in the concept of time and the concept of relations. As to time, for example, we see how time has been used by totalitarianism. They invented devices in order to rule the mind of the masses, fantastic schemes of time — for instance, the magical use of promises of …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture X

12/4/1953

None are metaphysicians, none of those nine men built a metaphysical system, none of them claimed that he knew the truth; none of them tried to enforce a belief on anybody. They were free philosophers, as only since then a few modern philosophers tried to be free philosophers: that means people working without …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture XI, Part 1: Lao-tze

12/11/1953 – Podcast 2

We introduce to the Asiatic philosophers Buddha and Lao-tse; but it needs a little more fundamental clearing up of certain terms of Lao-tse in order to discuss him rightly. I suppose that all of you have read by now this little book of Lao-tse’s, Tao Teh King, in the translation of Lin Yu Tang, and even perhaps some of the …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture XII, Part 2: Lao-tze

12/18/1953 – Podcast 2

… what is the meaning of that all — is there any meaning, and what can I do. If this ultimate question — ›What is the meaning of being?‹ — is not nihilistic, then it means that it is accompanied by the other question: ›And what can I do?‹ As soon as the ›I‹ is discovered, the number one is discovered, freedom is discovered, …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture XIII, Part 1: Buddha

1/8/1954 – Podcast 3

… The flesh will die anyhow, as the Buddha will die. He knows that. We do not have to accelerate the process. We gain nothing by it, against all the mythological teachings of the Indians. The most refined metaphysical speculation of the Indians was the division between spirit and body — actual spiritualization. (Not as …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture XIV, Part 2 & 3: Buddha

1/15/1954, Plain transcript – Podcast 3

If we want to check on the two world-shaking events that happened with the teaching of Lao-tze and the Buddha and best understand what it has meant for the development of Asia itself, then we better have a look at what those events did for the development of art in Asia. If there is any knowledge of man in modern …

SoCP – Fall Semester

Lecture XV

1/22/1954

Those Asiatic philosophers we have considered are in our sense originators and liberators of the human mind. If that is so then the awakening to essential freedom and concepts of freedom and creativeness has taken place in Asia as it took place in the West and there is no sense in discrimination of Asia as to this …


SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture I, Part 1 & 2: Zarathustra

2/5/1954 – Podcast 4

For the sake of the newcomers to this course, I feel obliged to go a little bit into the question of what we are doing here or trying to do, also for the old participants in order to connect the coming semester with the first semester. An inquiry into the sources of man’s power, asking the question, ›What is man’s power, if any? …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture II, Part 3: Zarathustra

2/19/1954 – Podcast 4

We are in the middle of our considerations of Zarathustra. In order to better understand the decisive difference between the Asiatic concept of free mind and the Western concept of free mind we must understand the break that occurs between the fundamental thinking of Zarathustra and the thinking of Buddha and Lao-tze. We do …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture III

2/26/1954

… as man separates himself from being — that means comes out of the framework of myth. Mythical thinking means essentially that man cannot consider himself anything else but a part of being, of the cosmos — just a part, that he has no possibility to set himself against being and try to judge being. As soon as he does that …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture IV

3/5/1954, Plain transcript

Not only in all religions but especially within the Jewish-Christian religion such an outstanding performer because he almost doesn’t fit in any and especially in the Jewish-Christian religion. There is a paradox involved; nevertheless he is one of the founders. This is a riddle, but I hope we will solve it by and by, but first we …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture V, Part 1: Abraham

3/12/1954 – Podcast 5

We have seen in the last session that distinctions between the concepts of faith, belief and superstition are most necessary in order to approach the question of religion rightly. We found that we could define each religion as it has appeared on the earth as a system of beliefs — unchecked beliefs and dogmas — surrounded by …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture VI, Part 2: Abraham

3/19/1954 – Podcast 5

If one looks from the artistic point of view at the stories of Abraham, they turn out to be another miracle — here the clear process of thinking is described almost throughout in terms of action, not, as in the second story of the creation, in terms of symbols or allegories which make a thing apparently profound but leave us …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture VII, Part 1 & 2: Homer

3/26/1954 – Podcast 6

We are proceeding in our course mainly because we want to examine the strange situation of man in this new era that has been called the second age, and rightly so, because not since the pre-historic discovery of fire has anything so changed and endangered the life of man as has the discovery of atomic power. It has …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture VIII, Part 3: Homer

4/2/1954 – Podcast 6

… it is the same in the Iliad as it is on the Parthenon frieze; namely, it is relief art just as the Odyssey is like the art of assembling free standing statues.1 Homer created in both his works the basic artistic formula for each of these and then opposed them to one another just as he opposed the heroes of both stories to …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture IX, Part 1: Heraclitus

4/9/1954, New transcript

… in the framework of our course is perhaps the most difficult task, because the fame of Heraclitus since the middle of the 19th century has grown so considerably that we might rightly suspect that it is a fame for the wrong reasons. And the figure of Heraclitus, who was already called the dark one, the obscure one, in his time by …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture X/1, Part 2: Heraclitus & Part 1: Solon

4/16/1954, New transcript

… have a first look at Heraclitus and we have no time to really treat Heraclitus as well as Solon. We only can have a look at them. As the course runs, it is necessary to stress other points. So we can only spend one more session on both of them, Heraclitus and Socrates. So I propose to do [this and have] a break of 10 …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture X/2, Part 2: Solon

4/16/1954, Plain transcript

… or city or society or community in all the world. In myth already turns up a human person who does not want to be a tyrant, who creates the tradition of Athens where much later Pericles, the great statesman of the Periclean Age will say to Persians, ›I am not satisfied with ruling over slaves; I want to govern free men.‹ …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture XI

4/23/1954, Plain transcript

We wanted to use those beginners as people who could give us a guarantee, an assurance about the essential creative qualities of man because we find ourselves in a time where we would bitterly need them because they are taken away from us step by step. We have brought ourselves into predicaments where we seem to be in …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture XII, Part 1 & 2: Socrates

5/7/1954 – Podcast 7

In approaching Socrates we have to invert our method. That means we have to start again with our over-all modern conditions and return to some observations which we made sometime ago. The very remarkable and funny discovery that has been made during the last twenty or thirty years is that ever since philosophers …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture XIII, Part 3: Socrates

5/7/1954 – Podcast 7

When Socrates came to realize his ignorance saying ›he knew that he did not know‹ he really knew everything. In his Apology he tells the story of how a friend had gone to the temple at Delphi and asked the God the silly but suggestive question, because he had prepared it for the God to answer in a certain way: ›Is there any man …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture XIV, Part 1: Jesus of Nazareth

5/14/1954 – Podcast 8

I have said that to take Jesus of Nazareth as the concluding figure in our group of original thinkers is a strange enterprise. All of the men we have considered up until now [have been] free thinkers. Free, in the sense that they tried to face the real position of man in the world and to discover …

SoCP – Spring Semester

Lecture XV, Part 2 & 3: Jesus of Nazareth

5/21/1954 – Podcast 8

We have been talking about Jesus of Nazareth, about him, his ideas, and his deeds irrespective of the picture of his personality that has survived in the West and irrespective of the forms which his ideas and deeds have taken. We may not agree with those forms (the institution of the church, the endless religious struggles, and so …