The Full Wiki

Rudolf Steiner: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

Rudolf Steiner
Full name Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner
Born 25(27?) February 1861
Kraljevec, Austria-Hungary, now Donji Kraljevec Croatia
Died 30 March 1925 (aged 64)
Dornach, Switzerland
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Phenomenology, Holism, Monism
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of science, Esotericism, Christianity, Spiritual Science, Freemasonry
Notable ideas Anthroposophy, Anthroposophical Medicine, Biodynamic Agriculture, Eurythmy, Spiritual Science, Waldorf Education

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner[1] (25 or 27 February 1861[2] – 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, social thinker, architect and esotericist.[3][4] He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he founded a new spiritual movement, Anthroposophy, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of European transcendentalism and with links to Theosophy.

Steiner led this movement through several phases. In the first, more philosophically oriented phase, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science and mysticism; his philosophical work of these years, which he termed spiritual science, sought to provide a connection between the cognitive path of Western philosophy and the inner and spiritual needs of the human being. In a second phase, beginning around 1907, he began working collaboratively in a variety of artistic media, including drama, the movement arts (developing a new artistic form, Eurythmy) and architecture, culminating in the building of a cultural center to house all the arts, the Goetheanum. After the First World War, Steiner worked with educators, farmers, doctors, and other professionals to develop Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine as well as new directions in numerous other areas.[5].

Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a more explicitly spiritual component. He based his epistemology on Johann Wolfgang Goethe's world view, in which “Thinking 
 is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.”[6] A consistent thread that runs from his earliest philosophical phase through his later spiritual orientation is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.[7]




Childhood and education

Steiner's father, Johann(es) (Baptist) Steiner (June 23, 1829, Geras (or Trabenreith, Irnfritz-Messern), and lived Geras Abbey, Waldviertel - 1910, Horn), left a position as huntsman in the service of Count Hoyos in Geras, northest Lower Austria to marry Franziska Blie (May 8, 1834, Horn, Waldviertel - 1918, Horn), a marriage for which the Count had refused his permission. Johann became a telegraph operator on the Southern Austrian Railway, and at the time of Rudolf's birth was stationed in Kraljevec in the Muraköz region, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day Donji Kraljevec, Međimurje region, northernmost Croatia). In the first two years of Rudolf's life, the family moved twice, first to Mödling, near Vienna, and then, through the promotion of his father to stationmaster, to Pottschach, located in the foothills of the eastern Austrian Alps in present-day Burgenland.[5]

From 1879 to 1883, Steiner attended and then graduated from the Vienna Institute of Technology (Technische Hochschule), where he studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy.[8]:446 In 1882, one of Steiner's teachers at the university in Vienna, Karl Julius Schröer, suggested Steiner's name to Joseph KĂŒrschner, editor of a new edition of Goethe's works. Steiner was then asked to become the edition's scientific editor.[9]

In his autobiography, Steiner related that at 21, on the train between his home village and Vienna, he met a simple herb gatherer, Felix Koguzki, who spoke about the spiritual world "as someone who had his own experiences of it... " This herb gatherer introduced Steiner to a person that Steiner only identified as a “master”, and who had a great influence on Steiner's subsequent development, in particular directing him to study Fichte's philosophy.[10]

In 1891, Steiner earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Rostock in Germany with a thesis based upon Fichte's concept of the ego,[11] later published in expanded form as Truth and Knowledge.[12]

Writer and philosopher

Rudolf Steiner 1900

In 1888, as a result of his work for the KĂŒrschner edition of Goethe's works, Steiner was invited to work as an editor at the Goethe archives in Weimar. Steiner remained with the archive until 1896. As well as the introductions for and commentaries to four volumes of Goethe's scientific writings, Steiner wrote two books about Goethe's philosophy: The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception (1886)[13] and Goethe's Conception of the World (1897) [14]. During this time he also collaborated in complete editions of Arthur Schopenhauer's work and that of the writer Jean Paul and wrote numerous articles for various journals.

During his time at the archives, Steiner wrote what he considered his most important philosophical work, Die Philosophie der Freiheit (The Philosophy of Freedom) (1894), an exploration of epistemology and ethics that suggested a path upon which humans can become spiritually free beings (see below).

In 1896, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche asked Steiner to set the Nietzsche archive in Naumburg in order. Her brother by that time was non compos mentis. Förster-Nietzsche introduced Steiner into the presence of the catatonic philosopher and Steiner, deeply moved, subsequently wrote the book Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom. Of Nietzsche, Steiner says in his autobiography, “Nietzsche's ideas of the ‘eternal repetition' and of ‘supermen' remained long in my mind. For in these was reflected that which a personality must feel concerning the evolution and essential being of humanity when this personality is kept back from grasping the spiritual world by the restricted thought in the philosophy of nature characterizing the end of the nineteenth century.”[15] "What attracted me particularly was that one could read Nietzsche without coming upon anything which strove to make the reader a 'dependent' of Nietzsche's'.".[15]

In 1897, Steiner left the Weimar archives and moved to Berlin. He became owner, chief editor, and active contributor to the literary journal Magazin fĂŒr Literatur, where he hoped to find a readership sympathetic to his philosophy. His work in the magazine was not well received by its readership, including the alienation of subscribers following Steiner's unpopular support of Émile Zola in the Dreyfus Affair.[16] The journal lost more subscribers when Steiner published extracts from his correspondence with anarchist writer John Henry Mackay.[16] Dissatisfaction with his editorial style eventually led to his departure from the magazine.

In 1899, Steiner married Anna Eunicke. They were later separated; Anna died in 1911.

Steiner and the Theosophical Society

Marie Steiner 1903

In 1899, Steiner published an article in his Magazin fĂŒr Literatur, titled “Goethe's Secret Revelation”, on the esoteric nature of Goethe's fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. This article led to an invitation by the Count and Countess Brockdorff to speak to a gathering of Theosophists on the subject of Nietzsche. Steiner continued speaking regularly to the members of the Theosophical Society, becoming the head of its newly constituted German section in 1902 without ever formally joining the society.[11][17] It was within this society that Steiner met and worked with Marie von Sivers, who became his second wife in 1914. By 1904, Steiner was appointed by Annie Besant to be leader of the Theosophical Esoteric Society for Germany and Austria.

The German Section of the Theosophical Society grew rapidly under Steiner's leadership as he lectured throughout much of Europe on his spiritual science. During this period, Steiner maintained an original approach, replacing Madame Blavatsky's terminology with his own, and basing his spiritual research and teachings upon the Western esoteric and philosophical tradition. This and other differences, in particular Steiner's vocal rejection of C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant's pronouncement that Jiddu Krishnamurti was the vehicle of a new world teacher and the reincarnation of Christ, led to a formal split in 1912/13,[11] when Steiner and the majority of members of the German section of the Theosophical Society broke off to form a new group, the Anthroposophical Society.

The Anthroposophical Society and its cultural activities

The Anthroposophical Society grew rapidly. Fueled by a need to find a home for their yearly conferences, which included performances of plays written by Eduard Schuré as well as Steiner himself, the decision was made to build a theater and organizational center. In 1913, construction began on the first Goetheanum building, in Dornach, Switzerland. The building, designed by Steiner, was built to a significant part by volunteers who offered craftsmanship or simply a will to learn new skills. Once World War I started in 1914, the Goetheanum volunteers could hear the sound of cannon fire beyond the Swiss border, but despite the war, people from all over Europe worked peaceably side by side on the building's construction.

Beginning in 1919, Steiner was called upon to assist with numerous practical activities (see below), including the first Waldorf school, founded that year in Stuttgart, Germany. His lecture activity expanded enormously. At the same time, the Goetheanum developed as a wide-ranging cultural centre. On New Year's Eve, 1922/1923, it was burned down by arson; only his massive sculpture depicting the spiritual forces active in the world and the human being, the Representative of Humanity, was saved. Steiner immediately began work designing a second Goetheanum building – made of concrete instead of wood – which was completed in 1928, three years after his death.

During the Anthroposophical Society's Christmas conference in 1923, Steiner founded a School of Spiritual Science, intended as an open university for research and study. This university, which has various sections or faculties, has grown steadily; it is particularly active today in the fields of education, medicine, agriculture, art, natural science, literature, philosophy, sociology and economics. Steiner spoke of laying the foundation stone of the new society in the hearts of his listeners, while the First Goetheanum's foundation stone had been laid in the earth. He gave a Foundation Stone meditation to anchor this.

Attacks, illness and death

The arson committed against the First Goetheanum had a context. Threats had been made publicly against the Goetheanum,[18] and against Steiner himself[19] by right-wing nationalists.

Reacting to the catastrophic situation in post-war Germany, Steiner had gone on extensive lecture tours promoting his social ideas of the Threefold Social Order, entailing a fundamentally different political structure; he suggested that only through independence of the cultural, political and economic realms could such catastrophes as the World War be avoided. He also promoted a radical solution in the disputed area of Upper Silesia - claimed by both Poland and Germany: his suggestion that this area be granted at least provisional independence led to his being publicly accused of being a traitor to Germany.[20]

In 1919, the political theorist of the National Socialist movement in Germany, Dietrich Eckart, attacked Steiner and suggested that he was a Jew.[21] In 1921, Adolf Hitler attacked Steiner in an article in the right-wing Völkischen Beobachter newspaper, including accusations that Steiner was a tool of the Jews,[22] and other nationalist extremists in Germany called up a "war against Steiner". The 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich led Steiner to give up his residence in Berlin, saying that if those responsible for the attempted coup [Hitler and others] came to power in Germany, it would no longer be possible for him to enter the country;[23] he also warned against the disastrous effects it would have for Central Europe if the National Socialists came to power.[21]:8

The loss of the Goetheanum affected Steiner's health seriously. From 1923 on, he showed signs of increasing frailness and illness. He continued to lecture widely, and even to travel; especially towards the end of this time, he was often giving two, three or even four lectures daily for courses taking place concurrently. Many of these were for practical areas of life; simultaneously, however, Steiner began an extensive series of lectures presenting his research on the successive incarnations of various individualities, and on the technique of karma research generally.[24]

Increasingly ill, his last lecture was held in September, 1924. He continued to write on his autobiography during the last months of his life; he died on 30 March 1925.

Spiritual research

From his decision to go public in 1899 until his death in 1925, Steiner articulated an ongoing stream of experiences that he claimed were of the spiritual world — experiences he said had touched him from an early age on.[16] Steiner aimed to apply his training in mathematics, science, and philosophy to produce rigorous, verifiable presentations of those experiences.[25]

Steiner believed that through freely chosen ethical disciplines and meditative training, anyone could develop the ability to experience the spiritual world, including the higher nature of oneself and others.[16] Steiner believed that such discipline and training would help a person to become a more moral, creative and free individual - free in the sense of being capable of actions motivated solely by love.[26]

Steiner's ideas about the inner life were influenced by Franz Brentano[16] - with whom he had studied, and Wilhelm Dilthey, both founders of the phenomenological movement in European philosophy, as well as the transcendentalist stream in German philosophy represented by Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling. Steiner was also influenced by Goethe's phenomenological approach to science.[16][27][28]

Steiner led the following esoteric schools:

  • His independent Esoteric School of the Theosophical Society, founded in 1904. This school continued after the break with Theosophy but was disbanded at the start of World War One.
  • A lodge called Mystica Aeterna within the Masonic Order of Memphis and Mizraim, which Steiner led from 1906 until around 1914. Steiner added to the Masonic rite a number of Rosicrucian references.[29] The figure of Christian Rosenkreutz also plays an important role in several of his later lectures.
  • The School of Spiritual Science of the Anthroposophical Society, founded in 1923 as a further development of his earlier Esoteric School. The School of Spiritual Science was intended to have three “classes”, but only the first of these was developed in Steiner's lifetime. All the texts relating to the “School of Spiritual Science” have been published in the full edition of Steiner's works.

Philosophical development

Goethean science

In his commentaries on Goethe's scientific works, written between 1884 and 1897, Steiner presented Goethe's approach to science as essentially phenomenological in nature, rather than theory- or model-based. He developed this conception further in several books, The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception (1886) and Goethe's Conception of the World (1897), particularly emphasizing the transformation in Goethe's approach from the physical sciences, where experiment played the primary role, to plant biology, where imagination was required to find the biological archetypes (Urpflanze), and postulated that Goethe had sought but been unable to fully find the further transformation in scientific thinking necessary to properly interpret and understand the animal kingdom.[30]

Steiner defended Goethe's qualitative description of color as arising synthetically from the polarity of light and darkness, in contrast to Newton's particle-based and analytic conception. He emphasized the role of evolutionary thinking in Goethe's discovery of the intermaxillary bone in human beings; Goethe expected human anatomy to be an evolutionary transformation of animal anatomy.[30]

Knowledge and freedom

Steiner approached the philosophical questions of knowledge and freedom in two stages. The first was his dissertation, published in expanded form in 1892 as Truth and Knowledge. Here Steiner suggests that there is an inconsistency between Kant's philosophy, which postulated that the essential verity of the world was inaccessible to human consciousness, and modern science, which assumes that all influences can be found in what Steiner termed the “sinnlichen und geistlichen” (sensory and mental/spiritual) world to which we have access. Steiner terms Kant's “Jenseits-Philosophie” (philosophy of an inaccessible beyond) a stumbling block in achieving a satisfying philosophical viewpoint.[31]

Steiner postulates that the world is essentially an indivisible unity, but that our consciousness divides it into the sense-perceptible appearance, on the one hand, and the formal nature accessible to our thinking, on the other. He sees in thinking itself an element that can be strengthened and deepened sufficiently to penetrate all that our senses do not reveal to us. Steiner thus explicitly denies all justification to a division between faith and knowledge; otherwise expressed, between the spiritual and natural worlds. Their apparent duality is conditioned by the structure of our consciousness, which separates perception and thinking, but these two faculties give us two complementary views of the same world; neither has primacy and the two together are necessary and sufficient to arrive at a complete understanding of the world. In thinking about perception (the path of natural science) and perceiving the process of thinking (the path of spiritual training), it is possible to discover a hidden inner unity between the two poles of our experience.[26]:Chapter 4

Truth, for Steiner, is paradoxically both an objective discovery and yet:

"a free creation of the human spirit, that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality."[32]

A new stage of Steiner's philosophical development is expressed in his Philosophy of Freedom. Here, he further explores potentials within thinking: freedom, he suggests, can only be approached asymptotically and with the aid of the "creative activity" of thinking. Thinking can be a free deed; in addition, it can liberate our will from its subservience to our instincts and drives. Free deeds, he suggests, are those for which we are fully conscious of the motive for our action; freedom is the spiritual activity of penetrating with consciousness our own nature and that of the world,[33] and the real activity of acting in full consciousness.[26]:133-4 This includes overcoming influences of both heredity and environment: "To be free is to be capable of thinking one's own thoughts - not the thoughts merely of the body, or of society, but thoughts generated by one's deepest, most original, most essential and spiritual self, one's individuality."[11]

Steiner affirms Darwin's and Haeckel's evolutionary perspectives but extends this beyond its materialistic consequences; he sees human consciousness, indeed, all human culture, as a product of natural evolution that transcends itself. For Steiner, nature becomes self-conscious in the human being. Steiner's description of the nature of human consciousness thus closely parallels that of Solovyov:[34]

In human beings, the absolute subject-object appears as such, i.e. as pure spiritual activity, containing all of its own objectivity, the whole process of its natural manifestation, but containing it totally ideally - in consciousness....The subject knows here only its own activity as an objective activity (sub specie object). Thus, the original identity of subject and object is restored in philosophical knowledge.[35]

Spiritual science

In his earliest works, Steiner already spoke of the "natural and spiritual worlds" as a unity.[16] From 1900 on, he began lecturing about concrete details of the spiritual world(s), culminating in the publication in 1904 of the first of several systematic presentations, his Theosophy: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos, followed by How to Know Higher Worlds (1904/5), Cosmic Memory (a collection of articles written between 1904 and 1908), and An Outline of Esoteric Science (1910). Important themes include:

  • the human being as body, soul and spirit;
  • the path of spiritual development;
  • spiritual influences on world-evolution and history; and
  • reincarnation and karma.

Steiner emphasized that there is an objective natural and spiritual world that can be known, and that perceptions of the spiritual world and incorporeal beings are, under conditions of training comparable to that required for the natural sciences, including self-discipline, replicable by multiple observers. It is on this basis that spiritual science is possible, with radically different epistemological foundations than those of natural science.

For Steiner, the cosmos is permeated and continually transformed by the creative activity of non-physical processes and spiritual beings. For the human being to become conscious of the objective reality of these processes and beings, it is necessary to creatively enact and reenact, within, their creative activity. Thus objective spiritual knowledge always entails creative inner activity.[16] Steiner articulated three stages of any creative deed:[26]:Pt II, Chapter 1

  • Moral intuition: the ability to discover or, preferably, develop valid ethical principles;
  • Moral imagination: the imaginative transformation of such principles into a concrete intention applicable to the particular situation (situational ethics); and
  • Moral technique: the realization of the intended transformation, depending on a mastery of practical skills.

Steiner termed his work from this period on Anthroposophy. He emphasized that the spiritual path he articulated builds upon and supports individual freedom and independent judgment; for the results of spiritual research to be appropriately presented in a modern context they must be in a form accessible to logical understanding, so that those who do not have access to the spiritual experiences underlying anthroposophical research can make independent evaluations of the latter's results.[26] Spiritual training is to support what Steiner considered the overall purpose of human evolution, the development of the mutually interdependent qualities of love and freedom.[11]

Breadth of activity

After the First World War, Steiner became active in a wide variety of cultural contexts. He founded a school, known as the Waldorf school,[36] which later evolved into a worldwide school network. The agricultural system he founded, now known as Biodynamic agriculture, was one of the initial forms of and has contributed significantly to the development of modern organic farming.[37] His work in medicine has led to the development of a broad range of complementary medications and supportive artistic and biographic therapies.[38] Homes for children and adults with developmental disabilities based on his work (including those of the Camphill movement) are widespread.[39] His paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and he influenced Joseph Beuys and other significant modern artists. His two Goetheanum buildings are generally accepted to be masterpieces of modern architecture,[40][41] and other anthroposophical architects have contributed thousands of buildings to the modern scene. One of the first institutions to practice ethical banking was an anthroposophical bank working out of Steiner's ideas.

Steiner's literary estate is correspondingly broad. Steiner's writings are published in about forty volumes, including books, essays, plays ('mystery dramas'), mantric verse and an autobiography. His collected lectures, making up another approximately 300 volumes, discuss an extremely wide range of themes. Steiner's drawings, chiefly illustrations done on blackboards during his lectures, are collected in a separate series of 28 volumes. Many publications have covered his architectural legacy and sculptural work.


As a young man, Steiner already supported the independence of educational institutions from governmental control. In 1907, he wrote a long essay, entitled "Education in the Light of Spiritual Science", in which he described the major phases of child development and suggested that these would be the basis of a healthy approach to education.

In 1919, Emil Molt invited him to lecture on the topic of education to the workers at Molt's factory in Stuttgart. Out of this came a new school, the Waldorf school. During Steiner's lifetime, schools based on his educational principles were also founded in Hamburg, Essen, The Hague and London; there are now more than 1000 Waldorf schools worldwide.

Social activism

For a period after World War I, Steiner was extremely active as a lecturer on social questions. A petition expressing his basic social ideas (signed by Herman Hesse, among others) was very widely circulated. His main book on social questions, Toward Social Renewal, sold tens of thousands of copies. Today around the world there are a number of innovative banks, companies, charitable institutions, and schools for developing new cooperative forms of business, all working partly out of Steiner's social ideas.

Steiner suggested that the cultural, political and economic spheres of society needed to be sufficiently independent of one another to be able to mutually correct each other in an ongoing way. He suggested that human society had been moving slowly, over thousands of years, toward articulation of society into three independent yet mutually corrective realms, and that a Threefold Social Order was not some utopia that could be implemented in a day or even a century. It was a gradual process that he expected would continue to develop for thousands of years. Nevertheless, he gave many specific suggestions for social reforms that he thought would increase the threefold articulation of society. He believed in equality of human rights for political life, individual freedom in cultural life (including the sciences, arts, education and religion), and voluntary, uncoerced cooperation between organizations of producers, distributors and consumers to provide solidarity in economic life.[42]

First Goetheanum.

Architecture and visual arts

Steiner designed 17 buildings, including the First and Second Goetheanums. These two buildings, built in Dornach, Switzerland, were intended to house a University for Spiritual Science. Three of Steiner's buildings, including both Goetheanum buildings, have been listed amongst the most significant works of modern architecture.[43]

As a sculptor, his works include The Representative of Humanity (1922). This nine-meter high wood sculpture was a joint project with the sculptor Edith Maryon; it is on permanent display at the Goetheanum in Dornach.

The Representative of Humanity (detail).

Steiner's blackboard drawings were unique at the time and almost certainly not originally intended as art works. Josef Beuys' work, itself heavily influenced by Steiner, has led to the modern understanding of Steiner's drawings as artistic objects.[44]

Performing arts

Together with Marie Steiner-von Sivers, Rudolf Steiner developed the art of Eurythmy, sometimes referred to as "visible speech and visible song". According to the principles of Eurythmy, there are archetypal movements or gestures that correspond to every aspect of speech - the sounds, or phonemes, the rhythms, the grammatical function, and so on - to every "soul quality" - laughing, despair, intimacy, etc. - and to every aspect of music - tones, intervals, rhythms, harmonies, etc.

As a playwright, Steiner wrote four "Mystery Dramas" between 1909 and 1913, including The Portal of Initiation and The Soul's Awakening. They are still performed today by Anthroposophical groups.

Steiner also founded a new approach to artistic speech and drama; see his Speech and Drama Course. Various ensembles work with this approach, called "speech formation" (Ger.:Sprachgestaltung), and trainings exist in various countries, including England, the United States, Switzerland, and Germany; see a list of trainings. The actor Michael Chekhov extended this approach in what is now known as the Chekhov method [45]

Anthroposophical medicine

From the late 1910s, Steiner was working with doctors to create a new approach to medicine. In 1921, pharmacists and physicians gathered under Steiner's guidance to create a pharmaceutical company called Weleda, which now distributes natural medical products worldwide. At around the same time, Dr. Ita Wegman founded a first anthroposophic medical clinic in Arlesheim, Switzerland (now called the Wegman Clinic).

Steiner's descriptions of certain bodily organs and their functions sometimes differ significantly from those found in medical textbooks. He stated, for example, that the heart is not a mechanical pump but a dynamic regulator of circulatory flow.[citation needed]

Biodynamic farming & gardening

Biodynamic agriculture, or biodynamics, comprises an ecological and sustainable farming system, that includes many of the ideas of organic farming (but predates the term). In 1924, a group of farmers concerned about the future of agriculture requested Steiner's help; Steiner responded with a lecture series on agriculture. This was the origin of biodynamic agriculture, which is now practiced throughout much of Europe, North America, and Australasia.[46] A central concept of these lectures was to "individualize" the farm by bringing no or few outside materials onto the farm, but producing all needed materials such as manure and animal feed from within what he called the "farm organism". Other aspects of biodynamic farming inspired by Steiner's lectures include timing activities such as planting in relation to the movement patterns of the moon and planets and applying "preparations", which consist of natural materials which have been processed in specific ways, to soil, compost piles, and plants with the intention of engaging non-physical beings and elemental forces. Steiner, in his lectures, encouraged his listeners to verify his suggestions scientifically, as he had not yet done.

The early decades of the twentieth-century agriculture started using inorganic fertilizers such as nitrogen "condensed" from the air and subsequently applied to the fields. Steiner believed that the introduction of this chemical farming was a very detrimental. Stating "Mineral manuring is a thing that must cease altogether in time, for the effect of every kind of mineral manure, after a time, is that the products grown on the fields thus treated lose their nutritive value. It is an absolutely general law." [47] Steiner was convinced that the quality of food in his time had degraded, and he believed the source of the problem was chemical farming's use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, however he did not believe this was only because of the chemical or biological properties relating to the substances involved, but also due to spiritual shortcomings in the whole chemical approach to farming. Steiner considered the world and everything in it as simultaneously spiritual and material in nature, an approach termed monism. He also believed that living matter was different from dead matter. In other words, Steiner believed synthetic nutrients were not the same as their more living counterparts.[48]

The name "biologically dynamic" or "biodynamic" was coined by Steiner's adherents. A central aspect of biodynamics is that the farm as a whole is seen as an organism, and therefore should be a closed self-nourishing system, which the preparations nourish. Disease of organisms is not to be tackled in isolation but is a symptom of problems in the whole organism.

Biodynamic farming has had a significant influence on agriculture in some countries, including Germany, Switzerland and India.[49]

Steiner and Christianity

In 1899 Steiner experienced what he described as a life-transforming inner encounter with the being of Christ; previously he had little or no relation to Christianity in any form. Then and thereafter, his relationship to Christianity remained entirely founded upon personal experience, and thus both non-denominational and strikingly different from conventional religious forms.[11]

Christ and human evolution

Steiner describes Christ's being and mission on earth as having a central place in human evolution:[50]

The being of Christ is central to all religions, though called by different names by each.
Every religion is valid and true for the time and cultural context in which it was born.
Historical forms of Christianity need to be transformed considerably in our times in order to meet the on-going evolution of humanity.

It is the being that unifies all religions — and not a particular religious faith — that Steiner saw as the central force in human evolution. He understood Christ's incarnation as a historical reality, and a pivotal point in human history, however. The "Christ Being" is for Steiner not only the Redeemer of the Fall from Paradise, but also the unique pivot and meaning of earth's "evolutionary" processes and of all human history.[50] The essence of being "Christian" is, for Steiner, a search for balance between polarizing extremes[50]:102-3 and the ability to manifest love in freedom.[11]

Divergence from conventional Christian thought

Steiner's views of Christianity diverge from conventional Christian thought in key places, and include gnostic elements.[30] One of the central points of divergence is found in Steiner's views on reincarnation and karma.

Steiner also posited two different Jesus children involved in the Incarnation of the Christ: one child descended from Solomon, as described in the Gospel of Matthew; the other child from Nathan, as described in the Gospel of Luke.[42] He references in this regard the fact that the genealogies given in these two gospels diverge some thirty generations before Jesus' birth.

Steiner's view of the second coming of Christ is also unusual. He suggested that this would not be a physical reappearance, but rather, meant that the Christ being would become manifest in non-physical form, in the "etheric realm" — i.e. visible to spiritual vision and apparent in community life — for increasing numbers of people, beginning around the year 1933. He emphasized that the future would require humanity to recognize this Spirit of Love in all its genuine forms, regardless of how this is named. He also warned that the traditional name, "Christ", might be used, yet the true essence of this Being of Love ignored.[30]

The Christian Community

In the 1920s, Steiner was approached by Friedrich Rittelmeyer, a Lutheran pastor with a congregation in Berlin. Rittelmeyer asked if it was possible to create a more modern form of Christianity. Soon others joined Rittelmeyer — mostly Protestant pastors and theology students, but including several Roman Catholic priests. Steiner offered counsel on renewing the sacraments of their various services, combining Catholicism's emphasis on the rites of a sacred tradition with the emphasis on freedom of thought and a personal relationship to religious life characteristic of modern, Johannine Christianity.[42]

Steiner made it clear, however, that the resulting movement for the renewal of Christianity, which became known as "The Christian Community", was a personal gesture of help to a movement founded by Rittelmeyer and others independently of the Anthroposophical Society.[42] The distinction was important to Steiner because he sought with Anthroposophy to create a scientific, not faith-based, spirituality.[50] For those who wished to find more traditional forms, however, a renewal of the traditional religions was also a vital need of the times.

Reception and controversy

Steiner's work has influenced a broad range of noted personalities. These include the philosophers Albert Schweitzer, Owen Barfield and Richard Tarnas; the writers Saul Bellow[51] Michael Ende, Selma Lagerlöf[52], Andrej Belyj[53][54], David Spangler, William Irwin Thompson, and esotericist writer Édouard SchurĂ©; the artists Josef Beuys[55], Wassily Kandinsky;[56][57], and the Australian artist Murray Griffin[58], actor and acting teacher Michael Chekhov; cinema director Andrei Tarkovsky;[59] and conductor Bruno Walter.[60] Olav Hammer, though sharply critical of esoteric movements generally, terms Steiner "arguably the most historically and philosophically sophisticated spokesperson of the Esoteric Tradition."[61]

Albert Schweitzer wrote that he and Steiner had in common that they had "taken on the life mission of working for the emergence of a true culture enlivened by the ideal of humanity and to encourage people to become truly thinking beings"[62].


Olav Hammer critiques as scientism Steiner's claim to use a scientific methodology to investigate spiritual phenomena based upon his claims of clairvoyant experience.[61] Steiner regarded the "observations" of spiritual research as more dependable (and above all, consistent) than observations of physical reality yet considered spiritual research as fallible[8] and, perhaps surprisingly, held the view that anyone capable of thinking logically was in a position to correct errors by spiritual researchers.[63]

Race and ethnicity

Steiner's work includes both universalist, humanist elements and historically-influenced racial assumptions.[64] Due to the contrast and even contradictions between these elements, "whether a given reader interprets Anthroposophy as racist or not depends upon that reader's concerns."[65] Steiner considered that every people has a unique essence, which he called its soul or spirit,[61] saw race as a physical manifestation of humanity's spiritual evolution and at times seemed to place races into a complex hierarchy largely derived from contemporary theosophical views, yet he consistently and explicitly subordinated the role of hereditary factors, including race and ethnicity, to individual factors in development;[65] the human individuality, for Steiner, is centered in a person's unique ego, not the body's accidental qualities.[17] More specifically:

Steiner characterized specific races, nations, and ethnicities in ways that have been termed racist by critics[66] including characterizations of various races and ethnic groups as flowering, others as backward or destined to disappear;[65] and hierarchical views of the spiritual evolution of different races,[67] including - at times, and inconsistently - portraying the white race, European culture, or the Germanic culture as representing the high-point of human evolution as of the early 20th century, though describing these as destined to be superseded by future cultures.[65] Nevertheless, his views about German culture were not ethnically based; he saw this culture, in particular Goethe and the German transcendentalists, as the source of spiritual ideals that were of central importance both for the immediate region and for the world.[68]

Throughout his life, Steiner consistently emphasized the core spiritual unity of all the world's peoples and sharply criticized racial prejudice. He articulated beliefs that the individual nature of any person stands higher than any racial, ethnic, national or religious affiliation;[5][42] that race and ethnicity are transient and superficial, not essential aspects of the individual;[65] that each individual incarnates in many different peoples and races over successive lives, thus bearing within him- or herself a range of races and peoples;[65][69] and that race is rapidly losing any remaining significance for humanity.[65]

Above all, Steiner considered "race, folk, ethnicity and gender" to be general, describable categories into which individuals may choose to fit, but from which free human beings can and will liberate themselves.[17]


During the years when Steiner was best known as a literary critic, he published a series of articles attacking various manifestations of Antisemitism[70] and criticizing some of the most prominent anti-Semites of the time as "barbaric" and "enemies of culture".[71] Towards the end of his life and after his death, massive defamatory press attacks against Steiner were undertaken by early National Socialist leaders (including Adolf Hitler) and other right-wing nationalists. These criticized Steiner's thought, and Anthroposophy, as being incompatible with National Socialist racist ideology and charged both that Steiner was influenced by his close connections with Jews and that he was himself Jewish.[21][71] On a number of occasions, Steiner promoted full assimilation of the Jewish people into the nations in which they lived, a stance that has come under criticism in recent years.[65] He was also a critic of his contemporary Theodor Herzl's goal of a Zionist state (and critiqued the idea of ethnically-determined nations elsewhere).


  1. ^ Rudolf Steiner Autobiography: Chapters in the Course of My Life: 1861-1907, xvi Lantern Books, 2006 ISBN 088010600X [1]
  2. ^ Steiner's autobiography gives his date of birth as 27 February 1861. However, there is an undated autobiographical fragment written by Steiner, referred to in a footnote in his autobiography in German (GA 28), that says, "My birth fell on the 25th of February 1861. Two days later I was baptized." See Christoph Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner, Rowohlt 1992, ISBN 3-499-50500-2, p. 8. In 2009 new documentation appeared supporting a date of 27 Feb.: see GĂŒnter Aschoff, "Rudolf Steiners Geburtstag am 27. Februar 1861 - Neue Dokumente", Das Goetheanum 2009/9, pp. 3ff
  3. ^ Some of the literature regarding Steiner's work in these various fields: Goulet, P: “Les Temps Modernes?”, L'Architecture D'Aujourd'hui, December 1982, pp. 8-17; Architect Rudolf Steiner at; Rudolf Steiner International Architecture Database; Brennan, M.: Rudolf Steiner ArtNet Magazine, 18 March 1998; Blunt, R.: Waldorf Education: Theory and Practice — A Background to the Educational Thought of Rudolf Steiner. Master Thesis, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 1995; Ogletree, E.J.: Rudolf Steiner: Unknown Educator, Elementary School Journal, 74(6): 344-352, March 1974; Nilsen, A.:A Comparison of Waldorf & Montessori Education, University of Michigan; Rinder, L: Rudolf Steiner's Blackboard Drawings: An Aesthetic Perspective and exhibition of Rudolf Steiner's Blackboard Drawings, at Berkeley Art Museum, 11 October 1997 – 4 January 1998; AurĂ©lie ChonĂ©, “Rudolf Steiner's Mystery Plays: Literary Transcripts of an Esoteric Gnosis and/or Esoteric Attempt at Reconciliation between Art and Science?”, Aries, Volume 6, Number 1, 2006, pp. 27-58(32), Brill publishing; Christopher Schaefer, “Rudolf Steiner as a Social Thinker”, Re-vision Vol 15, 1992; and Antoine Faivre, Jacob Needleman, Karen Voss; Modern Esoteric Spirituality, Crossroad Publishing, 1992.
  4. ^ “Who was Rudolf Steiner and what were his revolutionary teaching ideas?” Richard Garner, Education Editor, The Independent
  5. ^ a b c Christoph Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner, Rowohlt 1992, ISBN 3-499-50500-2, pp. 123-6
  6. ^ Rudolf Steiner, “Goethean Science”, GA1, 1883
  7. ^ Helmut Zander, Schweizer Fernsehen, Sternstunden Philosophie: Die Anthroposophie Rudolf Steiners, program aired Feb. 15, 2009
  8. ^ a b Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, Göttingen, 2007, ISBN 3525554524.
  9. ^ Alfred Heidenreich, Rudolf Steiner - A Biographical Sketch
  10. ^ Steiner, Rudolf, The Course of My Life, Chapter III and GA 262, pp. 7-21. Fichte is mentioned by Alfred Heidenreich; see this article, but his reference to Steiner's autobiography as the source for this seems to be erroneous.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Robert A. McDermott, "Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy", in Faivre and Needleman, Modern Esoteric Spirituality, ISBN 0-8245-1444-0, p. 288ff
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ | Rudolf Steiner | Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception | 1886
  14. ^ Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science Mercury Press, 1988 ISBN 0936132922, ISBN 9780936132921 | Rudolf Steiner | Goethean Science | 1883
  15. ^ a b Steiner, The Story of My Life, chapter 18
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Gary Lachman, Rudolf Steiner, Tarcher/Penguin 2007.
  17. ^ a b c Lorenzo Ravagli, Zanders ErzÀhlungen, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-8305-1613-2, pp. 184f
  18. ^ "Home of Theosophy Burns", New York Times Jan 2, 1923.
  19. ^ "Riot at Munich Lecture", New York Times, 17 May 1922.
  20. ^ The accusation was published in the Frankfurter Zeitung, 4 March 1921
  21. ^ a b c Uwe Werner, Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, Munich (1999), p. 7.
  22. ^ Völkische Beobachter, 15 March 1921
  23. ^ Wiesberger, Die Krise der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft 1923
  24. ^ Lindenberg, Christoph, Rudolf Steiner: Eine Biographie Vol. II, Chapter 52. ISBN 3-7725-1551-7
  25. ^ Lindenberg, "Schritte auf dem Weg zur Erweiterung der Erkenntnis", pp. 77ff
  26. ^ a b c d e Peter Schneider, EinfĂŒhrung in die WaldorfpĂ€dagogik, ISBN 3-608-93006-X
  27. ^ BockemĂŒhl, J., Toward a Phenomenology of the Etheric World ISBN 0-88010-115-6
  28. ^ Edelglass, S. et al., The Marriage of Sense and Thought, ISBN 0-940262-82-7.
  29. ^ Ellic Howe: The Magicians of the Golden Dawn London 1985, Routledge, pp 262 ff
  30. ^ a b c d Johannes Hemleben, Rudolf Steiner: A documentary biography, Henry Goulden Ltd, 1975, ISBN 090482202-8, pp. 37-49 and pp. 96-100 (German edition: Rowohlt Verlag, 1990, ISBN 349950079-5)
  31. ^ Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay, Free Press-Simon and Schuster, 1996. Storr quotes Steiner p72, "If, however, we regard the sum of all percepts as the one part and contrast with this a second part, namely the things-in-themselves, then we are philosophising into the blue. We are merely playing with concepts."
  32. ^ Steiner, Rudolf, Truth and Science, Preface.
  33. ^ "To be conscious of the laws underlying one's actions is to be conscious of one's freedom. The process of knowing [Erkenntnis] is the process of development towards freedom." Steiner, GA3, pp. 91f, quoted in Rist and Schneider, p. 134
  34. ^ Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, ISBN 0712673326
  35. ^ Solovyov, Vladimir, The Crisis of Western Philosophy, Lindisfarne 1996 pp. 42-3
  36. ^ IN CONTEXT #6, Summer 1984
  37. ^ ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
  38. ^ Evans, M. and Rodger, I. Anthroposophical Medicine: Treating Body, Soul and Spirit
  39. ^ Camphill list of communities
  40. ^ Both Goetheanum buildings are listed as among the most significant 100 buildings of modern architecture by Goulet, Patrice, Les Temps Modernes?, L'Architecture D'Aujourd'hui, December 1982
  41. ^ Great Buildings Online
  42. ^ a b c d e Robert McDermott, The Essential Steiner, Harper San Francisco 1984 ISBN 0-06-065345-0
  43. ^ Goulet, P: "Les Temps Modernes?", L'Architecture D'Aujourd'hui, Dec. 1982, pp. 8-17.
  44. ^ Lawrence Rinder, Rudolf Steiner: An Aesthetic Perspective
  45. ^ Byckling, L: Michael Chekhov as Actor, Teacher and Director in the West. Toronto Slavic Quarterly No 1 - Summer 2002. University of Toronto, Academic Electronic Journal in Slavic Studies.
  46. ^ Groups in N. America, List of Demeter certifying organizations, Other biodynamic certifying organization,Some farms in the world
  47. ^ Agriculture Course, Rudolf Steiner (1924) This quote appears in the discussion after the sixth lecture.
  48. ^ Steve Diver, Biodynamic Farming & Compost Preparation
  49. ^ How to Save the World: One Man, One Cow, One Planet; Thomas Burstyn
  50. ^ a b c d Carlo Willmann, WaldorfpÀdagogik: Theologische und religionspÀdagogische Befunde, Kölner Veröffentlichungen zur Religionsgeschichte, Volume 27, ISBN 3-412-16700-2, especially Chapters 1.3, 1.4
  51. ^ Robert Fulford, "Bellow: the novelist as homespun philosopher", The National Post, 23 October 2000
  52. ^ Selma Lagerlöf - Biography
  53. ^ Andrey Bely
  54. ^ J.D. Elsworth, Andrej Bely:A Critical Study of the Novels, Cambridge:1983, cf. [3]
  55. ^ John F. Moffitt, "Occultism in Avant-Garde Art: The Case of Joseph Beuys", Art Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, (Spring, 1991), pp. 96-98
  56. ^ Peg Weiss, "Kandinsky and Old Russia: The Artist as Ethnographer and Shaman", The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 371-373
  57. ^ Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction 1908 - 1922
  58. ^ Alana O'Brien, In Search of the Spiritual: Murray Griffin's View of the Supersensible World, La Trobe University Museum of Art, 2009
  59. ^ [|The Topics:: Layla Alexander Garrett on Tarkovsky ]
  60. ^ Bruno Walter, "Mein Weg zur Anthroposophie". In: Das Goetheanum 52 (1961), 418–2
  61. ^ a b c Olav Hammer, Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age, Brill 2004, pp. 329; 64f; 225-8; 176. See also p. 98, where Hammer states that - unusually for founders of esoteric movements - Steiner's self-descriptions of the origins of his thought and work correspond to the view of external historians.
  62. ^ Albert Schweitzer: Friendship with Rudolf Steiner
  63. ^ Steiner: "It may even happen that a researcher who has the power of perception in supersensible realms may fall into error in his logical presentation, and that someone who has no supersensible perception, but who has the capacity for sound thinking, may correct him."Occult Science, Chapter IV
  64. ^ Staudenmaier, Peter (February 2008). "Race and Redemption". Nova Religio (University of California Press): 4ff. 
  65. ^ a b c d e f g h "Es hÀngt dabei von den Interessen der Leser ab, ob die Anthroposophie rassistisch interpretiert wird oder nicht." Helmut Zander, "Sozialdarwinistische Rassentheorien aus dem okkulten Untergrund des Kaiserreichs", in Puschner et al., Handbuch zur "Völkischen Bewegung" 1871-1918: 1996.
  66. ^ Arno Frank, "EinschĂŒchterung auf Waldorf-Art", Die Tageszeitung Aug 4, 2000.
  67. ^ Corinna Treitel, A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern, Johns Hopkins Press, ISBN 0-8018-7812-8, p. 103
  68. ^ Perry Myers, "Colonial consciousness: Rudolf Steiner's Orientalism and German Cultural Identity", Journal of European Studies 36(4): 387-417
  69. ^ Eugen Blume, "Joseph Beuys". In Kugler and Baur, Rudolf Steiner in Kunst und Architektur, ISBN 3832190120, p. 186
  70. ^ Mitteilungen aus dem Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus, 11(37):307-8, September 11, 1901. Article. Mitteilungen, 11(38):316, 18 September 1901. Article. Cf. GA31 for a complete list and text of articles.
  71. ^ a b "Hammer und Hakenkreuz – Anthroposophie im Visier der völkischen Bewegung", SĂŒdwestrundfunk, 26 Nov. 2004


The more than 350 volumes of Steiner's collected works include about forty volumes containing his writings as well as over 6000 lectures.

Writings (selection)

Works about Steiner by other authors

  • Ahern, Geoffrey Sun at Midnight. The Rudolf Steiner Movement and Gnosis in the West, 2nd edition 2009, ISBN 978-0-227-17293-3
  • Ahern, Geoffrey Sun at Midnight. The Rudolf Steiner Movement and the Western Esoteric Tradition 1984, ISBN 0-85030-338-9
  • Almon, Joan (ed.) Meeting Rudolf Steiner, firsthand experiences compiled from the Journal for Anthroposophy since 1960, ISBN 0-9674562-8-2
  • Childs, Gilbert, Rudolf Steiner: His Life and Work, ISBN 0-88010-391-4
  • Davy, Adams and Merry, A Man Before Others: Rudolf Steiner Remembered. Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993.
  • Easton, Stewart, Rudolf Steiner: Herald of a New Epoch, ISBN 0-910142-93-9
  • Hemleben, Johannes and Twyman,Leo, Rudolf Steiner: An Illustrated Biography. Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001.
  • Lachman, Gary, Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work, 2007, ISBN 1-58542-543-5
  • Lindenberg, Christoph, Rudolf Steiner: Eine Biographie (2 vols.). Stuttgart, 1997, ISBN 3-7725-1551-7
  • Lissau, Rudi, Rudolf Steiner: Life, Work, Inner Path and Social Initiatives. Hawthorne Press, 2000.
  • McDermott, Robert, The Essential Steiner. Harper Press, 1984
  • Seddon, Richard, Rudolf Steiner. North Atlantic Books, 2004.
  • Shepherd, A.P., Rudolf Steiner: Scientist of the Invisible. Inner Traditions, 1990.
  • Schiller, Paul, Rudolf Steiner and Initiation. Steiner Books, 1990.
  • Swassjan, Karen, The Ultimate Communion of Mankind: A Celebration of Rudolf Steiner's Book "The Philosophy of Freedom", ISBN 0-904693-82-1
  • Tummer, Lia and Lato, Horacio, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy for Beginners. Writers & Readers Publishing, 2001.
  • Turgeniev, Assya, Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Work on the First Goetheanum, ISBN 1-902636-40-6
  • Welburn, Andrew, Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy and the Crisis of Contemporary Thought, ISBN 0-86315-436-0
  • Wilkinson, Roy, Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to his Spiritual World-View, ISBN 1902636287

External links

Articles about Steiner


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Rudolf Steiner (27 February 1861 – 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator, and social thinker. He is the founder of anthroposophy, a spiritual movement that generated many practical endeavors, including Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophical medicine.



  • To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.
    • Verses and Meditations
  • Live through deeds of love, and let others live with tolerance for their unique intentions.
  • Truth is a free creation of the human spirit, that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.
  • Each individual is a species unto him/herself.
    • Theosophy: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos (1904)
  • Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe... Anthroposophists are those who experience, as an essential need of life, certain questions on the nature of the human being and the universe, just as one experiences hunger and thirst.
    • Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts (1924)
  • Goethe's thinking was mobile. It followed the whole growth process of the plant and followed how one plant form is a modification of the other. Goethe's thinking was not rigid with inflexible contours; it was a thinking in which the concepts continually metamorphose. Thereby his concepts became, if I may put it this way, intimately adapted to the process that plant nature itself goes through.
    • Lecture from August 30, 1921, trans. Craig Holdrege
  • You have no idea how unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say on the surface, and how important what he himself is as teacher.
    • Curative Education, lect. 2
  • Those who judge human beings according to generic characteristics only reach the boundary, beyond which people begin to be beings whose activity is based on free self-determination....Characteristics of race, tribe, ethnic group and gender are subjects for special sciences....But all these sciences cannot penetrate through to the special nature of the individual. Where the realm of freedom of thought and action begin, the determination of individuals according to generic laws ends.
    • Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path. A Philosophy of Freedom (GA 4), Hudson (1894)/1995.
  • ... as regards ... what is independent of our bodily makeup we are all individually made; each one of us is his or her own self, an individual. With the exception of the far less important differences that show up as racial or national differences ... but which are (if you have a sense for this you cannot help noticing it) mere trifles by comparison with differences in individual gifts and skills: with the exception of these we are all equal as human beings ... as regards our external, physical humanity. We are equal as human beings, here in the physical world, specifically in that we all have the same human form and all manifest a human countenance. The fact that we all bear a human countenance and encounter one another as external, physical human beings... this makes us equal on this footing. We differ from one another in our individual gifts which, however, belong to our inner nature.
    • Education as a Force for Social Change (in GA 192), Hudson 1997, lecture of 23 April 1919.


  • A healthy social life arises when the whole community finds its reflection in the mirror of person's soul, and when the virtue of each person lives in the whole community.
    • Steiner's "fundamental maxim of social life"
  • Receive the children in reverence; educate them in love; let them go forth in freedom.
    • Rudolf Steiner

Quotes about Rudolf Steiner

  • [Rudolf Steiner] taught a number of things in which I have long believed, among them that it is no longer possible in our time to offer a religion full of unsubstantiated miracles, but rather that religion must be a science which can be proven. It is no longer a question of belief, but of knowing. Further, we acquire knowledge of the spiritual world through steady, conscious, systematic thinking.
  • When it falls to the lot of his first biographer to recount the life of this great man, then, and only then, will the full extent of Rudolf Steiner's achievements and their, in the highest human sense, creative nature be revealed. Then men will view with profound amazement ... what irreplaceable strength and support [humanity] has received from this man's mind while this age hurtles onwards into the terrifying wasteland of materialism.
  • One of us, I no longer remember which one, began to speak of the spiritual decline of culture as the fundamental, unremarked problem of our times. We realized that both of us were occupied with this question; neither had expected this of the other. A lively discussion ensued. Each of us experienced from one another that we had taken on the same mission in life: to strive for the rise of true culture enlivened and formed by humane ideals, and to stimulate people to become truly thoughtful human beings. We took leave of one another in this consciousness of solidarity....We each followed one another's work. To take part in Rudolf Steiner's high flight of thought of spiritual science was not given to me. I know, however, that in this he lifted up and renewed many people, and his disciples attained exceptional accomplishments in many realms. I have rejoiced at the achievement which his great personality and his profound humanity have brought about in the world.[1]
  • Steiner offers us a world view that gives a reasonable place to the development of man in the spiritual area. And if you earlier in a serious way could take a materialistic position and explain the meaning of life and society on a physical-material basis, that is not any more possible today. Today, we need other views, we must develop our spiritual essence and finally ask the question about the meaning of life.
  • Steiner (1861-1925) was an extraordinary pioneer ... and one of the most comprehensive psychological and philosophical visionaries of his time ... his overall vision is as moving as one could imagine.
  • ... meeting a man of such a magnetic personality at so early a stage, when he yielded himself to the younger people around him in friendship and without dogmatizing, was an incalculable gain for me. In his fantastic and at the same time profound knowledge I realized that true universality, which we, with the overweening pride of high school boys, thought we had already mastered, was not to be gained by flighty reading and discussion, but only by years of burning endeavor.
  • The scriptures of Steiner's church include Cosmic Memory, Karmic Relationships, Christianity as Mystical Fact, Rosicrucian Esotericism, The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, and a hundred or so other volumes with confusing titles and bewildering contents. For the Anthroposophist- and even for the open-minded sceptic- they are full of important insights. But their sheer quantity constitutes an enormous obstacle between Steiner and the intelligent reader. Steiner's incredible industry was self defeating. The mountain of titles, the avalanche of ideas, obscures the clarity and simplicity of his basic insight. Nevertheless, for the reader who declines to be discouraged, the rewards can be enormous. Once the basic insight has been grasped, we can begin to understand the source of those tremendous mental energies, and the sheer breadth of Steiner's vision. It hardly matters that there is a great deal that we may find unacceptable, or even repellent. What is so absorbing is to be in contact with a mind that was capable of this astonishing range of inner experience. Steiner was a man who had discovered an important secret; his books are fascinating because they contain continual glimpses of this secret. We may read them critically, wondering where Steiner was 'amplifying' genuine intuitions, and where he was amplifying his own dreams and imaginings. We may even conclude that Swedenborg, Blake, and Madame Blavatsky had all developed the same power of amplification, and that Steiner's visions of angelic hierarchies are no truer than Swedenborg's visions of heaven and hell, Blake's visions of the daughters of Albion, or Madame Blavatsky's visions of the giants of Atlantis. But all that is beside the point. The real point is that this faculty of amplification is our human birthright, and that anyone who can grasp this can learn to pass through that door to the inner universe as easily as he could stroll through the entrance of the British Museum.

Note: Most of the quotes in this section can be found here


  1. ↑ „Einer von uns beiden, ich weiß nicht mehr, welcher, kam darauf, vom geistigen Niedergang der Kultur als dem fundamentalen, unbeachteten Problem unserer Zeit zu sprechen. Da erfuhren wir, dass wir beide mit ihm beschĂ€ftigt waren. Keiner hatte es von dem anderen erwartet. Eine lebhafte Aussprache kam alsbald in Gang. Einer von dem anderen erfuhren wir, dass wir uns als Lebensaufgabe dasselbe vornahmen, sich um das Aufkommen der wahren, vom HumanitĂ€tsideal belebten und beherrschten Kultur zu bemĂŒhen, und die Menschen dazu anzuhalten, wahrhaft denkende Menschen zu werden. In diesem Bewusstsein der Zusammengehörigkeit verabschiedeten wir uns. (...) das Bewusstsein der Zusammengehörigkeit blieb. Ein jeder verfolgte das Wirken des andern. Rudolf Steiners hohen Gedankenflug der Geisteswissenschaft mitzumachen, war mir nicht verliehen. Ich weiß aber, dass er in diesem so manchen Menschen mit emporriss und neue Menschen aus ihnen machte. In seiner JĂŒngerschaft sind hervorragende Leistungen auf so manchem Gebiete vollbracht worden." Albert Schweitzer, Werke aus dem Nachlaß, 2003, pp. 229-231.

External links

All wikimedia projects
Articles on this topic in other Wikimedia projects can be found at: Wikimedia Commons Rudolf Steiner

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to Author:Rudolf Steiner article)

From Wikisource

Rudolf Steiner
See biography, media, quotes, indexes. An Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, educator, artist, playwright, social thinker, and esotericist. He was the founder of Anthroposophy, Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, and the new artistic form of Eurythmy.


All wikimedia projects
Articles on this topic in other Wikimedia projects can be found at: Wikimedia Commons Author Rudolf Steiner
PD-icon.svg Some or all works by this author are in the public domain in the United States because they were published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1925, so works by this author are also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. Works by this author may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address