Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner

Overview
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (25 or 27 February 1861 in Murakirály, Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

, Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

, now Donji Kraljevec
Donji Kraljevec
Donji Kraljevec is a village and municipality in Međimurje County, Croatia.-Geography and demographics:In the 2001 census, the municipality had a population of 4,931...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 – 30 March 1925 in Dornach, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

) was an Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 philosopher
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, social reformer, architect
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and esotericist
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the 20th century, he founded a spiritual movement, Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of European transcendentalism and with links to Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

.

Steiner led this movement through several phases.
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Quotations

Live through deeds of love, and let others live with tolerance for their unique intentions.

:w:Philosophy of Freedom|Philosophy of Freedom

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
Encyclopedia
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (25 or 27 February 1861 in Murakirály, Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

, Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

, now Donji Kraljevec
Donji Kraljevec
Donji Kraljevec is a village and municipality in Međimurje County, Croatia.-Geography and demographics:In the 2001 census, the municipality had a population of 4,931...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 – 30 March 1925 in Dornach, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

) was an Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 philosopher
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, social reformer, architect
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and esotericist
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the 20th century, he founded a spiritual movement, Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of European transcendentalism and with links to Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

.

Steiner led this movement through several phases. In the first, more philosophically oriented phase, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

; 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
Eurythmy
Eurythmy is an expressive movement art originated by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Marie von Sivers in the early 20th century. Primarily a performance art, it is also used in education — especially in Waldorf schools - and as a movement therapy....

) and architecture, culminating in the building of a cultural centre to house all the arts
Gesamtkunstwerk
A Gesamtkunstwerk is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so...

, the Goetheanum
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

. After the First World War, Steiner worked with educators, farmers, doctors, and other professionals to develop Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

, anthroposophical medicine
Anthroposophical Medicine
Anthroposophical medicine is a complementary approach to medicine that integrates the theories and practices of modern medicine with homeopathic medicines, physical and artistic therapies and biographical counseling...

 as well as new directions in numerous other practical areas.

Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

, 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.” 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.

Childhood and education


Steiner's father, Johann(es) Steiner (June 23, 1829, Geras or Trabenreith, Irnfritz-Messern
Irnfritz-Messern
Irnfritz-Messern is a town in the district of Horn in Lower Austria, Austria.-Tourism:Irnfritz-Messern is perhaps best known for its Eislaufplatz where people come to ice skate during the winter months. It is also home of the Schloss Wildberg....

 and lived Geras Abbey
Geras Abbey
Geras Abbey is a Premonstratensian monastery in Geras in Lower Austria. Since 1783 it has also owned the premises of the former Pernegg Abbey nearby.-History:...

, Waldviertel
Waldviertel
The Waldviertel is the northwestern region of the Austrian state Lower Austria. It is bounded to the south by the Danube, to the southwest by Upper Austria, to the northwest and the north by the Czech Republic and to the east by the Manhartsberg , which is the survey point dividing Waldviertel...

 – 1910, Horn), left a position as a gamekeeper
Gamekeeper
A gamekeeper is a person who manages an area of countryside to make sure there is enough game for shooting, or fish for angling, and who actively manages areas of woodland, moorland, waterway or farmland for the benefit of game birds, deer, fish and wildlife in general.Typically, a gamekeeper is...

 in the service of Count Hoyos in Geras, northeast Lower Austria
Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria since 1986 is Sankt Pölten, the most recently designated capital town in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria had formerly been Vienna, even though Vienna is not officially part of Lower Austria...

 to marry one of the Hoyos family's housemaids, Franziska Blie (May 8, 1834, Horn
Horn, Austria
Horn is a small town in the Waldviertel in Lower Austria, Austria and the capital of the district of the same name.2008 Austrian Cup winner SV Horn is the local soccerclub....

, 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
Donji Kraljevec
Donji Kraljevec is a village and municipality in Međimurje County, Croatia.-Geography and demographics:In the 2001 census, the municipality had a population of 4,931...

in the Muraköz region, then part of the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 (present-day Donji Kraljevec, Međimurje region, northernmost Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

). In the first two years of Rudolf's life, the family moved twice, first to Mödling
Mödling
Mödling is the capital of the Austrian district of the same name located approximately 14 km south of Vienna.The settlement dates back to the Neolithic. In medieval times, the town was the residence of a branch of the Babenberger family, as a result of which it received the nickname...

, near Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, and then, through the promotion of his father to stationmaster, to Pottschach, located in the foothills of the eastern Austrian Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 in Lower Austria
Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria since 1986 is Sankt Pölten, the most recently designated capital town in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria had formerly been Vienna, even though Vienna is not officially part of Lower Austria...

.

Steiner entered the village school; following a disagreement between his father and the schoolmaster, he was briefly educated at home. At about nine years Steiner experienced seeing the spirit of an aunt who had died in a far-off town asking him to help her; neither he nor his family knew of the woman's death at this time. In 1869 the family moved to the village of Neudörfl (near Wiener Neustadt
Wiener Neustadt
-Main sights:* The Late-Romanesque Dom, consecrated in 1279 and cathedral from 1469 to 1785. The choir and transept, in Gothic style, are from the 14th century. In the late 15th century 12 statues of the Apostles were added in the apse, while the bust of Cardinal Melchior Klesl is attributed to...

), and in 1879 to Inzersdorf
Inzersdorf
Inzersdorf:* The municipality Inzersdorf im Kremstal, Lower Austria* The community of Inzersdorf ob der Traisen of the municipality Inzersdorf-Getzersdorf, Upper Austria...

.

The latter move was to enable Steiner to attend the Vienna Institute of Technology
Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology is one of the major universities in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Founded in 1815 as the "Imperial-Royal Polytechnic Institute" , it currently has about 26,200 students , 8 faculties and about 4,000 staff members...

, where he studied mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 on an academic scholarship from 1879 to 1883. In 1882, one of Steiner's teachers, Karl Julius Schröer, suggested Steiner's name to Joseph Kürschner, editor of a new Deutschen Nationalliteratur edition ('German National Literature') of Goethe's works. Steiner was then asked to become the edition's natural science editor.
In his autobiography, Steiner related that at 21, on the train between his home village and Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, he met a simple herb gatherer, Felix Kogutzki, who spoke about the spiritual world "as one who had his own experience therein...". Kogutzki conveyed to Steiner a knowledge of nature that was non-academic and spiritual; soon thereafter Steiner began to read Goethe's works on natural science. He also 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
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

's philosophy. Over the course of his life Steiner purportedly met with two spiritual masters, the other being Christian Rosenkreutz.

In 1891, Steiner earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Rostock
University of Rostock
The University of Rostock is the university of the city Rostock, in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.Founded in 1419, it is the oldest and largest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area...

 in Germany with a thesis based upon Fichte's concept of the ego, later published in expanded form as Truth and Knowledge.

Writer and philosopher



In 1888, as a result of his work for the Kürschner edition of Goethe's works, Steiner was invited to work as an editor at the Goethe archives in Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

. 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) and Goethe's Conception of the World (1897). During this time he also collaborated in complete editions of the works of Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 and the writer Jean Paul
Jean Paul
Jean Paul , born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, was a German Romantic writer, best known for his humorous novels and stories.-Life and work:...

 and wrote numerous articles for various journals.

During his time at the archives, Steiner wrote what he considered from that time forward to be his most important philosophical work, Die Philosophie der Freiheit (The Philosophy of Freedom
Philosophy of Freedom
The Philosophy of Freedom, the fundamental philosophical work of the philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner, focuses on the concept of free will...

or The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity—Steiner's preferred English title) (1894), an exploration of epistemology and ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 that suggested a path upon which humans can become spiritually free beings (see below).

In 1896, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
Therese Elisabeth Alexandra Förster-Nietzsche , who went by her second name, was the sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the creator of the Nietzsche Archive in 1894....

 asked Steiner to help organize the Nietzsche archive in Naumburg
Naumburg
Naumburg is a town in Germany, on the Saale River. It is in the district Burgenlandkreis in the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. It is approximately southwest of Leipzig, south-southwest of Halle, and north-northeast of Jena....

. Her brother
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 by that time was non compos mentis
Non compos mentis
Non compos mentis is a term meaning 'not of sound mind'. Non compos mentis derives from the Latin non meaning "not", compos meaning "having ", and mentis , meaning "mind"...

. Förster-Nietzsche introduced Steiner into the presence of the catatonic philosopher; 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 recurrence' and of 'Übermensch
Übermensch
The Übermensch is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche posited the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself in his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra ....

' 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 19th century." "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."

In 1897, Steiner left the Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

 archives and moved to Berlin. He became part owner, chief editor, and active contributor to the literary journal Magazin für Literatur, where he hoped to find a readership sympathetic to his philosophy. His work in the magazine was not well received by its readership. Many subscribers were alienated by Steiner's unpopular support of Émile Zola
Émile Zola
Émile François Zola was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism...

 in the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

 and the journal lost more subscribers when Steiner published extracts from his correspondence with anarchist writer John Henry Mackay
John Henry Mackay
John Henry Mackay was an individualist anarchist, thinker and writer. Born in Scotland and raised in Germany, Mackay was the author of Die Anarchisten and Der Freiheitsucher . Mackay was published in the United States in his friend Benjamin Tucker's magazine, Liberty...

. Dissatisfaction with his editorial style eventually led to his departure from the magazine.

In 1899, Steiner married Anna Eunicke; the couple separated several years later. Anna died in 1911.

Steiner and the Theosophical Society




In 1899, Steiner published an article in his Magazin für Literatur, titled “Goethe's Secret Revelation”, on the esoteric nature of Goethe's fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily
The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily
The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily is a fairy tale by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published in 1795 in Friedrich Schiller's German magazine Die Horen . It portrays in imaginative form Goethe's impressions of Schiller's On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a series of Letters...

. This article led to an invitation by the Count and Countess Brockdorff to speak to a gathering of Theosophists
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 on the subject of Nietzsche. Steiner continued speaking regularly to the members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society Adyar
The Theosophy Society - Adyar is the name of a section of the Theosophical Society founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and others in 1875. Its headquarters moved with Blavatsky and president Henry Steel Olcott to Adyar, an area of Chennai in 1883...

, becoming the head of its newly constituted German section in 1902 without ever formally joining the society. 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
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

 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 Leadbeater and Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

's claim that Jiddu Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti or , was a renowned writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society...

 was the vehicle of a new Maitreya, or world teacher, led to a formal split in 1912/13, 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
Anthroposophical Society
The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spiritual philosophy known as anthroposophy. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society in Germany, including Rudolf Steiner who was at...

.

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
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

 building, in Dornach
Dornach
Dornach is a municipality in the district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland.-History:Dornach is first mentioned in 1223 as de Tornacho. In 1307 it was mentioned as zu 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
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 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
Waldorf schools
This History of Waldorf schools includes descriptions of the schools' historical foundations, geographical distribution and internal governance structures.-The first Waldorf schools:...

, founded that year in Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, 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, the building burned to the ground; contemporary police reports indicate arson as the probable cause. Steiner immediately began work designing a second Goetheanum
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

 building –this time made of concrete instead of wood – which was completed in 1928, three years after his death.

In 1923, Steiner founded a School of Spiritual Science, intended as an "organ of initiative" for research and study and as "the soul of the Anthroposophical Society". This included a general course of study based on meditative exercises (intended to guide a meditant from «the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.») and specific departments, including education, medicine
Anthroposophical Medicine
Anthroposophical medicine is a complementary approach to medicine that integrates the theories and practices of modern medicine with homeopathic medicines, physical and artistic therapies and biographical counseling...

, agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

, art, natural science, social science, and literature. Steiner spoke of laying the Foundation Stone of the new society in the hearts of his listeners.

Social reform


Steiner became a well-known and controversial public figure during and after World War I. In response to the catastrophic situation in post-war Germany, he proposed extensive social reforms through the establishment of a Threefold Social Order in which the cultural, political and economic realms would be largely independent. Steiner argued that a fusion of the three realms had created the inflexibility that had led to catastrophes such as World War I. In connection with this, he promoted a radical solution in the disputed area of Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

, 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.

In 1919, Steiner's chief work on social reform (English title: Toward Social Renewal) was released simultaneously in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and sold some 80,000 copies in the first year.

Attacks, illness, and death


Right wing groups had been rapidly gaining strength in Germany. In 1919, the political theorist of the National Socialist
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 movement in Germany, Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart was a German journalist and politician, together with Adolf Hitler one of the early key members of the Nazi Party and a participant of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.-Biography:...

, attacked Steiner and suggested that he was a Jew. In 1921, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 attacked Steiner in an article in the right-wing Völkischer Beobachter newspaper that included accusations that Steiner was a tool of the Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, and other nationalist extremists in Germany called up a "war against Steiner". In 1922 a lecture in Munich was disrupted when stink bombs were let off and the lights switched out. Unable to guarantee his safety, Steiner's agents cancelled a next lecture tour. The 1923 Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 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; he also warned against the disastrous effects it would have for Central Europe if the National Socialists came to power.

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.

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 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. Steiner aimed to apply his training in mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 to produce rigorous, verifiable presentations of those experiences.

Steiner believed that through freely chosen ethical
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 disciplines and meditative training
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

, anyone could develop the ability to experience the spiritual world
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, including the higher nature of oneself and others. Steiner believed that such discipline
Discipline
In its original sense, discipline is referred to systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order". Often, the phrase "to discipline" carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order –...

 and training would help a person to become a more moral
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, creative
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

 and free individual - free in the sense of being capable of actions motivated solely by love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

.

Steiner's ideas about the inner life were influenced by Franz Brentano
Franz Brentano
Franz Clemens Honoratus Hermann Brentano was an influential German philosopher and psychologist whose influence was felt by other such luminaries as Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl, Kazimierz Twardowski and Alexius Meinong, who followed and adapted his views.-Life:Brentano was born at Marienberg am...

, with whom he had studied, and Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist and hermeneutic philosopher, who held Hegel's Chair in Philosophy at the University of Berlin. As a polymathic philosopher, working in a modern research university, Dilthey's research interests revolved around questions of...

, both founders of the phenomenological movement in European philosophy, as well as the transcendentalist philosophers Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling. Steiner was also strongly influenced by Goethe's phenomenological approach to science
Goethean science
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although primarily known as a literary figure, did research in morphology, anatomy, and optics, and also developed a phenomenological approach to science and to knowledge in general....

.

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
    Theosophy
    Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

     but was disbanded at the start of World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    .
  • 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. 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.

Breadth of activity


After the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Steiner became active in a wide variety of cultural contexts. He founded a number of schools, the first of which was known as the Waldorf school, and which later evolved into a worldwide school network. He also founded a system of organic agriculture, now known as Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

, which was one of the very first forms of, and has contributed significantly to the development of, modern organic farming
Organic farming
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

. His work in medicine led to the development of a broad range of complementary medications and supportive artistic and biographic therapies. Homes for children and adults with developmental disabilities based on his work (including those of the Camphill movement
Camphill Movement
The Camphill Movement is an initiative for social change inspired by anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential "life-sharing" communities and schools for adults and children with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs, which provide services and support for...

) are widespread. His paintings and drawings influenced Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys was a German performance artist, sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social...

 and other modern artists. His two Goetheanum buildings are generally accepted to be masterpieces of modern architecture
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

, and other anthroposophical architects have contributed thousands of buildings to the modern scene. One of the first institutions to practice ethical banking
Ethical banking
An ethical bank, also known as a social, alternative, civic, or sustainable bank, is a bank concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its investments and loans. Ethical banks are part of a larger societal movement toward more social and environmental responsibility in the financial...

 was an anthroposophical bank
GLS bank
The GLS Bank is a German bank that was founded in 1974 as an anthroposophical initiative. It was the first bank in Germany that operated with an ethical philosophy. According to GLS Bank, its focus is on cultural, social and ecological initiatives, initiated by people, and not anonymous interests...

 working out of Steiner's ideas.

Steiner's literary estate is correspondingly broad. Steiner's writings, published in about forty volumes, include books, essays, four plays ('mystery dramas'), mantric verse, and an autobiography
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

. 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.

Education


As a young man, Steiner already supported the independence of educational institutions from governmental control. In 1907, he wrote an essay on "Education in the Light of Spiritual Science", in which he described the major phases of child development that were later to form the foundation of his approach to education.

In 1919, Emil Molt
Emil Molt
Emil Molt was a German businessman, social reformer and anthroposophist. He was the director of the Waldorf-Astoria-Zigarettenfabrik, and with Rudolf Steiner co-founded the first Waldorf school. Hence, Waldorf education was named after the company.-External links:*...

 invited him to lecture to the workers at Molt's factory in Stuttgart. Out of these lectures came a new school, the Waldorf school. In 1922, Steiner brought these ideas to Oxford at the invitation of Professor Millicent Mackenzie and the Oxford Conference led to the founding of Waldorf schools in Britain. During Steiner's lifetime, schools based on his educational principles were also founded in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Essen
Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

, The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 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 reform. A petition expressing his basic social ideas (signed by Herman Hesse, among others) was very widely circulated.

His chief book on social reform, Toward Social Renewal, sold tens of thousands of copies in his lifetime. In this, Steiner suggested that the cultural, political and economic spheres of society needs to work together as consciously cooperating yet independent entities. Each of these three realms has a particular task: political institutions should establish political equality
Equality before the law
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws....

 and protect human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

; cultural institutions should cultivate the free and unhindered development of such realms as science, art, education and religion; and economic institutions should encourage producers, distributors and consumers to cooperate to provide for society's needs. He saw the establishment of what he called Threefold Social Order as a vital response to what he saw as an already visible trend toward the mutual independence of these three realms: governments; cultural life; and economic institutions. Steiner saw theocracy, conventional shareholder capitalism, and state socialism as attempts by one of the three realms to dominate the others. In the present day, he suggested, such attempts by any one of these spheres to manipulate another would be contrary to society's interests; such negative mutual influences would include e.g. corporate pressure on governments, state attempts to interfere with science, education, or religion, or religious influences on governmental entities.

To achieve greater relative independence:
  • The cultural realm (science, art, religion, education, and the press) requires freedom (rather than domination by economic or governmental interests;
  • The political realm demands equality (rather than political control by special interests, whether of an economic or ideological nature);
  • The economic realm requires uncoerced, self-organizing cooperation and solidarity (rather than state control).


Steiner also gave many suggestions for many specific social reforms.

Architecture and visual arts



Steiner designed 17 buildings, including the First and Second Goetheanums
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

. These two buildings, built in Dornach, Switzerland, were intended to house significant theater spaces as well as a School for Spiritual Science. Three of Steiner's buildings, including both Goetheanum buildings, have been listed amongst the most significant works of modern architecture.


His primary sculptural work is
The Representative of Humanity (1922), a nine-meter high wood sculpture executed as a joint project with the sculptor Edith Maryon
Edith Maryon
Edith Louisa Maryon was an English sculptor. Along with Ita Wegman, she belonged to the innermost circle of founders of anthroposophy and those around Rudolf Steiner.-Life:...

 and now on permanent display at the Goetheanum.

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.

Performing arts


Together with Marie Steiner-von Sivers
Marie Steiner-von Sivers
Marie Steiner-von Sivers was the second wife of Rudolf Steiner and one of his closest colleagues...

, Rudolf Steiner developed the art of eurythmy
Eurythmy
Eurythmy is an expressive movement art originated by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Marie von Sivers in the early 20th century. Primarily a performance art, it is also used in education — especially in Waldorf schools - and as a movement therapy....

, 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, and the grammatical function - to every "soul quality" - joy, despair, tenderness, etc. - and to every aspect of music - tones, intervals, rhythms, and harmonies.

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, or "speech formation", and drama. Michael Chekhov
Michael Chekhov
Michael Chekhov was a Russian-American actor, director, author, and theatre practitioner. His acting technique has been used by actors such as Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, and Robert Stack. Constantin Stanislavski referred to him as his most brilliant student...

 took up and extended Steiner's approach in what is now known as the
Chekhov method of acting.

Anthroposophical medicine



From the late 1910s, Steiner was working with doctors to create a new approach to medicine. In 1921, pharmacist
Pharmacist
Pharmacists are allied health professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use...

s and physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

s 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
Ita Wegman
Ita Wegman, MD is known as the co-founder of Anthroposophical Medicine with Rudolf Steiner. In 1921, she founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic in Arlesheim, now known as the Ita Wegman Clinic...

 founded a first anthroposophic medical clinic in Arlesheim, Switzerland (now called the Wegman Clinic).

Biodynamic farming and gardening


In 1924, a group of farmers concerned about the future of agriculture requested Steiner's help. Steiner responded with a lecture series on an ecological and sustainable
Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment...

 approach to agriculture that increased soil fertility without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s. Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

 is now practiced widely in Europe, North America, and Australasia.

A central aspect of biodynamics is that the farm as a whole is seen as an organism, and therefore should be a largely self-sustaining system, producing its own manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

 and animal feed
Animal feed
Animal feed may refer to:*Compound feed, commercial pelleted food produced in a feed mill and fed to domestic livestock*Fodder, food given to domestic livestock, including plants cut and carried to them*Forage, growing plants eaten by domestic livestock....

. Plant or animal disease is seen a symptom of problems in the whole organism. Steiner also suggested timing agricultural activities such as sowing, weeding, and harvesting to utilize the influences on plant growth of the moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 and planets; and the application of natural materials prepared in specific ways to the soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

, compost, and crops, with the intention of engaging non-physical beings and elemental forces. He encouraged his listeners to verify his suggestions empirically
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, as he had not yet done.

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.

Steiner defended Goethe's qualitative description of color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

 as arising synthetically from the polarity of light and darkness, in contrast to Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

's particle-based and analytic conception. He emphasized the role of evolutionary thinking in Goethe's discovery of the intermaxillary bone
Intermaxillary segment
In a human embryo, the intermaxillary segment is a mass of tissue which forms from the merging of some of the tissues in the vicinity of the nose. It is primordial, meaning that in the further development of the embryo, this particular mass no longer appears, but parts of it remain in "the...

 in human beings; Goethe expected human anatomy to be an evolutionary transformation of animal anatomy.

Knowledge and freedom



Steiner approached the philosophical questions of knowledge and freedom
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 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
KANT
KANT is a computer algebra system for mathematicians interested in algebraic number theory, performing sophisticated computations in algebraic number fields, in global function fields, and in local fields. KASH is the associated command line interface...

's philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, 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.

Steiner postulates that the world is essentially an indivisible unity, but that our consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 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
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 and knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

; otherwise expressed, between the spiritual and natural worlds. Their apparent duality
Dualism
Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...

 is conditioned by the structure of our consciousness, which separates perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 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
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 (the path of natural science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

) and perceiving the process of thinking (the path of spiritual
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 training), it is possible to discover a hidden inner unity between the two poles of our experience.

Truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

, 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."

A new stage of Steiner's philosophical development is expressed in his Philosophy of Freedom
Philosophy of Freedom
The Philosophy of Freedom, the fundamental philosophical work of the philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner, focuses on the concept of free will...

. Here, he further explores potentials within thinking: freedom, he suggests, can only be approached asymptotically
Asymptote
In analytic geometry, an asymptote of a curve is a line such that the distance between the curve and the line approaches zero as they tend to infinity. Some sources include the requirement that the curve may not cross the line infinitely often, but this is unusual for modern authors...

 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 instinct
Instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

s and drive
Motivation
Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...

s. 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, and the real activity of acting in full consciousness. 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."

Steiner affirms Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's and Haeckel's evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

ary perspectives but extends this beyond its materialistic
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 consequences; he sees human consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

, indeed, all human culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, 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
Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher)
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov was a Russian philosopher, poet, pamphleteer, literary critic, who played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century...

:

Spiritual science



In his earliest works, Steiner already spoke of the "natural and spiritual worlds" as a unity. 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
    Spirit
    The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

    ;
  • the path of spiritual development;
  • spiritual influences on world-evolution and history; and
  • reincarnation
    Reincarnation
    Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

     and karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

    .


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. Steiner articulated three stages of any creative deed:
  • 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
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

. He emphasized that the spiritual path he articulated builds upon and supports individual freedom and independent judgment
Judgment
A judgment , in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. At the same time the court may also make a range of court orders, such as imposing a sentence upon a guilty defendant in a criminal matter, or providing a remedy for the plaintiff in a civil...

; for the results of spiritual research to be appropriately presented in a modern context they must be in a form accessible to logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

al 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. Spiritual training is to support what Steiner considered the overall purpose of human evolution, the development of the mutually interdependent qualities of love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

 and freedom
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

.

Steiner and Christianity


In 1899 Steiner experienced what he described as a life-transforming inner encounter with the being of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

; 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. Steiner was then 38, and the experience of meeting the Christ occurred after a tremendous inner struggle. To use Steiner's own words the "experience culminated in my standing in the spiritual presence of the Mystery of Golgotha in a most profound and solemn festival of knowledge."

Christ and human evolution


Steiner describes Christ's being and mission on earth as having a central place in human evolution: To comprehend the central role of the Christ in Steiner's spiritual philosophy it is necessary to understand the esoteric cosmology
Esoteric cosmology
Esoteric cosmology is cosmology that is an intrinsic part of an esoteric or occult system of thought. It almost always deals with at least some of the following themes: emanation, involution, spiritual evolution, epigenesis, planes of existence or higher worlds , hierarchies of spiritual beings,...

 that he espoused. In Steiner's theory of cosmic evolution, the incremental spiritual development of the human form is interwoven and inseparable from the cosmological development of the universe. This evolution and gradual descent into matter occurs over vast cosmic periods, or yugas. The Christ being brings the impulse which enables humanity's conscious ascent back into the spiritual worlds.
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
The Fall of Man
In Christian doctrine, the Fall of Man, or simply the Fall, refers to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into...

 from Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

, but also the unique pivot and meaning of earth's "evolutionary" processes and of all human history. The essence of being "Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

" is, for Steiner, a search for balance between polarizing extremes and the ability to manifest love in freedom.

Divergence from conventional Christian thought


Steiner's views of Christianity diverge from conventional Christian thought in key places, and include gnostic elements. 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
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

, as described in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

; the other child from Nathan
Nathan (son of David)
Nathan was the third of four sons born to King David and Bathsheba in Jerusalem. He was an older brother of Solomon.In the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to King David through the line of Nathan, although the Gospel of Matthew...

, as described in the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

. He references in this regard the fact that the genealogies
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 given in these two gospels diverge some thirty generations before Jesus' birth.

Steiner's view of the second coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 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
Manifestation
Manifestation may refer to any one of the following:* Manifestation of God, the prophets of the Bahá'í Faith* Avatar, manifestation of God in Hinduism...

 in non-physical form, in the "etheric
Etheric plane
The etheric plane is a term introduced into Theosophy by Charles Webster Leadbeater and Annie Besant to represent one of the planes of existence in neo-Theosophical and Rosicrucian cosmology. It represents the fourth[higher] subplane of the physical plane , the lower three being the states of...

 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.

The Christian Community


In the 1920s, Steiner was approached by Friedrich Rittelmeyer
Friedrich Rittelmeyer
Friedrich Rittelmeyer was a Protestant German minister, theologian and co-founder and driving force of The Christian Community.-Life:...

, 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 sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s of their various services, combining Catholicism's emphasis on the rites of a sacred tradition with the emphasis on freedom of thought
Freedom of thought
Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints....

 and a personal relationship to religious life characteristic of modern, Johannine Christianity.

Steiner made it clear, however, that the resulting movement for the renewal of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, which became known as "The Christian Community
The Christian Community
The Christian Community is a Christian denomination. It was founded in 1922 in Switzerland by a group of mainly Lutheran theologians and ministers led by Friedrich Rittelmeyer, inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophy...

", was a personal gesture of help to a movement founded by Rittelmeyer and others independently of the Anthroposophical Society
Anthroposophical Society
The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spiritual philosophy known as anthroposophy. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society in Germany, including Rudolf Steiner who was at...

. The distinction was important to Steiner because he sought with Anthroposophy to create a scientific, not faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

-based, spirituality. 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
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

, Owen Barfield
Owen Barfield
Owen Barfield was a British philosopher, author, poet, and critic.Barfield was born in London. He was educated at Highgate School and Wadham College, Oxford and in 1920 received a 1st class degree in English language and literature. After finishing his B. Litt., which became the book Poetic...

 and Richard Tarnas
Richard Tarnas
Richard Theodore Tarnas, Jr. is a philosopher and cultural historian known for his 1991 book The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, published in 2006...

; the writers Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

, Michael Ende
Michael Ende
Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende was a German author of fantasy and children's literature. He is best known for his epic fantasy work The Neverending Story; other famous works include Momo and Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver...

, Selma Lagerlöf
Selma Lagerlöf
Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf was a Swedish author. She was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and most widely known for her children's book Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige ....

, Andrej Belyj, David Spangler
David Spangler
David Spangler is an American spiritual philosopher and self-described "practical mystic". He helped transform the Findhorn Foundation in northern Scotland into a centre of residential spiritual education, and is a friend of William Irwin Thompson...

, William Irwin Thompson
William Irwin Thompson
William Irwin Thompson is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He describes his writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient...

, and esotericist Édouard Schuré
Édouard Schuré
Eduard Schuré was a French philosopher, poet, playwright, novelist, music critic, and publicist of esoteric literature.- Biography :...

; the artists Josef Beuys, Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, and Murray Griffin
Murray Griffin
Vaughan Murray Griffin was an Australian print maker and painter. Commonly known as Murray Griffin, he was born in Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria to parents Vaughan and Ethel Griffin. Griffin spent most of his life living in the Eaglemont and Heidelberg area in Melbourne although he travelled around...

; actor and acting teacher Michael Chekhov
Michael Chekhov
Michael Chekhov was a Russian-American actor, director, author, and theatre practitioner. His acting technique has been used by actors such as Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, and Robert Stack. Constantin Stanislavski referred to him as his most brilliant student...

; cinema director Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director, widely regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th century....

; and conductor Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor. He is considered one of the best known conductors of the 20th century. Walter was born in Berlin, but is known to have lived in several countries between 1933 and 1939, before finally settling in the United States in 1939...

. Olav Hammer
Olav Hammer
Olav Hammer, , is a Swedish professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense working in the field of history of religion. He has written four books in Swedish and one monograph Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age in English...

, though sharply critical of esoteric movements generally, terms Steiner "arguably the most historically and philosophically sophisticated spokesperson of the Esoteric Tradition."

Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

 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".

American writer and academic Robert Todd Carroll
Robert Todd Carroll
Robert Todd Carroll , Ph.D., is an American writer and academic. Carroll has written several books and skeptical essays but achieved notability by publishing the Skeptic's Dictionary online in 1994.-Early life and education:...

 has said of Steiner that "Some of his ideas on education – such as educating the handicapped in the mainstream – are worth considering, although his overall plan for developing the spirit and the soul rather than the intellect cannot be admired".

Scientism



Olav Hammer
Olav Hammer
Olav Hammer, , is a Swedish professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense working in the field of history of religion. He has written four books in Swedish and one monograph Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age in English...

 critiques as scientism
Scientism
Scientism refers to a belief in the universal applicability of the systematic methods and approach of science, especially the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints...

 Steiner's claim to use a scientific methodology to investigate spiritual phenomena based upon his claims of clairvoyant experience. 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 and, perhaps surprisingly, held the view that anyone capable of thinking logically was in a position to correct errors by spiritual researchers.

Race and ethnicity


Steiner's work includes both universalist, humanist elements and historically influenced racial assumptions. 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." Steiner considered that every people, by dint of a shared language and culture, has a unique essence, which he called its soul or spirit, 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
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 views, yet he consistently and explicitly subordinated the role of hereditary factors, including race and ethnicity, to individual factors in development. The human individuality, for Steiner, is centered in a person's unique spiritual biography (i.e., the vast sum of an individuality's experiences and development not bound by waking hours or a single lifetime), not the body's accidental qualities. More specifically:

Steiner characterized specific races, nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s, and ethnicities in ways that have been termed racist
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 by critics including characterizations of various races and ethnic groups as flowering, others as backward or destined to disappear; and hierarchical views of the spiritual evolution of different races, including—at times, and inconsistently—portraying the white race, European culture, or the Germanic culture as representing the high point of human evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 as of the early 20th century, though describing these as destined to be superseded by future cultures. 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.

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; that race and ethnicity are transient and superficial, not essential aspects of the individual; that each individual incarnates
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 among / as part of many different peoples and races over successive lives, thus bearing within him- or herself a range of races and peoples; and that race is rapidly losing any remaining significance for human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

ity.

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.

Judaism


During the years when Steiner was best known as a literary critic, he published a series of articles attacking various manifestations of antisemitism and criticizing some of the most prominent anti-Semites of the time as "barbaric" and "enemies of culture". Towards the end of his life and after his death, massive defamatory press attacks against Steiner were undertaken by early National Socialist
National Socialist Party
Parties in various contexts have referred to themselves as National Socialist parties. Because there is no clear definition of national socialism, the term has been used to mean very different things...

 leaders (including Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

) and other right-wing nationalists. These criticized Steiner's thought, and Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

, as being incompatible with National Socialist racist ideology and charged both that Steiner was influenced by his close connections with Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 and that he was himself Jewish. On a number of occasions, Steiner promoted full assimilation
Jewish assimilation
Jewish assimilation refers to the cultural assimilation and social integration of Jews in their surrounding culture. Assimilation became legally possible in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment.-Background:Judaism forbids the worship of other gods...

 of the Jewish people into the nations in which they lived, a stance that has come under criticism in recent years. He was also a critic of his contemporary Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

's goal of a Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 state, as well as of any other ethnically determined nation, as he considered ethnicity to be an outmoded basis for social life in today's world.

Writings (selection)


Steiner's collected works, making up about 400 volumes, include his writings (about forty volumes), over 6000 of his lectures, and his artistic work.

Works about Steiner

  • Kries, Mateo and Vegesack, Alexander von, Rudolf Steiner: Alchemy of the Everyday, Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2010. ISBN 3931936864

See also

  • Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

  • Anthroposophical medicine
    Anthroposophical Medicine
    Anthroposophical medicine is a complementary approach to medicine that integrates the theories and practices of modern medicine with homeopathic medicines, physical and artistic therapies and biographical counseling...

  • Anthroposophic pharmacy
    Anthroposophic Pharmacy
    Anthroposophic Pharmacy is the discipline related to conceiving, developing and producing medicinal products according to the anthroposophic understanding of man, nature, substance and pharmaceutical processing....

  • Anthroposophical Society
    Anthroposophical Society
    The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spiritual philosophy known as anthroposophy. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society in Germany, including Rudolf Steiner who was at...

  • Anthroposophical view of the human being
    Anthroposophical view of the human being
    The anthroposophical view of humans includes:-Threefold and fourfold view:Rudolf Steiner often described humans as consisting of an eternal spirit, an evolving soul and a temporal body, giving a detailed analysis of each of these three realms....

  • Biodynamic agriculture
    Biodynamic agriculture
    Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

  • Camphill Movement
    Camphill Movement
    The Camphill Movement is an initiative for social change inspired by anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential "life-sharing" communities and schools for adults and children with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs, which provide services and support for...

  • The Christian Community
    The Christian Community
    The Christian Community is a Christian denomination. It was founded in 1922 in Switzerland by a group of mainly Lutheran theologians and ministers led by Friedrich Rittelmeyer, inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophy...

  • Eurythmy
    Eurythmy
    Eurythmy is an expressive movement art originated by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Marie von Sivers in the early 20th century. Primarily a performance art, it is also used in education — especially in Waldorf schools - and as a movement therapy....

  • Goetheanum
    Goetheanum
    The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

  • Social threefolding
    Social Threefolding
    Social threefolding is a sociological theory that suggests increasing the independence of society's three primary realms in such a way that those three realms can mutually correct each other in an ongoing process. The movement aims for equality of rights in political life, freedom in cultural...

  • Waldorf education

Further reading

  • 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
    Gary Valentine Lachman
    Gary Lachman, born December 24, 1955 in Bayonne, New Jersey, is an American writer and musician. Lachman is best known to readers of mysticism and the occult, in the numerous articles and books he has published...

    , 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
    Robert A. McDermott
    Robert McDermott is professor of Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. in 1969 in philosophy from Boston University and is president emeritus of the California Institute of Integral Studies...

    , 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.
  • 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 1-902636-28-7

External links



General

Writings

Articles and broadcasts about Steiner