Rudolf Steiner: An Illustrated Biography

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The building, designed by Steiner, was built to a significant part by volunteers who offered craftsmanship or simply a will to learn new skills. Once World War I started in , 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.

Steiner moved from Berlin to Dornach in and lived there to the end of his life. Steiner's lecture activity expanded enormously with the end of the war. Most importantly, from on Steiner began to work with other members of the society to found numerous practical institutions and activities , including the first Waldorf school , founded that year in Stuttgart , Germany. At the same time, the Goetheanum developed as a wide-ranging cultural centre.

At a "Foundation Meeting" for members held at the Dornach center during Christmas, , Steiner spoke of laying a new Foundation Stone for the society in the hearts of his listeners. At the meeting, a new "General Anthroposophical Society" was established with a new executive board. At this meeting, Steiner also founded a School of Spiritual Science, intended as an "organ of initiative" for research and study and as "the 'soul' of the Anthroposophical Society". Later sections were added for the social sciences, youth and agriculture.

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 , 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. Steiner opposed Wilson 's proposal to create new European nations based around ethnic groups, which he saw as opening the door to rampant nationalism.

Steiner proposed as an alternative "'social territories' with democratic institutions that were accessible to all inhabitants of a territory whatever their origin while the needs of the various ethnicities would be met by independent cultural institutions. In , a political theorist of this movement, Dietrich Eckart , attacked Steiner and suggested that he was a Jew. That same year, Steiner warned against the disastrous effects it would have for Central Europe if the National Socialists came to power.

From on, Steiner showed signs of increasing frailness and illness. He nonetheless 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 lectures focused on practical areas of life such as education. Increasingly ill, he held his last lecture in late September, He continued work on his autobiography during the last months of his life; he died on 30 March Steiner first began speaking publicly about spiritual experiences and phenomena in his lectures to the Theosophical Society.

By he had begun to write about spiritual topics, initially in the form of discussions of historical figures such as the mystics of the Middle Ages. By he was expressing his own understanding of these themes in his essays and books, while continuing to refer to a wide variety of historical sources. The Philosophy of Freedom forms the philosophical basis for these later writings. For it tries to show that the experience of thinking, rightly understood, is in fact an experience of spirit. Steiner aimed to apply his training in mathematics , science, and philosophy to produce rigorous, verifiable presentations of those experiences.

Steiner followed Wilhelm Dilthey in using the term Geisteswissenschaft , usually translated as "spiritual science".

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In contrast to William James' pragmatic approach to religious and psychic experience, which emphasized its idiosyncratic character, Steiner focused on ways such experience can be rendered more intelligible and integrated into human life. Steiner proposed that an understanding of reincarnation and karma was necessary to understand psychology [63] and that the form of external nature would be more comprehensible as a result of insight into the course of karma in the evolution of humanity.

After the First World War, 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 , [71] which later evolved into a worldwide school network. He also founded a system of organic agriculture, now known as biodynamic agriculture , which was one of the very first forms of, and has contributed significantly to the development of, modern organic farming.

His two Goetheanum buildings have been widely cited as masterpieces of modern architecture , [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] and other anthroposophical architects have contributed thousands of buildings to the modern scene. 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. His collected lectures, making up another approximately volumes, discuss an extremely wide range of themes. Steiner's drawings, chiefly illustrations done on blackboards during his lectures, are collected in a separate series of 28 volumes.

Many publications have covered his architectural legacy and sculptural work. As a young man, Steiner was a private tutor and a lecturer on history for the Berlin Arbeiterbildungsschule , [81] an educational initiative for working class adults. In , Emil Molt invited him to lecture to his workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart. Out of these lectures came a new school, the Waldorf school.

Taught at Workers' School

In , Steiner presented these ideas at a conference called for this purpose in Oxford by Professor Millicent Mackenzie. He subsequently presented a teacher training course at Torquay in at an Anthroposophy Summer School organised by Eleanor Merry. In , 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 approach to agriculture that increased soil fertility without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. 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 and animal feed.

Plant or animal disease is seen as a symptom of problems in the whole organism. Steiner also suggested timing such agricultural activities as sowing, weeding, and harvesting to utilize the influences on plant growth of the moon and planets ; and the application of natural materials prepared in specific ways to the soil , compost , and crops, with the intention of engaging non-physical beings and elemental forces.

He encouraged his listeners to verify his suggestions empirically , as he had not yet done. From the late s, Steiner was working with doctors to create a new approach to medicine. In , pharmacists and physicians gathered under Steiner's guidance to create a pharmaceutical company called Weleda which now distributes natural medical products worldwide. At around the same time, Dr. For a period after World War I, Steiner was active as a lecturer on social reform. A petition expressing his basic social ideas was widely circulated and signed by many cultural figures of the day, including Hermann Hesse.

In Steiner's chief book on social reform , Toward Social Renewal , he suggested that the cultural, political and economic spheres of society need to work together as consciously cooperating yet independent entities, each with a particular task: political institutions should establish political equality and protect human rights ; cultural institutions should nurture the free and unhindered development of science, art, education and religion; and economic institutions should enable producers, distributors and consumers to cooperate to provide efficiently for society's needs.

Steiner also gave suggestions for many specific social reforms. The well-being of a community of people working together will be the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of his work, i. He expressed this in the motto: [96]. Steiner designed 17 buildings, including the First and Second Goetheanums.

Rudolf Steiner: An Illustrated Biography by Johannes Hemleben 9781855840935

His primary sculptural work is The Representative of Humanity , a nine-meter high wood sculpture executed as a joint project with the sculptor Edith Maryon. This was intended to be placed in the first Goetheanum. It shows a central, free-standing Christ holding a balance between the beings of Lucifer and Ahriman , representing opposing tendencies of expansion and contraction. Steiner's blackboard drawings were unique at the time and almost certainly not originally intended as art works.

In collaboration with Marie von Sivers, Steiner also founded a new approach to acting, storytelling, and the recitation of poetry. His last public lecture course, given in , was on speech and drama. The Russian actor, director, and acting coach Michael Chekhov based significant aspects of his method of acting on Steiner's work. Together with Marie von Sivers , Rudolf Steiner also developed the art of eurythmy , sometimes referred to as "visible speech and 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.

Rudolf Steiner, Philosophy of Freedom. Chapter 9. In his commentaries on Goethe's scientific works, written between and , 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 and Goethe's Conception of the World , particularly emphasizing the transformation in Goethe's approach from the physical sciences, where experiment played the primary role, to plant biology, where both accurate perception and imagination were 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.

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Particular organic forms can be evolved only from universal types, and every organic entity we experience must coincide with some one of these derivative forms of the type. Here the evolutionary method must replace the method of proof. We aim not to show that external conditions act upon one another in a certain way and thereby bring about a definite result, but that a particular form has developed under definite external conditions out of the type.

This is the radical difference between inorganic and organic science. Steiner approached the philosophical questions of knowledge and freedom in two stages. In his dissertation, published in expanded form in as Truth and Knowledge , Steiner suggests that there is an inconsistency between Kant's philosophy, which posits that all knowledge is a representation of an essential verity inaccessible to human consciousness, and modern science, which assumes that all influences can be found in the sensory and mental world to which we have access.

Steiner considered Kant's philosophy of an inaccessible beyond "Jenseits-Philosophy" a stumbling block in achieving a satisfying philosophical viewpoint. Steiner postulates that the world is essentially an indivisible unity, but that our consciousness divides it into the sense -perceptible appearance, on the one hand, and the formal nature accessible to our thinking , on the other.

He sees in thinking itself an element that can be strengthened and deepened sufficiently to penetrate all that our senses do not reveal to us.


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Steiner thus considered what appears to human experience as a division between the spiritual and natural worlds to be a conditioned result of the structure of our consciousness, which separates perception and thinking. These two faculties give us not two worlds, but two complementary views of the same world; neither has primacy and the two together are necessary and sufficient to arrive at a complete understanding of the world. In thinking about perception the path of natural science and perceiving the process of thinking the path of spiritual training , it is possible to discover a hidden inner unity between the two poles of our experience.

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. In the Philosophy of Freedom , Steiner further explores potentials within thinking: freedom, he suggests, can only be approached gradually with the aid of the creative activity of thinking. Thinking can be a free deed; in addition, it can liberate our will from its subservience to our instincts and drives. Free deeds, he suggests, are those for which we are fully conscious of the motive for our action; freedom is the spiritual activity of penetrating with consciousness our own nature and that of the world, [] and the real activity of acting in full consciousness.


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Steiner affirms Darwin 's and Haeckel 's evolutionary perspectives but extended this beyond its materialistic consequences; he sees human consciousness , indeed, all human culture, as a product of natural evolution that transcends itself. See all 3 brand new listings. Buy It Now. Add to cart. About this product Synopsis Rudolf Steiner's legacy is remarkable.

Around the world, thousands of initiatives have been built up around his inspiration and thought, including Steiner Waldorf schools, special education establishments, medical clinics, biodynamic farms, cultural centers, and much more. At the core of this outer work stands the scientific and spiritual path of anthroposophy -- the philosophy and method which he developed throughout his life.

This informative biography throws a clear light on the numerous struggles and achievements of his life: from his childhood and then his youthful years as a respected Goethean scholar and philosopher in Weimar; his work in the Theosophical Society and the establishing of the Anthroposophical Society; the development of anthroposophy as a spiritual science; the creation of spiritual initiatives in art, the social sciences, education, medicine, agriculture, religion and architecture; the important Christmas Foundation Conference; and finally his death in Hemleben's biography of Steiner includes a chronology, personal tributes, an extensive section for further reading, an index, and 69 photographs and illustrations.

Rudolf Steiner's legacy is remarkable. Around the world, thousands of programs have been built up around his inspiration and ideas. These include Waldorf schools, centers for special education, medical clinics, biodynamic farms, centers for various arts, and much more. The scientific and spiritual path of anthroposophy is at the core of this work, a philosophy and method that Steiner developed throughout his life.

This informative biography clearly illumines the numerous struggles and achievements in his life -childhood; the young, respected Goethean scholar and philosopher in Weimar; his work in the Theosophical Society; the establishment of the Anthroposophical Society and development of anthroposophy as a spiritual science; the creation of spiritually based movements in art, the social sciences, education, medicine, agriculture, religion, and architecture.

Show More Show Less. New New. Ratings and Reviews Write a review. In our small shop in Fair Oaks, and on our web site, you will find an extensive book collection, featuring topics such as: Anthroposophy, Human Development, Waldorf Teacher Resources, Biodynamics and more. We also carry children's books, wooden toys, beeswax candles and unique gifts, as well as a broad range of health and wellness products, and an excellent chocolate selection from fair trade, organic, and biodynamic sources.

Books of the Season. Children's Books. Product of the Week Stella Natura This Calendar has many aspects: a basic introduction to astronomy, a simple ephemeris, a planting guide, a star map, aid for following the movement of the planets in the night sky, and articles by ten different authors.

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