Philosophy

Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy


Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was Austrian by birth. After a technical education, he studied philosophy, literature, medicine and psychology, gaining his doctorate from Rostok University in Germany, with a dissertation on the philosophy of human freedom.

Steiner’s conscious insight into the spiritual nature of the human being and its connection with the spiritual evolution of the universe, led to his founding of the Anthroposophical Society. This name, “anthroposophy”, means the wisdom of humankind. He strove continuously to give renewed impulses into the arts, science, medicine, agriculture, architecture, social, economic and political life. He realised that science, art and religious life needed to be brought together. Each can then enhance the other in human life and the development of culture.

Anthroposophy is not a religion. It is a pathway individuals may set upon consciously to better understand their inner nature and develop courage for and insight into life tasks.

Rudolf Steiner presented the picture of the human being as more than what can be attributed to heredity or environmental influences alone. He put forward the idea for teachers to consider that each human individuality has incarnated into physical being, that each earth life is unique for that individual and contains tasks that are to be met. He suggested that before birth, each individual decided not only the place of birth, but the choice of parents, of cultural and geographic context, and in a sense ‘mapped the journey’. Steiner described stages of the development of self consciousness, and held the view that human evolution and world evolution were intimately united, one with the other. He emphasised how the future evolution of the earth depended on the development of responsible action by individuals working together.

These can be difficult ideas to contemplate. Steiner insisted that nobody should blindly believe anything he said in his lectures. He asked only that people consider the views that he brought openly and test them in the light of their own life experiences.