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Rudolf Steiner

Austrian esotericist
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.

Rudolf Steiner (25 February 186130 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator, and social thinker. He is the founder of anthroposophy, a spiritual movement that generated many practical endeavors, including Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophical medicine.



Live through deeds of love, and let others live with tolerance for their unique intentions.
Where the realm of freedom of thought and action begin, the determination of individuals according to generic laws ends.
  • To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.
    • Verses and Meditations
  • Live through deeds of love, and let others live understanding their unique intentions: this is the fundamental principle of free human beings.
  • The fundamental maxim of free men is to live in love towards our actions, and to let live in the understanding of the other person's will.
  • Ethical individualism... is spiritualized theory of evolution carried over into moral life.
  • Only to the extent that a man has emancipated himself...from all that is generic, does he count as a free spirit within a human community. No man is all genus, none is all individuality.
  • Truth is a free creation of the human spirit, that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.
  • Each individual is a species unto him/herself.
    • Theosophy: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos (1904)
  • Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe... Anthroposophists are those who experience, as an essential need of life, certain questions on the nature of the human being and the universe, just as one experiences hunger and thirst.
    • Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts (1924)
  • Goethe's thinking was mobile. It followed the whole growth process of the plant and followed how one plant form is a modification of the other. Goethe's thinking was not rigid with inflexible contours; it was a thinking in which the concepts continually metamorphose. Thereby his concepts became, if I may put it this way, intimately adapted to the process that plant nature itself goes through.
    • Lecture from August 30, 1921, trans. Craig Holdrege
  • You have no idea how unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say on the surface, and how important what he himself is as teacher.
    • Curative Education, lect. 2
  • We shall not set up demands nor programmes, but simply describe the child-nature. (...) Vague and general phrases — ‘the harmonious development of all the powers and talents in the child,’ and so forth — cannot provide the basis for a genuine art of education. Such an art of education can only be built up on a real knowledge of the human being. Not that these phrases are incorrect, but that at bottom they are as useless as it would be to say of a machine that all its parts must be brought harmoniously into action. To work a machine you must approach it, not with phrases and truisms, but with real and detailed knowledge.
    • The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (GA 34), an essay of 1909.
  • Those who judge human beings according to generic characteristics only reach the boundary, beyond which people begin to be beings whose activity is based on free self-determination....Characteristics of race, tribe, ethnic group and gender are subjects for special sciences....But all these sciences cannot penetrate through to the special nature of the individual. Where the realm of freedom of thought and action begin, the determination of individuals according to generic laws ends.
    • Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path. A Philosophy of Freedom (GA 4), Hudson (1894)/1995.
  • Because of their very nature, science and logical thinking can never decide what is possible or impossible. Their only function is to explain what has been ascertained by experience and observation.
    • Cosmic Memory, Prehistory of Earth and Man.

Quotes about Rudolf SteinerEdit

  • Einer von uns beiden, ich weiß nicht mehr, welcher, kam darauf, vom geistigen Niedergang der Kultur als dem fundamentalen, unbeachteten Problem unserer Zeit zu sprechen. Da erfuhren wir, dass wir beide mit ihm beschäftigt waren. Keiner hatte es von dem anderen erwartet. Eine lebhafte Aussprache kam alsbald in Gang. Einer von dem anderen erfuhren wir, dass wir uns als Lebensaufgabe dasselbe vornahmen, sich um das Aufkommen der wahren, vom Humanitätsideal belebten und beherrschten Kultur zu bemühen, und die Menschen dazu anzuhalten, wahrhaft denkende Menschen zu werden. In diesem Bewusstsein der Zusammengehörigkeit verabschiedeten wir uns. (...) das Bewusstsein der Zusammengehörigkeit blieb. Ein jeder verfolgte das Wirken des andern. Rudolf Steiners hohen Gedankenflug der Geisteswissenschaft mitzumachen, war mir nicht verliehen. Ich weiß aber, dass er in diesem so manchen Menschen mit emporriss und neue Menschen aus ihnen machte. In seiner Jüngerschaft sind hervorragende Leistungen auf so manchem Gebiete vollbracht worden.
    • One of us, I no longer remember which one, began to speak of the spiritual decline of culture as the fundamental, unremarked problem of our times. We realized that both of us were occupied with this question; neither had expected this of the other. A lively discussion ensued. Each of us experienced from one another that we had taken on the same mission in life: to strive for the rise of true culture enlivened and formed by humane ideals, and to stimulate people to become truly thoughtful human beings. We took leave of one another in this consciousness of solidarity....We each followed one another's work. To take part in Rudolf Steiner's high flight of thought of spiritual science was not given to me. I know, however, that in this he lifted up and renewed many people, and his disciples attained exceptional accomplishments in many realms. I have rejoiced at the achievement which his great personality and his profound humanity have brought about in the world.
    • Albert Schweitzer, Werke aus dem Nachlaß, 2003, pp. 229-231.
How could he escape being hated with all the demonic power of which Hell is capable?
  • Steiner's incredible industry was self defeating. The mountain of titles, the avalanche of ideas, obscures the clarity and simplicity of his basic insight. Nevertheless, for the reader who declines to be discouraged, the rewards can be enormous. Once the basic insight has been grasped, we can begin to understand the source of those tremendous mental energies, and the sheer breadth of Steiner's vision. It hardly matters that there is a great deal that we may find unacceptable, or even repellent. What is so absorbing is to be in contact with a mind that was capable of this astonishing range of inner experience. Steiner was a man who had discovered an important secret; his books are fascinating because they contain continual glimpses of this secret. We may read them critically, wondering where Steiner was 'amplifying' genuine intuitions, and where he was amplifying his own dreams and imaginings. We may even conclude that Swedenborg, Blake, and Madame Blavatsky had all developed the same power of amplification, and that Steiner's visions of angelic hierarchies are no truer than Swedenborg's visions of heaven and hell, Blake's visions of the daughters of Albion, or Madame Blavatsky's visions of the giants of Atlantis. But all that is beside the point. The real point is that this faculty of amplification is our human birthright, and that anyone who can grasp this can learn to pass through that door to the inner universe as easily as he could stroll through the entrance of the British Museum.
  • His life, consecrated wholly to the sacrificial service of humanity, was requited with unspeakable hostility; his way of knowledge was transformed into a path of thorns. But he walked the whole way, and mastered it for all humanity. He broke through the limits of knowledge; they are no longer there. (...) In this he achieved the greatest human deed. The greatest deed of the Gods he taught us to understand; the greatest human deed he achieved. How could he escape being hated with all the demonic power of which Hell is capable? (...) He did what once Prometheus expiated, What gave to Socrates the poisoned cup – The pardoning of Barabbas was less vile – A deed whose expiation is the cross. He made the future live before you there. We demons cannot suffer such a thing. (...) He dared – and, daring, he endured his fate – in love, long suffering, and tolerance, of weak, incapable humanity, which ever all his work in peril set. (...)
    • Marie Steiner, Rudolf Steiner: The Story of My Life, Conclusion by Marie Steiner, 1925.

See alsoEdit

Philosophy of science
Concepts AnalysisAnalytic–synthetic distinctionA priori and a posterioriCausalityCommensurabilityConsilienceConstructCreative synthesisDemarcation problemEmpirical evidenceExplanatory powerFactFalsifiabilityFeminist methodIgnoramus et ignorabimusInductive reasoningIntertheoretic reductionInquiryNatureObjectivityObservationParadigmProblem of inductionScientific lawScientific methodScientific revolutionScientific theoryTestabilityTheory choiceTheory-ladennessUnderdeterminationUnity of science
Metatheory of science CoherentismConfirmation holismConstructive empiricismConstructive realismConstructivist epistemologyContextualismConventionalismDeductive-nomological modelHypothetico-deductive modelInductionismEpistemological anarchismEvolutionismFallibilismFoundationalismInstrumentalismPragmatismModel-dependent realismNaturalismPhysicalismPositivism/reductionism/determinismRationalism/empiricismReceived view/semantic view of theoriesScientific realism/anti-realismScientific essentialismScientific formalismScientific skepticismScientismStructuralismUniformitarianismVitalism
Related topics AlchemyCriticism of scienceEpistemologyFaith and rationalityHistory and philosophy of scienceHistory of scienceHistory of evolutionary thoughtLogicMetaphysicsPseudoscienceRelationship between religion and scienceRhetoric of scienceSociology of scientific knowledgeSociology of scientific ignorance
Philosophers of science PlatoAristotleStoicismEpicureans
AverroesAvicennaRoger BaconWilliam of OckhamHugh of Saint VictorDominicus GundissalinusRobert Kilwardby
Francis BaconThomas HobbesRené DescartesGalileo GalileiPierre GassendiIsaac NewtonDavid Hume
Immanuel KantFriedrich SchellingWilliam WhewellAuguste ComteJohn Stuart MillHerbert SpencerWilhelm WundtCharles Sanders PeirceWilhelm WindelbandHenri PoincaréPierre DuhemRudolf SteinerKarl Pearson
Alfred North WhiteheadBertrand RussellAlbert EinsteinOtto NeurathC. D. BroadMichael PolanyiHans ReichenbachRudolf CarnapKarl PopperCarl Gustav HempelW. V. O. QuineThomas KuhnImre LakatosPaul FeyerabendJürgen HabermasIan HackingBas van FraassenLarry LaudanDaniel Dennett


  1. Original: "Leben in der Liebe zum Handeln und Lebenlassen im Verständnisse des fremden Wollens ist die Grundmaxime der freien Menschen."

External linksEdit

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