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Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Anthroposophy (from Greekἄνθρωπος ánthropos 'man' and σοφία sophίa 'wisdom') was founded by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) as a "path of knowledge, which wants to lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe" (Lit.:GA 26, p. 14). In this sense it wants to expand the "consciousness of his humanity" (Lit.:GA 257, p. 76). Starting from a deepened knowledge of man based on spiritual experience, anthroposophy opens a new, fully conscious thought-clear and scientifically exact access to the objective spiritual world. As a modern Spiritual science, it orients itself methodically to natural science and complements and expands its findings, corresponding to the demands of our time.

„By anthroposophy I understand a scientific investigation of the spiritual world which recognizes the one-sidedness of a mere knowledge of nature as well as that of ordinary mysticism, and which, before it makes the attempt to penetrate into the supersensible world, first develops in the discerning soul those forces which are not yet active in ordinary consciousness and in ordinary science and which make such a penetration possible.“ (Lit.:GA 35, p. 66)

What is Anthroposophy?

Whereas anthropology, which is predominantly oriented towards the natural sciences, describes only the outwardly tangible human being, anthroposophy aims to explore beyond this the soul and spiritual man, who can only be experienced inwardly, and the soul and spiritual world that can be perceived by him through consistent training of consciousness, purely empirically - without metaphysical speculation and independently of any religious dogmatism or conventional mysticism. However, the essence of the whole world is also founded in this spiritual world. All effects in the world, as Rudolf Steiner emphasises, ultimately emanate from spiritual beings living in different conditions of consciousness. In their consciousness, to which man can rise through higher knowledge, lies the source of origin and the actual substance from which reality is woven:

„So, the real realities of the world are beings in the various conditions of consciousness.“ (Lit.:GA 148, p. 306)

The spiritually deepened self-knowledge thus becomes at the same time a comprehensive knowledge of the world, cosmology or cosmosophy in the broadest sense.

„If we can look back on ourselves and recognise ourselves, then we can also observe in the cosmos. And then such observations result which provide us with a real cosmology, a cosmosophy, as I have tried to give it in my book "Occult Science".“ (Lit.:GA 82, p. 171)

„Nothing at all is considered in the cosmos without man being in it at the same time. Everything is only given meaning and at the same time a basis of knowledge by being considered in relation to man. Nowhere is the human being excluded. This anthroposophically oriented spiritual science leads our view of the world back again to a view of the human being.“ (Lit.:GA 338, p. 114)

Rudolf Steiner also referred to the anthroposophy he developed methodically as anthroposophically oriented spiritual science or, more briefly, as anthroposophical spiritual science and, very briefly, simply as spiritual science, in order to refer to the exact scientific investigation of the spiritual, based on concrete spiritual experience, that he was striving for. Even his main epistemological work, the "Philosophy of Freedom" (Lit.:GA 4), bears the subtitle: "Mental observation results according to the scientific method" ("Seelische Beobachtungsresultate nach naturwissenschaftlicher Methode").

Anthroposophy, which is represented worldwide today, has provided fruitful inspiration for many different areas of life, such as Waldorf education and curative education, anthroposophically extended medicine, the production of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics (Weleda, Wala), biodynamic agriculture (Demeter), for practically all areas of art (such as architecture), including eurythmy, the new spatial movement art that emerged from anthroposophy, for threefolding social life and finance (GLS Gemeinschaftsbank, Freie Gemeinschaftsbank), for the further deepening of Goethean natural science (Goetheanism), for the Christian Community as a movement for religious renewal and for the lay priestly movement "The Free Christian Impulse" (Der freie christliche Impuls).

General points of view

Anthroposophy sees itself as a method of individual development of consciousness. Its basis is an epistemologically founded concept of human individuality[1] and furthermore a "trained Goetheanism".[2]] It contains contents of Rosicrucianism, insofar as they have been elaborated by Rudolf Steiner[3], a detailed presentation of the stages of world development as well as a conception of re-embodiment and destiny, which differs fundamentally from many Eastern approaches.


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may find at Rudolf Steiner's Complete Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - books, lectures and articles by Rudolf Steiner online (Jim Stewart). - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Steiner's complete works for free download as PDF.


  1. Rudolf Steiner: Grundlinien einer Erkenntnistheorie der Goetheschen Weltanschauung. 8. Auflage. Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach 2002
  2. Rudolf Steiner: Innere Entwicklungsimpulse der Menschheit - Goethe und die Krisis des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, 1984, p. 136
  3. Rudolf Steiner: Die Theosophie des Rosenkreuzers, GA 99 (1985)