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Portrait bust of Aristotle; Imperial Roman (1st or 2nd century AD) copy of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos.

Aristotelianism is the name given to the system of science developed from the ideas of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. His successors are called Aristotelians or Peripatetics.

Aristotelians and Anthroposophy

According to Rudolf Steiner, many of the souls who turned to anthroposophy at the beginning of the 20th century came from the ranks of the Aristotelians. They are to unite in our days with those souls who come from the stream of the Platonists. The souls of the later Aristotelians had their last authoritative incarnation in the last pre-Christian centuries. In many cases they were still able to look into the spiritual world with clairvoyant vision in the old pagan mysteries. There they could see how the Christ, the great Sun-Spirit, was on his way to descend to Earth, and they developed a great longing to experience his effects in the earthly realm, and so they became longing Christians.

„The other souls are those who had their last decisive incarnation in the last pre-Christian centuries - not in the first Christian ones - and who were still able to look into the spiritual world with clairvoyant vision in the mysteries of ancient, pre-Christian paganism. These were the souls who, in the ancient mysteries, had received knowledge of how the Christ would one day descend to earth. These souls did not go through the first periods of Christian development on earth, but during this time they were in the supersensible and only later, after the 7th century after Christ, did they come to an authoritative incarnation. These are souls who, from the supersensible point of view, witnessed the entry of the Christ into earthly culture. They were the ones who yearned for Christianity. But they were at the same time those who wanted to work with strong activity towards bringing a genuine cosmic, spiritual Christianity into the world.“ (Lit.:GA 240, p. 147f)

They experienced the descent of the Christ to Earth from the spiritual world and did not descend to an authoritative incarnation themselves until after the 7th century. They were to prepare the intellect for the age of the consciousness soul that began with the 15th century.

„The other current was destined for something different. It was made up of those souls who had gone through their last decisive incarnation in the pre-Christian era and who at that time had regarded Christianity as something future. This was the current that had to prepare the intellect for the age that I have always described as beginning in the first half of the 15th century. The age of the consciousness soul was to dawn, the age in which the human intellect was to be formed. In contrast to the Platonists - but in harmonious contrast to them - this was prepared by the Aristotelians. And those who continued the Aristotelian teachings into the 12th century were still those who had gone through their actual decisive incarnation in the old pagan age, namely in Greek. - And then came - in the middle of the Middle Ages, in the 12th and 13th centuries - the great, the wonderful, I would say, confrontation between the Platonists and the Aristotelians. And among these Platonists and Aristotelians were also the leaders of those who, as the two groups of souls I have designated, called for the anthroposophical movement.“ (Lit.:GA 240, p. 149f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.