Basic sociological law

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Even before his actual anthroposophical activity, Rudolf Steiner formulated the following basic sociological law, according to which all cultural development aims at the free development of the individual:

„Mankind strives in the beginning of cultural states for the emergence of social associations; the interest of the individual is first sacrificed to the interest of these associations; further development leads to the liberation of the individual from the interest of the associations and to the free development of the needs and powers of the individual.“ (Lit.:GA 31, p. 255f)

The community of free, creatively active individuals forms the basis of free spiritual life within the framework of the social threefold structure.

Basic Sociological Law and Main Social Law

The basic sociological law is closely related to the main social law:

„And now, finally, something about what has been brought forward about the two social laws as I have formulated them, that of individualism and that of socialism[1]. I have formulated the one law in connection with the book by Ludwig Stein[2] [...] Now, anyone who can see through social contexts today knows - even if it looks different at first - that the person who manufactures a skirt for himself today does not actually produce it in reality. That he produces it - in an area where we have such a far-reaching division of labour today - is only an illusion, because what he produces is consumed by himself. But this law of social life is quite valid. Things are such that this law can only be consciously realised by those who break away from the associations and become individuals. These two things are perhaps contradictory in the abstract; in reality they demand each other and belong together. Individuality would first have to detach itself from the associations so that the social could realise itself out of individuality. That is the solution to the riddle in this case.“ (Lit.:GA 337b, p. 49ff)


Freiheit und Gesellschaft, Magazin für Literatur 1898, 67. Jg., Nr. 29 und 30

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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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.


  1. cf. main social law
  2. Ludwig Stein (1859-1930): «Die soziale Frage im Lichte der Philosophie. Vorlesungen über Sozialphilosophie und ihre Geschichte», Stuttgart 1897