A worldview describes the basic spiritual attitude from which the experienced reality is viewed. Rudolf Steiner distinguished twelve fundamental worldviews, which in their totality form a spiritual image of the zodiac for the human soul. Each worldview in itself is a one-sidedness; only through the living wholeness of all 12 worldviews can an all-round satisfying picture of the world be gained. Each of these twelve world views can be nuanced by 7 worldview moods, which cosmically correspond to the planetary system.
„It is so essential, if one is to form an idea about thinking at all, that one should realise that the truth of a thought in its own field says nothing about the general validity of a thought. A thought can certainly be correct in its field; but nothing is thereby established about the general validity of the thought. If, therefore, one proves this or that to me, and proves it to me however correctly, it is impossible to apply this thus proved to a field to which it does not belong. It is therefore necessary that he who seriously wishes to occupy himself with the paths that lead to a world-view should first of all make himself acquainted with the fact that one-sidedness is the greatest enemy of all world-views and that it is above all necessary to avoid one-sidedness. We must avoid one-sidedness.“ (Lit.:GA 151, p. 33)
Rudolf Steiner names the following world views:
„Yesterday I tried to present those nuances of world-view which are possible to man, so possible that for each of these nuances of world-view certain fully valid proofs of correctness, of truth for a certain field can be produced. For those who are not out to forge together into a conceptual system everything they have been able to observe and consider in a certain narrowly limited field and then seek proofs for it, but for those who are out to really penetrate into the truth of the world, it is important to know that this all-roundness is necessity, which expresses itself in the fact that twelve typical world-view nuances - the transitions between them are not important now - are really possible for the human spirit. If we really want to arrive at the truth, we must try to understand the significance of these nuances of world view, we must try to recognise in which areas of existence one or the other of these nuances of world view forms the better key. If we once again consider these twelve nuances of worldview, as we did yesterday, they are materialism, sensualism, phenomenalism, realism, dynamism, monadism, spiritualism, pneumatism, psychism, idealism, rationalism and mathematism.
Unfortunately, in the real world of human endeavour to discover the truth, the tendency of individual spirits, of individual personalities, towards one or other of these nuances of world-view always predominates, and the one-sidedness of the various world-views of the different epochs has an effect on human beings. What I have described as the twelve main world-views must be known as something that can really be surveyed in such a way that one can, as it were, always place one world-view next to the other in a circular way and regard them as being at rest. They are possible; one must know them. They really behave in such a way that they are a spiritual image of the zodiac, which is well known to us. Just as the Sun seems to run through the zodiac, and as other planets seem to run through the zodiac, so it is possible for the human soul to run through a spiritual circle which contains twelve world-view pictures.“ (Lit.:GA 151, p. 46f)
Seven worldview moods
In addition to the 12 basic worldviews, Rudolf Steiner distinguishes seven soul moods through which each of these 12 worldviews can be experienced. These seven worldview moods correspond to the seven planets (arranged according to the occult order of the planets).
Three soul tones
According to Rudolf Steiner, all world views can also be modified by giving them a certain soul tone. Steiner distinguishes three such tones, to which cosmically correspond the Sun, the Moon and the Earth. These three soul tones are:
„There is, however, one more thing. That is that these world views - there are already a great many nuances of them, if you look for all the combinations - are further modified by the fact that they can all receive a quite definite tone. But in this field of tone we have only three things to distinguish. All world-views, all combinations which arise in this way, can again appear in three ways. Firstly, they can be theistic, so that I have to call what appears in the soul as sound theism. They can be such that, in contrast to theism, we have to call the tone of the soul Intuitism. Theism arises when man clings to everything external in order to find his God, when he seeks his God in the external. Ancient Hebrew monotheism was preferably a theistic worldview. Intuitism arises when man seeks his worldview preferably through what shines intuitively within him. There is a third tone to these two; that is naturalism.
These three soul tones also have an image in the outer world of the cosmos, and they now behave in the human soul exactly like the Sun, Moon and Earth, so that theism corresponds to the Sun - now understood as the Sun as a fixed star, not as a planet - that intuitism corresponds to the Moon and naturalism to the Earth. He who goes beyond the phenomena of the world and says: When I look out, the God who fills the world reveals Himself to me in all this - the earthling who rises up when he comes into the rays of the Sun is the theist. The man who does not go beyond the processes of nature, but stops at the individual phenomena, like the man who never raises his eyes to the Sun, but only looks at what the Sun brings forth for him on Earth, is the naturalist. He who seeks out the best that he can have in his soul by letting it rise in his intuitions is like the intuitionist poet who sings to the Moon and is stimulated in his soul by the silvery, mild moonlight, and can be compared with him. Just as one can relate the moonlight to the imagination, so one must occultly relate the Intuitist, as he is meant here, to the Moon.“ (Lit.:GA 151, p. 61ff)
„Finally, there is a fourth; this, however, is only present in a single element. When man, so to speak, in relation to all world-view, adheres entirely only to that which he can experience in or around or in himself:, that is anthropomorphism.
It corresponds to the Earth, if we consider it as such, apart from whether it is surrounded by the Sun, the Moon or something else. As we can consider the earth by itself, so we can consider nothing in regard to world-views but what we can find in ourselves as human beings. Then the anthropomorphism so prevalent in the world will come into being.“ (Lit.:GA 151, p. 63)
- Sigismund von Gleich: Die Wahrheit als Gesamtumfang aller Weltansichten, J.Ch.Mellinger Vlg., Stuttgart 1989
- Mario Betti: Zwölf Wege, die Welt zu verstehen, 2. Auflage, Vlg. Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3772521621
- Corinna Gleide/Ralf Gleide: Der Sternhimmel der Vernunft: Über den Weg der zwölf Weltanschauungen, Verlag Freies Geistesleben & Urachhaus GmbH, Stuttgart 2008; ISBN 978-3-7725-1435-7
- Rudolf Steiner: Der menschliche und der kosmische Gedanke, GA 151 (1990), ISBN 3-7274-1510-X English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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: email@example.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
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 (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - 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.