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Nature (Latinnatura, from nasci "to come into being, to be born"; Greekφύσις physis "that which has grown") generally refers to everything that develops according to its inherent forces and laws and has remained untouched by the activity of man, in contrast to culture in the broadest sense as that which he has artificially or artistically created or transformed. Nature thus encompasses everything that exists in the material physical world without human intervention. In the broader, philosophical epistemological sense, however, this also refers to the essence of natural things that can only be grasped spiritually or intellectually, their "essentia" or "quidditas" ("whatness"), i.e. their actual spiritual substance.

Culture and technology

Nature is contrasted with culture (beginning with agriculture), as that part of nature which has been transformed by work guided by human intellectual activity and newly shaped by the human I, which ideally leads not to a destruction but to an elevation and spiritual perfection of nature, as art in particular has often achieved in the broadest sense and as it also corresponds to the actual earthly task of man. Earth evolution and human development are so indissolubly intertwined. This task will only succeed if man in future finds a conscious access to the spiritual beings working and ruling directly or indirectly in nature, especially to the elementary beings.

With modern technology, namely with electrical engineering, electronics and the use of nuclear energy, man is already advancing into the realm of sub-nature, which belongs to the dominion of Ahriman. It is, however, one of the essential tasks of man to transform and increase these forces, but this can only succeed if man is able to increase his moral powers far beyond the level that is generally given today. If this does not succeed, technology must necessarily lead to a progressive destruction of earthly nature, as can already be observed on a large scale today. Here, too, we are dealing with an abundance of elementary beings, albeit of a completely different kind, created by human activity, which await redemption by man.


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.