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As anthroposophy (from ancient Greek ἄνθρωπος Anthropos "man" and σοφία sophίa "wisdom") is one of are Rudolf Steiner founded (1861-1925), represented worldwide spiritual and esoteric world view and the associated training and to knowledge referred. Anthroposophy tries to combine elements of German idealism , Goethe's worldview , gnosis , Christian mysticism , Far Eastern teachings and the scientific knowledge of Steiner's time.

A central aspect was and is an application of the concept of evolution to spiritual development. In doing so, Steiner processed evolutionary approaches from both the Darwinist Ernst Haeckel and modern theosophy as represented by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky . In contrast to advocates of a purely secular, scientifically oriented concept of progress, anthroposophy seeks to understand humanity and its development in a spiritual and supernatural way, but differs from theosophy and its orientation towards Eastern religiosity. The inclusion and reinterpretation of evolution, as with Haeckel and other Steiner's contemporaries, led to controversies about possible social Darwinist and racist aspects.

Inspired by Steiner's ideas, there is an “application anthroposophy” in many areas that has contributed to the attractiveness of the anthroposophical movement to this day . These include anthroposophic architecture , Waldorf education , anthroposophic medicine , natural cosmetics from the Weleda brand , biodynamic agriculture , eurythmy and the Christian community .

Concept and effect

Rudolf Steiner around 1905
Steiner's architectural style was the model for organic architecture . The picture shows the boiler house of the Goetheanum

Rudolf Steiner understood anthroposophy to be a comprehensive (“cosmological”) view of man and the world, which he represented and disseminated as a teaching, and a path to knowledge as a scientific method for researching the supersensible (“spiritual”). He chose the term “anthroposophy” as a contrast to the term “ anthropology ”. The latter treats that which can be experienced about the world by man through his senses and the mind that adheres to sensory observation; The former, on the other hand, contains the "knowledge of the spirit man" and extends to everything that the spirit man has in the "spirit world", i.e. H. in the supernatural, could perceive.

Synonymous with the term "anthroposophy", Steiner also used other terms such as "theosophy", "occult science" or "spiritual science" to characterize his teaching and his "research method". However, he only spoke of “theosophy” during his activity within the framework of the Theosophical Society (1902–1913). “Spiritual science”, on the other hand, was also later a synonymous term he used for his worldview. In doing so, Steiner evidently tied in with Wilhelm Dilthey , the founder of the philosophy of life , to whose "Introduction to the Humanities" he referred approvingly in various places.

Steiner used the term “anthroposophy” as the title of a fragment of a text from 1910 (complete edition [GA] 45). For Steiner, anthroposophy is the creation of an awareness of humanity. He is concerned with the formulation of a comprehensive epistemology for human awareness. Since, according to Steiner, the dualistic separation of “I” and “world” is overcome in the act of knowledge, his anthroposophy wants to offer guidance for “man's self and world knowledge” at the same time. This is the monistic program of the anthroposophical path of knowledge, which - with Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner - presupposes a free, individualistic person. This variant of monism combines knowledge of nature and anthroposophical knowledge of the spirit, in that nature and the spiritual world are viewed as parts of one world.

Anthroposophy had and still has important followers, mainly from the field of cultural life, namely art, including the visual artists Joseph Beuys , Wassily Kandinsky , Oscar Lüthy and Franz Marc , the composer Viktor Ullmann , the composer and musicologist Peter-Michael Riehm and the conductor Bruno Walter , the writers Saul Bellow , Andrej Bely , Michael Ende and Christian Morgenstern . Sympathizers included Alexej (von) Jawlensky , Jorge Luis Borges , Piet Mondrian , Richard Neutra , Le Corbusier , Henry van de Velde , Frank Lloyd Wright , Eero Saarinen , Erich Mendelsohn and Hans Scharoun (see also organic architecture ). Of the architects living today, Frank Gehry in particular describes Steiner as a source of inspiration.

Steiner's influence can be ascertained beyond the circle of direct followers. Hermann Hesse , who had a distant relationship to Steiner's teaching, published various poems around 1926/1927 in the journal Individualität , which was published by the anthroposophical founding member and temporary Steiner secretary Willy Storrer . Even Paul Klee rezipierte Steiner with critical distance. Part of Rudolf Steiner's influence on various art movements is only gradually being worked through.

Concept history

Ignaz Paul Vitalis Troxler was the founder of an anthroposophy which he derived from biosophy

The term “anthroposophy” was already used in the early modern period . In an anonymous book with the title Arbatel de magia veterum, summum sapientiae studium (1575), which is attributed to the philosopher and theologian Agrippa von Nettesheim , anthroposophy (like theosophy) is assigned to the “science of the good” and with “knowledge of the natural Things "or" cleverness in human affairs "translated. In 1648 the Anthroposophia Theomagica by the Welsh philosopher Thomas Vaughan was published .

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Swiss doctor and philosopher Ignaz Troxler (1780–1866) coined the term “anthroposophy” based on his biosophy ( elements of biosophy, 1806). In the sense of the forerunners of the philosophy of life , especially of the natural philosopher Schelling , with whom Troxler had studied, biosophy should mean "knowledge of nature through self-knowledge". Troxler called the knowledge of human nature anthroposophy. According to him, philosophy - and all philosophy is knowledge of nature - must become anthroposophy. This is presented as an "objectified anthropology" that should proceed from the "original man". In human nature, God and the world are united in a mystical process.

Even Immanuel Hermann Fichte used the word anthroposophy 1856 in Anthropology - The doctrine of the human soul and thus called a "thorough self-knowledge of man," the lie "only in the exhaustive acknowledgment of the spirit". The “human spirit” cannot, however, recognize itself thoroughly or thoroughly without thereby “becoming aware of the presence or probation of the divine spirit in it”.

The religious philosopher Gideon Spicker , who strived for a "religion in a philosophical form on a scientific basis" and saw the conflict between belief and knowledge, between religion and natural science as the basic problem of his life and thought, formulated the program of an anthroposophy, also in the sense of "highest self-knowledge ". Spicker's ideal in religion encompassed the unity of God and the world as self-responsible knowledge using reason and experience .

The Austrian philosopher and Herbartian Robert Zimmermann (1824–1898), creator of the “Philosophical Propaedeutic ”, chose the term “Anthroposophy” in 1882 as the title of a program that sought to describe a system of ideal worldview on a realistic basis ( Anthroposophy in outline , 1882) . Zimmermann, at which Steiner attended philosophy lectures, wanted in his system to go beyond the “limits and contradictions inherent in the common experience standpoint” and to establish a “philosophy of human knowledge” which, as a science, proceeds from experience, but beyond it reaches where logical thinking requires.

Rudolf Steiner initially used the name “anthroposophy” very freely. In 1902, for example, he held a series of lectures in the Berlin literary group Die Kommenden, which he directed : From Zarathustra to Nietzsche. Development history of mankind based on world views from the oldest oriental times to the present, or anthroposophy. Nothing is known about the content of these lectures. At the same time, he spoke for the first time publicly (within the framework of the Giordano-Bruno-Bund) about the theosophy he represented from then on (title: Monism and Theosophy ), with the content linked to Immanuel Hermann Fichte. In the context of the Theosophical Society, Steiner first used the term “anthroposophy” in 1909 for an expanded doctrine of the senses . Which he placed next to the theosophy that already existed, "similar to how anthropology was placed next to theology in the Middle Ages" ( Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, Pneumatosophy , GA 115). After he called a historical view of world views "anthroposophy" in 1902, he now developed a doctrine of the senses under the same name, which supplemented the known five senses with five additional senses and was thus intended to form a bridge between theosophy and anthropology. Regarding the history of words, he noted: “The word has already been used once. Robert Zimmermann wrote an anthroposophy, but he undertook it with extremely inadequate means [...]. He spun it out with the most well-balanced, abstract terms, and this web was then his anthroposophy. ”Steiner did not finish a written version of his“ anthroposophical ”doctrine of the senses; it was published posthumously as a fragment ( Anthroposophy - a fragment , GA 45).

When there was a break with the Theosophical Society in 1913 and Steiner had to choose a new name for what he had previously represented as “Theosophy”, he decided on “Anthroposophy”.

Anthroposophy with Rudolf Steiner

For Steiner, "anthroposophy" describes on the one hand his teachings and on the other hand the research method he used for them.

“By anthroposophy I mean a scientific investigation of the spiritual world, which sees through the one-sidedness of a mere knowledge of nature as well as those of ordinary mysticism and which, before attempting to penetrate into the supersensible world, first sees through the one-sidedness in the knowing soul in the ordinary Consciousness and forces not yet active in ordinary science developed which enable such penetration. "

- Philosophy and Anthroposophy , GA 35

Steiner's anthroposophical teaching ties in with Christian mysticism , Rosicrucianism and idealistic philosophy, but in the first few years also adopted elements of modern or Anglo-Indian theosophy, which was strongly influenced by Indian philosophy . Because of this connection of different currents, critics classified it as syncretistic worldview, eclectic mysticism or obscurantism even during Steiner's lifetime . It contains a comprehensive (“cosmic”) concept of evolution as well as a multi-layered image of re-embodiment ( reincarnation ) and fate .

According to his statements, Steiner's findings came from a mental and supernatural vision that he had been aware of since childhood and that he methodically deepened. In his early philosophical work he had developed an epistemological monism that was based on a discussion of Kant ( Critique of Pure Reason ) and Neo-Kantianism . Steiner pleaded for an " ethical individualism " that is related to Max Stirner's writings and the individualistic anarchism of Benjamin Tucker and John Henry Mackay . Further influences are Goethe , Hegel ( phenomenology ), JG Fichte ( German idealism ), Nietzsche and Haeckel ( evolution theory ). Steiner's teachings were used and interpreted selectively, individually and eclecticistically ( Truth and Science , 1892, and The Philosophy of Freedom , 1894).

From 1902 Steiner appeared esoteric and Christian within the Theosophical Society . The question to what extent this can be ascribed to a change in his life (he himself speaks of an “awakening experience”) has not yet been decided - even among anthroposophists. It was also not possible to conclusively clarify how the turning point had a philosophical effect on Steiner's oeuvre. Steiner himself described his anthroposophy as a consistent further development of his early work, but also made open reference to Christian mysticism and Rosicrucianism. Elements of Blavatsky's theosophy also temporarily found their way into Steiner's representations, although he emphasized from the start that his teaching was developed independently of Blavatsky's.

According to Steiner, humans (and the entire world, including the spiritual world) are in constant development (evolution). The aim of the anthroposophical training path is to reach higher levels of consciousness through meditation , self- education and observation on a lifelong “search”. This training path is to be designed individually and can be followed by everyone.

The anthroposophical movement is very heterogeneous sociologically , philosophically, religiously and politically. The interpretation of Steiner's work is also not uniform within anthroposophy due to the different subject areas and the large volume (28 writings and approx. 5,900 lectures).


During Rudolf Steiner's lifetime

Cover of the journal Lucifer-Gnosis , 1904

In October 1902, a German section of the Theosophical Society Adyar (Adyar-TG) was founded in Berlin, one of several competing theosophical groups that had been represented in Germany by ten “lodges” up until then. The philosopher and Goethe researcher Rudolf Steiner was elected as Secretary General, who had previously only appeared as a speaker in the Berlin Theosophical Library of Sophie Gräfin and Cay Graf von Brockdorff and was probably used as a compromise candidate because none of the older, quarreling members could get a majority.

This represented an extraordinary turn in Steiner's biography. Until then, as a philosopher, Goethe editor, book author, publicist, editor and lecturer, he had expressed himself on a variety of topics, but always maintained a critical distance from religion. Even more so, he had been hostile to the theosophy, which was strongly influenced by oriental teachings. What Steiner developed in the second half of The Philosophy of Freedom (Version 1894) as an ethical consequence of his assumptions could be seen “in perfect agreement” with Stirner's work The Single and His Property . He had also emerged as an enthusiastic supporter of the religious critics Ernst Haeckel and Friedrich Nietzsche. But now he took over the management of the Adyar theosophists in Germany and began to work out his own variety of theosophy, following on from Christian mysticism and other traditions of European spiritual life, but also taking over elements of the existing theosophical teaching.

This astonishing turn in Steiner's life gave rise to a variety of interpretations. In his autobiography, Steiner himself described a “profound change” in his mental experience in the years before the turn of the century and described this as a “trial period” with “hard soul struggles”, which particularly affected his relationship to Christianity. In this context, the biographer Gerhard Wehr speaks of a “modern Damascus experience ” that is comparable to the conversion of the Apostle Paul . The theologian Georg Otto Schmid takes up Steiner's autobiographical descriptions, according to which he had perceptions of a “spiritual” world since childhood, and believes that Steiner's turn to theosophy gave him an ideological framework “in which he made his perceptions in the spiritual world bring in and interpret them. Theosophy provides Steiner with a developed geography of the spiritual world, a spiritual world that is populated by spiritual beings of all kinds, who can plausibly interpret his premonitions and perceptions. ”Many of Steiner's contemporaries assumed purely worldly motives by referring to the precarious material conditions that he had been in in previous years.

Steiner's activity in the TG consisted mainly of giving lectures, publishing his own theosophical journal ( Lucifer , later Lucifer-Gnosis ) and writing books. The organizational work was done by Marie von Sivers , who later became Steiner's second wife. In addition to the lectures for members of the TG, in which he followed up on the established doctrines of theosophy to a considerable extent, Steiner also gave numerous public lectures. In it he referred almost exclusively to Central European (German-speaking) intellectual life and tried to develop his theosophy on this basis. Under Steiner's leadership, the number of members of the Adyar-TG in Germany grew rapidly: If only 130 members were counted at the first general assembly in 1903, there were already 2,489 in 1912. At that time, the TG was represented by a "branch" in 54 German cities.

Steiner formulated his theosophical doctrine (then still called) in two books: Theosophy (1904) and The Occult Science in Outline (1910), which he revised several times during his lifetime and which are still considered to be the fundamental representations of anthroposophy today. Another standard work is the essay series How do you gain knowledge of the higher worlds? first published in book form in 1909.

Due to increasing differences with the President of the International Theosophical Society, Annie Besant , which came to a head especially in the dispute over the stylization of the young Jiddu Krishnamurti as a kind of messiah by Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater , a break with the Theosophical Society occurred in the spring of 1913 . The Anthroposophical Society had already been founded in Cologne at the end of 1912, which most of the theosophists living in Germany now joined and which was soon also present in other countries. In this context, Steiner renamed his previous theosophy "Anthroposophy".

The first Goetheanum in Dornach / Switzerland (1913–1922)

In autumn 1913, work began on the first Goetheanum in Dornach near Basel , which was to serve as an event location and center for society after the building permit for a building originally planned in Munich had been refused several times. At the same time, there were various activities in the social, cultural and societal field. Sun founded Emil Molt , director general of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory , 1919 in Stuttgart for the children of its workers and employees, the first Waldorf school, whose line took over Steiner himself. In 1921 the pharmaceutical company Weleda AG was founded, which manufactures and sells anthroposophic medicines . In 1922 a group of theologians founded the Christian Community , a movement for the renewal of Christianity with an anthroposophical orientation.

The second Goetheanum, built 1925–1928, was designed by Rudolf Steiner and is now the seat of the General Anthroposophical Society .

At the same time, opponents formed. On New Year's Eve 1922/1923, the first wooden Goetheanum burned down to its foundation walls, presumably set on fire by strangers. Steiner then designed a second, larger Goetheanum made of concrete, which was not completed until 1928. At the same time, he endeavored to reorganize the Anthroposophical Society, in whose management he had not been directly involved as honorary president until then. When these efforts were unsuccessful, Steiner's instigation in Dornach took place at the so-called Christmas Conference on December 28, 1923, the re-establishment of the Anthroposophical Society, which, while adapting to the requirements of the present, was linked to the Anthroposophical Society founded in 1912 and its chairmanship Steiner himself took over. At the same time, he founded the long-planned School of Spiritual Science and, for the time being, was the only lecturer to take over its management. After the Goetheanum-Bauverein founded in 1913 had been renamed the General Anthroposophical Society , on February 8, 1925, the newly founded Anthroposophical Society was implicitly merged into this renamed Bauverein. However, Steiner suffered a severe physical collapse during the founding celebrations, from which he was no longer to recover; A poison attack on Steiner is sometimes suspected as the cause of this. Of the three planned “classes” at the university, only the first, elementary class came about. In the course of 1924 Steiner had to limit his lecturing activities increasingly. After a short time he had to break off his last lecture on September 28, 1924. Until two days before his death on March 30, 1925, he was still working in bed on various publications, most recently on a book on the foundation of anthroposophic medicine, which he wrote together with his doctor Ita Wegman .

Crisis after Steiner's death

The second Goetheanum, completed in 1928

In the event of his death, Rudolf Steiner had given no instructions with regard to the Anthroposophical Society and the university. The company's five-person board, whom Steiner had appointed just over a year earlier, was at a loss and soon fell out. In particular, no agreement could be reached on whether one could continue Steiner's initiatives or realistically only manage what was already there. At the end of 1925 Albert Steffen was elected as chairman and thus formally as Steiner's successor. On the initiative of Ita Wegman in particular, it was decided soon after that the university would continue to exist formally by taking up the custom, which had already begun under Steiner, that selected personalities were given the right to read out Steiner's "class lessons" elsewhere or to recite them freely. The Dornach board of directors lost its importance, however, and in several countries new groups split off from the Anthroposophical Society, sometimes with the participation of individual board members. In 1935 the General Assembly decided, at Steffen's instigation, to exclude the people involved - including the board members Ita Wegman and Elisabeth Vreede and other leading anthroposophists in Germany, Holland and England - from society.

Parallel to the crises within the Anthroposophical Society, however, some of the cultural impulses suggested by Steiner continued to develop, such as the Waldorf movement through the establishment of new schools and Steiner's artistic initiatives, which were continued under the direction of Marie Steiner .

During the National Socialism

At the beginning of the Nazi era , hopes of a cooperation with the National Socialists germinated in anthroposophical circles. The board member of the Anthroposophical Society, Guenther Wachsmuth, expressed respect for “the brave and courageous way in which the [German] government tackled the problems”, as well as “sympathy” and “admiration” for the way the problem was dealt with by “the leaders of the new Germany”.

Prohibition of the Anthroposophical Society in Germany

After Hess's flight to England on May 10, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich ordered the action against secret doctrines and so-called secret sciences on June 9 , which was directed against supporters of anthroposophy, theosophy and ariosophy and their organizations. On November 1, 1935, according to a decree of the Prussian Secret State Police, “the Anthroposophical Society existing in the territory of the German Reich” ... “because of its subversive and subversive character” was dissolved. The decree was signed by Reinhard Heydrich.

The anti-Semitic propaganda journal Der Judenkenner had already given the thrust a few months earlier: “What we think about the completely Jewish anthroposophical movement and Rudolf Steiner is well known,” it said in the issue of August 28, 1935. Even before the ban, everyone had Jewish members gave up their offices in society. Most of them had left; others were urged to leave in order to minimize points of friction with the regime. After the ban, some anthroposophists tried to get a permit again. The board of directors of the General Anthroposophical Society resisted the dissolution with a letter to Adolf Hitler , in which Steiner's Aryan descent was referred to and the connection to Jewish circles was denied.

The letter documents the attempt to come to terms with the National Socialist regime. Some anthroposophists pursued an even more aggressive ingratiation. The anthroposophist Friedrich Rittelmeyer formulated an explicit recognition of the National Socialist state: “The Christian community recognizes the National Socialist state. She believes she is doing him the best service if she cultivates the religious and Christian in the purest possible purity and strength. " Guenther Wachsmuth , member of the Dornach board of the General Anthroposophical Society, had expressed his" sympathy "for" what z . This is happening in Germany at the moment ”. In his memoirs, Erich Ludendorff , to whom anthroposophy appeared to be part of a Jewish-Masonic world conspiracy, even claimed a "dangerous" infiltration of National Socialist circles. The National Socialists stuck to their rejection of anthroposophy, even if they found some similarities. At least that is evident from an expert opinion that the National Socialist educator Alfred Baeumler had prepared on behalf of the Rosenberg Office .

However, all attempts to re-admit the Anthroposophical Society in Germany failed in 1939 when Rudolf Hess ordered “equal treatment with former Freemasons”. And that although anthroposophical institutions continued to show that they were cooperative. Biodynamic agriculture found high esteem among some Nazi leaders, which, however, is more due to its "originality" than to its spiritual foundation. The SS had established between 1939 and 1945 agricultural experimental farms, in which the biologically dynamic agriculture has been tested; one of the goods at the Ravensbrück concentration camp . Issue 5 of Demeter magazine from 1939 appeared on the cover with a picture of Hitler and a greeting on his 50th birthday. The September issue of the magazine was also accompanied by a leaflet in which the editor, Erhard Bartsch, called on biodynamic farmers to support the “Führer”. Bartsch apparently even tried to participate in the SS settlement plans for the " living space in the east ".

Obstruction of school lessons and prohibition of Waldorf schools

The eight Waldorf schools were a particular thorn in the side of the National Socialists from the start. Unlike other anthroposophical institutions, which were able to continue working for a long time unnoticed by the authorities, the schools had a great external impact. In order to save the schools, Elisabeth Klein, the Dresden headmistress, who held a key position in the negotiations with the regime, contacted leading National Socialists. She sought to close ranks, while the schools in Berlin and Altona in 1936 expressly distanced themselves from these attempts at collaboration and closed their own doors. Among the people Klein contacted was Rudolf Heß, who was said to have sympathy for anthroposophy. Klein also assumed that Hess saw his task as being "to protect all schools of thought in Germany that can still have a constructive effect on the spiritual life".

According to an order from Rudolf Hess, Waldorf schools were no longer allowed to start schooling until 1940. Two schools were even banned (1938 Stuttgart and 1941 Dresden). The rest had to close for financial reasons. Of the eight anthroposophical curative educational homes, three were seriously threatened, two of which were closed. Despite these repression measures, there were also members who came closer to the system or who even worked actively in the bodies of the NSDAP .

Time after the ban and overall assessment

Until his flight to England, Rudolf Hess held his protective hand over anthroposophy.

At the same time, the situation in Dornach worsened. After the prohibition of the company in the German "motherland" and the rift with the important national companies in Holland and England caused by the resolutions of 1935, the influence of the Dornach Center was largely limited to Switzerland, before it became a nation with the outbreak of war in 1939 got into a completely isolated island situation. In 1939 the Goetheanum (main building) had to be closed for financial reasons. In terms of personnel, Marie Steiner was gradually sidelined in the three-person executive board, and in 1942 there was an open conflict between her and Albert Steffen, or rather between the respective supporters of the membership. Marie Steiner, who had been designated the sole heir in his will by Rudolf Steiner, now formally asserted these rights by founding a “Legacy Association” which, apart from the Anthroposophical Society, was to publish Rudolf Steiner's works even after her death.

In Germany until 1941 Rudolf Hess tried to hold his "protective hand" over the anthroposophists and their institutions whenever possible.

It was only after Hess's so-called " England flight " on May 10, 1941, as a result of which he was labeled a traitor and declared crazy, that the remnants of organized anthroposophy in the German Reich were smashed. Now Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels started a campaign against the spiritual and spiritualist groups for which Hess had campaigned. In this context, it was claimed Hess was due to the influence of astrologers , mesmerists and other occultists under hallucinations suffered. Anthroposophists have also alleged that they influenced Hess occult and induced him to fly to England. A wave of arrests and interrogations followed. Shortly afterwards the Christian community was also dissolved. Their priests were arrested. Although there were further attempts on the part of anthroposophy to offer themselves to the regime in the “final battle against Bolshevism”, with the discontinuation of the sponsor Hess, they lacked a sounding board.

All in all, the relationship between anthroposophy and National Socialism was ambivalent. An overall judgment is difficult. There was indeed an unbridgeable gap between the two worldviews, but the anthroposophists wanted understanding, not resistance. There are no known anthroposophical resistance fighters.

Time after 1945

After the war, the anthroposophical activities forbidden in the Third Reich were soon resumed in Germany and Austria. The conflict over the rights to Rudolf Steiner's work, however, escalated. After Marie Steiner's death in 1948, the estate association she founded (today: Rudolf Steiner Verlag) considered itself the sole owner of these rights. This led to a legal dispute with the Anthroposophical Society, which ended in 1952 with a victory for the estate association. The defeated party then banned all of Rudolf Steiner's works from the bookstore in the Goetheanum, which was retained until 1968. Dornach's role as the international center of the Anthroposophical Society was fully restored when the national societies in Holland and England, which had split off in 1935, rejoined in 1960 and 1963, respectively.

The strong expansion of the Waldorf schools (in May 2015 according to self-representation 1063 World Schools in 60 countries), the Waldorf kindergartens (in November 2015 according to self-representation about 2000 worldwide), of anthroposophic medicine and excited also by Rudolf Steiner biodynamic agriculture (refer to the Demeter brand ) was largely unaffected by these difficulties. In 1960, a bank with anthroposophical objectives was founded in Bochum ( GLS Community Bank ). In 1969 the anthroposophical community hospital Herdecke was established as the first facility of its kind in Germany. In 1973 the anthroposophically oriented Alanus University was established in Alfter , since 2002 a state-recognized art university . The University of Witten / Herdecke , which was founded in 1983 and is Germany's oldest private university, has mainly anthroposophical or anthroposophical authors ( Gerhard Kienle , Konrad Schily , Herbert Hensel ). According to the Anthroposophical Society, over 10,000 anthroposophical institutions are currently active in 103 countries.

Compared to the successes of various practical initiatives and applications initiated by Steiner or later emerged from anthroposophy, general interest in anthroposophy itself remained rather low for a long time. However, since the 1980s, as Gerhard Wehr wrote, an “astonishing renaissance” has been observed.

Doctrine and Path of Knowledge

Steiner's anthroposophy puts people at the center of their considerations. In his two fundamental works, Theosophy (1904) and The Secret Science in Outline (1910), he first describes the “ essence of man” in detail before moving on to the rest of the world. Anthroposophy assumes that everyone can come to the knowledge of higher worlds by using appropriate techniques. In this respect it is more democratic than other esoteric teachings, in which esoteric knowledge is reserved for only a few. According to the Swedish historian of religion Olav Hammer, this democratization in anthroposophy was barely completed in half, since there was no equal successor after Steiner's death. The implicit goal of the anthroposophical path of knowledge seems to him to be to follow the doctrinal statements that Steiner presented. The historian Ulrich Linse sees the hierarchical, inegalitarian image of man in anthroposophy as the reason for the success that it had with the nobility ; the self -redemption through self -education that was propagated at the same time made it attractive to the upper class .

Members of the being

The theosophy of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was an essential basis of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy

Similar to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky , whose teachings he often tied in with, especially at the beginning of his work in the Theosophical Society , Steiner distinguished between different “human beings”. In doing so, however, he avoided a specific classification scheme, as was customary in theosophy up to that point, but instead, in stark contrast to this, often merged different schemes, emphasizing the freedom of perspective from rigid schemes. In addition, he did not take over the content of his "human studies" like Blavatsky from Indian philosophy, but developed them more or less from approaches in German-speaking intellectual life.

The first comprehensive written description of the anthroposophical image of man appeared in 1904 under the title Theosophy . In it, Steiner chose Goethe's epistemological essay The attempt as a mediator of object and subject (1793) as a starting point - and thereby implicitly claimed that his "theosophy" was based on his earlier work as a Goethe editor and as the author of an epistemology of Goethe's worldview (1886 ) to be connected. Together with Goethe, he established that man is “interwoven with the world in a threefold way. - The first kind is something that he finds that he accepts as a given fact. In the second way he makes the world his own business, something that matters to him. He regards the third kind as a goal towards which he must continually strive ”. A “divine being, as it were” (Goethe) with the possibility of recognizing the truth and being able to act accordingly. Steiner now called these three types of human relationship to the world “body”, “soul” and “spirit”. He expressly distanced himself from any previous use of these words: "Anyone who associates any preconceived notions or even hypotheses with these three words will necessarily have to misunderstand the following arguments."

Steiner further differentiated these three basic concepts of the anthroposophical “human study” by distinguishing between three physical, mental and spiritual components, which he called human beings. As a modification of the resulting nine-fold structure, he also derived a seven-part scheme, which can be compared with, but not identical to, the scheme used by theosophists until then, going back to Blavatsky. In the simplest variant, Steiner only differentiated between the three bodily elements and subsumed everything else under the term “I”. This four-part scheme, which is reminiscent of the medical teaching of Paracelsus and can be compared with the theory of the soul of Aristotle , is based on the classification of the three natural kingdoms of minerals, plants and animals that was valid at Steiner's time and adds the human being as a fourth "kingdom", who with his three body members (physical body - etheric body or life body - astral body or soul body) participates in all kingdoms of nature, but protrudes with his I from nature.

Only the physical body can be perceived with the ordinary senses. The higher parts of the being, which pervade this physical body, can be explored for a supersensible perception as independent components of the human being. Thus the etheric body appears as a “life-filled spirit form” in which “everything is in a living flow into one another”. Steiner's concept of the etheric body corresponds roughly to that of the vegetative soul in Aristotle. According to Steiner, the presence of an etheric body is expressed in liveliness and growth, and he is also the carrier of heredity . Every living being has an etheric body. In contrast, an astral body, sometimes simply called "soul" by Steiner, is only present in "ensouled" beings: animals and humans. He gives them a conscious inner life, feelings, desires, but also unconscious impulses. This roughly corresponds to the sensitive soul in Aristotle. Finally, in anthroposophical terminology the 'I' denotes the eternal, imperishable and only human “essence”. The “essence” carries the karma , persists after death and incarnates again in another body. The ego penetrates and changes the lower parts of the being, however; In this context, Steiner also speaks of a separate bodily "I-organization". According to Leijenhorst, Steiner's concept of the I unites the unconscious will in the sense of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche with Descartes' cogito .

Changes in the interaction of the human beings are expressed in different states of consciousness. In waking consciousness, all four members of the human being are closely connected with one another. When falling asleep, the astral body and the ego separate from the physical and etheric body. A state occurs that is permanent in plants: dreamless sleep. The astral body and ego act “from outside” on the sleeping body and it can regenerate. In the intermediate state of dream consciousness the astral body connects in a certain way with the etheric body, but not with the physical body. Without connection with the physical sense organs, he cannot perceive the physical world, and full self-awareness is not present in the ordinary dream either.

A fourth state is death , in which the higher parts of the being, including the etheric body, separate from the physical body. This is now only subject to the physical-chemical laws and disintegrates. The connection between the higher members of the human being is initially retained. Only later does the etheric body and then the astral body dissolve, and the ego enters a spiritual world in which it prepares for its rebirth ( reincarnation ).

From incarnation to incarnation, but also within an “earthly life”, the human being develops as a soul and spiritual being (in the anthroposophical sense, see above). As stages of this development, which also exist side by side, a distinction is made between the spiritual and spiritual elements of the being. The lowest member of the soul is the “sensation soul”, named after a synonym for sensory perception that was used in Steiner's time . In this part of the soul live the conscious impressions of the senses, but also instincts, desires and passions. In contrast to the astral body, for which this also applies, on this "soul" level it is a matter of impulses which go beyond the natural and generic, which means that the human being as an individual is different from the animal. In this respect, the sentient soul is an "individualized" metamorphosis of the astral body from which it emerges in the course of personality development.

The second member of the soul is the "mind soul" in which thinking unfolds. Just as the sentient soul is a metamorphosis of the astral body, so the intellectual soul is a metamorphosis of the etheric body. The forces of growth and creation, which initially build up and shape the physical body, later become partly free as a thinking force. Therefore, according to Steiner, independent thinking should only be encouraged in children when all physical organs have been completely laid out ("tooth change"). Finally, the third member of the soul is called the “consciousness soul”. In it the individual rises out of subjectivity to the truth and good , which has validity beyond his own personality.

In contrast to these stages of mental development, which take place under the influence of upbringing and other socialization, Steiner described the spiritual elements as stages of a development carried out fully consciously from the ego. This is still in its infancy today.


A distinction must be made between these structuring schemes in Steiner's relatively early theosophical-anthroposophical presentations, the idea of ​​“threefolding”, which he published for the first time in 1917 in his book On Souls Riddles and that in his late work and the suggestions for Waldorf education, anthroposophic medicine and should acquire great importance for social design (“ social threefolding ”). This idea is based on the distinction between the psychic activities of thinking, feeling and willing and assigns these to three organ systems as the physical basis: thinking (and sensory perception) the "nerve-sensory system", and willing the "metabolic limb system" and feeling the "rhythmic system".


According to Steiner, the I, the imperishable “essence” of man, is subject to reincarnation , which is supposed to serve as “an instrument for the perfection of man”. According to his portrayal, with death, consciousness does not cease, but a review of the past life and then a purification comparable to purgatory (“Kamaloka”), whereby first the etheric body and then the astral body “dissolve”. Steiner also took up the old ( Neoplatonic ) idea of ​​the ascent of the soul through the planetary spheres in this context. After a temporarily purely spiritual existence, the ego makes the decision to a new incarnation. When descending through the spheres, a new astral body is first attached to it and then a new etheric body, depending on the actions and experiences during the previous incarnations or "earth life". Here the idea of karma appears, but turned in such a way that the ego strives for what arises as a consequence of what has been done and experienced in earlier incarnations. After all, the descending soul chooses its future biological parents and acts on their genetic makeup for generations in advance. Centuries usually pass between two incarnations, generally a change of sex is connected with it, and the ethnic affiliation also changes from incarnation to incarnation, so that in the course of many incarnations all aspects of being human can be experienced.

Steiner's doctrine of reincarnation shows similarities with corresponding theosophical and Platonic ideas, but is characterized by a particularly high degree of systematization and the attempt to integrate reincarnation and karma into a Christian context. Despite its complexity and some of the contradictions it contains, it has advanced to "probably the most powerful reincarnation model in the German-speaking world" , according to the historian Helmut Zander . According to Willmann, it differs from comparable Hindu and Buddhist teachings as follows:

  • She regards earthly life as an opportunity to develop to ever higher levels of consciousness.
  • It affirms the continuity of the ego-consciousness and tries to preserve instead of to overcome it - within an incarnation, but also from incarnation to incarnation.


A central theme of anthroposophy are Steiner's depictions of Jesus and Christ , with which he vigorously opposed the Protestant research on the life of Jesus by Adolf von Harnack , David Friedrich Strauss and others, which Jesus only regarded as a historical person, a divine person for him Denied status and only saw a prophet in him. Steiner distinguished between the person Jesus and a high spiritual being called "Christ" who incarnated in this person at the time of baptism at the Jordan . In this context, Christ is referred to as the divine Logos or the spirit of the sun. When he died on the cross on Golgotha , this Christ-Spirit was connected with the entire earth, and since then he has been experienced by everyone - regardless of external denominations - in an inner, mystical vision. Steiner described this “Mystery of Golgotha” as the central event in human history . Humanity had been subjected to the forces of evil , which is what made man into a mortal being. In line with other Christian teachings, Steiner also emphasizes that Christ sacrificed himself by dying on the cross in order to redeem humanity.

As a central event in human history, the Mystery of Golgotha ​​has a complex and far-reaching prehistory, according to Steiner. So there were two different "Jesus boys " with different origins, which are described in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew . Steiner referred to them as the Nathan and Solomonic Jesus, after the two sons of David from whom they are said to have descended. The Nathan Jesus (of the Gospel of Luke) is supposed to reincarnate Adam Kadmon , an individuality who did not go through the fall and therefore remained in complete innocence. The Solomonic Jesus (of the Gospel of Matthew), on the other hand, is a reincarnation of Zarathustra . The shepherds made their sacrifices to the innocent Nathan Jesus. The three wise men from the East who are described as former disciples of Zoroaster came to the Solomonic Jesus . When both boys were twelve years old, Zarathustra's I passed over to the Nathan Jesus, whereby the innocent boy suddenly became one of the wisest people (temple scene from the Gospel of Luke) and was no longer recognized by his parents.

Evil also appears in two forms for Steiner, which he calls Lucifer and Ahriman . Lucifer tries to detach humanity from the earth by accelerating its development. He works through the power of fantasy, imagination, enthusiasm and sympathy. He is the devil who was responsible for the Fall, which made man mortal and selfish, but also given the freedom to make decisions independently of God. Ahriman, on the other hand, wants to tie humanity to earth by delaying its development. He works through the power of the cold, materialistic intellect, through the pursuit of domination and through antipathy. While Lucifer wants to turn people into bird-like or angel-like beings with no real relationship to the earth, Ahriman tries to turn the earth into a dead machine. Christ strives not to extinguish this twofold evil, but to transform and redeem it by balancing the opposites and bringing them into harmony as the world ego. This Manichean motif is also contained in Steiner's wooden sculpture Representing Humanity , which is in the Goetheanum in Dornach. This implies that evil also has a positive role in human development. In this way, Lucifer brought man freedom, but Christ gives him the opportunity to use this freedom to do good willingly. In this context, Steiner also differentiated between a higher and a lower "I" of humans. The lower I is the gift of Lucifer and gives us ego-centered everyday consciousness. In the higher I, Christ lives as the universal I who reunites humanity and with whose help we can create the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Apocalypse . Steiner is close to Pelagianism, early modern spiritual alchemy and Rosicrucianism .

In a similar way to Jakob Böhme , Steiner also adopted the concept of the divine Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit ), whereby on the one hand he related this to the trinity of soul activities (wanting, feeling and thinking) and thus to his threefolding doctrine (see above) and on the other hand, a connection to the heavenly hierarchies inherited from Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita . The first and highest hierarchy, consisting of the thrones, the cherubim and the seraphim , corresponds accordingly to the divine Father and the human will, the second or middle hierarchy (Kyriotetes, Dynameis and Exusiai) corresponds to the son and human feeling, the third and lowest (archai, archangels and angels ) to the Holy Spirit and human thought. Steiner paid special attention to the third hierarchy, which is closest to humans. According to his portrayal, each person has a personal angel who guides him in harmony with his destiny, while the archangels take care of entire peoples or historical periods and the archai direct the development of humanity as a whole. Michael, on the other hand, holds a special position among the archangels as the bearer of cosmic intelligence. This cosmic intellect was bestowed on humans in ancient times, which enabled them to practice science. Ahriman, symbolized as the dragon that Michael banished from paradise, tries to trick people into using this intelligence only for his materialistic and misanthropic purposes. In contrast, Michael asks us to "Christianize" intelligence by using clear thinking in freedom to create a harmonious and just world. In particular, Michael is the leading archangel in the current epoch of human development (Michael Age), which began in 1879 and replaced the "Dark Age" ( Kali-Yuga ), in which, according to Steiner, access to the spiritual was only possible with great difficulty World to get. In this context, Steiner also called anthroposophy as a whole “Michaelic”.

Gerhard Wehr sees Steiner's view of Christ as the starting point of all anthroposophy and therefore counts it as a whole as part of Christian esotericism. In particular, it is comparable to the "Logos Christianity" of the Evangelist John, the cosmic Christology of the Apostle Paul , the mysticism of Jakob Boehmes and Rosicrucianism , in more recent times especially with the mysticism and interpretation of the world by Pierre Teilhard de Chardins .

Cosmic evolution, human development and cultural epochs

Steiner's view of history was strongly essentialist . In his view, history is not only divided into clearly delimited sections, but he also attributed meaning and purpose to it. He placed the development of mankind in the context of a cosmic evolution, in the course of which our entire planetary system and with it mankind underwent a series of "reincarnations". In doing so, Steiner orientated himself closely to corresponding representations by theosophical authors and especially Blavatsky, from whom he largely adopted the terminology. He called the earlier embodiments of the planetary system “Old Saturn”, “Old Sun” and “Old Moon”, the future ones “Jupiter”, “Venus” and “Volcano”. According to him, the development of mankind begins already in the time of old Saturn, on which the physical body of man was created, and continued on the old sun and the old moon with the creation of the etheric body and the astral body . Between these cosmic stages of development, humanity and the whole planetary system went through phases of purely spiritual existence (pralaya).

Steiner's description of human development to date was also based closely on theosophical models. First of all, humanity and the entire planetary system have in a certain way recapitulated the previous embodiments. Steiner called these repetitions the Polar, the Hyperborean and the Lemurian epoch, which was followed by the Atlantean epoch. Following Gnostic ideas, the development of mankind is described as the descent of the spirit into matter, which will be followed by a future ascent into the spiritual: He described our present epoch as the first post-Atlantean epoch; this is to be followed by two more epochs before everything turns back into a pralaya. In the Lemurian epoch the fall of man, the seduction by Lucifer , took place. Steiner also places the separation of earth and moon at this time. According to Ahriman, a part of mankind was seduced in the Atlantean time . Both epochs therefore ended with a great catastrophe, the latter of which Steiner equated with the biblical flood . He dated this to around 10,000 BC. BC (which from a geological point of view corresponds roughly to the end of the last ice age ).

Steiner divided our present first post-Atlantean epoch into seven sections, which he called “cultural epochs”. He referred to the four past cultural epochs as the ancient Indian, the ancient Persian, the Egyptian and the Greco-Roman epoch, whereby the ancient Indian and the ancient Persian are said to have been far before the oldest historical traditions in those countries. In the ancient Persian era agriculture was developed and the construction of cities began. Steiner parallelized the three following epochs with the formation of the three soul members described above. According to this, the sentient soul was developed in the Egyptian epoch, the intellectual soul in the Greco-Roman times, and he accordingly described our present epoch, which began in the 15th century, as the age of the consciousness soul. The different cultural epochs or root races are hierarchized, that is, they are not thought of as being of equal value. Representative of the present epoch is the " white humanity", of which it is said that it is at the forefront of human development and guarantees its progress.

Originally supposedly purely spiritual humanity is thought to be older than the entire animal world, which developed from it in degenerative processes. In reverse of Darwin's theory of evolution , Steiner claims: "The whole sum of earthly living beings therefore actually comes from humans".

Training path

Steiner understood anthroposophy primarily as a “path of knowledge”, not a teaching to be disseminated. Any “normally organized” person could take this path of higher, “spiritual” knowledge, the predisposition to do so - Steiner spoke in his series of essays, written in 1904 and 1905, How do you get knowledge of the higher worlds? of " clairvoyant organs " - is potentially present in everyone. This generally requires a thorough and systematic training of the necessary skills as well as the fulfillment of certain prerequisites: This skill can be trained like a muscle through spiritual exercises and meditations , so that the student gradually grasps the spiritual world, past and future, in intuitive vision . For this, however, it would require the guidance of an experienced spiritual researcher, with whose help and on the basis of whose previous research it was possible to distinguish true knowledge about the higher worlds from mere imaginations. The results of this show are understandable for everyone, but they are only verifiable for people who have also developed their clairvoyant ability.

For this anthroposophical “spiritual research” in the supersensible world, Steiner claimed to be scientific because it was carried out in a methodical manner and was verifiable. Therefore, he called his teaching "spiritual science" or "occult science".

Well-known anthroposophists


Lack of science

Steiner's claim that his “humanities” is an exact science with empirically verifiable results, like the natural sciences, has been criticized from various quarters. The Swedish philosopher Sven Ove Hansson wrote in 1991 that Steiner defined agreement with the knowledge of a teacher, that is, with his own, as an intersubjective criterion for checking the knowledge obtained in a supernatural way. But this criterion of authority raises the question of what the first person who pursued spiritual science in this supersensible sense measured his knowledge by; nor would it be possible to decide which of two possibly contradicting supernatural cognitions of older teachers is the right one. Moreover, after Steiner's death in 1925, no anthroposophist had reached Steiner's degree of clairvoyance. B. no one like him can read the Akashic Record , a kind of ethereal world memory in which all knowledge about the past and future should be stored. Hansson went on to write that Steiner had claimed that conventional science would, over time , confirm the “truths” of his humanities, such as atomic physics , special relativity and syphilis therapy . However, that did not happen. Overall, Hansson comes to the conclusion that the claim that "anthroposophy is a science" is not justified.

The color theory of Goethe , which is still subject to the Waldorf schools today is closely linked to the interpretation Steiner, but was repeatedly criticized by physicists as unscientific.

The German educational scientist Heiner Ullrich observes that Steiner's “essentiales” understanding of science (adopted from Goethe), which claims to comprehend the “ essence ” of a thing holistically and conclusively, is incompatible with research practice and the epistemological self-understanding of modern science. Science today is "a constantly differentiating and revising discourse ", the "concept of unified science and the possibility of a final, unified world view", as Steiner had envisaged, is no longer compatible with it.

A fundamental problem with the biodynamic method, which is also based on anthroposophy, is that it cannot provide any information on the mechanism of action of the treatment methods it proposes, which would be in accordance with scientific findings; this is certainly admitted by supporters of the method.

Accusation of racism and anti-Semitism

In Steiner's extensive work there are statements about human races in several places. This concerns on the one hand the anthropological subdivisions of today's humanity into three, four or five races and on the other hand the theosophical doctrine of the " root races ", which are supposed to represent successive stages in the development of the whole of humanity. In the anthropological subdivisions of mankind, Steiner took up the racial theoretical approaches of Carl von Linné , Immanuel Kant , Johann Friedrich Blumenbach , Carl Gustav Carus and Ernst Haeckel . He took over the root race doctrine primarily from the theosophist William Scott-Elliot , but soon gave up the term “root race” and replaced it with “epoch”, “main period” or “age”.

After various publications in the 1980s had examined the reception of the root race theory in the völkisch movement of the early 20th century and thus in the prehistory of National Socialism , the German former Green politician Jutta Ditfurth arranged fire in the hearts with reference in her pamphlet published in 1992 anthroposophy (in addition to the New Age and other esoteric currents) consider the root races to be extremely racist. Numerous authors have followed on from this since then.

A scandal broke out in the Netherlands in 1996 when a board member of the Anthroposophical Society there tried to defend pertinent problematic statements on a radio broadcast. The Anthroposophical Society responded to the outrage it triggered by commissioning a specialist commission headed by the internationally active human rights lawyer Ted A. van Baarda to systematically check the entire oeuvre of around 300 volumes with 89,000 pages of text for corresponding statements. The Commission came to the conclusion that twelve text passages were so discriminatory in terms of content and wording that they would probably be punishable under the current legal situation in the Netherlands. A further 50 passages can be interpreted in a racist manner from today's point of view due to their time-bound choice of words or, if there is a lack of knowledge of the (anthroposophical) context inherent in the work, so misleading. Nevertheless, with regard to Steiner's view of man, it was finally stated that the basis is the equality of all individualities and not the superiority of one race over another. There are indeed a number of very problematic statements in Steiner's work, which, however, are not constitutive for anthroposophy. The commission rejected the accusation of anti-Semitism . She explained that Steiner had always campaigned against anti-Semitism, although at the beginning he seriously underestimated its spread and only revised his judgment around 1900. At the beginning of the century Steiner was a member of the Association for Combating Anti-Semitism . Steiner made repeated statements in the association's communications, including in a series of articles entitled Shameful Anti-Semitism . He described anti-Semitism as a "danger for both Jews and non-Jews" and as a "cultural disease" that arose from an attitude "against which a clear enough position cannot be taken". Overall, there are divided views about the scope of the corresponding passages in the text: While some see it as evidence of Steiner's anti-Semitic sentiments, others argue that the quantitative listing alone (below a per thousand) shows that the statements could not have been central to Steiner's work, In addition, in other passages of the text in his work he had clearly spoken out against anti-Semitic attitudes.

Steiner assumed that “hereditary and blood connections” would disappear in a few thousand years. In 1909 he described the doctrine of root races as a "childhood disease" of the theosophical movement. According to the cultural scientist Jana Husmann-Kastein , this means that Steiner considered the concept of race to be relevant for the past and for his present. The basic structure of his neognostic evolutionary model, according to which the spirit increasingly materialized in order to then spiritualize itself again, he applied to the human races of his time. He described non-Europeans with terms such as “dark matter”, “hardening”, “ossification” and “ degeneration ”, while the Europeans described as white are associated with spiritual potency and the development towards future spiritualization. This is how Steiner's much-quoted statement can be understood: "The white race is the future, is the race that creates the spirit".

Due to the racial theoretical passages in his work, Steiner is partly attributed to the Völkisch movement . For example, the historian Helmut Zander writes that Steiner took a number of his terms from the national discourse. Although Zander relativizes belonging to the völkisch discourse again, he sees an unresolved ambivalence in Steiner. The historian sums up: "Alongside and in the humanistic ideas among anthroposophists, there is still the folk tradition."

The historian Clemens Esser, however, denies that Steiner was a staunch racial theorist and anti-Semite. Although there were various corresponding statements by him from the years up to 1918, the eclectic Steiner always borrowed from other publicists, such as Ernst Haeckel , who popularized Darwin's theory of descent in Germany. If you do not credit him for these takeovers, "the often harassed accusation of anti-Semitism addressed to Steiner will lose some of its drama".


In addition to the teaching of reincarnation and karma, anthroposophical Christology is the subject of denominational criticism. It is viewed by the great churches as incompatible with the message of the New Testament and compared with the ancient Gnosis , which was also classified as heretical . In this context, membership in the Anthroposophical Society is often described as incompatible with being a Christian. The religious components of anthroposophy are also often criticized from other quarters, such as the connection between Christianity and the doctrine of reincarnation, which is often interpreted as eclectic, or the connection between the demands of science and religious elements.



Special topics

  • Andreas Binder: How Christian is anthroposophy? Location determinations from the point of view of a Protestant theologian. Urachhaus, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-87838-611-7 .
  • Michael Birnthaler : Globetrotter. Rudolf Steiner. Volume 1: The Goetheanum. Edition EOS, Freiburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-945132-04-3 .
  • Reinhold Johann Fäth: Rudolf Steiner Design. Spiritual functionalism art. Dissertation Konstanz 2004 ( electronic dissertation ).
  • Stefan Okruch: Economy and Anthroposophy. Presentation and criticism of Rudolf Steiner's concept. PCO, Bayreuth 1993, ISBN 3-925710-50-7 .
  • Lorenzo Ravagli: Under the hammer and swastika. The Volkisch-National Socialist struggle against anthroposophy. Free Spiritual Life, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-7725-1915-6 .
  • Uwe Werner: Anthroposophists in the time of National Socialism (1933–1945). Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-486-56362-9 ( at Google Books ).
  • Helmut Zander : Anthroposophical race theory. The spirit on its way through history. In: Stefanie von Schnurbein, Justus H. Ulbricht (Hrsg.): Völkische Religion and Krisen der Moderne. Drafts of "native" belief systems since the turn of the century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-2160-6 , pp. 292–341.
  • Peter Staudenmaier: Between Occultism and Fascism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race and Nation in Germany and Italy, 1900–1945. Diss., Cornell University, 2010 (online) .

Web links


Wiktionary: Anthroposophy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Anthroposophy  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Anthroposophy in discussion

References and comments

  1. For example Richard Geisen, who on the basis of a detailed comparison with the ancient Gnosis speaks of an "anthroposophical Gnosticism" or of "Steiner's overall Gnostic system". See Richard Geisen: Anthroposophy and Gnosticism. Presentation, comparison and theological criticism. 1992, p. 522. Helmut Zander points out that Steiner Eugen Heinrich Schmitt's: The Gnosis: Basics of the Weltanschauung of a noble culture , 2 vol., 1903/1907 had extremely positive and also used it for his theories. See Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy in Germany. Volume 1, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, p. 736, FN 698.
  2. Johannes Hemleben : Rudolf Steiner and Ernst Haeckel. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 1965.
  3. a b Ulrich Linse : Theosophy / Anthroposophy . In: Metzler Lexikon Religion. Present - everyday life - media . JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, vol. 3, p. 493.
  4. See, for example, Rudolf Steiner: Spiritual Science as Knowledge of the Basic Impulse of Social Design. GA 199, Dornach 1967, lecture of September 10, 1920, p. 247.
  5. Rudolf Steiner: From soul riddles. 1918, online version ( Memento from February 21, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Rudolf Steiner: Welt- und Lebensanschauungen in the nineteenth century. Volume 1, 1900; Volume 2, 1901; Revised and expanded in 1914 under the title Die Rätsel der Philosophie in their history as an outline. Rudolf Steiner: The Riddles of Philosophy (GA 18)
  6. Philosophy of Freedom . 1894.
  7. on the influence on artists who were not explicit supporters, see Reinhold Johann Fäth: Rudolf Steiner Design - Spiritual Functionalism Art. Dissertation, University of Konstanz 2004. (online)
  8. Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes): Anthroposophia Theomagica, or a discourse of the nature of man and his state after death. Oxford 1648.
  9. Robert Zimmermann: Anthroposophy in outline. Draft of a system for an ideal world view on a realistic basis , Wilhelm Braumüller, Vienna 1882 (digitized version)
  10. Collected Essays , GA 35, p. 176.
  11. ^ Gerhard Wehr: Rudolf Steiner. Heinrich Hugendubel Verlag, Kreuzlingen / Munich 2005, p. 23.
  12. ^ Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy in Germany - Theosophical Weltanschauung and social practice 1884-1945. Göttingen 2007, pp. 114-135.
  13. Norbert Klatt: Theosophy and Anthroposophy - New Aspects of Their History. Norbert Klatt Verlag, Göttingen 1993, p. 75.
  14. As recently as 1897, Steiner had written in a magazine that one hears from the supposedly enlightened theosophists “nothing but idioms that are borrowed from oriental writings, without a trace of content. The inner experiences are nothing but hypocrisy ”. Quoted from Christoph Lindenberg: Rudolf Steiner. 1992, p. 70.
  15. ^ Letter to the Stirner biographer John Henry Mackay dated December 5, 1893, in: GA 39, p. 193.
  16. Steiner: My course of life. 1925, chap. XXII, XXVI and XXVII.
  17. ^ Gerhard Wehr: Rudolf Steiner for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 1994, p. 137 f.
  18. Georg Otto Schmid: Anthroposophy. Evangelical information center , 1999.
  19. Wolfgang G. Vögele: The other Rudolf Steiner. Futurum, Basel 2005.
  20. ^ Numbers according to Christoph Lindenberg: Rudolf Steiner - a chronicle. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 1988, pp. 211 and 329 f.
  21. What significance the "Krishnamurti Affair" actually had is controversial. While most authors - such as Christoph Lindenberg: Rudolf Steiner. Verlag Freie Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1992, pp. 92-96, - Helmut Zander argues: Anthroposophy in Germany, see the differences in content on which this affair is based as the decisive reason for the separation . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, pp. 158–170, it was basically a power struggle between Steiner and Besant, which had already started before Besant was elected president in 1907, and Steiner said the Krishnamurti question was “a fragile difference expanded ”(p. 167).
  22. The complicated legal questions are dealt with in the literature under the term constitution problem. s. Anthroposophical Society and General Anthroposophical Society .
  23. Bodo von Plato: On the development of the Anthroposophical Society. A historical overview. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 1986.
  24. ^ Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy in Germany. Volume 1, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, p. 250.
  25. quoted from: Arfst Wagner : Anthroposophie und Nationalozialismus. Problems of the past and the present . In: Anthroposophen und Nationalozialismus (= Flensburger Hefte Nr. 32), Flensburger-Hefte-Verlag, Flensburg, 1991, ISBN 3-926841-32-X , p. 62, there also the wording of the entire order.
  26. Quoted from Walter Kugler: Feindbild Steiner. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 2001, p.
  27. Hans Büchenbacher, an anthroposophist of Jewish descent, reported that he had experienced the sometimes willful "settlement" of the conflict over Jewish members with great bitterness. Büchenbacher emigrated to Switzerland in 1935. See Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy and National Socialism. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . July 22, 1999. Online version and Jens Heisterkamp: Shadows of the Past. Anthroposophists and their institutions under National Socialism. info3, April 1999 ( HTML ( Memento from October 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive ))
  28. ^ Arfst Wagner (Ed.): Documents and letters on the history of the anthroposophical movement and society in the time of National Socialism. Volume I, Lohengrin-Verlag, Tetenhusen 1991.
  29. Quoted from Gerhard Wehr: Friedrich Rittelmeyer. Stuttgart 1998, p. 221. After anthroposophical racial thinking and anti-Semitic thinking stereotypes: famous 'individual cases'? Action children of the Holocaust
  30. ^ Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy and National Socialism. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . July 22, 1999 ( Internet )
  31. ^ Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy in Germany. Volume 1, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, p. 209. ( Preview on Google Books )
  32. In detail he writes: “Since anthroposophy had pushed its followers deep into national-socialist circles, it was particularly dangerous. To what extent this was the case, I only became fully aware after the takeover of power. ”Erich Ludendorff: From general to world revolutionary and pioneer of the German people's creation. Volume III, My Memoirs from 1933 to 1937 . 1955, p. 67 ff. Quoted from: Arfst Wagner: Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalozialismus. Part II. In: Anthroposophists in the time of German fascism - On the conspiracy thesis. (= Flensburger Hefte. Special Issue 8). 1991, pp. 50-94, here pp. 53-55.
  33. Walter Kugler: Steiner enemy. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 2001, p. 29 f.
  34. Wolfgang Jacobeit : Holistically oriented production methods in the Nazi era. The biodynamic economy in the agricultural experimental estates of the SS 1939–1945. In: sustainability. “Alternative” agriculture as a cultural-ecological phenomenon. Berlin sheets. Ethnographic and ethnological articles No. 16, 1998.
  35. From Arfst Wagner (Ed.): Letters and documents on the history of the anthroposophical movement and society in the time of National Socialism. Volume III, Lohengrin-Verlag, Tetenhusen 1992. Image ( Memento from February 24, 2002 in the Internet Archive )
  36. a b Jens Heisterkamp: Shadows of the Past. Anthroposophists and their institutions under National Socialism. info3, April 1999 ( Online ( Memento from October 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive )).
  37. Uwe Werner: Anthroposophists in the time of National Socialism (1933-1945). Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, p. 137.
  38. In her memoirs she had written: “When he was together with Hess and Leitgen at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich, he [= Hans Erdmenger] asked the question: 'What is actually the task of the Office of Hess?' Mr. Leitgen replied: 'If you keep it to yourself, I will tell you. We see our task in protecting all schools of thought in Germany which can still have a constructive effect on the spiritual life and which would be erased by other bodies of National Socialism '" . Klein, Quellen , 1978, p. 126. Quoted from Jens Heisterkamp, Shadows of the Past. Anthroposophists and their institutions under National Socialism. info3, April 1999 ( Online ( Memento from October 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive )).
  39. Horst Junginger : From the philological to the national religious studies. The subject of religious studies at the University of Tübingen from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the Third Reich. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, p. 204.
  40. ^ Corinna Treitel: A Science for the Soul - Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London 2004, pp. 213 f.
  41. "Some Nazis are now even of the crazy opinion that Hess was influenced occultly by the anthroposophists, even by 'Dornach', and moved to fly to England (p. 303ff)." Jens Heisterkamp : Shadows of the Past. Anthroposophists and their institutions under National Socialism. info3, April 1999 ( Internet Archive ( Memento of October 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive )).
  42. ^ Waldorf World List. (PDF) Directory of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner Schools and Teacher Training Centers worldwide. Hague Circle - International Forum for Steiner / Waldorf-Education, Association of Independent Waldorf Schools and Friends of Waldorf Education, May 2015, accessed on November 21, 2015 (English).
  43. ^ International Association For Steiner / Waldorf Early Childhood Education: Home. International Association For Steiner / Waldorf Early Childhood Education, accessed November 21, 2015 .
  44. Gerhard Wehr: Philosophy - in search of the truth. Pattloch Verlag, Munich 1990, p. 127.
  45. Olav Hammer: Esotericism in New Religious Movements . In: James R. Lewis (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York 2008, p. 460.
  46. ^ Rudolf Steiner: Theosophy. 1904, chapter The essence of man. Quotations from the paperback edition, 1962, p. 22.
  47. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, pp. 82–89, here pp. 82 f.
  48. a b c Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 83.
  49. Rudolf Steiner: The occult science in outline. 1910, chap. Sleep and death
  50. see From soul riddles the 6th appendix
  51. Gerhard Wehr gives an elementary introduction: Anthroposophy. Pp. 29-31.
  52. ^ A b Carlo Willmann: Waldorf Education: Theological and Religious Education Findings. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne 2001, p. 28f.
  53. Summary by Helmut Zander: History of the transmigration of souls in Europe. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1999, pp. 490–494.
  54. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 87.
  55. Helmut Zander: History of the transmigration of souls in Europe. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1999, p. 490.
  56. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 84.
  57. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 84 f.
  58. a b c d e Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 85.
  59. Gerhard Wehr: Gnosis, Grail and Rosenkreuz. Esoteric Christianity from ancient times to today. Anaconda Verlag, Cologne 2007, p. 387 f.
  60. Jana Husmann: Black and White Symbols. Dualistic traditions of thought and the imagination of “race”. Religion - Science - Anthroposophy. transcript, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8394-1349-4 , p. 268 ff.
  61. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, pp. 85f.
  62. Cees Leijenhorst: Anthroposophy. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, p. 86.
  63. Jana Husmann: Black and White Symbols. Dualistic traditions of thought and the imagination of “race”. Religion - Science - Anthroposophy. transcript, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8394-1349-4 , p. 272.
  64. Jana Husmann: Black and White Symbols. Dualistic traditions of thought and the imagination of “race”. Religion - Science - Anthroposophy. transcript, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8394-1349-4 , p. 269.
  65. Rudolf Steiner: How do you get knowledge of the higher worlds? ( online , accessed June 19, 2016), the quote on p. 25.
  66. According to Helmut Zander, Steiner probably took over Asian elements of his path of knowledge from contemporary theosophy and its environment, see the same: Anthroposophy in Germany. Theosophical worldview and social practice 1884–1945. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, pp. 601–607.
  67. Helmer Ringgren: Anthroposophy. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . Volume 3, de Gruyter, Berlin 1978, p. 12; Gerhard Wehr: Anthroposophy. Diederichs, Kreuzlingen 2004, pp. 39–42.
  68. Helmer Ringgren: Anthroposophy. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia. Volume 3, de Gruyter, Berlin 1978, p. 12; Sven Ove Hansson: Is Anthroposophy Science? In: Conceptus. 25 (1991), issue 64, p. 37 f. ( online , accessed June 17, 2016); Jan Badien: The fascination of the Akasha Chronicle. A critical introduction to the spiritual world of anthroposophy. Lecture manuscript ( Memento from January 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 211 kB). Conference: Anthroposophy - Critical Reflections. Organized by the Cultural Studies Seminar, in cooperation with the Graduate College “Gender as a Category of Knowledge”, Humboldt University Berlin, July 21, 2006.
  69. Bruno Walter: My way to anthroposophy. In: Das Goetheanum 52 (1961), 418-421
  70. ^ Sven Ove Hansson: Is Anthroposophy Science? In: Conceptus. Volume 25, Issue 64, 1991, pp. 40-47, accessed on June 17, 2016.
  71. The painting lesson of the lower level: The development of the color sense on
  72. Evelyne v. Beyme: The importance of SPACE in the educational concept of the Waldorf School on page 13
  73. Hermann von Helmholtz: “About Goethe's scientific work” , lecture 1853 with a postscript in 1875.
  74. Werner Heisenberg: The Goethean and Newtonian color theory in the light of modern physics . In: Geist der Zeit, 19 (1941), from p. 261. In: Changes in the foundations of natural science . Hirzel, Stuttgart 1959
  75. Heiner Ullrich: Rudolf Steiner. Life and teaching. CH Beck, Munich 2011, p. 109 f.
  76. M. Turinek, S. Grobelnik-Mlakar, M. Bavec, F. Bavec: Biodynamic agriculture research progress and priorities in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems Volume 24, Issue 2, pp. 146-154, doi: 10.1017 / S174217050900252X .
  77. Jana Husmann-Kastein : Black and white constructions in Rudolf Steiner's race picture . In: Berlin Dialog. Volume 29, 2006, pp. 22-29; also in a shorter version as a lecture manuscript for the Anthroposophy Conference - Critical Reflections. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, July 21, 2006 as (PDF) ( Memento from November 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  78. ^ Helmut Zander: Anthroposophy in Germany. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, p. 629 f.
  79. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke : The Occult Roots of National Socialism. Aquarian Press, Wellingborough 1985; German: The occult roots of National Socialism. Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz 1997; Eduard Gugenberger, Roman Schweidlenka: Mother Earth - Magic and Politics between Fascism and Politics. Packpapier, Vienna 1987, in particular pp. 138-142.
  80. “The basis of the anthroposophical world view is the 'root race theory', which can hardly be more racist and inhumane.” Ditfurth, Feuer in die Herzen. 1st edition. 1992, p. 219.
  81. Book authors such as Ditfurth himself, Entspannt in die Barbarei , Hamburg 1996, Guido and Michael Grandt, Black Book Anthroposophy , Vienna 1997, Peter Bierl , Wurzelrassen, Archangels and Volksgeister - The Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf Education , Hamburg 1999, Claudia Barth, Über Alles in der Welt - Esoterik und Leitkultur , Aschaffenburg 2003, and many journalists.
  82. Petrus van der Let: Questionable views of Rudolf Steiner on races. In: Petrus van der Let, Christoph Lindenberg: Discriminatory statements by Rudolf Steiner and their influence on anthroposophy ( Memento from January 15, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) . In: , 1999 (archive version of the Internet Archive ; published in printed form in: Tangram. Bulletin of the Federal Commission against Racism. No. 6, March 1999, pp. 50–56).
  83. Anthroposophy and the question of races. Authorized German edition, Frankfurt am Main 1998.
  84. Detlef Hardorp: Steiner and Judaism . In: of May 13, 2000, accessed on July 18, 2009.
  85. ^ Jana Husmann-Kastein, Black-and-White Constructions in the Rassebild Rudolf Steiner , lecture manuscript. Conference: Anthroposophy - Critical Reflections, Humboldt University Berlin, July 21, 2006 (PDF) ( Memento of November 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), p. 8ff.
  86. Helmut Zander, Social Darwinist Race Theories from the Occult Underground of the Empire. In: Handbook for the “Völkische Movement” 1871–1918. Ed. V. Uwe Puschner, Walter Schmitz and Justus H. Ulbricht, Munich 1996 (available from ); see also: Helmut Zander, Anthroposophical Race Theory. The world spirit on its way through racial history. In: St. v. Schnurbein, JH Ulbricht (Hrsg.): Völkische Religion and Krisen der Moderne. Drafts of "native" belief systems since the turn of the century. Würzburg 2001, pp. 292-341. For a discussion of Zander's theses, see also Ralf Sonnenberg: Judaism, Zionism and anti-Semitism from the perspective of Rudolf Steiner. 07-07-2004 ( Internet ). In return, the anthroposophist Lorenzo Ravagli examined the criticism of ethnic groups of anthroposophy in Unter Hammer und Swastika. The völkisch-national-socialist struggle against anthroposophy , 2004 (see also the review by Zander in H-Soz-u-Kult ).
  87. Clemens Escher: Steiner, Rudolf. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus . Volume 2: People . de Gruyter Saur, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-598-44159-2 , p. 796.
  88. ^ Richard Geisen: Anthroposophy and Gnosticism. Presentation, comparison and theological criticism. Schöningh, Paderborn 1992, ISBN 3-506-76272-9 .