These lectures were given to men engaged in the construction of the Goetheanum in Dornach. They could also be called dialogues, for their content was always determined by the workmen themselves. Rudolf Steiner not only had them set the themes but also welcomed their questions and comments. The talks embraced a wide range of subjects. The workmen showed a particular interest in therapeutics and hygiene, matters of much importance in their lives. Phenomena in all the kingdoms of nature were touched upon as well, and their origin from the cosmos was considered. Finally, the workmen sought an introduction to spiritual science and a foundation from which to approach the mysteries of Christianity.
This cooperative spiritual effort grew out of some courses held for those interested in such questions. At first, they were conducted by Dr. Roman Boos when work on the construction site was finished for the day. Later, they were given by other members of the Anthroposophical Society as well. Eventually, however, the workmen asked if Rudolf Steiner himself could spare them some time to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. They inquired also if an hour could be set aside during the regular workday when they would be more alert and receptive. Thereafter, the lecture period followed the morning coffee break. Some of the employees from the construction office and two or three of Rudolf Steiner's closer associates attended as well. Such practical concerns as apiculture for interested beekeepers were among the topics of discussion. The transcript of these lectures on bees was later published by the agricultural research group at the Goetheanum after Rudolf Steiner's death.
Now others have expressed an interest in seeing all the lectures in print. They were not intended for publication, however; rather, they were held for a special audience and improvised in a setting governed by the circumstances and mood of the attending workmen. Nevertheless, one would not want to omit the vitality and directness with which these lectures were delivered. Were one to change them by pedantically altering sentence structure and the like, one would deprive them of the special quality generated by the spiritual interplay of those who asked and he who answered. Therefore, the editor has decided to leave the transcript virtually unaltered, and if some passages do not conform to the rules of proper literary usage, they do, in compensation, bear the imprint of life itself.