Born in Austria in 1861, Rudolf Steiner received recognition as a scholar when he was invited to edit the Kürschner edition of the natural scientific writings of Goethe. In 1891 Steiner received his Ph.D. at the University of Rostock. He then began his work as a lecturer. From the turn of the century until his death in 1925, he delivered well over 6000 lectures on the Science of Spirit, or Anthroposophy.
The lectures of Rudolf Steiner dealt with such fundamental matters as the being of man, the nature and purpose of freedom, the meaning of evolution, man's relation to nature, and the life after death and before birth. On these and similar subjects, Steiner had unexpectedly new, inspiring and thought-provoking things to say. Through a study of the transcripts of lectures like those contained in this book, one can come to a clear, reasonable, comprehensive understanding of the human being and his place in the universe.
In all his years of writing and lecturing, Steiner made no appeal to emotionalism or sectarianism in his readers or hearers. His profound respect for the freedom of every man shines through everything he produced. The slightest compulsion or persuasion he considered an affront to the dignity and ability of the human being. Therefore he confined himself to objective statements in his writing and speaking, leaving his readers and hearers entirely free to reject or accept his words. He addressed the healthy, sound judgment and good will in each person, confident of the response in those who come to meet his ideas with the willingness to understand them.
Among the many activities springing from the work of Rudolf Steiner are the Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association which aims at improved nutrition resulting from methods of agriculture outlined by Rudolf Steiner; the art of Eurythmy, created and described by him as “visible speech and visible song;” the medical and pharmaceutical work carried out by the Clinical and Therapeutical Institute of Arlesheim, Switzerland, with related institutions in other countries; the Homes for the education and care of mentally retarded children; and new directions for work in such fields as Mathematics, Physics, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, Drama, Speech Formation, Social Studies, Astronomy, Economics and Psychology.
The success of Rudolf Steiner Education (sometimes referred to as Waldorf Education) has proven the correctness of Steiner's concept of the way to prepare the child for his or her eventual role as a resourceful, creative, responsible member of modern adult society.
The transcripts of Rudolf Steiner's many lectures on a wide variety of subjects are a storehouse of spiritual knowledge as it can become fruitful in many fields of modern life. However, Steiner himself stressed that his lectures were not intended for print, and are not a substitute for what he expressed in his written works on the Science of Spirit or Anthroposophy. Therefore, if the reader finds the following lectures of interest, or if they arouse questions and points upon which he wishes further clarification, he is certain to find the latter in the fundamental books included in the series of Major Writings of Rudolf Steiner listed at the end of the present volume.