Speaking to audiences in Denmark, Germany and France, Rudolf Steiner discusses a wide range of topics: from positive and negative human soul capacities, true self-knowledge and karma, to changes in human consciousness, from ancient times to the modern era - all in the context of the incarnation of Christ on earth.
The lectures illustrate the diversity of Steiner's approach when speaking to different audiences. Reflecting on the polymath Novalis, for example, he is urgent about the responsibility of spiritual science to help humanity awaken to the new age. A few months later, talking of Hegel and deploring the fact that an interest in spiritual matters often fails to be accompanied by an equal interest in logical thought, Steiner uses a dispassionate, philosophical tone. But throughout the lectures he is consistent in his view that spiritual science does not reject conventional science. Trained philosophical thinking leads to different conclusions than materialism, he says, but there is nothing in the field of spiritual science that need be rejected by rigorous scientific thought.
In the final lectures, Rudolf Steiner speaks inspiringly about the Christmas festival, contrasting the feeling of inwardness that people used to experience with the hectic cultural environment of modern cities. However, this does not lead Steiner to be nostalgic about the past. Rather, he states, we should seek to recreate a mood of inwardness in a new way, appropriate to our modern age and consciousness. These lectures give us the tools to bring such a contemporary spiritual approach to our lives.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe's scientific writings.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings.
The influence of Steiner's multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.