Paths and Goals of the Spiritual Human Being: Life Questions in the Light of Spiritual Science
14 lectures, various cities, January 1 – December 27, 1910 (CW 125)
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 Christ’s incarnation on Earth.
These 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, speaking of Hegel and deploring the fact that an interest in spiritual matters often fails to be accompanied by an equal interest in logical thinking, Steiner uses a dispassionate, philosophical tone. Nevertheless, throughout these lectures, he is consistent in his view that Spiritual Science does not reject conventional science. Trained, philosophical thinking leads to conclusions that are different from those of materialists, he says; but there is nothing in the field of Spiritual Science that needs to be rejected by rigorous scientific thought.
Although the lectures in this volume were given to a variety of audiences, ideas recur from different perspectives and in different contexts, with strong thematic links that hold them together. These include the relationship between philosophy and science; the nature of clairvoyance; Christ’s presence in the etheric realm; reincarnation and karma; the mystery drama The Portal of Initiation; Christmas and its symbols; and the transformation of consciousness that occurred when Christ incarnated physically on Earth.
In the final lectures, Steiner speaks inspiringly about the Christmas festival, such as the feeling of inwardness that people used to experience in contrast to the hectic cultural environment of modern cities. This, however, does not lead Steiner to nostalgia for the past; rather, he says that we should try to recreate a mood of innerness in a new way—one appropriate to our modern consciousness. These lectures offer tools to bring such a contemporary spiritual approach into our lives.
This volume is a translation from German of Wege und Ziele des geistigen Menschen. Lebensfragen im Lichte der Geisteswissenschaft (GA 125).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). 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.
Christian von Arnim is the founder and Editor in Chief of News Network Anthroposophy (NNA), “a news agency which covers news and events of interest to anyone wishing to develop a spiritually objective view of the world.” He is an experienced radio and print journalist who has worked with news such organizations as the BBC (World Service) and The Scotsman (Foreign Leader Writer). Christian is the founding Editor of NNA. He has translated and contributed to several books, including Eclipses 2005-2017 and Moon Rhythms in Nature.