Woman and Society

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Woman and Society (Die Frauenfrage)

Hamburg, November 17, 1906

Few will deny that the question regarding women is one of the greatest present questions of our culture, for today this is simply a fact. There are opponents to certain views on the question of women, but the fact that this question exists will be denied by no one. Yet if we look back to times that are not so far behind us, we find that even the leading scientific and other great minds have seen in the women’s question something absurd, something to be suppressed by all possible means. As an example, we can recall the statements of the anatomist, Albert, a truly significant man, who twenty-five years ago, pitted himself with the greatest energy against the admission of women into the learned professions, and who, from the standpoint of his anatomical-physiological knowledge, tried to prove that it would be impossible for women to get into the educated professions or ever be able to fulfill the profession of a doctor. With the great authority of natural science, it is hardly surprising that one believes those to be capable of judgment who, in relation to the natural-scientific view of the human being, are supposed to know something….

In short, the opinions vary in all directions. Even more noticeable for us is the fact that a woman of one particular people (or nation or tribe) will differ far less from a man of the same people than from a woman of another. From this we can draw the conclusion that we should not talk at all in terms of man and woman, male and female, but that, alongside the characteristics of sexual gender, there is possibly something far more important in human society than the sexual characteristics of gender and which is quite independent of them. If one looks impartially at the human being, it is usually possible to distinguish what is of necessity connected to all that is related to the sexes, and what points beyond these connections into other realms entirely. Of course a materialistic view of the world and of the human being, which recognizes only what can be couched and seen, naturally sees in man and woman only the big physiological differences; and anyone who remains with this materialistic view will simply miss, will overlook something that is far greater and more decisive than sexual differences — he will overlook the individuality which goes beyond gender and is independent of it.

To shed light here, to see the human being here in the right way: this must be the task of a world-view oriented towards the spirit…

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. 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.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 0.2 × 8.5 in




March 1986






Rudolf Steiner Press


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