The great challenges of our time have their roots in our picture of the world. In the search for a more human understanding of economics, for solutions to the environmental crisis, or for a new kind of politics, we urgently need to find new ways of thinking. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was keenly aware that the kind of thinking that only takes the material world into account will not provide these answers. As a child, he experienced the reality of the spiritual world through powerful and painful experiences. This did not incline him to mysticism but made him determined to embrace the rigour of scientific thinking. Only after he had mastered the scientific and philosophical thought of his day did he start to develop his ‘Science of the Spirit’ or Anthroposophy. This is a method of addressing the deepest questions of existence through insights that unite the world of spiritual experience with what we experience through our senses.
At the core of Anthroposophy is a path of conscious personal development, involving both observation of the world and self-reflection, in which experience and understanding may mature into direct insight into the human spirit and its connection to the spiritual world. As well as describing this path, Steiner shared some of the results of his own researches, which open up perspectives for a truly holistic understanding of the earth, of history and of the reality of the spiritual world as the source and inspiration of all that we do. The practical usefulness of Steiner’s teachings can be seen in the Waldorf Schools, Biodynamic agriculture, architecture and the Camphill Communities which are some of the better-known movements to be inspired by Anthroposophy. There are many other initiatives, and new ones emerging all the time.
Because Anthroposophy is a path of inner development, adult education based on Anthroposophy does not provide instruction in a body of knowledge so much as tools for our own path of learning. Alongside practical orientation for mastering our chosen field of activity, it provides the opportunity for the deepest kind of self-development. Students of Anthroposophy make the discovery that learning about the world means learning about ourselves. Friends, colleagues and other human beings play a role in our discovery of who we are, and in our learning to understand the world. This is why the learning community at Emerson College is so important.
The Anthroposophical Society was founded in 1924 to further the work of Anthroposophy. Its headquarters are located in the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
Some links to anthroposophical institutions:
The Goetheanum (the world centre for the Anthroposophical Society, based in Switzerland)