Steiner, Rudolf (1861-1925)
Austrian philosopher, scientist, artist and educator who was the originator of the social philosophy called Anthroposophy.
A Christianized version of Theosophy, this doctrine declares that humans have a faculty of spiritual cognition, or pure thought, which functions independently of the senses. Anthroposophy strives for the most effective development of this faculty.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Steiner began to develop his earlier philosophical principles into an approach to meticulous research of psychological and spiritual phenomena. His versatile genius has led to revolutionary and holistic approaches in medicine, philosophy, religion, education, special education, economics, agriculture, science, architecture, and the arts.
Steiner founded the Anthroposophical Society in 1912, which now has branches throughout the world, and is especially popular in Britain. He traveled at length in Europe lecturing on spiritual science, social sciences, religion, the arts, education, agriculture and health. His published works amount to more than 350 titles, including collections of lectures, books, articles, reviews and dramas. His occult philosophy is outlined in key titles such as Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (1904-05), and An Outline of Occult Science (1909), and he is especially known for his work on Goethe’s scientific writings.
Steiner's teachings inspired the development of the Waldorf School movement and of schools for handicapped or maladjusted children (the Camphill movement); his agricultural methods for preparing soil inspired chemical-free organic farming and gardening (biodynamics); he created eurythmy, a form of expressive movement to music and speech; and his guidelines on holistic medicine and pharmacology are still broadly respected today.
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Sources: (1) Steiner, Rudolf, Autobiography: Chapters in the Course of My Life, Steiner Books; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing.
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