was born in 1861 in Lower Austria, being the son of
a railway stationmaster near the Hungarian frontier. After a
brilliant career at Vienna University he took his Doctor's degree at
Rostock, and attracted attention by a book now translated into
English under the title of
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.
The very name of this book gives the keynote to his work and character.
While still young
he was appointed officially to the State Library at Weimar, in order to
edit the scientific works of Goethe. He is an acknowledged expert on the
writings of that great man, and in later years built the first
Goetheanum at Dornach, near Basle in Switzerland, a marvellous
structure which he named in honour of Goethe. The building was
destroyed by fire and later replaced by a second.
From the summer
of 1922 until the early autumn of 1924, Dr. Steiner spoke regularly —
often several times a week — to the workmen employed at this
first Goetheanum. He encouraged them to bring questions to him on any
subject they liked and the
Lectures to Workmen, as they are
called, consist largely of the answers he gave. On these occasions
Dr. Steiner spoke very informally to his listeners, with a simple
directness which it is almost impossible to recapture in another
language. Nevertheless in view of the wealth of information contained
in these lectures on so many different, fascinating subjects,
translations of a certain number of them are being attempted, in
order that they may be available for English readers exactly in the
form in which they were delivered.
The series of
lectures chosen for publication (the present volume being the second)
deal with the religious life and ideas of ancient peoples and the
significance of the new impulse given by Christianity. Lecture on
other subjects will follow.
died early in 1925, and in the last ten years of his life he did much to
show the application of Spiritual Science in spheres of practical life.
To his teaching he gave the name Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science;
he himself defined it as “a path of knowledge, to guide the
spiritual in Man to the spiritual in the Universe.”