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Supersensible Knowledge: Anthroposophy as a Demand of the Age

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Supersensible Knowledge: Anthroposophy as a Demand of the Age

On-line since: 31st March, 2011

Prefatory Remarks

From The Story of My Life, by Rudolf Steiner, we quote the following passage, which is to serve as an explanation of the publishing of those lectures originally delivered orally, which were printed privately at first upon the urgent request of members of the Anthroposophical Society and are now being made accessible to the public.

“From my Anthroposophical activity two things have come into existence: first my books published for the whole world, and secondly a great number of lecture courses which were at first to be considered as privately printed and to be sold only to members of the Anthroposophical Society. These were really shorthand reports of the lectures more or less well made which I, for lack of time, could not correct. It would have pleased me best if spoken words had remained spoken words. But the members wished the privately printed copies of the courses. So these came into existence. If I had had time to correct the reports, the restriction For Members Only would not have been necessary from the first. For more than a year now, it has been removed.

“Here in the story of my life it is necessary, above all, to say how the two things — my published books and this privately printed matter — fit into that which I elaborated as Anthroposophy.

“Whoever wishes to trace my inner struggle and labor to set Anthroposophy before the consciousness of the present age must do this on the basis of the writings published for general circulation. In these I dealt also with all that is present in the strivings of this age for knowledge. Here there is given what more and more took form for me in ‘spiritual perception,’ what came to be the structure of Anthroposophy — in a form incomplete, to be sure, from many points of view.

“Together with this purpose, however, of building up Anthroposophy and thereby serving only that which results when one has information from the world of spirit to give to the general world of modern culture, there now appeared the other demand — to meet fully whatever was manifested in the membership as the need of their souls, as their longing for the spirit.

“Most of all was there a strong inclination to hear the Gospels and the Biblical writings in general set forth in that which had appeared as the Anthroposophical light. There was a wish to attend courses of lectures on these revelations given to mankind.

“As private courses of lectures were given in accordance with this requirement, something else arose in consequence. Only members attended these courses. These were acquainted with the elementary information coming from Anthroposophy. It was possible to speak to them as to persons advanced in the realm of Anthroposophy. The manner of these private lectures was such as it would not have been in writings intended wholly for the public.

“In private groups I ventured to speak about things in a manner which I should have been obliged to shape quite differently for a public presentation if these things had been designed from the first for such an audience.

“Thus in the two things, the public and the private writings, there is really something derived from two different sources. All the public writings are the result of what struggled and labored within me; in the privately printed matter the Society shares in the struggle and labor. I listen to what is stirring in the soul life of the members, and through my vital living within what I thus hear the bearing of the course is determined.”

* * * * *

“Because of this working out of the reality of the soul needs of the members, the privately printed matter must necessarily be judged differently from that given to the public from the beginning. The content of the former was intended as oral, not printed, information. The subjects discussed were determined by the soul needs of the members as these needs appeared with the passage of time.

“What is contained in the published writings is adapted to the furtherance of Anthroposophy as such; in the manner in which the privately printed matter evolved the configuration of soul of the whole Society cooperated.”

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