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The Riddles of Philosophy

Presented in an Outline of Its History (2 Volumes, CW 18)

Rudolf Steiner Translated by Fritz Koelln Revised and Updated by David W. Wood

792 pp.  
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"


Boxed Set



  • The Chadwick Library Edition represents an endeavor to republish—mostly in new or thoroughly revised English translations—several written works of Rudolf Steiner. The edition is named for the late horticulturist Alan Chadwick, whose life and work has served as inspiration to the small group from which the idea originated. Our extensive experience with special bindings led to the selection—for this “trade edition” of 750 books—of a leather spine binding, cloth sides, and a light slipcase. For the hand-numbered edition (100 books), the binding is full leather with a hand-gilt top of the pages in a fine, stiff, cloth-covered slipcase. The leather is blue calfskin, and the title stamping on the spines is in genuine gold leaf. All of this is being carried out by hand at one of the finest binders, Ruggero Rigoldi.

The translator, Philosophy Professor Fritz Koelln, describes The Riddles of Philosophy:

  • “Rudolf Steiner's Riddles of Philosophy: Presented in an Outline of Its History is not a history of philosophy in the usual sense of the word. It does not give a history of the philosophical systems, nor does it present a number of philosophical problems historically. Its real concern touches on something deeper than this, on riddles rather than problems. Philosophical concepts, systems and problems are, to be sure, to be dealt with in this book. But it is not their history that is to be described here. Where they are discussed they become symptoms rather than the objects of the search. The search itself wants to reveal a process that is overlooked in the usual history of philosophy. It is the mysterious process in which philosophical thinking appears in human history. Philosophical thinking as it is here meant is known only in Western civilization. Oriental philosophy has its origin in a different kind of consciousness, and it is not to be considered in this book.

  • “What is new here is the treatment of the history of philosophic thinking as a manifestation of the evolution of human consciousness. Such a treatment requires a fine sense of observation. Not merely the thoughts must be observed, but behind them the thinking in which they appear.

  • “To follow Steiner in his subtle description of the process of the metamorphosis of this thinking in the history of philosophy we should remember he sees the human consciousness in an evolution. It has not always been what it is now, and what it is now it will not be in the future. This is a fundamental conception of Anthroposophy.”

The Chadwick Edition editor, Thomas O’Keefe,:

  • “The Riddles of Philosophy could be seen as a spiritual–scientific attempt to map the history of philosophy. In it, Rudolf Steiner approaches the various streams of thought not on the basis of an individual treatment of the canonical thinkers, but rather through the lens of the archetypal qualities of thought and feeling underlying the worldviews of these thinkers, which can be seen to fall under certain categories. Rudolf Steiner identifies four epochs of thought, whose differences are ‘as distinct as the differences between species in a kingdom of nature.’...

    “So here we have two fundamental elements of the great philosophical endeavor: On one hand, the history of philosophy is the revelation of ‘objective spiritual impulses’ holding sway ‘under the surface of external history’—that is, something objective coming to expression through individual human beings. On the other hand, it is the expression of ‘what the human personality can fashion out of itself by unfolding its own archetypal forces’—that is, something ‘subjective,’ so to speak, and fundamentally rooted in the essence of the human personality.”


  • Preface to the 1924 Edition
  • Preface to the New Edition of 1918
  • Preface to the 1914 Edition
  • I. Orientation in the Guiding Points of the Presentation
  • II. The World Conceptions of the Greek Thinkers
  • III. Thought Life from the Beginning of the Christian Era to John Scotus Erigena
  • IV. The World Conceptions of the Middle Ages
  • V. World Conceptions in the Modern Age of the Development of Thought
  • VI. The Age of Kant and Goethe
  • VII. Classical Views of the World and Life
  • VIII. Reactionary World Conceptions
  • IX. Radical World Conceptions
  • Citation Notes
  • Index of Philosophers


  • Introductory Remarks to the New Edition of 1914
  • I. The Struggle for the Spirit
  • II. Darwinism and the World Conception
  • III. The World as Illusion
  • IV. Echoes of the Kantian Mode of Conception
  • V. World Conceptions of Scientific Factuality
  • VI. Modern Idealistic World Conceptions
  • VII. The World Conception of the Modern Human Being
  • VIII. Outline of an Anthroposophy
  • Citation Notes
  • Index of Philosophers

Hand-working the leather-bound, numbered Chadwick edition.

Click here for the limited, numbered editions.

Click here to read more about the Chadwick Library Editions.

Related Titles

  • Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts : Anthroposophy as a Path of Knowledge: The Michael Mystery (CW 26)
  • Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path : A Philosophy of Freedom (CW 4)
  • Philosophy as an Approach to the Spirit : An Introduction to the Fundamental Works of Rudolf Steiner
  • The Riddles of Philosophy : Presented in an Outline of Its History (CW 18)
  • The Language of the Consciousness Soul : A Guide to Rudolf Steiner’s “Leading Thoughts”
  • American Philosophy and Rudolf Steiner : Emerson - Thoreau - Peirce - James - Royce - Dewey - Whitehead - Feminism
  • Steiner and Kindred Spirits

    Related Titles by Subject:

    Anthroposophy: Esoteric Studies ; Anthroposophy: Evolution & History ; Esoteric: Esoteric Studies and Esoteric: General