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The Collected Works of Rudolf Steiner Series 174b Read Description

The Spiritual Background to the First World War

(CW 174b)

September 2024
More details
  • Publisher
    Rudolf Steiner Press
  • ISBN 9781855846616
  • Language English
  • Pages 412 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9.25"

16 lectures, Stuttgart, Sept. 30, 1914–March 3, 1921 (CW 174b)

With the unprecedented global conflict of World War I as the overarching theme, Rudolf Steiner addresses timeless issues such as the search for harmony among peoples and nations, the development of love as a human capacity, the continuing presence of Christ, and the matters of life after death and reincarnation.

Speaking in Stuttgart during and after the war years, Steiner discusses the perpetual tension between East and West, especially in connection with Europe. The war, he says, arose principally from the Anglo-Saxon peoples’ determination “to exercise world-domination.” Knowing that Slavic culture is destined to be the precursor of the sixth cultural epoch, Western national interests resolved to make Eastern Europe, specifically Russia, “the field for socialist experiments.” Those events were aggravated by the failure of the Central European peoples in their own world-historical task to “rise to a broad sense of vision” as intermediaries between the two groups. Throughout, Steiner refers to the work of individual folk souls, but distinguishes them from the scourge of nationalism, especially when based on blood, while also emphasizing the sovereignty of each human being.

Although more than a century old, the enduring themes of these previously untranslated lectures will resonate with many readers today. Published for the first time in English, the main text is supplemented with an introduction by Simon Blaxland-de Lange, editorial notes, and an index.

This volume is a translation from German of Die geistigen Hintergründe des Ersten Weltkrieges. Kosmische und Menschliche Geschichte Band VII, Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2nd ed., 1994 (GA 174b).

Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner (b. Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner, 1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.