After reading The Devil’s Reward, readers may have questions about Rudolf Steiner. Thus, here is some background on him, that may enhance your reading experience.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher, architect, artist, teacher and agriculturalist. He was known as a pioneer in the research of alternative education, agriculture, health and architecture.
Steiner was born in 1861 in a small village of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. He studied mathematics, natural history, physics and chemistry in Vienna. In 1890, he did the editing of the natural scientific works of Goethe. After editing and publishing other important works like Schoepnhauer’s essays, he was seen as a famous cultural personality.
At the beginning of the 20th century, he got involved in the Theosophical society and became the secretary of the German section. But a few years later he left and founded the Anthroposophical Society. His second wife, Marie de Sivers worked with him there. This philosophical movement focused on what he calls the spirit of science and regards the whole human sphere: education with the Waldorf schools, biodynamic farming, art with Eurythmy, the latter of which that Isadora Duncan considered the mother of modern dance.
Between 1913 and 1919, Steiner built the first Goetheanum (as a tribute to Goethe) in Dornach, near Basel in Switzerland. It was wholly built of wood, which burned to the ground during the New Year’s Eve of 1922. The Goetheanum that exists today has been built according the Steiner’s plans, but he died before it was completed.
Steiner is an important and interesting personality, although he and is work is also very controversial. Many criticisms concern his mystical and metaphysical approach on human issues. Some claim that the Anthroposophy is more a religion than a philosophy, and others distrust the “school of the spirit of science” and consider it to be a kind of sect.
Nevertheless, the influence of Steiner has spread all over the world. His book “The Threefold State” where he described his scheme for a perfect organization of the society has been sold more than 100,000 copies in the United States alone, and is said to be the main inspiration of Nicanor Perlas, who won the Nobel Prize in 2003. There are approximately 1,000 Waldorf Schools in the world. And the biodynamic agriculture, which was pioneered by Steiner has been developed, and is followed, in many parts of the world.
Steiner’s influence is concrete in numerous areas of practical life: medicine, naturopathic medicines and art.
He died on March 30, 1925 in his headquarters in Dornach. The Goetheanum is still very active today.