Self-knowledge and world knowledge

One can never reach true self-knowledge without having come to a knowledge of the world. To brood over our inner self will not lead to self-knowledge. What prepares the self for self-knowledge is world knowledge. In turn, one cannot come to a world knowledge without having first delved into his own self. Knowledge of the world is impossible without self-knowledge.

The two statements may seem contradictory, but it is a lively and fruitful contradiction: we cannot come to a knowledge of the world without self-knowledge, neither can we attain self-knowledge without a knowledge of the world. It is like the beating of a pendulum which must swing back and forth. So must man constantly search for the pendulum that beats, now between self-experience and world experience, and now between world experience and self-experience. This inner activity will bring about a strengthening of the soul. It is today a soul necessity and will be more so in the future.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 192 – Geisteswissenschaftliche Behandlung sozialer und pädagogischer Fragen – Stuttgart, 1 May 1919 (page 71)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on March 14, 2016


Social life/Self-interest

The main characteristic of the present time is that people are in fact stuffed with selfishness, and when they talk of social demands, they really mean to say: How can self-interest be best served by the community? People basically speak of social life but really mean selfish life. They would like to have a social life where selfishness can best flourish.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 203 – Die Verantwortung des Menschen für die Weltentwickelung – Dornach, January 23, 1921 (page 122)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on May 20, 2016

Words and Deeds

I always find it extremely humorous when well-meaning people say all the time that words don’t matter, deeds do! I’ve heard it proclaimed at the most unsuitable times, during discussions and from the rostrums, that it isn’t words but actions that count!
Everything that happens in the world in regard to actions depends on words! One who can see through things knows that nothing takes place that hasn’t been prepared in advance by somebody through words.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 339 – The Art of Lecturing: Lecture IV – Dornach, 14th October 1921

Translated by Maria St. Goar


Slowly in the course of the nineteenth century the principle of nationality arose, this emphasizing of the nationality, this wish to live only in the nationality. This represents the antithesis of the soul-spirit nature; for this soul-spirit nature does not trouble itself with nationality. Many of the souls who today live in Europe were formerly incarnated in America. The souls who today live chiefly in Japanese bodies should not point to their ancestors, as far as their souls are concerned, but to the time of the folk migrations in Europe. Yes, indeed, the Americans should not pride themselves on their forebears, their European blood ancestry. Rather they should point to the fact that they once lived in Asia at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and there went through a culture which was not yet permeated by Christianity; thus they are also those who accept Christianity through external tradition and external education. There is still a strong opposition from this quarter to a soul-spiritual conception of the world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 202 – The Souls Progress through Repeated Earth Lives – Bern, 14th December 1920

Previously posted on December 3, 2014


Everything that is outside in space is also within us. Today man does not yet recognise the complete harmony which exists between the mysterious forces at work in himself, and the forces active outside in the macrocosm; indeed he probably regards that as a fantastic daydream.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 129 – Wonders of the World: Lecture 3 – Munich, 20th August 1911

Translated by Dorothy Lenn

Previously posted on December 1, 2014