Genus and Individuality  

It is impossible to understand a human being completely if one takes the concept of genus as the basis of one’s judgment. The tendency to judge according to the genus is at its most stubborn where we are concerned with differences of sex. Almost invariably man sees in woman, and woman in man, too much of the general character of the other sex and too little of what is individual. 

In practical life this does less harm to men than to women. The social position of women is for the most part such an unworthy one because in so many respects it is determined not as it should be by the particular characteristics of the individual woman, but by the general picture one has of woman’s natural tasks and needs. A man’s activity in life is governed by his individual capacities and inclinations, whereas a woman’s is supposed to be determined solely by the mere fact that she is a woman. She is supposed to be a slave to what is generic, to womanhood in general. As long as men continue to debate whether a woman is suited to this or that profession “according to her natural disposition”, the so-called woman’s question cannot advance beyond its most elementary stage. What a woman, within her natural limitations, wants to become had better be left to the woman herself to decide. 

If it is true that women are suited only to that profession which is theirs at present, then they will hardly have it in them to attain any other. But they must be allowed to decide for themselves what is in accordance with their nature. To all who fear an upheaval of our social structure through accepting women as individuals and not as females, we must reply that a social structure in which the status of one half of humanity is unworthy of a human being is itself in great need of improvement. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 4 – The Philosophy of Freedom – Chapter 14: Individuality and Genus

Translated by Michael Wilson

Previously posted on December 16, 2015  




Of course, a materialistic view of the world and of the human being, which recognizes only what can be touched and seen, naturally sees in man and woman only the big physiological differences; and anyone who remains with this materialistic view will simply miss, will overlook, something that is far greater and more decisive than sexual differences — he will overlook the individuality which goes beyond gender and is independent of it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Woman and Society – Hamburg, 17th November 1906


Previously posted on March 1, 2018

Squabbles over differences of opinion

Nowadays people often squabble over opinions. But that cannot continue, simply because it is necessary that everyone has their own opinion. When a tree is photographed from different sides, it is still the same tree, but the descriptions will be quite different; thus, every person can have his own opinion – depending on the position he places himself.

The wise man will no longer fight over opinions. He will however, find some opinions healthy, and others unhealthy. But people no longer need to fight about opinions that differ from their own. It’s like looking at different pictures and then noticing: those pictures are quite unalike, these are good, and those others have failed. It can at most be interesting how a man comes to his opinion: whether an opinion is formed out of wisdom, or foolishness, whether an opinion is commonplace and infertile or noble and fruitful for humanity – that is of interest.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 337b – Soziale Ideen/Soziale Wirklichkeit/Soziale Praxis – Dornach, 16 August 1920 (page 62-63)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on April 27, 2018


Those who do not admit that the religions were adapted to particular conditions, but maintain that all religious systems have emanated from one undifferentiated source, can never acquire real knowledge.

To speak only of unity amounts to saying that salt, pepper, paprika and sugar are on the table, but we are not concerned with each of them individually. What we are looking for is the unity that is expressed in these different substances. Of course, one can speak like this, but when it is a question of passing on to practical reality, of using each substance appropriately, the differences between them will certainly be apparent. Nobody who uses these substances will claim that there is no different, then just put salt or pepper instead of sugar into your coffee or tea, and you will soon find out the truth! Those who make no real distinction between the several religions, but say that they all come from the same source, are making the same kind of blunder. If we wish to know how a living thread runs through the different religions towards a great goal, we must seek to understand this thread, and study and value of each religion for its particular sphere.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – III – Hannover, 18th November 1912

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on May 29, 2015

Different paths of higher knowledge (2 – End)

What comes into consideration here is too often overlooked, that is, the immense differences in human nature. The people of ancient India were inwardly organized differently from modern people. This difference in the higher members is apparent to spiritual research, though not to the external science of physiology or anatomy. It is thanks to this fact that we have preserved up to our own time a wonderful spiritual knowledge, and also the method whereby initiation was achieved — the path of yoga.

This path leads those who are constituted like the people of ancient India to the summit of knowledge. For today’s European it is as senseless to seek that path as it would be to first walk to the opposite side of the mountain and use the path there rather than the path available where one stands. The nature of today’s European is completely different from that of the Oriental. A few centuries before the Christian era began, human nature was different from what it was to become a few centuries later. And today it is different again.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Supersensible Knowledge: Lecture XI: Who are the Rosicrucians? – Berlin, 14th March 1907

Previously posted on November 15, 2014