Human nature was fundamentally good

In the last lecture we found that moral impulses are fundamental in human nature. From the facts adduced, we tried to prove that a foundation of morality and goodness lies at the bottom of the human soul, and that really it has only been in the course of evolution, in man’s passage from incarnation to incarnation, that he has diverged from the original instinctive good foundation and that thereby what is evil, wrong and immoral has come into humanity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 155 – The Spiritual Foundation of Morality: III – Norrkoping, 30th May, 1912

Translated by M. Cotterell

Previously posted on October 6, 2018


The original goodness of humanity as a whole, and of each single human being

The foundation for the improvement of a human being always consists in taking away his spiritual error. And what is necessary to this end? Gather together what I have told you into a fundamental feeling; let the facts speak to you, let them speak to your feelings and perceptions, and try to gather them together into one fundamental feeling, and then you will say: What is the attitude which a man needs to hold regarding his fellow-man? It is that he needs the belief in the original goodness of humanity as a whole, and of each single human being in particular. That is the first thing we must say if we wish to speak at all in words concerning morality; that something immeasurably good lies at the bottom of human nature.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 155 – The Spiritual Foundation of Morality: II – Norrkoping, 29th May, 1912

Translated by M. Cotterell

Previously posted on October 5, 2018


Nothing so good and lovely as little children

Ethical Impulses & Physical Health

In all our intercourse with the world outside, we make use of the body as an instrument, and according as we use it skillfully and well, or badly and clumsily, we occasion, at any rate in part, the events that befall us. And then, in the further lives that follow, come new compensation and balancing-out. Thus in the spiritual world we find the formative forces that belong to our moral life. The moral world becomes for us a reality.

We see how an ethical impulse cannot in one earth-life effect a change in the physical body, but when it passes over into the next life on earth, can work there quite definitely as a health-giving influence, no less truly than heat works in the physical world, or light, or electricity. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life – The Hague, November 16th, 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

Previously posted on September 1, 2018


Education / Morality / Authority

In this period of his life (between the change of teeth and puberty) one must work upon the child through speech. But whatever is to work upon him in this way must do so by means of an unquestioned authority. When I want to convey to the child some picture expressed through speech, I must do so with the assurance of authority. I must be the unquestioned authority for the child when through speech I want to conjure up before him some picture. 

Just as we must actually show the little child what we want him to do, so we must be the human pattern for the child between the change of teeth and puberty. In other words, there is no point whatever in giving reasons to a child of this age, in trying to make him see why we should do something or not do it, just because there are well-founded reasons for or against it. This passes over the child’s head. It is important to understand this. 

In exactly the same way as in the earliest years of life the child only observes the gesture, so between the change of teeth and puberty he only observes what I, as a human being, am in relation to himself. At this age the child must, for instance, learn about what is moral in such a way that he regards as good what the naturally accepted authority of the teacher, by means of speech, designates as good; he must regard as bad what this authority designates as bad. The child must learn: What my teacher, as my authority, does is good, what he does not do is bad. Relatively speaking then, the child feels: When my teacher says something is good, then it is good; and if he says something is bad, then it is bad.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 310 – Human Values in Education: Lecture III – Arnheim, 19th July, 1924


Morality will be built on the foundations of spiritual knowledge — or it will not be built at all!

By deepening our contemplation of cosmic secrets — with which the secrets of human existence are connected — we shall learn to understand the nature of the man standing before us; we shall learn to silence our preconceptions and to feel and recognise the true qualities of the individual in question. The most important light that Spiritual Science can give will be the light it throws upon the human soul. Thereby sound social feelings, also those feelings of love which ought to prevail between human beings, will make their way into the world as a fruit of true spiritual knowledge. We shall recognise that our grasp of spiritual knowledge alone can help this fruit to grow and thrive. 

When Schopenhauer said: “To preach morality is easy; to establish morality is difficult”, he was giving expression to true insight. After all, it is not so very difficult to discover moral principles, neither is it difficult to preach morality. But to quicken the human soul at the point where spiritual knowledge can germinate and develop into true morality capable of sustaining life — that is what matters. Our attitude to spiritual knowledge can also establish within us the seeds of a truly human morality of the future. The morality of the future will either be built on the foundations of spiritual knowledge — or it will not be built at all!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth: Lecture One – Berlin, November 5, 1912


Drawing by Margitta Bieker