CIIS Faculty Publications

Revisioning Society & Culture (Classic Articles from The Journal for Anthroposophy)


Revisioning Society & Culture (Classic Articles from The Journal for Anthroposophy)



Throughout his life, Rudolf Steiner stressed repeatedly that the most crucial task facing the modern human being is that of transforming our dominant ways of knowing the world. This emphasis is the red thread that runs through and connects all of Steiner’s writings, lectures, artistic work, and practical endeavors. Steiner spoke of this transformation of knowing as developing the capacity to obtain genuine knowledge of the spirit. He spelled out in great detail what this entailed and its concrete implications for all of life. The articles in this issue of the journal point, each in its own way and with respect to a particular social/cultural concern, to the necessity of this fundamental transformation of our knowing capacities. Everything depends, however, on the development of qualitative, spiritual capacities of knowing. In the words of Rudolf Steiner, which Virginia Sease quotes:

To find living ideas, living concepts, living viewpoints, living feelings, not dead theories―that is the task of this age.

And that also may be one way of describing the crucial task of the cultural sphere in Steiner’s conception of the threefold social order. It is the primary function of the cultural sphere to provide the living knowledge of meaning, value, purpose, and qualities that can guide and set a context for the humane functioning of the political and economic spheres. The threefold social order in this sense is especially relevant to America’s influence, for both good and ill, in today’s world, and has special relevance to this article on America. Steiner warned after World War I:

The Anglo-American world may gain world dominion; but without the threefold social order it will, through this dominion, pour out cultural death and cultural illness over the whole earth.

For those today who are convinced, and have weighty reasons for so thinking, that the Doubles have come overwhelmingly to the fore in present day America, Virginia Sease also reminds us of the particular spiritual realities with which we may still work in the hope that, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “the better angels of our nature” may yet prevail.



Publication Date



Anthroposophical Society in America


Occultism; Social Sciences


New Religious Movements | Sociology of Religion


Series Editor: Douglas Sloan is Professor of History and Education Emeritus at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he has taught for more than thirty years. During this time, he was also Adjunct Professor of Religion and Education at Union Theological Seminary and The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and Director of the Center for the Study of the Spiritual Foundations of Education at Teachers College. From 1992 until 2000, he was also Director of the Masters Program in Waldorf Education at Sunbridge College. His books include Insight-Imagination: The Emancipation of Thought and the Modern World and Faith and Knowledge: Mainstream Protestantism and American Higher Education. He and his wife Fern live near Harlemville, New York.

Series Editor: Robert McDermott, Ph.D., is president emeritus and chair of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). His publications include Radhakrishnan (1970); The Essential Aurobindo (1974, 1987); The Essential Steiner (1984); (with Rudolf Steiner) The Bhagavad Gita and the West (2009); and The New Essential Steiner (2009). He has also published on William James, Josiah Royce, M. K. Gandhi, the evolution of consciousness, and American thought. His administrative service includes president of the New York Center for Anthroposophy; president of the Rudolf Steiner [summer] Institute; chair of the board of Sunbridge College (New York) and of Rudolf Steiner College (California). He was a member of the council of the Anthroposophical Society in America (1996–2004). He is the founding chair of the board of the Sophia Project, an anthroposophic home in Oakland, California, for mothers and children at risk of homelessness. He is a Lindisfarne fellow, a Fetzer mentor, and a member of the Esalen Corportion.

Revisioning Society & Culture (Classic Articles from The Journal for Anthroposophy)