Steiner Online Library Spiritual Science for Human Evolution

The Stages of Higher Knowledge
GA 12

Translator's Note

Feeling a moral responsibility to convey, as far as possible in any translation, the original meaning intended by the author, the translator has used the word “representation” wherever “Vorstellung” had appeared. Thus it is distinguished from “Idee” even though both these different words are frequently rendered as “idea” in English. As Dr. H. Poppelbaum noted in his preface to the revised 1939 translation of The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, the word “representation,” however clumsy it may seem at first glance, “is justified, because the mental picture indeed stands for the concept and represents it.” The difficulty in translating the word “Vorstellung,” however, is acknowledged and further emphasized by a more recent translator, Michael Wilson. He, in his introduction to his translation of the same work re-titled, The Philosophy of Freedom (1966), explains his use of the term “mental image” as being more accurate for English usage. Interested readers are referred to these two translators for a full exposition of the problem.

Rudolf Steiner's original paragraphing, undoubtedly regarded at first as a stumbling block by some readers, also has been retained in this translation. This is because, carefully and deliberately arrived at by the author, it is an essential part of the whole work, helping to express what was meant.

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"You can see from this, my dear friends, what mischief will be set on foot if the truths of Spiritual Science are withheld. For man will be exposed to the forces of evil, and he will only be protected from it by giving himself up to the spiritual life of the good. To withhold the spiritual life of goodness from men is to be no friend to humanity. Whoever does this, be he Freemason or Jesuit, is no friend to humanity. For it means handing men over to the forces of evil. And there may be a purpose in doing so. This purpose may be to confine goodness to a small circle, in order by the help of this goodness to dominate the helpless humanity who are thus led by evil into the follies of life."

—Rudolf Steiner,
Spiritual Science Notes On Goethe's Faust, Vol. II, No. 273-8.

Spiritual Exercises

Calendar of the Soul

In 1912 Rudolf Steiner offered a “calendar of the soul” with weekly verses that express how the changing seasons in both the outer natural world and our inner lives help humanity evolve. Download and read the verses in four translations with commentary by Eloise Krivosheia of the Los Angeles Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.


2022-2023 Calendar Dates