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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

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.