These lectures are almost like conversations, for at Rudolf Steiner's own request their contents were always determined by the workmen themselves. They were allowed to choose the subjects and were encouraged by Rudolf Steiner to ask questions, to speak themselves and to bring forward their difficulties. Many different themes, remote and immediate, were touched upon. The special interest taken in therapy and hygiene showed how closely such questions were connected with the cares of the workmen's daily lives. All kinds of natural phenomena in the kingdoms of mineral, plant and animal were elucidated and this led on to study of the cosmos and the cosmic origins of created things. Finally the workmen themselves asked to be introduced to the principles of Spiritual Science and to the foundations necessary for understanding the deeper aspects of Christianity.
This common work developed out of study-courses at first conducted by Dr. Roman Boos for any of the workmen who were interested, after their daily tasks on the site of the building; later on, courses were continued by other members of the Anthroposophical Society. But then the workmen asked Rudolf Steiner whether he would not himself help them to satisfy their desire for knowledge — also whether it would be possible to devote to this purpose a working hour when they were fresher and better able to assimilate what they heard. The lectures were then given in the morning. Apart from the workmen, only one or two people employed in the office and two or three close co-workers of Dr. Steiner were allowed to attend. Practical activities were also studied — for example, bee-keeping. The texts of the nine lectures on bees were subsequently published by the Agricultural Experimental Circle at the Goetheanum for its members.
But very many others now felt a wish to know the contents of these lectures. They had, however, been given to an audience of a very special kind, always quite extempore — just as the particular circumstances and the mood of the workmen demanded — with never a thought of publication. But to do anything in the way of editing which might take away their spontaneity and directness would be the greatest pity; they would lose the atmosphere arising from the interplay between the souls of the questioners and the answerer. Nobody would want to deprive them of vividness by making pedantic changes in the structure of the sentences. We have therefore tried to leave them as far as possible untouched. Even if the text does not everywhere conform with accepted standards of literary style, it has freshness, vitality, life.