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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Study of Man
GA 293

These fundamental lectures contain the core of Steiner's view on the psychology of the human being. He covers such topics as mental pictures and will; memory and imagination; the soul activities of thinking, feeling, and willing; the forces of sympathy and antipathy; the twelve senses; the hierarchy of forces that move the will; and much more. This volume was part of the basic training material given by Steiner to the teachers of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart and is still an important part of Waldorf teacher training.

First English edition (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., London, and Anthroposophic Press, N.Y.), 1947. Translation made from the first edition in German, 1932.

Second edition (Rudolf Steiner Press), 1966. Translation revised from the fifth edition of the German text, 1960. Second impression of second edition, 1975.

The German text of the following lectures is published under the title Allgemeine Menschenkunde als Grundlage der Pädagogik (No. 293 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961).

Translated by Daphne Harwood and Helen Fox

A Note on the Revised Translation
Lecture I August 21, 1919
Egoism and Materialism. Life before birth and after death. Pre-natal Education. Union of Spirit and Soul elements before birth. Union of these with Life-Body after birth. Importance of breathing in uniting the three-fold man. Nature of sleep in child and adult. The teacher makes his relation with the child through what he is, — which depends on his thoughts about the world. Children must learn to breathe and to sleep ...
Lecture II August 22, 1919
Mental picture and Will not understood to-day. Image character of mental picture which is devoid of reality or being. Mental picture stems from life before birth, Will from life after death. The former works through antipathy, the latter through sympathy. Memory arises through heightened antipathy, Imagination through heightened sympathy, as also sense pictures. Contrast of nerves and blood. Decay and seed. True function of motor nerves. Three places where sympathy and antipathy meet. Cosmic relations of threefold organism of man. Concepts produce carbonic acid, imaginative pictures oxygen. Need for planting seed pictures in child.
Lecture III August 23, 1919
Equal importance of teachers of children of all ages. Twofold division of man has supplanted older division into Body, Soul and Spirit. Conservation of energy not true for man. Intellect grasps only the dying, Will, in sense perception, grasps the becoming. Unique nature of ‘pure thinking.’ Nature could not exist without man. Dead human bodies are yeast to earth. Man thinks with bones as well as nerves. Origin of geometry lies in movement. Man keeps earth alive. Man not merely a spectator but a stage for cosmic events. Transformation, not conservation, is true law of life.
Lecture IV August 25, 1919
Will and feeling not understood to-day. Will never fully realised in life, something remains over. The three Spiritual Principles: Spirit-Self — Manas — Manes; Life Spirit; Spirit Man. The three Soul Principles: Consciousness, Intellectual and Sentient Souls. The three Bodily Principles: Astral, Etheric and Physical. How Will works in these. In physical, as instinct — animals act according to their physical bodies. In etheric, as impulse. In astral, as desire, which reaches to soul element. Through his ego man raises these to motive. Behind motive lie, in the unconscious, wish, intention and resolution which live in the three Spiritual Principles. Story of lady and horses, illustrating cleverness of the unconscious. Teacher must understand hidden being of man. Marxist education illustrated. Repetition, not exhortation, affects the Will ...
Lecture V August 26, 1919
Each of the three soul activities includes qualities of all. Balance of sympathy and antipathy in the senses. Human and animal senses. Child lives in sympathy. Moral development through antipathy. Between willing (sympathy) and thinking (antipathy) lies feeling which comprises both. True nature of judgment. Feeling is cognition in reserve and will in reserve. Meeting place of blood and nerves. Beckmesser and Walther. Wagner and Hanslick. Variety of feeling in different senses. Reality must be won through work.
Lecture VI August 27, 1919
Soul reveals itself in sympathy and antipathy. Light of consciousness in thinking. Unconsciousness of Will. Feeling lies midway. Man wakes in thinking, sleeps in willing, dreams in feeling. Types of children and how to help them. Ego, youngest principle of man, can only live in images, not in real forces of the world. How ego lives in thinking, feeling and willing. Difference of the two parts of Faust. Waking — knowing in images: Dreaming — inspired feeling: Sleeping — intuitive willing.
Lecture VII August 28, 1919
Soul apprehended through sympathy and antipathy: Spirit through states of consciousness. All comprehension comes through relating things. In childhood man principally Body; in middle years Soul; in old age Spirit. Body may block Spirit in old age (Kant — Michelet — Zeller). Man may belie Soul in middle years. Willing united with feeling in childhood, cognition with feeling in old age. Sense perception related to willing-feeling, not to cognition. Hence it lives in dreaming-sleeping. Moritz Benedikt's work. Two zones where man sleeps — sense sphere on periphery and inner sphere of blood and muscle. Physical-chemical processes in both. Intermediate sphere of decaying nerve substance is sphere of waking, where man becomes light, sound, etc. This is space aspect. In time, forgetting is sleeping, memory is waking.
Lecture VIII August 29, 1919
Effect of sleep on ego. Need to regulate remembering and forgetting. Connection of Will and memory. Interest begets memory. Each soul force contains the others as well. The Twelve Senses. Sense of another's ego lives in sympathy and antipathy. Touch, Life, Movement, Balance related to Will: Smell, Taste, Sight, Warmth to feeling: Ego-sense, Thought, Hearing, Speech to knowing. Interrelation of senses. Colour and form perceived by different senses. Goethe and colour ...
Lecture IX August 30, 1919
In first seven-year period child develops through imitation: in second through authority; in third through individual judgment. Need to permeate thinking with logic. The syllogism. Conclusions live in waking life and should not be memorised. Judgments carried in feeling. Concepts enter sleeping soul and affect body. Concepts of child form face of adult. Characterisations needed', not definitions. Relate everything to Man. Prayer metamorphosed to Blessing. In first period child assumes world is moral; in second beautiful; in third true ...
Lecture X September 01, 1919
Consideration of Body. Spherical (Sun) form of head. Moon form of breast. Radial form of limbs. Jaws are stunted limbs in head. Blood and muscle nature of limbs. Tubular limb bones: rounded head bones. Metamorphosis in bones. Head centre is within: breast centre outside: limb centre in periphery. Sense of cosmic relations in ancient sculpture. Head arrests limb movement. Head and breast turn limb dance to song and music. Head man reveals Body: Breast man Body and Soul: Limb man Body, Soul and Spirit. Council of 869 A.D. and its consequences. Head alone is evolved animal, not breast or limbs. Teacher must understand man as microcosm.
Lecture XI September 02, 1919
Relation of head to Body, Soul and Spirit. In first period of childhood Soul and Spirit are dreaming and sleeping outside child, hence he imitates. Head fully formed at change of teeth. Relation of Breast and Limbs to Body, Soul and Spirit. Head perfected but sleeping. Limbs awake but unformed. Teacher can only educate part of child. First mother milk, then mother speech awaken child. Teacher's task to continue this awakening. Writing should be learnt by way of breast and limbs, and developed from drawing and painting. Elementary school concerned with breast man. Relation of memory and imagination to physical growth.
Lecture XII September 03, 1919
Relation of human organs to outer world. Head the oldest formation. It shapes the human being, but has tendency to create animal forms. Trunk and limb systems prevent this, and transform animal forms into thoughts. Trunk system related to plant world. Oxygen changed to carbon in breathing. Plants would arise in man if he retained carbon. Illnesses caused through plant nature asserting itself, Plants are pictures of illnesses. In digestion only middle process of combustion occurs, How breathing — the anti-plant process — unites with this middle. Hygiene of future. Mechanics of limb movement, behind which lie the forces in which the ego lives. These forces dissolve the mineral in man. Destructive illnesses arise when this does not happen. Lines of therapy.
Lecture XIII September 04, 1919
Head formed from within out; limbs from without in Man acts as dam for in-rushing Soul and Spirit. Balance between destructive activity of these and constructive of Body. Part played by chest and limb systems. Nature and effect of fat in child. Living elements absorb Soul and Spirit, decaying let them through. Blood opaque to Spirit, Nerve transparent. Spirit active in bodily work, Body in mental. Relation of sleep to different forms of bodily activity. Purposeful movements needed. Eurythmy and Sport. Sport practical Darwinism. Relation of sleep to different forms of mental activity. Interest essential ...
Lecture XIV September 05, 1919
In Head, nose represents trunk, jaws limbs. Actual limbs are jaws of a spiritual head which continually devour man from without. Upper part of chest man develops to head nature in larynx — the “head of the throat.” Sounds of speech, nasal, etc., correspond to parts of head. When second teeth appear grammar needed as corresponding skeleton of speech. Lower trunk develops limb character towards puberty in sex organs which are coarsened limb nature. Inner warmth necessary as correspondence, i.e. Imagination. Examples in imaginative treatment of subjects. Camera Obscura and theorem of Pythagoras. No pedantry permissible in teaching. Schelling. A maxim for teachers ...