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The Riddle of Humanity - Rudolf SteinerThe Riddle of Humanity

The Spiritual Background of Human History
fifteen lectures by Rudolf Steiner

In The Riddle of Humanity, Rudolf Steiner explores the make-up of the human being from a variety of standpoints. Starting from an historical example of a spiritual aberration resulting from the transitional nature of our age, he proceeds to an examination and comparison of regular and irregular phenomena in both the world around us and their mirrored qualities within our own inner life. Steiner then contrasts the heavenly and earthly in the human form: the head and the rest of the body respectively. He develops this theme described in many other lectures, of how the forces which are developed within the life of the body in one incarnation, are carried into the realm following death and from there in concert with higher divinities, elaborate the head formation of the subsequent life. From here he bridges over to the human senses, of which he numbers twelve: touch, life, movement, balance, smell, taste, sight, warmth, hearing, word, thought, and I-perception, describing each one and relating them to the fixed zodiac of the stars. Though, broadly speaking, the senses extend throughout the exterior of the body, Steiner maintains that their source is in the head. And as each part of the body is an expression of one of the zodiacal constellations (e.g. Ram = head; Bull = larynx, etc.), from the forces active in each body part in one life time, the corresponding sense faculty is developed for the head of the next incarnation, thereby demonstrating the relationship between constellations and senses.

These twelve senses, however, are permeated in various ways with seven life process which, unlike the static senses, are mobile and dynamic. These life processes - breathing, warming, nourishing, secreting, maintaining, growing, reproducing - express the dynamics of the seven Ptolemaic planets. As with the twelve senses, Steiner elaborates each of the life processes to make clear what is meant by each. Alongside static senses and dynamic life processes, he brings in conscious soul experience and shows how these work into each other in particular qualities of experience, for example in the aesthetic experience of works of art.

Much more is covered in relation to the human being and his form, function and evolution including the threefoldness of the human being and its relationship to knowledge, aesthetics and morality, the value of thinking or recalling backwards, the development of memory and habit, the influences of Lucifer and Ahriman on the senses and the life processes, etc.

Rudolf Steiner Press
15 lectures, 29 July - 3 September 1916, Dornach, GA170
218pp; paperback
ISBN: 1-85584-105-3

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The Riddle of Humanity - Rudolf Steiner - GA 170