Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Awakening Anthroposophy
in the World

The Threefold Social Order
GA 23

This work, written late in the life of Rudolf Steiner, makes use of a threefold analysis of the human individual and of human society. Man as an individual or in a group functions basically in three modes: thinking/perceiving, feeling/valuing, and willing/planning/acting. A unit of functioning, whether a part of an individual or part of a society has its proper role. Each role needs a certain respect from other areas if it is to function properly. Each role should be appropriately related to the other two roles or functions. In society, the three partitions are: the cultural-spiritual, the production-economic, and the “sphere of rights” including legal rights. As the analysis unfolds, it may be noticed that there is seldom a “pure case” but there are various mixes with one aspect often predominataing. The manner in which the three aspects of society relate to the three aspects of the individual is a fascinating and intricate one, and one which has an important bearing on the future of human society.

The Threefold Social Order (1972)

This volume is a presentation of Steiner's central ideas on the threefold nature of the social organism. Translation by Frederick C. Heckel. Five Versions of this work have appeared in English translation, each with its own title. All are complete except this one which is abbreviated. The German language title is, Die Kernpunkte der Sozialen Frage in den Lebensnotwendigkeiten der Gegenwart und Zukunft. (vol. 23 in the Bibliographic Survey).

Basic Issues of the Social Question (2001)

In the social ferment of postwar Europe in 1919, Steiner presented his ideas about reforming the basis of society in three fundamental, autonomous spheres: economic, political/rights, and cultural. For a short time he worked to bring his ideas into practical application but it soon became impossible to bring about a “threefold social order” and he withdrew from the outer work in this area. His ideas have been worked with over the decades since that time and have proved to be just as valid today as they were then. This volume is a presentation of Steiner's central ideas on the threefold nature of the social organism. Translation by Frank Thomas Smith.

Die Kernpunkte der sozialen Frage

Mitten in die Nachkriegswirren Europas hinein stellte Steiner im Jahre 1919 seine Ideen über eine radikale Reform des sozialen Lebens. Grundidee dieser Reform war die Autonomie der drei fundamentalen Bereiche Ökonomie, Politik/Justiz und Geistesleben/Kultur. Für eine Weile arbeitete er auf die praktische Realisierung dieser Ideen hin, aber schon bald wurde klar, dass die sogenannte “Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus” noch nicht möglich war und Steiner zog sich von der praktischen Arbeit in diesem Bereich zurück. Seine Ideen jedoch waren in den folgenden Jahrzehnten überaus einflussreich und scheinen heute noch genauso Geltung zu haben wie damals.

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