Preface to the 1985 German Edition

The lectures, addresses and contributions to discussions given by Rudolf Steiner at the Christmas Conference for the Founding of the General Anthroposophical Society in 1923/24 were first published by Marie Steiner twenty-one years later. She undertook the revision of the text and wrote the introductory and concluding words. The original form of Marie Steiner's presentation has been maintained in the present new edition within the framework of the Complete Works. Any changes made in the text after comparison with the existing records have been documented in the Notes. A Supplement has been added containing facsimile reproductions of documents in Rudolf Steiner's handwriting as well as of texts and diagrams made on the blackboard during the Conference.

The Conference was for members of the Anthroposophical Society only. This fact determined the tone of Rudolf Steiner's contributions, especially the lectures. ‘I was permitted to speak in internal circles in a manner which would have had to be different had I spoken publicly from the start.’ (The Course of my Life)

The records taken down in shorthand were originally not intended for publication, and Rudolf Steiner was unable to check them himself. Though for the greatest part they may be assumed to be verbatim, nevertheless, as with all his published lectures, account must be taken of his own proviso in this matter: ‘There will be nothing for it but to accept that there may be mistakes in the records I have been unable to check myself. A judgment on the content of these private publications will in any event only be acceptable when it is based on that knowledge which is a prerequisite for such judgment. In the case of most of these publications this is at least the knowledge of man and the universe as given by Anthroposophy, and also what may be found under the heading “anthroposophical history” in the wisdom that has been received from the spiritual world.’ (The Course of my Life)