The Course for Speakers to Promote the Idea of Threefolding
From time to time, reading Rudolf Steiner’s Collected Works, one encounters a previously unknown set of lectures that seems to promise no more than a rather specialized content, of interest primarily to those concerned with its apparent theme—here a preparatory course for those about to embark on a speaking tour to promote the “threefolding” of society. Then one discovers various subthemes that unexpectedly spark new insights, not only into Anthroposophy, but also into Steiner himself, who suddenly appears in a new light. In such cases, we may encounter a passage or lecture that illuminates, challenges, and ultimately transforms what we think we know, and our perspective changes. Our habitual understanding falls away, and we grasp that what we are reading is not information or description; it is a call to act in a new way. Thereby, we are no longer simply readers, but also participants in the adventure of Anthroposophy.
Here are two lectures given in Stuttgart, January 1921, at the request of, and to, anthroposophists from Breslau in Upper Silesia, who had written for guidance in a last-ditch attempt to interject threefold ideas into the political discussions surrounding the upcoming referendum to determine whether Upper Silesia would remain part of Germany or revert to Poland. Ten lectures were given about a month later, aimed to prepare speakers to travel around Germany to promote the idea of threefolding. Knowing that their task would not be easy, that it would be risky and even dangerous, Steiner paints the “big picture”—the “deep ground”—from which they were called to make their case.
Reading these lectures, we come to realize that everything Steiner enjoins, and the way he does so, applies to a much greater field than what he is explicitly addressing. The participants—who would be going out to speak—were doing so as representatives of Anthroposophy. When they speak of threefolding, it would be as only one manifestation of what living Anthroposophy can be. As such, they must themselves become living manifestations of Anthroposophy. From this point of view, this course could also be called “How to Be an Anthroposophist.”
This volume is a translation from German of Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus? (GA 338).
Cover image and frontispiece: Rudolf Steiner lecturing in the carpentry workshop, c. 1915 in Dornach, Switzerland. Photo by Max Benzinger; © Verlag am Goetheanum.
Dec 2015; Trans. R. Bradley (12 lectures and a question-and-answer session, Stuttgart, Jan. 1–2, and Feb. 12–17, 1921, GA 338); SB; 330pp; 23 x 15 cm; pb;
£22.50 ISBN 9781621481256