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Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy

A renewed image of the human being inspires worldwide regeneration

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian visionary, scientist, teacher, philosopher and innovator who sought to introduce a renewed spiritual dimension into the increasingly cold intellectualism of the time. He offered a new perception of the nature of the human being in which the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical aspects are united in an holistic picture.

Black and white portrait of Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner

The pathway which his body of work opened up is not a philosophy or belief-system but was described by him as "spiritual science" or anthroposophy, from the Greek 'anthropo-sophia' meaning 'wisdom of the human being'. Steiner himself was constantly at pains to encourage individuals not simply to accept his ideas but to question, challenge and test them in order to arrive at their own personal truth and conviction.

Pioneers and innovators in different walks of life came to him asking for advice and guidance and his response was usually in the form of extensive lecture courses which laid the foundation for developments in many fields of endeavour.

In this way ground-breaking new approaches came about in education, medicine, paediatrics, psychology, education, special education, therapies, agriculture, horticulture, architecture, graphic arts and sculpture, performance arts, economics, ethical banking, organisational development, community building and social renewal, which have spread all over the world and had a profound influence. 

The Steiner-Waldorf School movement has hundreds of schools worldwide and has enhanced the education of countless thousands of children. Biodynamic Agriculture was the forerunner of all today's organic farming and ecological concerns.

Steiner's renewed principles in special education, paediatrics, psychology, therapies, the arts, economics and social renewal formed the background and basis for the life's work of Dr. Karl Koenig and for the ongoing development of the Camphill Movement of therapeutic intentional communities which he founded.

Karl Koenig and Camphill

Building a therapeutic community for learning, development and transformation

A black and white portrait of Dr Karl Koenig
Dr Karl Koenig
Karl Koenig (1902-1966)

Karl Koenig was an Austrian physician, paediatrician, polymath, author and lecturer who was inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner. In 1940 he and a group of young co-workers founded a small community in Scotland devoted to the care and education of children with learning disabilities. This planted the seed of the Camphill Movement (named after the first house on Deeside) which rapidly expanded and developed over the following decades. In the 1950s the work was extended to include working communities for adults.

The Camphill Movement now comprises over 120 communities in 26 countries worldwide, with schools, colleges, farming communities, urban communities, craft workshops, cafes, shops and all sorts of social enterprises, architecture practices, training courses and artistic academies - even an insurance company. 61 of these are in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

From the beginning the spiritual-cultural, social-administrative and economic aspects of life were seen as a threefold whole which needs to be in balance, following Rudolf Steiner's vision of a Threefold Social Order in which the three spheres of activity would be quite distinct but in harmony. According to this, Freedom should be the guiding principle in the spiritual-cultural life; Equality in the field of social co-existence, law, rights and administration; and the spirit of Brotherhood in the sphere of economic production. Instead of being ruled by the capitalistic drive for constant growth and large profits, the economic sphere should be able to finance and maintain the wellbeing of all citizens and fund the arts and education. 

Karl Koenig and his fellow founders pioneered a form of community life which would support the education and development of people of all ages living with a learning disability or in need of extra support. The main principles have always been:

  • To recognise, respect and remain faithful to the unique spiritual identity of each individual, 
  • To create a healthy and harmonious therapeutic environment, 
  • To maintain a warm, creative and enlivening social and cultural life, 
  • To make self-education the basis for all teaching and development,
  • To cultivate order and beauty in the surroundings and in all the small details of daily life,
  •  To care for the land and animals in an ecologically sustainable way, 
  • To work together cooperatively for the good of the whole community, To integrate with the wider community and be aware of changing needs.

Each of the many Camphill communities has its own special character and The Mount strives to achieve the essential ideals in its own unique way, appropriate to the 21st century