Atelier for the Social Quest is a self-managed study course comprising four units: Nature, Society, Economics, Self; it is also a means of linking the work of independent "ateliers". Atelier here means small or large groups of people who are seeking to make their ideas and perceptions something living and active in the world. Natural science transforms into social art.
The aim is to cultivate the kind of phenomenology which awakens practical imaginative understanding, beyond just theoretical knowing. In the way the poet Goethe observed natural phenomena, science and art are naturally united. We begin with careful observations of the phenomena around us in nature and the social world; this is how we proceed as scientists. Such observations can then become windows to the spirit at work in the world; this calls for the waking up of an artistic form of perception. Rudolf Steiner spoke of a living picture imagination; Goethe called it a higher beholding.
The Atelier for the Social Quest course can be undertaken solo but is best worked with in a group - this community-building activity is a key to the social quest. Although each topic involves some individual preparation the main work involves observing natural and social phenomena with others and sharing insights. It is not an online course. You are invited to form a real-person, non-virtual atelier.
Goethe's colour circle (his own illustration)
". . . a spiritual contemplation of nature will provide means for the kind of training in thought which, among other things, makes it possible to comprehend the social organism".
Rudolf Steiner, The Renewal of the Social Organism
NATURE explores the fundamentals of Goethe's phenomenology – polarity, intensification, metamorphosis, exact sensory imagination – through engaging imaginatively with plant, animal, colour and human phenomena. At every point artistic insight enlivens scientific perception.
This is followed by SOCIETY which is a study of the threefold social organism, Steiner’s picture of social renewal for the modern age. Steiner calls his social outlook "a new Goetheanism" (Freedom of Thought and Societal Forces, SteinerBooks, 2008, pp.98-105). Through a developed Goethean phenomenology this unit explores the ideals of the threefold social structure and its stages of development, the nature of capital and labour, the associative economy, the evolution of money and social sculpture, creativity and its education.
ECONOMICS is an extension and deepening of the previous module on the threefold social order. We use Goethean ways of observing social phenomena to explore economic fraternity, work and vocation, associative economic forms, true price and business structure.
The last unit is SELF, which develops cognitive imagination at a higher level, looking at the growth and development of Western civilisation understood through key works of art. Here we are dealing with how modern society and contemporary human consciousness was shaped by the past.
The Atelier for the Social Quest course is only a beginning and an orientation. Much can be developed from these beginnings in relation to the needs and potentials of our time. Everything depends on the interests and capacities of those involved in any particular group. There is a potential for groups to connect and share their work so that the threefold social life can be realised in our time and into the future.