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The social quest is at the core of human existence. It is the quest for a form of social life which is good, which is beautiful, which is true to the dignity of the human spirit. Every human being should be able to flourish and find fulfilment through social life. In our time a narrowed focus on specific concerns obscures the fact that the health of society as a whole is vital to planetary health.


The human social organism is an incredibly diverse expression of life. Does humanity need a new theory, perhaps a different blending of capitalism and socialism? Rudolf Steiner’s key insight is that the way to social renewal is not a theory but a genuine living social thinking. The eye of the spirit perceives that every society is a threefold unity in different states of realisation - this is the creative potential of the social archetype. Such social thinking can be cultivated through a spiritual contemplation of nature which is the way of science of the poet Goethe. Here the scientific and artistic faculties are inseparable. Steiner called his social outlook “a new goetheanism” (Freedom of Thought and Societal Forces).


Atelier for the Social Quest develops through four modules: Nature, Society, Economics, Self. Each of these modules is shaped according to the following principles:

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

FROM THE WHOLE TO THE PARTS: Goethean whole-plant and whole-animal study

develops the ability to see each social phenomenon, each social event, each decision, in terms of the social whole, the threefold unity.


EXACT IMAGINATION: Goethe observed colours, plants, animals with what he called “exact sensory imagination”; this trains the exact perception of social phenomena – an open-hearted, reverential way of seeing.


POLARITY: Goethe called polarity “one of the driving forces of all creation”. We experience polarity in the realms of colour, plant, animal and human form. True polarity is a threefold – two poles and the linking or mediating principle. This is how we can learn to experience the threefold archetype as expressed in the social realm.


METAMORPHOSIS: polarity drives the creative process of metamorphosis. Goethean

observation involves cognitively experiencing metamorphosis in colours, in plant, animal and human form. Many metamorphic process shape the human social order – for example in economics, the transformation of Earth substance into spiritual potential (capital).


INTENSIFICATION: what is hidden, in potential, visible only to the spiritual eye, comes to concrete expression through intensification or heightening. Goetheanistically we follow the growth of a plant toward the revelation of the flower. Likewise we follow the gradual revelation of the threefold social order through civilisations over centuries, perceived through key works of art.


The university is a central organ of social life, with a tradition going back to medieval times. During those centuries it has undergone many changes in relation to the evolution of civilisation. Just so, change must happen now and for the future.


Originally universities were situations for the development of learning based on faith in God. Around two hundred years ago universities were transformed into centres for intellectual life, propagated through teaching and research. In these universities philosophy and science reigned supreme. The contemporary "multi-versity" serves mainly practical ends and is based on an overwhelmingly materialistic outlook.

The new university is dedicated to the thinking of the whole human being, a being of thinking, feeling and willing; a truly living, imaginative thinking in which the scientific and artistic are equally active; a phenomenological approach which discovers how the physical forms and processes of the natural and human worlds are in truth expressions of creative spirit.

If you would like to register your interest please click the button below; you will receive periodic newsletters. In these newsletters topics such as the following will be presented, discussed and developed:

  • the role of Goethean science/phenomenology in an orientation course within the new university, in all years of study and in relation to all faculties

  • the creation of the different elements of such an orientation course

  • the use of the different arts in the teaching of Goethean phenomenology

  • the teaching content of all the faculties as a development of the Goethean approach

  • the form and function of the new university as an expression of the threefold social life

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