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Atelier for the Social Quest is a self-managed study course comprising three units: Nature, Society, Self; it is also a means of linking and presenting the work of independent social threefolding ateliers.


The aim is to enter into Rudolf Steiner's picture of the threefold social organism in a creative way, a way which allows us to shape the world out of imaginative understanding. Steiner referred to his social ideas as a "new goetheanism".* He said that his book Towards Social Renewal (1917) “is goetheanistic, if properly understood”. He called it a “goetheanism for the twentieth century” although he might well have added “and beyond”.** It is easy to assume that this social outlook is just another doctrine or theoretical position, like socialism or capitalism. On the contrary, Steiner's  vision of society as a threefold wholeness calls on us to cultivate a living picture imagination, or what Goethe called a higher beholding.


Atelier for the Social Quest 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 - that is, a study/working group. This can be the focus for ongoing nature phenomenology and social art practice.

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 way of science – 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. Through a developed Goethean thinking 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.  


The extension 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. It is not necessary to do this course in order to set up a social threefolding atelier and share your work.


The threefold social order can be brought into being on a grassroots level through the work of many groups worldwide, along the lines of the Free International University founded by the artist Joseph Beuys in his studio, in 1973. Very much could be developed in such ateliers, relating to the needs and potentials of our time. Everything depends on the interests and capacities of those involved in any particular atelier. What links these groups is that they are all working out of the threefold social archetype. A role of this website will be to connect groups and present their work if wished.


Just some of the many possible themes for study and social art practice are:


Cultural-spiritual sphere:

  • Forming Goethean science research institutes – in all the sciences

  • Free schooling, free medical forms of treatment (that is, entirely free of government control)

  • Expressive developments in the arts, including eurythmy and social art – the threefold archetype

  • Spiritual life and the threefold social order

  • Governance in cultural and spiritual organisations

  • New and independent media, reshaping the role of media


Political-rights sphere: 

  • Support for co-operating parliamentary independents working out of the threefold social vision

  • New democratic strategies and methods

  • New legal processes and ideals; common law and contract law

  • People’s councils, new voting methods etc.

  • Community banking (loans, gifts)


Economic sphere:

  • Governance in the economic sphere

  • Formation and cooperation of associative economies

  • Business structures

  • Fair trading

  • True price, alternative currencies

* R. Steiner, Freedom of Thought and Societal Forces, SteinerBooks, 2008, pp.98-99

** R. Steiner, Lecture November 22nd, 1920

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