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Here are three extracts taken from each of the Nature, Society and Self units of the course. Together they form approximately as much study material as is involved in each of the 2-week (minimum) topics of the 30 week (min.) course.



Goethe, through his research into the animal kingdom and the mammals in particular, grasped the significance of the human organism in relation to this kingdom. Science normally considers the human being as just one among the many animal forms and, through a comparison of physical features (taxonomy), places Homo sapiens far out on one of the vertebrate branches on the tree of the animal kingdom.

“. . . the human being is so constructed as to unite many properties and natures in himself and thereby exists even physically as a little world, a representative of the other animal genera”.


Now we have come to an inward experience of the wholeness of human form we can build our picture to include the relationship of the human being to the animals. The insight which Goethe arrived at through imaginative perception was that the human being is a focussed expression (a “little world”) of what is spread out throughout the animal kingdom. To put it another way, the balanced threefold nature of the human form is expressed in a partial way, with one-sided emphasis, in any particular animal organism.


We will focus on the mammals, the animals most closely associated with the human being; here it is easiest to see this relationship. Looking at the rodent group of mammals, their relatively diminutive size and rapidity of movement is immediately apparent. The mouse, as representative example, is a small and nervous creature, continuously attentive to its environment, its movements restless and jerky, its cry shrill, its limbs diminished and its tail and the posterior part of its trunk accentuated. The backwards-forwards gnawing motion of the mouth is connected with their highly accentuated incisor teeth (and diminishment or absence of molars). The rodents can be called sense-nerve animals, emphasising the sense-nerve organisation.














The cow is a representative of the ungulate group of mammals – that is, the hoofed mammals. These animals are cud-chewers, who ferment fibre in the multiple chambers of the stomach called the rumen, expressing and accentuating the metabolic process. The cow is a large and slow animal, with a deep, low cry, its awareness apparently withdrawn into its inner depths as it chews its cud in a leisurely manner.  The anterior (forward) part of its trunk and neck are accentuated in mass and through horn formation; the limb formation is very powerful. The sideways movements of the jaw in chewing are connected with highly accentuated molars (and diminished incisors). The ungulates can be called metabolic-limb animals, emphasising the metabolic-limb organisation.

















The leopard is a representative of the carnivore group of mammals. Its movements readily swing between the highly sensitive, tense, outwardly-aware when hunting, to the slow and dreamy when digesting the results of the hunt. Its body is not accentuated either anteriorly or posteriorly; it has a supple but powerful “in between” character, also expressed in the spotted, alternating patterns of the fur. Its cry is somewhere between the shrill and sensitive and the deep and inward. The dentition of the carnivores accentuates the “in between” teeth, the canines; the incisors are diminished and the molars often have a pointed, canine-like quality; the animals rips flesh with its canines, its jaw moving in a vertical manner. The carnivores can be called rhythmic animals, emphasising the “in between” rhythmic organisation.















If we take up all three groups together in our cognitive imagination, if we picture them vividly and inwardly as a unity or wholeness, then we are “seeing” the human form as the harmony of the three. Or, conversely, if we enter into our picture of the whole human being as a balanced expression of the three organisations, we then can see one or the other organisation developed in a onesided way in the three animal groups. The threefold animal archetype is creatively active and expressed in every case, but only in the human form does it come to visibly realised, whole expression whereas in the animal realm it is only completely visible to the eye of the imagination.



















European bison

Field mouse

The skull of a marmot, a rodent

“. . . in the formation of the human being . . . all organs and organs systems develop in such a way that each leaves the others enough room to develop freely; each withdraws enough to allow all the others to likewise come into their own”.

                                  Rudolf Steiner

The human dentition and three teeth types of the mammal groups,

representing the sense-nerve (rodent), and rhythmic (lion) and the ungulate (cow).

The leopard, hunting and at rest

The skull of a lion, a carnivore

The skull of a cow, an ungulate

Work with the information given about the three mammals, plus observation from the three videos below, to build an imaginative picture of the three mammal groups as a wholeness. Work backwards and forwards between the groups, sensing the relationships between form, movement, behaviour, deepening your picture so the three mammal types appear as a threefold unity. Now, contemplate the idea that the mammal groups are the human being “spread out”. Write your insights and observations in your journal, with sketches.

Mouse, click here

Gaur (wild cow) grazing, click here.

Leopard, click here


Economic Associations


The economic associations develop as organs of the economic sphere in relation to the only activities which belong to that sphere: production  (includes goods and services), distribution (includes retail) and consumption. As explored in Weeks 5 & 6, labour and capital pertain to the economic sphere but actually belong to the rights sphere. Economic associations are not involved in either the accumulation of capital or the purchase of labour. Labour is not something to be paid for like a commodity or a machine which gets a certain work done; capital can never be a tool for personal gain and power. This is because labour and capital are matters of human rights and their rightful use is assured by imput from the rights sphere into the economic associations.


Economic associations are not organisations – they are simply links between those involved in all aspects of the economic sphere:  between producers, distributors and consumers. Producers have particular needs and capabilities; so do distributors and consumers – these would include availability of raw materials, promotion of products and consumer health. Producers, distributors and consumers are “listening” to each other within an associative economy in order to act in concert. This is very much like musicians have to listen to one another if they are to play harmoniously and in tune as a musical ensemble. Through this listening the order of the economic sphere comes about – this is how it is governed; there is no central controlling economic bureaucracy. It is how “right price” is determined because price is not left to the haphazard rising and falling of “the market”. And this listening is not something casual and inexpert: as with professional musicians, it is a skill which needs to be carefully and consciously nurtured and practiced in order to be effective.


We can now picture the cycle of the economic realm as governed by the total listening activity of the economic associations. Each phase of this cycle has a characteristic gesture. Firstly there are the polar gestures of production and consumption; production has an outward gesture like yellow – it is “for others”. Value is heightened by the work which transforms raw materials in saleable goods. Consumption has an inward gesture like blue, because it devalues goods by using them up; they slowly or quickly return to Nature. Consumption is “for oneself” (we can’t consume for anyone else). Production and consumption together form an arising and a passing away.


The event of a product passing from the hands of the producer into those of the consumer through purchase is called exchange. A produce for sale is in a state of potential; it is only made to be consumed. Exchange resolves this tension; its gesture is that of harmonisation. Exchange is neither outward nor inward in gesture but is the balance of production and consumption. The harmonising gesture of green approximates this event.






However, the modern economy does not involve simple exchange (barter); further value is created through profit and this is capital. Capital, as we have seen in Weeks 5 & 6, is an enhancement of Earth into non-specific spiritual potential. In the case of capital the polarity of production and consumption is intensified into the magena gesture of “inward richness yielding itself outwardly”. Capital passes into the rights sphere where it can be managed ethically by community banks in order to “meet” creative impulses coming from the cultural-spiritual sphere.






This diagram pictures the economic sphere as a wholeness; goods for sale are created from the intensification of Earth and return to Earth through consumption. Capital, however, orientates the Earth beyond the economic sphere towards the rights sphere, as human spiritual potential.



Vocation in the time of the sentient soul


The sense of vocation in the time of the sentient soul has already been worked with; it has to do with gradual individualisation of the human being. We should be careful not to assume that this is anything like what is often meant by “individual freedom” today, devoid of any relation with guiding spiritual powers. We have seen the individualising process in the ancient civilisations as an accommodation to the physical world, which implied a growing responsibility of the individual for their own development. Coming through the image of Gilgamesh, in particular, is the idea that this reflective consciousness develops only through the heightened consciousness of mortality and death.  Reflective consciousness means that the person is able to reflect on life and death and come to a sense of earthly vocation.

The monumental sculptures of pharaohs have a death-like stillness like no other sculpted figures of any other ancient culture. Yet consciousness stirs within these works as with a prayer, and although the eyes gaze into a world beyond the immediate, the gaze is of inspiration and not otherworldly longing. In the solidity and stillness of the Earth stirs the inspiration of selfhood. As with the pyramid, the cosmic (symbolised by the Word of Horus) has worked down into the earthly; the Egyptians sense their destiny and vocation in the sphere of the Earth and seek to wake within that sphere to what a human being can become.


The pharaoh is the archetype of the awakened individual in the world of the ancient Egyptian. With the sentient soul the experience of vocation has first come into being, at least in a germinal form. Selfless obeisance to the will of the gods or seeking ecstatic union with the divine cannot be called vocation. Vocation has to do with an individuality expressing itself through an earthly task. The pharaoh is called by the divine Word and that comes to him as an inspiration but there is nothing to suggest he is subservient. He is strong and upright and his arms and hands rest in the gestures of authority vested in his individuality, an authority that has to do with his task as a ruler. He is not obeisant to a god but is himself godlike.


The approach to the ancient Egyptian temple was a form of initiation towards this experience of individuality. The approach was along an avenue lined with sphinxes, each a half animal, horizontal in gesture, an otherworldly mood embracing the initiate as an overwhelming presence. At the end of the walkway the obelisks rise up with sudden and extreme verticality and at each side of the forbidding entrance to the temple sit the monumental guardian pharaoh figures, erect in gesture and with the character of the archetypal individual. The words of the guardian figures seem to be: You may only pass through this portal into the inner courtyard if you have awoken from the otherworldly dream into your earthly body. You may pass if you can walk with the uprightness and strength of true human individuality, if you have learned to walk and play your role on Earth with the consciousness and dignity of a god and not the dreamlike consciousness of a half animal. Such was the ancient Egyptian teaching towards human vocation

Statue of Pharaoh Khephren with “inspirer”,

the god Horus

The pharaoh, in utter stillness, receives the Word from the inspirer, the god Horus, god of power and quintessence, whose right eye is the sun and left eye the moon. The eyes of the bird are behind the seeming unseeing eyes of the pharaoh and the wings enfold his head and centre of consciousness. We realise that even the leaders and rulers were listeners to the Word of the guiding powers, which they could then pass on to their subjects.

With your cognitive imagination undertake the approach to the temple, through the rows of sphinxes, reaching the uprightness of the obelisks and guardian figures. Do this slowly and deliberately, a number of times over several days, seeking to deepen your impressions and insights each time. Write in your journal about the results of your imaginative “initiation” into earthly vocation, perhaps accompanying it with drawings or paintings.

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