top of page

Fundamental principles


.” . . a true development of education must tend to nothing less than a superseding of the ‘Doctor’ principle”.

Rudolf Steiner,  , Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1972, p.44.



Steiner says the educational ideal of the Gynmast belonged to the ancient world (willing), the ideal of the Rhetorician in the pre-medieval world (feeling), the ideal of the Doctor developed in the medieval universities (thinking). In the future – the ideal of the whole human being integrating the thinking, feeling and willing on a new level.

The new university can still issue doctorates but the doctor ideal of learning can be superceded, gradually but with a definite intention. No subject can now proceed just as abstract “head” knowing. All forms of teaching and researching can must proceed from the whole human being. This becomes an actual methodology.



“All knowledge, even purely scholarly knowledge, must merge into pure artistry. We must teach ourselves to be artists so that we can shape forms as nature shapes them. We can learn this as soon as we discover where nature becomes an artist. We must deepen our knowledge of nature to such an extent that we see plants, animals and humans as artists”.

Rudolf Steiner, Youth and the Etheric Heart, SteinerBooks, Great Barrington, 2007, p.15.



Steiner points the way towards a truly living, imaginative form of thinking – in relation to all branches of knowledge. He sets the challenge for universities to overcome the division between science and art in the way it studies the forms of nature and the the human form. The foundation for such an imaginative thinking in all faculties can be laid in the “studium generale” or orientation studies shared by all students. This is where the approach of Goethean science can be developed.


“As human beings, we must not allow ourselves to be tyrannised by academic knowledge. In our efforts to emancipate cultural activity, we are combatting the abstract character of academia as such and placing human beings first . . . Humanising academic activity is our goal. We must work toward bringing the human being to the fore in so-called objective scholarship which must be grounded in life and in human beings. Those of us who engage in it must not become dry and shriveled. On the contrary, by “combatting abstract existence”, as I call it, we become useful contributors to the very necessary process of counteracting the barbarisation of Western civilisation”.

Rudolf Steiner, Youth and the Etheric Heart, SteinerBooks, Great Barrington, 2007, p.15.



Steiner points out that the university experience of teaching and learning must be entirely transformed for the sake of humanity and its destiny in which the role of the university is of great importance. We have a responsibility not to just perpetuate the status quo in academic life in the future. It doesn’t matter what new and interesting content we might introduce into a new university curriculum – no new step will be taken unless a new kind of non-abstract thinking is being cultivated. A living thinking, a thinking of the whole human being, a thinking saturated with the forces of will.

            When students are introduced to ideas which “speak” not just to their intellects, but just as much to their hearts and wills, then the value and responsibility of the human individual comes to the fore.

bottom of page