SoSoG

From Anthroposophy

SoSoG is an acronym for 'Standing on the Shoulders of Giants', a metaphoric expression for a reference list of selected 'classics' of secondary anthroposophical literature that supplement Rudolf Steiner's GA life work and provide a foundation for spiritual science.

The idea is to develop a reference library as a foundation for spiritual science, covering all domains.

Background

Many students into anthroposophy dive into the tremendous body of lectures and books by Rudolf Steiner .. but some often or mostly stop there.

However, Rudolf Steiner was not alone but was surrounded by many important Individualities who incarnated in the same timeframe to contribute to the new impulse of spiritual science, and contributed a tremendous wealth of exceptional materials, thereby already structuring and further exploring certain subject areas, complementing them with own research.

In the past 120 years a tremendous amount of work was done in this respect, yet a) this work is not always very well known (one has to really search and find its way); b) one can easily be 'snowed under' by many thousands of book titles in databases of anthro libraries.

So: where to start? How can we benefit more from what exists?

The SoSoG list of secondary literature: foundation library for spiritual science

The list contains recommended 'classics', 'must-haves' or 'must-reads' for the earnest student of spiritual science who wants to build a personal library, or deepen knowledge in a certain area.

The choice was made to limit the SoSoG list below to english books, but note there is a wealth of secondary literature in german which is not included here. More works are being translated however, and some german anthro reference works are due for translation and will be added. In the current list this is the case for G00.005 and G00.011 that have been translated for years now (by the FMC initiative), but are still awaiting publication.

The list covers a broad variety of topics across many fields, yet is far from being exhausive. Quite on the contrary, these books are listed because they provide a basis or introductory foundation in any area - so they are a starting point for study and reference.

The SoSoG list

Schema FMC00.396 is an overview list on the SoSoG classics as explained on this page. This is the very first version to initialize the concept, it will be updated regularly. Note the translations table on the right has been is not complete, so languages and versions are surely missing at this stage.

Please Contact us if you want to contribute, see below.

FMC00.396.jpg

Commentary

The list below is ordered chronologically based on the year the work was written. One needs to take into account the timeline of publication of Rudolf Steiner's lectures, and the fact people only had access to a limited set of cycles. Even after the start of the GA initiative, new cycles were still published after the 1970s that contain key material that authors hardly had any access to (even though certain people went to research topics directly in the Dornach archive before materials were published).

Note the 1950s saw the publication of a number of 'classics' that remain foundational upto today.

The 1930s

  • G00.001 - Elisabeth Vreede: Astronomy and spiritual science (2007, letters 1927-30 first in DE in 1954 and first in EN in 1980)
    • This appears to be the only published work by Vreede, the key astronomer in the group directly around Rudolf Steiner.
  • G00.002 - Gerbert Grohmann (1897-1957): The Plant (1974 in EN, original in DE in 1929 as 'Die Pflanze als dreigliedriges Wesen in ihren Wechselbeziehungen zu Erde und Mensch')
    • a classic by the pioneer of anthroposophical botany , with many editions
    • language availability: DE, EN, FR, IT
      • La plante: une approche de sa vraie nature (1978)
      • Tra sole e terra. La vita delle piante
  • G00.003 - Hermann Poppelbaum: Man and animal (1931 in EN, 1931 in DE as 'Mensch und Tier')
    • language availability: DE, EN, NL, ES
      • Hombre y animal
      • Mens en Dier
  • G00.004 - Norbert Glas: Reading the face (2008, first DE in 1935)
    • This is the first of Glas' many works on physiognomy, others are on the temperaments, hands, feet, hair, etc). It is a base work in this area.
  • G00.005 - Maximilian Rebholz: Systematic anthroposophy
    • translated by the Free Man Creator initiative, awaiting publication

The 1950s

After WWII had cleared up, the 1950s brought a series of books that have become 'classics' in any anthroposophical library. They were written by the many great figures that incarnated in the wave 1890-1910 to pick up anthroposophy and brought the work of their study out after the 30-year war (1914-44) that shook the world.

  • G00.006 - Rudolf Hauschka: The nature of substance (2008, original in DE 1950 first in EN 1966)
    • This book brings across the scientific value and rigour of Hauschka, his scientific tests, imaginative insights, perspectives and applications.
  • G00.007 - Ernst Lehrs: Man or matter (2014, original in 1951)
  • G00.008 - George Adams and Olive Whicher: The plant between Sun and Earth (1982, first in 1952)
  • G00.009 - Walther Cloos: The living earth (1977, first DE in 1958)
  • G00.010 - Wilhelm Pelikan (1893-1981): Healing Plants (Vol 1, 2, 3) (original in DE: 1958, 1962, 1978)
    • language availability: DE, EN, FR, IT
      • original in DE: Heilpflanzenkunde (or: Heilpflanzen-Kunde. Der Mensch und die Heilpflanzen).
      • Homme et les plantes medicinales (1990 and again 2002-2003)
      • Le piante medicinali. Per la cura delle malattie.
        • Per assicurare più vita all'uomo in connessione con la natura
        • La relazione tra la pianta e l'uomo
  • G00.011 - Iwer Thor Lorenzen
  • G00.012 - Wilhelm Pelikan: The secrets of metals (1973, original in DE 1959)
    • Rudolf Steiner's references to metals, so important as a 'language' in alchemy upto the middle-ages, are scattered in snippets across thousands of lectures in the GA. Here is a unique book giving a logical and coherent coverage of the different metals, and their workings in Man, on Earth, and in the cosmos. With metals we mean not the solid but also the more rarified, highly diluted versions of the key metals.
    • Translations: available in DE, EN, IT, NL
      • 'I sette metalli. L'azione dell'essenza metallica sul cosmo, la terra, l'uomo' (2014)
      • De geheimen van metalen (2006)

The 1960-70s

  • G00.013 - Theodor Schwenk: Sensitive Chaos (the creation of flowing forms in water and air) (2014, original in 1962 and first in EN in 1965)
  • G00.014 - Oskar Kürten: Symphonies of Creation (The Primal Elementary Kingdoms in the Work of Rudolf Steiner) (2018, first in DE 1970)
    • a book which is rather unique in it's scope and coverage of the Elementary Kingdoms, inspired by the work and essays of Maximilian Rebholz who was the first to coin together a deep understanding and the importance of this topic. Kürten goes to cover the different cosmological aspects and workings of the different spiritual hierarchies and entities that make up the fountain of creation, and an understanding of the Elementary Kingdoms is a key closing stone for this. Rudolf Steiner's coverage of the topic in his books and lectures was very limited, and there is no literature on this topic - at all - except for Rebholz and Kürten.
  • G00.015 - Wolfgang Schad: Threefoldness in Humans and Mammals: Toward a Biology of Form
    • published in 1977 in EN as 'Man and mammals: Toward a biology of form', with base work in DE 1971 as 'Säugetiere und Mensch. Zur Gestaltbiologie vom Gesichtspunkt der Dreigliederung' with new DE edition 2012)
    • this book was published by Adonis Press in a limited 'interim' expanded version as 'Understanding Mammals' which the author didn't have the chance to fully review. That complete review did happen eventually, and let to the publication of a new two volume work with a new title: 'Threefoldness in Humans and Mammals: Toward a Biology of Form'
  • G00.016 - George and Gisela O'Neil: The human life (1998, ch 1-9 published 1977-81, first book edition 1990)
    • unique book in its multi-facetted coverage of the various aspects of the human life in all its aspects and different cycles. A must have to reflect on life's stages, and doing biography work.
    • language availability: EN, DE, FR, ES
      • in FR as 'La vie humaine - saisir le sens de son parcours terrestre' (1996)
      • in DE as 'Der Lebenslauf: Lesen in der eigenen Biographie' (2014)
      • in ES as 'La Vida Humana: Comprender tu biografía' (2019)

The 1990s

  • G00.017 - Lawrence Edwards: The vortex of life (2006, first in EN 1993)
    • Here is a humble teacher who brings a major contribution to the study of the etheric formative forces, with an original discovery based on diligent experimental work. See also
  • G00.018 - Roy Wilkinson: Rudolf Steiner - an introduction to his spiritual worldview, anthroposophy (2005, first in three booklets 1993-4)
    • What book would you give to someone who is open to have a first read on anthroposophy, by means of introduction? This is such an excellent, well written introduction, very readable and recommended for 'novices' to get acquanted with key chapters of anthroposophy.
  • G00.019 - Hans-Werner Schroeder (1931-2016): The cosmic Christ (2010, first in 1997 TBC)
    • The study of the Christ from a spiritual scientific and cosmic perspective may be the most important subject we devote our soul work to. But is there a book which spans the arc and shedding light on the multiplicity of perspectives? There are not many, for sure. This is a good compendium of various perspectives of this deepest of all subjects. Of course it can not be complete, but it is still unique in providing a systematic and balanced overview as an entry point and reference, without going in detail.
    • language availability: DE, EN, FR
      • Le Christ cosmique: contribution à la connaissance et à l'expérience du Christ (2017)

Post 2000

  • G00.020 - Dankmar Bosse: The mutual evolution of Earth and humanity (2019, first in DE 2002)
    • This is a study volume, a reference to have to accompany one in a life of interest and deepening study. It is a beautiful A4 hardcover book with many wonderful pictures and illustrations, well laid out. A work of love and decades of dedication here by a geologist who lays out the evolution of the earth. See also the work of Iwer Thor Lorenzen on this theme.

Process

Request for input (RFI)

The SoSoG list above, as shown in table FMC00.396, is embryonic and merely to initialize the idea, it obviously needs to be extended.

What books do you feel are 'classics' (or have that caliber), have stood the test of time, provide a unique value add to Rudolf Steiner's work, and therefore belong in the foundational library for spiritual science?

Please send us an email via the Contact page with your suggestions about books for the SoSoG list. Or comment via the Talk page here (requires registration).

Considerations

  • Please note that the value and impact of a book is not the same as a 'monument of anthroposophy'. Of course there are very many famous and grand anthroposophists, but the idea is NOT to get them all on the list.
  • Rather, the perspective is to assemble the book list to cover the whole scope of anthroposophy, and all its different areas, with key works that have laid out the territory for that domain after Rudolf Steiner.
  • Furthermore, please consider there are 'too many' books: if one is not selective, the result will be a list of thousands of books, and not a few hundred max, which is the intention here (also given the size of the GA library).
  • Hence, in order to select a book for this list, one needs to take the perspective of a University Faculty that oversees the whole scope and selects the books that are best suited for students. That is why the current list includes as well: introductory books (Wilkinson G00.018), study essays (Rebholz G00.005), overview introduction books (Schroeder G00.019), reference works for a lifetime of study (Schad G00.015 or Bosse G00.020).
  • Last suggestion: take the perspective that we are doing this for youngsters who are born now, or who are in their 20s, to offer them an 'map' for orientation, so they have 'a way into' the vast secondary literature of spiritual science. To discover the richness of the century of legacy in the most effective way, not having to plough through search engines of library database and the too many books of unknown anthroposophists (they can do that later), but at least to be welcomed. It is an act of courtesy.

About the G-numbering

The G-numbering is a simple sequential number so there is a reference list available in Excel, and these books can be referenced easily on this site, thereby referring to their status, and - in the future maybe or hopefully - also a dedicated page with more extended coverage, that each of these certainly deserve. Such page could include an overview of available editions and translations, reviews, and an author profile and/or links to the author bio pages.

There is no meaning in the G-number, the concept of the list was initialized by the first set of books that embody the idea, the counter currently stands at: 20.

Further candidates

Informal input to date also gave:

  • introductory books - worldview spiritual science
    • Owen Barfield: The Case for Anthroposophy
    • Stewart C. Easton: Man and world in the light of anthroposophy
      • a very readable and complete introduction on anthroposophy, eg after the Wilkinson low-threshold entries which are more basic
    • Francis Edmunds: An Introduction to Anthroposophy
  • etheric and formative forces
    • Nick C. Thomas: Space and Counterspace - A New Science of Gravity, Time and Light (2008)
      • the culmination of a lifetime of work with an ambitious new view on the whole of physics, advanced and not for everyone, but unique in its nature
  • epistemology and Goethean science
    • Henri Bortoft: The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe's Way of Science (1996)

Input process

We are grateful to people for the following input:

1. Clopper Almon - Feb 2019

author of a.o.

  • A Study Companion to An Outline of Esoteric Science (1998)
  • A Study Companion for Rudolf Steiner's Lectures on the Gospel of Mark (2016)

As for classics,

  • the one that I cared enough about to translate myself is Friedel Lenz, The Picture Language of Folktales.
  • Wolfgang Schad, Man and Mammal, now superseded by Understanding Mammals is important.
  • Emil Bock, The Three Years is helpful.
  • Pelikan on herbs is also valuable. [G00.013]

Of books originating in English,

  • Owen Barfield's Worlds Apart and Saving the Appearances are highly thought of in the literary world. I enjoy his not especially anthroposophic History in English Words.
  • Arthur Zajonc's Catching the Light is fascinating.
  • George Adams and Olive Whicher, The Plant between Earth and Sun is eye-opening. [G00.006]
  • Lawrence Edwards The Vortex of Form is amazing. [G00.015]
  • I like everything I have read by Craig Holdrich, though he sticks strictly to careful observation of phenomena. 
  • The Recovery of Man in Childhood by A. C. Harwood is a classic presentation of Waldorf Education.

.. I wish I could recommend an anthroposophic book on economics, but I have yet to find one both sound and interesting.

Further notes

[1] - More on SoSoG

The SoSoG approach links the following main angles:

  • a topic taxonomy
  • a 'best of' selection or 'gallery' of anthroposophists you should know, or are worthwhile to study. See eg the kulturimpuls website.

The SoSoG gallery or "library of must-study monuments of anthroposophical literature" can be split into the following parts:

  • books that have become classics, available in modern editions in English - see below.
  • books that have not been translated, were only published in German, and may no longer be available (but only through antique book shops such as booklooker.de). A further subsection consists of material that was not even published in book form, but as newsletters privately published by the author.

For the second category, the FMC project also has an initiative to publish Advanced Study Volumes in English, to make the valuable work of certain anthroposophists available more broadly, mainly when they are of the level that this certainly belongs in an advanced library on spiritual science.

For more info, see also the PDF file in the References section of Status of planned publications

[2] - Secondary literature on this site

Certain topics have Schemas to provide an overview list on literature on the topic, just as Schema FMC00.396 above.

These schemas obviously have the structured XL list behind them that can also be made downloadeable.

Examples are:

[3] - Systematic work

The following people have published secondary anthro literature 'reference works' in Study Volumes format, and/or have worked in a systemic work on aggregation of the contents in the GA.

See the kulturimpuls website for profiles and more info.

  • Ernst Hagemann, Ewald Grether
  • Maximilian Rebholz, Iwer Thor Lorenzen,
  • Norbert Glas, Oskar Kuerten
  • Fred Poeppig, Karl Heyer
  • Otto Hartmann, Werner Schüpbach

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Ernst Hagemann: 'Bibliographie der Arbeiten der Schüler Dr. Rudolf Steiner'