Aspects of Human Evolution by Rudolf Steiner

(From lectures in Berlin, May -July 1917.)

Published by Anthroposophic Press, Inc in 1987

Book Review by Bobby Matherne, ©1991

In these lectures Steiner focused on the age of mankind as it has changed in historical times from 56 years old in the first post-Atlantean epoch to 27 years old in this, the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. What Steiner means by "age of mankind" is this: during childhood the spiritual side of an individual grows naturally in pace with the physical side. In the ancient Indian culture of the first post-Atlantean epoch this synchronous development continued up to the age of 56. This ensured that elders of the culture had developed spiritually and thus were automatically looked to for guidance and wisdom.

In our current fifth epoch the parallel development only extends up to the age of 27 years old, at which time, the spiritual development may cease completely unless some extraordinary effort is undertaken by an individual. In our time the elderly are not looked to for guidance and wisdom automatically exactly because one would only expect to find the spiritual development of a 27 year old, no matter how advanced the physical age.

At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, Steiner's phrase for the death of Christ, the age of mankind was 33 years old, the age of Christ at the time of his death. This is a great mystery in Steiner's eyes.

Another mystery of Steiner's is that what we work on in this life becomes the seed of our next incarnation. Thus Steiner hints at the morphogenetic fields of Rupert Sheldrake: fields that are non-physical but that surround physical bodies and help to perpetuate their acquired characteristics.

At other points in Steiner's lectures he hints at the distinction of map and territory a full decade before Alfred Korzybski. He also indicates the value of channelling, a phenomenon that Seth, Lazarus, and Ramatha were going to make a household word in the 80's. Grounded in the nineteen century and growing into flower in the twentieth century, Steiner's ideas will scatter their seeds into the coming incarnations of the 21st century.