Wherever we can, we should describe how this or that person developed.
We must be able to give a loving account of human development, as we have observed it.
The study of life is needed, the will to an understanding of life…
Biography work was first developed in Europe in the 1970’s based on a picture of human development given by Rudolf Steiner early in the twentieth century. Steiner described physical, soul, and spiritual development from birth to death in great detail and included, as a significant aspect of the whole human being, the soul’s further spiritual growth after death. Steiner knew that in our time there would be tremendous need for increased social understanding, and that spiritually scientific study of human development was an essential foundation.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) delivered more than 6000 lectures and wrote more than 30 books about the recreation of many human endeavors: education, medicine, economics, architecture, science, religion, and the arts. He called his philosophy anthroposophy—wisdom or knowledge of the human being. He stressed that, in our present era, it is necessary to awaken our consciousness and follow “a path of attention to our own experience.” It was important to Rudolf Steiner that individuals explore and question his ideas and come to an understanding of the spiritual nature of the human being through direct personal discovery.
What is to be undertaken can be called soul exercise. To begin with, soul contents, which are ordinarily examined only with regard to their value as images of external reality, are looked at from another side. In the concepts and ideas that man makes for himself, he at first wants to have something that can be an image, or at least a sign, of something lying outside the concept or idea. The spiritual investigator, in the sense meant here, looks for soul contents that are similar to the concepts and ideas of ordinary life, or of scientific research, only he does not view these with regard to their cognitional value in reference to something objective. He lets them live in his own soul as active forces. Like spiritual seeds he embeds them in the mother ground of the soul’s life, and in perfect calmness of soul he awaits their effect on his soul life. He can then observe how by repeated use of such an exercise his soul’s state, in fact, changes…. In this process, concepts work not as cognitional elements, but as real powers, and their effect depends on the oft-repeated laying hold of one’s soul life by the same forces.
Bologna, April 8, 1911