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… 

--Rudolf Steiner


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.
--Rudolf Steiner

Bologna, April 8, 1911