- --- In anthroposophy@y..., Deborah TYSON <deborahtyson60690@y...> wrote:
>It is a maillist just like this one ...
> >Is this a forum or chat room type of discussion?
> Please advise. What is threefolding? Thanks DeborahThe purpose is to discuss the "threefold order of society" as
presented by Rudolf Steiner and how it can inspire us today
The threefolding was presented in a troubled time in Germany, and as I
see it have a lot of insights which can inspire today .. even outside
the scope of Anthroposophy
A short introduction is here
As I see it, it's a way of sorting things out, not a set of finished
ideas.... it's a tool for viewing and relating social forces to each
other... such as the relation between the individual to society...
actually the aim is to work towards a correspondance between the human
constitution to that of society which again at a spiritual level
reflects the constitution of cosmos :-) And it is a way to get rid of
abstract thinking ... that's the strongest part of this way of
viewing... the threefold view is a tool for making ideals into living
In most political theory it turns out the other way round... ideals
are presented as realities, and nobody really question the abstract
nature of these realities. As economy .. it tends to be regarded as a
science with forces just like natural forces and certain laws like in
natural science... and nobody ask "what is the purpose of economy ?"
"what is the purpose of politics ?" "What is the purpose of science ?"
- Please advise. What is threefolding? Thanks Deborah
*******If I could provide a little bit of background, the idea of man and a
universe being threefold, such as spirit, soul and body, is found in
Anthroposophy from the very beginning of Steiner's work, but in the last
seven or eight years of his life he began to receive it as a definite
"paradigm" which he then began to apply to many things in a systematic way.
Steiner published the idea of Threefold Man in 1917, that even physically we
can be understood as divided into a nerves-and-senses system centered in the
head, a Will system spread out in space in our limbs (arms and legs) and
connected as well to our digestion where metabolism takes place to provide
the fuel for our movement, and between these two poles, a rhythmic system of
breathing and circulation. Steiner then began giving lectures about how
various kinds of illnesses could be understood as one system or another being
too strong relative to the others. Then, when the first world war ended and
Germany collapsed, Steiner published a book (The Threefold Commonwealth or
Threefold Social Order) arguing that just as the individual human being was
composed of three systems, the "body politic" or society was likewise, and
that social disorders could likewise be understood as one or another of the
three spheres of society (or what used to be called the "3 Estates")
impinging on the others. He gave lectures all across Germany, and there was
an active Movement for a Threefold Social Order seeking, among other things,
to disentangle the economy from government and the government from education.
The Waldorf schools were started as part of this movement, in fact.
"Threefolding" was regarded as such an important key to a new social
order that for many years any initiatives such as schools or farms or
pharmaceutical companies were started by Anthroposophists with conscious
attempts to base them on these principles. One of the earliest farms in
America was called the Threefold Farm, in Spring Valley, for instance.
Unfortunately the "threefold social order" ideas seem to have been later
taken over within the Anthroposophical Society by people who made them rather
unpopular, and interest in them dropped. From my point of view I'll say that
from my first contact with it in the 1970s it was dominated by leftists,
which may account for this. I also never felt their version of it was
anything like Steiner intended.
The essential idea is that the three spheres of society work most
healthily when each is clearly separated from the others, and each relates to
the other two only in certain definite ways. The products of nature that
sustain the body are produced, distributed, and consumed in the economic or
industrial sphere. Separate from this is the government, such as police and
courts, where the rights of individuals are considered and whether one man
has infringed on the rights of another. Different from either of these is the
actual human sphere itself, our personal lives of artistic and scientific
creativity, of everything that comes from us as individuals. So in one sense
we have Body, Soul, and Spirit, in that the economic sphere can be considered
the body, human beings meet on the basis of equality, soul to soul, in the
"rights sphere", and our individuality of course is the spirit.