The Human Being’s Relation to the Surrounding World – Silica, Carbon, Nitrogen and Lime


The reading below is taken from a lecture given in 1922, two years before the Agriculture Course. It forms a prelude to it, as it touches on some of the main themes of the course, in this case, the polarity of slate and lime, and the formative workings of silica, carbon, nitrogen and lime in the human body, and it briefly mentions the importance of understanding these things for agriculture. In relates to the first three lectures of the agriculture course, and particularly the third lecture which discusses the working of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen as formative forces in the human organism.  In Rudolf Steiner’s picture of nature, the elements are bearers of spiritual activities, as expressed in the following quotation:

“To speak as we do, of oxygen and nitrogen would have been a sheer impossibility for the ancient Oriental. To him oxygen was spirit, it was that spiritual thing which worked as a stimulating and quickening agent on what already possessed life, accelerating the life-processes in a living organism. Nitrogen, which we think of today as contained in the atmosphere together with the oxygen, was also spiritual; it was that which weaves throughout the Cosmos, working upon what is living and organic in such a way as to prepare it to receive a soul-nature.”

R. Steiner, World History in the Light of Anthroposophy, Lecture 2, 25 December 1923, CW233