Living in a Technological World

Technology as a challenge to develop new human capacities


Autumn Conference

October 6th - 9th 2016

at the Goetheanum, Dornach


For decades we have celebrated the almost daily advances of technology. Every year more earth material is moved by machines than by natural processes; phoning home while climbing a remote mountain is no problem, since satellites reach anywhere on the planet; weather patterns are reliably predicted days in advance by computers with immense computing power. Human physical activity, communication skills and intellectual capacities have been hugely enhanced and extended. For many, the household robot and the self-propelled car are just waiting in the wings. 

These advances do not come without regrets. The many perils of technology have only increased over the last hundred years, noticed especially when technology endangers living organisms or dangerous substances are mishandled. There is an equally alarming aspect to technology found in social environments, for example in the lives of those who mine for raw materials, or wherever individual human development is affected. Nevertheless, technology is—and will continue to be—an indispensable and integral part of human culture. The point is, then, to move forward with it in a way that is productive, responsible, and creative. Could it be that a technological world offers us an opportunity to strive for new human capacities that we would not otherwise be able to reach? Exploring this possibility seems to us to be one of the most noble tasks for the future to which anthroposophy can contribute. 

One path towards the development of these new human capacities comes in the legacy of Rudolf Steiner's last “Letter to Members” (GA26 “From nature to sub-nature.”) In it he indicates two mutually dependent tasks: man must understand “sub-nature” for what it truly is, and this is only possible “if he rises, in spiritual knowledge, at least as far into extra-earthly super-nature as he has descended, in technical sciences, into sub-nature.”

During this conference we wish, on the one hand, to take a look at technology and clarify the essential character of what Steiner refers to as “sub-nature”, and on the other hand, we wish to explore the paths that might lead us into “super-nature.”

For that purpose we designed the conference in such a way that we will look at three realms of technology: technology which supports the physical body, technology which influences life processes and technology which engages and sometimes replaces our consciousness. To address the access to super-nature we will also look in three directions: our relationship to art, our relationship to night and the care of our inner life in meditation and worship.

We encourage you to prepare a short (15 min) presentation for the "contributions of participants" session. It can be related to the theme of the conference, although it does not need to be, but it should be of interest for a scientifically oriented audience. Please submit a title via email (

We look forward to you joining us,

Johannes Kühl and the Team at the Natural Science Section in Dornach