In a radical approach to understanding current affairs and history, Rudolf Steiner presents a method of penetrating to the hidden causes and realities that lie behind outer appearances. Contemporary life cannot fully be understood by an analysis that is restricted to external events, he says. Deeper levels of meaning are revealed when one begins to view such events as symptoms. The causes of these symptoms - the reality behind them - are to be discovered on other levels of existence. Steiner demonstrates such a 'symptomatological' approach in these lectures, surveying some of the great developments in consciousness that have helped form the world over the last centuries. He examines the role of true socialism, the rise of nationalism, and characterises contrasting approaches to religion by drawing a distinction between 'the People of the Christ' in Russia, 'the People of the Church' in Central Europe, and 'the People of the Lodges' in the West.
Amongst the wealth of material covered here, Rudolf Steiner discusses 'the mystery of evil' and 'the mystery of death', the birth of the consciousness soul, the significance of the scientific mode of thought, the metaphysical element in the study of history, as well as specific events such as the Russian Revolution and the suppression of the Knights Templar. He also reviews the circumstances surrounding the publication of new editions of his books The Philosophy of Freedom and Goethe's World View. Anyone seeking a more profound understanding of our times will find a firm basis for a meaningful exploration in this course of lectures.