The Riddles of Philosophy

Presented in an Outline of Its History (CW 18)

The Riddles of Philosophy
Rudolf Steiner By (author)
Fritz Koelln Translated by
David W. Wood Translated by
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Chadwick Library Edition

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.5 in
792 pg

PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical


Written 1914, 1923 (CW 18)
Set of 2 volumes, bound with leather spine and in a slipcase

Translator and Philosophy Professor Fritz Koelln describes this seminal work:  

“Rudolf Steiner's Riddles of Philosophy: Presented in an Outline of Its History is not a history of philosophy in the usual sense of the word. It does not give a history of the philosophical systems, nor does it present a number of philosophical problems historically. Its real concern touches on something deeper than this, on riddles rather than problems. Philosophical concepts, systems and problems are, to be sure, to be dealt with in this book. But it is not their history that is to be described here. Where they are discussed they become symptoms rather than the objects of the search. The search itself wants to reveal a process that is overlooked in the usual history of philosophy. It is the mysterious process in which philosophical thinking appears in human history. Philosophical thinking as it is here meant is known only in Western civilization. Oriental philosophy has its origin in a different kind of consciousness, and it is not to be considered in this book.”

The Chadwick Library Edition represents an endeavor to republish—mostly in new or thoroughly revised English translations—several written works of Rudolf Steiner. The edition is named for the late horticulturist Alan Chadwick, whose life and work has served as inspiration to the small group from which the idea originated. Our extensive experience with special bindings led to the selection—for this “trade edition” of 750 books—of a leather spine binding, cloth sides, and a light slipcase. For the hand-numbered edition (100 books), the binding is full leather with a hand-gilt top of the pages in a fine, stiff, cloth-covered slipcase. The leather is blue calfskin, and the title stamping on the spines is in genuine gold leaf. All of this is being carried out by hand at one of the finest binders, Ruggero Rigoldi.

The Riddles of Philosophy is a translation from German of «Die Rätsel der Philosophie in ihrer Geschichte als Umriß dargestellt» (GA 18).

Author Bio

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

Professor Fritz Carl August Koelln (1901–1986) was born in Hamburg, Germany. He received his PhD magna cum laude in 1927 from Hasmburg University. After immigrating to the US, he taught German for many years at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he gained a devoted following as an inspired teacher. The Koelln Room, where most German classes are taught at Bowdoin today, was dedicated in 1972 in his honor. He was also much-loved as the leader of an anthroposophic study group there for a number of years. He wrote articles and translated (with James Pettegrove) the classic The Philosophy of the Enlightment (1951). 

David W. Wood researches in the field of the history of philosophy and, since 2015, has been a member of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Leuven in Belgium. In 1993/94, he attended the Anthroposophisches Studienjahr at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. In 2009, he obtained his PhD jointly from the Sorbonne (Université Paris IV) in France and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany. Among others, he is the author of the monograph “Mathesis of the Mind”: A Study of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre and Geometry (2012), and has translated texts by Fichte, Schelling, Novalis, Karl Julius Schröer, and Rudolf Steiner. He recently edited “The Enigma of Fichte’s First Principles” for the journal Fichte-Studien (vol. 49, 2020).