- by James Gillen
Below is a new translation of Rudolf Steiner's Motto of Social Ethics (1), given to Edith Maryon, sculptress and co-worker with Rudolf Steiner and a member of the initial Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society, as a book inscription, November 5, 1920. (2)
The Motto is widely cited in a free but unfortunately flawed translation by George and Mary Adams. A fresh attempt is made in this version to render the exact and literal meaning of the original verse , by focusing on its in-built turning of attention towards an essential 'ideal' tension between community form and community life.
The former is given as imaginal, reflective 'shapes', inspired through archetypal qualities of the Human Soul (its threefold functional nature); the latter is entirely dependent on the real, active pulsating deeds of individual human beings acting freely, whose soul forces are then experienced in the community as the wellsprings of life. This ideal tension between imaginal community form which takes shape in the mirror of the Human Soul, and the reality of community which is filled from the living power of the individual soul (when it acts freely) - this tension builds holistic functional hygiene between all interweavings of psyche and society or commonweal.
It is only wholesome when
In the mirror of the Human Soul
the whole community takes shape
and in the community
lives the strength of the individual soul.
This is the Motto of Social Ethics.
Heilsam is nur, wenn
Im Spiegel der Menschenseele
Sich bildet die ganze Gemeinschaft
Und in der Gemeinschaft
Lebet der einzelseele Kraft
Das ist das Motto der Sozialethik.