Anthroposophical terminology

Table of anthroposophical terminology sometimes used in Waldorf schools and its meaning.

It is not the task of Waldorf education to either adopt or change the terminology of anthroposophy, but Waldorf can choose to use terminology that makes its educational ideas clearer.

IdeaAlternative terminologyNotes
Temperaments (choleric, sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic) The temperaments are a way of characterising children's behavioural dispositions. The temperaments are a conceptual lens, used to deepen teachers’ understanding of young children. This perspective is less useful for older children, youth or adults. Children are not classified by temperament – rather, these are ways of describing how children react and respond, and relate to their body, for example ‘a melancholic mood’, ‘a certain sanguine quality in her attention’.
The I the Self , spiritual core of being Self (with capital letter) is preferable to “I”, or ego.
Soul Psyche Psyche refers specifically to the inner psychological life of a person as expressed in will, feeling and thinking. Owen Barfield recommends its use because soul in common usage has multiple meanings.
Spiritual Spiritual, noetic, numinous (latter somewhat academic and philosophical) Everything that is not material is spiritual in some sense. The spiritual world is the totality of everything, in which everything is connected. It is the organising principle within everything that is material. This world is also subject to evolution. As far as we know the spiritual only comes to self-consciousness in the human being. The idea of a spiritual dimension implies that the universe is not only the outcome of random forces.
Astral Psyche, psychological, soul This usually refers to Steiner’s term astral body. However the term psyche or soul is an adequate alternative.
Etheric Life force The 'life force' refers to the life processes, formative forces, growth processes, structuring processes, systemic structures, patterns, memory structures, dispositions and habits
The will Volition The will is a widely used term but in terms of thinking, feeling and willing, volition is suitable
Incarnation Individuation, embodiment The process of the Self becoming embodied can be referred to as individuation or embodiment of the Self