Flutterby™! : Steiner

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2006-04-11 20:20:20.499398+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

Interesting to me because I went to a Waldorf school in upstate New York through 7th grade, here's a Fortean Times four pager on Rudolf Steiner. I have, for the most part, run screaming from Anthroposophy[Wiki] as an adult, but it's interesting that someone who believed in Atlantis and an eventual world encompassing showdown between the archangel Michael and a being called Ahriman developed his epistemology around an objective reality:

What little we know of the Master is that he pointed out some passages in the work of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, one of Kant's most important followers, which helped Steiner in his quest. Fichte's work focused on the centrality of the human ego, the 'I', the locus of consciousness and the self that the materialism of Steiner's day (and our own) argued was a mere illusion. Steiner's spiritual experiences convinced him that this was palpably false and that the 'I', rather than being an illusion, was a concrete, irreducible reality. For the next 20 years, until Steiner's re-invention as a spiritual leader, his work would focus on developing a methodical epistemology proving this fact.

[ related topics: Religion Children and growing up Philosophy ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-12 16:08:48.03299+00 by: Bryant

Huh. I went to a Waldorf school from 3rd through high school graduation. Didn't do me too much lasting harm, but I wouldn't send my kids there.

Ah, Hawthorne Valley! I was at Pine Hill and High Mowing.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-12 19:13:53.100747+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I'm somewhat mixed on the topic. On the one hand there are lots of experiences, from making bread and butter from scratch (ie: starting with seeds and a hoe), that I think every kid should have, and a background in classical mythology that some Neil Gaiman[Wiki] reading friends are extremely jealous of, but on the other hand...

It's always hard to differentiate the individual from the education system which produced that person, but I trace much of my current distrust of "authority", be that teachers or politics, to dealing with teachers who took a spiritual perception of the world over observable physical reality. Yes, Steiner may have paid lip service to objectivity, but I remember a particular discussion with my teacher in the presence of my classmates around the location of the heart ("you can feel it beating on the left side, and our philosophy puts the left side as the feeling side, so") which, as a second or third grader, I contradicted with a visit to Gray's Anatomy[Wiki], that only increased my feeling of alienation.

And... well... there aren't really any cultures that I think aren't fucked up, but looking at the whole community and the politics of who's sleeping with whom that as a child I was only peripherally aware of but still saw, and as an adult looking at a few Anthroposophic communities see evidence of, the whole trying to isolate from the larger society seems like it's not accomplishing what it's supposed to.

So, yeah, I wouldn't send a kid to a Waldorf school either, but I think there are lessons that could be learned from them in raising kids.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-13 01:52:05.902801+00 by: Bryant

I had the exact same problem. "There are seven planets in the solar system, just as there are seven openings into the body." I'm glad I learned to play recorder and trombone, and acted in a bunch of plays, and so on... but man, the neglect of the sciences was painful.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-13 03:11:16.640369+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, that still strikes me as weird, especially since there's stuff taught solidly in third grade that I later saw in public high school physics, and Steiner was opposite Kant, you'd think...

I started a paragraph which went something like:

If you replaced Eurythmy with a martial art (maybe even something contemplative like Tai Chi), kept the long morning lesson but dropped the Anthroposophy background and asked for more writing and arithmetic, perhaps earlier, enforced better standards of behavior on the playground rather than letting it turn into a "Lord of the Flies" situation, and...

...and I realized I was getting about as far from Waldorf as I was from public schools.