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Someone explain Anthroposophy to me...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Please, in a nutshell, what is Anthroposophy?

I can't seem to wrap my head around it.

Everytime I try to read resources on it, my eyes glaze over and I am unable to focus on what the meaning is. It all seems so abstract.

Anyone have a good "layman's" definition of what Anthroposophy "is?" Like, say, if a neighbor, non-Waldorf friend, etc. asked you for an explanation of it, what would be your answer?
post #2 of 12
The easiest explanation is that it is a spiritual philosophy that asserts that there is a spiritually world accessible by direct experience through inner work (contemplation, aspects similar to zen mindfulness practices). it's common, practical forms (that is, the applied forms of the philosophy) include Waldorf education, the Camphill movement (special education), anthroposophical medicine (which includes homeopathy), and biodynamic agriculture--to name a few.

from the definition on wikipedia (which is similar to what i just wrote), i would probably be "hard core anthroposophical." i do not view myself that way. LOL but, we do look at steiner education, support the camp hill movement (a lot of our things were donated to their rummage sales; i ate lunch at their cafe at least once a month, etc etc), we utilize as much biodynamic agriculture as we can, and we have an anthroposophical doctor (who uses homeopathy--even for mental illness).

that being said, i feel that i am a newbie to anthroposophy, that i am still learning quite a bit as i go, and that i only apply what i think makes sense or works for me. so there you go.

wikipedia
post #3 of 12
if a neighbour asked me i would just say something along the lines of "its a philosophy that bridges the gaps between religious dogma and spirituality..."

i dont know, its such a hard thing to put in a sentence or two.

for me, being pagan and identifying so closely with steiners writings and anthroposophy- it really feels like something each person has to fully research and come to on their own.

id hate to explain it through my eyes and turn someone off to the theory.

i rarely, if ever, get into this topic with anyone but dh & the kids.

but i feel like its the best approach of living a whole life, doing as little damage to our earth and our bodies, while supporting and nourishing our intuition, clairvoyance, etc.

another good site is
http://www.anthroposophy.org/index.php?id=10
post #4 of 12
I found a really interesting examination of Steiner and Anthroposophy years ago when I was school shopping. It gave me pause.


Quote:
Anthroposophy teaches that Negroes [sic] are at a baby stage of development, Asians are at an adolescent stage, and only whites are adults; it also teaches that while an individual's potential may be limited by his race, an individual's soul will reincarnate many times throughout the races. Steiner lectured in Germany, 1922: "If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense if men do not arrive at a form of intelligence that is independent of blondness."
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active...ishParent.html
post #5 of 12
It's an 19th Century mystic religious movement, that's an breakaway sect from another mystic religious movement, theosophy.

Stiener's interpretation, in particular, focuses on meditation as a way to achieve the tippy top of human evolution. But he didn't want it to be Eastern meditation, because he felt that Jesus was the apex of human evolution, that his vision of mystical Christianity was the apex of the development human religion, and that "natural science" (which, of course, doesn't actually include any actual scientific methodology) would complement and prove Christ's legitimacy as the ultimate human.
post #6 of 12
When my guys were pre-schooling, I was absolutely in love with the idea of Waldorf. I did a bunch of reading on it, and found out that the anthroposophy could be explained best as "children evolve in enlightenment, and their physical features and situations reflect their enlightenment level". Unfortunately, Waldorf's basic teachings hold that the lighter the skin, the more enlightened the individual, and that kids with special needs, learning disabilities or any other challenges that deviate from the "normal" learning pattern are at a lower level of enlightenment and will stay there as long as they have those traits.

It really disappointed me, since there was so much to draw me to the philosophy.

glendora, that's interesting that Steiner was so fixated on Jesus as the ultimate human. Did he somehow forget that Jesus presented (most likely) as a darker-skinned, obviously "ethnic" individual?
post #7 of 12
not to bring in debate, and certainly make your own decisions on the matter, but the anthroposophical society asserts that steiner does not denote a racial heirarchy of any sort, and in fact advocated the opposite. here is a document by an internal commission to discuss these issues. the wiki article also has information about how the nazi regime denounced anthroposophy because it was distinctly not nationalist, not racist, and not anti-semetic. (also described in the wiki article).

what was described in the writings is a concept of the evolution of man, much like darwinism. essentially, we started in the "cradle of life" with Lucy et al (primitive humans) and then over time, travelled across continents, with biological structures changing and/or evolving in adaptation. it is, biologically/evolutionarily speaking, true that white people are a "younger" or "newer" race. in the context of his time, this would be denoted by terms such as "primitive"--but it does not presume any form of hierarchy as it does today, and in fact, stiener specifically spoke against hierarchy of race, nationality, and even religious function, and so on.

the underlying idea of steiner's philosophy is individual responsibility, individual freedom, and a breaking down of barriers between individuals based on any given topic (no us-them dialectic).

in the early 1900s, this was a particularly radical idea all things considered. today, looking back and looking at the language of "primitive" it seems like racism when it is, in fact, not racist.

within anthroposophy, all are welcome and seen and treated as equals.
post #8 of 12
that was really well put zoebird. thank you...

i think when you read the actual writings of steiner and you become more familiar with the teachings- it gets harder and harder to imagine how someone could ever think it was a racist philosophy...

i really think that it is because so much info out there exists as snippets taken out of context.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallulahma View Post
i think when you read the actual writings of steiner and you become more familiar with the teachings- it gets harder and harder to imagine how someone could ever think it was a racist philosophy...
I really know very little over all, and as an "outsider" looking in, I have noticed that our local Waldorf school is much more diverse than most of the other private schools in this area. Just from that observation alone I would never think of racism without someone planting that idea. But like I said, I am far from an expert...very far.
post #10 of 12
I agree, zoebird, that was well put! That website that was quoted (waldorfcritics) nearly scared the bejeezus out of me. Then I realized that like everything else, I should read the primary source (i.e. Steiner himself) and then make a truly informed opinion (as we are currently homeschooling using a Waldorf inspired curriculum, my choice is obvious).


Couldn't anthroposophy be described as the science of the soul in it's most simplest terms?
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
not to bring in debate, and certainly make your own decisions on the matter, but the anthroposophical society asserts that steiner does not denote a racial heirarchy of any sort, and in fact advocated the opposite. here is a document by an internal commission to discuss these issues. the wiki article also has information about how the nazi regime denounced anthroposophy because it was distinctly not nationalist, not racist, and not anti-semetic. (also described in the wiki article).

what was described in the writings is a concept of the evolution of man, much like darwinism. essentially, we started in the "cradle of life" with Lucy et al (primitive humans) and then over time, travelled across continents, with biological structures changing and/or evolving in adaptation. it is, biologically/evolutionarily speaking, true that white people are a "younger" or "newer" race. in the context of his time, this would be denoted by terms such as "primitive"--but it does not presume any form of hierarchy as it does today, and in fact, stiener specifically spoke against hierarchy of race, nationality, and even religious function, and so on.

the underlying idea of steiner's philosophy is individual responsibility, individual freedom, and a breaking down of barriers between individuals based on any given topic (no us-them dialectic).

in the early 1900s, this was a particularly radical idea all things considered. today, looking back and looking at the language of "primitive" it seems like racism when it is, in fact, not racist.

within anthroposophy, all are welcome and seen and treated as equals.
Very well said!!

Also,didn't Hitler close down all the Waldorf schools as well?

And I agree with PP, that site scares me, too. I have looked it over from time to time and get so frustrated with the false information it spreads
post #12 of 12
This is such a great thread. Anthroposophy has kinda gone over my head at times, because it seems so in depth. This really helps see it in simpler, more concrete terms. One thing that strikes me, just had to share, on the use of "primitive." Back in Steiner's day, artists like Matisse and Picasso were in love with all things "primitive," as in exotic, foreign, of tribal times, and of peoples whose cultures and societies were tribal, or primitive. It was a positive, and it made them yearn for simpler, less modern ways. It was an infatuation with simplicity, and a connection to nature that these cultures had. To me, this is what I love about Waldorf now, and why it strikes a cord with me, and how I wish my children to be educated.
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