What does it signify to behold nature in this way — imaginally? If I apprehended the visible as an image, or copy, of an invisible, soul-spiritual substance, then I feel a relation between that soul-spiritual substance and my own soul and spirit; just as I feel myself related, not only to the visible body, but also to the invisible soul and spirit of another human being. From another point of view — if we take our standpoint outside both man and nature, and contemplate their changing relation to each other — we can say that the human soul once shared or participated in the soul-life of nature.
It is really this which distinguishes the ages of atavistic clairvoyance from our own age of mere sense-perception. The experience of nature as image, or representation, was the last relic of an even fuller participation. This instinctive, effortless participation was still present vestigially at least, in the experience of ordinary men right down to the close of the Middle Ages. It is indeed impossible really to understand the Middle Ages, their art and their thought, unless we have begun by grasping the fact that medieval man lived in a slightly different world of ours.
We experience that difference in the first place as a kind of crudity or quaintness. But this is mere parochialism on our part. The parochial man feels that everything unlike what he finds in his own parish is quaint and laughable; and there is parochialism of time as well as of apace. When we look on a medieval fresco, with its haloes and its absence of perspective, we should rather recall that in those days men still actually experienced nature, not so much as a collection of objects occupying positions in a receding space, but compared with ourselves more as a picture or tapestry — a picture of which they themselves were a part.
It came naturally to them to look upon whatever was presented to their senses as an image , rather than as a meaningless object; and it was for this reason that they were so satisfied with simple imagery in the world of art. For the chariot could be no more than an image; and a farm-cart itself was like everything else in the phenomenal world no less. It was this world which has brought to an end by the Scientific Revolution. Yet the elimination of the old, participating consciousness, which was finally accomplished by the Scientific Revolution, had by no means begun with it.
Elimination culminated in the Scientific Revolution, but it had begun long before.
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It had begun when the ancient Greeks first began to think speculatively and analytically about the world. It had begun in the preceding Michael Age, which lasted from about the 6th to the 3rd century B.
The Jewish Chronicle
As soon as we begin to think about something, we become more detached from it. This is the case, for instance, with a strong feeling. As long as we do not start thinking about the feeling, we are one with it — possessed by it. But if we attend to the feeling, if we begin speculating about it, analysing it, we at once begin to be less united with it. It becomes, to some extent, an object outside of use, and our innermost selves are set over against it as subject.
We may sometimes even wrestle with a feeling in precisely this way. We strive then, by thinking about the feeling, to free ourselves from its dominion. And if we are in some degree successful, then, although we still have the feeling, we are also aware of a part of our self, which is free from it — and may ultimately gain control of it. It was something the same when man first began to think about nature.
Hitherto he had been wholly possessed by her; his thoughts and impulses had been, so to speak, her dreams. But as the habit of thinking about nature gained strength, man ceased progressively to be aware of himself as part of the cosmic life, of the Cosmic Intelligence which creates and informs nature, and became aware, instead, of his critical intelligence operating on objects distinct from him.
According to Rudolf Steiner, this gradual emergence of man from the old participation in nature, or in the Cosmic Intelligence which is the spirit of nature, has been the deep concern of Michael. Indeed one way of presenting the history of the Michael impulse — we might call it the Graeco-European way — is to trace the final coming into being of the Intellectual Soul in the Middle Ages, as it is reflected, for instance, in Christian and Arabian scholastic philosophy.
If this process of embodiment had taken place too smoothly, and with no break, it could not have ended by leaving man a completely free being. He had first — before the Cosmic Intelligence could become embodied in his intellectual soul — to lose all awareness of any concrete link at all with the Cosmic Intelligence. This was finally and conclusively effected by the Scientific Revolution.
Waldorf answers - Rudolf Steiner an active opponent against anti-Semitism
At the close of the Scientific Revolution men had certainly become more aware of themselves as free critical intelligences than they had ever been before. But the price of this freedom was the loss of all connection with, all realisation of, even all belief in a Cosmic Intelligence. Man looked within him and, instead of the Cosmic Intelligence, reborn there as his personal intelligence, he found — emptiness.
Now we have seen that it is easy and natural for the participating consciousness, that is, for the consciousness which experiences nature as imagery, also to make artificial images. And so, at the end of the Third Post-Atlantean epoch, before the emergence of Greek philosophy and before the beginning of the Michael Age which preceded our own, the prevailing civilisation was an image-making one. Throughout Babylonia and Egypt the daily life of man was directed from religious centres, and the religion which they cultivated centred much round man-made images. Then, several centuries before the end of that epoch — to be exact, during the reign of Rameses II.
In the very heart of the ancient Egyptian civilisation a man was born through whom the command went forth to his own particular nation to give up altogether this making of images. It is important to realise that, in the Second Commandment declared by Moses, the Jews were forbidden, not only to worship images, but also to make them. Indeed, the prohibition to make comes first, and is only followed, in a separate verse of the Bible, by the prohibition to worship.
Moreover, they were not only forbidden to make worship images; they were enjoined to destroy them. Looking at the history of the Jews in the light of the history which preceded and followed the events recorded and followed the events recorded in the Old Testament, it is true to say that one of the impulses which they brought into humanity was the impulse to destroy imag-ination, and in doing so to eliminate the old participation of man in nature.
The Jews felt this old participating consciousness, which centred round the pagan cults and was focussed in their images, as a kind of incontinence. They called it idolatry , and the images themselves, idols; and often enough the idolatry of the Gentiles was in fact closely associated with incontinence in the narrow sense. Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on St. He had lost the power to stay the sudden relapse of the Children of Israel into idolatry. It was at this moment that Phinehas — who, as the previous incarnation of Elijah, in a sense embodied the ego of the entire Jewish nation — stopped the rot by seizing a spear and transfixing one of his compatriots in the arms of a Midianitish woman.
In the end, as we know, the Jewish effort to cast out idolatry succeeded. And this involves casting out the old participation. In the latter, nature is the garment or the body of the gods, the gods are immanent in nature. In the former, nature does indeed exist to declare the glory of God and to fulfil his law; but there is no suggestion that God is, in any sense, in nature.
Greek poetry and the philosophy of Plato still preserved the old participating consciousness of the East. It was only very gradually, in the course of centuries, that the analytical element in the Greek way of thought operated to exclude participation.
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- Was Rudolf Steiner An Anti-Semite?.
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A study shows that Rudolf Steiner , the founder of anthroposophy, was an active opponent of anti-Semitism 1. The study contradicts allegations, made especially since a broadcast in Germany Report Mainz in February , about Waldorf schools and their founder. The allegations about Steiner are based on a lack of overview and an understanding of his views. In the s' Steiner vehemently argued against the "outrageous excesses of the anti-Semites" and condemned the "anti-Semitic brutes" as enemies of the human rights.
As a convinced liberal, whose position coincided with that of liberal Jewry reform Jewry , he actively supported the integration and full legal and social status of the Jews in Europe. Against the anti-Semitic propaganda of hatred, he set his ideal: "One should only value mutual actions between individuals. It is completely uninteresting if one is a Jew or a German That is so simple, that one almost is stupid saying it.
4 The German Essence Shall Heal the World: Ideological Affinities between Anthroposophy and Nazism
How stupid does one then not have to be to say the opposite. In a series of articles, that he wrote in for the Berlin "Association against anti-Semitism", he argued against the "Germanen" myth of the German racists and their "senseless anti-Semitic chatter". He compared the special legislation against the Jews in European countries with "statutes of slavery". Anyone who believes in the ideas of the human rights, must say to himself: "Anti-Semitism is an insult to all beliefs in ideas.
Most of all it is an insult against the idea that humanity stands higher than any specific form tribe, race, people in which it expresses itself" 3. Steiner's clear criticism of anti-Semitism and racism runs through his complete life's work. It is based on the philosophical foundation of anthroposophy, the "ethical individualism", that Steiner conceived already in the s'.
It was written for readers who understand what racism is and how it functions, who have an interest in informing themselves about the history of Nazism, and who do not find complex analysis of political ideas excessively difficult to follow. Waage, for whatever reason, has had a notably hard time following our analysis.
He thinks we have dismissed Steiner as a racist, and nothing more. He thinks we have labeled Steiner simply an antisemite, and nothing more. He thinks we have collapsed all anthroposophists into Nazis, and all Nazis into proto-environmentalists, and perhaps all environmentalists into esotericists. He thinks we have made claims about topics we have not addressed.
He thinks we have failed to address topics on which we have written extensively. For example, he takes us to task for failing to comment on the report of the Dutch anthroposophist commission on Steiner and racism. We did in fact devote several pages to this topic in our original rejoinder, although they were cut from the version printed in Humanist.
This should come as no surprise, since all of the members of the commission belong to the Dutch Anthroposophical Society. According to the Dutch report there are different human races with different physical, mental, cultural and spiritual capacities.
This absurd stance obviously cancels whatever worth the study might have had for those outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner. But they never do so, leaving the Janus face entirely intact while simply avoiding one of its several sides. Nor does the commission fare any better in its examination of the historical context. They are also substantial and lengthy passages; a full third of the Steiner quotes that the commission examines in detail are multiple paragraphs or multiple pages.
But the most amazing thing about the Dutch report is what it omits. Whereas the commission evidently included every last supposedly anti-racist fragment from Steiner that they could dig up, they deliberately excluded all of his writings on the root-race theory. In both cases the report quotes, several times, the same volumes that contain these extraordinary sentences. Despite the unabashedly exculpatory thrust of the tendentious study that Waage respects so highly, the report has led to a split in the Dutch Anthroposophical Society; the more fundamentalist faction has left the Society and is now trying to start a new one.
This is hardly the sort of critical self-examination that the report was supposed to spark. Perhaps someday the closed world of anthroposophy will open itself up to honest scrutiny. Until that day arrives, newcomers to anthroposophy will have to settle for the evasions and equivocations of those like Waage who hope to protect anthroposophist orthodoxy by sticking their heads in the sand. Mistaking credulousness for respectfulness, Waage has done a distinct disservice to anthroposophists and non-anthroposophists alike.
We are gratified to see that this debate has spread to Sweden, the United States, and beyond, and are also disappointed that it has frequently proven impossible to involve anthroposophists in a genuine dialogue because our arguments are so often met only with angry accusations and indignant denials.