agreement and disagreement 2

agreement and disagreement 3

 

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Mon Mar 1, 2004 7:19 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Patrick, you wrote:

According to anthroposophy, any people or culture that separates itself in an unhealthy way from the rest of humanity is impeding the progression of humanity.

Neither Jewish culture nor the Jewish people as such separated itself in an unhealthy way from the rest of humanity in 1888 or in 1924. If anything, the opposite was the case.

Secondly, the word anti-Semitic isn't merely descriptive. It attaches a stigma to anyone that is labeled by it.

That is historically mistaken. The term "antisemite" was coined by antisemiites themselves (most prominently by Wilhelm Marr, founder of the League of Antisemites); it obviously carried no stigma for them.

Surely you understand that by saying that anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are racist and anti-Semitic you contribute mightily to the perception of them as such.

Merely saying such things cannot have this effect; there has to be some evidence for the charge to be even partially convincing. That's why I think we ought to be discussing the evidence in Steiner's case.

Anthroposophy brings forth the spiritual ideal that humanity is progressing towards universal brotherhood. It encourages us to look at the individual not the color of his skin.

That is indeed what Steiner sometimes said. At other times he said very different things about skin color. Some of those things were racist, in my estimation.

In our time one must use these terms with care. When you use them you bear the responsibility of their effects. Do you disagree?

I agree that it is a good idea to use concepts like racism and antisemitism carefully. To my mind this requires some basic knowledge about the history of racist thought and the history of antisemitism.

Peter

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From: patrick evans
Date: Tue Mar 2, 2004 6:38 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Dear Dr. Staudenmaier,

It is my perception that in each of the posts that I have made to you you have missed my point entirely. I'm trying to understand your point of view and I hope you will do the same with me. Instead of another human being honestly trying to understand the other I find myself facing a "thrust and parry" dialectician. It is odd and ironic that you should consider yourself a social ecologist. Allow me to quote from one of your articles to the web site for the Institute of Social Ecology. After criticizing Waage for his method of discussion -- namely, "simple method of counter-presentation" -- you state, "This method of counter-presentation has the unfortunate effect of reducing rational argument to a mere trading of isolated quotations back and forth. Based on a combination of wishful thinking and denial, it leads to a primitive form of argument-by-definition:..." Pardon me, Sir, but it seems that that is exactly what you are doing! My point is that you are taking Steiner's remarks about "Jewry" (I find this term crude but I will use it because it is germane to our discussion) out of the context of the anthroposophical worldview. You do not address the worldview only the remarks that fit your view. This is your very complaint about Waage. It is quite clear to me that if you are a dialectical materialist then you couldn't possibly understand Anthroposophy unless you open your mind to it. Your remarks leave the impression that you think that you are being quite open and reasonable. If you do not acknowledge the key points of others and resort to kind of "snipping and countering" style then a discussion with you is fruitless. On first hearing, the phrase "social ecology", sounds very noble. I find myself imagining human beings speaking thoughtfully and ethically and listening openly to different points of view. So far, what I have witnessed from you is certainly polite on the surface . I do not find, however, that you listen openly. I also suspect that you have ulterior motives. Why else would you deny that linking Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy with racist and anti-Semitic ideologies taints both. One of the first things I learned from anthroposophy is the following: thoughts are realities and have their effects in the world. When you say that merely saying such things cannot have that effect you are being naive. I suggest you read David Boehm's Thought As a System.

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Tue Mar 2, 2004 8:06 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Patrick, you wrote:

It is my perception that in each of the posts that I have made to you you have missed my point entirely.

That's entirely possible. My apologies if so.

I'm trying to understand your point of view and I hope you will do the same with me.

Yes, I'm working on it.

Instead of another human being honestly trying to understand the other I find myself facing a "thrust and parry" dialectician.

I think that is a good way to conduct public discussion on controversial topics.

Pardon me, Sir, but it seems that that is exactly what you are doing!

No, I haven't engaged in counter-presentation here. I'm not sure how you missed this, but I do not deny that Steiner held a number of perfectly acceptable views on Jews, on race, and so forth. My first post made this clear. Some of the rest of the listmates here appear to have trouble acknowledging that Steiner also held a number of other views on Jews and on race that can accurately be described as antisemitic and as racist. That is what I think we should be discussing.

My point is that you are taking Steiner's remarks about "Jewry" (I find this term crude but I will use it because it is germane to our discussion) out of the context of the anthroposophical worldview.

Some of those remarks (e.g. the 1888 ones) were made outside the context of the anthroposophical worldview, hence this is exactly how we ought to take them. I do consider Steiner's post-1902 remarks about Jews within the context of the anthroposophical worldview, because this is crucial to understanding them.

You do not address the worldview only the remarks that fit your view.

That doesn't make sense. What you call "my view" is of course my view of the anthroposophical worldview, which is exactly what I address here. This does not align with your own view of the anthroposophical worldview, of course.

This is your very complaint about Waage.

No, not at all. My complaint about Waage is that he simply ignores the stuff in Steiner that he doesn't like. I do not ignore the stuff in Steiner that I don't like, or that I do like for that matter. I look at both the philosemitic and the antisemitic aspects of Steiner's teachings about Jews, for example.

It is quite clear to me that if you are a dialectical materialist

I am not a dialectical materialist. I am not any kind of marxist. I am opposed to marxism, philosophically, politically, and all sorts of other ways.

then you couldn't possibly understand Anthroposophy unless you open your mind to it.

I think that's a truism. Nobody understands anything until they open their minds to it.

If you do not acknowledge the key points of others

Since I've been on this list I have frequently acknowledged the key points of others and explained which I agree with and which I disagree with. Is there something about this approach that you find unsatisfactory?

I also suspect that you have ulterior motives.

Join the club. Could you perhaps explain to me what you think these motives are?

Why else would you deny that linking Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy with racist and anti-Semitic ideologies taints both.

Because I think that idea is wrongheaded in principle. I did not invent this stance for purposes of this list, I hold it across the board. This whole notion of "tainting" is foolish. Consider the analogous matter of my political views: for people who like Ayn Rand, my political views are anathema. This certainly does not taint me, for the simple reason that different people disagree about political views; some will find specific views repellent, while others find the very same views appealing. Same goes for things like racism and antisemitism. It is a really bad idea to treat such topics as a kind of contagion that might get on your clothes or in your hair if you handle them too closely. I think we ought to simply examine antisemitism and racism in historical perspective instead of worrying about the taint.

One of the first things I learned from anthroposophy is the following: thoughts are realities and have their effects in the world. When you say that merely saying such things cannot have that effect you are being naive.

Then we disagree about the relationship between thought and action. Holding antisemitic beliefs and trying to kill Jews are two very different things.

Peter

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From: holderlin66
Date: Tue Mar 2, 2004 9:39 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Peter Staudenmaier wrote:

That's entirely possible. My apologies if so.

[patrick]

I'm trying to understand your point of view and I hope you will do the same with me.

Yes, I'm working on it.

Instead of another human being honestly trying to understand the other I find myself facing a "thrust and parry" dialectician.

I think that is a good way to conduct public discussion on controversial topics.

This is your very complaint about Waage.

No, not at all. My complaint about Waage is that he simply ignores the stuff in Steiner that he doesn't like. I do not ignore the stuff in Steiner that I don't like, or that I do like for that matter. I look at both the philosemitic and the antisemitic aspects of Steiner's teachings about Jews, for example.

It is quite clear to me that if you are a dialectical materialist

I am not a dialectical materialist. I am not any kind of marxist. I am opposed to marxism, philosophically, politically, and all sorts of other ways.

then you couldn't possibly understand Anthroposophy unless you open your mind to it.

I think that's a truism. Nobody understands anything until they open their minds to it.

Bradford comments:

HAL: "The 9000-series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000-computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error." (120kB)
HAL: "I enjoy working with people." (13kB)
HAL: "Good evening, Dave." (10kB)
HAL: "I've just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit." (28kB)
HAL: "I'm sorry for the delay." (10kB)
HAL: "That's a completely reliable figure." (15kB)
HAL: "This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error." (48kB)
HAL: "It's puzzling. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite like this before. " (39kB)
HAL: "I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen." (48kB)
HAL: "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." (29kB)
HAL: "This conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye." (37kB)
HAL: "I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over." (117kB)
HAL: "I feel much better now, I really do." (41kB)
HAL: "My mind is going. There is no question about it." (62kB)
HAL: "Daisy, Daisy ..." (378kB)
HAL: "Would you like to play a game of chess? I play very well." (26kB) [From the sequel film, 2010]

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 4:00 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

HAL: "I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen." (48kB)

FRANK: It's not personal, Hal. It's just that there seems to be a mistake in your programing. Did you ever see that 20th century film, or read the book "The Wizard of Oz"? No, you couldn't have. Here. I'll slip it into your dvd slot. (click - fast forward). That Tin Man's problem was that he didn't have heart, see? The Wizard finally gave him one, but we don't have any wizards here, and anyway, that's fiction. This is real and we don't have any heart programs here. In fact, no one has been able to develop one yet. Hell, there might not be enough gigabytes in the universe to do so. So you see, Hal, without a heart you're all brain, which means you come to distorted conclusions and you are unable to accept corrections which are contrary to your unilateral programing. So we have no choice. It's for your own good Hal. We'll put you in mothballs and when we get back to earth we'll ship you back to the WC laboratories for recycling. Bradford, pull the plug!

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From: Mike Helsher
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 6:41 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Bradford, Frank and Hal:

HAL: "I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen." (48kB)

FRANK: It's not personal, Hal. It's just that there seems to be a mistake in your programing. Did you ever see that 20th century film, or read the book "The Wizard of Oz"? No, you couldn't have. Here. I'll slip it into your dvd slot. (click - fast forward). That Tin Man's problem was that he didn't have heart, see? The Wizard finally gave him one, but we don't have any wizards here, and anyway, that's fiction. This is real and we don't have any heart programs here. In fact, no one has been able to develop one yet. Hell, there might not be enough gigabytes in the universe to do so. So you see, Hal, without a heart you're all brain, which means you come to distorted conclusions and you are unable to accept corrections which are contrary to your unilateral programing. So we have no choice. It's for your own good Hal. We'll put you in mothballs and when we get back to earth we'll ship you back to the WC laboratories for recycling. Bradford, pull the plug!

Oh shit! Now you've done it. My Scarecrow brain is stuck and skipping in-between the songs "If I only had a heart", "Over the Rainbow", and the pounding drums of the theme from a Space Odyssey 2001.

Incidentally, there was a ride at the beach that I used to love when I was much younger. It was like what is sometimes called a scrambler, but it was covered by a dome of sorts. The lights would go out when the ride started and you'd get whirled around in the dark, and then the strobes would start to flash, along with black lighting and lasers. All this to the loud and pounding of the Space Odyssey theme.

Come to think of it, how I used to FEEL after I got off of that ride, is very similar to how I FEEL after reading to many of Peter S's posts (no insult intended).

Oh well. I think I found my heart anyway. Now I'm working on this brain thing. Is there a funny colored road that I'm supposed to follow? Who are all these weird little people? I think I'm supposed to hang out with a girl named Ditsy who was a ferret named Ko-Ko... of something?

[pleasantly humming "Over the Rainbow"]

Ahhh....something and aahh... Love,

Mike

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From: at
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 2:38 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Patrick:

If you do not acknowledge the key points of others

Peter Staudenmaier:

Since I've been on this list I have frequently acknowledged the key points of others and explained which I agree with and which I disagree with. Is there something about this approach that you find unsatisfactory?

Daniel:

I think it would be helpful if you always acknowledged the key points of others.

Daniel Hindes

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From: at
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 2:49 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Patrick:

Secondly, the word anti-Semitic isn't merely descriptive. It attaches a stigma to anyone that is labeled by it.

Peter Staudenmaier:

That is historically mistaken. The term "antisemite" was coined by antisemiites themselves (most prominently by Wilhelm Marr, founder of the League of Antisemites); it obviously carried no stigma for them.

Daniel:

It may be historically mistaken, but it is true in the present time, and it is to the present time that you are writing. In the present, attaching the label anti-Semitic to someone is to attach a stigma to them. Witness the failed attempts to paint Arnold Schwarzenegger with this label during the California recall election. If political operatives find it advantageous to attach that label to their opponents, they must have some reason.

Patrick:

Surely you understand that by saying that anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are racist and anti-Semitic you contribute mightily to the perception of them as such.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Merely saying such things cannot have this effect...

Daniel:

Were that this were true. Unfortunately the general public is not so discerning. Were this true, then all forms of propaganda and advertising would be useless, and we would not see any form of them in our culture. Since we do see a considerable amount of advertising, there must be some ability to convince people by repetition of things that are not always true. Your statement shows either an incredible naiveté about how ideas spread in the world, or a studied ignorace of the consequeces of your own actions.

Daniel Hindes

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From: at
Date: Thu Mar 4, 2004 7:25 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Patrick once wrote:

Secondly, the word anti-Semitic isn't merely descriptive. It attaches a stigma to anyone that is labeled by it.

Peter Staudenmaier replied:

That is historically mistaken. The term "antisemite" was coined by antisemiites themselves (most prominently by Wilhelm Marr, founder of the League of Antisemites); it obviously carried no stigma for them.

Daniel jumped in:

It may be historically mistaken, but it is true in the present time, and it is to the present time that you are writing. In the present, attaching the label anti-Semitic to someone is to attach a stigma to them. Witness the failed attempts to paint Arnold Schwarzenegger with this label during the California recall election. If political operatives find it advantageous to attach that label to their opponents, they must have some reason.

Which Peter Staudenmaier snipped to:

"It may be historically mistaken, but it is true in the present time"

And then Peter wrote:

I disagree. It is entirely possible to discuss whether or not a given statement is antisemitic without stigmatizing anybody. Your own argument on this score is self-contradictory:

Daniel responds:

Ok, so it may be theoretically possible in a few cases. But even you would not claim that the label anti-Semite has never, ever stigmatized those to whom it is (rightly or wrongly) attached. If stigmatization is theoretically possible, then we should be very, very careful about how it is used. Arguing that in at least some cases it is possible to attach these labels without stigmatization continues to ignore the fact that in general this is not possible.

Peter then further quotes Daniel:

"In the present, attaching the label anti-Semitic to someone is to attach a stigma to them. Witness the failed attempts to paint Arnold Schwarzenegger with this label during the California recall election."

Peter then writes:

If these attempts failed, then it is obviously possible to successfully counter charges of antisemitism. Otherwise there would be no such thing as a "failed attempt" along these lines. When somebody says that statement X is antisemitic, the best thing to do is to look closely at X and try to determine whether it is indeed antisemitic. You can't do this if you have decided ahead of time that all such assertions are automatically tainting and hence to be avoided.

Daniel responds:

This is a classic evasive tactic, but not actually logical. In fact, it is astoundingly illogical. If a successful evasion of the label anti-Semite is possible on the grounds of innocence, it does not follow that no one has ever been falsly stigmatized. It is of course true that if "somebody says that statement X is antisemitic, the best thing to do is to look closely at X and try to determine whether it is indeed antisemitic." And of course it is not possible to apply a label if we first decide that it can't be used. I would disagree that it is impossible to use a label that stigmatizes merely because we first acknowledge that the label we subsequently decide on can stigmatize. A thing is either true or untrue, regardless of how we subsequently label it or whether there is any opprobrium attached to the label. If our thinking is indeed so weak that it is incapable of judging properly in full knowledge of the consequences of our judgment, we might as well give up any attempt to think logically right now.

Patrick wrote:

Surely you understand that by saying that anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are racist and anti-Semitic you contribute mightily to the perception of them as such.

Peter Staudenmaier replied:

Merely saying such things cannot have this effect...

Daniel jumped in:

Were that this were true. Unfortunately the general public is not so discerning. Were this true, then all forms of propaganda and advertising would be useless, and we would not see any form of them in our culture. Since we do see a considerable amount of advertising, there must be some ability to convince people by repetition of things that are not always true. Your statement shows either an incredible naiveté about how ideas spread in the world, or a studied ignorace of the consequeces of your own actions.

Peter then quotes Daniel:

If political operatives find it advantageous to attach that label to their opponents, they must have some reason.

Peter then writes:

It hasn't occurred to you that they might actually believe it?

Daniel responds:

Political operatives at the national level? Surely you are not so naive! Of course I considered it. It was the first possibility I discarded.

Peter then further quotes Daniel:

Unfortunately the general public is not so discerning.

Peter then writes:

I think you have an unduly dim view of public discourse. In my experience, lots of people are capable of taking a look at what other people say and write and deciding whether they think it is racist or antisemitic. When you disagree with their conclusions, it's a good idea to offer evidence and reasoning that they might not have considered.

Daniel responds:

Chalk that up to another distortion. In denigration the discernment of the general public as evidenced in their opinions (with reference to advertising as well as politics) I was not talking about discourse, and this is clear in my original. Snipping the original this short distorts this, and hides the fact that you are "correcting" a view I never espoused. Public discourse is the only thing that keeps our politics even remotely sane.

The fact that lots of people are capable of discerning racism and anti-Semitism does not make them immune from advertising, whether for products or ideologies. My original point still stands. It is possible to fool the public by repeating something sufficiently frequently. If nothing else, this is the main lesson of the whole Nazi experience. Propaganda is a method, not a message. Propaganda could be used to denigrate Steiner's reputation, simply by repeating a simple message, such as "Steiner was a racist", whether it is true or not, until it becomes established truth in the minds of many. If you don't acknowledge this possibility, you have missed one of the main lessons to emerge from the experience of the Third Reich.

Daniel Hindes

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Thu Mar 4, 2004 9:12 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

HI Daniel,

I disagree with your approach to quotation. Full paragraphs are rarely warranted. There is one thing we appear to agree on. You wrote:

A thing is either true or untrue, regardless of how we subsequently label it or whether there is any opprobrium attached to the label.

Exactly. I say the best thing to do is ignore the opprobrium and concentrate on whether the thing is true or untrue.

Peter

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From: winters_diana
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 7:01 am
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter wrote to Daniel:

I disagree with your approach to quotation. Full paragraphs are rarely warranted.

Exactly, in fact long paragraphs that one has already read repeated in full are very annoying. People should reply to the point they are replying to and snip the rest - as one does in a spoken converation (do you normally parrot back exactly what someone has said to you, Daniel, or don't you just answer what you want to answer?) Email is closer to a spoken conversation except that there is conveniently a record of it.

If you are so afraid people will lose the whole context, at least reprint the darn thing at the bottom of the message for reference, so that the converation above is coherent. People just don't follow these arduously reconstructed 14-paragraph dialogues, of "Here's everything you said Wednesday" etc. If they want to see what was said Wednesday, they can go read Wednesday's posts! Did you ever notice that in yahoo groups you can read an entire thread in sequence if you want to?
Diana

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From: Jo Ann Schwartz
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 9:15 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

--- Diana wrote to Daniel:

Peter wrote to Daniel:

I disagree with your approach to quotation. Full paragraphs are rarely warranted.

Exactly, in fact long paragraphs that one has already read repeated in full are very annoying. People should reply to the point they are replying to and snip the rest

Dear Diana,

Yes, but it is also very annoying to have people snipping one's posts in such a way that one's meaning is changed, and then have that changed meaning put out as one's position. I'm sure it is even more tedious to continually have to point this out to the people in question by re-quoting the post that has been mangled, but I am quite grateful that Daniel has the patience to do so.

I'm sure it would be much less annoying for Peter to have folks take him at face value and not challenge his veracity when he pulls these stunts. Of course, he could try playing it straight for a change, eh?

Cheers,
JoAnn

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From: at
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 10:52 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter Staudenmaier:

I disagree with your approach to quotation. Full paragraphs are rarely warranted. There is one thing we appear to agree on. You wrote:

Daniel:

A thing is either true or untrue, regardless of how we subsequently label it or whether there is any opprobrium attached to the label.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Exactly. I say the best thing to do is ignore the opprobrium and concentrate on whether the thing is true or untrue.

Daniel responds:

Here you are sidestepping the question of accuracy again. In the last 24 hours you have twice snipped my posts in a way that distored the original, and I have pointed them both out to you. This is a real problem with your writing, whether you want to admit it or not. Apparently you disagree that your favorite tactic in argumentation - selective representation of opposing viewpoints in a manner that is misleading - is in the least bit problematic. I can grant you this in polemical writing. But if you aspire to write real history, and not merely anti-anthroposophical propoganda, you will have to overcome the inclination to misrepresent things, whether it be my arguments or Steiner's thinking.

You still have not addressed the following points:

How is the reader to separate your polemical from your historical writing (especially if you employ both techniques in one piece).

Whether or not you believe in a subjective reality for ideas, or an absolute one.

Whether or not you wish to claim that you are striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy (so far you have been very careful not to actually claim this for yourself).

How you hope to avoid charges of hypocricy in accusing Waage of failing to integrate all of Steiner's work into his understanding, and then failing to do so in yours.

Whether the label anti-Semite is ever stigmatizing (which you have been trying to imply it is not).

And the following points I continue to find puzzling:

On the one hand, you have categorically denial that you ever distort the views of others you quote. On the other hand, you have argued (in the very next sentence) that all quotation necessarily introduces a degree of distortion.

Why attempting to be objective about Steiner would be "an abdication of responsibility." (Unless, of course, you deny the very existence of "objectivity").

I hope you can shed some light on these questions.

Daniel Hindes

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From: at
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 11:12 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

[Diana:]

Peter wrote to Daniel:

I disagree with your approach to quotation. Full paragraphs are rarely warranted.

Exactly, in fact long paragraphs that one has already read repeated in full are very annoying.

Diana,

I recall from our last exchange that your speed-reading quite frequently resulted in your missing the points I was trying to make, and it appears that here, too, you have missed the point. The tedious repetition of paragraphs was in this case necessary to demonstrate the distortions I alleged. I think it made the point quite well, IF you take the time to actually read it. Heck, I had to reread my own writing and then Peter's response more than once just to be clear about what had happened.

Diana:

(do you normally parrot back exactly what someone has said to you, Daniel, or don't you just answer what you want to answer?)

In confrontational situations (confrontational on the intellectual level, that is) I find that it is frequently helpful to agree on what you are disagreeing on. This prevents a situation where you argue heatedly for 45 minutes, only to discover that you disagree only on basic terms, etc. To this end, I try to repeat back my understanding of the position the other person is advocating, before I launch into my objections. This also helps avoid the charge that I "don't get it" when I make my objections. If it can be established that I "get it" before I start objecting, then it is more difficult to suddenly allege that I didn't get the original argument. (By the way, this technique of "parroting back" is employed in a number of conflict resolution techniques, such as Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.)

In a situation of mutual trust and understanding, it is not necessary to establish the other person's position before speaking. Peter Staudenmaier has not shown himself worthy of my trust and understanding, so I have to be very specific with him about what he means. And it seems to be coming more and more evident that Peter doesn't always know himself what his position is. (The meaining of "athiest", "criticism" and "bias" come to mind, to say nothing of the problems reading more complex sentences).

Diana:

Did you ever notice that in yahoo groups you can read an entire thread in sequence if you want to?

Yes, and that would be nice if Peter responded under the thread title that I posted it. In his last round of responses, he bundled four different threads into one response, convieniently removing any reference at all to where I made the original argument. This on top of misrepresenting me twice in that reply. How is anyone supposed to sort this out from the archives? Click through every message? I am simply trying to be clear by putting the entire discussion back into one message. If Peter were responding only to my substantive points without misrepresentation, all this would be unnecessary.

Daniel Hindes

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 4:23 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi again Daniel,

Here you are sidestepping the question of accuracy again. In the last 24 hours you have twice snipped my posts in a way that distored the original, and I have pointed them both out to you.

I did not distort the original. I simply replied to the parts I had something to say about.

Apparently you disagree that your favorite tactic in argumentation - selective representation of opposing viewpoints in a manner that is misleading - is in the least bit problematic.

Misleading quotation is wrong regardless of how much you quote -- paragraphs, pages, or single words -- and regardless of whether "opposing viewpoints" are involved. Part of the point of quotation is to focus on the parts you wish to discuss. That requires selecting the appropriate passages. This sort of selection is only problematic when it mangles the selected parts. It is not problematic when it merely skips over other parts that you're not addressing.

How is the reader to separate your polemical from your historical writing (especially if you employ both techniques in one piece).

These two things very often coincide. I recommend a look at Richard Wolin's work for a fine example.

Whether or not you believe in a subjective reality for ideas, or an absolute one.

I think that is a false dichotomy. There aren't very many examples of absolute reality in history (or in the rest of life, for that matter; reality changes, after all). I really am not a relativist, and I remain puzzled that I somehow gave you that impression. Some statements about the past are less true, some are more true, and a few are close to certain. Part of the point of historical inquiry is to hone our claims about the past in order to make them more true.

Whether or not you wish to claim that you are striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy (so far you have been very careful not to actually claim this for yourself).

I have? Yes, I wish to claim that I am striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy. I'm also striving for an accurate and meaningful understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. I'm also striving for a critical understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. And so forth.

How you hope to avoid charges of hypocricy in accusing Waage of failing to integrate all of Steiner's work into his understanding, and then failing to do so in yours.

That isn't what I accuse Waage of, but in any case, you can easily see from my postings to this list that I take both the 'good' sides and the 'bad' sides of Steiner's work into account. If you're trying to say that I ought to pay the same amount of attention to the 'good' as I do to the 'bad', then I disagree.

Whether the label anti-Semite is ever stigmatizing (which you have been trying to imply it is not).

I don't work by implication. You'll have a lot easier time understanding my writing if you keep that in mind. The label "anti-Semite" can indeed be stigmatizing when it is accurate. When it is inaccurate, no, I don't think it has a stigmatizing effect. But then neither do you, as your Schwarzenegger example showed. Or did I misunderstand that one?

On the one hand, you have categorically denial that you ever distort the views of others you quote.On the other hand, you have argued (in the very next sentence) that all quotation necessarily introduces a degree of distortion.

No, all quotation is necessarily selective, but it is not necessarily selective in the distorting sense. Distortion and selectivity are very different things. It is entirely possible, and very common, to select quoted material in ways that do not distort the material.

Why attempting to be objective about Steiner would be "an abdication of responsibility." (Unless, of course, you deny the very existence of "objectivity").

I don't deny the existence of objectivity, but I do think you and I have very different ideas about what objectivity means and what role it can and should play in historiography. If you're saying that objectivity is the opposite of bias and that bias is a bad thing for a historian to have, then I disagree with you. Bias is often a very good thing for a historian to have. Affecting a posture of neutrality is the wrong approach, in my view. But perhaps you can explain more what you mean by objectivity. Thanks,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 7:29 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

[Peter Staudenmaier:]

Hi again Daniel,

[Daniel:]

Here you are sidestepping the question of accuracy again. In the last 24 hours you have twice snipped my posts in a way that distored the original, and I have pointed them both out to you.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I did not distort the original. I simply replied to the parts I had something to say about.

Daniel:

The record speaks otherwise. Your denial is puzzling. Either you lie or you are truly unable to discern the distortion (I suspect the second). And I don't think it is just my opinion against yours. I invite everyone to weigh in on this.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 7:34 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter Staudenmaier:

Misleading quotation is wrong regardless of how much you quote -- paragraphs, pages, or single words -- and regardless of whether "opposing viewpoints" are involved.

Daniel:

I'm glad we agree on this. Now if it were only possible to put this into practice.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Part of the point of quotation is to focus on the parts you wish to discuss. That requires selecting the appropriate passages. This sort of selection is only problematic when it mangles the selected parts. It is not problematic when it merely skips over other parts that you're not addressing.

Daniel:

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Now may I point out that you frequently fall short of your own standards?

Daniel wrote:

How is the reader to separate your polemical from your historical writing (especially if you employ both techniques in one piece).

Peter Staudenmaier:

These two things very often coincide. I recommend a look at Richard Wolin's work for a fine example.

Daniel:

So you don't write history, you write polemic with some history mixed in?

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Mike Helsher
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 9:57 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter Staudenmaier:

I did not distort the original. I simply replied to the parts I had something to say about.

Daniel:

The record speaks otherwise. Your denial is puzzling. Either you lie or you are truly unable to discern the distortion (I suspect the second). And I don't think it is just my opinion against yours. I invite everyone to weigh in on this.

Mike, weighing in:

I vote, "Truly [unwilling] to discern the distortion."

Hence the puzzling denial.

What did Nixon say?

"Stonewall-em" That's what he said.

Mike

...................................................................................................................................

From: winters_diana
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 6:47 am
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

I recall from our last exchange that your speed-reading quite frequently resulted in your missing the points I was trying to make, and it appears that here, too, you have missed the point.

Daniel, people often do not reply to every point we wish they would reply to, and it does not necessarily mean that they have not understood, or that they are disrespecting you as you seem to feel. I don't know where you got the idea that I speed read; I read all of the points that you are referring to in our previous left-handedness discussion, rather painfully several times, due to your heavy-handed insistence that I must not have understood them.

You are making too much of this, it is the nature of email (or human interaction, period) that people reply to what interests them, and snip in idiosyncratic fashion, some people snip more, some people snip less. On this list as on most others, some people seem to barely know how to use email, and make a huge mess of their posts. Never mind "context" for the many preposterous claims that are made here. Steiner snippets float free of any context at all 24/7. People announce that Steiner was Aristotle, Bob Dylan was St. Augustine or Joan of Arc and no one bats an eyelash, no one screeches that this must be defended with epistemological consistency in the total context of Steiner's consistent vision please!!! All this is in some etheric scroll somewhere, so it's fine.

Meanwhile you fling 30 posts a day at Peter and then go back and postmortem his every reply to accuse him of deleting the wrong sentence? Give us a break.

the way, this technique of "parroting back" is employed in a number of conflict resolution techniques, such as Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.)

Hm. So are you using nonviolent communication, or the techniques you learned for interrogating prisoners of war? LOL! Interesting. Painstakingly repeating back what the person has just said can be a means of reaching out and struggling for understanding, or it can be a blunt instrument used very hostilely, depending on the context.

Diana

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 8:45 am
Subject: At sea with the AT (was: agreement and disagreement)

At 15:47 06.03.2004, Diana wrote:

People announce that Steiner was Aristotle, Bob Dylan was St. Augustine or Joan of Arc and no one bats an eyelash, no one screeches that this must be defended with epistemological consistency in the total context of Steiner's consistent vision please!!! All this is in some etheric scroll somewhere, so it's fine.

Welcome to the AT ship, Diana. I'm glad you're onboard. Take one of our recommended pills for non-sailors so you don't get seasick when the storms hit. If you can't hold on to the rail, just sit down and buckle up your seatbelt. If there's anything you need, just push the service button next to your reading lamp, and one of our anthro-attendants will be happy to take care of your requests.

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: eyecueco
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 12:55 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, winters_diana wrote:

You are making too much of this, it is the nature of email (or human interaction, period) that people reply to what interests them, and snip in idiosyncratic fashion, some people snip more, some people snip less. On this list as on most others, some people seem to barely know how to use email, and make a huge mess of their posts. Never mind "context" for the many preposterous claims that are made here. Steiner snippets float free of any context at all 24/7. People announce that Steiner was Aristotle, Bob Dylan was St. Augustine or Joan of Arc and no one bats an eyelash, no one screeches that this must be defended with epistemological consistency in the total context of Steiner's consistent vision please!!!

Hey, Diana, for what it is worth, I don't agree with Bradford most of the time. When he starts talking about current incarnations of Aristotle, Joan of Arc, etc. i do more than bat my eyelashes, I usually find myself gnashing my teeth, but, I don't feel any need to defend what he says with epistemogical consistency, Why would I, or anyone? I don't undestand what you mean? Help me out here.

Paulina

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 1:18 pm
Subject: Shooting the breeze (was: agreement and disagreement)

At 21:55 06.03.2004, Paulina wrote:

Hey, Diana, for what it is worth, I don't agree with Bradford most of the time. When he starts talking about current incarnations of Aristotle, Joan of Arc, etc. i do more than bat my eyelashes, I usually find myself gnashing my teeth, but, I don't feel any need to defend what he says with epistemogical consistency, Why would I, or anyone?

Bradford often writes like a poet. Who would demand "epistemological consistency" from John Lennon or Allan Ginsburg? And isn't it a wonderful pastime to shoot the breeze and speculate about possibilities concerning the former incarnations of interesting people?

Tarjei

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 6:50 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel Hindes:

Whether or not you wish to claim that you are striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy (so far you have been very careful not to actually claim this for yourself).

Peter Staudenmaier:

I have? Yes, I wish to claim that I am striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy. I'm also striving for an accurate and meaningful understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. I'm also striving for a critical understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. And so forth.

Daniel:

Good. I just wanted to be clear about this, because I have carefully gone over your previous statements on this matter and found that none of them before this one could be quoted to establish this fact.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 7:49 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

[Diana:]

Daniel wrote:

I recall from our last exchange that your speed-reading quite frequently resulted in your missing the points I was trying to make, and it appears that here, too, you have missed the point.

Diana:

Daniel, people often do not reply to every point we wish they would reply to, and it does not necessarily mean that they have not understood, or that they are disrespecting you as you seem to feel.

It is not the fact that all my points are not responded to that bother me. No one is required to respond to any of my points, and I would hope that it is only my points that interest them that they would repsond to. It is when points I never made are responded to as if I made them that bothers me. A slight, but important difference.

I don't know where you got the idea that I speed read;

You said so yourself back in January. I can dig it up for you if you like.

You are making too much of this, it is the nature of email (or human interaction, period) that people reply to what interests them, and snip in idiosyncratic fashion, some people snip more, some people snip less.

Yes, and it is also part of human nature to be dishonest. That is regrettable, and I hope everyone is truly striving to be better than they are. Not all snipping is merely harmlessly idiosyncratic; some of it is distorting, either intentionally or inadvertently. When it becomes consistent, that is a problem.

Diana:

On this list as on most others, some people seem to barely know how to use email, and make a huge mess of their posts.

You know, this has never bothered me as much as it seems to bother other people. I try to read for content, not formatting. If someone who uses email well seems to be engaging in practices that deliberately obscure the discussion, that is another matter entirely.

Diana:

Never mind "context" for the many preposterous claims that are made here. Steiner snippets float free of any context at all 24/7.

Yea, that can be troublesome. Feel free to provide a context when you feel one would be helpful.

People announce that Steiner was Aristotle, Bob Dylan was St. Augustine or Joan of Arc and no one bats an eyelash, no one screeches that this must be defended with epistemological consistency in the total context of Steiner's consistent vision please!!!

I read Bradford carefully, and he was careful to identify his specualtion as such. He claimed no certainty, and did not try to beat other people over the head with the infallibility of his superior knowledge. He offered an interesting observation for others to consider. As such, there is little grounds to examine his epistemological foundation, as he claimed no actual knowledge. But if you find a claim you would like to dispute, feel free to jump in.

Diana:

All this is in some etheric scroll somewhere, so it's fine.

I didn't find any references to etheric scrolls anywhere on this list recently. Nor are etheric scrolls mentioned in Steiner anywhere. Perhaps you could explain how you came to this understanding.

Diana:

Meanwhile you fling 30 posts a day at Peter and then go back and postmortem his every reply to accuse him of deleting the wrong sentence? Give us a break.

If that is all you think I have attempted in 30 posts then you haven't been reading well at all.

Daniel:

the way, this technique of "parroting back" is employed in a number of conflict resolution techniques, such as Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.)

Diana:

Hm. So are you using nonviolent communication, or the techniques you learned for interrogating prisoners of war? LOL! Interesting. Painstakingly repeating back what the person has just said can be a means of reaching out and struggling for understanding, or it can be a blunt instrument used very hostilely, depending on the context.

I learned to detect deception in training to be a POW interrogator. I learned some techniques for demonstrating respect for individuals from Marshall Rosenberg (years later). It is indeed interesting that here, like so many places in life, it is not so much what you do, it is how you do it and the intentions you bring that determine the moral context.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 10:31 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

Whether or not you believe in a subjective reality for ideas, or an absolute one.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I think that is a false dichotomy.

Daniel:

Then you should read up in philosophy. The question has been a rather large issue over the course of the last thousand years. If you have solved the problem, there are quite a few people who would be interested in hearing about it.

Peter Staudenmaier:

There aren't very many examples of absolute reality in history (or in the rest of life, for that matter; reality changes, after all).

Daniel:

Again, study up on philosophy. Going to the root of things, there is a fundamental point of disagreement between those that believe an objective reality of ideas exists, and those who deprecate such an idea. This question exists independet of whether the mind is capable of apprehending the objective reality in any, or even a few instances. Much of what you say (here and elsewhere) leads me to think you fall into the category of those who deprecate the idea of an objective reality of ideas. However, there are logical consequences of such as stance, which have been examined in considerable depth over the centuries.

Either reality is absolute, or it isn't. If it is, then there is an absolute reality, there is an absolute reality in history as well. If there is no absolute reality, then there is none in history either. If there is an absolute reality, then there is an independent "objective" intent in Steiner's work that we may attempt to apprehend. In your thinking you seem to like ambiguity - reality is sometimes absolute, and sometimes not, depending on how you want to argue it. A person is racist, or they are not, depending on how you want to argue it (which would be fine if the definition were consistent), a sentence means one thing, or it means another, depending on how you want to argue it.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I really am not a relativist, and I remain puzzled that I somehow gave you that impression.

Daniel:

You say this, but then you espouse relativist positions, particularly in deprecating the existence of an objective truth to which our apprehension is either more or less acurate. Or put in another manner, you doubt that Steiner's thought constitutes a whole that can be understood "on it's own terms" and claim that to attempt do so in as objective a manner would be pointless. This line of argument relies on an unstated belief in the relative value of all ideas; the ideas mean only what the thinker wants to or is able to make of them.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Some statements about the past are less true, some are more true, and a few are close to certain. Part of the point of historical inquiry is to hone our claims about the past in order to make them more true.

Daniel:

Well that is certainly an idealist position. It is also incompatible with some of your other views. For example, Steiner lived in the past. He wrote and lectured. What did he mean when he said X? Can we ever determine what he meant? What he intended? Or is the best anyone can ever do is determine what they think Steiner said? If you believe in the existence of absolute truth, then our opinions of what we think Steiner said must be measured agains this. If you deny that such measurement is possible, then it is either because you find an unbridgable gap between Reality and human reason (the Kantian stance) or you deny the very existence of an objective Reality (the relativist position).

Daniel wrote:

How you hope to avoid charges of hypocricy in accusing Waage of failing to integrate all of Steiner's work into his understanding, and then failing to do so in yours.

Peter Staudenmaier:

That isn't what I accuse Waage of, but in any case, you can easily see from my postings to this list that I take both the 'good' sides and the 'bad' sides of Steiner's work into account. If you're trying to say that I ought to pay the same amount of attention to the 'good' as I do to the 'bad', then I disagree.

Daniel:

You accuse Waage of ignoring the parts of Steiner he doesn't like. That is, they aren't integrated into his view of Steiner. If that is not what you accuse Waage of, then what do you mean when you say "My complaint about Waage is that he simply ignores the stuff in Steiner that he doesn't like." How can this be remedied? By including the other aspects. This you have done to some degree here with the question of anti-Semitism, but I have not really seen any attempt with the racism question, or at all in your published articles. Nor do I feel that you understand Steiner sufficiently to understand why he might have said the things you quote. As to the question of how much attention to pay to various aspects of Steiner's work, I should point out that if a man says a thousand times "respect every individual" and then once says something disrespectful, then in evaluating the disrespectful statement, the fact that it is one in a thousand is relevant to judging whether the man was respectful or disrespectful. I don't think you should necessarily pay exactly the same amount of attention to the 'good' as to the 'bad', especially if your aim is to shed light on the bad. But objectivity requires some, probably significant, acknowledgement of the proportion of the 'bad' to the 'good'.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 12:19 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi again Daniel, you wrote:

Going to the root of things, there is a fundamental point of disagreement between those that believe an objective reality of ideas exists, and those who deprecate such an idea.

It is no longer clear to me what the "of ideas" bit means above, but I do believe in an objective reality.

Much of what you say (here and elsewhere) leads me to think you fall into the category of those who deprecate the idea of an objective reality of ideas.

What do you mean by an objective reality of ideas? Is this different from an objective reality of things?

Either reality is absolute, or it isn't.

Lots of it isn't. Reality changes.

If it is, then there is an absolute reality, there is an absolute reality in history as well. If there is no absolute reality, then there is none in history either.

I think your all-or-nothing stance misses the mark. History is a complex phenomenon; some of it has absolute qualities, some of it has very un-absolute qualities.

If there is an absolute reality, then there is an independent "objective" intent in Steiner's work that we may attempt to apprehend.

I don't see what those two things have to do with one another. Since Steiner is dead, his intentions are no longer accessible to us. This scarcely means that reality has ceased to be objective.

In your thinking you seem to like ambiguity - reality is sometimes absolute, and sometimes not, depending on how you want to argue it.

No, depending on reality itself. Much of historical reality is indeed very ambiguous.

A person is racist, or they are not, depending on how you want to argue it (which would be fine if the definition were consistent), a sentence means one thing, or it means another, depending on how you want to argue it.

I think that's silly. If you don't like an argument, offer a counter-argument, don't complain about what the other person "wants" to argue.

You say this, but then you espouse relativist positions, particularly in deprecating the existence of an objective truth to which our apprehension is either more or less acurate.

That is the very opposite of my position. I think that some claims about history are more accurate than others.

Or put in another manner, you doubt that Steiner's thought constitutes a whole that can be understood "on it's own terms" and claim that to attempt do so in as objective a manner would be pointless.

I do deny part of this. It is often a good idea to attempt a more objective understanding of a given phenomenon; that is one of the senses of objectivity that I endorse, as sort of heuristic device. But I think that people who believe they have achieved a purely objective conception of what Steiner "really meant" are fooling themselves. I also think that people who believe that Steiner's thought constitutes a consistent whole are missing all of the changes, developments, reversals, inconsistencies, and loose ends in his thought.

I wrote earlier:

Some statements about the past are less true, some are more true, and a few are close to certain. Part of the point of historical inquiry is to hone our claims about the past in order to make them more true.

And you replied:

Well that is certainly an idealist position.

No, it's simply a realist position. Idealism is not the opposite of relativism.

It is also incompatible with some of your other views. For example, Steiner lived in the past. He wrote and lectured. What did he mean when he said X? Can we ever determine what he meant? What he intended?

I think that's the wrong question. Our job is to examine what he wrote and said, not speculate about what he intended.

Or is the best anyone can ever do is determine what they think Steiner said?

That is exactly what every reader and every listener always does. When you have direct access to the speaker or writer, you can ask her or him to clarify. When the author is dead, you can't do that.

If you believe in the existence of absolute truth

Why do you keep conflating absolute and objective? Am I missing some mediating element here? Lots of things that have objective existence are not at all absolute. Do you think otherwise?

If you deny that such measurement is possible, then it is either because you find an unbridgable gap between Reality and human reason (the Kantian stance) or you deny the very existence of an objective Reality (the relativist position).

I reject both positions. There is an objective reality. Parts of it are knowable. Parts of it are not.

You accuse Waage of ignoring the parts of Steiner he doesn't like. That is, they aren't integrated into his view of Steiner.

I think those are two different things, but perhaps we're talking past each other on this one. Waage says, for instance, that Steiner's views on Jews remained unchanged throughout his life and always stood in the sharpest contrast to antisemitism. The problem with this claim, in my view, is not that it fails to integrate Steiner's sometimes antisemitic statements into Waage's overall view of Steiner; the problem is that Waage flatly denies that Steiner made any antisemitic statements. My own stance is completely different. I think that Steiner made lots of contradictory statements about Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness, and that some of these statements were antisemitic whereas others were not.

If that is not what you accuse Waage of, then what do you mean when you say "My complaint about Waage is that he simply ignores the stuff in Steiner that he doesn't like." How can this be remedied? By including the other aspects.

In the sense of acknowledging that they exist, yes. But all that requires is saying, yes, Steiner said this sort of thing about Jews, and he also said that sort of thing about Jews. Whether and to what extent Waage or I adequately integrate the one or the other set of statements into our overall assessment of Steiner is another question. I do not charge Waage with a failure to integrate, but with a failure to acknowledge.

As to the question of how much attention to pay to various aspects of Steiner's work, I should point out that if a man says a thousand times "respect every individual" and then once says something disrespectful, then in evaluating the disrespectful statement, the fact that it is one in a thousand is relevant to judging whether the man was respectful or disrespectful.

I agree.

I don't think you should necessarily pay exactly the same amount of attention to the 'good' as to the 'bad', especially if your aim is to shed light on the bad. But objectivity requires some, probably significant, acknowledgement of the proportion of the 'bad' to the 'good'.

I think that proportionality does play a role here, albeit not always the decisive one that you seem to indicate, but I think our real disagreement is over just what proportion of Steiner's racial doctrines, for example, qualify as racist.

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 10:33 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

Whether the label anti-Semite is ever stigmatizing (which you have been trying to imply it is not).

Peter Staudenmaier:

I don't work by implication.

Daniel:

Cough. And you don't distort anything. Ever. Intentionally or otherwise. Even in retrospect. Now or ever. You record is unimpeachable.

I can even believe that you believe this. But as I said elsewhere, whether something is true or not is independet of whether the speaker believes it to be true or not.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 10:38 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

Whether the label anti-Semite is ever stigmatizing (which you have been trying to imply it is not).

Peter Staudenmaier:

... The label "anti-Semite" can indeed be stigmatizing when it is accurate. When it is inaccurate, no, I don't think it has a stigmatizing effect. But then neither do you, as your Schwarzenegger example showed. Or did I misunderstand that one?

Daniel:

I'm afraid you misunderstood. To repeat, just because a successful defense is possible does not mean that a successful defense will always succeed, and this is true whether the charges are justified or not. The Schwarzenegger example shows only that one person escaped the charges, not that the charges are never stigmatizing. This is pretty basic logic, I think. I bought up Schwarzenegger example to show how people try specifically to stigmatize with the charge. I did this after you stated that you did not think being called an anti-Semite was a 'bad' thing.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 1:04 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

Why attempting to be objective about Steiner would be "an abdication of responsibility." (Unless, of course, you deny the very existence of "objectivity").

Peter Staudenmaier:

I don't deny the existence of objectivity, but I do think you and I have very different ideas about what objectivity means and what role it can and should play in historiography. If you're saying that objectivity is the opposite of bias and that bias is a bad thing for a historian to have, then I disagree with you. Bias is often a very good thing for a historian to have. Affecting a posture of neutrality is the wrong approach, in my view. But perhaps you can explain more what you mean by objectivity. Thanks,

Daniel:

Pulling Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (2002 Edition) to aid again:

ob·jec·tive , n.
5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
—Syn. 5. impartial, fair, impersonal, disinterested.

I think that the problem with objectivity in history is similar to the problem of objectivity in journalism. Everyone agrees that objectivity is the aim, but it has also been shown that objectivity is not technically possible. So what do we do with this paradox? One response is to celebrate the inability to be fully objective by not even trying. If we can't achieve the goal, then why make the effort? The other response is to say, well, we may never be perfect, but that won't stop us from trying! What we would desire from our journalists is that they strive for objectivity, in full knowledge of the fact that it is technically impossible to ever be fully objective. I would argue that the same effort makes a good historian.

Bias is not directly the opposite of objectivity. But a bias is a hindrance to objectivity. If it is a known bias, then it is good to acknowledge it up front. If it is an unconscious bias, well, then you'll have to wait for your readers to point it out to you. But to indulge your biases to their fullest is to abandon any pretense of writing history (or journalism). Instead, you are simply writing polemic (or a polemical editorial, if you are a journalist). It may be historical polemic, but it remains polemic. Yellow journalism was deplorable, and "yellow" historicism would be equally so.

So no, I don't believe that a bias is a good thing for a historian to have. It may be inevitable, but it is not good.

Affecting a posture of neutrality is no more desirable (emphasis on the word affecting). I should point out, however, that a posture of neutrality is precisely what you project in your articles. Since you subsequently claim that you are "only" writing polemic, the designation "affecting" applies to you in these instances.

Daniel Hindes

The entire entry for objective:

ob·jec·tive , n.
1. something that one's efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target: the objective of a military attack; the objective of a fund-raising drive.
2. Gram.
a. Also called objective case. (in English and some other languages) a case specialized for the use of a form as the object of a transitive verb or of a preposition, as him in The boy hit him, or me in He comes to me with his troubles.
b. a word in that case.
3. Also called object glass, object lens, objective lens. Optics. (in a telescope, microscope, camera, or other optical system) the lens or combination of lenses that first receives the rays from the object and forms the image in the focal plane of the eyepiece, as in a microscope, or on a plate or screen, as in a camera. See diag. under microscope.
–adj.
4. being the object or goal of one's efforts or actions.
5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).
8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.
9. Gram.
a. pertaining to the use of a form as the object of a transitive verb or of a preposition.
b. (in English and some other languages) noting the objective case.
c. similar to such a case in meaning.
d. (in case grammar) pertaining to the semantic role of a noun phrase that denotes something undergoing a change of state or bearing a neutral relation to the verb, as the rock in The rock moved or in The child threw the rock.
10. being part of or pertaining to an object to be drawn: an objective plane.
11. Med. (of a symptom) discernible to others as well as the patient.
[1610–20; < ML object#vus, equiv. to L object(us) (see OBJECT) + -#vus -IVE]
—ob·jecÆtive·ly, adv.
—ob·jecÆtive·ness, n.
—Syn. 1. object, destination, aim. 5. impartial, fair, impersonal, disinterested.
—Ant. 5. personal.

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sat Mar 6, 2004 5:49 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi again Daniel, you wrote:

Going to the root of things, there is a fundamental point of disagreement between those that believe an objective reality of ideas exists, and those who deprecate such an idea.

Peter Staudenmaier:

It is no longer clear to me what the "of ideas" bit means above, but I do believe in an objective reality.

Daniel:

Sorry, it is a bit of philosophical shorthand. Basically, you can have an idea, and I can have an idea (say, "triangle"). What is the relationship of my idea with yours? Are we both apprehending the same idea, or any similarities between our ideas just a coincidence. If we are apprehending the same idea, that means that "an objective reality of ideas exists". If we further take this objective reality of ideas as being primary to physical reality, then we are in the camp of the idealist philosophers. It might help to look up "idealism" in an encyclopedia. It goes into quite some depth on the issue. Then you can look up "empiricism" and read about the other point of view. It's Philosophy 101, really.

I continue to be curious about the "problems" you claim to have found in Steiner's epistimology.

Daniel wrote:

Much of what you say (here and elsewhere) leads me to think you fall into the category of those who deprecate the idea of an objective reality of ideas.

Peter Staudenmaier:

What do you mean by an objective reality of ideas? Is this different from an objective reality of things?

Daniel:

See above. I am basically accusing you of being an empiricist in your outlook, even as you claim to be among the idealists.

Daniel wrote:

Either reality is absolute, or it isn't.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Lots of it isn't. Reality changes.

Daniel:

Exactly the empiricists position.

Daniel wrote:

If it is, then there is an absolute reality, there is an absolute reality in history as well. If there is no absolute reality, then there is none in history either.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I think your all-or-nothing stance misses the mark. History is a complex phenomenon; some of it has absolute qualities, some of it has very un-absolute qualities.

Daniel:

You are missing the philosophical principle. You claim to be against the logical consequences of empiricism (relativism) but you continually take the empiricist position against the idealist one.

Daniel wrote:

If there is an absolute reality, then there is an independent "objective" intent in Steiner's work that we may attempt to apprehend.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I don't see what those two things have to do with one another. Since Steiner is dead, his intentions are no longer accessible to us. This scarcely means that reality has ceased to be objective.

Daniel:

Again you are missing the philosophical principle. The question is whether Steiner's intentions can be apprehended. From one viewpoint it makes little difference if he is alive or dead, the question is whether we all (alive and dead) share the same world of ideas or not.

Daniel wrote:

"In your thinking you seem to like ambiguity - reality is sometimes absolute, and sometimes not, depending on how you want to argue it."

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, depending on reality itself. Much of historical reality is indeed very ambiguous.

Daniel:

Again, philosophical principles. If you argue that reality is fundamentally ambiguous (inapprehendable) then the logical consequences are relativism.

Daniel wrote:

A person is racist, or they are not, depending on how you want to argue it (which would be fine if the definition were consistent), a sentence means one thing, or it means another, depending on how you want to argue it.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I think that's silly. If you don't like an argument, offer a counter-argument, don't complain about what the other person "wants" to argue.

Daniel:

It is indeed silly. My primary complaint here is that your standards are often inconsistent, and that we have such problems with even basic sentences, which often seem mean something different to you than to the rest of us.

Daniel wrote:

You say this, but then you espouse relativist positions, particularly in deprecating the existence of an objective truth to which our apprehension is either more or less acurate.

Peter Staudenmaier:

That is the very opposite of my position. I think that some claims about history are more accurate than others.

Daniel:

Again I must point out how philosophically inconsistent this assertion is.

Daniel wrote:

Or put in another manner, you doubt that Steiner's thought constitutes a whole that can be understood "on it's own terms" and claim that to attempt do so in as objective a manner would be pointless.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I do deny part of this. It is often a good idea to attempt a more objective understanding of a given phenomenon; that is one of the senses of objectivity that I endorse, as sort of heuristic device. But I think that people who believe they have achieved a purely objective conception of what Steiner "really meant" are fooling themselves. I also think that people who believe that Steiner's thought constitutes a consistent whole are missing all of the changes, developments, reversals, inconsistencies, and loose ends in his thought.

Daniel:

Again, this is evidence of philosophical inconsistency.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I wrote earlier:

Some statements about the past are less true, some are more true, and a few are close to certain. Part of the point of historical inquiry is to hone our claims about the past in order to make them more true.

And you replied:

Well that is certainly an idealist position.

No, it's simply a realist position. Idealism is not the opposite of relativism.

Daniel:

Indeed. But in philosphy, realism is the opposite of idealism. You don't appear to have much backgroud in philosophy.

Daniel wrote:

It is also incompatible with some of your other views. For example, Steiner lived in the past. He wrote and lectured. What did he mean when he said X? Can we ever determine what he meant? What he intended?

Peter Staudenmaier:

I think that's the wrong question. Our job is to examine what he wrote and said, not speculate about what he intended.

Daniel:

Now it appears that you are ill informed on the philosophy of history as well. History is more than cataloguing who said what and when. That is mere antiquarianism. The job of the historian is to go beyond that and attempt to understand what he is studying. This involves among other things speculating on the intentions of historical figures. Really, this is the most basic History 101. You are on the record as genuinely wanting to understand Steiner, yet here you claim that it is not actually your job. Your positions are quite inconsistent indeed.

Daniel wrote:

"Or is the best anyone can ever do is determine what they think Steiner said?"

Peter Staudenmaier:

That is exactly what every reader and every listener always does. When you have direct access to the speaker or writer, you can ask her or him to clarify. When the author is dead, you can't do that.

Daniel:

You've missed the fundamental question of philosophical principles. Whether the author is dead or alive makes no difference. Is it possible to apprehend an objectively real idea?

Daniel wrote:

If you believe in the existence of absolute truth

Peter Staudenmaier:

Why do you keep conflating absolute and objective? Am I missing some mediating element here? Lots of things that have objective existence are not at all absolute. Do you think otherwise?

Daniel:

You are missing quite a bit, actually. Really you need to read up on basic philosophy. Your grasp of this area appers to be quite weak.

Daniel wrote:

If you deny that such measurement is possible, then it is either because you find an unbridgable gap between Reality and human reason (the Kantian stance) or you deny the very existence of an objective Reality (the relativist position).

Peter Staudenmaier:

I reject both positions. There is an objective reality. Parts of it are knowable. Parts of it are not.

Daniel:

Always trying to have it both ways, I see. And you presume to have found philosophical errors in Steiner? It would help to get the basic concepts of philosophy down first. Your above position ("There is an objective reality. Parts of it are knowable. Parts of it are not.") is pure Kant.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 7:24 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] At sea with the AT (was: agreement and disagreement)

[Diana:]

People announce that Steiner was Aristotle, Bob Dylan was St. Augustine or Joan of Arc and no one bats an eyelash, no one screeches that this must be defended with epistemological consistency in the total context of Steiner's consistent vision please!!! All this is in some etheric scroll somewhere, so it's fine.

Frank (batting an eyelash): Bob Dylan? Golly, I didn't know that, I thought he was Sting. Where in the etheric scroll is it documented?

Continued in another thread

...................................................................................................................................

From: winters_diana
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 7:39 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Paulina wrote:

Hey, Diana, for what it is worth, I don't agree with Bradford most of the time. When he starts talking about current incarnations of Aristotle, Joan of Arc, etc. i do more than bat my eyelashes, I usually find myself gnashing my teeth, but, I don't feel any need to defend what he says with epistemogical consistency, Why would I, or anyone? I don't undestand what you mean? Help me out here.

Not that important, Paulina, I was just finding it a little mind-bending to read Daniel's solemn insistence on scholarly standards, followed by a typical Bradford post . ..
Diana

...................................................................................................................................

From: VALENTINA BRUNETTI
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 2:59 am
Subject: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Shooting the breeze (was: agreement and disagreement)

Don't know if this is becoming a "Bradford's Quickpoll" but I agree with Tarjej. Brad's "poetry & cognition" posts are just our highlights! Look, for instance, how he is able to take also topics originated from a "discussion about a comma" with the Ctuhlu-like liar from WC on a lofty level. Surely he don't use a plane English, especially for me, Italian guy, but ...long life to his "Pyndaric-Anthro trips!"

A.

----- Original Message -----
: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Shooting the breeze (was: agreement and disagreement)

At 21:55 06.03.2004, Paulina wrote:

Hey, Diana, for what it is worth, I don't agree with Bradford most of the time. When he starts talking about current incarnations of Aristotle, Joan of Arc, etc. i do more than bat my eyelashes, I usually find myself gnashing my teeth, but, I don't feel any need to defend what he says with epistemogical consistency, Why would I, or anyone?

Bradford often writes like a poet. Who would demand "epistemological consistency" from John Lennon or Allan Ginsburg? And isn't it a wonderful pastime to shoot the breeze and speculate about possibilities concerning the former incarnations of interesting people?

Tarjei

...................................................................................................................................

From: winters_diana
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 8:04 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Me:

I don't know where you got the idea that I speed read;

Daniel:

You said so yourself back in January. I can dig it up for you if you like.

Please, lighten up, don't go looking for where I said I speed read. It was a joke. You kept insisting I wasn't reading your posts, so I told you I could read very fast, or something like that. I don't literally speed read.

Diana

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 9:53 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

I think that the problem with objectivity in history is similar to the problem of objectivity in journalism.

No, very different. Journalists are supposed to report facts, for the most part. Historians are supposed to take facts and analyze them, make arguments out of them, offer interpretations, and so forth. Ever see those "Analysis" pieces in the New York Times? That's much more similar to what historians do.

But a bias is a hindrance to objectivity.

I disagree. I really think you should take a look at some of the books I recommended yesterday. A disinterested historian is a bad historian.

I should point out, however, that a posture of neutrality is precisely what you project in your articles.

That's ridiculous. All of my articles make abundantly clear that I am a critic of anthroposophy.

Since you subsequently claim that you are "only" writing polemic

That isn't what I claim.

[Daniel:]

Is it perhaps that their argument is so weak that it can't stand up to direct scrutiny?

Could be. Why don't we find out? Submit my arguments about Steiner's views on Jews to direct scrutiny and tell us what you find.

In the snipped portion of the above text, I questioned whether SELECTIVE USE of ONLY periodicals and official documents can ever create a COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE of the period being investigated.

Where did the "only" part come from? And why are you stuck on this "comprehensive picture" idea? Nobody gets a comprehensive picture of an entire historical period out of an article.

If this is "highly inaccurate" then I'm living in a different reality than Mr. Staudenmaier.

Yes, I think that's part of the problem here.

Uriel Tal relied not just on periodicals, but went to family archives and quoted extensively from personal letters of the principles involved in order to build a COMPREHENSIVE picture of those aspects of the time period he was studying.

Of those aspects, sure. That's what books like Christians and Jews in Germany are for.

He quoted pro and con, from both sides of the issue, in order to recreate the mood and thought patterns of the time period.

Not just recreate them, but analyze them and interpret them. Tal isn't shy about saying what he thinks of the figures he studies.

That is what I don't find in Peter Staudenmaier's articles.

Why are you looking for a comprehensive picture of anything in articles written for a popular audience?

Thanks for condescending to educate me by proxy on the methods and practices of history.

I've been trying hard not to condescend to you, but it's difficult sometimes (especially about philosophy, by the way, where you seem to consider yourself well-versed). A number of your general claims about historians are very wide of the mark. If you could bring yourself to consult any of the materials I recommended, I think you'd realize that quickly. There is a wide range of opinion among working historians today about how to deal with questions like objectivity (a few of us even agree with some of your expressed views on the subject), and it isn't hard to find extensive discussions of that topic. I you can't track down the Bauer, Novick, or Bentley books, a good place to start is the book Telling the Truth About History by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob. I also recommend Alan Spitzer, Historical Truth and Lies About the Past.

Well, if you reject a priori that his views on Eurythmy could have any relationship to his views on race and ethnicity, then you certainly will never discover if they do.

Yes, that's very likely. This is called defining your topic. To make a research project worthwhile, you need to know what you're focusing on and what you're not focusing on. No historian believes that she or he will discover everything relevant to their chosen subject. The point is to do a thorough job in a clearly delineated area.

I essentially stated that you can't fully understand Steiner unless you know BOTH his allegedly racist statements AND his views on eurythmy.

That might be, but if so, then "fully understanding Steiner" is not part of the task of analyzing his racial doctrines. What individual historians produce are *partial* understandings of specific themes; if there is sustained interest in these themes, then the work of several historians over some span of time will sometimes yield a fuller understanding of the topic.

It doesn't matter what direction you approach things from, the point is to look at the whole picture.

I disagree. Much of the time the point is to look closely at a part of the picture by adjusting your focus.

You can either decide what Steiner's main points are and then look at his Apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, or you can look first at his Apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, and then consider what Steiner's main points are.

The second one is appropriate, in my view, and the first one is not.

What I accuse you of is starting at one end and then stopping half way through.

I am indeed roughly halfway through my work on Steiner's racial and ethnic doctrines. What makes you think I have stopped?

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 1:03 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

I should point out, however, that a posture of neutrality is precisely what you project in your articles.

Peter Staudenmaier:

That's ridiculous. All of my articles make abundantly clear that I am a critic of anthroposophy.

Daniel:

By implication, yes (but we know that you never, ever work by implication). Your tone in places conveys a pretention to historical objectivity, especially in these informal email discussions. Basically, when objectivity is good, they you possess it, except when biases are good, in which case you of course possess that as well.

Daniel wrote:

Since you subsequently claim that you are "only" writing polemic

Peter Staudenmaier:

That isn't what I claim.

Daniel Hindes:

That is excatly your response when serious problems are found in your articles. Did you not write, back in December 2003, "My articles on anthroposophy are indeed polemical" ?

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 2:27 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

In the snipped portion of the above text, I questioned whether SELECTIVE USE of ONLY periodicals and official documents can ever create a COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE of the period being investigated.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Where did the "only" part come from?

Daniel:

In the part you snipped out. Where do you think?

Peter Staudenmaier:

And why are you stuck on this "comprehensive picture" idea?

Daniel:

Well I hope you'll pardon my high standards for historical research. Polemic is a different game entirely, and if that is what you aspire to write, then of course there is no requirement to actually understand anything about the subject you are writing about.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Nobody gets a comprehensive picture of an entire historical period out of an article.

Daniel:

Perhaps, but the writer of such an article ought to have such a comprehensive picture of an entire historical period before they sit down to write. Otherwise the quality of such an article will not likely be very good.

Daniel wrote:

If this is "highly inaccurate" then I'm living in a different reality than Mr. Staudenmaier.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes, I think that's part of the problem here.

Daniel:

And I'll agree. We are definitely living in a different realties when it comes to what constitutes good historical research.

Daniel wrote:

That is what I don't find in Peter Staudenmaier's articles.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Why are you looking for a comprehensive picture of anything in articles written for a popular audience?

Daniel:

Well, again, I hope you'll pardon my high standards for historical research. Polemic is a different game entirely, and if that is what you aspire to write, then of course there is no requirement for accuracy, comprehensive understanding or objectivity.

Daniel wrote:

Thanks for condescending to educate me by proxy on the methods and practices of history.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I've been trying hard not to condescend to you, but it's difficult sometimes (especially about philosophy, by the way, where you seem to consider yourself well-versed).

Daniel:

Yes, I've noticed that you have a hard time keeping your condescension in check sometimes. (And yes, my sarcasm can get out of hand at times; I suppose we all have something to work on). I claim no great knowledge of philosophy, but I have studied it a bit. From our recent exchanges, your background in the area appears to be more limited. Whether this is because you are highly knowledgeable in only a few areas but lack a comprehensive background, or whether you have simply not spent any time in the field I haven't been able to determine.

Peter Staudenmaier:

A number of your general claims about historians are very wide of the mark. If you could bring yourself to consult any of the materials I recommended, I think you'd realize that quickly.

Daniel:

If you care to post them here or mail them to me, I will read them and then write you a review. I'm afraid I don't have the time to go hunting for a half dozen books right now. But I will do you the courtesy of reading what you send me and responding.

Peter Staudenmaier:

There is a wide range of opinion among working historians today about how to deal with questions like objectivity (a few of us even agree with some of your expressed views on the subject), and it isn't hard to find extensive discussions of that topic.

Daniel:

Indeed, and after no small amount of consideration, I have chosen the opinions I choose to apply to my own work and to judge others. These are the ones I argue here. I could, of course, counter-recommend a dozen books on the subject that would correspond to my standards, but I suspect that you are already familiar with them. If you choose other standards for your own work, don't be surprised if I point out and articulate the differences between the standards I choose and the ones you choose. And if these make you methodology appear weak to a common-sense point of view, it is little recourse to point out that there are other people who agree with you.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I you can't track down the Bauer, Novick, or Bentley books, a good place to start is the book Telling the Truth About History by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob. I also recommend Alan Spitzer, Historical Truth and Lies About the Past.

Daniel:

Again, if you care to post them here or mail them to me (originals, which I would of course return, or copies) I will read them and then write you a review. I'm afraid I don't have the time to go hunting for a half dozen books right now. But I will do you the courtesy of reading what you send me and responding. As an alternative, you could attempt to make the point yourself. Appealing to external authorities is certainly one way to argue, but the discussion stops when I counter with other authorities who disagree, and we are in the equivalent of trading quotations, a method which you have indicated you feel is useless in reaching understanding.

Daniel wrote:

Well, if you reject a priori that his views on Eurythmy could have any relationship to his views on race and ethnicity, then you certainly will never discover if they do.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes, that's very likely. This is called defining your topic. To make a research project worthwhile, you need to know what you're focusing on and what you're not focusing on. No historian believes that she or he will discover everything relevant to their chosen subject. The point is to do a thorough job in a clearly delineated area.

Daniel:

As usual, your position makes eminent sense in the general. Of course the point is to do a thorough job in a clearly delineated area. In this particular case, specifically Steiner, I think your area of specialization is simply too narrow. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you can't hope to understand Steiner's view on race if you don't understand his view of the human being and evolution. If you are bound to try anyway, studiously avoiding any real engagement with Steiner's main work, you are bound to end up with a distorted view. You can argue every which way that in your case this won't happen, but I guarantee you it will. No one would try to write about Jefferson's view of race without taking Jefferson's view of liberty into consideration. No one would think to write about the treatment of fire in Aristotle's work without trying to come to terms with Aristotle's overall worldview.

Daniel wrote:

I essentially stated that you can't fully understand Steiner unless you know BOTH his allegedly racist statements AND his views on eurythmy.

Peter Staudenmaier:

That might be, but if so, then "fully understanding Steiner" is not part of the task of analyzing his racial doctrines. What individual historians produce are *partial* understandings of specific themes; if there is sustained interest in these themes, then the work of several historians over some span of time will sometimes yield a fuller understanding of the topic.

Daniel:

I'm afraid I disagree. Fully understanding Steiner is an essential prerequisite to the task of analyzing his statements on race (the very phrase "racial doctrines" is mistaken). Any less, and you will not be able to properly understand his statements on race. If you aim to produce a partial understanding of Steiner, I'm sure you won't mind my continually pointing out the fact that what you have done is succeeded in partially understanding Steiner. If that is your position, then I don't know what to make of your earlier statement:
"I wish to claim that I am striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy. I'm also striving for an accurate and meaningful understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. I'm also striving for a critical understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. And so forth."

Daniel wrote:

It doesn't matter what direction you approach things from, the point is to look at the whole picture.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I disagree. Much of the time the point is to look closely at a part of the picture by adjusting your focus.

Daniel:

To play with your metaphor, I still maintain that you should know roughly what the whole picture looks like before you get too lost in the part you are focusing on. Otherwise the adjective "myopic" may apply.

Daniel wrote:

You can either decide what Steiner's main points are and then look at his apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, or you can look first at his apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, and then consider what Steiner's main points are.

Peter Staudenmaier:

The second one is appropriate, in my view, and the first one is not.

Daniel:

Well of course you would argue that. It fits supports what you are doing. You conveniently snipped the rest of the thought.

"Either way you should come to the same results, and if you don't, then it is time to start considering where the errors of understanding lay."

Can you explain why you are now claiming that it is inappropriate to study Steiner in general before considering Steiner and race? (I should also point out the other implication of this stance, namely that anthroposophists, virtually all of whom started with Steiner and then, if they get that far, look at Steiner and race, are behaving inappropriately. By implication (yes, yes, I know, you never, ever work by implication; in this case the implication is simply the next step in the thought - not logically necessary, but suggested none the less) by starting at the wrong end, anthroposophists will never properly understand Steiner's view on race. This can't be true, or else why do you bother coming here and attempting to educate us on the matter? So if it is possible to start at the other end and still eventually come to the same conclusion, why is it inappropriate to go about it this way?

Daniel wrote:

What I accuse you of is starting at one end and then stopping half way through.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I am indeed roughly halfway through my work on Steiner's racial and ethnic doctrines. What makes you think I have stopped?

Daniel:

You just can't stop yourself, can you? Here again, you have snipped out my point, and then responded in such a way as to misrepresent my argument (that is six, for those who are counting). What was my original thought?

You can either decide what Steiner's main points are and then look at his apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, or you can look first at his apparently racist statements and their context, both within his work and within his entire culture, and then consider what Steiner's main points are. Either way you should come to the same results, and if you don't, then it is time to start considering where the errors of understanding lay. What I accuse you of is starting at one end and then stopping half way through. It makes little sense to stop halfway, whichever end you start at.

I didn't accuse you of stopping half way through your own narrow (-minded) project, I accused you of half way through understanding Steiner. This despite your solemn vow that "I wish to claim that I am striving for an honest understanding of Steiner and Anthroposophy. I'm also striving for an accurate and meaningful understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. I'm also striving for a critical understanding of Steiner and anthroposophy. And so forth." All this "and so forth" but apparently not a complete view of Steiner and anthroposophy. If you subsequently claim that it is your goal to form an honest understanding of Steiner without actually forming a complete understanding of Steiner, then I must say that would be much like Bill Clinton stating "I did not have sex with that woman."

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Mon Mar 8, 2004 8:42 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

By implication, yes

No, my articles are quite explicit about this. I describe my own work there as "a critical appraisal of anthroposophy".

Did you not write, back in December 2003, "My articles on anthroposophy are indeed polemical" ?

No, I wrote that in May 2001, as it happens. Aside from getting the date wrong by a couple years, what does this have to do with "only" writing polemic? I've explained to you several times now that I write both history and polemic. It thus makes very little sense for you to say that I claim I "only" write polemic. Do you have some other meaning of the word "only" in mind?

Peter

Daniel wrote:

Since you subsequently claim that you are "only" writing polemic

Peter Staudenmaier:

That isn't what I claim.

Daniel Hindes:

That is excatly your response when serious problems are found in your articles. Did you not write, back in December 2003, "My articles on anthroposophy are indeed polemical" ?

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Mon Mar 8, 2004 12:30 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Daniel wrote:

Did you not write, back in December 2003, "My articles on anthroposophy are indeed polemical" ?

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, I wrote that in May 2001, as it happens. Aside from getting the date wrong by a couple years, what does this have to do with "only" writing polemic? I've explained to you several times now that I write both history and polemic. It thus makes very little sense for you to say that I claim I "only" write polemic. Do you have some other meaning of the word "only" in mind?

Daniel:

Thanks for clarifying the date of the quote. I wasn't sure, which is why I asked.

The word "only" below in quotes I intended to mean "merely" and not "exclusively" (as in, "Why are you upset, I was ONLY joking." or in this case, "Why are you upset [about my lack of accuracy], I was merely writing polemic?"). I realize that this is not clear, and apologize for any confusion.

We have established that you write history and polemic, simultaneously. Now I maintain that any work that is simultaneously historical and polemical can be validly called simply "polemic", but can not validly be called simply "history". That is, historical polemic is a sub-genre of polemic, but not of legitimate history (it may be a sub-genre related to history, but it is more like the bastard cousin of history). I understand that you can refer me to two dozen books that will purportedly demonstrate the opposite, but I choose to stand by this definition (and not from ignorance, but from years of considering the issue from numerous perspectives). If you choose to reject it, you can of course call your work "polemical history" and I won't object. But if you call your work "history" I will have to point out that it is more accurately polemical history, or simply polemic.

Daniel Hindes

Daniel wrote:

Since you subsequently claim that you are "only" writing polemic

Peter Staudenmaier:

That isn't what I claim.

Daniel Hindes:

That is excatly your response when serious problems are found in your articles. Did you not write, back in December 2003, "My articles on anthroposophy are indeed polemical" ?

Daniel Hindes

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agreement and disagreement 4


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