agreement and disagreement 3

Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

From: at
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 2:03 pm
Subject: Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

Patrick:

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

Peter Staudenmaier:

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.

Patrick:

This is your very complaint about Waage.

Peter Staudenmaier:

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.

Daniel:

Your complaint about Waage is that, in your estimation, he does not integrate all of Steiner's work into his understanding of Anthroposophy. Patrick's complaint about you is that you do not integrate all of Steiner's work into your understanding of Anthroposophy. Waage chooses to ignore the parts you focus on, you choose to ignore all the parts about the sanctity and independence of the individual over all ties of race, gender, class and nationality that Waage values.

You have admitted that there exist (at least) two views of Anthroposophy, your view and Patrick's view. The possibilities are either that one view is correct and all others incorrect, or there is a separate and fully valid view of Anthroposophy for every individual person. If the second is the case, then either everybody is equally right (essentially a philosophically nominalist take on existence) or there is a single correct view of Anthroposophy, and all the various versions are approximations to one degree or another of this complete view (the philosophical realist position). If the first case is correct, then this equates to the view that truth is relative (and you have stated that you oppose relativism). So taking the second to be the case, none of us (even you) have a full understanding of the anthroposophical worldview, and all of our understanding is incomplete and possibly incorrect. However, there exists nonetheless a view of Anthroposophy that is correct, and we are all striving towards it. As such, we have things to learn from you, but you also have things to learn from us (unless, of course, you feel that you already possess that perfect view, and we need to accept your version and adapt to it).

I think what Patrick is trying to get at is that there are quite a few people who feel you do not actually understand the Anthroposophical worldview on it's own terms before raising your objections. You could probably counter this objection with some sort of essay that is simply descriptive, similar in style to what I wrote about Tal's book and posted to this list, describing the content of a Steiner lecture cycle in such a way that nobody, not even Steiner himself, could accuse you of not fully understanding it as the author intended it, while at the same time not taking any position about the contents. This would have to be sufficiently long as to demonstrate a full mastery of the details. I would recommend something like the first volume of the Karmic Relationships series, or perhaps "The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric."

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Wed Mar 3, 2004 10:28 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

Hi Daniel, thanks for your posts. I'm going to try to bundle together my replies to several of them. You wrote:

Waage chooses to ignore the parts you focus on, you choose to ignore all the parts about the sanctity and independence of the individual over all ties of race, gender, class and nationality that Waage values.

No, I don't ignore those parts. I pointed them out in my first post to this list. I think you should check out my posts on Steiner's racial theories at openwaldorf; I include both sides of the story, and focus on the side that I think needs more attention.

You have admitted that there exist (at least) two views of Anthroposophy, your view and Patrick's view. The possibilities are either that one view is correct and all others incorrect, or there is a separate and fully valid view of Anthroposophy for every individual person.

I don't agree that those are the two possibilities. But I do agree with part of your conclusion:

So taking the second to be the case, none of us (even you) have a full understanding of the anthroposophical worldview, and all of our understanding is incomplete and possibly incorrect.

Yes. I take this to be axiomatic.

However, there exists nonetheless a view of Anthroposophy that is correct, and we are all striving towards it. As such, we have things to learn from you, but you also have things to learn from us (unless, of course, you feel that you already possess that perfect view, and we need to accept your version and adapt to it).

I do not think that I have anything close to a perfect view of anthroposophy. My focus is on a fairly narrow strip of anthroposophical doctrine, albeit a very important one, in my estimation.

I think what Patrick is trying to get at is that there are quite a few people who feel you do not actually understand the Anthroposophical worldview on it's own terms before raising your objections.

Yes, I got that part. I think this argument depends on an indefensible notion of proper 'understanding'. What we ought to be arguing about, in my view, is the extent to which our respective understandings of Steiner's doctrines are supported by and compatible with his published works.

You could probably counter this objection with some sort of essay that is simply descriptive, similar in style to what I wrote about Tal's book and posted to this list, describing the content of a Steiner lecture cycle in such a way that nobody, not even Steiner himself, could accuse you of not fully understanding it as the author intended it, while at the same time not taking any position about the contents.

That would be an abdication of responsibility. I think part of our job is to examine the past critically, not merely describe it. I also reject the idea that any of us can determine what Steiner "intended" in the sense you seem to mean.

[Daniel:]

So honest understanding is not a desirable goal when bandying about opinions on controversial topics?

No, that is not my position. It's the "instead of" part of Patrick's line that I do not accept. I think that making and assessing arguments is a crucial part of honest understanding, not a distraction from it.

[Daniel:]

Now that is an interesting position. Essentially, you state that you are justified in selectively quoting statements of others, even if this then alters the original meaning, because theoretically anyone can go back and look at the original statement to catch you at it.

No. Altering the original meaning is not what quotation is for. It's not okay to alter the original meaning no matter how much or how little you quote. One of the functions of quotation is to summarize the original meaning. That is, in part, what quotation is for. In this sense, all quotation is necessarily 'selective'. If you think I have altered the meaning of any of the passages I have quoted, please point them out.

If you are known to employ this technique here, we may quite rightly suspect that you employ it in your other writings.

That is foolish. Quite apart from the fact that this is not the technique I employ, we are talking about an email list with a very easily accessible public archive. It is a waste of bandwidth to quote every bit of every post you respond to. The proper procedure is to quote the specific part you're replying to.

You may respond that you write polemic, not history.

No, I write both.

Of course, all your sources are theoretically public

You are very much missing the point. On an email list like this one, every post you reply to is not just "theoretically" public, it is actually public, with no need to buy any books or visit any libraries. All you need is a click of the mouse. Anybody reading this post has already read the previous posts in the thread. If you think this is an unreasonable approach to email discussion, could you perhaps explain why?

[Daniel:]

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

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:

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 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.

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

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

Unfortunately the general public is not so discerning.

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:]

Your statement "It may take some time, but eventually anthroposophists will..." has no qualifier; it applies to all anthroposophists.

Only in the sense that it will indeed take some time for all anthroposophists to recognize this. You don't really disagree with that part, do you? Surely you don't mean that all anthroposophists currently have an adequate grasp of racism and antisemitism as belief systems?

Arguing that a different statement two sentences earlier has a qualifier, and thus the reader should infer the continual application of the qualifier throughout the text in contradiction to your actual written words, appears disingenuous.

I disagree. I think that competent readers will note that the entire post was directed toward a specific mindset shared by some anthroposophists. It was quite explicitly not directed toward all anthroposophists as such.

Shifting the argument to what does or does not constitute a lie is moving away from the responsibility of either writing what you mean or apologizing for lack of clarity.

I don't think the lack of clarity lies with my writing in this case. I think I introduced the post in a very clear fashion. But I am always happy to apologize for any misunderstandings. I will try to be even clearer in the future.

A statement that is not true, even though the author believes it to be true, is still not true. A statement that is not true, and the author knows it is not true, is a lie.

Yes, exactly. That is why it is beside the point to bring "lying" into the discussion, when all you mean is that the statement is untrue.

Thanks for the discussion,

Peter

Continued [agr. disagr.]

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From: VALENTINA BRUNETTI
Date: Thu Mar 4, 2004 2:01 am
Subject: PS's Theatre of the Absurd R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

Dear all,

Welcome to PS's "Theatre of the Absurd".

In the beginning (a couple of weeks ago) we saw a guy jumpin' in this list claiming "Steiner's racist". Ok, instead of kicking him in the ass (the only right thing to do) and eject him from AT we have accepted to "debate".

Well, after a couple of weeks we are able to give some conclusion about it. He has no evidence at all about his claims.

For instance the "evidences " given are endless discussions on the right meaning of a "negative", the "actual" meaning of a Steiner's word among millions that he spoke or wrote, ridiculous assumption of "similarities" beween racist cosmology and the Initiatic picture of Mankind's and Universe evolution depicted by RS and so on. This guy PS went here also trying to demonstrate "Anthroposophist's mistake"...... but he himself knows nothing of real about Steiner's teaching.! The "discussion" between him and Daniel shows it in a bright light.

Focusing on "understanding" Anthropos PS demonstrate again and again to ignore that the rational approach ("understanding") it's only a preliminary step "towards" Anthroposophy. The true work begins with the inner training and the meditative study. At the "understanding" level, as an intellectual mind level, Anthroposophy, as a "theory" tells very few.. As a "theory" it is pretty unworthy. It begins to live at the Living Thinking level: the life we can able to grasp at the Intellectual Mind level is only a preliminary "reflection" of the Light. This level is the level from which the "daughters" were born : Medicine, Eurhythmia, Waldorf Method, Byodinamics, Organic Architecture, Art of Speech. But the further absurdity is that PS has not even a basic rational knowledge of the matter.

He is interested, by his admission, in a small l side of it, that , parodoxically, DOES NOT EXIST AT ALL!!! (Steiner's "racism") He invented a topic "ex nihilo" !

Sure, here Ubu Roi should have jumped and clapped: where can be find a brighter example of "Theatre of Absurd" ?

Needless to say PS has no experience of the training necessary to grasp Anthroposophy's contents, (every Spiritual Science student knows, for instance, the difference between the pure "rational" approach to Steiner's cosmology and the meditatiive one) but neverthless he claims to be able to give lessons of Anthroposophy! (Clapping again)

And the good, kind hearted anthropop "debated" on and on such a nothingness that PS was surely very clever to dress with his monkey-like jumpin' dialectics......

Surely we have also had the chance to see the positive side of the "theatre". We could see how does it work an ahrimanically infected lovecraftian dialectic mind or to grasp the unlimited power of the lie.
We could also appreciate the fact that some listmates , following PS's twisted comments, could investigate better some matter. Someone else could test his (her) "wish for sinner's redemption"........ but we have also to admit that is actually bothering to listen on and on and on to this broken record!!

Andrea

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Thu Mar 4, 2004 4:58 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

Daniel wrote:

Waage chooses to ignore the parts you focus on, you choose to ignore all the parts about the sanctity and independence of the individual over all ties of race, gender, class and nationality that Waage values.

Peter S wrote:

No, I don't ignore those parts. I pointed them out in my first post to this list. I think you should check out my posts on Steiner's racial theories at openwaldorf; I include both sides of the story, and focus on the side that I think needs more attention.

Tarjei:

I've been in touch with Peter N.W. He's moved on to other subjects - I just heard his lecture about Anthroposophy and Islam - and is uncomprehending about my endurance with lists like this.

Peter S:

My focus is on a fairly narrow strip of anthroposophical doctrine, albeit a very important one, in my estimation.

Tarjei:

It looks like it's important for you because it seems to give you an opportunity to delude outsiders about what Anthroposophy really has to say about human races. In one of your first posts to this list, you admitted that RS expressed anti-racist sentiments, but you never mention or quote these sentiments in your published articles.

Peter S:

I think part of our job is to examine the past critically, not merely describe it. I also reject the idea that any of us can determine what Steiner "intended" in the sense you seem to mean.

Tarjei:

What you forget here is that Rudolf Steiner was not the founder of Anthroposophy; St. Michael was. RS was only the mediator. For that reason, what Steiner intended can be determined by examining what St. Michael has been trying to achieve all along.

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: at
Date: Thu Mar 4, 2004 5:55 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Understanding the anthroposophical worldview

Peter,

Thanks for your reply.

Patrick once wrote:

This is your very complaint about Waage.

To which Peter Staudenmaier replied:

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.

Daniel jumped in and said:

Your complaint about Waage is that, in your estimation, he does not integrate all of Steiner's work into his understanding of Anthroposophy. Patrick's complaint about you is that you do not integrate all of Steiner's work into your understanding of Anthroposophy. Waage chooses to ignore the parts you focus on, you choose to ignore all the parts about the sanctity and independence of the individual over all ties of race, gender, class and nationality that Waage values.

Which Peter Staudenmaier snipped to:

Waage chooses to ignore the parts you focus on, you choose to ignore all the parts about the sanctity and independence of the individual over all ties of race, gender, class and nationality that Waage values.

And Peter Staudenmaier replied:

No, I don't ignore those parts. I pointed them out in my first post to this list. I think you should check out my posts on Steiner's racial theories at openwaldorf; I include both sides of the story, and focus on the side that I think needs more attention.

Daniel replies:

This answer avoids the question of integration. If your view only consistes only of the parts of Steiner you pick and choose, then you are open to charges of distortion. These are the charges you level against Waage. By the same token, they apply to you. Tipping your hat to the existance of other elements in Steiner's work and then continuing to ignore them does not solve the problem.

Daniel wrote:

You have admitted that there exist (at least) two views of Anthroposophy, your view and Patrick's view. The possibilities are either that one view is correct and all others incorrect, or there is a separate and fully valid view of Anthroposophy for every individual person. If the second is the case, then either everybody is equally right (essentially a philosophically nominalist take on existence) or there is a single correct view of Anthroposophy, and all the various versions are approximations to one degree or another of this complete view (the philosophical realist position). If the first case is correct, then this equates to the view that truth is relative (and you have stated that you oppose relativism). So taking the second to be the case, none of us (even you) have a full understanding of the anthroposophical worldview, and all of our understanding is incomplete and possibly incorrect. However, there exists nonetheless a view of Anthroposophy that is correct, and we are all striving towards it. As such, we have things to learn from you, but you also have things to learn from us (unless, of course, you feel that you already possess that perfect view, and we need to accept your version and adapt to it).

Which Peter Staudenmaier snipped to a few pieces:

You have admitted that there exist (at least) two views of Anthroposophy, your view and Patrick's view. The possibilities are either that one view is correct and all others incorrect, or there is a separate and fully valid view of Anthroposophy for every individual person.

And Peter Staudenmaier replied:

I don't agree that those are the two possibilities. But I do agree with part of your conclusion:

And Peter quoted Daniel again:

So taking the second to be the case, none of us (even you) have a full understanding of the anthroposophical worldview, and all of our understanding is incomplete and possibly incorrect.

And Peter continued:

Yes. I take this to be axiomatic.

Daniel responds:

This edit chops up the original a bit, then offered three sentences that don't actually respond to my main point. First, I don't agree that those are the two possibilities either; I offered several others in my original, which you seem to have chosen to ignore, or at least not credit me with writing.

Reading between the lines, it appears that you stand for relativism. It is not clear whether you believe that there is any view of Anthroposophy that is more true than any other.

Peter further quoted Daniel:

However, there exists nonetheless a view of Anthroposophy that is correct, and we are all striving towards it. As such, we have things to learn from you, but you also have things to learn from us (unless, of course, you feel that you already possess that perfect view, and we need to accept your version and adapt to it).

And then Peter replied:

I do not think that I have anything close to a perfect view of anthroposophy. My focus is on a fairly narrow strip of anthroposophical doctrine, albeit a very important one, in my estimation.

Daniel responds:

This reply brings up the question of integration again. If you admittedly have a somewhat to very imperfect view of Anthroposophy, first, how can you be sure you are understanding even that properly? Second, how can you avoid charges of hypocricy if you accuse people like Waage of failing to have a complete understanding? And third, if you don't believe in relativism, how can you not want to gain as complete an understanding of Anthroposophy as possible?

What I was really trying to get at was your thoughts on truth vis a vis idealist philosophy and philosophical relativism. But you sidestepped the issue and omitted those points when you snipped my writing in your reply.

Daniel wrote:

I think what Patrick is trying to get at is that there are quite a few people who feel you do not actually understand the Anthroposophical worldview on it's own terms before raising your objections. You could probably counter this objection with some sort of essay that is simply descriptive, similar in style to what I wrote about Tal's book and posted to this list, describing the content of a Steiner lecture cycle in such a way that nobody, not even Steiner himself, could accuse you of not fully understanding it as the author intended it, while at the same time not taking any position about the contents. This would have to be sufficiently long as to demonstrate a full mastery of the details. I would recommend something like the first volume of the Karmic Relationships series, or perhaps "The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric.

Peter, replying in sections, first responded to this:

Daniel:

I think what Patrick is trying to get at is that there are quite a few people who feel you do not actually understand the Anthroposophical worldview on it's own terms before raising your objections.

Then Peter wrote:

Yes, I got that part. I think this argument depends on an indefensible notion of proper 'understanding'. What we ought to be arguing about, in my view, is the extent to which our respective understandings of Steiner's doctrines are supported by and compatible with his published works.

Daniel responds:

If "proper understanding" is "indefensible" then you really do espouse philosophical relativism. What you are proposing is that we argue our subjective interpretations one against the other as compared to a text. This is precisely the sort of dry academic exercise that you criticize elsewhere, and that I agree leads nowhere in building an understanding of truth. While this plays to your strengths, it is also pointless precicely because it is possible to distort any text quite easily through selective quotation. We are then in a tedious back and forth over how to read basic German or English (witness the "nichts weniger als" exchange) and neither side is attempting to build a comprehensive understanding.

Your understanding is of course supported by the texts you selectively quote. Your understanding is also incomplete. No one has denied that the texts you quote are derived from Steiner (though the authenticity can in some places be disputed). It is also true that many anthroposophists have not read enough Steiner to have come across the passages you have collected. As such, you are doing a service by bringing them up. The problem is when you stop there. These passages are just a part of a much, much greater whole. How they fit into the whole is what many on this list would like to discuss. You would prefer to stop with the pieces. Fine, stop with the pieces. You will forever possess a distorted understanding of Steiner's thought.

Peter, quoting Daniel:

You could probably counter this objection with some sort of essay that is simply descriptive, similar in style to what I wrote about Tal's book and posted to this list, describing the content of a Steiner lecture cycle in such a way that nobody, not even Steiner himself, could accuse you of not fully understanding it as the author intended it, while at the same time not taking any position about the contents.

Peter:

That would be an abdication of responsibility. I think part of our job is to examine the past critically, not merely describe it. I also reject the idea that any of us can determine what Steiner "intended" in the sense you seem to mean.

Daniel responds:

So it is an abdication of responsibility to try to form a more perfect understanding? This is really an interesting position. Did you even think of the implications when you wrote this? I was suggesting a method by which you could gain credibility (and perhaps understanding). Your response is that you have a responsibility not to attempt to understand Steiner on his own terms. Responsibility to whom? I have to wonder.

Your rejection of the possibility of ever understanding Steiner on his own terms reduces him and all Anthroposophy to an intellectual chess piece that can be moved around at will, and thus possesses no intrinsic properties of its own. This is, again, a philosophically relativist position. Steiner cannot simply mean whatever a given reader chooses to make of him if there is any objective truth in the philosophically idealistic sense.

Daniel Hindes

 

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