Esoteric Encyclopedia

Esoteric Encyclopedia Entry of the Week: Anthroposophy

Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, which postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible by direct experience through inner development.

This philosophy aims to develop faculties of perceptive imagination, inspiration and intuition by the process of cultivating a style of thinking independent of sensory experience, and to present the results thus derived in a manner subject to rational verification. By investigating the spiritual world, anthroposophy’s primary objective is to attain precision and clarity from a scientific point of view.

According to Waldorf Answers, the 4 primary “tenets” of anthroposophy are the following:

1. Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy, mainly developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It is born out of a philosophy of freedom, living at the core of anthroposophy. For more on anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner from this perspective, see herehere andhere.

2. It is a path of knowledge or spiritual research, developed on the basis of European idealistic philosophy, rooted in the philosophies of AristotlePlato, andThomas Aquinas. It is primarily defined by its method of research, and secondly by the possible knowledgeor experiences this leads to.

From this perspective, anthroposophy can also be called spiritual science. As such, it is an effort to develop not only natural scientific, but also a spiritual scientific research on the basis of the idealistic tradition, in the spirit of the historical strivings, that have led to the development of modern science.

On this basis, anthroposophy strives to bridge the clefts that have developed since the Middle Ages between the sciencesthe arts and the religious strivings of manas the three main areas of human culture, and build the foundation for a synthesis of them for the future.

The central organization for the cultivation of this in connection with anthroposophy is a School of Spiritual Science, having a center at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. For more on anthroposophy from this perspective, see here and here.

For a discussion of some aspects of the relation between Natural Science and Spiritual Science, from the perspective of the general concept of Science and the Philosophy of Science, see here.

3. Anthroposophy also is an impulse to nurture the life of the soul in the individual and in human society, meaning among other things to nurture the respect for and interest in others on a purely human basis independently of their origin and views.

The main organization for this is the Anthroposophical Society, which exists in a world wide form, as national Anthroposophical Societies, and as groups formed on the basis of subject. For more on this, see here. For the anthroposophical societies in the US and the UK, seehere and here.

4. While rooted in a philosophy of freedom, developed as a method of spiritual research and an impulse to nurture a purely human interest in other people, it also has possible practical implications and as such lives asapplied or practical anthroposophy in various “daughter movements” of anthroposophy.

The most developed of these daughter movements of anthroposophy are biodynamic farming, Waldorf schools (see European Council for Steiner Waldorf Schools and the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America for the largest Waldorf schools associations), anthroposophical curative education (see European Co-operation in Anthroposophical Curative Education and Social Therapy and the Camphill Association of North America) and anthroposophical medicine.

It is worthwhile to note, that although anthroposophy and theosophy have many similarities, and their appreciation of western teaching is harmonious – they are fundamentally different in their approach.

To learn more about anthoroposophy, visit Waldorf Answers by clicking here.

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