I need to keep explaining the importance of Rudolf Steiner, and why it is that - for example - so many of my recent posts have been about or inspired-by him... Despite that almost-all of his advocates and followers, and the Anthroposophical Society itself, are anti-Christian, Satan-allied Leftists (whatever and despite their self-identification). And despite that most of what Steiner wrote and spoke is just plain wrong.
In the first place 'almost-all' Steiner's advocates misses-out that among the small handful of The Most valuable, insightful and important Good Guys at work today; there are several Steiner followers such as Terry Boardman, Jeremy Naydler, Amo Boden; and the editors of New View and The Present Age.
These are among the extremely few people and venues currently worth reading; where, for instance, you can see a solid understanding of the world historical events of 2020, and what led-up-to them. Or of the long-term purpose and effects of the sexual revolution; the computer/ internet revolution - the 5G mania; or the strategy behind the climate change agenda.
But the core of what Steiner supplies the discerning reader - above all other authors and sources - is his insistence that the core task of Men in this time and in The West - is a new-restoration of the spiritual to our thinking.
A 'new-restoration' (both restored and new) because what's required is something on the one hand unprecedented in world history; and also a restoration - because it represents (in several respects) a return to the basic, original, primal way of knowing.
As a brief summary, Steiner advocates (in vital respects) a return to the 'animistic' world-view; that saw the universe as alive; composed of multiple Beings - each with life, purposes, and a distinct nature that develops through time. But this primal animism was unconscious, unchosen, passive. Men were simply immersed-in this spiritual reality, and (pretty much) passively and instinctively responded-to it. They were swept-along by the thoughts of spiritual Beings - to the point that Men's thinking was itself the thinking of spiritual beings.
When Men (in Ancient Greek times) first began to become aware of this situation; it was captured by the idea of 'inspiration', in its original sense; that we 'breathe-in' the spirits of Heavenly beings, which are all around us, as-it-were in the wind. But there was almost no freedom, and life was passive, responsive.
Steiner's idea is that mainstream Modern Man incrementally has become detached from this primal situation. Man can now originate his own thinking and is free to choose; but until now has rejected the reality of the spiritual. He has becomes an isolated and alienated consciousness, and feels his own thoughts to be sealed inside his mind (=brain) and thereby disconnected from external reality. For Modern Man; 'subjective' means private, and unreal.
Steiner advocates that Modern Man needs to move to an unprecedented primacy of intuition; where intuition means a creative, generative thinking; that originates from our real, true and divine self. A 'heart thinking' that takes primacy over both primitive unconscious instinct and current conscious materialism.
By 1917; Steiner saw very clearly that Modern Man - trapped in his own consciousness and rejecting of the spirit - would inevitably and inexorably degenerate. That the paradoxes of materialism would tend to destroy everything of positive value. That, for example, pervasive materialism would destroy even that autonomy and agency of human thinking which generated materialism in the first place! That a consciousness disconnected from the spiritual, would end by denying consciousness itself!
Steinr saw (among other things) how the consequences would include the (now mainstream and mandatory) value-inversions of the sexual revolution; and he saw that this corruption would be 'validated' and supported by an increasingly corrupted materialist 'science'. He also foresaw a 'healthism' that destroys actual health and causes death; along with destroying basic human needs and freedom. And he described a society in which technology became organised towards totality of mind-control by an integration of the electronic-technological with the demonic.
In sum, Steiner expicitly foresaw the essential features of 2020 if we did not restore the spiritual to thinking, to life-in-general. And he further described what we need to do, what we should aim-at; which is - as individuals - developing (in our-selves) a qualitatively-different and spiritual way of thinking, living, and being in our own lives.
Now, much of the detail Steiner described about what exactly we should do - such as his prescribed mental exercises designed to train concentration, visualisation, imagination; and a large role for 'initiated Masters', and a major role for the Anthroposophical Society itself - almost all of this I regard as mistaken - or even counter-productive.
But in terms of what we most need to accomplish (aside from the suggested methods of doing it); Steiner was solid, vital and unsurpassed.
I completely agree with Steiner's core teaching, which is that our primary urgent task - here and now in 2020 - is to choose consciously to live by-and-from the spiritual (including to discover what that means for us, as individuals).
This should be what we think about when we awaken each morning, and when we look back on our day each evening, and as we settle to sleep at night.
This should be a focus of our meditations and prayers.
Nothing is more important than this: here, now; for you - and for me.
Note: The Spiritual must be Christian - that comes first; but Christianity without a newly-developed return to spiritual-based-thinking/living is Not going to be sufficient. Indeed, it is not even a working possibility; as can be seen by taking a clear look at what has happened to the mainstream - including traditional - Christian churches this year of 2020. Christian Churches are in essence Gone, Finished, Closed - have ceased operations. 100 years after Steiner, and of refusing to follow Steiner's advice; Christians Now have 'Hobson's Choice' - i.e. no choice at all. Either they follow Steiner's direction of developing personal spirituality, or else they they will de facto cease to be Christian (unless that has, indeed, already happened). In this necessary transition; the West might have followed a gentle path of gradualism - but did not. Having rejected multiple opportunities over the past generations; Christians now have a sudden, massive spiritual shock, applied by external events; and the prospect of being compelled to choose-between either an almost instantaneous, and 'mind-blowing', transformation - or else passively going over to the-other-side (which the majority have already done).
Bruce- Thank you for this! I've never really understood Steiner's ideas until I read your article. Do you have a book recommendation by Steiner that explains his ideas on this?
Bruce- I finally found a way to understand Steiner! Thank you. Is there a list of Steiner books that you could recommend?
@TGL and John - I suggest you look through my blog posts that I linked in the piece above (or word search "Rudolf Steiner" on this blog); and see if any of the pieces I have linked-to catch your interest.
Steiner posits a history of human consciousness that would distinguish modern man from his ancestors in terms of their respective abilities to "generate thought." But there is no evidence of this distinction beyond Steiner's visions, which cannot be verified. The written records we possess, pre-Socratic philosophy especially, do not support Steiner's claim. As for prehistory, one can make of that whatever one pleases. The fact that our institutions, including the religious ones, are now deeply corrupted does not necessarily refute their doctrinal claims and require us to go it alone and in uncharted ways, generating new thoughts. Let us beware the argument ad hominem. Perhaps I have misunderstood you, but I think that Steiner can be a huge waste of time and that whatever is of value in his thought is not unique to him and need not be dug out of the deep pit of gnostic phantasies that, ironically, require an acceptance of Steiner's authority rather than the generation of thought.
Well said! God bless.
@edwin. You will notice I seldom *recommend* authors. But I reference where I get help, people I have found valuable. Steiner continues to nourish and stimulate my thinking - despite everything!
@Edwin Fuast- how is the existence of pre-socratic philosophy an argument against the existence of a development of consciousness through history?
The way I see it, they were the first fruits of minds which had begun to leave the "original participation" and entered the "rationalistic" phase. They, however, had elements of both in them, as it was still very much early days.
From what I understand of Bruce´s summary of Steiner´s "great teaching", we *cannot* (as in literally can´t) go back to the presocratic mindset, or any other previous mindset for that matter. Can you really, sincerely, think we can go back to thinking along the lines of the Logos being "an everlasting fire, kindling in measures and going out in measures"? Of course there is much truth in this, in a very important way, and is in many respects a more profound mode of thinking than modern materialism...
However, presocratic philosophy as a whole, for all of its fundamentally inmense value, leaves out (necessarily, by assumption) critical and indispensible notions crucial to our OUR (here and now) metaphysics, such as:
- The "aliveness" of the world
- The centrality of the figure of Jesus Christ in organizing/creating a World Order (Logos) centered around learning and returning to God
- The centrality of immortality, understood as "life eternal", as the main drive in life
- The centrality of love in making creation possible
- The centrality of intent and motivation in making creation go in one direction, or the other
- The centrality of Free Will/Agency in making Creation possible.
And many others.
None of these things are present in presocratic philosophy, as far as I´m aware, and yet are the cornerstones of the true direction in which we are meant to be going.
None of this could´ve been possible without passing through the previous stages, precisely because all of this needs to be chosen freely. Without "standalone thought" ("thinking as the tyrant of the spirit" i.e. materialism, nihilism, alienation) we were not *really* choosing.
I´m curious to hear your opinion, perhaps you are seeing something I´m not.
I didn't specifically answer Edwins point, but I too regard the pre Socratics as fitting exactly into Steiners scheme of evolution. In fact, one of Stieners best books is The Riddles of Philosophy, which is a complete overview of the subject, and truly masterful.
Gary -From what I understand of Bruce´s summary of Steiner´s "great teaching", we *cannot* (as in literally can´t) go back to the presocratic mindset, or any other previous mindset for that matter.
I never suggested a return to a pre-Socratic mindset, nor did I deny that thinking progresses. I sought to make the point that rational thought existed then, as now, and no record of Steiner's posited state of unconscious participation in some form of Divine thinking exists, nor can it, it would seem, which makes it an unprovable supposition. That the pre-Socratics represent or somehow prove Steiner's visions does not follow. We simply don't know what sort of pre-historic, pre-recorded history man might have had, nor when and how human beings began, other than a belief in Divine creation. Steiner's account of human creation and evolution is something that makes one's head spin and, ultimately, is not traceable to a Creator but seems to rely upon various collections of spiritual beings (angels?), such as fire spirits, time spirits, etc. along with with planetary stages that only Steiner seems to have known about. I don't see that it is helpful to understand oneself in terms of a scheme of evolution - Steiner's or Darwin's or anyone else's. I spent a great deal of time with Steiner's theosophy and schemes and prophecies and, in the end, it left me nowhere. That's really all I have to say on the subject. I've found it a fruitless thing to argue with Steiner enthusiasts. It is much like trying to have a rational discussion with Jehovah's Witnesses: they have their revelation that always trumps your reason. Steiner always has his "spiritual scientific researches" that are idiosyncratic and absolute.
@Edwin - You would probably respond more to Owen Barfield's work. He uses 'standard' philology - the changing nature of words, especially, as a way of extrapolating back into prehistory. He doesn't discuss clairvoyant evidence.
From a scientific perspective, I spent many years (as an atheistic scientist) on reconstructing prehistory from a kind of triangulation of many first contact descriptions of 'simple' hunter gatherers (in many places), the study of chimpanzees, baboons and other primates who have a similar social structure, aspects of apparently-universal psychology that make no sense in historical societies by fit with what probably happened in pre-history, archealogical evidence from graves and skeletal condition, geological evidence about the nature of flora and fauna in the past... etc.
What happens is that hypotheses are developed, as precisely as possible, and then the predictions derived from these hypotheses can be explored using new and different types of evidence.
Anyway, from the above I got a view of hunter gatherer psychology which fits with the Steiner/ Barfield account of the evolution of consciousness. However, I also came to realise that the science was dictated by undetected and unacknowledged metaphysical assumptions, especially that consciousness could (and should) be left out of the science.
So, in the end it is about these fundamental assumptions; and whether these make coherent sense of 'things in general'; whether the assumptions are validated by 'bottom line intuition'.
@Edwin Faust - OK, thanks for the response. You may be right about Steiner, I´m not too familiar with him specifically as a thinker/intellectual.
At any rate, the *idea* of the evolution of consciousness does in fact seem to make sense, both intuitively and based on the science behind it, and does not contradict any Divine revelation as far as I´m aware.
And, if true (or at least an important part of the human and divine story), then the implications are very important and real game-changers.
Personally, I will continue to explore this line of thought in greater depth because I am deeply convinced that we got into the mess we are in now due to serious errors of consciousness, which can´t be "remedied" by going back to the past (since it is impossible, and even undesirable even if it were possible... after all, we are here because of the past we had...), but by seeking something "new" which "completes" the past project. Something new which is not wanton or capricious, but which is a natural conclusion of what came before it... somewhat analogous to how Jesus' Gospels and Covenants completes and fulfills the Mosaic Law without denying a jot of it's essence (what is perenially divine within it).
Putting the nature of prehistory aside, the notion of an evolution of consciousness led Steiner to notions that, to me, are spiritually dangerous because they invert moral truth and excuse sin. Steiner, for instance, sometimes sees Lucifer as God's agent and the Fall as a necessary step forward in human evolution: the loss of Paradise through Divine disobedience was supposedly a good thing as it allowed us to become independent thinkers, no longer immersed in the Divine consciousness or, in Steiner's cosmology, no longer controlled by the various spirits that formed the human body and mind. There is a moral inversion here that can be extrapolated and applied to any number of things. Good and evil become relative to progress in the development of self-awareness and self-determination. A moral relativism such as this can transpose good and evil, so that what once was good is no longer good because it no longer serves the cause of progress. It is instructive to recall that Steiner's ideas on these matters first appeared in an theosophical journal called "Lucifer." What I think most worth saying in regard to all this is that speculation about our prehistory and our supposed evolution can be both a matter of idle curiosity and a danger to our moral certainties. When Job aspires to know that which is beyond his capacity to understand, God answers him out of the whirlwind: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?" Steiner seems to think he can take himself there and tell us the answer.
@edwin - I agree that Steiner was seriously wrong about good and evil; and have said so recently on this blog. But I believe that traditionalist/ orthodox Christians are wrong on this matter as well.
Ultimately, both Steiner and the orthodox are wrong because they have adopted classical metaphysical assumptions about monotheism, the omni-God and creation ex nihilo - but I can't go into this now. You may know that much of my theology derives from a basis in Mormon metaphysics - which has extremely different primary assumptions, and leads to (IMO) the only coherent answers to the problems of evil, suffering, and free will. But that's another story...
The point is that there is nothing to stop anyone reading Steiner while picking and choosing, selecting and rejecting - as I do. I don't see why we should leave him to the scriptural fundamentalist/ literalists of the Anthroposophical Society!
We can ask - was God surprised by the Fall? Or only by the steepness of its trajectory. Were we only to experience the world as the wind does against the cliff-face - feeling its way across the surface like divine sensory apparatus. Were we to become only an image of creation - self-lessly reflecting back the face of the Divine.
Or were we destined to follow the path of the Prodigal Son, following the almost unimaginable path of free will, to repeated fall under the sway of the opposed powers and yet eventually to ascend to the Divine heights as utterly changed beings.
Reading Steiner certainly brings up those questions, and they are worthy of our time to consider. They may even be dangerous - but are not the gates of heaven said to be close to the gates of hell? There is no such thing as a safe spiritual quest.
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