2006-05-30 02:01 am (UTC)
I've read some of his work,but especially what others say about him,including this:
Steiner on a pedestal
The high regard in which Steiner is held within the Anthroposophical movement, which sees his teaching as foundational, has prompted some critics to see Steiner as a founder of a religion, not as a philosopher in the usual sense of the word. The idea, if there is a degree of truth to it, evolves from overzealous students, not from Steiner.
Steiner frequently asked his students to test everything he said, and not to take his statements on authority or faith. He also said that if it had been practicable, he would have changed the name of his teachings every day, to keep people from hanging on to the literal meaning of those teachings, and to stay true to their character as something intended to be alive and metamorphic. Nor was Steiner shy about saying that his works would gradually become obsolete, and that each generation should rewrite them. Individual freedom and spiritual independence are among the values Steiner most emphasized in his books and lectures.
Though the emphasis anthroposophists place on individual freedom and thought limits the tendency toward group-think and prevents anthroposophy from turning into a cult - if a cult is something that deprives its members of spiritual and intellectual freedom - a critical approach to the works of Steiner is not as common as some would like and not always welcomed within some Anthroposophic circles. Given Steiner's clear statements about political democracy being the proper kind of State for humanity, his consistent and emphatic support for liberty and pluralism in education, religion, scientific opinion, the arts, and in the press, not to mention his rejection of the idea that the State should take over economic life - one cannot justly link Steiner or his movement with a totalitarian intent; rather the reverse, for his whole philosophy is based upon individual freedom.
2006-05-30 02:02 am (UTC)
Steiner and racism
There have been accusations of racism made against Steiner.
In 1998, the Dutch Anthroposophical Society created a commission to investigate whether Steiner made racist comments and whether racism existed in anthroposophy or Waldorf schools. The commission investigated these accusations, exploring every relevant comment ever made by Steiner in the 350 published volumes of his writings, lectures and letters. Their conclusions follow:
The Commission emphasizes that Rudolf Steiner's concept of man is based on the equality of all individuals, and not on some supposed superiority of one race over another.
The conclusion of the Commission is that sixteen statements, if they were in public by a person on his or her own authority, could be a violation of the prohibition of racial discrimination under the Criminal Code of the Netherlands.
The Commission finds again that any suggestion that racism is an inherent part of Anthroposophy, or that conceptually Steiner helped prepare the way for the holocaust, has proven to be categorically wrong. As a matter of fact, the investigation of the Commission shows that, beginning in the year 1900, he clearly spoke and wrote against the dangers of anti-Semitism, including in the periodical of a then existing German association against anti-Semitism existing at that time.
In a widely-published event, the Commission announced on February 4, 1998, that there was no ground for accusations that the work of Steiner contains a racial doctrine or any statements made with the purpose of insulting persons or groups of people on the basis of their race.
As to Waldorf education, the Commission concluded, in agreement with the prior judgment of Dutch Government Education Inspectors (Onderwijsinspectie), that racism does not exist there. The Commission did, however, acknowledge the existence until quite recently of a custom of stereotyping in the subject of ethnology [in the Dutch schools], which could lead to discrimination and which must be prevented. As has been previously reported, the [Dutch] Waldorf schools took measures against this in 1995 and supplemented these in 1998 with their own anti-discrimination code and an independent commission that monitors compliance.
The chair of the commission was Ted A. van Baarda, director of the Humanitarian Law Consultancy in The Hague. He has written widely in journals and the popular media on issues of international law and morality.
However, because every member of the commission was also a member of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society, many critics accused the commission of a conflict of interest and found its conclusions biased.