Regarding the Question of Anthroposophy as a Science
In the Forum section of Anthroposophy Worldwide No. 5/08, were some
comments on the relationship between Anthroposophy and
is an additional way of looking at this to the one offered in that
In Science we can make a distinction between the method of science and
the content that it produces. Oft times these are confused, for
example, such that one might come upon the expression that the
Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution is an example of Science.
To be more
accurate, one might want to state instead that this Theory is a product
of present day scientific method (thus recognizing the distinction
between method and content).
In a quite similar way there is a significance feature in Anthroposophy
between method and content, and Steiner certainly thought so for he
often used this expression: "anthroposophical spiritual science".
lazily think that Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science are identical (as
is often the case), we turn that expression (anthroposophical spiritual
science) into a statement like "grape flavored grape flavor", which is
clearly nonsense. If then the term anthroposophical is meant to
the term spiritual science, we come upon an interesting question: What
makes something "anthroposophical"?
The distinction natural to Science between method and content is an aid
to appreciating the deeper nature of this question.
There can be more
than one kind of spiritual science (as content), but what makes such a
content anthroposophical is something in the inwardness of the human
being as a participating thinker. There is a specific kind
cognition to the method of Anthroposophy (as against the content of
anthroposophical spiritual science). This method of cognition is
outlined in Steiner's A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World
Conception, and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. This
however, is only the map not the territory. Knowing the
territory requires disciplined and rigorous (scientific) introspection
over (perhaps) many years.
Our difficulty as a Society and Movement is that so very very few have
succeeded in discovering the real nature of this kind of organic and
pure thinking discipline, which produces a fully conscious form of
cognition. The practitioner of true "living thinking" then knows
exactly and precisely the nature of the relationship between the method
(the act of thinking living in the will of the own I), and the
conceptual content produced by this thinking during its contemplation
the experiences of this same I. This is true whether the
this contemplative thinking cognition is clairvoyant experience, or
sense experience, or experience in the intermediate world of pure
thought that lies between the sense and the clairvoyant kinds of
experience (see end of the 5th Chapter of Occult Science: an outline).
Now the import of this for the world of ordinary scientific
as well as the general academic world of humanity, is
The same is true for the social world, and all the other kinds of
activities toward which a fully awake living thinking can make a
contribution. The "science" of cognition, outlined in
referred to above, is Anthroposophy in its purest form as a method of
inner activity, which "method" very much needs to be distinguished now
and into the future from the "content" that is produced.
I close with one essential significant aspect. In introducing
"Anthroposophy" to the world, to the extent one can speak out of
personal experience of the new thinking cognition, one is able to avoid
the confusion which arises when we find ourselves faced with trying to
justify the different content produced. It is when we try to
anthroposophically produced content, with the contemporary thought
content produced by ordinary thinking, that produces a feeling of
difficulty. Of course it is difficult, because we are
explain why we live in a different house (anthroposophical content),
having forgotten the method (the art of thinking), by which that house
of different content was given its foundation.
Steiner's whole edifice of spiritual scientific research is rooted in
this cognition, whereby he took sublime spiritual experience and
rendered that into language. It is that cognitive act which
core method that makes Anthroposophy scientific. If we
learn to teach
that first, then everything else already established as content stands
in the world on a much more secure basis. If we lose that -
if we move
into the future placing the content in the foreground instead of the
method, we show only a very weird house floating in the air without any
apparent rational foundation whatsoever. With justification then,
one skilled at ordinary scientific thinking should pay any attention to
us at all, and Steiner's true legacy (the path to the metamorphosis of
cognition) will be lost until some future time when a later age
rediscovers this treasure.
If, on the other hand, we reawaken deep and serious interest in the
practice of scientific introspection following the maps given in the
above two books, all the content Steiner produced (as well as a great
deal of content produced by his students - but not all, for much fails
the tests of the real method) is saved from its far too potential
fate. We cannot rest Anthroposophy only on Rudolf Steiner's
instead must ground it upon our personal striving to master its
fundamental and foundational discipline: the path of scientific
introspection and its transformation of the cognitive capacity of the
Joel A. Wendt, author of the book: American Anthroposophy.