Anthroposophy, a name that is used to describe the body of knowledge and the practical fruits of Rudolf Steiner’s extraordinarily varied activities and teachings in the first quarter of the 20th century, is an unfortunate word. It means something like “wisdom of the human being” but Steiner has said that “this does not accurately reflect the meaning of the word, which should rather be interpreted as ‘consciousness of our humanity.’ ”
Steiner also said that he would like to change the name every week but, unluckily for us, he stuck with it. It may work well in German, but for the English speaker, ‘anthroposophy’ is not only awkward to pronounce but it can also sound obscure and cult-like. Nor does it help that other terms used to describe Steiner’s work, such as ‘spiritual science,’ are just as bad. ‘Spiritual science’ appears to be a poor translation of the German term ‘geisteswissenschaft’, which might more accurately be called ‘the spiritualised humanities’ in English.
So if we are of the view, as I am, that Steiner has a huge contribution to make in helping us to understand the true nature of what it is to be a human being and how to live better lives, it’s a pity that we start off with a communications disadvantage. I started this blog in August 2014 not only to try to convey my sense of the importance of Steiner’s work for all of us, but also, through the process of writing about it, to deepen my own understanding.
With the help of readers of this blog, who have contributed their thoughts and comments, I’ve attempted a definition of anthroposophy here. Perhaps even better as a starting point is this pithy description from Tarjei Straume:
“Anthroposophy is nothing but a path to the Spirit available to everyone and basically compatible with any cultural or religious background, including secular humanism. As a matter of fact, humanism is the basis, the point of departure, for the epistemology that is the backdrop of anthroposophy and therefore also its backbone.”
Steiner’s own description is:
“Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe. It arises in humans as a need of the heart, of the life of feeling; and it can be justified only inasmuch as it can satisfy this inner need.”
I hope that this blog will be helpful to others in their own journeys of discovery. Welcome to Anthropopper!