December 2004 Archives
I have a few other Blogs out there. Most are mirrors of this one in some form or other.
The concept of Sub Races is related to Root Races, in that Sub Races are a subdivision of Root Races. In href="http://www.theosophical.org/theosophy/faqs/index.html">Theosophy there are seven Sub Races for each Root Race. Steiner maintained the structure, but renamed the Root Races "Epochs" and the Sub-Races "Cultural Epochs" and specifically de-emphasized the racial aspects.
In 1908 Steiner said:
"When people speak of races today they do so in a way that is no longer quite correct; in theosophical literature, too, great mistakes are made on this subject ... Even in regard to present humanity, for example, it no longer makes sense to speak simply of the development of races. In the true sense of the word this development of the races applies only to the Atlantean epoch ... thus everything that exists today in connection with the [different] races are relics of the differentiation that took place in Atlantean times. We can still speak of races, but only in the sense that the real concept of race is losing its validity."
Steiner, Rudolf. Universe, Earth and Man (GA 105), London 1987, lecture of 16 August 1908.
"For this reason we speak of ages of culture in contra-distinction to races. All that is connected with the idea of race is still a relic of the epoch preceding our own, namely the Atlantean. We are now living in the period of cultural ages ... Today the idea of culture has superseded the idea of race. Hence we speak of the ancient Indian culture, of which the culture announced to us in the Vedas is only an echo. The ancient and sacred Indian culture was the first dawn of post-Atlantean civilization; it followed immediately upon the Atlantean epoch."
Steiner, Rudolf. The Apocalypse of St John (GA 104), London 1977, lecture of 20 June 1908.
Explaining the issue at length in 1909, when he was still the General Secretary of the German section of the Theosophical Society in Germany, Steiner said:
"If we go back beyond the Atlantean catastrophe, we see how human races were prepared. In the ancient Atlantean age, human beings were grouped according to external bodily characteristics even more so than in our time. The races we distinguish today are merely vestiges of these significant differences between human beings in ancient Atlantis. The concept of races I only fully applicable to Atlantis. Because we are dealing with the real evolution of humanity, we [theosophists] have therefore never used this concept of race in its original meaning. Thus, we do not speak of an Indian race, a Persian race, and so on, because it is no longer true or proper to do so. Instead, we speak of an Indian, a Persian, and other periods of civilization. And it would make no sense at all to say that in our time a sixth "race" is being prepared. Though remnants of ancient Atlantean differences, of ancient Atlantean group-soulness, still exist and the division into races is still in effect, what is being prepared for the sixth epoch is precisely the stripping away of race. That is essentially what is happening.
Therefore, in its fundamental nature, the anthroposophical movement, which is to prepare the sixth period, must cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions and differences between various groups of people. The old point of view of race has physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.
That is why it is absolutely essential to understand that our anthroposophical movement is a spiritual one. It looks to the spirit and overcomes the effects of physical differences through the force of being a spiritual movement. Of course, any movement has its childhood illnesses, so to speak. Consequently, in the beginning of the theosophical movement the earth was divided into seven periods of time, one for each of the seven root races, and each of these root races was divided into seven sub-races. These seven periods were said to repeat in a cycle so that one could always speak of seven races and seven sub-races. However, we must get beyond the illness of childhood and clearly understand that the concept of race has ceased to have any meaning in our time."
Rudolf Steiner. The Universal Human: The Evolution of Individuality. New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1990. Pages 12-13. Lecture of December 4th, 1909.
In my article on Root Races I wrote that Blavatsky originated the term. Someone asked me if it was not true that Alfred Percy Sinnett first published the term in his book "Esoteric Buddhism" (1883). I looked into it a bit, and found the following. The idea and structure of root races, but not the term itself, was present in Blavatsky's 1877 book "Isis Unveiled". Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism" may have been the first book to print the term. I haven't seen the text of the 1883 edition, only the 1885 revised edition, which does include the term. It may have been used in a magazine article as well; I haven't been able to run down the first published use. However, Sinnett was frequently with Blavatsky as one of her close pupils throughout this period while she was writing "The Secret Doctrine". It is clear that the whole concept comes from Blavatsky, even if Sinnett did publish the term first (and I'm not sure he did, though he may have). Sinnett himself would certainly not claim credit for originating it.
The whole question of "Root Races" is an interesting one. In our age, which is so finely attuned to hints of racism (and rightly so) the name alone can immediately suggest racism. This is complicated by the fact that a number of genuine racists, including neo-Nazis proud of the label, employ the term and pervert the underlying concepts. In the article I look at the origin of the term and its meaning, both in Theosophy and Anthroposophy.
On occasion you will read about how Rudolf Steiner was a member of the OTO and practiced sexual magic. Such accusations were already being bandied about in his lifetime, and to anyone who knew him or his work they were and remain ridiculous. No hint of such rumors ever emerged from people close to Steiner. Rather it was people who simply wished to discredit him who slung such accusations around. If anyone believed such accusations, then or now, it might be because there really were occultists running around practicing sexual magic. Steiner spoke of occult knowledge, so it appears plausible, right? One such group practicing sexual magic was the OTO (or Ordo Templi Orientis). Their history is complex, the more so for being short of actual historical documents. That is, there is precious little actual documentation and lots of inflated claims. But the fact that they practiced sexual magic is not disputed. One of the main founders of this order was a man called Theodore Reuss. . Details of his life are sketchy, but Reuss seems to have been in the business of selling Masonic titles. One person who bought such at title was Rudolf Steiner. This happened about 1906 when Steiner appears to have intended to revive or create some sort of Masonic order. Steiner obtained the title, but appears never to have done anything with it. Steiner himself was very specific about what he wanted. He wanted to permission to use the name, and nothing else. This he stipulated in writing. He did not want any rituals or any initiation for himself. Nor was he ever in direct contact with Reuss. This he left to Marie von Sievers. Nonetheless this limited contact has been held up as proof; proof of all sorts of things. Once the connection has been made, you can go on to make all sorts of claims. Reuss went on to found the OTO and promulgate sexual magic. Steiner had nothing more to do with him, and deliberately ignored all attempts by Reuss to contact him. Commenting on the episode years later in his autobiography, Steiner wrote:
It is obviously easy to make the observation afterwards that it would have been far more "discreet" not to link up with practices which could later be used by slanderers. But I would remark with all positiveness that, at the period of my life here under consideration, I was still one of those who assume uprightness, and not crooked ways, in the people with whom they have to do. Even spiritual perception did not alter at all this faith in men. This must not be misused for the purpose of investigating the intentions of one's fellow-men when this investigation is not desired by the man in question himself. In other cases the investigation of the inner nature of other souls remains a thing forbidden to the knower of the spirit; just as the unauthorized opening of a letter is something forbidden.
I was looking at my Defending Steiner site recently when I realize that there was no easy way to get an overview of the whole thing. I know what it looks like because I built it. But if you landed on the main page you would not easily see at a glance everything that is there. So I decide what it really needed was a Site Map. So that is the latest thing I have added.
Rudolf Steiner did not admire Treitschke. Far from it, he was quite critical of him in several places. Steiner did find one or two ideas that Treitschke put forth that he liked, but these were certainly not the controversial ideas of Treitschke's.And after considering several quotes that are indicative of Steiner's attitude I conclude:
Steiner did speak favorably of certain aspects of Treitschke's works in a number of places, but his praise was always narrowly directed. And Steiner was careful not to praise Treitschke's person, only aspects of his work. Thus I do not feel that it is accurate to call Steiner an admirer of Treitschke.
In another section of my site Defending Steiner I consider the questions of whether Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophical approach to medicine, called "Anthroposophically Extended Medicine" rejects conventional scientific medicine. I wrote:
Rudolf Steiner's approach to medicine is specifically called anthroposophically extended medicine because it extends conventional medicine. The very first requirement to practice anthroposophically extended medicine is to obtain a conventional MD degree. All "anthroposophical" doctors are fully licensed, board certified medical doctors. Steiner insisted on this, and his wishes have been respected down to the present day. Once they have completed conventional medical training, a medical doctor can extend their knowledge by adding further perspectives and additional treatment techniques by taking extension courses. Anthroposophical doctors will be the first to praise the advances in trauma care, or send their patients for surgery when necessary. So anthroposophical doctors reject nothing in the toolbox of conventional medicine a priori. Every option is considered for its appropriateness in a specific instance. Antibiotics are used when necessary, but so are homeopathic remedies. Physical therapy is prescribed, but so is curative eurythmy (movement exercise to balance the forces within the body).
Most anthroposophical doctors are family practitioners. This is the most demanding area of medicine from the perspective of the breadth of knowledge required. It deals with all ages and all types of conditions. The extended toolbox of anthroposophical techniques has proven an invaluable resource for family practitioners. And the experience of the last 80 years has shown how useful and effective these additional techniques can be, especially in treating chronic and long-term conditions.
An interesting diversion along the way in making the site were some thoughts about how to define the word "anthroposophist". It might seem odd, but in such intellectual disputes as I have had with critics of anthroposophy (among others, Peter Staudenmaier) hair-splitting definitions has been an issue. Peter likes to use words loosely, even as he pretends to use them precisely. So he will call Rudolf Hess an "anthroposophist - without any supporting evidence – and never clarify what this claim is supposed to mean. The reader is left to imagine Hess at the Goetheanum paying tribute to Steiner's genius, and perhaps pouring over Steiner's printed work in his free time. As the article I translated shows, Hess hadn't a clue about any of the content of Steiner's work, talked to only two anthroposophists in his life, and showed an interest in biodynamic farming as a practical endeavor only inasmuch as it could be separated from actual anthroposophy. Staudenmaier ought to know this, after all he cited the source material from which it was taken. But accuracy is not what he is aiming for, and as he frequently does, he ignores the facts in order to make a compelling argument.
I've been working on Defending Steiner for about the last year. I haven't been able to devote as much time to it as I would like, but progress was continual. In fact, I have a number of further articles in various stages of preparation. But at this point I judged it sufficiently far along to post online. I got several people to look at it first and their comments were helpful. Help was especially useful in my ongoing battle against typos - it was embarrassing how many there were even after I had gone over it dozens of times.
One of the first questions I wrote on concerns Rudolf Steiner's nationalism. In that article I pointed out that despite some direct claims that Steiner was a blatant German nationalist during World War I, there is precious little evidence of it among the observations made by his contemporaries. Steiner himself was not even free to travel within Germany during this period! Check out the article and let me know what you think.
I'd like to introduce my new site Defending Steiner. It was my goal to discuss some of the things that I have been reading about Steiner on the Internet during the past several years. I've been reading Steiner since the early 1990's, and read several biographies as well. Yet the character that I was meeting in some Internet profiles was nothing like the Steiner I knew. Was I severely mislead and missing important aspects of Steiner's character? At first I wasn't sure. "Perhaps it is true, and I've missed it all these years." I thougth to myself. After all, it is a well-known fact that humans can focus on only what they want to see and miss obvious things that they don't want to know about. So I resolved to get to the bottom of it.
Reading some of the accusations carefully, I went systematically through the sources referenced to see what it was I had overlooked all these years. Instead, what I found was very interesting, and actually upset me quite a bit. For the most part the sensational accusations of racism and anti-Semitism were entirely fabricated! That is, the "evidence" to establish the claim was almost all falsified in one way or another!
Now certainly it is easy for me to write such counter-accusations; as easy as it is to make them up in the first place. So if you want to know what to believe, then I encourage you to do the research yourself. Or at least look at some of the things I have written. I'll go into it in detail in future posts.
Well, I've taken some time off of this blog for the summer, and that stretched to the autumn as well. But I've been buisy with various things. Among others, I finished my site Defending Steiner. I will present a few things from there over here in the next couple of weeks.