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Cultural Epochs

The issue of race, culture and theosophical-anthroposophical epochs is complicated. The first thing I should like to do is separate the theosophical from the anthroposophical viewpoints, as these are quite distinct philosophies and not in agreement on many issues, particularly that of race. In stating that the epochs of the anthroposophical theory of evolution are cultural, and not racial, I do not mean to imply that Steiner has nothing to do with race at all. I am arguing that the epochs – the division of time into seven cultural epochs – is primarily a distinction of cultural characteristics. Steiner himself called them “cultural epochs” and he most certainly never called them “racial epochs.” That race and culture very often coincide, especially in ancient times, does not make Steiner a racist or his division or time into epochs a racist doctrine.
Of the Indian Cultural Epoch so little is known in history that the question of whether race and culture were exclusively a unit cannot be answered. The same is true of the Persian Epoch. The Third Epoch, usually called the Egypto-Chaldean, and sometimes called the Egypto-Chaldean-Assyrian-Semetic definitely encompasses more than one race; likewise the Greco-Roman, which extended into the late middle ages and thus included all the various peoples who migrated through Europe during that time. And of course our Fifth epoch is most definitely multi-cultural and multi-racial, though perhaps this is less evident in Western Europe than in California.
It is on these facts that I base my claim that epochs of the anthroposophical theory of evolution are cultural, and not racial. Race may or may not play an important role in the world, but it does not play a role in Steiner’s division of time.

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