steiner 150: two new articles

Austrian newspaper Der Standard has two articles on anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner due to the imminent celebration of his 150th birthday. One is an interview with historian Helmut Zander, whose Steiner biography has recently been published.

Standard: Worin unterscheiden sich die Ideen Steiners von den Ideen der zahlreichen anderen geistigen “Neuerer” , die damals auf den Plan traten?

Zander: Es gibt kaum eine Idee Steiners, die sich nicht auch andernorts, bei anderen Weltanschauungsvertretern findet. Er hat das selbst gesehen und berief sich auf alte Traditionen, die in Wirklichkeit gar nicht so alt waren, sondern fast immer ins 19. Jahrhundert gehörten. Gerade in der religiösen Alternativkultur Wiens um 1900 konnte man auf alles stoßen, was er später auch dachte, von der Herrschaft des Geistes über die Materie, die Philosophie der Alleinheit und die Lehre von der Reinkarnation bis zum esoterische Theater und spirituellen Tanz. Steiners Innovation steckte darin, das vielfältige Wissen im Rahmen einer einheitlichen, monistischen Theorie, wie er es nannte, verarbeitet zu haben. Er legte über die vielen Bereiche ein großes Netz, seine theosophische, später anthroposophische Weltanschauung.

Read! The other article, ‘Steiner “entsteinern”‘, is written by a journalist who’s also a former waldorf student and now a waldorf parent himself.

Steiner, bei einigen seiner Anhänger der Übervater, die Leitfigur, die nicht infrage gestellt werden darf. Und dem gegenüber eine zentrale Botschaft seines Werkes: Die immer wieder ausgerufene Freiheit des Individuums, wie er sie weit über sein Werk Die Philosophie der Freiheit hinaus entwickelte.

Eine fatale Kluft – denn im Grunde arbeiteten jene gelegentlich anthroposophische Einrichtungen dominierenden dogmatischen Buchstabenreiter genau jenen in die Hände, die Steiner und sein Vermächtnis immer wieder massiv kritisierten. Die die Anthroposophie als sektiererische, autoritäre Bewegung darstellten.

Der Standard has spoken with Stephan Siber, coordintor of the celebrations this year. He thinks they provide

eine gute Gelegenheit, “Rudolf Steiner von der Wahrnehmung eines Gurus zu befreien”. [. . .] Als eine Wirkung der heurigen Steiner-Veranstaltungen erhofft sich Siber jedenfalls, “dass Steiner auch gewissermaßen ,entsteinert’ wird”. Dass “eine neue, offene Steiner-Rezeption angeregt wird, in der man sich konstruktiv und durchaus auch kritisch mit der Figur Rudolf Steiners auseinandersetzt”.

Read!

7 thoughts on “steiner 150: two new articles

  1. I never really had time to comment on these articles when I posted this yesterday. I don’t really have time now either, but anyway… It strikes me how different the media coverage is in the German speaking nations. I’ve not seen any articles like these in Swedish newsmedia, and very few, if any, in English.

    These articles show that another level is possible. There’s a whole other maturity about the topic, actually. Here’s a journalist who’s also a supporter of waldorf, obviously. But this is actually not hidden from the readers. (In Sweden, the most popular newspaper — Dagens Nyheter — has a journalist who sometimes writes on anthro-related topics. There’s never one ounce of criticism. Nothing. Only admiration. And nobody is told that he’s also a waldorf supporter, a waldorf parent and that a trust fund aimed at promoting waldorf education is housed on his address!) Yet, this Austrian journalist not only reveals his own links to the waldorf movement, he also manages to deal with a few of the less pleasant aspects of waldorf education and the less appealing aspects of anthroposophy. Well, at least he isn’t pretending there’s no criticism or nothing bad to say.

    If we had that, it would be massive progress. Overall, German language media is far ahead.

  2. also in the debate about Steiner’s race doctrines..

    It should be hoped that the country of Waldorf’s origin would be the first to face some of the problems. But it’s taken a very long time.

  3. Yes, but she’s an outspoken critic, thus articles or interviews about/with her were obviously steiner critical. The difference here is that these are ‘normal’ (can’t come up with a better word at the moment… my brain’s a bit slow) articles. They aren’t about criticism, the angle isn’t criticism. Still, it’s not ignored. It’s like: it’s allowed a place, it’s allowed to be mentioned. Not even the supporter/waldorf parent journalist pretends anything different. Plus, the mere fact his affiliations are not hidden.

    (This was an Austrian newspaper though, not a German. The first waldorf school was in Germany, and the anthroposophical society is in Switzerland. Of course, you could say waldorf sort of originated in Austria because Steiner was Austrian! Well, that’s a digression.)

  4. A translation, or even a brief synopsis, would be highly appreciated. It’s fascinating to hear that there are places where the discussion is more mature, and I keep wishing I could follow some of it.

  5. Does google translate make gibberish of it all? It’s sometimes really bad and sometimes ok.

    Anyway, it’s not like it’s revolutionary or anything — except if you’re starved of media coverage where another side is at least mentioned. If what you’re used to is journalists who sit on two chairs and are deceptive about it. And so forth. It’s really very basic. And, curiously, the sky isn’t falling down on German anthroposophists because it’s not *all* praise *all* the time.

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