anthroposophy and science

Marcelo da Veiga continues a discussion Jost Schieren intitiated. (Which I wrote about.) I wish I could say da Veiga’s article didn’t contain deepities such as ‘the human desire to know rests upon the perceived inadequacy of the known’ but it does. Nevertheless, it’s worth reading, despite the occasional shallowness masquerading as profound. More interesting, perhaps, than the general part about knowledge is the part about anthroposophy as science. There are some interesting quotes from Steiner himself, justifying anthroposophy as scientific (and also one describing what makes it different from science), and some interesting reasoning (although occasionally, I think, possibly a little confused — I will not have time to elaborate, but does anyone else have any thoughts? Please feel free to comment). Then da Veiga writes:

Anthroposophy is to be understood as a path of knowledge and personal development.7 It sees the process of knowledge acquisition as an event in the life-experience of the whole person; and this knowledge is not geared towards the generation of abstractions by means of which nature can be made subservient to human needs. Anthroposophy is much more concerned with direct experience, with achieving intuitive union with reality. The conduct of life can then, on this basis, be informed by insight into and responsibility for evolution and the consequences of human action. It is thus in direct conflict with normal scientific practice, which sees the inquiring individual as a disturbance to be removed if possible, in order to arrive at a body of non-subjective, supposedly value-neutral information.

I agree with da Veiga that, in principle, anthroposophy does not have to be rejected because it fails to live up to standards of current natural science. For example, I would add, it could potentially have some other merit, one that simply isn’t within the scope of natural science and its methods; basically, acknowledging anthroposophy isn’t science, it’s something else. The latter is my viewpoint, not his; he chooses instead to talk about different paradigms. And, he says, just because something lies outside the boundaries of the current scientific paradigm, it isn’t necessarily unscientific. So it may be, I guess, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to conceive of a new and modern (rather than old and resurrected) scientific paradigm that would encompass inquiries into the spiritual world of the type anthroposophy deals with.

Perhaps the contrived struggle to use the label ‘scientific’ is itself an obstacle for movements that aren’t and won’t be scientific, but that are about spiritual pursuits (into supersensible realms) and personal development. What is described by da Veiga, in the quote, is perhaps simply not rightly described as science but more accurately and honestly as something else — which can (I suppose, depending on numerous other factors of course) have its own merit, apart and utterly independent from science. What is this striving for anthroposophy that it shall be, if it can’t be science proper, then be science anyway — just science of a different paradigm? What is this hope that one day a different scientific paradigm will show up and allow anthroposophy into the warmth of scientific credibility? Is this really what it all hinges on?

(Forgive my ramblings. Read the article instead.)

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