Return – Threefolding – Art (Part I)

Return

I haven’t written for a long time. I’ve thought about how to present anthroposophy on my blog, and still speak from a place of authenticity. People who have been reading my blog might have noticed that I put emphasis on trying to understand anthroposophy from a methodological perspective, and this has kept me from writing. I think there are three ways of approaching the material on this blogFirst, to look for answers to anthroposophical questions from a methodological perspective, like I am doing – this would be my ideal audience. However, it’s very unlikely that I’ll have an audience like this. I try to keep in mind the philosophical tradition Steiner reacted to, and this requires me to explain those traditions to my audience. And even with a degree in philosophy, it’s very hard to get this right, or get people to agree with you; it’s a Sisyphean task, and so I have to assume some kind of understanding of the material. In short: I’m loosening my tie.

This brings me to the second approach to my blog. You could be someone who has read Steiner, and essentially assumes that he’s right, and a lot of anthroposophists more or less take this approach. And who can blame you? A lot of what Steiner says is difficult to understand at first. You have to go with it and hope you’ll hit upon some insight that’ll clear up the confusion. This is a more difficult audience, because if you make a statement, they’ll either want you to refer to the canon of Steiner’s work, or they’ll refer to it themselves.

This brings me back to my first audience. The reason why I don’t like referring to Steiner, is because Steiner says we can develop clairvoyant capacities ourselves, and if we cannot, how are we to be judges of whether Steiner’s claims are true or not? That doesn’t mean that I have what Steiner calls “spiritual organs of perception“, but it means that there either is a spiritual world and a method for approaching that world, or there isn’t, and we have to take all claims about it on faith.

But why come to anthroposophy for faith? Steiner never says to have faith in what he says, nor does he tell people to follow him blindly. He tells people to think about what he says. A good example of this is reincarnation. If there is no such thing as reincarnation, then your life would look pretty much like it is now. And yet, isn’t it interesting that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, life would look pretty much the same? 

So how does thinking about the world in terms of reincarnation, and living life in terms of reincarnation change anything about the way we’re living our lives? These are the kinds of claims that make people think about how something like that can be proven and is the reason why I prefer the methodological approach, and yet there’s also a simple answer to it: don’t look to books and theorems: look to life.

This leads me to the third approach: the critical perspective. As I said, you can only do this much in terms of explaining anthroposophy. A lot of critics rightfully criticize the dogmatic approach to anthroposophy, where Steiner becomes an authority figure. Still, there’s only so much you can do, and unlike philosophy, anthroposophy isn’t subject to skepticism, it isn’t something that anthroposophy cares much about, and the reason is simple: living as a skeptic is impossible. You can doubt the existence of the world and other people as much as you like, but you still interact with the world and people. Most of the time, we take the world and people for granted, assume the rules of physics will hold, and that others exist. This is a deeper kind of human intelligence that doesn’t have to adhere to intellectual doubts and criticisms.

Anyways – in my next post I’m going to talk about my future projects for this blog. I’m going to focus more on applied social threefolding, where I’ll be commenting on events in the world, and move from discussing the the organic world, and into the world of art – and hopefully spirit.

4 Comments

  1. I find it helpful to distinguish between ‘faith’ and ‘belief’.The latter implies a lack of knowledge – a substitute for it. So it is not fruitful to have ‘belief’ in any of Steiner’s claims. It is much better to treat them as hypotheses, to be possibly verified in the laboratory of your own heart and mind over a period of time. ‘Faith’ is another matter. That is a positive quality of trust, which involves the will, and a commitment to a future state

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To me, belief is a bit like what Steiner calls mental pictures (Vorstellungen) in “Philosophy of Freedom”, they are our image of what is the case regardless of objective reality. As for “faith”, I’m using the word in the theological sense of the word, and as such, it is blind faith. By blind faith, I don’t mean that it’s stupid or naive, but simply that it cannot become seeing. In religion, we have faith in God and yet we can’t have any experience of God. In spiritual science, faith is an organ of perception that allows us to experience and grow into the spiritual world, as such, it is indeed a trust that opens our hearts to spiritual realities.

      Liked by 1 person

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