Defending Steiner Rudolf Steiner  
Home Biography Allegations Misconceptions Refutations Articles About this Site Links
Who is Rudolf Steiner? and why does he need defending?

Doctor (of Philosophy) Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian thinker and lecturer. The bulk of his work consists of his explanations of his worldview, which he named Anthroposophy, and its ramifications for many areas of practical life. Anthroposophy is the result of Steiner's spiritual vision, which he presented to the world after 1900. Prior to that he published as an idealistic philosopher, with three important but overlooked works to his name: Truth and Science, an expanded version of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Rostock, A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World View, With Special Consideration of Schiller, an epistemology which is the foundation for all his later work, including his spiritual, or esoteric work, and Philosophie der Freiheit, at title translated variously as A Philosophy of Freedom, or The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, a book which lays the foundation for an ethical individualism. I have written a more detailed biography here.

 Rudolf Steiner was first and foremost an original thinker. Whether you consider this good or bad probably depends on what you think about his ideas. As strange as some of his ideas might seem at first glance, Steiner was always remarkably precise and clear in his presentation of them. With some effort, it should be possible for anyone to grasp a given passage with sufficient clarity as to be able to explain it to someone else. Steiner's thought is quite accessible to ordinary intelligence. It should be possible for anyone to dispassionately present one of Steiner's ideas on its own terms, regardless of how much as you believe or disbelieve it. Yet this often seems quite beyond his critics. I attribute this partially to the complexity of many of Steiner's ideas, and particularly to the importance of the many details therein. Very few people can casually read Kant or Hegel and easily recreate the central argument, and Steiner is very much the same. None of them are willfully obscure. But their thoughts are rich and imaginatively complex, and often resist easy simplification.

Now in the light of this complexity, it would be understandable if misrepresentations were the result of misinterpretation or incomplete comprehension. While this is often the case, there are also statements made against him on the Internet that are simply outright fabrications. Indeed, some statements meet the legal criteria to be considered slander in many jurisdictions. Why Steiner elicits such vitriolic attacks is itself an interesting question. I would suggest the answer has to do with what he was trying to accomplish with Anthroposophy, and what his followers are accomplishing in the present time. This is social change in a human-centered way with an acknowledgement of the importance of the spirit in human affairs. Those who are working to realize a different vision, whether they be Marxist-Leninist, Fascist, or Libertarian-Atheists are bound to oppose Anthroposophy as contrary to their goals.

Apparently a refutation of Steiner's ideas on a point-by-point basis is too difficult, so he is attacked ad hominem, in an attempt to sway by emotion what cannot be proven by logic. Attacking Steiner's character proves difficult because by all accounts he lived an exemplary life by any moral standard, hence the need for slander. Already in his lifetime he was attacked in this manner, and he spent some time defending himself. Today he is not around to defend himself, thus the need for this site.


Copyright © 2004-2015 Daniel Hindes