• MasterSplinger
    1
    I've recently became very interested in the early works of Rudolf Steiner. I watched a video that discussed The Karma of Untruthfulness and found it fascinating. After some research I decided that particular book might be a bad one to start with. I instead picked up a copy of the first edition of The Philosophy of Freedom.

    I confess I'm a bit of newbie when it comes to reading philosophy. In fact, I have rarely read anything that isn't a computer programming related book. As a result I'm struggling with the language of this particular book. It takes me an awfully long time to get through a couple of pages as I have to reread sentences and paragraphs. I also have to Google a lot of the words.

    Is there any accompanying guide for this book that will help me understand it a little more?
  • unenlightened
    3.9k
    Steiner is not much regarded in academic philosophy - a bit too weird. Wiki has a longish article on the book, bur Stanford studiously ignores him, and Stanford is our Bible.

    So I can only recommend following some of the wiki links to other philosophers, and keeping a weather eye out for 'woo'.
  • Akanthinos
    1k
    Stanford is your Bible? Yikes!Metaphysician Undercover

    Well, Standford is not perfect, far from it, but there are few general access online ressources with the same degree of professionalism or depth.

    Although, with time, this depth really does start to appear to be an illusion. There are articles which have been requested years ago which should never have taken more than a few months to write.

    If you have a better ressource, please share it with the class. I'm sure my teachers are getting tired of seeing a dozen Stanford reference in every one of my bibliographies. :sweat:
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Steiner was a theosophist. Theosophy is an interesting, niche school of thought that doesn't hold a lot of water today, so it's not a great starting point in philosophy. But the bulk of The Philosophy of Freedom is mostly some basic philosophy of mind (or, philosophy of "thinking"), which serves as a groundwork for Steiner's "spiritual science" (doesn't get more 19th-century German than that!). So it isn't a terrible starting point; it's just way off the beaten path. If you're interested in the mystical elements in Steiner, you might be better served by researching some of the Christian mystics. Theosophy was influenced more by gnosticism than by the mystics, but Theosophy sort of represents a 19th century pastiche of the mystics of the middle ages. Meister Eckhart would be a much more solid ground to begin with, if the mystical element is what interests you. If the philosophy, then I'll let someone else direct you.

    As far as the difficulty of the language, that's just par for the course; whether mysticism, or philosophy.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    In fact, I have rarely read anything that isn't a computer programming related bookMasterSplinger

    So, it would probably be a good idea to NOT start with hard core texts by philosophers who, truth be told, are fairly often unable to write their way out of a wet paper bag.

    If there is a philosopher who interests you (like this Rudolph Steiner) start by reading about him. Not so much biography, but books which summarize what he said. (this might be a chapter in a book about many philosophers.)

    Amazon has several Steiner books, mostly available on Kindle (which as a computer person you know can be read on other devices with the Kindle app), and a few about him, like:

    Rudolf Steiner: His Life, Work, Inner Path and Social Initiatives (Social ecology series)1987
    by Rudi Lissau
    Paperback
    $2.99(23 used & new offers)

    The Beauty of Anthroposophy, or:: What's Scientific About Spiritual Science? (Anthroposophical Studies Book Kindle Edition
    by Frederick Amrine

    Frederick Amrine is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of German at the University of Michigan. He has been an anthroposophist his entire adult life. Besides Rudolf Steiner, his other interests are Goethe and the Goethezeit, German and English Romanticism, and modernism -- especially The Blue Rider, Freud, and Jung. He has a deep connection with Owen Barfield and Joseph Beuys.

    Rudolf Steiner, Life and Work Volumes 1, 2, 3 by Peter Selg and so on...

    Whether reading about a philosopher is easier than reading the philosopher himself depends on the writer. Like I said, I don't know anything about R. S. so, can't really tell you anything about who to read.

    As you come across difficult words (philosophy has a few) write them down along with the definition. Tedious, but helpful. Wikipedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are all places to look.

    What works with Steiner will work with other philosophers too -- approach them indirectly first, read about them before you tackle their main books.

    Youtube has some stuff on Steiner too.

    Good luck. Hey, welcome, and let us know how this goes. Don't be afraid to give up on Steiner if it all seems just too, too obscure, and don't be embarrassed to tell us he's the greatest thing since sliced salami.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Not sure I'd recommend books about Steiner; his followers are border-line cultists. Interestingly, Steiner did come up with biodynamics, which is a farming technique used increasingly, specifically in the wine world. It's cool stuff. Waldorf Schools are also pretty interesting.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I noticed there was a Waldorf site that had a list of his books. I'm not knocking Steiner -- I really don't know anything about him.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Oh I know you weren't knocking him; I think your idea of reading about philosophers first is a solid idea, maybe just not with a figure like Steiner who has a lot of controversy surrounding him. There's an Anthroposophical Society (Steiner's own brand of theosophy) bookstore in Manhattan that I keep meaning to visit, but I'm too scared. For the same reason I can't go into new age bookstores. I'm so curious though; mainly about what type of person will be behind the counter.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    I would start with some bios of Steiner first, although as others here have noted, he is not regarded as a philosopher by those outside his fold. He started a breakaway form of theosophy called anthroposophy which still has a following in Europe and elsewhere. Try the bio by Gary Lachmann.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    Try the bio by Gary Lachmann.Wayfarer

    Have you read it?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    'm so curious though; mainly about what type of person will be behind the counter.Noble Dust

    What would be so scary that you would be reluctant to go into this bookstore? The Spanish Inquisition?
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    There's some comedic (?) hyperbole there. Really, it's just a mild, ironic fear of the unknown... :razz:
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I'm familiar with the fear of the unknown, but the "ironic fear of the unknown" is less familiar.

    Open the door and walk right in, preferably during business hours.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Mysticism, theosophy, Steiner-isms... The unknown of the weird new-agey bookstore should be old hat, yeah?
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    I bought it and read it to the point of knowing it was something I didn’t want to know more about - about half-way through. The problem with Steiner is that whilst some aspects of his life and work are inspiring, other aspects seem loopy. I say that with regret, I have friends whose families are anthropophosist. [Incidentally Gary Lachman is a pretty good writer on alternative religious movements although again some of the material he covers is beyond the pale. His Amazon profile is here.]

    Also if there were a movie on Steiner, which actor would be ideal?

    i8bAGsSIVE2fews4qWuzgcAkbj4Jcd5sw0ZuH2Nomht6N60A8_JkVuFHWZYsiWVP__5ceO33rDTtJigPif_rfwLX6vNoMLzsltXXnvxBIuF8Peb2ZzHBRIuDguFxwKw=w298-h493-nc

    He’s a dead ringer for Jeremy Irons, isn’t he?
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    That's fair; I have a similar compunction towards Steiner. I'm attracted and repulsed. Is that the sign of a cult leader? Maybe. Actually, his "spiritual science" is something I philosophically reject; it's rather his practical ideas, biodynamics, Waldorf Schools, which are beguiling, because they seem to work, and they seem sound. It's interesting. That's interesting that you know some anthroposophists. Curious to imagine that they still exist.

    Apparently Gary Lachmann is a founding member of Blondie? :rofl:

    Also if there were a movie on Steiner, which actor would be ideal?Wayfarer

    I'm thinking James Franco? Alternatively, Tom Hardy would give the performance that would be needed.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Yes Lachman was the original bass player in Blondie. But he’s made a great career as a writer. Actually I’m envious of him, he’s staked out a fascinating bit of literary turf.

    I don’t think of Steiner as a cult leader, although I guess some would. Overall I think he was a benign figure, not at all power-seeking or exploitative - I will say that for him. [Still reckon he’s a dead ringer for Jeremy Irons, although it’s a moot point as I can’t see a movie being made about him.]
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    I don’t think of Steiner as a cult leader, although I guess some would. Overall I think he was a benign figure, not at all power-seeking or exploitative -Wayfarer

    Well I do agree; I guess by cult-like, I'm referring to the followers; maybe I'm exaggerating. He does seem to have been benign.

    Jeremy Irons yes, physically. What about Gary Oldman, though? Steiner at the end of his life, contemplating his legacy...
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Indeed. Oldman was awesome as Churchill. Saw it the night before he won the Oscar for it. Anyway we better not keep derailing the OP. :blush:
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    :gasp:

    (where's the classic bug-eye emoji? smh)
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    "You're a monism! Spirit and science co-exist, broh! Yeahhhhhh" - Rudolf
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Well, Standford is not perfect, far from it, but there are few general access online ressources with the same degree of professionalism or depth.Akanthinos

    I've found Stanford expresses a materialist bias. A search through the credentials of the editorial board explains why this is the case. Their philosophy seems to be built on science, they publish ideas supported by science. and science is based in empiricism.

    If you have a better ressource, please share it with the class. I'm sure my teachers are getting tired of seeing a dozen Stanford reference in every one of my bibliographies.Akanthinos

    Of course the primary source is the preferred source, go to the library and read. But I find the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, though it's not as extensive as Stanford, has better, well rounded information on the subjects which it does address.
  • Akanthinos
    1k
    Of course the primary source is the preferred source, go to the library and read.Metaphysician Undercover

    By God's bloody hell are you ever this trite? Obviously, primary sources are necessary. You cannot fail to fail a paper on a subject if it doesn't at the very least cite a primary source.

    What's next, "Meta weights in on punctuation, should you or should you not use it in term papers?" :brow:
  • Artemis
    1.2k
    As a result I'm struggling with the language of this particular book. It takes me an awfully long time to get through a couple of pages as I have to reread sentences and paragraphs. I also have to Google a lot of the words.MasterSplinger

    This made me think about the Unending Conversation metaphor:

    Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. --Kenneth Burke, Philosophy of Literary Form, 110-111

    I think philosophy is going to feel like that a lot most of the time for most people. You just have to stick with it and it will get easier.

    Through my Kindle I noticed I have access to a lot of the Introduction to ---- books for philosophy. They might help, but I don't think they have the author you're currently reading. If you're super serious about this, take a phil 101 class at a local community college or something.

    Of course the primary source is the preferred source, go to the library and read. But I find the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, though it's not as extensive as Stanford, has better, well rounded information on the subjects which it does address.Metaphysician Undercover

    Right though you may be, the person who started this thread wants something to get him started in philosophy--he's not looking for sources in a dissertation. I think Stanford is a wholly adequate place to get a good rough idea of a subject and then go from there.
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