Some thoughts on how to define 'Anthroposophist'

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The case of Rudolf Hess raises the question of what constitutes an Anthroposophist. The first point is to consider who is applying the term and what they hope to accomplish with this. In the case of polemical authors attempting to tarnish the Anthroposophical movement as a whole by the actions of a few individuals, an excessively broad definition will serve well. Such a broad definition might define as an Anthroposophist as anyone who finds value in Steiner's work. This definition is overly broad since it would include many people who might disagree with Steiner in many areas despite finding his work valuable in some contexts. Defining as an Anthroposophist anyone who is a consumer of the practical results of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual insights is also overly broad, as it includes anyone who regularly buys Demeter brand produce or Waleda and Dr. Hauschka brand cosmetics, as well as all Waldorf parents and anyone who happens to be treated in an Anthroposophical clinic. Even if their patronage of these practical results borders on fanatical, as in the case of Rudolf Hess, I don't feel that this is sufficient to consider them an Anthroposophist.
To me an Anthroposophist is, at the very least, someone who studies Steiner's work actively. But even this is not a final definition, for a number of very hostile critics arguably also fit this criterion. Whether or not a person is an Anthroposophist is as much a question of inner attitude towards Steiner's work as it is whether or not they actively studiy it. If the reader feels a sort of warm enthusiasm when they read Steiner, then they are part of the way to meeting my definition.

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on March 24, 2004 8:57 PM.

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