Opinion and Accuracy II

I posted the entire article along with my commentary to the Anthroposophy Tomorrow Yahoo group. Peter Staudenmaier (a so-called historian and self-professed expert on Anthroposophy) objected:

This is very, very naive. Anyone who opens up a history book looking for analysis-free facts, devoid of explanations and personal thoughts, is being extraordinarily foolish.

I responded:
Peter, you are polarizing the issue to create a false dichotomy. The issue in history, as in journalism, is not simply whether or not there is any interpretation or opinion mixed in the presentation of facts. Both history and journalism have some interpretation and opinion mixed in. Several authors have demonstrated that this is in fact an inevitability in all writing. Rather than viewing the question in a polarizing either-or light, I suggest that philosophy of history (and of journalism) can see the prejudices of the author as falling on a continuum between the poles of the admittedly impossible "objectivity" and what I would term "absolute bias". All authors are more or less objective, and more or less biased, in their work, and all to varying degrees. It is not an either-or proposition. I suggest that fundamentally, efforts towards objectivity tend to land closer to truth than efforts to "prove" a point (like that Steiner was a racist, for example). What did Steiner really think about the relationship of the individual to society?

Peter, I must say, I find you incredibly weak-minded for someone as apparently clever as you are. I have written at great length on philosophy of history [on the Anthroposophy Tomorrow list during the time Peter was subscribed], and all you can get from it is that I "apparently" stand for antiquarianism, a position I have already addressed at length. If you can't grasp my rather simple presentation on philosophy of history, I am not at all surprised that you fall flat on your face when you open a Steiner book.

The naive view is the one that paints a false polarity over a complex phenomenon.

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on April 3, 2004 8:49 PM.

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