7 cognitive disposition characteristics (7 world-outlook moods from Steiner's Human & Cosmic Thought lectures):

  1. Occultism: Enquire

    • Enquire: In the context of occultism, this means to deeply question and probe beyond the surface of ordinary reality, since the true nature of things is often concealed from sense-perception and ordinary cognition. The occultist must find another way to seek hidden knowledge.
  2. Transcendentalism: Aspire

    • Aspire: This characteristic reflects a strong desire to reach beyond the mundane outer world. In transcendentalism, aspiring involves striving towards higher truths and ideals, seeking to transcend ordinary experiences to gain a more profound understanding of reality.
  3. Mysticism: Reflect

    • Reflect: Mysticism involves turning inward and engaging in deep contemplation and meditation. Reflecting in this context means to look within oneself to explore inner experiences and uncover deeper truths that are not accessible through external observation.
  4. Empiricism: Perceptualize

    • Perceptualize: In empiricism, this means to gather knowledge through direct experience and observation. It emphasizes the importance of perceiving the external world and forming understandings based on empirical data and observable phenomena.
  5. Volunteerism: Conceptualize

    • Conceptualize: This characteristic involves understanding and engaging with the world through the lens of willpower and intention. In volunteerism, conceptualizing means forming and applying abstract concepts related to the forces of nature and the dynamic principles that shape reality.
  6. Logicism: Individualize

    • Individualize: Logicism focuses on the systematic and logical connection of thoughts,concepts and ideas. Individualize concepts by connecting percepts and concepts in a coherent manner, forming structured ideas and integrating them into a thought-organism.
  7. Gnosis: Realize

    • Realize: In gnosis, this means achieving a deep, intuitive understanding and cognitive fulfillment. Realizing involves gaining profound insights through inner cognitive forces and integrating diverse aspects of knowledge into a holistic comprehension of truth.

The method of acquiring knowledge as described by Rudolf Steiner's seven world-outlook moods, which we might call Whole Being Cognition or Holistic Cognition, has several similarities and differences compared to the popular scientific method. Here's a comparison:


  1. Systematic Approach: Both methods involve a systematic approach to acquiring knowledge, although the systems differ significantly in their processes and emphasis.
  2. Observation and Evidence: Empiricism within Whole Being Cognition, like the scientific method, relies on observation and empirical evidence to understand the world.
  3. Hypothesis and Exploration: Both methods involve formulating hypotheses or questions and exploring these through specific methodologies.
  4. Rational Analysis: Logicism within Whole Being Cognition shares with the scientific method an emphasis on logical reasoning and structured analysis.


  1. Scope of Inquiry:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Engages the entire being—personality, emotions, will, intuition, and cognition—integrating inner experiences, spiritual insights, and subjective reflections with empirical observations.
    • Scientific Method: Focuses primarily on objective, measurable, and reproducible phenomena, often excluding subjective experiences and spiritual or introspective insights.
  2. Purpose and Goals:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Aims to unify the self and world by aligning thought-content with world-content, achieving cognitive satisfaction and holistic understanding.
    • Scientific Method: Seeks to develop objective, generalizable knowledge about the natural world through controlled experiments, observation, and repeatable results.
  3. Nature of Evidence:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Values both empirical data and non-empirical insights (such as intuition, inner experiences, and spiritual understanding), giving equal importance to subjective and objective knowledge.
    • Scientific Method: Relies on empirical data that can be observed, measured, and verified independently of individual subjectivity.
  4. Methods of Validation:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Uses a variety of cognitive approaches (e.g., intuitive, reflective, conceptual, and perceptual) to validate knowledge, integrating different aspects of human experience.
    • Scientific Method: Employs controlled experiments, peer review, and statistical analysis to validate hypotheses and ensure reliability and validity.
  5. Engagement with Reality:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Engages with reality through a blend of sensory perception, personal reflection, and spiritual exploration, seeking a deep, holistic understanding.
    • Scientific Method: Engages with reality primarily through observation, experimentation, and logical inference, aiming for precise, objective knowledge.
  6. Philosophical Underpinnings:

    • Whole Being Cognition: Rooted in a philosophical and spiritual framework that sees knowledge as a means to achieve personal and cosmic harmony.
    • Scientific Method: Rooted in a materialistic and empirical framework that views knowledge as a means to understand and manipulate the natural world.


While both methods seek to expand human understanding, Whole Being Cognition integrates multiple dimensions of human experience, emphasizing a holistic approach that includes subjective and objective insights. In contrast, the popular scientific method prioritizes objective, empirical evidence and reproducibility, focusing on the physical aspects of reality. Each method has its strengths and is suited to different kinds of inquiries and understandings.

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