Rudolf Steiner the Humanist

Excerpt from Humanism and Polemical Populism
By Peter Normann Waage

I am not a member of the Anthroposophical Society or any other world view organization. I do however harbor a great respect for Rudolf Steiner, first of all as a philosopher and social reformer. That is where we find the "anarcho-individualism" that Rudolf Steiner subscribed to in the 1890's.

A survey of philosophical and socio-political works by Steiner conducted with the same objectivity one would expect with regard to more officially recognized thinkers, shows that the originator of anthroposophy was a humanistic rationalist. However, the rationality ascribed to the human being by Steiner does not stop at the borderline of faith. An essential feature of his philosophy is the argument that each single individual, regardless of race, gender, or social class, possesses an absolute value and ability to relate freely and self-dependently to all demands and authorities of a material and spiritual nature.

History cannot show one pioneer who is worth the digesting of absolutely everything. Isaac Newton won't be remembered for his speculations about the Apocalypse of St. John. Steiner is not interesting because of his faults, but because of his project: To create a bridge between insights that until now have been reserved for religion and faith, and modern scientific reason. He wanted to rescue the individual and its humanness from drowning in foggy spiritualism as well as in stiffened materialism.

From this vantage point, anthroposophy is not so far from the ideal that editor Emberland describes in Humanist's editorial article: "In humanism, the human being stands in the center - and this means unabridged and absolutely: No visions or utopia - regardless of how alluring - and no 'necessary emergencies' - regardless of how imposing - can force us to abandon this ideal."

Where the human being is placed in the center, its potential for development becomes visible. Whether one stands alone or as part of a movement, one's fellow man must be ascribed the ability to learn from life.